Disclaimer: I own no part of Tennis no Oujisama. Fuck.
Warnings: Shounen-ai. Unrequited love. FujiRyo, TezuRyo, TezuFuji. Mentions cutting very, very briefly. Rather abrupt ending.
Summary: (ONE SHOT)(TezuRyo, FujiRyo, TezuFuji) Unrequited love in fifteen related drabble pieces: It is a drug, Syuusuke thinks. A drug, a drug, a drug.
Dedication: For Katie, because she's a super-fantastic editor, and for whoever it was who asked me where Fuji went to when Tezuka and Ryoma were making out. (Okay, so not like that, but…)
It is a drug, Syuusuke thinks. A drug, a drug, a drug. One of those beautifully addictive, absolutely thrilling ones, too. A drug that altered his perceptions the moment he took that first dosage—the moment he stepped onto the court.
Syuusuke loves the drug that is a game with Echizen Ryoma. That wonderfully thrilling rush of adrenalin and tenacious struggle and hallucinations of an easy victory destroyed in a moment, scales tipped by the twang of the ball against the sweet spot of Echizen's racket—Aah...
But it's that type of drug he can't get his hands on nearly enough; that type of drug that others try to wean him off of because it might be destructive in more ways than one. No one, after all, has forgotten the way Fuji looked that first and last time: the dangerous hunger, the intoxicating high, the calculating wantwantwant prevalent in usually lidded hawk-eyes.
Syuusuke watches the game and wonders if Momo feels it pulsing, too—if he feels that delicious needy thrill injected into his veins and running through his bloodstream; wonders if anyone but him feels like that whenever they play Echizen.
Once or twice it has crossed Syuusuke's mind that maybe he's what they call an adrenalin junkie just for feeling this way.
But he isn't. He's not stupid enough jump off buildings or handle live wires with wet hands or anything like that. And he doesn't get this excited when he's playing any old game that raises his heart rate. And danger or death or pain don't do very much; a razor to the wrist does nothing but make him watch in morbid disappointment as red drips into the sink.
Not too thrilling, though he repeats it several times to be sure.
But this—this is better. This, looking at Echizen and trying, trying, trying to figure out this boy.
It is almost as good-bad as staring at Tezuka from across the court.
Syuusuke feels his heart pound and his stomach clench with anticipation and that ache in his ribcage. He feels that crazy looseness in his limbs, that dizzy giddiness in his head, that breathlessness, that sharp clarity, that hyperawareness.
Taka-san stares at him, worried.
"Ne, Fuji… Are you okay? You—Ah, you don't look so great."
Which means, in liberally translated Taka-san-speak, You look like a wild hawk spotting his prey. Why are you like this?
Syuusuke nods and tries to calm himself even as the hand gripping his racket tightens.
"I'm fine, Taka-san," he replies, though even to him, his voice sounds odd.
Fuji steps onto the court. He can hear the others in the background, but vaguely, faintly. His entire concentration is vested solely in his opponent—Echizen Ryoma, star freshman regular, object of Fuji Syuusuke's current attentions.
Echizen cocks his head at Fuji.
"Ne, Fuji-senpai. You look kinda weird."
Syuusuke is startled into a laugh, though he really should've expected Ryoma to say something like that.
The freshman stares at him with that familiar implacable expression.
"Yes. Your pupils are huge."
Fuji can feel the smile on his lips and can taste the feral nature of it.
Ryoma merely stares back, not intimidated in the least.
"…Mada mada dane."
Syuusuke's grin widens—and then the game begins.
No one wins that game—Ryuzaki-sensei, with the worst timing in the universe, decides that they should all call it a day because they have that game tomorrow. No arguments, no excuses, they have to get off the court now.
Fuji frowns deeply and Echizen gives something that's a rather endearing cross between an angry frown and a pout.
"Eeh… I was just about to catch up…" Echizen mutters unhappily. "It's not fair."
Fuji can only smile edgily as the euphoric high is replaced with something akin to frustrated fury.
So close to completion. So close to beating Echizen before his comeback starts. So close to seeing which of them is truly the genius—which one is truly better.
So close to something that Fuji can't quite put a name to.
He stalks off the court feeling empty.
Fuji doesn't know when he stops seeing what he's supposed to see and when he starts seeing what is there—and what may have very well always been there, but just so low-key that everyone (with the exception, perhaps, of Inui, judging from the knowing grin he wears during practice) has missed it.
But Fuji sees it now, and knows that if he hadn't had his eyes trained so solely on them, he would never have noticed.
But he does, and he sees the long glances and the smiles that ghost so faintly over their lips.
And he wonders how Tezuka could have gotten to Ryoma first.
Fuji looks closely at the picture—a candid one, light and real. One of Echizen sleeping on the roof of school, recharging his solar batteries, catlike and relaxed and strangely beautiful.
There is an ache in Syuusuke when he looks at it, and he doesn't know why.
They call him a genius, but it's worthless when it comes to things like this.
He can't even sort himself out. There is a confliction in his emotions, and he just can't—he can't figure out what this is.
Maybe, he thinks, he doesn't want to.
Fuji covers his eyes with his arm and tries to fall asleep, but in his mind's eye that picture remains—that picture of bright eyes and knowing glances and double meanings hidden behind stern words. That picture that he wants to toss away and replace with one of his own.
Syuusuke needs to hear his voice again. It's just—he needs it.
"Aa. I played Echizen-kun the other day."
"…And? What happened?"
"Sensei stopped the game when it got dark."
"You sound—uh—weird," Yuuta says gruffly. "You okay, Aniki?"
"…Aa." The prodigy pauses. "It's nothing. Ne, Yuuta, when are you coming home again?"
Fuji almost wonders how it started—who said what and who did what and what happened.
And then Fuji realizes that Tezuka is Tezuka Kunimitsu and Echizen is Echizen Ryoma. For them, there was probably never a true beginning, because neither of them is emotional enough to pour out his heart or romantic enough to do anything forward or lucky enough to be thrown together in an accident involving Tomoka, a tall mug of Inui Juice, and a happenchance collision in the hallway. It probably just was.
Syuusuke laughs to himself and wonders if there will ever truly be an end.
Tezuka looks at him over the tops of his glasses but says absolutely nothing.
"Tezuka…" Fuji begins, then sighs and leans his head into his palm.
"You know," Tezuka says then, calm and emotionless as usual.
"About you and Echizen-kun?"
And then they are silent again.
It is an awful Sunday afternoon of rain and storms and wind when Fuji contemplates the photo album and considers whether or not he should throw out all of the pictures in it. It is an exclusive album; there are only one or two or three people at most featured in it, and all of the pictures are Syuusuke's favorites.
He wants to throw them away. Burn them. Let the wind take them and blow them away, rip them to pieces.
And then his finger traces the edge of Tezuka's face and he knows he can't do it.
For the first time in a very, very long time, Fuji Syuusuke feels very, very sick.
Sickness makes him senseless. Senselessness prods him into going to school, sneezing and off-balance and out of his right mind.
This drug, he thinks giddily as he catches sight of Echizen at morning practice, is going to kill me.
And the overdose hits him solidly, nearly knocks him off his feet as he watches Echizen adjust his grip on the racket and swing experimentally. There's that clench in his stomach and that intense clarity and that odd choked feeling creeping up his throat. The sensations overwhelm and Fuji leans against the fence unsteadily and just basks in it all.
Just lets the feeling of whatever-this-is wash over him like rain or sunshine or moonlight or starbright. His world is already spinning dinning twirling twinning as it is, and this feeling is just multiplying dividing subtracting adding to it, but Fuji doesn't care doesn't care doesn't care doesn't care because he's sick and feels too terrible to think straight round square cubed rooted in any case.
And he's so confused anyway because he's feeling this and he isn't even playing Echizen and everything spins and shakes and all he can do is grab hold of whoever it is next to him because he needs stability and he—he—
Syuusuke looks up into Tezuka's concerned eyes and smiles weakly.
Then he doubles and tries not to be sick all over Tezuka's shoes.
The tea is hot and the sushi is spectacular and Fuji feels better than he has in about a week.
"Thank you, Taka-san," he says quietly and smiles at his friend. "The wasabi was great. It's nice to be able to taste things again."
"Ah, that's good," Taka-san replies and grins back. "I'm glad you're better now, Fuji. Ah—You are better now, right?"
Fuji nods and smiles softly.
"Good," says Taka-san, and gives a bright smile. "We were really worried when Tezuka had to carry you to the infirmary." Then, as an afterthought, "Even Kaidou and Tezuka and Echizen were worried, I think, even though they didn't say anything. You know how they are."
Taka-san laughs, but Fuji just looks at his hands and wonders if it's true.
Syuusuke looks up at Tezuka, serious and smiling at the same time in that strange way that he has. Tezuka's frown does not waver.
"I want him," Fuji says. "I want to take him away from you."
Tezuka says nothing.
"Would you just let him go if I did? Or would you fight?"
The captain is still silent. Fuji switches gears.
"And I want you, too, Tezuka."
Tezuka gives Fuji a long, unsurprised look.
"You could never have either of us, Fuji," he says then, and his voice is stern.
"I know," Syuusuke replies evenly. "But I want you anyway."
"You don't understand," states Tezuka. He pauses. "We're all too strong-willed to be had."
It is a long time before Fuji realizes that Tezuka included him, too.
He is across the court from Echizen and he feels alive. Terribly, terribly alive, with blood pulsing and fingers shaking and heart pounding in his ears.
(They rally against one another, abusing the ball as they smack it from end to end. The rackets twang in protest.)
Sweat pouring down their faces, genuine smiles in place, that fire in their eyes—Syuusuke can see it in Echizen and Echizen can see it in him.
(The challenge to Echizen to remember that first game—a lob, a smash, a Higuma Otoshi, a point to Fuji. Echizen remembers.)
Syuusuke can hardly breathe, and he loves it. Thrill and high and something else that he doesn't feel like putting a name to because it'll only fuck around with the dynamics of his swing and his drive—and he forces the oxygen into his lungs with a gasp of air.
He is determined now—he will never, never lose this drug or try to give it up, even if it means he has to fight Tezuka to keep this wisp of a chance with Echizen.
(A return and a Drive B. Echizen picks up the pace and Fuji rises to the challenge—but confused instincts falter and Fuji loses the ball.)
"Game, Echizen. Four games to three, Fuji leads," their captain says, watching them passively from the referee's chair.
Syuusuke will never give up Tezuka, either, not even if it means he has to fight Echizen to keep this wisp of a chance with Tezuka.
Fuji can hear that odd music in his ears, nothing romantic or corny or anything like that—it's just the song of his heart beating, just the song of his blood singing to the clouds. Just the song of Echizen's yelling and the song of his returns. Just the song of the twang of a ball being beaten by racket strings. Just the song of his sharp breaths as he runs. Just the song of adrenalin's laughter as it throbs, throbs, throbs.
He wonders, though, if they could all just share, or if they're too strong-willed for that, too.
"Thirty-all. Fuji to serve."
Fuji breathes in and lets it out, bounces the ball once or twice.
Tezuka watches him and Echizen watches him and for just a moment, Syuusuke feels like the center of their exclusive universe.
Ending is in my favorite style: abrupt and not-quite-resolved, so everyone who likes solid endings hates me. I don't care.
This is a one-shot, of course. However, if you'd like to ask me oh-so-nicely for a follow-up (with suggestions, of course—a phrase, a picture, a scenario), then I'd be happy to attempt it.
Ending was written while listening to Asterisk by Orange Range– the romantic version, not the one in Bleach (though I like that version, too). It's really good. E-mail me or something if you want it.
Thank you all for reading. Please, please, please review.