Title: Catharsis
Fandom: TeniPuri
Pairing: Pillar Pair, hint of one-sided Thrill Pair
Genre: I really am not too sure.
Rating: PG
Tezuka needs to learn how to stop being selfish sometimes.

"If you don't stop being selfish now, you'll lose your chance."

Tezuka's hand paused where it hovered over his bag. He turned his head slightly to look at his smiling friend leaning against the door. Fuji's smile was cold, and his eyes open with a glint of masked anger. Tezuka wondered if he ever did anything to offend the prodigy to deserve his anger, but found he could not remember doing or saying anything. In fact, the only times they ever talked at all were during club practice, and that was for either commenting or stating a member's progress in tennis.

Knowing full well that Tezuka was not going to speak, Fuji walked into the clubhouse – straight to one of the lockers at the farthest corner. The locker had a tag that read 'Echizen Ryoma' on it. Tezuka watched as Fuji ran his fingers slowly over the embossed letters that spelled Ryoma's name. The eyes which had looked at him coldly just moments ago softened as the fingers traced the letters almost lovingly. A part of Tezuka wanted to tell Fuji to stop tracing the letters in such a way, but his lips did not move or tremble with suppressed speech. Fuji looked over his shoulder, and their eyes met. The chill was back in Fuji's stare, almost unnerving even his calm persona.

"He would not wait forever, Tezuka. He could not wait forever," Fuji said with ice all over his spoken words, walking past Tezuka again to the door. "Because time doesn't wait for anyone."

Just like that, Fuji was gone, leaving Tezuka alone with the forgotten bag and his thoughts.


Tezuka was not dumb. He knew Ryoma looked at him when the boy thought he was not looking. He knew Ryoma knew Tezuka looked at him when the captain thought he was not looking. It was like a game of tag they played against each other, like a never ending dance to music never played. Sometimes, he wondered when the dance would come to its end. Tezuka both dreaded and anticipated the day the music stopped. He was not sure he was ready to dance to a real music played by Fate's hands just yet.

And Ryoma? The boy was too young. He should not rush into things at such an age. Tezuka wanted him to choose, and he wanted him to choose wisely. He did not want Ryoma to regret his choice afterwards. That was why he chose to keep his distance, his silence.

"If you don't stop being selfish now, you'll lose your chance."

Was he ever selfish at all? What did Fuji know and Tezuka did not? If memory served him right, Oishi once fussed over him for being too selfless for his own good.


Tezuka blinked once. He was not aware that Ryoma had been calling for him for the past couple of minutes. The boy had a small frown that seemed to be laced with worry though it could easily be passed off as annoyance to someone who did not know Ryoma personally.

"What is it, Echizen?"

Ryoma's grip on his racket tightened. "Are you free this weekend?"

Tezuka resisted the urge to sigh aloud. It seemed Ryoma had taken to asking him the same question every week. Tezuka was almost tempted to just say 'yes' and let Ryoma lead the way, but his alternate ego warned him strictly against it. If he were to keep a distance from Ryoma, he knew what he should do.

Without a change of emotion in both expression and intonation, Tezuka looked straight into Ryoma's hopeful eyes.



Helping his mother buy groceries was nothing. Tezuka's only hope was that he would not bump into his teammates. He shuddered to think of their reaction if they ever saw him holding a very feminine basket stuffed with fruits and vegetables. The crowd was unusually large that particular weekend. When he was about to cross the road, a young lady almost knocked him down. She was pushed aside by rude passers by who rushed to cross the road before the light turned red.

Tezuka helped her up out of courtesy, picking up the fallen handbag for her. The grateful young woman beamed up and thanked him profusely, saying something about the fact that there were still good citizens around. Tezuka looked up to see the green light blinking. It would be red once it stopped blinking. He was about to look back down to the woman who was still shaking his hand when he saw a familiar figure standing at the other side of the road.


The boy looked first at Tezuka before turning to the woman next to him. Tezuka felt something restricted in his chest. Ryoma was going to get the whole thing wrong.

The light turned red. When it was green again, Ryoma was nowhere to be found.


There was no practice from Monday to Wednesday, leaving them with only one day left for club practice. A small renovation of sorts was being carried out at the tennis courts. When the tennis club got to practice again on Friday, Tezuka found himself watching Ryoma's practice match with Oishi. The boy wore no mocking smirk as they played. Tezuka would like to pass it off as Ryoma's respect to Oishi but something told him it was not.

Ryoma did not ask Tezuka if he was free when practice ended later that evening.


On Monday, Fuji challenged Ryoma to a match. Tezuka watched their intense play with almost unblinking eyes. Ryoma won 6-4 in the end; Tezuka tried hard not to frown when Fuji held Ryoma's hand longer than necessary at the net. When no one was looking, he met Fuji's cold eyes from afar. The other boy was issuing a challenge. Tezuka was not sure he was up to it just yet.

He waited until everyone was out before locking the clubhouse. The last to leave was Ryoma, much to Tezuka's discomfort. Ryoma nodded politely, making his way past the captain who stood waiting at the door.


Ryoma looked up.

"I didn't tell anyone, if that's what you're worried about."

Trust Ryoma to know what Tezuka was about to say.

"I was only helping her up when she fell down next to me."

Ryoma's gaze was unreadable. Tezuka wished he knew how to read blank stares such as Ryoma's, but he could not read anything from Ryoma's face.

The boy adjusted his cap and looked away from his captain. "Why are you explaining this to me?"

Truthfully, Tezuka wondered about it too.


The room felt eerily quiet to Tezuka. He sat against the headboard on the bed, his homework left untouched on the table. He could not concentrate on anything. His mind kept drifting to Ryoma's blank expression and Fuji's mocking stare. The latter was even more distracting. If Tezuka was not Tezuka, he would have glared in counter of such a stare.

"If you don't stop being selfish now, you'll lose your chance."

When was he ever the selfish one? Tezuka thought he had always been selfless. He thought…

Wait a minute…

He thought…

Tezuka closed his eyes. He finally understood. It was always what he thought, what he assumed – always what he believed.

He had always been selfish, it seemed.


Ryoma obviously did not expect Tezuka to hold him back after practice that Friday. Tezuka knew this from the notable slip of Ryoma's cold mask the moment Tezuka asked him to stay back after practice ended. He saw Fuji smirked before leaving the school grounds. The man knew, Tezuka thought. Fuji had to know. He wondered if he should thank Fuji after all.

When Tezuka did not seem to be saying anything, Ryoma asked if he could leave. Tezuka took hold of his hand before Ryoma could walk past him.

"I've been selfish," he murmured, though only barely audible.

Ryoma blinked, not expecting that from Tezuka.

Tezuka looked straight into the eyes he had always been fascinated with. "Are you free this weekend, Echizen?"