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Authors' Notes: We bring you the much-anticipated epilogue! These are two journal entries written by Sanada and Atobe a month after the end of the last chapter. We hope you enjoy getting a peek into the future, and thank you for reading!
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Wednesday, March 14th
You'll never guess where I am. I'm with Keigo on his private jet, about four hours into the sixteen-hour-or-so flight it takes to get from Tokyo to New York City.
Well, maybe it wouldn't have been so hard to guess that. I've been mentioning Keigo's hints about this trip for weeks, though he only just told me today exactly where we were going. I was a little shocked, I guess; I've never been to America, much less some famous, cosmopolitan place like New York City. And when he told me to bring something to keep me "occupied for the long flight," I had no idea that the plane ride was going to take an entire day. We're planning on going to sleep soon, though, and we should be asleep through most of the rest of it. Still, it all seems a bit overdone for a measly one-month anniversary. But I guess that's my boyfriend for you.
It was his idea that we should write in our journals for a while. He said it would be "a good time to reflect on everything that's happened," and I guess it's true that being with him hasn't left me much time to write about our relationship so far. By the time I get home after one of our dates (if I get home at all), I'm usually too tired and satisfied to feel like writing. It feels like empty words and a waste of time. So I've gotten into the habit of lying about what day it is when I actually write, and writing an entry the next day to make up for the day before, even though I swore I'd write every day this year…
I keep looking over at Keigo to make sure he's not reading what I'm writing. In fact, he just smacked me on the arm again for "being so paranoid." I suppose I am being paranoid. These chairs are certainly big enough; I don't think he could even read my writing from way over there.
But Keigo, if you are reading this, just know that I'm going to have to smack you around later. And I'll know that you're reading this because you're going to start laughing when you do. Don't even think about trying to stifle it back; I know you won't be able to.
Alright, he's not laughing, so he must not be reading this after all.
I feel a little silly writing at the same time he does. The way he writes is very hurried, almost like he can't get his thoughts down quickly enough. And when he does pause, he seems very thoughtful and focused, like he's simply looking for a certain word before he continues rushing his pen across the paper like he's trying to beat the clock. Me? I, on the other hand, write very slowly. It's a habit from my shoudou, and I can't decide if it's a good or bad thing. I just can't seem to keep writing if my last character doesn't look perfect. So I've found that going slower actually wastes less time, because I don't go back and correct every bad stroke. And I pause a lot between sentences. I'm never quite sure what to write next. So I sit here, staring at the page for a long time, and I keep getting distracted by the scratching noises Keigo's pen is making across his paper…
Anyway, I suppose this is a good time to reflect, since I'm sure Keigo has a ton of things that he wants to write about, and if I finish too quickly I'm going to be sitting here for a long time waiting for him to be done.
It's been a month since Valentine's Day, when he came to my house and slept in my bed, and I told him that I love him. I can't decide if I'm surprised that it's already been a month, or if I feel like there's no way all the wonderful things that have happened since we started going out could possibly fit into thirty days. No… twenty-eight, actually; last month was February.
It's been wonderful. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I hope it lasts forever, but I still wouldn't regret it even if it did have to end. I would never be able to go back and say, "I wish I had never gone out with him." I would never be able to say that it had been a waste of time, or that it wasn't real and it never should have happened.
No, Atobe Keigo has been the best thing that's ever happened to me.
In that sense, I would be devastated if this did have to end. Since I can't think of any better way to describe this, you'll have to excuse my toothache-inducing cliché… But ending our relationship would be like taking all of the sunshine out of my life. Once back in the darkness, though, I wouldn't regret having seen the sun.
Maybe I should try to explain why it's been so wonderful. But the truth is, I'm not sure that I know why, exactly. We just love each other, more than we sometimes know how to express. And it seems like the more we get to know each other, the closer we want to be. At least, it's been that way for me.
One thing I really appreciate about Keigo is how much he needs me. I don't think he's ever said that, exactly; he doesn't have to, and I'd never make him. I can tell by the way he treats me that he wants me around, and I know that he's needed someone like me for a long time. And that's what I need. I need to know that I'm wanted, that I'm helpful and that I'm filling a place in his life that no one else can. I want to know that I'd be missed if I was gone. And I know that now. Keigo makes it pretty obvious that he misses me when I'm not there. To prove it, I have an inbox full of text messages I've received during school hours that made me so happy that I haven't had the heart to delete any of them yet.
I can't be arrogant about it, though; I need him just as much. Besides needing to know that he needs me, I just want to be around him. Being with Keigo makes me happier than I've ever been in my entire life. And when I'm not with him, I'm pretty sure I talk about him so much that Renji and Yukimura either want to seal my mouth with duct tape or hang themselves. And I know that's odd for me, to talk that much; I didn't even realize I knew how to talk that much. I guess it just proves how much I miss him when we're not together.
I'm not going to lie and say that absolutely everything has been perfect, and that we have no problems at all. Actually, we fight all the time. And it's not like it gets any easier each time to say, "I'm sorry." Sometimes it seems like it gets harder. But we've both learned to do it, and it's always been worth it, no matter how much it feels like it won't be beforehand, when we're both still angry.
I guess the hardest time was the first time. It had only been a week since our first official date, and we went back to Keigo's house on a Saturday night after another one of our outings. He said something that made me angry—I don't even remember what it was, I just remember that it was somewhat insensitive. I started yelling at him, he yelled back; I called him a snob and a whole bunch of other things I didn't mean… It was awful. I stormed out of his house and went home, having determined that he didn't want me as his boyfriend and that we never should have gone out in the first place if it was going to be like this.
I couldn't sleep at all that night. I was still angry for a long time, still feeling hurt by whatever it was that he'd said. But then I started remembering all of the horrible things I'd said to him, and I realized that none of them were true, and that I still loved him and couldn't stand the thought of being without him. I couldn't stop thinking about how angry he must have been with me, and the thought of him hating me forever made me feel sick to my stomach. That's when I knew I had to go apologize. I went over to his house in the morning, praying he'd forgive me and take me back. It was hard to swallow my pride and go back to him like that, but the thought of losing him scared me too much to be able to avoid it.
I prepared myself to endure a cold confrontation in his parlor. I thought he was going to come out with his nose in the air, demand what I wanted and why in the world I was worthy of his forgiveness. I thought he was going to have me kissing his feet before he'd take me back. I even expected him to keep me waiting for a while, just to show that he was so far above me that he could waste my time. But I only had to wait about ten seconds for him to come out after his butler went into his room to get him; he must have shoved the poor man over in his rush to see me. He ran into the parlor and practically fell into my waiting arms.
Neither of us said anything for awhile, but once we did, all either of us could seem to say was how sorry we were.
And then I wrote about the rest of it already… Staying at his house for a long time, watching movies in his home theater, holding hands and rubbing arms and sneaking kisses the entire evening, the way I didn't want to go home… And then what I spent most of the entry talking about: how he took me up to his room and gave me the most unforgettable night of my life.
Even that, though, wasn't exactly like something out of a romance novel. I still had to get up at three in the morning just to get to school on time, and the whole thing had kind of been random in the first place. But I'm glad it happened when it did. If it had happened before we'd ever had a fight, I'd worry that the only thing we were holding onto was the sex. But as wonderful as that has been, that's definitely not what made us go running back to each other after that first fight, which we can prove simply by the fact that we hadn't gone there yet.
No, what we have is much deeper than that, and much more real. It's just like what I said about Keigo, when I compared him to a diamond. Both of us have our faults and our relationship has its imperfections, but that's what makes it precious.
So I've learned that fighting isn't always a bad thing. When it comes to Keigo and me, it's probably one of the better aspects of our relationship, actually. We drive each other crazy, but we're equals and we're honest enough with each other to say exactly how we feel—something I never had with Yukimura. And making up, I'd have to say, is perhaps the best part of our relationship.
Besides, what we fight about is never anything important. I'd be worried if it seemed like we really had serious problems with each other. But it's always about something so stupid that when I think about it later, I always wonder why we made such a big deal out of it.
I believe our latest fight had something to do with the fact that he takes too long to get ready sometimes. I'll meet him at his house for a date, but he'll still be picking out his outfit or messing with his hair. I mentioned this, and he got defensive (which means he made a cruel joke out of it). He said something like, "I'm just trying to make sure I don't look like a slob," seemingly implying that I never make any effort with my appearance (which isn't true, by the way). My reply was something like, "That's better than making a career out of it," and things just kind of went downhill from there. Do I really care that we always leave his house at least fifteen minutes later than we say we're going to? No. We always allow plenty of time and it never matters. And I don't love him any less for taking that extra time; in fact, I probably like him better for it because he really can look stunning when he wants to, and that's one of the things I love about him. (Not that he doesn't look great all the time, but that's a different story.)
I would finish up here, but my boyfriend has just informed me that I should keep writing. "'Almost done'? Don't be ridiculous, Genichiroh. I'm writing Shakespeare. Another five hours at least!" He doesn't have to be sarcastic. But god, I love him.
Let's see… What else can I write about? Well, the entry I wrote about our first date was criminally short. It was the weekend after Valentine's Day, Keigo was getting over his cold, and I was just starting to get it. (Which was just the beginning of a long, horrible chain reaction… I probably didn't mention this in my other entries, but everyone on my former team caught it, too.) Since I already had his cold, he figured it would be alright to take me to a fondue restaurant. And in case the common cooking pot had not adequately distributed our germs, we were feeding each other by the time we got to the chocolate dessert.
I'm kidding, of course; the last thing I was thinking about at that point was proper sanitation. That was probably one of the best meals I've ever had, not to mention one of the best times I've ever had. I was a little nervous at the beginning—first dates are always like that, and it didn't help that I had no clue what the hell fondue was or if I would even like it—but by the end I realized just how much I enjoy his company. And it certainly didn't hurt that he was shoving delicious food into my mouth that was literally dripping with the best chocolate I've ever tasted. There was one piece of cheesecake left at the end that we decided to share. No, we didn't split it… we shared it. And there was further sharing of saliva after the cheesecake had been swallowed.
We should really go back there sometime.
Oh, there's something else I haven't been writing enough about: Yukimura. All my entries lately have been "Keigo, Keigo, Keigo," and I've been leaving a lot of important things unsaid…
Well, first of all, I'm glad that Yukimura and I have remained such good friends. After we broke up, I wasn't sure things would ever be right between us again. But things have been just fine since then. In fact, I think I can honestly say that he and I love each other as much as we ever did. Now we just don't have to worry about kissing and holding hands all the time, for no other reason than that's what boyfriends are supposed to do.
That's one thing that really bothered me for a while, though. I liked kissing him and holding his hand, but not because it was him. Like any boy my age, I wanted to do that sort of thing, and I thought that if I ever wanted to, I should want to do it with him. I was wrong, of course, so it made sense and it was fine that we broke up, but it wasn't really fair. It had hardly been a week since we broke up that I started going out with Keigo. Because of that, all of my needs for affection were being taken care of, but what about Yukimura's?
That bothered me for a long time. I started to notice Yukimura's face darken a little every time I started talking about Keigo. He was happy for me, and he'd try to smile, but he couldn't seem to hold it for long. And then I'd feel bad for not remembering how lonely he must have been.
For the longest time, though, it didn't seem like there was anything I could do about it. Then, about a week before his birthday, Keigo told me (very excitedly) that he had a solution. He said he'd found out that Tezuka actually had feelings for Yukimura. (I guess Tezuka had told somebody that he had feelings for someone, and then Keigo heard about it and confronted him.) Anyway, my boyfriend decided that we should set them up.
I was a little hesitant about the whole thing. After Tezuka kissed Yukimura, I had always gotten the impression that Yukimura didn't want anything to do with him anymore. But Keigo insisted that Tezuka should send him flowers on his birthday, and we could just wait and see what would happen.
By the way, I did get to repay Yukimura for that watch he gave me on my half-birthday. I bought him a deep teal cashmere sweater that I thought would suit him. (Yes, Keigo helped me pay. When I saw the price on the sweater, I wanted to go look for something else, but he insisted he would chip in about 70 percent. I tried to talk him out of it, but to no avail.) Yukimura really seemed to like it, which made me happy. And as for the kiss he'd given me with the watch, I repaid that with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. (Don't worry, I asked my boyfriend beforehand for permission.)
He got the bouquet that Tezuka sent him, which consisted of a beautiful, hand-picked selection of flowers from the Atobe family greenhouse. The only reaction I could get out of Yukimura, though, was, "Oh, yes. That was very sweet of him." He seemed both disinterested and sad when he said it, and he told me that he had no intention of making any sort of reply to the kind gesture. So the next day, I tried to convince Keigo that nothing was going to come of it. We both thought it was a shame.
Several days later, though, I went over to Yukimura's house to study for a test with Renji and him. Renji was helping with tennis practice for the day, so for a little while, it was just me and Yukimura. The flowers Tezuka had sent were in a vase in his room, and when I pointed out that they looked pretty on his nightstand, he mentioned wistfully that some of them had started to wilt. He went on for a little while about how he'd tried to put plant food in the water, and had kept them out of direct sunlight to keep them from drying out, but that they still hadn't lasted as long as he'd hoped they would… He didn't even seem to hear what he was saying. After the way he'd treated the flowers when he'd received them, I'd almost expected to find out that he'd thrown them away.
I told him that, if he really wanted, I could go with Keigo to the greenhouse and pick him another bouquet, but he seemed surprised by the offer, as if that hadn't been what he'd wanted to imply. He told me not to bother. Well, to me, it seemed obvious enough that the flowers were special to him because they'd been from Tezuka. Even the way he stood up to go look at them as I was thinking about it, the way he took one of the orchids in his hand and smelled it with the saddest expression of longing I've ever seen on his face…
I didn't let him hear the end of it. For the rest of the night, I kept bothering him about calling Tezuka. At first it was simply on the basis that he should let Tezuka know how much he appreciated the flowers. But then I started implying that he had feelings for Tezuka, and (with Renji on my side) tried to convince Yukimura to call him. He refused, but I could tell he was considering the idea.
The next day at school, I continued to bug him about it. I told him that they should meet somewhere and talk, because even if they didn't start going out, they still had a lot they should work through. The last time they saw each other was probably the day they kissed, and I don't even want to think about what kind of note they must have left on. Tezuka did call Yukimura a few days later, but that was about Keigo, and I'm sure they left it at that. I told Yukimura that they couldn't just leave it there; they had to talk through all of that, not to mention the fact that Yukimura had never thanked Tezuka for helping him set me up with Keigo. And I also thought it wouldn't hurt for me to keep insisting that they both had feelings for each other.
Eventually, he gave in, and he called Tezuka during lunch. They set up a meeting that Sunday (this last Sunday) to go to the coffee shop that we all went to after we "accidently" met at the aquarium. I called Keigo while they were still setting all of this up, and he came up with a brilliant plan. We were going to convince Yukimura and Tezuka that the upcoming meeting was actually a date, because Yukimura, obviously Tezuka thought that's what you meant, and Tezuka, Yukimura was obviously asking you out.
On my end, the idea seemed to cause some stress. Yukimura wanted to call Tezuka back and confirm that their meeting was, in fact, not a date, but I took the phone away from him. After more nagging, I finally got Yukimura to admit that a date was what he wanted, and from there the only issue seemed to be what the hell was he going to wear. (I quote; talking about Tezuka lately has had an interesting effect on Yukimura, in that he sometimes starts to swear mildly.)
As far as I heard, everything went quite well. They had coffee and enjoyed talking so much that they went to Tezuka's house after the café closed. Yukimura told me that he felt very comfortable in Tezuka's house, because it reminded him of mine. And from what I heard, there was a reluctant, drawn-out goodnight that somehow involved a kiss.
I can't wait to hear how everything turns out. I think they planned another date sometime while Keigo and I are away.
It was interesting to hear everyone's reactions at school, when they found out that Yukimura and Tezuka had been on a date. Then again, it was interesting to hear their reactions about Keigo and me, too… Akaya still wishes that Yukimura and I would get back together. Marui seems to approve of my relationship, but thinks that Yukimura being with Tezuka is rather random. Nioh thinks the opposite; he doesn't mind Tezuka but he's always hated Hyotei and Keigo in particular. I can't tell what Yagyuu thinks. He wished us both happiness and me "good luck." Renji, of course, thinks things have worked out nicely. Jackal, I think, has given up; he said something about never knowing what's going on anymore. But he's still recovering from the cold I gave him. He held out the longest, and we all thought he wasn't going to get it, but about a week ago, he started sniffling and coughing. The stress from entrance exams hasn't exactly been helping him get over it.
High school is going to be interesting. I'm glad I'm still going to the same school as all of my friends (we all passed with flying colors), but part of me almost wishes I'd applied to Hyotei. I know that's unrealistic, but still… I'll admit that it's been a little hard having a semi-long-distance relationship with my boyfriend. I wish I had more time to see him. But I guess, if anything, it's made the time we do have together that much sweeter. We'll definitely make it work. And we'll be seeing a lot of each other this summer, when tennis season starts.
And with a kiss from my boyfriend letting me know that he's finished writing (probably twice as much as I've written) and a whisper that he'll meet me in the back cabin when I'm done, I think I'll end my entry here. I don't know what he has planned when we get to New York, but I'm sure I'll enjoy whatever it is.
As long as I'm with him, I'm happy.
And I mean that. Always.
Wednesday, February 14th
I have been sitting here for the past minute or so, trying to think of the perfect way to begin this entry, but it is rather difficult to concentrate when your terribly handsome boyfriend is sitting next you. This is especially true when said boyfriend is not only terribly handsome, but also keeps looking up every ten seconds with a quizzical expression that is clearly trying to say, "Why aren't you writing yet?" So instead of trying to come up with something overly eloquent, I will simply set the scene, such as it is.
I am sitting on one of my family's private jets, en route to New York City, and it has been exactly one month since Sanada Genichiroh and I first became a couple. (Technically, we officially became a couple on the 15th, but since my feelings for him were first reciprocated on the 14th, I decided that day should count as well.) And since we have approximately seventeen hours on a plane to kill, I suggested that he and I write in our journals for a little while, since neither of us has been able to write very frequently over the past month. Since that is the case, I'm still writing in the journal that he gave me, and I can see that he is writing his entry with the pen that I bought him, which seems appropriate.
I don't know exactly what he's going to write about, but I thought that I would take this chance to reflect a little on what it's been like, to have a relationship with someone like Genichiroh. I already wrote about some of this, of course, but now I finally have the chance to think clearly about everything that has happened, instead of being swept up in the emotion of the moment. (And I can assure you that I have never felt so many emotions as I have in these past four weeks.)
If I were to sum it up in one word, I would say that our relationship so far has been passionate. It hasn't always been picture-perfect, of course, and there have been some moments even in this early stage that I would prefer to forget. But at least I can say with confidence that neither one of us is neutral, when it comes to how we feel about each other. As for myself, I have come to find out what a word like "love" really means, and that what I feel for Genichiroh needs to go deeper than simple infatuation, if I am going to call it something as important as "love."
I think that I can honestly say now that I do love him, very deeply, even though I am still learning about what love really is.
I think some part of me, in spite of my better judgment, did believe that as long as I had a boyfriend, everything about our relationship would unfold like some kind of fairy tale. And the truth is that it did, at least at first… Our first date together was perfect, despite the fact that I was terribly nervous and worried that I was going to say or do something stupid, in spite of how extensively I had prepared for that evening. (And that's not even mentioning the fact that I was still recovering from my cold, but I digress.) In any event, I made reservations at that very exclusive fondue restaurant for the two of us, with the hope of trying to impress Genichiroh and show him how glad I was to be dating him (though in retrospect I'm glad that he wasn't intimidated by such an intimate setting, because I think most people would have been). I was a little concerned that he wouldn't like the food, since he's from such a traditional Japanese family, but by the time that I was able to introduce him to the wonders of chocolate fondue, I knew I didn't have to worry. (Yes, it's quite humorous and unexpected, but Genichiroh really likes chocolate, in spite of his stern appearance.)
We spent most of the time talking, since we were both a bit too nervous to do much of anything else, but I did get the chance to flirt a little by the time the dessert came… I asked him if he liked strawberries, and when he said yes, I dipped a big red one into the chocolate and popped it right into his mouth. After that, I kept feeding him, like I already mentioned in this journal, and that was what led up to the whole "cheesecake-sharing" incident, along with what was literally the sweetest kiss I have ever had. Needless to say, I went to bed that night thinking that I was the luckiest person alive, to have a picture-perfect boyfriend who is just as crazy about me as I am about him.
Unfortunately, the second date wasn't nearly as pleasant, and that was when my all of illusions about fairy tale romances came to an ugly end. I had sent Genichiroh a text message sometime during the week, asking if he had ever been to the opera. He said that he hadn't, so I asked him if he would like to go with me, since my parents had other plans and my family's private box at the theatre would otherwise be empty. He accepted, and he showed up at my house looking very handsome and happy to see me, so I couldn't help assuming that this evening would be just as nice as the last.
The conversation before the opera began was pleasant enough, but about an hour into the first act, I noticed that Genichiroh was nodding off. It's not an uncommon occurrence, by any means; my own grandfather usually falls asleep at every single opera we attend, and he considers himself quite the expert on all things "artistic." So I nudged my boyfriend and told him in a whisper that I would take him home.
It was a very quiet ride back to my house; I noticed that Genichiroh seemed pretty embarrassed about having fallen asleep. We headed back into my room, and that was when the problem began. I didn't actually mind leaving the theater, but the sheepish way that he started to thank me for being so understanding was making me uncomfortable. I just wanted to make light of it and change the subject, but unfortunately, I said the stupidest thing that I have ever uttered in my entire life…
"It's alright. I should have known you weren't sophisticated enough to appreciate it."
Even now when I think about it, I actually cringe. I don't know why I said something like that; it's just my horrible habit of trying to avoid uncomfortable situations by using sarcasm to hide my own emotions. Anyway, Genichiroh was not amused, and he not only bristled at the comment, but immediately started yelling at me… Which ultimately led to the fight that I ranted about in my journal entry on that particular night. He was shouting all kinds of things about how I was such a snob, and I was screaming right back at him, saying that he was a simpleton and an ignoramus. Eventually, I yelled something along the lines of, "In that case, why don't you just get out of my house?" and he immediately retorted, "Gladly!" And then he stormed out of my room and slammed the door so hard that some of my furniture rattled.
It made me so angry that I just wanted to throw something, so I walked over to the desk and hurtled the first thing that my hand could grasp. It collided with the closed door and slid down to the ground, and just like that, nearly all of my frustration vanished. But then I noticed what I had thrown… This journal was lying on the floor, with the cover open and some of the pages crinkled. I went to pick it up, and suddenly, I realized what I had done. I had called Sanada Genichiroh all kinds of horrible names and told him to get out of my house, all because of one stupid comment that was my fault in the first place.
It didn't take very long for me to become convinced that he was going to break up with me.
I couldn't sleep at all that night. I kept thinking about all of the horrible things that I had said, and how Genichiroh had been absolutely right. I was a snob. I had said something so heartless and rude to my own boyfriend, when I should have been thinking about how embarrassed he must have felt in that situation. Instead of telling him that it was alright and that I loved him anyway, I told him that he was an idiot. And I hadn't even apologized for my awful behavior; no, I had told him to "get out of my house!"
I couldn't help thinking that I deserved it, if he decided to break up with me for what I had done. I could hear all of the comments already, when our friends found out that we had broken up after our second date: "Told you so. They only lasted a week. Of course, it was Atobe's fault, that snob. No wonder he's never had a boyfriend."
The thing that really bothered me was that those comments would have been completely justified.
What was even worse was that I couldn't help thinking about how much I still loved him. I didn't want our relationship to be over; it had only just begun, after all, and there were still so many things that we never had the chance to do together. But more than that, I knew that it would be even harder to forget about Genichiroh, now that I knew what it was like to be in a relationship with him. It had only been a week, and already I had come to need him in my life, to need those pointless text messages he sent me in class and the long phone conversations we shared in the evenings and the beautiful flowers he sent to my house, "to go with the rose I gave you on our date," as he said over the phone.
No, I didn't even want to think about living life without him. And it had only been a week.
The next morning was terrible, too… I was so upset that I couldn't even eat, and I kept waiting for Genichiroh to call me and tell me that it was over. I tried to get up the courage to call him and tell him I was sorry, but I couldn't help thinking that if I was him, I wouldn't even pick up the phone. I couldn't stop thinking about how foolish I had been, and how much I still loved him and didn't want our relationship to be over. And then at about ten o'clock in the morning, my butler came into my bedroom and announced that Sanada Genichiroh was here to see me.
Normally, I have a terrible time swallowing my pride and choking out the words, "I'm sorry," even when I'm clearly the one in the wrong. This time, I ignored my pride completely, and I ran out of my room and straight into his arms.
It surprised me, when the first words that came out of his mouth were, "I'm sorry." In fact, it seemed as though neither of us could apologize enough for the way we had fought, and it was hard to believe that we had been so angry the night before. I think that was the first time that I realized that our relationship truly had the potential to last; if we weren't afraid to apologize to each other, then there was no reason for us to break up simply because of a fight. What was even more important was the fact that we loved each other enough to say that we were sorry, in spite of the fact that we both have rather large egos and aren't used to having to humble ourselves in front of others.
I can't even express how close I felt to him for the rest of that day. He stayed for the whole afternoon and late into the evening, when we were watching a movie in my home theater and starting kissing, as I mentioned in previous entries. That was when I decided that I wanted to give every part of myself to him, to this man who loved me enough to come all the way back to my house after a horrible fight, just to tell me that he was sorry and that he loved me. I wrote about the rest of that evening already, of course; it was an amazing night, and again, if I could only use one word to describe it, it would have to be "passionate."
It wasn't something out of a romance movie, though; Genichiroh had to get up at three o'clock in the morning just to make it to school on time. And it wasn't planned in advance, or the result of some kind of explosion of sexual tension; in fact, the timing was actually rather random, and I remember feeling relatively calm as I led him up to my room. But there was something about it that was a thousand times better than a picture-perfect love scene. I can't really explain it, but the fact that it was a direct result of our relationship being strengthened by our mutual apology might have had something to do with it. I gave myself to him, knowing that he wouldn't just leave me in the morning, knowing without a doubt that he wasn't just there for the sex…
It was completely different from any other sexual encounter that I've had, because I knew for a fact that he truly cared about me.
It was that particular day that taught me that the important thing about having a relationship isn't avoiding conflict. It is knowing how to make up after a fight. If you and your partner are equals, you will inevitably clash every once in a while, but if you respect and love each other enough to be fair and admit your own faults, you can survive even the ugliest arguments.
We still fight, of course, and I don't exactly enjoy it. He grumbles about my flashy personality and my tendency to overdo everything, and I complain about his stick-in-the-mud attitude. But I have come to realize that fighting is just a part of having a relationship, and that the feeling of closeness that comes after making up is better than any picture-perfect fairy tale. It's better because it's real, not some kind of unattainable fantasy. And I will never have to wonder if Genichiroh would still love me if he knew about my faults, because he already does. He accepts me exactly as I am, just as I accept him for who he is, nothing more and nothing less.
That is what it truly means to love someone, after all.
Needless to say, our friends have all had some interesting reactions to our relationship. When I first told my teammates that I was going out with Sanada Genichiroh, I was met with nothing but blank stares for the first minute or so. But then Jiroh's eyes lit up, and he immediately started congratulating me (since he and Kabaji were the only ones who had known about my crush on Genichiroh in advance). Shishido and Gakuto's reactions were identical: "What in the hell, Atobe?" (They're just so eloquent when they have no idea what's going on.) As for Kabaji, he just had this slight smile on his face, and Ootori probably had the most predictable reaction of surprise: "Really, Atobe-san? I didn't even know you liked him!" Hiyoshi didn't say anything, but he did betray his confusion by raising his eyebrows rather quizzically at me.
As for Oshitari, he had the strangest reaction of all. He just smirked and said, "I figured it was something like that. Congratulations, Atobe."
Honestly, sometimes that man's perceptiveness truly scares me.
Anyway, since that time, they've all gotten used to the idea (and have become thoroughly acquainted with the circumstances that led up to this point). In general, they seem unexpectedly supportive of our relationship, and some of them have even given me some remarkably good advice during times that I've been at a loss as to what to do. I have to admit, I am somewhat amused that clueless individuals like Shishido are actually more experienced in the world of dating than I am. Well, I suppose I can't be the expert at everything, can I? The important thing is that I'm willing to learn.
Interestingly, there is one thing about our relationship that some of my friends complain about… As Shishido phrased it: "This doesn't mean that we're going to have to be nice to those Rikkai jerks, does it?" I have to admit, I'm rather amused at this perceived rivalry between our two schools, even though our teams never actually competed against each other during tennis season. Shortly after our first date, Genichiroh caught the cold that I had been dealing with all week, and as I understand it, this also eventually resulted in the rest of his team getting the same cold. It's somewhat amusing to think that this incident proves that our teams are connected now through our relationship, whether everyone else likes it or not. (It's also amusing that my supposedly second-rate team caused the infamous Rikkai regulars to succumb to a cold.)
Speaking of Rikkai, it occurs to me that I never really wrote in depth about the way that Genichiroh and I played matchmaker over the past month. Well, needless to say, it was quite the challenge, given that our targets were none other than the two stubborn captains that conspired to set up Genichiroh and me as a couple. But then again, I do love a good challenge, and it was just too tempting to resist helping them open their eyes to reality. It was my revenge on them for interfering, or perhaps my expression of gratitude, depending on how you look at it.
Of course, Tezuka had told me specifically that nothing would ever happen between him and Yukimura, mostly because of the complicated situation with Genichiroh, but I wasn't going to let that stop them from getting together. After all, even though I was mired in my own problems at the time, I had a suspicion that Tezuka didn't actually want to stop pursuing Yukimura. It seemed likely to me that he actually had feelings for him, and that the kiss they shared hadn't merely been the result of a foolish impulse. Well, as it turns out, I was absolutely right.
About a week after Valentine's Day, I received a phone call from Fuji Shusuke, of all people, and became privy to some very interesting information. Fuji said that he had overheard Tezuka telling an particularly persistent girl that he had feelings for someone else, as a way of explaining why he couldn't accept her chocolates. As Fuji observed, it just wasn't like Tezuka to lie about something like that, but since he had no idea what Tezuka was talking about, he had decided to give me a call and ask if I knew who this person was. I told Fuji that I didn't know for certain, but that I would find out. Even at that point, though, I had a suspicion that it must have been Yukimura, because Tezuka saying out loud that he had feelings for someone was on par with Tezuka kissing someone… Up until the past few weeks, it simply didn't happen.
So I gave Tezuka a call and asked if he would come over to my house for a visit. Needless to say, he seemed surprised, presumably due to the fact that we hadn't spoken since the time that he told me to confess my feelings for Genichiroh. When Tezuka finally arrived at my house, he admitted that he had made a decision to leave me alone since his last visit, because he felt guilty about what he had recommended. Well, it wasn't Tezuka's fault that I had chosen to confess to Genichiroh so quickly, or that events had unfolded as they did. Besides, as I pointed out to him, I couldn't have been happier with the final result. Ultimately, Tezuka had been right: when I finally worked up the courage to tell Genichiroh how I felt, he came to realize his feelings for me, and my love for him was reciprocated. So I reassured him that I still considered him my friend, and that I even owed him a debt, which I intended to repay as soon as possible.
I then proceeded to inform him of what Fuji had told me during the phone call. As one might expect of Tezuka, he didn't try to deny it, but he also didn't say anything more. I tried to ask him who this mysterious individual was, but again, he wouldn't answer my questions. Well, I didn't see any harm in stirring him up a little, so I asked him directly if the person in question was Yukimura. He actually stood up and denied it, in a loud voice that I certainly didn't expect from him. Of course, this only confirmed my suspicions, but it took a considerable amount of conversation for him to finally admit that yes, that was the person that he meant, but he didn't intend to do a thing about it. As for the rest of the conversation, I believe I have written about it already, but suffice to say that I reminded him of what he had once said to me. I asked him if he, too, wasn't dissatisfied with the prospect of remaining alone for the rest of his life. After a great deal of nagging on my part, he finally agreed to follow my suggestions on the matter, especially after I reminded him that it was the least he could do for not coming to visit me when I was sick. (I have to admit, it's shameless of me to play off of the guilt of other people, but when you're dealing with such stubborn individuals, it often proves to be one of the only effective methods.)
Anyway, I convinced him to send Yukimura a present on his birthday, which was on March 5th. He agreed, and after consulting Genichiroh about the matter, I suggested that he select some flowers from my family's greenhouse to be put in a bouquet and sent to his house. It seemed fitting, since one of Yukimura's favorite hobbies is gardening, and Genichiroh informed me that he also knows a great deal about flowers. Tezuka protested at first, saying that something like flowers would be too sentimental, but I couldn't help noticing afterward how absorbed he became in the task of selecting which flowers to use. It was really quite romantic, and I couldn't help hoping that Yukimura would be receptive to the gesture, because by now I could see clearly that my friend was head over heels for him.
Unfortunately, a few days passed with no response. Genichiroh informed me that Yukimura seemed to be making light of the gift, and didn't even appear to have any intention of thanking Tezuka for it. But then Tezuka finally got a call from Yukimura, and they agreed to meet at the coffee shop where Tezuka and I used to go to talk. Well, I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass, so I convinced Genichiroh to help me set them up even further. His assignment was to persuade Yukimura that Tezuka was probably under the impression that they were going on a date. My assignment was to inform Tezuka that Yukimura had clearly just asked him out. There were some frayed nerves and a few outbursts of frustration, but ultimately, Tezuka headed for the coffee shop on the appointed day as promised.
Apparently, the "date" went rather well. I talked with Tezuka the next day, and he said they spent the entire afternoon talking in that little coffee shop, until it was so late that they had to leave due to the shop closing. (I playfully observed that he had certainly never devoted so much time to our conversations there.) They then went to Tezuka's house, where Yukimura had seemed surprisingly at home, at least according to Tezuka's version of the story. They had gotten along very well, and then the time came for them to say goodnight, at which point there was apparently a very promising goodnight kiss. I hear that they've even planned a date while Genichiroh and I are away on vacation, so it should be quite interesting to see what happens between them from now on.
Needless to say, I couldn't be happier for them both, and Genichiroh and I can't help thinking that in some ways their relationship resembles ours. They were both so frustrated when they felt that they couldn't be together, and often tried to pretend that they meant nothing to each other when they were asked about it. But now that they are finally together, their relationship is turning out to be quite promising, in spite of the confusion of the rest of their acquaintances. And I can't help being especially happy for Tezuka. After all, he and I have shared the same loneliness, when most of the people around us were happily in love. It seems as though those days are finally behind us, contrary to both of our expectations. I know that two months ago, I never would have expected to find myself in a relationship with Sanada Genichiroh, and I certainly never would have expected to be so happy because of it.
In any case, that happiness is why I decided to take Genichiroh on this trip to New York, despite the fact that even I am well aware that something like a one-month anniversary hardly merits a gift. Still, I do owe him a present, since just a little over a month ago, he gave me something that I will always treasure more than anything money could buy. That, of course, is the letter that is written inside this journal, the one that eventually led to his confession of love for me.
So in return for that gift, I have decided to bring him to New York and treat him to a stay in my family's penthouse apartment. Of course, I'll probably take him shopping, as well as introduce him to the sights of the city… I'll probably even find out if a Broadway musical can keep him awake, where the opera in Tokyo failed.
But there is one thing that I will ask to do first, before we start to enjoy ourselves. I want to share one certain moment with him, a moment that I can hold onto for the rest of my life, as a reminder that even the most impossible wishes are occasionally granted, even outside of the world of fairy tales…
So I will take him down into the middle of Time Square, and I will share a kiss with him, just as I watched a million other people do on the very first minute of this year.
That kiss, for me, will be the start of my own new beginning. I will be entering high school soon, just as I have recently entered into this new relationship with someone I truly care about. Even if I am somewhat apprehensive about whether this happiness with Genichiroh can last, I am looking forward to spending the future with him, no matter how long that may be. After all, we will both be creating a new chapter in our lives, as two people slowly learning how to love each other.
I may have been forced to give up my fairy tale, but what I have with Genichiroh is real.
I truly couldn't be happier.