Author's Notes: This is yet another spur-of-the-moment, which came out from some fragments of my memories. The original plan didn't actually include the main character of the story but a few seconds before I opened MS Word, I changed my mind and made him the new main character. Anyway, I hope you like this.

Dedication: To Reeza, for providing the title. And to those people involved in those fragments of memories, which gave life to this, may my words reach you.

Disclaimers: Tennis no Oujisama and all its characters belong to Takeshi Konomi. Only the story line is mine.

Chained

"You wouldn't mind that I eat, right? I haven't eaten lunch yet," you said, smiling at me.

I shook my head. "Nah. Go on and eat. I'll wait here," I replied, slipping into a vacant seat.

You smiled again and I found myself staring at your fleeting back. I sighed before getting the laboratory manual I was supposed to answer. But the words were blurring. My mind was somewhere else.

Syusuke...

I couldn't explain the feelings that were stirring inside me. I was supposed to be happy because I finally got to tour you inside Rokkaku Senior High School. After all, I have been bugging you to spare me a visit since you were always busy there in Tokyo and now, I finally got to tour you around. But somehow, I was feeling something I couldn't explain.

I faked writing in my manual when I saw you slip in the seat across mine. I eyed what you bought and raised an eyebrow. You actually found a fast food stall around this big mall food court that made wasabi sushi. I wonder how many weird looks you got when you ordered it.

Not that you would mind, really. You were probably used to it by now.

Shrugging off the thought, I tried to work on the exercises that I was supposed to answer. I actually did not want to talk with you while you ate. I knew what would follow.

"Ne Sae-chan, want some?" you asked, pertaining to the rolls.

I shook my head, not taking my eyes off my work. "No. You're the only one who likes to eat that, remember?"

The letters were blurring again, my mind focusing on the knowledge that you wouldn't stop there. You loved seeing people squirm. I wasn't exactly an exemption to the rule.

"Sae-chan..."

I did not look up, knowing what was in store for me. "No."

"Ne..."

"No, Fuji. You will not make me eat that." I used your last name to make you realize that I was serious.

"But Kojiroh..." your voice purred, using my first name and sending my senses haywire. "I came all the way from Tokyo and you're not even going to do me a favor?"

Control Kojiroh. Control. Don't give in to that seductive voice.

"Kojiroh..."

I wanted to shut my ears. I wanted someone to come so that your focus would be diverted. I wanted someone to help me. For I knew that any minute now, I would give in. I have never did have the power to resist your charms.

"Onegai?"

Finally raising my eyes to meet yours, I said, "Fine. But just one, Syusuke. And don't you dare use that voice on me again or else."

It was an empty threat, both you and I knew that. So you just smiled and slowly placed the wasabi roll on my mouth.

I quickly chewed it, grabbing the bottle of water in front of me to help me swallow it easily. You chuckled at my actions and my eyes narrowed.

"Just one, Syusuke. I'm warning you."

You opened those ocean eyes and stared into mine. There was a playful twinkle in them as you raised another roll near my mouth. I shook my head.

"Syusuke..."

"Come on, Kojiroh. Just one more."

I wanted to glare at you. I wanted the glare to work. But there was no way that it would. You were Fuji Syusuke after all.

Grumbling something about stubborn tensais, I opened my mouth. There was a victorious look on your face as you placed it in my mouth. That victorious look elevated one notch higher when you saw that I realized that the water I needed to wash the taste away wasn't enough.

Fortunately, I remembered that I brought a water jug to school because I had PE class earlier. Rummaging my things, I smirked as I saw that the jug still had enough water. I gulped it down as fast as I could. Damn you, I wanted to say.

Then suddenly, I heard you laugh.

And my anger vanished just like that...

... Just to be replaced by unbidden memories. Memories that I told myself I would never reminisce again.

But I couldn't help but remember everything that we shared. It was already playing before my very eyes.

Everything came flooding back. Those times when we'd hang around Oji's playground. Those times when we'd play tennis and you'd always beat me no matter what. Those times when we'd just sit on the swings and watch the sun set, our hands clasped together, words forgotten and not needed. And those times that you'd do anything to let me eat wasabi sushi.

Just like what happened a few minutes ago.

It was like you were back. The Syusuke I knew since childhood, the Syusuke I loved with all my heart... was back.

I wanted to take you in my arms just like I used to do before. I wanted to erase all those months apart – the distance more emotional than physical. I wanted to bridge our hearts again. I wanted you back with me as my boyfriend and best friend.

Then our earlier encounter with Davide flashed in my mind. You two still together, he asked. And I laughed and punched his arm lightly, not giving any real answer.

Together...

No. Not even as best friends anymore.

Together...

No. We weren't together anymore. Not ever since that day you said our relationship was over.

And as I sat across you – taking in every detail like I haven't done so in months – I thought, what if you didn't have Tezuka and everything was like before we broke up, could the scene playing at that very moment be different... and perhaps really happier at least for me?

I wanted to reach across the table and hold your hand, squeeze it tight and close my eyes. Close my eyes and just savor the moment, letting it leave an imprint in my mind. Then open them and drown in those infinite pools of cerulean and tell you how much I still love you.

But I couldn't.

Though it may seem that our friendship was back on track, I know that there would always be prejudices on your mind. And I had worked so hard just to maintain our friendship. I wouldn't want to cross those unspoken boundaries after everything that I have sacrificed. It was just too much a risk.

Maybe I'm a coward. But so be it then if it would mean that I'd still have you as my friend. Just so this chain won't break.

Even if it means letting my heart break into a million pieces.

"Kojiroh? You ok?"

I blinked, reality slowly coming back to me. You were staring at me from across the table, blue eyes showing concern. I tried to put up my best I'm-ok-so-don't-worry-about-me-smile to cover up what I was really feeling.

"Yeah. The wasabi sushi was just too much for me."

The playful smile was back on your lips. "Oh poor you..."

I narrowed my eyes. "You're not really serious about that, are you?"

You shook your head, grin widening. "I like seeing people suffer, remember?"

I shook my head, exasperated, as I heard your laugh once again become music to my ears. I sighed inwardly, heart breaking at the knowledge that though it may be music, it will never be music that will soothe my heart. It would be music that would continue to tear me apart.

However, I knew that not even the breaking of my heart would deter me from putting up this mask. If this was the only way in which I can still have you with me, then so be it.

And though everything maybe a façade – a pretension – one thing will remain true...

I love you, Fuji Syusuke.

Owari

08Au04

07:50p

1311 words

Author's Ramblings: I used Saeki!! I was supposed to use Tezuka in his place, Atobe instead of Davide and Saeki instead of Tezuka. I even thought of using Fuji in Saeki's place, Eiji in Fuji's place, Oishi in Tezuka's and in Davide's place... let's see... Saeki maybe. Anyway, I hope you liked it. Comments maybe?