Title: Spiral
Chapter: Chapter 4 - Innocence
Author: Datenshi Blue
Rating: NC-17
Characters: Ryoma, Momo, Fuji, Tezuka, Atobe, Ryoga, Yuuta and many others probably.
Disclaimer: Not mine, but I have fun torturing them.

SPIRAL
By Datenshi Blue

Chapter 4 - Innocence

Hormones. It all comes down to that. At least, that is what psychologists and psychiatrists say about it. The large amount of time you spend around your family apparently triggers the appearance of some kind of hormone that prevents the love you feel for your family members from turning into the romantic kind. Really, it all comes down to chemical reactions.

There are also plenty of papers and essays about incestuous relationships. If by reading those books and articles Fuji was trying to find a way to make himself miserable for what had happened, he surely got disappointed. It seems that as long as a relationship is consensual, it doesn't matter what the ties between the involved persons are. That's what psychiatrists think. Granted, there are some genetic considerations, but that doesn't really matters when you plan on dying without issue. Therefore, as long as it makes you both feel good and complete, then it should be all right with the world. But the world is not that forgiving. Even something like a relationship between two people of the same sex is looked down at, and it has even been considered a disease for a long time. Incest, thus, is enough to condemn you to burn in Hell forever. Not that Fuji cares about that, being that he does not believe in Hell. At least not that kind of Hell where you are supposed to burn for eternity. But he believes in making mistakes, and you would think that loving a member of your own family with a non-brotherly type of love would be a huge mistake. Something big enough to ruin your and your beloved's lives. Something definitely big enough to make your mother shed a lot of tears while your father says with a faltering voice that you've been nothing but poison for your own family ever since you were born and that they would be better off without you. Now that is the kind of Hell Fuji Syuusuke believes in.

He also knows that those words were just prompted by shock and disappointment and that his father probably didn't really mean them. At least his mother didn't want him to leave like that and she, for sure, didn't want him to disappear from their lives as he did. He didn't need Yumiko's messages and mails explaining to him what was going on back home to know all of that. Fuji has always been an intelligent young man, and he has always had a knack for understanding people, easily finding their weak points as well as their fortes. The same way he innately knows how to hit a ball so that it will have the desired effect, he has always known where to hit a person so that it will hurt worse. Perhaps he inherited that skill from his father. That man, indeed, is an expert at hitting where it hurts most.

As it is, Fuji had promised himself that he wouldn't return to Japan until he had sorted his own life out. Not an easy feat to accomplish, having run away from home to a foreign country without any real money on his bank account or any plans for the future. Yumiko, of her own accord, transferred some money to his bank account every month. Fuji had had the impulse of rejecting it, but in the end, he decided to accept his sister's help at least until he was able to support himself.

Yumiko wasn't the only person that had helped him out. Fuji couldn't complain; it could have been worse, much worse. It could be said that he had been lucky. Although sometimes, Fuji thinks that rather than luck, it was the Atobe Financial Group that had granted him a fairly easy life given circumstances. Not that he has any real proof of that. But he had a start a bit too smooth to be real. Getting a full scholarship to study in Oxford, England, in the middle of the year had been a reality only because his friend's father had recommended him to the University board. That much Fuji knows. That much he is willing to owe Atobe. In any other circumstances he wouldn't have accepted that kind of help, but he was desperate at the time. For all he knows, Atobe's aid ended there, although he has reasons to think that his influent friend has secretly helped him further.

Almost a whole year has gone by since he left Japan in a hurry. Sometimes he doesn't know where all those months have gone; it almost feels as though he had gone to sleep one night and woken up a year later. Other times, especially during rainy nights, it feels like it's been a lifetime since he left home... and Yuuta.

He still can clearly remember that New Year's Eve party, different from other years' celebrations because his father was home for once. They all had gone to an expensive hotel, had had an expensive dinner and had slept in expensive suites after a very western-like new year greeting ball in a gigantic ballroom full of strangers. Not exactly the kind of party Syuusuke enjoyed, but he didn't have a say in it. No one really had a say in anything his father decided the few times he was home to make decisions.

It was late, but the ballroom was still filled with people enjoying themselves. It was dark and music was playing; there was dance music mixed with idols' music, definitely too loud for Syuusuke's liking, filling every corner of the room with strident chords that prevented anyone from having any kind of conversation with their acquaintances.

Yuuta was dancing alone. He had been allowed to have some drinks and had ended up slightly drunk. Syuusuke could tell because his brother was flushed, breathing faster than usual, his eyes softened by alcohol, his lips curving easier than usual into charming smiles. He also was moving his body in a way he wouldn't have, had he been sober. It was a good thing that nobody was really paying him any attention, or he would have been surrounded by people wanting to end the night in his arms. Or perhaps that was just Syuusuke being his overprotective self and imagining things.

Fuji remembers having leaned back against the wall, watching his younger brother for what seemed to be hours. Somewhere along the line, Yuuta had noticed him watching and had started dancing for him, getting closer. Alcohol had disinhibited him, and the usually shy kid was dancing in a very sensual way, making his older brother look away, more than a little altered by the darkness, the music, and the almost obscene glint of sweat in Yuuta's skin.

The next thing Fuji knows, he was pushing his brother against the wall, his leg between Yuuta's, his mouth claiming Yuuta's desperately. It was a little uncomfortable, being on his tip-toes, supporting himself on Yuuta's shoulders, trying to save the height difference between his brother, way taller than him, and himself. But that lasted for just a few seconds. Suddenly, Yuuta was holding him tight, leaning forward and lowering his head to make the kiss less awkward. And was that Yuuta's hand sliding under his shirt? The elder Fuji heard himself moaning, his heart apparently going crazy within his chest. Yuuta's lips tasted of some sweet drink Syuusuke couldn't identify. There was the slightest trace of cologne surrounding him, almost but not quite covering his brother's own scent that he had learnt to love and long for. It all seemed to be happening in slow motion; Yuuta's tongue entwining with his own, that daring right hand caressing the muscles of his flat stomach, the fingers of Yuuta's left hand entangled in his hair, and all those fireworks he was seeing even with his eyes closed.

"Aniki..."

It was but a sigh, whispered against Syuusuke's lips, and it would have been enough to bring him back to the earth if Yuuta hadn't started kissing him immediately, slowly turning the tables and pushing Fuji against the wall, his knee caressing his groin almost painfully. It felt as if Fuji had unleashed a storm and then had lost control of it. Yuuta was kissing him desperately, whispering that word, Aniki, between kisses, once and again, and grazing his lips with his teeth. To think that Yuuta had been feeling the same... it was unbelievable. It didn't make sense, considering the way Yuuta had always avoided him; the way he wouldn't speak with Syuusuke whenever they spent time together at home, or during holidays; the way he had always managed to end up in a different school so their paths wouldn't cross. But then again, it did make sense, and it made Syuusuke's heart hurt, because given Yuuta's character it surely had been tougher for him than it ever was for himself.

In a rush, they moved to Syuusuke's suite. The hotel halls were deafeningly silent and this lack of noise weighed on them, making them feel as if they were doing something wrong. The elder Fuji held Yuuta's hand tight, tightening the grip whenever hesitation and doubts would shake him. They used Syuusuke's magnetic card to open the door and walked in, feeling their way to the bed, leaving the lights off in a feeble attempt to hide their sin.

They kissed for a long time, trembling hands touching here and there, discovering each other's bodies and finding out what each other liked. They took it easy, getting rid of their clothes slowly, discarding them one at a time, after making sure they had covered each other's skin in kisses and tender caresses. They both were silent, afraid that any word might shatter what they were creating, this forbidden fantasy that couldn't be real, that shouldn't be real.

Yuuta had been assertive in the ballroom, but he seemed to be feeling much shier now. When Syuusuke got rid of the last piece of clothes, Yuuta made a little flustered sound that positively melted his heart. He stopped for a few seconds, looking intently at his brother, barely able to distinguish his features in the darkness that surrounded them. Without haste, he moved closer and closer, until his lips were touching his brother's. He kissed Yuuta softly, tenderly, caressing his temple with a gentle hand, feeling the x-shaped scar Yuuta had in his forehead with his thumb.

"Yuuta, are you all right with this?"

It was just a whisper, but it sounded too loud in that somber room. So loud that it made Fuji wince, hoping that he hadn't just ruined it all with that question; fearing, at the same time, that he had.

"Aniki..." For some seconds Yuuta didn't say anything else. "How could I not be all right with this?" he continued, finally. "And how could I be? This is wrong, it shouldn't have happened. But now that it happened, I can't stand the thought of giving it up. Aniki, I... just..."

That was enough for the older boy, who kissed Yuuta again, swallowing any other word he might have wanted to say. He didn't want to hear anything else. Of course he knew what they were doing was wrong, but he didn't give a damn anymore. He had wanted his little brother for too long. He had dreamt of this very moment for many years and now that he had Yuuta where he had always wanted him, he just couldn't stop because of what people might say if they knew.

Fuji kissed Yuuta's lips, slowly moving toward his neck, revelling in every little sound his brother made in response to his caresses. He kissed the curve of his shoulder, his chest, and stopped at his left nipple, biting it carefully even as he caressed it with his tongue. Yuuta was moaning now, his hands buried into his hair, massaging his head delightfully. Judging by the already altered breathing and the clumsy way he arched his back to meet Syuusuke's caresses, it was easy to think that this was Yuuta's first time doing something like this. Syuusuke had seen him with girlfriends, but he doubted he had ever gotten very far with them, being so shy and respectful. He wondered if Yuuta had ever been with another guy. Their sexual preference was definitely not a topic of conversation between the two brothers, although Fuji had never bothered to hide the fact that he wasn't interested in girls.

His mouth had gotten as far as Yuuta's navel, and his younger brother was writhing so violently that he had to steady him with his hands before he took him into his mouth. He licked the head of Yuuta's cock slowly, moving his tongue downwards and then upwards, before wrapping his mouth around it and applying a slight suction. He could feel Yuuta's struggles to push farther into his mouth, wanton moans falling from his lips as he rapidly lost control. Fuji could see his chest rising and falling as Yuuta fought to get some air into his lungs and it wasn't long until it finally was too much, his fingers tightened their grip on Syuusuke's hair painfully, and he came into his mouth, trying to apologize with disjointed words for having done so while his body trembled violently, riding the last waves of his orgasm.

Not that Fuji cared about it. He had always liked Inui's concoctions - well, with the exception of Aozu that had managed to kick him unconscious in more than one memorable occasion - and they definitely had stronger and sourer tastes than his brother's seed.

Fuji can remember that night as if it had happened only yesterday. They didn't go much further, as none of them was ready to, their relationship being too unexpected and complicated and full of taboos to be able to relax themselves and just enjoy each other's bodies. Yuuta returned the favor with his hand and then they took a bath together. There was a lot of kissing, a lot of cuddling and Syuusuke thought he could burst with satisfaction when he opened his eyes the next morning to find Yuuta's head resting on his chest, and a peaceful smile on his lips as though he was having a pleasant dream. Yuuta's hand was casually placed upon his stomach, and Syuusuke just covered it with his own, trying to go back to sleep.

It had been beautiful and it had felt so right that Fuji can't understand, even now, why anyone would think it was wrong. Granted, they were siblings, but it's not like they could have defective babies together and it definitely was not like they were hurting anyone by loving each other.

For four months they lived happily. They talked on the phone every night, but they would usually see each other during weekends. On Friday after classes, Fuji would go to Yuuta's college to pick him up. They would spend the whole weekend together, sleeping in cheap hotels whenever Yuuta got worried that he would be scolded for bringing his brother so often to his room in the university dorms.

Syuusuke made love to Yuuta for the first time on Valentine's Day. His father happened to be in Japan at the time and his mother talked him into taking her to dine out. Yumiko was having a date with her boyfriend and they found themselves alone at home, with the whole house at their disposal. They had a romantic dinner with candles and roses and moved to Syuusuke's room afterwards. Both of them were nervous and it didn't go smoothly. There was pain but that didn't surprise either of them. Even though Syuusuke tried his best to make it as easy as possible for his brother, Yuuta was tight and stiff and worried and whenever the elder Fuji tried to give him some advice, he would get jealous and angry, because that kind of advice meant that Syuusuke had already done it with someone else. It was hard, and painful, but also beautiful and delicious. Syuusuke took his time, driving his brother several times to the edge of orgasm just to slow down afterwards until Yuuta was begging him to let go and to stop teasing him. At least, he made sure Yuuta had a nice time in spite of the pain. His little brother had such a strong climax that he lay on bed, unable to move, for several minutes afterwards, panting heavily as if there wasn't enough air in the world to make his lungs work properly.

Syuusuke hadn't come, but he didn't want to keep it up when Yuuta had already gone over the edge, to avoid making him sorer than necessary. When Yuuta finally got a hold of himself, he got rid of Syuusuke's condom with steady hands and finished it with his lips, allowing his older brother to come into his mouth for the first time. He choked and coughed and made faces that threw Syuusuke in a fit of laughter and he thought that he couldn't be happier than he was at the time.

Fuji guesses they got overconfident and careless. Sneaking into each other's room when they were home together and the rest of the family was around turned into some kind of daring game. They would sleep together, trying to be silent even when they lost control in each other's arms, and exchanged naughty looks when they were eating with the rest of the family.

They were even planning to go on a short trip together during Golden Week and had been reading travelling magazines.

One night, after discussing some details of the upcoming trip, they had started kissing and caressing each other. It soon got out of hand, and Yuuta ended up kneeling on the floor, giving his older brother an enthusiastic blowjob. Fuji was sitting on the edge of the bed, panting heavily, resting his weight on both his hands, placed on the mattress by his sides, his back arched and his head thrown back, soft moans falling from his lips.

The door opened then and their father walked into the room. Fuji won't ever know what he wanted to tell them, because then it was chaos unleashed.

That was the end of it. There was a lot of shouting, and he was slapped harshly. Yuuta was taken away and very harsh things were said. Yumiko tried to calm their parents down, but they were too upset and disgusted by what had happened to listen to her.

Fuji didn't cry, although it was really hard to hold back the tears. He was scolded and shouted at for hours. He could see the sun rising beyond the windows before his father was finally satisfied. Fuji found himself thinking that it was funny that the world hadn't ended with all of that, and that the sun was still rising as if nothing had happened, his particular drama meaning nothing to the world. He left the house as soon as his father left him alone, and went to Tezuka's place. He was his best friend, and the only one that knew what Fuji felt for Yuuta. Instead of finding any comfort there, he run into a wall of coldness and indifference. Unable to think of anyone else who could understand him, he wandered around the streets of Tokyo for hours until he found himself in front of Atobe's mansion. He didn't know how he had gotten there, and he was about to turn around and return to his aimlessly walking when a car stopped right by his side. The window of the passenger seat was wound down and Atobe Keigo himself looked at him with interest.

"Get in," he said, simply. And Fuji obeyed.

They crossed the doors of the property and the car stopped at the front door of the house. Without words, Atobe stepped out of the car and led the way to his room. He didn't look back once to see if Fuji was following him. He was sure Fuji would. That was how Atobe Keigo was.

Fuji talked for what seemed to be hours. He talked about everything: about Yuuta, about the Christmas party, about how he had always wanted his brother. He talked about the Golden Week's trip, and about his father and the many things he had been told. He also talked about Tezuka and his cold reception. He had lost notion of time, and it surprised him to see that, by the time his voice started trailing off, the sun was setting already, dying the garden different shades of gold and red. He absently thought he would have liked to have his camera with him to take a picture. That made him realize that most of his photographs had lately featured his little brother. The hugeness of all that had happened downed suddenly on him, and he felt the tears overflowing his eyes. He got to his feet in silence, ashamed, and walked toward the French doors that led into Atobe's balcony in an exhausted attempt to hide his tears.

Atobe hesitated for a second. He wasn't sure whether Fuji wanted to be alone or not. In the end, he shrugged and got to his feet, walking slowly until he was standing behind his friend. Long and slim arms wrapped themselves around Fuji's thin frame, and Keigo leaned forward, resting his forehead against Fuji's nape. The smaller boy tensed for some seconds before he suddenly relaxed, his body shaking with the force of his tears.

They stayed like that for a long time, until Fuji finally started calming down. Atobe didn't say a word. He could have said something like "it's okay" or "everything will work out" or some other stupid and meaningless sentence like that, but he didn't know if things could get fixed, and it definitely wasn't all right, so he simply hugged his friend in silence, breathing in the nice scent of his silky hair while waiting for him to get a hold of himself.

When Fuji stopped shaking, he let go of him, handing him a handkerchief.

"Better?"

"Yes, thank you."

"Now, sit down. We need to think of what you are going to do next." Atobe motioned toward the table. "You said you want to leave, but you realize there's no way you could support yourself as things are right now, don't you?"

"I can work."

"And throw your promising future as a psychiatrist through the window? Get real."

"I don't care about school right now," Fuji said, avoiding his friend's eyes.

"I know you don't care about anything but your own misery right now, but let's think practically. What do you think about studying abroad?"

That is how Oxford came into the conversation, being that the Atobe Financial Group had had some business with some of the most important members of the University board in the past. Some of them apparently owed Atobe's father some favors. Getting a full scholarship wouldn't be difficult and Fuji was a student brilliant enough to grant that there wouldn't be any future trouble with it.

It was very late when the boys finally went to sleep. Atobe didn't even offer Fuji one of the guest rooms of the house. He simply gave him some pajamas a little too big for him, and slid into his bed, big enough for the both of them. Fuji fell asleep easier than he expected, warmed by the weight of Atobe's body against his back, the heat of his breathing upon his shoulder and the comfort of those long arms surrounding him.

A couple of days later, Fuji had already been granted a full scholarship to continue his medicine studies in Oxford, England. He had to go home to pack his stuff, which he did during the morning because he knew nobody would be in the house at that time. He grabbed just the most necessary stuff. Some clothes, his favorite camera, school stuff, some CD's and his battered copy of The Little Prince. He added his tennis equipment as an afterthought.

He didn't leave a note, not even for Yuuta. He took all his cacti, though, and left them on Yumiko's desk. She would understand. She was the only one that had ever understood him. When the taxi he had called arrived, he just gave a look around and without a second thought, left the house.

Half an hour later, he was back at Atobe's place. Everything was ready. Atobe's father gave him the plane ticket the University had bought for him and wished him luck. Fuji bowed repeatedly, unable to express his gratitude properly.

He slept with Keigo for the last time that night, realizing how much he had come to depend on him and how much he owed him. He tried to find some words to let him know that he appreciated all he had done, but words were failing him. While he was in silence, struggling to find a way to thank him, the older boy simply hugged him from behind, as always, burying his nose into Fuji's hair. "Keep in touch," he asked, his voice strangely soft.

Fuji caressed his friend's bigger hand that was resting on his stomach, and entwined his fingers with Atobe's.

"I promise."

He didn't think he could sleep, nervous as he was, but exhaustion got the best of him, and he passed out much sooner than Atobe, who stayed awake for hours.

The next morning, Atobe took him to the airport and saw him off with an encouraging smile on his lips.

Fuji fell in love with the city as soon as he arrived. His dorm was really close to the building where his classrooms were, and he found himself with enough time in his hands to take a ton of pictures, even with the make up work he had to do. A few weeks after his arrival, he found this small pub, almost hidden in shadows. It was in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dark and humid alley, but it was a very popular place among the students. He had his first pint of Irish black beer while the barman explained to him that the place was so popular because students themselves run it. It was a cheap, charming place, and he ended up asking if he could work there as well. Less than a week later, Fuji had become a barman in the pub. His job allowed him to return some of the money Yumiko had lent him, as well as getting to know a lot of people.

That's how he met the captain of the University's tennis team. He couldn't be more different from Tezuka, and that was all right with Fuji, since his last memory of his friend wasn't exactly a pleasant one. Soon, Fuji joined the tennis team and got so busy that he barely found any time to sleep. He didn't mind, though, since that prevented him from having to think too much about the reason why he had ended up where he was now.

The tennis team participated in some inter university tournaments and Fuji began to make a name for himself. It was funny that he was starting to be known as Tensai. After his sixth consecutive victory, he had been interviewed by the University's newspaper. Someone from the newspaper had translated the word "prodigy" into Japanese using it in the article. In a light-hearted tennis club where everyone had a nickname, the name stuck. Fuji didn't know if he liked it; it brought back memories.

He also called Atobe every week. They talked for a while and Fuji would tell him about what he had been doing during the week while trying to look happy and satisfied. He knew Atobe appreciated his weird sense of humour, and had fun talking to him. Fuji also liked those phone calls. In a succession of days where all he did was trying not to think too much about anything in particular, drowning in his training to avoid letting his thoughts drift, and having to fend off people that had an unnerving habit of hitting on barmen just to get free drinks, his conversations with Atobe were the only thing that grounded him to reality.

It was during one of these conversations that Atobe talked about the Miyako Cup for the first time. He explained that his father had asked him to recommend some unknown players to be invited to the tournament as wild cards. He asked him to think about it. He said he could see that Fuji would think that it was too soon to come back to Japan, but it would be for just a couple of weeks in spring, and he could stay in a hotel with the rest of the players or even in Atobe's house if he preferred it to the hotel.

Fuji promised he would think about it.

It was the juicy prize that decided him. Moving to a foreign country and having to make a living while studying and playing tennis was being harder than he had thought, even with the scholarship covering most of his expenses. He had been forced to learn to value money for what it was worth. That's why, finally, he accepted Atobe's offer.

Being that the Miyako Cup is an amateur tournament, he had hopes of being able to fight for the trophy, so he trained to exhaustion every day in order to increase his chances. Inui would have been proud of him. Or perhaps not. After all, these months had deeply changed him.

Now, Fuji feels that he isn't playing tennis for the thrill of the game anymore. It is just a means to get something else. And the insufferable fear of degrading the sport has been torturing him for a long time. Which is why he was so relieved when he saw Echizen's play style after the tournament started. Echizen was the person that had loved tennis best, and even he has changed enough to use tennis instead of just enjoy it. Maybe that's what growing up means.

Fuji startles when he hears a noise at his back. He turns around slightly, just to take a look over his shoulder, thinking that it is probably the maid bringing some tea. Instead he sees Atobe walking into the room. He turns around completely and smiles.

"He's gone," Atobe says, with a smile, when he joins Fuji in the balcony. "You realize you will have to face him some day, don't you?"

Fuji turns to look at the garden again. Atobe's place is so peaceful and beautiful that he can't help feeling at home whenever he's there. A soft breeze brushes his hair gently, and he lifts a hand to pull it away from his eyes.

"I can't blame him for his reaction. He always told me that I was in for a lot of pain if Yuuta and I were found out. So... yes, I realize I will have to face him. Not now, though. I'm not ready."

"Stop running away," Atobe whispers, not looking at Fuji. "It's not like you."

There is a soft laughter, and Fuji leans his back against the railing of the balcony, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"Isn't it a little late to say that? I've been running away for a year. And I'll be leaving again when this tournament is over. I'm not done sorting out things."

Atobe straightens his back and raises an eyebrow. Fuji looks just like always, but he has changed. There is a lot of bitterness around him that he would like to be able to take away. He wishes he would have been able to do more for him during this last year, instead of just listening to him weekly, believing everything was going as fine as the other youth told him during their phone calls.

"You will never be done sorting out things." Atobe's voice is soft but it has an edge of harshness that cuts Fuji deeper than he would have liked. "I do not think you're so naive as to think you will. There are things you have to learn to live with, things that you cannot change. No matter how much of a prodigy you are, you can't make miracles. I don't know if what you had with Yuuta is already lost forever, but I would think so. Are you willing to cut his ties with your family just so that you can have him for yourself? Ah? I doubt it."

Atobe pauses for a moment, wondering if he has said too much. His recent conversation with Tezuka must have loosened his tongue.

"Move on, Fuji. You knew it would probably end up like this. The alternative was hiding during the rest of your lives from everyone. There's no love, no matter how strong it is, that can withstand such a harsh test as that one. You know as well as ore-sama does that it would end sooner or later."

"It's not that." Fuji says. And he means it.

"Then, what is it?"

Fuji stays silent. He doesn't have an answer for that question. It's true that he still loves Yuuta dearly, but he hopes he has already moved on. He is smart enough to know that there is no point on holding a candle for his brother, and even though his heart is probably not that smart, time and distance have made a lot to dull his feelings.

"I guess it is that I don't want to accept that I have lost my innocence like this. I am twenty and I already feel as if I was a hundred years old. I hide in tennis, in my useless part-time job and in my studies, and take pictures of things that once were a part of my life, but aren't any more than colors now. I feel detached and disappointed. And it has nothing to do with not having Yuuta anymore. The world just doesn't look like it used to a year ago." Fuji smiles, a sad rictus in his face that it's threatening to break Atobe's heart.

"You have just grown up," Atobe whispers looking away. "You must be really stupid if you think you are the only one that had ever felt like that."

So that is the line between a child and an adult, Fuji thinks. Once you have lost the ability to cushion your mind from the obstacles life throws against you everyday, you stop being a kid. It makes sense. Suddenly, Fuji feels like he has lost something precious.

Atobe reaches out and places his hand on top of Fuji's head, without looking at him. He caresses his hair tenderly for a second before letting go, leaving the room with silent and sad steps afterwards.

Like that, Fuji is left alone in that balcony fighting back the tears that hadn't threatened to spill over for a long time.