bokuto should have known this was coming. he’s been over this with keiji; they’ve both sat down and written the telltale things in bokuto’s phone on a notes page titled “signs i need a mental health day!!!”. between the constantly missing spikes and his head always shifting in and out of whatever atsumu says — it’s clear he should have told someone. but akaashi has a deadline soon, so does kuroo, and kenma has a streaming event week to manage. so bokuto hopes it passes like it usually does.
it only punches him in the gut.
he wakes up tangled with kuroo, kenma, and akaashi’s limbs, but the touch doesn’t feel familiar. kuroo moves in his sleep and bokuto feels it scrape against his skin like knives on glass, kenma snores and the sound ricochets in bokuto’s skull. something within him makes bokuto want out , has him shoving kuroo’s arm and moving kenma’s head off of his chest before slipping out, thankfully unnoticed. he knows the house enough to move while everything’s still dark. he’s stumbling his way to the bathroom to fall to his knees with head bowed over the toilet, breathing heavily.
he knows what this is. he’s been through this before. his therapist called it an episode of some sort, but everyone at home calls it a low. isn’t that what it is? a low? when he dips so low, so so low, just to retreat into coping mechanisms that he knows won’t work?
maybe that’s what hurts the most. that he’ll do everything during this to feel something and nothing at the same time, and none of it will fix him . not even akaashi’s hugs or kenma’s snarky comments will bring him out of this. medication should have helped, but he took his medication too late yesterday and—
so this is his fault. he knows he shouldn’t have forgotten the medication at home, just brought the damn container to practice like akaashi said to so he could take it in case practice ran late. now all that runs through his brain is a remind of how stupid, how dumb, how coddled and incompetent. people say online that he’s a lot less self-sufficient than his lovers, but this is the realization that fuck, maybe they were right
bokuto’s thoughts are cut off by the burn of acid in his throat, making it way to sting his lips as he vomits into the toilet. tears prick at the corners of his eyes. he had almost forgotten what it was like to vomit out of anxiety, what made him fall so far?
“kou?” kuroo calls from their room, voice deep and tinged with sleep like it always is in the morning.
bokuto can hear kuroo’s footsteps move closer to the bathroom. in hindsight, everyone in the house wakes up at similar times; there’s no way bokuto would be up without someone following soon after. but bokuto can’t let kuroo can’t see him like this— no one can see him. bokuto wipes his mouth with a sheet of toilet paper before flushing the toilet to get rid of the evidence. he stands up quickly, swaying slightly, before pretending to wash his face to hide the tears.
“‘mornin, tetsu!” bokuto’s voice wavers, the back of his throat still burning, but kuroo’s too sleepy to notice.
kuroo’s arm slinks around bokuto’s waist, lips pressed to bokuto’s cheek for their usual good morning kiss, and it takes everything in bokuto not to push him off and run . bokuto leaves the bathroom as kuroo starts brushing his teeth, hoping to avoid kuroo’s eyes once the man fully wakes up.
for the others, the morning continues normally: akaashi wakes up next, then kuroo tries to wake kenma, then akaashi actually wakes up kenma. something in bokuto awakens — this is their normal routine, but all that’s emphasized is that they don’t need him . kuroo will wake up without him, so will akaashi, and kenma has the other two to nudge him awake. all that’s left is bokuto, alone with they’d be fine if i’m gone in his head.
bokuto’s just there, watching his lovers from afar. he’s got to do something, something to make him move along like everyone else is so they won’t notice him, but all he can focus on is the sticky feeling in his gut. he musters the energy to go about what he usually does, brain listing out the steps so he won’t arouse suspicion. change into outside clothes first, prepare bag for practice, get ready to leave the house with everyone . he's going through the motions in a haze until akaashi’s voice breaks him out, if only for a moment.
“kou? you okay?”
“huh?” bokuto looks up to see akaashi’s eyebrows furrowed slightly, like they usually are when he’s worried about bokuto. it’s enough for bokuto to stuff his anxiety deeper into his gut. “jus’ didn’t sleep well, that’s all.”
it’s a lie and bokuto knows it. but it’s enough to protect everyone from seeing him break right then and there, and that’s more than enough for him.
“that’s okay, love. we’ll rest tonight. we’re heading out in five minutes, are you ready?” bokuto nods, quickly packing up the rest of his stuff to meet akaashi at the door.
kuroo and akaashi start work at the same time, and bokuto always walks them to the train station on the way to his stop. they go through the east entrance, he goes through the west. bokuto’s almost thankful that kenma’s visiting hinata today, since he’ll join kuroo and akaashi on the train. he’ll drop them off and then he can figure out what to do, how to shake off this feeling before he has to leave for training.
once everyone’s ready with their lunchboxes and work bags in hand, the walk to the station is almost like usual. kuroo converses with akaashi while guiding kenma through the crowds so kenma can play games on his PSP. bokuto’s quiet through all this, just counting the steps until he can get up and go somewhere other than here. he’s choking now and he wants out, brain short-circuiting with every input; everything hurts, but he can leave soon, he just has to tough it out.
it’s not long before they all make it to the east entrance and part with kisses and a big hug as usual.
“we love you, koutarou.” akaashi presses his lips to bokuto’s, hand squeezing his shoulder. “good luck at practice today.”
bokuto gives hugs and a kiss to kuroo and kenma too, waving them off as they swipe their cards over the gate’s sensors. their figures retreat into the station, leaving bokuto standing alone in the crowd.
he’s not quite sure what to do now.
practice seems unthinkable; there’s no way he has the energy to fake it like this all day. he considers going but his brain is quick to remind him he’d be getting in the way of practice, taking up space where other players can actually spike the balls. but ditching practice would be the first decision in a slippery slope of a depressive spiral. he knows this. maybe he should have said something — anything — earlier, but fuck, it’s too late.
the crowd seems to close in on him in a way it didn’t before. maybe it’s rush hour, but now the echoes and chatter and the PA system announcements makes him want to tear his skin apart. before he can comprehend what’s happening, he’s pushing his way out of the station and speed-walking back home.
if he’s like this, he knows the jackals can do without him.
bokuto takes his phone out and begins a text to meian, but what can he even say? “sorry i’m losing my shit, won’t be there today”? the words won’t come out right anyway, so bokuto’s shaking fingers fumble over the keys to say whatever will get him out of having to explain why he’s like this.
>> to: meian (captain!!)
won’t be at practice today.feeling sick, sorry.
and now he’s a liar. he’s a series of dumb decisions and a liar. the text isn’t necessarily wrong, but he’s not sick. it’s a lie and he knows it.
a response from meian comes in quick. bokuto doesn’t read it, focusing his energy on getting himself home before he does something stupid to get himself killed. by the time he’s at his doorstep, bokuto wants to self destruct. it takes four tries to fit the key in the lock and five to gip it enough to turn fully. the door shuts behind him, a thud resonating through the room, then nothing at all.
it’s almost strange to experience the house with no one in it. usually kenma’s at home gaming, the clicks of his mechanical keyboard and slams of mouse making his presence known to all. if akaashi’s home, there’s music. kuroo’s always on a call or watching TV. it’s never quiet.
so this is the sound of silence.
it irks him. it’s a stunning reminder that he’s managed, once again, to push away everyone he loves. that he’s alone again, that he’s nothing without the people who care for him.
it hurts. and bokuto moves without thinking, heading to the fridge for one bottle of beer then another, a swig from something kuroo bought. everything burns his throat more than the vomit from this morning, but part of bokuto makes him feel as if he deserves this. a second later something washes over as if to signal that he’s indulging himself more than he deserves, and another moment later he’s back where he was before.
everything else is a blur, something in him rising up and taking over entirely. the buzzing anxiety is replaced with an impulsive rush, as if his body’s trying to find a quick fix for his self-disgust. a crash of shattered glass snaps him back to the present. all he knows is that between the beer and now, his chest is tight and he can’t fucking breathe . the air is gone and home doesn’t feel like home anymore. he looks down at his hands to steady himself but there’s pieces of glass in embedded in hand and slashes in his wrist.
so he’s done this. everything is still there, the choking feeling still sitting in his through as if to mock him. the silence still bugs him, the sticky feeling still stays in his gut. it’s there, and it’s not fucking leaving .
he finds the first aid kit in the kitchen and wraps bandages around his hands so he’s not bleeding all over the floor. everything can be cleaned before everyone comes home, but for now bokuto handles this the only way he knows how to: by hiding.
he slips into akaashi’s work room and makes sure to not get blood over akaashi’s important drafts. everything is second nature. the feeling of his knees to his chest when he hides being so familiar to him, the only thing grounding him when everything is spiraling.
he just has to wait for this all to pass. if only that were so easy.