Authors' Note: Hello, everyone! This is a collaborative fanfic written by FallingSilver and ToastedMarshmallow, starring Atobe and Sanada. It's also a story with a unique format: it's written like two separate journals, so there will be a journal entry from Sanada, then an entry from Atobe for that same day, and it will continue to switch back and forth between the two perspectives. We hope it will be interesting and not too hard to follow. And most importantly, we hope you will enjoy it!

Sanada's part of the journal is being written by ToastedMarshmallow, and Atobe's part is written by FallingSilver. We are attempting to use their voices and write like it really is the characters who are writing these entries. So Sanada will be more abrupt and to-the-point, and Atobe will use long sentences and have a refined vocabulary. XD Yes, there is a method to our madness, at least in theory.

Beware: There are mild spoilers for events that have already happened in the manga (mostly having to do with the outcome of the Hyotei match during Nationals). And there is slash/shonen-ai/yaoi/BL/whatever you call it. Lots of it. As well as discussions about established relationships (as in boyfriends) and teenage angst. And consider yourself warned… There are pairings in this fic that have never even been written about in the fandom before, at least not to our knowledge. Please don't kill us. Expect to see SanaYuki, Tango Pair, and various other side pairings.

We adore reviewers and shower them with love and rose petals. However, we are sadly blind and deaf to pointless flaming. Oh, and we don't own these characters, or PoT either. Enjoy!


Sunday, December 31st

Tomorrow's a new year, so I'm starting a new journal. Although, it seems strange to me to even have a journal… If anyone had asked me this time last year if I would be keeping a journal a year later, I would have given them a confident "no." I'm not the sort of person who likes to dwell on things, much less write them down. But I started journaling a little halfway through this year, at Renji's suggestion. He told me that I was "repressing emotions," and that it "wasn't healthy, especially now that you're going through puberty and suffering severe and confusing emotional changes." I don't know about all of that… but it does feel like a good release sometimes, to write things down. So I wrote sporadically this year, but I wasn't consistent at all. In the new year, I am resolving to write every day.

If anyone read what I wrote, I think they'd say it didn't sound like me. When I go back and read it myself, it sometimes sounds strange, even to me. I think it's because I don't talk much, in general. But I'm always thinking. I write down all of those thoughts, or at least, what I can remember by the time I get around to writing. It's all of the things no one would ever hear me actually say. Which, in most cases, is a good thing…

When I write like this, my thoughts aren't even coherent. When I look back I notice that I tend to switch topics very quickly. Usually that's because I don't know what to write, so I sit here, staring at the page for a while, thinking. And then what I eventually write down is something completely unrelated to what I was writing before. I could never be a writer. I don't know how writers do this every day. Not only do they stay on topic, but they make it sound nice. I have to say, my writing isn't exactly poetry. I'm not really used to expressing my thoughts in words, verbally or on paper. In some ways, I envy those lucky people who seem to have a way with words. I'm definitely not one of them.

Anyway, I'll write more tomorrow. I just kind of wanted to get this started. Right now, I need to go celebrate the New Year with my family. We're going to stay up all night and watch the sun rise.


Sanada Genichiroh


Sunday, December 31st

While it goes without saying that I am not at home for the holidays, as I never am, I must admit that I would not have expected to find myself completely alone on New Year's Eve with this journal as my sole companion. And yet thus is my present situation, mostly by my own choice. Of course, the usual party is in full swing on the rooftop: Father rented the entire top floor of the complex for his customarily extravagant New Year's soirée, and almost everyone who's anyone in New York has long since arrived and checked their well-known name off of the guest list. It's the epitome of my father's way of spending the holidays: jet off to our penthouse apartment in Manhattan just to get out of the house (and spend some time strengthening his ever-important "connections" over expensive alcoholic beverages).

To be fair, I was in the thick of it all for nearly two hours and had more than enough company among these indiscreet Americans, as the minutes continued to slip on toward the anticipated destination of midnight. But I had just about exhausted even my flawless English skills, in a gracious attempt to converse with the few young people in the room, when some artificially-tanned, bleached-blonde female with the intellectual depth of spilt milk had the gall to start flirting with me. Of course, I endured the first few winks with admirable patience, but when she went so far as to propose a quick sexual encounter in the bathroom… Well, it goes without saying that I was not amused, and having no desire to correct her erroneous assumption about my personal preferences in that department, I excused myself from the festivities.

And so here I am, sitting alone in our silent apartment on the twenty-first floor, with nothing but blank paper and a pen for company. I didn't originally intend to spend this time writing, but a trip out onto our balcony did absolutely nothing to distract me from my own thoughts… Staring down from this height at the rabble of city goers, that pulsating crowd that stands there waiting in riotous anticipation for the world-famous ball to drop, has become such a familiar sight to me that it only makes me feel more alone than I already do.

Yes, I do feel alone, a reality that would probably be inconceivable to those who think they know me best. But this comes as no real surprise to me, and it should come as no surprise to this book, either… The previous pages of this volume have given more than enough indication of my feelings on the subject. Indeed, I've mentioned it far more than I would like to, and have no desire to discuss it any further…

Why, then, does this feeling of loneliness, this nagging feeling that I have been constantly trying to push out of my mind, only become more urgent and demanding on a night such as this? Is it the anticipation of a new year, which naturally leads me to look back on the old one, a space of twelve months whose irritating losses and failures I aim only to forget? Is it the unnerving silence of this dark apartment, an emptiness that is strangely similar to the sensation of standing on that crowded rooftop, where the only reason people know your name is because they are hoping to strike a business deal with your father? Can it possibly be as simple as this, when these are circumstances that are not new to me, and therefore should have no particular weight on this particular night?

Or is this loneliness the product of something else, the reaction to an image that can best be summarized in the sight of those thousands of couples, those unknowingly fortunate beings who lie far below my feet, who though they have no grandiose penthouse apartment, nevertheless have something that I do not…

They have someone by their side who will kiss them when the clock of this old year runs out.

This is a sentimental remark, of course, the kind that I only indulge in when it can be made with the confidential silence of ink. And as superficial as even my closest friends are constantly assuming me to be, I am not so foolish as to think that what I truly want is just a simple kiss at midnight. No, I want something much more than that, something with passion and meaning. What I want is a genuine relationship with someone who truly longs to be with me, and who wants to know more about me than the extent of my personal fortune or the monthly total of my allowance. What I want is a person who will treasure the slightest attention from me more than anything that my money could buy.

Of course, this impossible desire is one of my deepest secrets, which is why I will never confide it to any living thing. Instead, it resides here, trapped between these pages just like it is locked within my heart, never to leave my lips unless my wish should ever come to fruition…

I can hear the noise outside now, as it swells to a frenzied roar. The crowd is counting down the numbers, watching that silver sphere as it falls toward the earth, the sign of a new beginning that they doubtless believe will be even better than the last, as unlikely as that assumption may be. So it is now officially a new year, January 1st, though I feel no such new beginning in my own life, as much as I may hope for it.

It occurs to me, as I glance back through this volume with something like nostalgia, that I will need another blank book soon, as I have come close to filling up the pages inside of this one. I would start a new journal at the start of this new year, as I have done for nearly all of the years that I have been writing in these books, but I have not gotten around to purchasing one yet. Well, there are still pages to fill, and since I have not yet felt my own new beginning for this year, I see no reason to create a literal one in my journaling habits.

I can hear the noise above my head growing more and more urgent, as the party on the rooftop reaches its final climax, that time just before the guests will slowly start to file out of the building in anticipation of other pleasures for the night. Father will be looking for me, and I don't wish to risk a scolding by being conspicuously absent when people are saying goodbye. And so I will close, with the tentative statement that I expect this year to be at least somewhat better than the regrettable year that I have just concluded, though in what way, I really cannot anticipate.


Atobe Keigo



Monday, January 1st

I love New Year's. Everyone forgets about the mistakes and worries of the last twelve months, and everything starts over again. It's during winter, too, so it's easy to imagine that when the new year begins, it's like everything is being covered with a fresh blanket of clean, white snow.

This is rare for me; I'm waxing poetic.

Still, it is nice to be able to put my past behind me, and start fresh again. Especially after this last year… There are so many things I want to forget. Well, maybe not forget completely… but I definitely want to move on now. It was a hard year; let's just leave it at that.

I still have a week left of vacation. That's such a strange feeling. What am I going to do with all of that time? During the summer (the busiest part of the year for us tennis players), breaks like this one are spent training. I guess I could train now, too, for next year… Maybe find some inside courts and practice my serve, or run, or just lift weights… But then I think Yukimura would laugh at me and tell me that I need to take it easy. He's always telling me that.

I finally get to see Yukimura again tomorrow. We're going to the New Year's festival by his house. I'm excited; I haven't seen him for three whole days. Maybe that's not so long… but it feels long. I would have insisted on seeing him sooner, but we're both celebrating New Year's Day with our families, and I understand how important that is.

I used to like New Year's better than Christmas, because I got to spend it with my family. But this winter, I think I enjoyed Christmas more, because I spent it with my friends—mostly, Yukimura.

Since this is a new journal, I feel like I should explain. Yukimura and I have been going out for almost five months now. It's kind of a weird story, how it happened… I'm not even sure what happened, really. While he was sick and in the hospital, I visited him at least four times a week; most weeks, it was every day. We talked a lot, and I guess we got really close. So after he got out of the hospital, of course he and I spent a lot more time together. Hanging out somehow turned into going out (after we realized how we really felt about each other), and now he's my boyfriend. After five months, I admit that it still feels strange to call him that… It seemed like a logical progression, though, in some ways. To be honest, I think everyone expected it to happen sooner. I've always admired him. And he told me that he's always been fond of me, although I can't imagine why. I really don't deserve him. I often wonder how I got so lucky.

My life is basically perfect right now. I have so much to be grateful for: tennis season is OVER—I don't want to think about it anymore—it's a new year, I have a perfectboyfriend, the school year is winding down, and high school looks like it's going to start out great.

This year is going to be perfect.

It finally seems like I've got everything under control. It's a great feeling. Last year, even before the year began really, everything started spinning out of control. I never want that to happen again… I felt so helpless through all of it. Everything—all the horrible events that took place—was beyond my power to fix or prevent in any way. But so many people were relying on me… Everyone (even Yukimura, somewhat) looked to me to solve all of those problems. And I just couldn't.

Not this year. This year, I've got it under control.

I'm feeling very tense all of a sudden. I think I need to go stretch, then maybe meditate for a little while. That usually helps me relax.


Sanada Genichiroh


Monday, January 1st

It is a long way from New York to Tokyo. This is a fact that I have known for years, since my very first trip to the so-called Big Apple at the age of seven, but that does not make the flight back to Japan feel any shorter. If anything, the familiarity only adds more hours onto the seemingly endless journey.

Of course, all of my friends would doubtless remark in unison that I really shouldn't complain, since I am after all passing the time in a private jet. But even though it's true that it must be better than flying commercially – not that I would actually know – it doesn't change the fact that I have a long stretch of hours in front of me, with nothing to do but waste them. And even though it would probably be a perfect time to just sit here and finish filling up this journal, I suddenly find that I have absolutely nothing to write about, which up until now has not been the case for weeks. Well, irony is certainly the persistent little gremlin in my life – no matter how much I think I am in control of a given situation, it still manages to show up at all the wrong times and turn my world upside down. At least, that was certainly the case over this past year.

After all, is it not irony that a nameless junior high school would push my team, the Hyotei tennis team, out of the final four of the City Tournament, a phenomenon that has not occurred since our tennis program's inception? Is it not irony that this would be the circumstance that would cause our team to face Seishun Gakuen in the opening round at the Kanto Tournament, and not to their detriment, but rather to ours? And it could be nothing but irony that I finally got my chance to face Tezuka Kunimitsu on the court back then, only to win against him and yet still feel as though I had lost.

And it is certainly irony that finally led Hyotei's tennis team, my tennis team, to the National Tournament, even in spite of our unsightly defeat… It was a deeply cruel irony that it was Seigaku, once again, that was to be our downfall in that tournament. And above all else, the most painful irony of all was my personal fate in that match, the irony of being completely humiliated on the court by none other than Tezuka's five-foot-tall protégé, that impertinent little freshman whose greatest asset appears to be his decidedly unguarded mouth. Why, the mere idea of Atobe Keigo, the only captain in the history of Hyotei Gakuen to be unanimously elected, the man adored by hundreds of his fellow students and admired by everyone he meets, because he rightfully earns that admiration, defeated by that sneering little egoist with a tennis racquet---!

Well. As free as I should feel to rant in my private journal, and as much as I have written about it before, in terms much more heated than these, I cannot help but leave it at that. After all, if anything has come out of this, it is the (rather obvious) knowledge that there is no greater egoist in this world than myself, and pride inevitably must lead to some kind of fall. This may sound like a surprising assertion, coming from me, but it only goes to show that I did not come out of that match without having to face the reality of my own shortcomings. As Tezuka said to me a few months ago, we all must have our worst moment on the tennis court eventually, and it is not for us to choose what or when that moment will be. That match with Echizen Ryoma was mine. The only thing that still tears at me is the recollection that Tezuka, even in his very worst moment, always looked like the unreachable picture of perfection, up until that final, painful moment in the second longest match I have ever played…

For me, though, there was no dignity in my defeat. No, there was only humiliation, and even dismay, when I finally regained consciousness and realized what had transpired. And even now, it's enough to send a shudder right through me, when I think of the way it felt to be standing there on the court, completely defenseless, frozen like a pillar of ice that was destined only to fall and splinter into a hundred thousand pieces…

No. I will not think about it any more. I never meant to think about it, and it only goes to show why long plane flights are so irritating, that I've even started to think about it at all. Besides, I have already promised myself that I am leaving this horrible year behind for good, now that a new year has come and a fresh start in high school is all of four months away. Yes, I have promised it to myself, and I will not break this promise, because it is up to me to overcome these past mistakes and create my own future. As for irony and fate and all the rest of it, I will not concern myself with such things. They are not under my control, and as such, should not matter to me. The only thing that matters is what I chose to do with the circumstances that have been laid out before me.

… Of course, I can repeat this to myself until I am blue in the face, but it cannot change the fact that there is so much in my past that I still regret, with nothing clear in my future to make me forget about it. Because of that, I can only hope that some change still lingers on my horizon, something that will help me feel as though this really is a new year, that I truly can start over and leave everything else behind. What that change could possibly be, I still have not the slightest idea, but I eagerly await whatever it might turn out to be.

In the meantime, it occurs to me that I should try to divert myself in some way for the rest of this vacation, once I have safely arrived at home. Perhaps I can bribe some of my old teammates with the promise of a shopping trip, or maybe my family's indoor swimming pool, once they are finished spending time with their own families for the New Year celebration… In any case, I suddenly feel very tired, and as such, I am going to go lie down and hopefully sleep through the rest of this tedious flight.


Atobe Keigo



Tuesday, January 2nd

It's very late. Technically, I'm writing this for yesterday, because it's past midnight right now. After the festival, Yukimura and I went to his house for a while. We didn't do much… Mostly, we just sat in his bedroom and talked (and kissed, a little). But Yukimura didn't seem to be in a particularly good mood. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but that seems to be happening a lot lately. I've tried to ask what's bothering him, but he usually changes the subject. And I hate to keep asking all the time; I always feel like I'm nagging. Besides, if he doesn't want to tell me, it's none of my business. Still… I can't help worrying about it. The paranoid side of me keeps wondering if there might be some sort of bad news in regards to his condition. Maybe it's just as simple as, the pain comes back every now and then… I wish he'd tell me. I still worry so much about him.

I wonder if he knows how much I worry. Part of me hopes he does, part of me doesn't. I don't really feel like I can tell him, because honestly, I don't think he wants to hear it. He's told me (more than once) that I worry about things too much, in general. But really, can anyone blame me, after everything that's happened? I never used to worry. I was always so confident that nothing bad would happen to me, and then suddenly, everything went wrong. Of course that's affected me. Of course I worry a lot more now.

I need to stop talking about all of that. I think I can feel my blood pressure rising…

Changing subjects… When I was at Yukimura's house, he randomly handed me a flat little box with a bow on it. He said it was "a late Christmas present." But he already gave me something for Christmas; he gave me a very nice black and grey sweatsuit for training. I mentioned that to him tonight, but he just smiled and said that when he saw this, he just had to get it for me… Anyway, it was a ticket to a Latin music concert this Friday.

It's a strange present, now that I think about it. I mean, sure, he knows that I like Latin music, but I haven't gone to a concert since… Well, since last summer. That was the time I ran into Atobe.

Now there's someone I haven't thought about in a while. I haven't seen him in a while, either… The last time I saw him was at Nationals. I wonder what he's been up to…

Come to think of it… Why haven't I been hearing from him at all? During the summer, it was all I could do to get away from him. And I thought he was determined to beat me in a tennis match. Did he give up on that or something? I guess I wouldn't blame him. I'd give up, if I were him. Obviously he's never going to beat me.

Or maybe it's because we played doubles together. Maybe he thinks he doesn't have to play me anymore, since we played together…? No, that doesn't really make any sense. Never mind. Just thinking on paper.

It's weird to think of that match again… It all seemed so strange. I don't normally play doubles. Certainly not second doubles, ever… And never with a diva like Atobe. He made such a big show of everything. When really, for half the match, I was the one doing all the real work, after he exhausted himself hitting that flashy serve of his…

At least we didn't make complete fools of ourselves, and lose. We almost did. That would have been utterly humiliating for national-level players like me and him. But it wouldn't have completely been our fault, if it had happened. We're not doubles players. Honestly, couldn't they see that? What idiot puts people like us in second doubles? Even worse, they made us play together. It was just asking for some sort of disaster…

There's one thing I'm still confused about. How am I supposed to treat him now? I know how I treated him before the match—we were rivals, and nothing else—but does the fact that we played doubles together change anything? I haven't talked to Atobe at all since that match (I saw him at Nationals, but I didn't talk to him). If I ever saw him again, I wouldn't know what to say… Would I treat him like a friend, or just an acquaintance for whom I have some amount of respect? Or would I treat him with any respect at all? Would I say something to let him know that he'll still never beat me? Or would I just walk past and pretend I didn't see him?

Whatever. It doesn't matter, at least not now… I'll probably see him next summer, when high school tennis starts up. Unless he doesn't make it onto the regulars. But I suspect he will.

I need to go to bed. It's almost one o'clock.


Sanada Genichiroh


Tuesday, January 2nd

I must admit it is with some surprise, and a certain degree of annoyance, that I find myself completely unoccupied for yet another evening. Of course, I did not want this to be the case, and as such, I did attempt to contact a few of my friends with the intent of convincing them to pay me a visit for the afternoon. Those attempts, however, were met with absolutely nothing in the way of success, much to my chagrin.

My first impulse was to call Jiroh, since he's generally so enthusiastic about visiting the mansion – and besides, I figured that I could bribe him with the promise of a tennis match against me – but he didn't even answer his phone. I'm not sure why he even bothers to own a cell phone if he isn't going to answer it, but I suppose it's to be expected from someone who is usually too busy sleeping to do much of anything at all. In any case, I then attempted to call Oshitari, despite the fact that I had a vague feeling it would be an equally useless gesture…

Sure enough, he told me that he was already busy for the entire day. I'm not even sure why I bothered to inquire about his plans, but he finally admitted that he had already promised to take Gakuto to the amusement park. And that was just so incredibly cliché that I really couldn't even begin to comment on it, so I let him go without the slightest sarcastic remark. But honestly, how ridiculous is that? The mere idea of Oshitari Yuushi, of all people, strutting around some cheesy amusement park and holding hands with Mukahi Gakuto, like some picture-perfect couple… It's not only bizarre, it's absurd. I can only assume that Oshitari is going along with it because he's hoping to get some kind of reward later – unless he has more of a romantic side than I can reasonably assume. Either way, it's certainly disturbing.

In any event, I then dialed Shishido's number, and that was perhaps the least successful call of the three. While he did actually answer the phone, and he didn't admit outright to the fact that he had other plans, he was still attempting to skate around the idea of accepting my invitation, and that was even more irritating. Of course, it only took a simple but direct inquiry on my part to discern the real reason for this: he had been intending to go out that evening with Ootori, of course, even though he was too embarrassed to call it what it so obviously was – a date.

It never fails to amuse me how completely transparent and yet somehow naïve those two can be when it comes to such things. In fact, they are the only couple that I know of that can somehow manage to be an official item and yet still be hesitant to call each other their "boyfriends." Honestly, it's a little late to be trying to hide it, when half the school has already seen them trying to steal the occasional kiss in the school hallways. They're just incredibly fortunate that I am such a thoughtful person… Had I not unilaterally persuaded all of the overly enthusiastic young ladies who follow me around to leave them alone, they would constantly find themselves being bothered by squealing cries of "Congratulations!" on their so-called "forbidden love." Ah, well, ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

At any rate, I then found myself sitting in my bedroom, phone still in hand, with absolutely no idea as to whom I should attempt to call next. At first, I started dialing Kabaji's number – but then, I have to admit, a rather pessimistic thought occurred to me. After all, how pathetic must I be if my only recourse for occupying myself is to extend an invitation to someone who essentially lacks the ability to say no? I shouldn't be ashamed to admit it, but Kabaji is my closest friend, out of all the acquaintances that I can possibly classify as such. And while I am certainly not ashamed of him, I have to confess that there is something fundamentally humiliating about the fact that the only person who will usually condescend to spend time with me is someone who can only reply "Yes" to my every remark.

And so I put down the phone again, resolving to save that particular solution for some other day. Still, I then proceeded to occupy myself admirably well, at least during the afternoon… I spent some time in the stables, and took Elizabeth out for a ride through the woods on our property. It was very cold outside, but there was something almost romantic about riding through that sugary dusting of pure white snow on an equally white horse. Actually, it's something that I've never really mentioned to anyone, but those times with Elizabeth have always been some of my most cherished moments in life.

Truly, she is the loveliest companion that I could ask for – perfectly tame, stunningly beautiful, and one of the very few creatures whose greatest joy in life is to catch a glimpse of me walking toward her. (I must say, I have rather oversimplified this… There are plenty of females whose greatest joy in life is to see me walking toward them. However, my horse exceeds them all in beauty, and she does not have a tendency to squeal right in my face like a chattering rodent.) In any case, it was a surprisingly pleasant afternoon, and I was almost glad that my plans to invite someone over had failed so miserably.

However, this evening has been nothing but one gigantic bore. I ended up eating dinner by myself – Father is already back at work, Mother is out doing goodness-knows-what, and my grandparents generally take their meals in their wing of the mansion. And now I am alone in my bedroom, trying to waste some time by writing about what I did today, when I essentially did nothing. I am not certain that I even want to begin to think about how dismally pathetic this is, or I might start complaining about it on these pages for hours, and that never gets me anywhere. But there is one thing that I should say, as I sit here and try to come up with some way to distract myself from my own doldrums…

It is simply this: I am amazed by the fact that I could want a genuine companion even more than I did the day before, when I already felt that it was my deepest wish and that I have never wanted anything as much as I crave that. And yet, I do want it more than I ever did. Somehow, it is a pattern that keeps repeating itself, across these dreary winter days… There seems to be no limit to how much I can desire something so utterly commonplace. And yet it still seems like an impossible wish for me.

After all, nearly everyone I know already has someone who is more important to them than anything else, and there's no way that I can compete with that kind of interest. And while I may wish for someone to become just as special to me, I cannot help wondering if that is the most impossible wish of all. I seem to be one of those people whom others are reluctant to even try to approach on an intimate level, and that must certainly be a powerful hindrance in fulfilling such a desire. I don't even presume to know what is holding them back – I used to assume that it was because they were intimidated, but I have recently begun to think that I am just trying to put an optimistic spin on something that truly bothers me. I would like to assume that I am not an unlikable person, but when faced with countless lonely nights, a scant list of phone numbers, and little prospect for change, I am starting to have to rethink my assumptions.

In any event, I am beginning to depress myself again, which I seem to be constantly doing lately… It's only nine o'clock, and I have absolutely no reason to get up early in the morning. But it's better to get a full night's sleep and have the cheerful glow of daylight greeting me, than to sit here and mope until I'm ready to rip apart these pages in frustration. And as such, I will go to bed now.


Atobe Keigo



Wednesday, January 3rd

All this free time is driving me crazy.

This morning I ate breakfast, went out for a run, lifted some weights, practiced kendo, and helped Mother with lunch. That was all.

Maybe mornings during vacation would be easier if I knew how to sleep in. But I'm so used to getting up at five or earlier, I can never sleep much past six…

This afternoon was worse. I did practically nothing. Knowing that I'd have nothing to do, I called Yukimura's house after lunch, but his mother told me that he wasn't home. She said he'd gone to see a friend, but he didn't say who. So I called Renji. I thought that it was possible that Yukimura was at his house, and I was going to ask if all three of us could hang out for the afternoon, which we do sometimes. But Renji said that Yukimura wasn't there. By this point I was just curious, so I called Yukimura's cell phone. He didn't pick up.

It's strange. He doesn't usually go to see people without telling me. He knows that I'll call him almost anytime and ask to see him, especially on my days off. So he'll usually let me know beforehand when he's going to be doing something, so I know not to bother him. What makes this whole thing even stranger is that he didn't answer his cell. He's usually so good about that.

Anyway, that was basically the extent of my afternoon. A couple of phone calls. Oh, that, and I took a nap before dinner. Which, again, is weird for me. I'm not good at taking naps, mostly because I don't usually have time for them. Anyway, now it's after dinner, and it's too late to go out and do anything. And now I'm not going to be able to get to sleep at a decent time, because I already slept for three hours this afternoon… That means I have, what, five or six hours to kill?

I should keep writing out of sheer boredom, but I can't think of anything else to say.

Four more days until school starts again.


Sanada Genichiroh


Wednesday, January 3rd

Well, I must say that my insatiable wish for some kind of company has finally caught up to me. And it has done so in such an incredibly bizarre fashion that I would not have believed it if someone had told me about it in advance. I was upstairs in my front parlor this afternoon, trying to waste some time by reading through The Odyssey again (in the original Greek, of course, which is infinitely better), when our doorman told me over the intercom that I had a visitor. I must say that I was only a little surprised; I immediately assumed that one of my former teammates had felt badly about giving me the slip yesterday and had come to make up for it by spending a few hours with me. Still, I must confess that I was pleased about it, and I promptly hurried down to the front hall to greet my guest.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when who of all people should be standing there but Yukimura, the former captain of Rikkai's tennis club! Of course, I am on a somewhat friendly basis with the man – most of the prominent captains in the Kanto area can be considered cordial acquaintances of mine – but I haven't seen him in nearly five months and wouldn't have expected to see him again until this summer. And I can't say that I recall him ever paying a visit to my house, either. Well, be that as it may, I was still as friendly as I could possibly be to him, and I promptly invited him in for some tea.

Of course, it didn't take long for my initial amazement to subside, and when it did, I found myself wondering why he had even come in the first place. Normally, I wouldn't worry about such a thing – people's intentions have a way of revealing themselves involuntarily – but Yukimura has always been one of the few people that I have found completely impossible to read. In fact, it is even harder to figure him out than it is to understand Tezuka Kunimitsu, and that alone is an accomplishment worthy of the history books. So I have to confess that I have always been naturally suspicious of that impossibly perfect demeanor of his, and that way he has of pacifying everyone around him with that sweet little half-smile, like some benevolent and disinterested saint. (I suppose that must sound incredibly cynical of me, and I will freely admit that I have never discovered anything untoward about him up until this point. Still, it bothers me somehow. After all, I of all people should know that no one can be truly perfect.)

In any case, I was completely unable to decipher his purpose for coming nearly thirty minutes into our conversation. I don't even remember half of what we discussed in that half-hour; it was mostly small talk about what we have been doing since tennis season ended. And then, of course, the subject had to eventually present itself, the one thing in all the world that I really did not want to discuss, and it wasn't long before I was secretly wishing that I had not invited him in for tea, even regardless of my utter desperation for company.

That subject, of course, was the boyfriend. Yes, the captain of Rikkai is a charter member of the seemingly endless group of people that I know who are so ridiculously fortunate as to have a significant other in their lives, at the ripe old age of fourteen and a half. And what's more, Yukimura doesn't just have any random, nameless individual for his boyfriend…

No, Yukimura's boyfriend is Sanada Genichiroh.

I don't even remember half of what he mentioned about their oh-so-perfect relationship, or the "absolutely wonderful" five months that they've spent together, but I will admit that some part of me was horribly jealous. And no, I am not saying that I would want someone as completely devoid of a personality as Sanada for my constant companion, because I most certainly would not. But even I have to admit that it would be hard to find a more enjoyable person to drag along on a date, if only to walk all over town with him and enjoy all the envious stares that you were getting by having the exclusive privilege of holding onto his arm. I'm sure the two of them must get plenty of stares and whispers when they go out together, because I honestly can't imagine a more picture-perfect couple.

In any case, the whole conversation was incredibly annoying to me, since all I really wanted to do was forget about the whole subject of boyfriends and companions and significant others. So I must confess that I started to get a bit short with him, and I soon found myself asking him why he had even come in the first place. Naturally, he wasn't offended at all (I don't think it's possible to offend him), and he immediately took something out of his pocket and handed it to me. I suppose I must have looked confused, because he started to explain that "I forgot to get you something for Christmas," which didn't really make any sense at all, given the fact that we're only acquaintances. But the next thing I knew, I was tearing open the envelope…

Only to find a single ticket to a Latin music concert on the inside.

Well, I felt my eyebrows lift up in surprise at that. I mean, it was strange enough that Yukimura of all people had come to my house to see me, when I hardly ever see him even during tennis season, and that we had been sitting together and talking of the one thing that has been secretly bothering me for days was equally peculiar. But to have that sudden reminder of that odd coincidence almost half a year ago, when I ran into Sanada at that concert, was really just too bizarre. I had absolutely no idea what to say to him. I suppose I managed some kind of a thank-you, even though I briefly wondered if maybe this was some kind of practical joke that I couldn't comprehend. But he just smiled and said, "You're welcome," and we talked for a few more minutes about nothing whatsoever, until he finally excused himself and headed out the door.

And now I find myself trying to decide what in the hell that was all about.

I have to admit, I'm probably being overly suspicious of this innocuous little ticket, even as it lies harmlessly on my desk like the thoughtful present that it allegedly was. After all, there's absolutely no reason why Yukimura couldn't have heard about my preference for Latin music from his boyfriend, and finding himself in possession of a ticket for such an event, would think of me as someone who would likely appreciate it as a gift. And like I said before, it's not as though he's an absolute stranger; in the year before his illness, we even had frequent conversations during tournaments (mostly due to my curiosity about how talented he was rumored to be). But somehow, there is still something about such an unusual series of events that bothers me.

Then again, I suppose I can't draw any conclusions about this until I attend the concert, which is on Friday night. And I can't even begin to imagine what kind of conclusion I should be drawing, when it really does seem to be nothing more than a simple gift from a friend. In any case, I did have my fervent wish for company fulfilled this afternoon – an occurrence that has certainly reminded me to be a little more careful of what I wish for in the future, if only to prevent myself from feeling as decidedly confused as I do now.


Atobe Keigo