One step, then two, it feels like eternity, stretching out one moment into forever. A third, and I'm almost there. I can see it, I can almost feel it. It's so close… One last step…it's right in front of me.
And suddenly, I'm flying.
That voice, it sounds like it's miles away. It's familiar, but I can barely hear it, can barely make out the words. It's almost as if the darkness absorbs more than just light, as if it steals away sound as well. Maybe if I try to…
But I can't move. It's not even as if it hurts to move. I can't move. I try to reach for the voice, if only I could touch it…maybe I could…
"Seiichi?" The voice is softer, it gentles, and although I can't really feel anything, I can sense a hand holding mine. Warm, large, callused… I know that hand, I know it as well as I know my own. His name…
I can't remember his name.
I know his name used to be more or less synonymous with mine. Two halves of the same whole. There was no me without him, and him without me.
But I can't remember his name.
I want to open my eyes, I want to see his face. I need to see his face. Maybe then… Perhaps then I'll remember…
Who am I?
The panic is unbearable. Even with my eyes shut, all my senses muted, I can hear him, distantly, crying out in dismay. I can almost feel his hand squeezing mine reassuringly. Why does it feel like I'm thrashing about?
I try to move, and I still can't. But I can feel his head lying on the mattress, his hair brushing my arm. I think he's asleep. I wish I could touch his hair. I can't remember who he is, what he looks like, even, but I remember that he has dark hair like silk, skin tanned from long hours spent outside playing…playing something. A sport. We used to play together. And that's all I remember.
I try to move, and… Success! I manage only a twitch, the barest brush of fingertip against his hair, but its movement, nonetheless. His hair really does feel like magic…so soft… I sigh.
There's a yearning, a pleading tone in his voice, and I want desperately to reply, to assure him that everything's okay. Even if I don't know what's going on myself. I try to speak, to make any semblance of sound, but all that comes out is a shaky sigh. I want to open my eyes, to look at him, to show him through a gaze alone, that everything will be okay, and also to see for myself what has happened. What is happening.
But I can't. I feel my eyelids tremble, but they do not rise, and I cannot see.
"Shh, Seiichi, it's okay," I hear him whisper, his voice broken, but as if desperately trying to hide it. "Everything's okay."
I try to tell him that everything isn't okay, but I can barely even move my lips, and no words come out of my mouth. And then I feel something petal soft against my cheek, and then my lips, and I taste the salt of tears.
Don't cry, I want to tell him. He is my support, and if he crumbles, so will I. But now that I think about it, perhaps, I, too, was his foundation, and without me, he has collapsed. I want so badly to just hold him in my arms, to be held in his, and know for certain that it'll all be okay.
"Seiichi," he murmurs against my lips. "Please wake up…"
And just like that, like a flick of a switch, I feel drained of energy. Lethargy overtakes me, and I find myself slipping off into a dreamless sleep.
He's always there. Somehow, no matter when I drift back into consciousness, he is always there. How does he slip off to the bathroom without me knowing? Has he eaten? Don't starve yourself because of me.
I'm not worth it.
Maybe today I can finally move. I try, but my muscles refuse to obey me. My fingers move, but hardly so. My eyelids flicker, eyelashes flutter like butterfly wings or the frantic flapping of a hovering hummingbird. But they do not open.
I just want to see him…
And then, he feels my fingers move.
"Seiichi!" It is a cry of shock, surprise and joy. But there is apprehension there too, a dreaded anticipation that thickens the air. Blinded, paralysed, I feel it even more so.
He speaks again. I've assumed that it is my name he calls. I still can't remember. It's all a blurry haze, as if someone's poured water over the watercolour of my life. A watercolour that hadn't yet dried. Smudges and patches are all I see, all I know.
I remember his eyes… Hard and narrowed, stern and unyielding, they soften when they look at me. Light dances in them when he catches me gazing at him, smiling. And he smiles back. But I still don't recall his face. That's one of the blurs.
"Seiichi, can…can you hear me?"
I try to nod, but to no avail. I have to let him know that I hear him, that I'm awake. I touch his hand with the tip of one shaking finger. It's so hard, I'm getting so tired just doing that. But then he kisses me, and it's like being hooked up to a dynamo. Energy is suddenly not a problem.
He's laughing and crying at the same time, but they're tears of the overjoyed kind. I can feel his smile, the tug of his lips. He's finally laughing again. A sense of lightness envelopes me, and I feel…at peace.
"Seiichi, it's me, Sanada," he whispers into my ear. "I haven't left your side the entire time, so please, stay with me now."
Sanada That name holds as little significance to me as does the name that is supposed to be mine—the name that he calls me.
He notices the faint wrinkle of my brow as I try to remember, and he smoothes it with gentle fingers. He runs his fingers tenderly, almost reverently, through my hair. It's soft, but seems rather limp. Perhaps I've been abed too long. A callused thumb caresses my cheekbone.
"It's okay, Seiichi. You don't have to try and think. The doctors, they told me—told your family as well—that you might not remember certain things. That you might have lost your memory completely. You can tell me which it is when you've gotten a bit better, okay?"
I've lost my memory? Well, that explains my utter confusion, at least. And my totally lack of knowledge of self. My mind is like a blank slate. Clean, and frighteningly empty. There is nothing there.
As I drift through the nothingness, I find myself wandering into sleep. And I wonder if, when I wake, will I remember anything at all? Or will everything be the same as it is now?
I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. It feels nice… The sleep is always cold. I feel stronger now. I wonder…
I clutch weakly at his hand—he always holds my hand, as if to let me know that he's still there. I feel him stir, then he touches my hair.
"Good morning, Seiichi."
I want to look at him. I want to.
I have to!
I need to.
It feels like what I imagine a baby taking its first step would feel like. It's exhilarating, it's extremely scary, and I'm so full of uncertainty that I could burst. I hold his hand as tightly as I'm able to.
And I open my eyes.
Colours sear themselves into my eyes—eyes unused to light for so long. I cry out in pain, instantly shutting my eyes once more. They stream with tears. It hurts so much…so, so much…
"Seiichi… Seiichi…" He murmurs soothingly, wrapping strong arms around my limp body, holding me close. "Shh, a little at a time, Seiichi. One step at a time."
I try again, but this time, I open my eyes a bare crack. They're so filled with tears that I see only blurry shapes, visuals of what my mind sees and is. I blink rapidly, I want to see his face. He brushes the tears from my eyes.
I still see only vague shapes. My eyes have to take some time to relearn how to focus. It takes a few long moments that seem like forever, but then his face comes into focus, and I'm drowning in fathomless eyes the colour of bitter chocolate.
The lights have faded from his eyes, and they're filled with worry, but the tenderness I recall seeing there—it's still there, and then some more. He smiles, and it's like a warm cup of chocolate and marshmallows roasted over a flame. It soothes, and it satisfies, and I want to see it again and again.
"I've always loved your eyes," he tells me. Funny, I've always loved his. They're totally unreadable to everyone else but me. I know that.
That blank slate is no longer so blank.
I open my mouth, try to say something, but it comes out as naught more than a hoarse wheeze. Still, he bends his head ever closer, trying to decipher my gasps. He is so patient with me… I try to smile, I manage a twitch of movement at the corners of my lips, but it's enough. He knows. He smiles back.
And I try again.
I just want to say something. Anything. I want to say his name. It means nothing to mean, and yet, if I can say it…perhaps… Perhaps I'll remember, even if it's just a little.
What comes out is a faint hiss, but I do not give up. A captain does not give up.
A captain? Where did that come from?
"Ss-Sa…" I grimace at the cracked sound that seems to be my voice. But it will be worth it to see the smile on his face if I say his name. "S-Sana-da."
He stares at me in shock. I see the tears well up in his deep brown eyes, and the smile he give me is shaky, tremulous, wondrous. "Seiichi," is all he manages before sweeping me into his arms.
I can only smile—try to—as he hugs me close. I can feel the warmth of his body seeping into me. It chases away the cold. His body shudders with tears of joy. My head feels rather heavy, and I let it fall, nestled in the crook of his shoulder as he rocks me.
"Sanada," I say again, the name flowing smoother now. I sound a bit better. Less like a frog suffering from laryngitis and more like a raspy whisper.
A word flashes into my mind, and even before I know what I'm doing, I speak.
"Gen-kun…" He releases me quickly and stares at me again. Have I said something wrong? I blink owlishly at him.
"Say that again," he says, his voice almost pleading.
He sees the confusion in my eyes, but it is enough for him that I remember even that little bit of information.
"My name is Genichirou, remember, Seiichi?" He brushes tear-drenched lips over mine. "You used to call me 'Gen-kun', even after I told you not to because it sounded so undignified."
Ah. Sanada Genichirou. The name fits. It sounds…right.
"Genichirou," I say, afraid. "I can't…" And suddenly I realise that I'm crying. "I can't remember anything at all."
"I know," he whispers. "I figured as much." He kisses the tears away. It doesn't occur to me that we're both guys, it doesn't feel strange at all. We…fit. "But let's take things slowly first, ne, Seiichi? You told Kirihara that very often, I think he's actually grown some patience now."
"You're the captain of our school's tennis club. I'm your vice-captain, your fukubuchou. Kirihara is one of the team players."
"Tennis?" I blink, the wet lashes seem to cling to my skin, before lifting away. "I'm a team captain?"
"Yes," he replies gently. "And a very good one at that. We've all missed you so much."
"What school are we in?"
"Rikkai Dai Fuzoku."
I wrinkle my brow, trying to remember. The name, it strikes a chord, deep in my mind. But that is all. "It sounds…familiar. But I can't place it."
"We're in junior high, and our school is affiliated to a high school and university." He strokes my hair, and it soothes me. I feel like a pet cat.
"I-I'm sorry, but it…" I sigh. "I can't remember," I whisper in disappointment and dismay.
"One step at a time, Yukimura," he murmurs. "It's enough that you're awake. Live one day a step at a time."
He hugs me close again, and I simply let him take my body weight. He feels so nice. I want to be able to touch him, run my hands all over him. Maybe my body will remember what my mind does not.
"I'll always be here for you," he continues. And then he kisses me. I try to kiss him back. It's a clumsy attempt, weak and sloppy, but I manage.
After a moment, he pulls away. Was I really that bad? I look away, even if it means moving only my eyes and not my head. I can feel my cheeks burning. I've never even kissed a guy before—at least I don't recall ever having done so. But then again, I don't remember a thing, now do I?
"Seiichi?" He asks, a hint of confusion in his voice.
I can't bring myself to look at him. My face feels like it's on fire. I scowl—as much as I can, given my current condition—and refuse to look at him.
"I forgot," he says, and the tone of his voice has me glancing at him in surprise. He sounds utterly forlorn. "I forgot that you don't remember."
I look quizzically at him. Suddenly, I wish I could erase the despondent look in his eyes. He looks like he's just lost his best friend and his pet dog died on the same day. "Sanada," I say. "You look so sad. Tell me what's wrong."
He tries to smile, but it looks too forced to be real.
"Gen-kun," I say, my voice suddenly silken soft and stern. I have no idea where that came from. I just reacted automatically, like it was something my brain was programmed to do. Perhaps there is hope after all, that I will recover my memory.
His eyes widen for a moment. Then he smiled wryly, and it is a true smile—even if a bit wary.
"It seems I can't keep anything from you, Seiichi. Not even when you can't remember a thing." He averts his eyes from mine. "It's just that I forgot that you don't remember me anymore. You don't remember us. I suppose I scared you a bit with that kiss."
"No you didn't," I confess in a whisper, lips curving slightly in a shy smile. "Us? What do you mean?"
"It was always me and you, or you and me. There was no one without the other. Do you understand, Seiichi?"
"I think I do." He traces his fingers over the bones of my face. "Tell me, how close were we?"
There is pain in his eyes as he considers what to say. I feel regret that my words have put it there, but I have to know. It is imperative that I find out who this person holding me like a priceless treasure was to me.
"There are no words, Seiichi, to describe what we had," he finally says, and there is a glimmer in his eyes, of tears unshed.
"Then show me." He looks at me in complete surprise, blinking as if he's not sure if he's heard me correctly. The urge to soothe away the pain seems to lend me strength, and I'm able to move my head enough to nuzzle his shoulder. "Show me," I repeat in a husky whisper.
"Seiichi, you're still very weak. I can't possibly-"
Exasperation is apparently a good motivating factor. I part my lips and lick delicately at a patch of skin near his collarbone. "Show me how much I meant to you," I say again.
His movements are so tender, he is so gentle with me. He cups my face in his hand and moves in for a kiss that shakes my soul. I clutch at his shirt like he is my lifeline and I'm stranded in open water. Time seems to stop for that one, magical moment, where all I can feel, all that matters, is him.
His touch, his kiss, everything seems so familiar. I suddenly know that we've done much more than just kiss. It's like a fierce flash, a fiery poker that sears that knowledge into my brain. I jerk back and cry out in pain. It burns and there's a great throbbing pain in my skull. If I had the strength to, I would have tried clawing my head open, if only to try to ease that ache.
The room turns grey, and everything starts to spin. Nothing wants to stay still. My head feels like it's splitting open.
"Gen-kun," I groan. "It hurts! Make it stop, please, make it stop!"
He holds me to his body, stroking my back, not knowing how, but trying all the same, to make me feel better. The knowledge soothes me, but does not make the pain any more tolerable. The edges of my vision start to fuzz with black. I think I'm going to pass out. A sudden memory projects itself in my mind.
"That moon," I breathe, as my eyes drift shut. "It was so beautiful…"
He is laughing, I know it's a rare treat to see him laughing so openly. I tug his hand lower, then steal a bit of his ice cream with a sly, languorous lick. I lick the cream away from my lips slowly, seductively, my eyes telling him exactly what I'd be doing to him if we weren't out on the street. He stops laughing—out loud, at least—and his eyes twinkle merrily as he tilts my chin up for a deep kiss. I taste ice cream on him, and I imagine it is so with him.
"Mou, Gen-kun," I purr. "The ice cream's melting."
"So? Let it," he growls in reply.
"Hmm? But I love ice cream. Especially if it's…yours." I give him once last kiss, then pull away grinning. And then I press my lips lightly to the ice cream, as if kissing it. I lean back and look up at him. "Want a taste?"
"Yukimura a la mode," he says with a grin. "My favourite."
The ice cream is forgotten as he licks and kisses away the creamy mess. The cone—and his hand—is dripping with melted ice cream by the time we remember.
I wake up in an instant—I'd jerk up in bed if I could, but I'm still not strong enough yet. I touch a trembling hand to my mouth. I can still feel his lips on mine. And as I lick dry lips, I find that I can taste the creamy vanilla.
Was that a memory? Or just wishful thinking?
My body doesn't ache much anymore, as it did when I first woke up, just over a week ago. But I do still feel a twinge here and there if I move too fast, or twist the wrong way. The bruises have also faded. I was spotted as a Dalmatian when I first woke up. I still don't know what happened to me. No one wants to talk about it—not even Sanada. In fact, he seems to be the most adamant in not telling me. He's hiding something big from me.
I only wish I knew what.
"Seiichi?" I hear from the couch beside my bed. His voice is slurred with sleep. I don't know how he does that—know when I'm awake, that is.
"I had a dream," I whisper. "Or maybe it was a memory."
"A flashback?" I heard the rustling of fabric. I see slight movement—charcoal on midnight-raven—almost imperceptible. And then the mattress on one side of the bed dips. He lies next to me, and I roll into his waiting arms. He pulls the blanket over us and strokes my hair.
"Maybe." I hesitate. What if I sound stupid?
Sanada would stab himself before ever laughing at me. It is something that I know innately. I don't know how. Thoughts like this pop up every now and then.
"Vanilla ice cream," I finally say.
"You bought a vanilla cone, and I was stealing some of it."
He brushes his lips over my forehead. "A memory, not a dream," he tells me. "A sweet memory."
"It was hot that day," I recall, speaking to myself. He seems to know this, and does not intrude. "We were walking back…from practice? You were helping my carry my tennis bag, even after I assured you that I was fine. Sometimes you make me feel so fragile…"
I bury my face in the crook of his neck, breathing in his scent. "I never really liked vanilla until then, you know, too bland." His fingers draw swirling patterns on my back, and then one slowly glides down to my hip, fingers gently caressing, languidly teasing. "You made it taste so sweet." My breath hitches as his fingertips trail down the ridge of bone towards the junction of my legs.
"Genichirou!" I moan as he strokes lightly. I thrust against his hand, silently urging him on.
"You've always been so sensitive to sensation," he whispers in my ear. "You react so strongly to the lightest touch." He punctuates his last few words with his fingers making slight fluttering movements.
I arch my head back from the erotic tickling. I have no idea why it feels so good. "Only your touch," I murmur back. "Only you make me feel this way."
He carefully pushes the pyjama pants down my hips, taking great care not to press down on one of the lingering bruises there. Then he flutters his fingertips over my belly, dipping into my navel, brushing butterfly caresses downwards…only to sweep up again.
"Gen-kun…" I complain. He chuckles darkly, the sound like molten chocolate poured over my nerves. I go rock hard from that sound alone. He gives me tiny biting kisses, gently nipping at my lower lip. He distracts me, then envelopes me in his warm grip. I gasp, and he takes sweet advantage of my parted lips.
His kiss is fierce, unyielding, almost forceful—I can feel him holding back—but he never forgets that I have yet to fully recover from my injuries, and beneath all that hard strength, his touch is tender. He milks me, plunders my mouth, and I am happy to lie there and let him have his way with me. And as his hand speeds up and his kisses grow deeper and harder, I feel that familiar tension coiling in my body. It's like a spring, wound tight and just waiting to be let free.
It takes just one slow, slick caress to send me over the edge, and I come crying his name. He milks every last shudder from my body, then wipes us clean with a towel from the bathroom. He holds me to him, with me spooned up comfortably against him, and I can feel that he's every bit as aroused as I was.
"Gen-kun," I murmur sleepily. "You're still…"
"Hard?" He nuzzles the back of my head. "I can wait."
"You don't have to…" I rub back against him. "You really don't have to…" I purr.
He presses a soft kiss to my hair. "When I come, Seiichi, it will be inside you, with you screaming my name," he promises darkly.
I moan at the thought, shuddering with anticipation. "Then what are you waiting for?"
"I want to take you hard, and fast, and rough, Seiichi." He hugs me from behind. "I can wait."
"I can't. I don't want to." I squirm slightly, rubbing myself against that hard heat of him. I hear his breath hitch and smile slyly. I slow down a bit, movements more languid. "Why won't you make love to me, Gen-kun?"
His teeth scrape the edge of my ear. "Because I play rough, Seiichi. I might hurt you if we try anything now. Get better, get stronger, Seiichi. I promise I'll make it all worth it." He sucks at the slight depression just below my ear, and occasionally, I feel the graze of teeth.
"Mm, when you put it that way…" I do feel really sleepy now. I doubt I could stay awake long enough if anything did happen, so maybe it's better that I regain my strength. Rough, Sanada? Somehow, something in the back of my mind tells me that I can be just as rough, occasionally more so.
"Hold me until I fall asleep, Gen-kun," I whisper. It feels so comforting to be held by him. He makes me feel so at ease.
"I won't let you go," he promises. "Sleep now, and dream of us."
I already feel myself drifting further and further into slumber. His voice is already a distant rumble that I feel, more than actually hear. "I always do," I reply, just before taking that final step into unconsciousness.
A/N: this was supposed to be a very short one-shot, but as I typed, a storyline created itself (damn, those sneaky plot bunnies…) and it somehow turned long and to-be-chaptered. Why does this keep happening to me? I haven't typed in POV format in a looong time… () I love sanayuki. Sanayuki is sooo love…