Sanada knew it was the right thing to do. He'd been deluding himself far too long already, as well as deceiving others. It was time to put this to and end. He'd toyed with the idea many times before already, but although he'd taken the first tentative step numerous times, he'd never been able to complete it. Today, he would. He picked up his cell phone.
Today, he was going to officially break up with Atobe.
But he'd just pressed Atobe's number on speed dial when his phone began to ring. Caller ID claimed his caller to be…just the person he was dialling. Sanada answered the call.
"Atobe?" He said. This was odd, Atobe hadn't spoken to him ever since his outburst at his birthday party. Sanada, deciding that Atobe was mad at him and giving him the silent treatment, had been waiting for the diva to cool down when he plucked up the courage to end their relationship for good.
"Sanada, I want you to just listen to me first. Don't say a word until I'm done. Can you do that? It's important." Without waiting for a reply, Atobe continued on. "Sanada, we both know that this relationship is going nowhere. You and I, we've tried—and failed—so many times already. Nothing's worked. So I'm breaking up with you. This is it, Sanada, we're officially over."
Sanada was at a loss for words. And when the words finally penetrated his mind, he found that it hurt. It didn't matter that he had been just about to do the same thing. It hurt.
"I understand, Atobe," Sanada replied, unable to keep the curtness out of his voice, no matter how hard he tried. "Goodbye."
Atobe heard the farewell just a moment before the line was disconnected. He stared down at his phone. If he didn't know any better, it sounded like he'd just upset Sanada. But all those times they'd tried to break up, three-quarters of the times they'd been 'off' in their on-again-off-again relationship…hadn't it been Sanada who had been the one to initiate the break up? Atobe thought he'd be doing Sanada a favour. It was clear to all around them that Sanada was devoted to Yukimura. Everybody, save Sanada himself, seemed to know that.
Atobe ran a hand tiredly through his styled hair, not caring for once that he was messing it up. That one-minute call had taken more out of him than he had expected. He and Sanada fought—often—but he couldn't deny that they'd also had their share of good memories. He sighed and placed the cell phone back on his bedside table, before turning to his bed-mate.
"So," Jiroh asked with a yawn. "How'd it go?"
"Well, he didn't start ranting and raving, if that's what you mean. But surprisingly enough, I don't think he took it as well as I would have thought."
"He wasn't happy?"
Atobe scoffed. "Jiroh, I just broke up with him. Nobody would be happy. But I thought he'd be at least…satisfied. I think I hurt him."
Jiroh rolled over to rest his head on Atobe's stomach. "Nobody likes to be on the receiving end, Atobe. But he'll get over it, once he realises who's been in front of him all this time." He reached up to trail a finger down Atobe's cheek. "You knew, didn't you? All along. It's always been Yukimura who held his heart."
A sad smile broke out on Atobe's face.
"I suppose I did. Ne, Jiroh, you know what attracted me to him initially? Hyotei has no fukubuchou—never has, never will. But I can imagine how much strain it would put on someone to have to live up to the expectations of someone like a team captain. Being buchou…it's a lot of weight. And Sanada, well, he pulled it off so well. If I'd been an outsider who didn't know who he was, I would have thought him to be Rikkai's buchou. Someone that strong…that's what I found fascinating about him at first.
"It worked well, in the beginning, Jiroh. But then, after awhile, he had to have his way and me…well, ore-sama has to have his way as well, obviously. The two of us, we're both strong, but neither one knows how to submit to the other. The thing is, Jiroh, we were both too strong. I think ultimately, we were both afraid that if we ever gave the control to the other, that we'd never get it back. And for people like us, it's one of the most frightening prospects."
Atobe played around with Jiroh's curls in silence for a moment or two, just enjoying the raw-silk texture and the bright gold hue of it. And then he continued, his voice soft.
"It's different with you, though, Jiroh. Around you, control doesn't seem to matter as much. And somehow…I know that even if I let you take the reins for awhile, you'll pass it back to me soon enough. It's what was missing between me and Sanada." He smiled, the smile the rare, tender one reserved only for those he loved enough to reveal his more vulnerable side.
"You've seen it too, haven't you? You were there once, when I followed him to visit Yukimura. The way they look at each other. Buchou and fukubuchou, and yet Yukimura knows what he needs, and he willingly gives the control over to Sanada." Atobe laughed shortly. "Call me stubborn, Jiroh, but I had to try to prove that I could be what he needed, even though I already knew I could never give him what Yukimura would."
Jiroh gazed into his eyes and saw the wound that still hurt, that was only beginning to heal. He smiled gently and urged Atobe to lean down.
"And I love you all the same, Atobe. I know, and it doesn't matter to me. Things were meant to end up this way. There was no way any of us was going to win against fate anyway." He pulled Atobe down for a comforting kiss. "Let's see if they can get as lucky as us, ne?"
Jiroh settled his head more comfortably, and with a small yawn, began to doze once more.
He woke up briefly, when Atobe carefully lifted his head from stomach to a pillow. He drifted lightly, considering whether or not to fall back asleep, and then he heard the sound of running water, as Atobe began to shower. Instantly, he woke up. This would be a good opportunity.
He scrambled for his cell phone and located the number in his contacts list. He pressed the green 'call' button and waited for the other end to pick up his call.
"Ne, Yukimura," he said quietly, so that his voice didn't carry into the bathroom. "He finally got the courage to do it, so you can expect Sanada over anytime from now."
"Ah. Thank you, Jiroh. You've been wonderful help."
Jiroh grinned. "Well, I had a big stake in it as well." Then he sobered up. "I think I should let you know, though. Atobe said that Sanada sounded…well, that he didn't take it all that well. Nothing big, but you know how they are…the 'stoics'." He managed a small smile. "It might not have been so bad if Sanada had managed to call first, but since Atobe was the one who did, I think Sanada got his feelings a bit hurt. Be gentle with him, okay, Yukimura?"
"Don't worry, Jiroh. I know him very well, and I know how his mind works. I'll give him a hard enough time, but ultimately, he'll find it worth it."
"Okay. I'm going off now," he said with a grin. "Atobe's in the shower."
"Ah, going to surprise him? Make sure you don't slip on the tiles. That would just spoil the mood," Yukimura replied with a laugh. "Ja, Jiroh, and thanks again for your input in this."
"Yours too." Jiroh hung up with a smile. All would be put right. He replaced his phone where he had found it, and after a deliciously feline stretch, he hopped off the bed and went to join Atobe in the shower.
Practice had just ended, and Sanada was on his way to the hospital. He hadn't been to visit Yukimura since Atobe's birthday. He'd wanted to examine for himself, whether what Atobe had said to him that day was true.
It's true, isn't it? You've decided to go back to Yukimura.
And then, barely a week later, when he had reached the conclusion that he didn't truly love Atobe, Atobe had called up first, and broken up with him.
Damn, it still stung. More than a week later, and he still felt that hurt. It had faded into a faint ache, but it still hurt. It really didn't matter that he'd been a mere second away from doing the exact same thing that Atobe had—would it have hurt Atobe as much as it was hurting him right now, he couldn't help but wonder—the pain was there.
He'd been unable to concentrate during practice. Renji had noticed first, of course, but that was because he never missed anything. But then even the others had noticed how he seemed slower than usual in his reaction time, how he occasionally faltered in his shots. His heart wasn't in tennis. Frankly, he didn't know where it was.
He'd thought that he would feel a sense of freedom once the pain dulled, but the floating feeling he had thought he would experience was turning out to be more like aimless drifting than anything else. He had come to a crossroad, and for the first time in a very long time, he had no idea where to go.
Yukimura always knew what to do, though, and so he was going to the hospital for some direction. And deeper in his heart, even if he didn't know it himself, maybe he was going for some comfort as well.
But when he arrived at the hospital, at Yukimura's room, what happened stunned him.
He stood there in the doorway, wondering if he'd heard wrongly. "What?"
Yukimura gritted his teeth. "Get out," he repeated.
"Don't you dare call me by that name, Sanada," he snarled, his hands clenched into fists. And then the vicious fury in his eyes was dulled by the sheen of tears pooling in the corners of his eyes.
"Sei- Yukimura, what-" He took a step in, wanted to close the door.
"Stay where you are, Sanada. I want you out of here!" Indigo eyes flashed, even as tears overflowed and began to spill from his eyes. "You promised," he said, his carefully modulated voice trembling. "You said you'd go to Atobe's house just to wish him happy birthday, and then you'd come back and check on how I was doing."
He wiped away the tears with an angry brush of one hand. "It's okay even if you stayed longer—it was his birthday anyway—but it's been at least two weeks, and you didn't visit!" He looked away furiously. "My family, they're away visiting my aunt, because she took a bad fall recently and broke her hip, and her children need to be cared for. And even my imouto can't visit me because they didn't want to leave her alone in the house, so they requested the school to excuse her from school so that they could bring her with them.
"The others paid me a visit last week, but they're busy, and they have other things to do. But at least they remembered me!" Yukimura turned to face Sanada again. "Two weeks, Sanada, that I've been waiting for you to show up. I've been patient, and I've been worried sick that something happened to you, and the whole, time, I've just been damned lonely. And now you waltz in here like Atobe's party was just yesterday."
Sanada managed to gather his wits enough to shut the door. He didn't make the mistake of moving from his spot, though. When Yukimura was this upset, it was best—and smartest—to do what he said. You didn't mess with Yukimura. Not if you valued all that was important in your life. Yukimura was Rikkai's buchou for a reason, after all.
"Something happened," he began wearily. This was the last thing he needed. He'd come here for direction and some peace of mind, and now it seemed that not only was he going to go away with his questions unanswered, he was going to earn Yukimura's wrath as well. Correction: It seemed that he'd already earned it. "Atobe said a few things to me that day that I needed to think over."
"For two weeks?" Yukimura said, his voice scornful and disbelieving.
"It was… I needed to think hard about what he said. Last week, we broke up." He expected at least some sympathy from Yukimura. Yukimura was his closest friend. Not even Renji could usurp his place.
"Ah, so that's why you're here," Yukimura replied, the fire in his voice now frozen, icy cool. He pulled the covers down and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. And then he reached for something lying near his pillow.
And then he hurled it at Sanada.
Sanada stood, frozen in place, as the novel crashed into the door, just beside his head. For a brief second, before the shock set in, he had a brief thought.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome my foot. He doesn't need a physiotherapist! Since when could he throw like that
"I will not be your rebound lover, Sanada," Yukimura snarled. "I will never let you use me as a replacement for Atobe. And if you're trying to get him jealous, find someone else. I may be weak, Sanada, but that does not mean that I will ever let myself be used for such a purpose. You have your damned pride Sanada, and ill as I am, I still have mine." He pointed at the door. "Get out, now, before I throw something else at you. Because the next time, Sanada, I'll actually aim."
Sanada stared at Yukimura for a moment, speechless, only bending down to retrieve the novel that had been Yukimura's missile, when his buchou reached for the hardcover novel on his bedside table. He smoothened the pages that had been crushed by the impact, and held it out to Yukimura, before slowly walking to the bed. He placed the worn paperback on the hardcover novel, which he saw was actually a thick reference book, 'Applications of Physiotherapy in Sports Medicine'. Kami-sama, it was a good thing that hadn't been in place of the paperback novel.
He looked down at Yukimura's hands, which were tightly clenched. He reached for them, but Yukimura snatched them out of his way with a sharp glare. He tried once more, and eventually succeeded, but then maybe Yukimura was simply curious as to what his seemingly suicidal fukubuchou was attempting.
Sanada eased open Yukimura's fists, gently rubbing at the deep crescent-shaped grooves in his palm.
"You'll hurt yourself, Seiichi," he said in a soft murmur. "I'll… I'll come back tomorrow, okay?" Maybe after a day, Yukimura might feel a little more inclined towards hearing him out than violence. Fragile as Yukimura seemed, this was the person who had beaten Kirihara in tennis with nary a scratch. That definitely said something about Yukimura's capability to turn violent-if he wished to. But the hands he was holding were trembling.
"Go away," Yukimura whispered in a broken voice. "I don't care if you wait another two weeks, or if you never come back." He pulled his hands away and curled up in bed, facing away from Sanada.
Sanada resisted the urge to touch Yukimura's hair, and then he walked back towards the door. He opened it, and before he left, turned around.
"I will come back tomorrow, Yukimura. I promise." But Yukimura didn't say a word, didn't even turn to look at him.
Sanada shut the door quietly behind him as he left. How had things turned out to be such a mess?
Yukimura waited for the footsteps outside to recede, before he moved. He scowled. Stupid, stupid Sanada. He had told Jiroh that he wouldn't be too harsh with Sanada. He hadn't really expected Sanada to return to the hospital directly after the party. After the first four days, he'd been annoyed, but not angry. But when several days had passed after Jiroh's call, and Sanada still hadn't shown up, he had gotten worried. Just how badly had Sanada taken the break up after all?
His entire family really was away. They had felt bad about leaving him alone, but he had assured them that he would be fine. His aunt had three children, all under the age of ten. With her in hospital and his uncle busy working to make sure the hospital bills could be paid, there was no one to look after the children.
It had been a very lonely week.
He hadn't really meant to throw his mystery novel at Sanada. It had just…happened. Baka Gen-kun… He rubbed at the tears. It really hurt to wonder if Sanada was really over Atobe or not. His fury at being Atobe's replacement… Yukimura was sure he was a fine actor when the circumstances required it, but he hadn't required his acting skills for that. He wondered what he was to Sanada. Was he even important, this broken shell of a once strong young man? He didn't know.
And it hurt.
He picked up his phone and dialled a familiar number. The phone rang, and then someone picked up.
"Hello?" A sleepy voice muttered.
Yukimura sniffed. "Jiroh, could you come over for a visit today, please?"
It was barely twenty minutes later that Jiroh was standing at the door to Yukimura's room. He'd gotten Atobe to get his chauffer drive him to the hospital. Atobe had questioned him, naturally, but Jiroh had been too anxious to really say anything. Yukimura had sounded positively heartbroken. Jiroh was certain that Yukimura had been crying when he had called.
Shit. What's happened to Sanada? Or maybe… What did Sanada do
He knocked on the door, then opened it and peered inside. "Yukimura?" He had a very bad feeling about what must have happened when he saw Rikkai's buchou curled up on his side, staring miserably at the wall. He entered the room and shut the door quickly.
Jiroh rushed to Yukimura's side and laid a hand on Yukimura's shoulder. "Oi," he said softly. "You okay?"
Yukimura shifted over to look at Jiroh. He sniffled and then grabbed Jiroh in a loose hug. "Jiroh, I threw a book at him!" He wailed.
"What?" He patted Yukimura's back soothingly. "You threw a book at him? Why?"
"This is the first time he's been to see me since Atobe's party. He didn't even call. I was furious with him. I yelled at him, Jiroh, and I threatened him and I told him that I didn't care if he ever came back or not." He buried his face in Jiroh's shirt. "I blew it!"
Jiroh rubbed Yukimura's back as he would a terrified child. He wondered when, during their sessions of planning and conspiracy, Yukimura had become such a close friend, to the extent that now, his heart ached to see Yukimura falling apart.
"He'll come back, Yukimura. He will, I'm sure of it."
"No he won't. He's such a proud person, and I accused him of all sorts of horrible things and I threatened to throw my hardcover book at him too. If he was smart—and he is—he'd never come near me ever again."
Jiroh pried Yukimura away from him slightly, and made him look up. "Why don't you tell me everything that happened. Let's see what we can do about it. We've come so far, we can't fail now, ne? I've got Atobe. It's your turn now."
Atobe was sipping coffee and checking messages on his phone when Jiroh found him. He managed a small smile. Atobe Keigo, heir to a multi-millionaire fortune, was drinking hospital-café coffee, and waiting for him. He ordered an iced chocolate and pulled out a chair to sat beside Atobe.
Hearing the scrape of chair legs against the floor, Atobe looked up from his cell phone. "Hey, what happened?"
Jiroh sighed, and dug a hand into his thick curls. "It's a huge mess of Kabaji proportions." He glanced at Atobe, then looked away. For a moment, neither of them said anything. Then Jiroh sighed again and looked back at Atobe. "Ne, Atobe, if I tell you something now, promise to keep it a secret? And promise you won't get mad?"
"Jiroh, what did you do this time?"
"Well, the thing is… Yukimura and I are friends."
Atobe blinked. "So? What is it about that that I have to keep it a secret and get angry about?"
Jiroh removed his hand from his hair and shook his head rapidly. "No, no, not that. But anyway, we're friends. It started when he called me up one day. I had no idea who it was, really, when I picked up the call. He must have gotten my number from his data collector. It was when you and Sanada were still together. He asked if I could come down to the hospital for a chat, and I did. He's a nice guy, and it's so easy to talk to him. One thing led to another, and when next thing I knew, we were talking about the two of you."
A hand discreetly set a tall glass of icy chocolate in front of Jiroh. He took a short sip to refresh himself, wet his throat, and prepare himself for the burst of anger which was sure to come when he told Atobe the rest of his story.
"We were talking about how it wasn't fair that Yukimura was unable to work on getting Sanada because he was in hospital, and how you were beyond my reach because you were already going out with Sanada. You've never seen him that way before, Atobe, but while we were talking, I could actually see pain in his eyes. That's the main reason why I agreed to help him out in the first place. He needed Sanada more than you ever would."
Atobe was beginning to see where this was going.
"You two…planned…to break us up?" He asked in disbelief.
"Well, not really break you up, per se, but more… I would seduce you and see where that led to." He looked away, not able to meet Atobe's eyes. "It was painful, you know, to have to watch you shower your attention on Sanada. I tried to sleep even more, so that I wouldn't see it. But you always sent Kabaji to wake me up." He smiled ruefully. "I wished, for more than anything else, that just for once, you would wake me up yourself. And I could understand his pain, that's why I agreed to the plan that had started out just as conversation."
"All along, you've been trying to get us apart?"
"All along, I've been trying to get you to pay attention to me!" Jiroh exclaimed, his hand slapping the table. "A break up between you and Sanada was just a possibility, okay?" Jiroh slumped back in his seat. "I just wanted a bit of what you were giving to him. It wouldn't have mattered to me if I'd become a third party, I just wanted you." His wrapped his hands around his glass tightly. "And now…you hate me, don't you? After hearing all that." He drank his chocolate quietly, savouring what was probably the last few moments he would have alone with Atobe.
Atobe didn't say anything. Rather, he found that he couldn't. He was still trying to comprehend everything that Jiroh had said, when the volley specialist set his empty glass back down on the table and placed some money down on the table to pay for the drink.
"I'll leave now," Jiroh said quietly. "It's okay, you know, I understand if you'll never call me again. I did all that because I loved you, and because I could never have you." He pushed back his chair. "I'll take a bus home."
Jiroh stood up to leave, his heart heavy. Was this what Yukimura was feeling? No wonder he had been crying. He took one step. But was unable to take another.
"You didn't even wait for me to say anything." Atobe pulled Jiroh back to the chair and got the blonde to sit down. "Now stay there and don't say anything for awhile, okay? It's still sinking in, what you've just said."
"So let me get this straight, Jiroh. You and Yukimura have been planning from the start to get me and Sanada away from each other so that you could get me, and Yukimura would get Sanada-" When Jiroh tried to protest once more that it hadn't been his intention to actually break them up but just inject himself into the equation, Atobe laid a finger on Jiroh's lips. "Don't interrupt ore-sama, Jiroh. Trying to get me to cheat on Sanada is more or less the same thing. So, is that it?"
"I guess, without all the frills." Jiroh peeked at Atobe through his lashes, not daring to actually look at Atobe face to face. "You're angry at me now, aren't you."
Atobe snorted. "Angry? Of course I am! Jiroh, how could you? No, don't say anything yet, I'm still speaking. What was between me and Sanada might have been real."
"He wasn't for you, Atobe. You know it. Just listening to Yukimura talk about him… His life may be tennis, Atobe, but his heart and soul, they belong to Sanada. I couldn't leave him like that. And you see it now, right? It's so clear how they belong together. The two of you never had a real chance. I saw that, Atobe, that's why I did all that. I'm not that stupid."
"At this moment, Jiroh, I beg to differ," Atobe remarked dryly.
"Fine, so maybe it was a selfish, stupid thing to do." He glared at Atobe. "But I'm not sorry I did it."
"When I was presented a choice, Jiroh, ore-sama chose you. I'm not stupid either. I just can't believe you actually did that, and that you were able to stay awake long enough to carry it out It seems that I've underestimated you, Jiroh. I never thought you capable of something like that."
Jiroh snorted, a little most at ease not that it seemed Atobe was as angry as he had expected. "I'm from Hyotei, Atobe. We're all capable of such things."
"Such an insult," Atobe said, but with a small smile. "But true, I suppose. Hyotei is ruthless." He gave an indolent shrug.
"Yes, you haven't really answered my question of 'what happened'." Atobe sipped his coffee, grimacing when he found that it had gone cold.
"Yukimura threw a book at Sanada."
Atobe stared at Jiroh, speechless for a good three seconds. "What!"
Jiroh grinned. "Yes, I wish I could have seen it. There's even a small dent in the door where the book hit, you know. I saw it on the way out."
Jiroh sighed. "For starters, it seems that Sanada's been in a funk since your party and hasn't visited Yukimura since then."
"Wasn't my party at least two weeks ago?"
Jiroh nodded. "That's the point."
Atobe rolled his eyes in pure exasperation. Shaking his head in disbelief, he snorted, "I don't get it. When we were dating, he couldn't not visit Yukimura. And now that we aren't dating… So Yukimura's feeling abandoned, is he?"
"It's more, he was worried about Sanada, and also lonely, because his entire family has left to visit his injured aunt. Also… Well, Yukimura overreacted a little bit and accused Sanada of wanting to use him to win you back."
"Che, and I thought Yukimura was smart."
"Hey, he is. He's just very emotional right now."
Atobe leaned back in his seat. "You're starting to make him sound like a girl. He and Fuji Syuusuke, they would get along fine."
"Ne, Atobe, about Yukimura and Sanada…"
"No more plotting, Jiroh."
"It'll be fun. Think of it as…retaliatory actions to his previous plan." He said with a grin.
Sanada was packing his bag to leave for the hospital, when Yanagi interrupted him. Annoyed that he would be delayed, Sanada replied curtly, "What is it, Renji?"
"It has come to my attention that you are at odds with Seiichi."
"Did he call you?"
"He didn't have to."
Sanada scowled. "If you have anything else to say, say it. I'm running late." His scowl faded a bit. "I'm going to the hospital after this."
"Good. Ne, Genichirou, if it's not too much of me to say this… Don't make him wait anymore. Make him happy."
"Renji, he's not even talking to me anymore. He threw a book at me yesterday!"
Eyebrow raised, Yanagi replied, "I know. You made him very angry. Make it up to him, Genichirou. Give him what you never gave Atobe." And with that, Yanagi left the club room.
Marui was waiting for him outside. When he shut the door, Marui quickly led him away from the clubroom.
"So, so, how did it go?"
"Whether or not he'll follow my advice is unknown, but there's a good chance that he will."
As they walked out of school, Marui asked, slightly puzzled. "How did Akutagawa know that buchou threw a book at Sanada?"
Yanagi grinned. "A while ago, I suggested something to Seiichi, and it seems that he decided to take my advice. He and Akutagawa are friends now."
Yukimura had the hardcover reference book on his lap, and he was idly flipping the pages. But nothing he read actually registered. And for the past ten minutes, he had been staring at the same diagram. It was a lovely day outside, but he didn't feel like going out to enjoy it. He was certain that the day, with its overabundance of sunshine, was mocking him. He heard a knock on his door. Maybe it was Jiroh. The Hyotei regular had promised to stop by sometime today.
"Come in," he said tiredly.
The door opened, and Yukimura was more than surprised to see over a dozen stalks of brightly coloured tulips. But even more surprising was who held them.
"Don't throw another book at me today, okay?" Sanada said quickly, shutting the door, and walked over to the vase on Yukimura's bedside table. The flowers inside had died at least a week ago, and it was now empty. He began filling it up with tulips. "I thought you might be missing your garden, so I brought some flowers for you."
"Oh. Thank you."
Sanada plucked a tangerine orange one from the bunch he was arranging and held it out to Yukimura. "Like them?"
Yukimura took it carefully, and he brushed one fingertip against the smooth petal. He began to smile. "It's beautiful…"
Sanada studied the vase critically, and then moved a few stems around. Pleased that the arrangement was to his liking, he filled in some water and held out the vase to Yukimura. The indigo-haired buchou looked on as the sunlight hit the petals, and the drops of water Sanada had sprinkled onto the petals. The droplets caught the light, and they looked like liquid diamonds. He touched one peach-pink bloom reverently, and caught the water on his fingertip. He tucked the flower he was holding into the vase, and looked up at Sanada with a small smile.
"I promise not to throw another book at you. They're lovely, Sanada. Thank you…"
Sanada replaced the vase back on the table and pulled a chair over to the bedside. "I'm sorry if you got the wrong idea yesterday, Seiichi. I didn't mean it like that."
Yukimura sighed. "I know, Sanada. I overreacted, and I'm sorry. I missed your visits, you know. One moment you were visiting almost every other day, and then next… I thought I'd done something to make you angry at me."
"No," Sanada said with a small smile. "You could never make me angry, Seiichi."
"You suddenly stopped visiting…what else was I supposed to think?" Yukimura looked down at his hands. In a soft whisper, he murmured, "I really was lonely, you know. I missed you. I missed our conversations. I missed just sitting next to you. If you decide not to visit for another extended period, tell me first, okay? It would hurt less…"
He looked up, startled, when he found himself wrapped in a tight hug. "Sanada?..."
"I never meant to hurt you."
Yukimura rested his cheek against Sanada's shoulder. He trailed his hand up Sanada's arm, nuzzling his neck with a small smile. "I know, I know you didn't. But it did hurt all the same. You're my best friend, Sanada. I know you would never deliberately hurt me."
Best friends… Sanada touched a fingertip to Yukimura's hair. Is that all I am to you, after all?
"Will you stop by again tomorrow?"
Sanada nodded. "Of course. After school ends."
Yukimura sighed. "Ne, Sanada, did you see Renji today? I haven't seen him recently. I hope he's not sick or anything…"
Sanada blinked in surprise. "Didn't he stop by yesterday?"
"No. Did he say that he would?"
But he knew about Seiichi throwing the book at me… Sanada frowned minutely. That was definitely strange. Either Yukimura wasn't telling the truth, or Yanagi had developed fearsome powers that were unexplainable by science. But there was no reason for Yukimura to lie to him at all.
Don't tell me Renji's actually been drinking the drinks that his childhood friend from Seigaku has been giving him… Indeed, Inui Sadaharu was a person to be feared.
He glanced at his watch and jumped up from the bed. "Seiichi, I have to go now. My mother needs me home for something. I'm sorry it was such a short visit, but I couldn't just leave things as they were yesterday. I'll try to stay longer tomorrow, okay?"
Yukimura smiled. "Hey, it's okay, Sanada. I told you I wasn't really angry at you… It doesn't matter if you stop by just to say 'hello'. I'm happy just having you visit me." He gave Sanada a gentle prod towards the door. "Hurry home to see what your mother needs you for, okay? Take care, Sanada, and thank you again for your flowers."
Sanada left the ward and was walking towards the hospital entrance when he saw a familiar face emerging from a luxurious car. And then he saw another familiar face in the car, waving goodbye.
He wondered when Atobe had turned to Jiroh, and if it was before or after their official break-up. And when Jiroh walked by, the blonde actually smiled at him. Jiroh had never been outright hostile to him, save perhaps that fateful day at Atobe's birthday party. But he had never been all that friendly either. So when Jiroh greeted him with a smile and a perky 'how are you', Sanada was floored.
"I'm fine," he replied. "I was visiting Yukimura."
"Oh, and how is he?"
Jiroh grinned. "Well, that's good. Bye!"
Sanada watched as Jiroh hurried off. He never even got the chance to ask the Hyotei student what he was doing in the hospital.
Sanada, true to his word, made his way to the hospital the following day. He knocked on Yukimura's door, and heard a laughing voice say, "Come in!" He found Yanagi inside, along with Marui and Niou.
Sanada saw a bright smile grow on Yukimura's face, and realised how much he had missed that happy, unguarded look. He walked to Yukimura's bed side, and Niou immediately moved aside to give him more space. He sat down beside Yukimura and glanced at the tulip that his buchou was stroking.
"I see you like the flowers."
Yukimura's smile was brighter than the sunlight gently filtering through the window, and more beautiful than the flower he was touching. "They're from you. How could I not like them?"
"Ne, Yukimura," Niou said with a small grin. "I'll go now, okay? Yagyuu's waiting for me at the courts. He wants to work on a new move."
"So soon?" Yukimura said. But when Niou opened his mouth to apologize, he smiled. "I'm kidding. Go on then. Don't let your doubles partner wait. Give him my regards, and let him know that I'll be waiting to get out of hospital so that I can see that new move."
Niou winked. "Sure thing." He gave them a small wave as he exited the room. "See you next practice, minna-san!"
Yukimura waved him over with the cheerful bloom. "Sit beside me," he asked, and Sanada couldn't refuse him, if he'd even wanted to in the first place. "Marui likes your flowers too." He tapped Sanada on the nose playfully with the butter-yellow flower. "They really are beautiful…"
While Yukimura was carefully examining the flower, like he was prone to do when striking botany caught his eye, Sanada gave Marui and Yanagi pointed looks and disguised his growl with a very fake cough. Deception had never been one of Sanada's finer abilities. But his team mates got the hint and quickly scrambled for their belongings.
"Ne, buchou, we should go," Marui said before popping his mint-green bubble. "We've taken up enough of your time." He grabbed Yanagi by the wrist and scampered out. "We'll come by another day and visit you again, okay?"
Yukimura waved and laughed at the sight of his tall friend being dragged away by their more petite tensai. "Sanada, you didn't have to scare them away." He carefully replaced the flower in the vase.
"Was I that obvious?" Sanada muttered, cringing.
Yukimura tugged down the brim of Sanada's trademark black cap. "Subterfuge has never been your specialty. Except maybe in tennis." He grinned. "But I can see right through you anyway."
"Well, it explains why I've yet to win you in a proper match." Sanada unzipped his bag and pulled out an elaborately wrapped present. "And, um…this…it's for you." He thrust the gift awkwardly onto his buchou's lap.
And Yukimura couldn't help but giggle inwardly at Sanada's obvious discomfort. He wondered what was making the normally calm, stoic fukubuchou so flustered. "It looks wonderful," he replied, as he examined the textured paper and shimmering cord and intricate knots. He plucked at one hidden end, threaded it through a few loops here and there, and then tugged gently. Sanada could only watch in surprise as everything unravelled. Yukimura certainly had a way with undoing knots.
His buchou stroked the lacquered black surface of the small box. And with each moment that passed that Yukimura didn't open it, Sanada felt the pressure building up in his chest. Finally, Yukimura touched a fingertip to his nose and laughed. "It's so much fun teasing you like this," he said.
And Sanada exhaled in a loud puff of breath. "You love tormenting me, don't you?" But Yukimura did eventually lift the lid of the small box.
He gasped, and then beamed at Sanada. "Where did you find this!"
Sanada ducked his head slightly and tipped his cap down to hide the smile and faint blush that was spreading across his face. "I remembered that you'd been searching for it before you got admitted into hospital."
"I can't believe you remembered…" Yukimura put the box aside and flung his arms around Sanada's neck. "You remembered… Thank you."
"It wasn't something I'd forget." But he raised his head slightly to reveal his smile.
True to his word, Sanada did stay longer, and they talked about everything, from schoolwork to the tennis team. While Yukimura wasn't angry with them for losing to Seigaku, he was disappointed that his team had let their skills slide so much while he had been in hospital.
"I promise, when I get out of here, we're going to have a nice little training camp," Yukimura said, his twilight eyes glinting with something a bit more sinister than mirth.
Sanada gulped, and shook his head slightly and laughed anyway. He'd have expected nothing less of his buchou. He happened to have looked out the window.
"I can't believe it's gotten so late!"
Yukimura simply smiled. "Time passes too quickly when with someone you like, ne?" He shrugged. "No matter, you can always come back another day."
"I'll leave now, then, or I'll be late for dinner."
"Take care, Sanada, and thank you again for the present." He smiled again, but this time, his lips curved almost shyly. "I think you're the only one who remembered how much I wanted it…"
Sanada stared longingly at those pale pink lips and felt something within him stir to life. He tamped it down and returned the soft smile. "I've got to stay back late tomorrow after school, but I'll try to drop by for a visit the day after, okay?"
"Sure. Your visits are the highlight of my days here, so don't forget to visit!" Yukimura called out to him as he left, waving as he did.
However, by the time the weekend rolled around, and then passed, Yukimura was getting more and more annoyed. It wasn't that Sanada wasn't visiting. His fukubuchou had returned to his habitual visits, but… He'd expected more each time, but absolutely nothing had happened during each visit. All they did was talk—not that Yukimura didn't like their chats—but he wanted more than just exchanging of words.
First it had been the tulips, which Yukimura loved, like he did all plant life. And then it was the ornamental porcelain garden that Sanada had so carefully wrapped in the black box. Next had been the small selection of chocolates from the store he used to frequent before he had fallen ill. And then the new novel by his favourite author. Every day, he brought a new gift that Yukimura loved, which he cherished, like all the other things that Sanada had ever given him—down to the pressed skeleton of a leaf that Sanada had made in elementary school.
Sanada was visiting again, and while one part of Yukimura couldn't help but look forward to his next gift, he felt frustration growing again, that Sanada would most probably do nothing again. He hasn't even kissed me, even after I promised that I wasn't mad at him anymore and wouldn't throw anymore things at him. Yukimura was a person who kept his word, and everyone knew it.
Yukimura sighed. It wasn't that he didn't want to make the first move, but more that he'd wanted Sanada to.
There was a knock on his door.
Shaken out of his thoughts, he got out of bed and strode to the bed. His body was getting stronger each day, and really, the doctors were now keeping him in hospital to make sure he wouldn't suffer a relapse.
"Ah, Sanada. Come on in."
"Should you be wandering around like that?"
"You know that I'm more or less healed. I'm almost as strong as I was before I fell ill." He grinned mischievously. "Want to find out for yourself?"
Sanada gulped. "I think not."
Finally, something in Yukimura snapped, and he scowled. Sanada immediately took a step back. An angry Yukimura was not, as he had found out a long time ago, somebody to be trifled with.
"Why don't you want to do anything!"
"Every time you visit, you never try anything! It's infuriating!"
Now Sanada was just confused. He took a few steps back to Yukimura's side. The warrior in him had ascertained that the initial danger was over. But it didn't mean that he wasn't still wary. "What do you mean?"
"You keep visiting me with gifts, but you do nothing else!"
"I thought you liked them?"
Yukimura slapped a palm to his forehead. "I do, but…" He sighed. "Nevermind. I'm sorry for making such a fuss." He tried to smile. "I'm not going to throw anything at you, so don't worry."
But Sanada refused to leave it at that. Yukimura obviously wasn't happy with something he'd done. Or was that something he hadn't done? Sanada wasn't sure, but he intended to find out what it was. He recalled that Atobe had occasionally had sudden outbursts like this, and the diva was just as adamant at not telling him what had made him upset. And one thing in particular had managed to help Sanada pry whatever he wanted out of Hyotei's buchou. He figured it wouldn't hurt to try that same method on Yukimura. Maybe it was just a buchou sort of problem.
He guided Yukimura back to the bed and sat his aggravated captain on the edge of the bed. "Why don't you tell me what's bothering you, Seiichi?"
"There wouldn't be a point in telling you."
Yukimura actually pouted as he replied, and Sanada had to admit that it was a first for him. "Because I don't want to." He glared at nothing in particular, lips still pouting, and Sanada was very tempted to touch that faintly glistening bit of skin, to see if it was really as soft as it looked.
"What?" Yukimura muttered. Then his licked his lips absently, realizing that the jug of water at his bedside was empty. He had a fleeting thought that maybe Sanada would bring him to the café for a drink, when he suddenly found himself pushed back on the bed.
"Wha-" And then warm lips cut off his words. He enjoyed the kiss for a moment, before smiling and actively participating. He threaded his fingers through Sanada's hair, toying with the soft black silk flowing over his fingers. Sanada lifted his head away just enough to whisper, his lips moving against Yukimura's.
"Your skin is so soft, Seiichi…" Sanada looked down and brushed the pad of his thumb over Yukimura's gently curving lips. He nuzzled the slender curve of Yukimura's neck. "Why were you so upset?" He murmured.
"Hm? Upset, me?" Yukimura felt the corners of his lips curving into a small smile. "Not telling…" He rubbed his cheek against Sanada's soft hair. "You smell really good, Gen-kun…"
Sanada tilted his head up to stare at Yukimura. "You haven't called me that for quite some time…" He smiled slowly. "I missed hearing you call me that."
"I missed calling you that," Yukimura whispered. "You really made me furious that day," he continued with a sad smile. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to Sanada's. "It made me so angry that even after you'd ignored me for so long, I still wanted you around, that I still wanted to play with your hair, touch you."
Sanada's smile sharpened. "I'll let you play to your heart's content," he murmured. And then he grabbed Yukimura's wrists with one hand and pinned them down above their heads. "But only after I'm done with you."
Eyes wide, Yukimura stared at him, an electric tingle running along the length of his spine. And then he narrowed his eyes, a smile forming on his lips. "Have it your way, then," he purred, relaxing in Sanada's grip.
Sanada eyed him cautiously for a moment, but when his buchou didn't suddenly reverse their positions or try anything, for that matter, he let a partially relieved sigh escape. He loosened his school tie, then whipped it from his collar. And then he swiftly used it to bind his buchou's wrists together. He watched, dark eyes gleaming, as Yukimura tested his bonds, arms straining to break free. Yukimura arched one twilight brow in admiration.
"Since when were you able to tie knots like that?"
Sanada bent down in response, and whispered into his ear. "I've been practicing quite a while, buchou." He trailed a wet path along the curve of Yukimura's ear, ending at the lobe. And then he sucked that small nub of flesh into his mouth, grinning at the way Yukimura's body twitched in surprise against his.
Just as he felt Yukimura slowly relax, used to the sensation, he moved down to his buchou's neck, feathering tiny butterfly kisses on his way down. Yukimura tensed once more, and Sanada heard a hitch in his breath and followed by a faint whisper.
"I didn't catch that. What did you say, Seiichi?" He teased, lips moving against the sensitive skin beneath Yukimura's jaw. He nipped a section of the skin there, heard the soft cry of surprise. "I love your voice, it's like music."
And then he moved further down to the shallow hollow at Yukimura's throat, lapped at the faintly salty skin there. Sanada sighed. "I love the way you taste."
"I haven't even taken a bath yet today," Yukimura managed, his voice sounding slightly strangled.
"You taste natural, you smell the way kami-sama intended you to." He sucked on the skin there until there was a lividly burgundy mark, and he pulled away to see how his mark looked on his buchou. And he was very pleased with the image Yukimura presented before him.
Hands restrained, still lying above his head regardless of the fact that Sanada was no longer actively pinning them down, milky skin flushed the rosy pink of dawn, eyes open only a mere fraction, lips parted and begging to be claimed, Yukimura had a masculine sort of beauty that Sanada had long decided was unrivalled. The dark, bruise-like mark only served to enhance that almost ethereal beauty, rather than mar it.
"Do you have any idea how beautiful you look, Seiichi?" Sanada brushed his thumb against his buchou's lush lower lip. Yukimura began to smile, eyes still mostly closed, veiled with long, inky lashes. And then the tip of his tongue flickered against the pad of Sanada's thumb. He sucked it in, lips curved slyly, and toyed with it, enjoying the sound of Sanada's husky whisper.
"So that's what put you in such a foul mood, Seiichi?" Sanada removed his thumb and replaced it with his mouth instead. "I have to admit, I've never seen you sexually frustrated before."
"That's because I was too ill to care about what my gonads were trying to say." He quirked his lips and continued in a teasing murmur. "But I'm perfectly healthy now…"
He brought his bound hands forward to grab hold of one of Sanada's, and guided it to the waistband of his hospital pyjamas. He shut his eyes as he felt the warmth of Sanada's palm on his abdomen. And as he slid that hand down with deliberate slowness, he arched into Sanada's touch, his head thrown back as a tiny mewl of pleasure escaped him. Sanada felt himself go rock hard from that one sound alone. With an almost feral snarl, he snatched his hand away, and whipped Yukimura's hands back above his head once more, much to Yukimura's bewilderment.
"Be a good buchou and keep your hands where I leave them," he murmured darkly. With his free hand, he stroked Yukimura through the thin pale green fabric, watching the sensations play across his buchou's face. "Open your eyes, Seiichi, look at me. I want you to see only me." He gave Yukimura a gentle squeeze, and those startled ultramarine eyes flew open.
Sanada released his grip on Yukimura's hands, satisfied when his buchou kept them pressed to the bed. "Such a cooperative buchou, I suppose I can reward you a little, ne, Seiichi?" He slowly unbuttoned Yukimura's pyjama top, pressing a soft kiss to each inch of uncovered skin. He paused for a moment at one shell-pink nipple, suckling until he felt Yukimura trembling beneath him. And he ruthlessly did the same to the other stiffening bud, until he heard his name, coming in harsh pants, from Yukimura.
"Had enough, buchou?"
"Stop now and I will hurl something into your face," Yukimura snarled, desperation echoing in his voice, the sound hazed with lust. Sanada gave the pebble-hard nipple one last lick, and then pulled away.
"Genichirou!" His name was a shivering plea that sent arrows of heat right through him.
Sanada undid the last button and slid the edges of the pyjamas off Yukimura's shoulders. "Sit up," he ordered, and his buchou did as told. "Hands behind you."
Sanada pushed the pyjamas off until they were caught by his tie, which still bound Yukimura's wrists together. And then he used the sleeves to tie Yukimura's forearms to each other. There was no way Yukimura was getting out of that without ripping the garment, and he doubted that his buchou was strong enough to. With a pleased grin, he urged Yukimura back down onto the bed.
The inability to move had Yukimura even more aroused, if that was even possible, and he glared at Sanada, when the fukubuchou simply sat there, looking down at him. "Don't just sit there!" And when Sanada's face suddenly loomed before him, he blinked in surprise.
"Such a bossy little uke, Seiichi." His grin was positively evil. "Patience is a virtue, isn't that what you always tell Kirihara?" Sanada hooked his index finger into the elastic waistband of Yukimura's pyjama pants and tugged it down with excruciating slowness.
"Kami-sama, Sanada, what happened to your famed speed? Hurry up!" With his upper limbs restrained as they were, Yukimura was unable to smack Sanada's head like he felt like doing, so he did the next best thing.
He lifted his hips off the bed and ground them against the length of Sanada's lean body, moaning from the intense pleasure the friction produced. "Touch me, damn it!"
Sanada yanked the pyjama pants down to Yukimura's ankles and held Yukimura's cock in his hand in one rough movement. "Like this, Seiichi?" He growled.
"Kami-sama!" Yukimura jerked off the bed, surging into Sanada's grip, head pressing back into the pillow. His body was one tense arch, his lips parted in a silent cry. Sanada pinned him back onto the bed and tightened his grip ever so slightly, swallowing Yukimura's shaky scream with a hungry kiss.
As he plundered his buchou's mouth, his thumb teased a drop of fluid from the swollen head of Yukimura's shaft and spread it over the sensitized skin there. And as he smoothed the slick fluid over Yukimura's erection, more seeped from the slit there, until Yukimura was literally dripping with pre-come. And then he began pumping, skin sliding over skin, creating a delicious friction.
Sanada broke the kiss and pulled away just enough to bury his face in Yukimura's dark mass of hair. He inhaled deeply, scented the mild wild-herbal scent of the shampoo Yukimura liked, and something more primal, something that was simply Yukimura.
His hand didn't stop as he kissed Yukimura's forehead, eyelids, cheeks, everywhere except his buchou's kiss swollen lips. And as he continued, he heard his name emerge as a sobbing plea.
"What do you want, Seiichi? Tell me what you want…"
Yukimura didn't reply, but pressed his lips to Sanada's cheek, trembling from the sheer pleasure.
Sanada shook his head. "No, Seiichi, you either tell me what you want, or I'll just stop," he replied, punctuating his words with a final glide, and then releasing Yukimura altogether.
Yukimura cursed with thwarted lust and denied release, straining for even the slightest contact with Sanada, but his fukubuchou nimbly evaded all his attempts, and there was only so much movement he could achieve with his arms immobilized and legs tangled in his pyjamas. "Sanada!" He screeched.
"If you're too loud, someone will end up coming in to investigate, and then, you'll definitely get nothing, Seiichi," Sanada reminded him, a teasing grin on his face. He licked one sticky finger. "You taste pretty good," he remarked casually, as if he didn't have his buchou tied up before him, more or less naked and aching for release. "Want a taste?" He touched the tip of one finger to Yukimura's lips, gulping down the lump in his throat as he watched that nimble pink tongue lick his finger clean.
His other hand stroked Yukimura's cheek tenderly. "Tell me what you want, Seiichi. Say it. I'll give you what you want, everything you want." And the harsh look in his eyes gentled, and he smiled softly.
And it was that gentleness that was Yukimura's undoing. His voice a hoarse rasp, breaking with emotion, he whispered, "Let me come, please, Genichirou."
Sanada pressed a soft kiss to his buchou's forehead and began stroking Yukimura once more, gaining pleasure himself from hearing his buchou's frantic whimpers as he sped towards completion. And an instant before Yukimura came, when his dark, twilight eyes unfocussed and went blank, Sanada whispered harshly, "Come, Seiichi. Come for me."
Yukimura managed to twist his upper body just enough to bury his face in the pillow, even as he thrust harder and faster into Sanada's tight grip. His scream was muffled, but even still, Sanada managed to catch his name. A very smug, very satisfied smile curved his lips. And then Yukimura went limp and collapsed back onto the bed, chest heaving, his body still trembling from the aftershocks of his almost violent release.
Sanada grabbed a fistful of tissues from the bedside table and wiped Yukimura clean, before grabbing another handful and dampening it with water from the small jug. He brushed Yukimura's sweat-drenched hair away from his face as he cleaned the last traces of sperm away.
"Was it worth the wait, Seiichi?"
His reply was a voluptuous sigh, and a tired smile, a muttered threat of horrors to come if a certain fukubuchou didn't untie his buchou immediately. Sanada simply laughed it off. But he did eventually loosen the bonds until his buchou was able to wriggle out of them. He was pleasantly surprised when Yukimura tugged him down to lie beside him.
Yukimura rested his head on Sanada's chest, quite glad that his fukubuchou's heartbeat was racing almost as fast as his own was. "I'll get back at you for tying me up, Gen-kun, just you wait."
"Yeah? Try not to take too long, if you intend to do the same thing back to me. I promise not to struggle until I loosen the knots," he teased.
And because he was distracted by the hand idly tracing patterns on his belly, he didn't notice the gleam in his buchou's eyes until more than just Yukimura's head was on him. All he could do was stare up at mischievous lapis eyes, as Yukimura straddled his body, resting most of his weight on the hands holding him down.
Yukimura rubbed himself against Sanada's groin, distracting his fukubuchou with his undulations until it was too late. By the time Sanada noticed anything else, his own tie was over his eyes, and Yukimura was busy knotting the ends behind his head. And it was barely a handful of seconds before his buchou was done.
It would seem that Yukimura had done some practicing of his own.
"Now, I just need you to remind me of one thing later, in case I forget."
"What is that?"
"Remind me to thank Renji. A while ago, he gave me a very good…suggestion. It's made four people very happy." Yukimura grabbed the edges of Sanada's shirt. "And two of them are about to get very much happier."
And then he yanked them apart, changing Sanada's conception that his buchou wasn't back to his previous strength yet. Buttons clattered as they hit the floor, and Sanada was very happy that he'd had practice earlier in school. At least he would have clothes to change into.
Renji jotted down a few more lines in his notebook, a mysterious smile on his face. He waited for a lapse in the muffled noises, opened the door, turned the lock, and shut it with a muted click. And then he tested the door. Satisfied that no one would be interrupting them, he strode off, a murmur on his lips.
"Ii data, indeed."
Omg, that was LONG. O.O! I never meant for it to be so long, and indeed, it's long enough to be 2 whole chapters. In fact, it could have ended up even longer, but I decided that if I typed any more, it was going to end up even worse than it already is. I'm of the opinion that this isn't one of my best works, but this chapter has been left un-posted long enough, and now that I've actually FINISHED it, I want it posted, and out of my hair.
And FINALLY, I can say that I have completed a multi-chaptered fic.
Yeah, yeah, cheap thrill.
Once my exams are over, I'll be working on completing as much of my other unfinished works as possible. And I'll be concentrating primarily on Amethyst and Amber, since it's only the first part of a much larger story arc. Stay tuned. I promise I'll finish more of my fics. () until then, read, review, enjoy the fanfic!