"Realizations"

Summary: Some things just hit you when you least expect them to.

Disclaimers: Prince of Tennis is not mine.

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It was on a breezy spring afternoon, a few minutes before the sun disappeared into the horizon, with cherry blossoms slowly raining down onto the streets that Sanada realized he had feelings for Yukimura -- feelings that were beyond simple, platonic friendship.

It did not happen in such a sweet and romantic fashion, like in most romance novels or movies. There were no dramatic sunsets, no passionate, fiery gazes, no sickeningly sweet love songs playing in the background and no other extra-striking scenery to further intensify the moment.

Actually, there was a sunset in the background, but Sanada could hardly pay attention to that especially when he was being beaten badly to the ground in yet another unofficial tennis match.

"7-6. I win."

Sanada could barely catch his breath as he collapsed to the ground on all fours. His black baseball cap lay forgotten on the ground, next to the pole close to the umpire's chair. Beads of sweat rolled down the sides of his face, and his jersey, soaking in sweat, clung to the contours of his body.

He looked up at his opponent, who was standing on the other side of the net, playfully tossing the tennis ball in the air and catching it on his palm.

Yukimura's chest heaved heavy breaths, and his face glistened in sweat. His smile was cherubic and calm, yet there was an icy glimmer in his eyes – one that Sanada would only usually see when Yukimura is playing seriously on court.

"I – lost."

Sanada's statement came in short, uncontrolled gasps for breath.

"Yes, but you have considerably improved since the last time we played each other."

Yukimura scarcely gave compliments, especially when it came to tennis, because he demanded such high standards of play that impressing him was a seemingly impossible feat to achieve. But on the rare occasion that Yukimura would give out compliments, they were sincere and spoke of interest and admiration. And he gave these compliments with a warm smile.

Sanada could only stare at him, because he was too busy trying to catch his breath to say 'thank you' or 'I'm glad you think so'.

"Did I tire you that much?"

A playful, teasing tone laced Yukimura's voice. Sanada could only narrow his eyes at him.

"You made me run around too much. For five straight games."

A raspy cough followed Sanada's response.

Yukimura chuckled, apparently amused. Sanada, however, could not find anything amusing with his present condition at all. His legs ached from running from corner to corner and dashing forward and backward all the time, as he tried to chase all of Yukimura's returns.

Yukimura's tennis was as unpredictable as Yukimura was. He played with such intensity and fierceness that even Sanada was not spared in the many times they had played against each other.

Yukimura's eyes gazed at Sanada, and Sanada felt terribly uncomfortable being watched by those deep teal orbs. Yukimura's lips suddenly curved to a grin.

"You look like a mess, Genichirou."

Sanada's face contorted to a scowl, while Yukimura's mirthful laughter echoed in the empty court.

Sanada was about to retort when he felt a towel cover his face. It slid down the contour of his head, and fell snuggly around his shoulders. He gazed at it for a while, and then looked up when a shadow fell over him. His breath suddenly got caught in his throat.

"C'mon, get yourself changed."

It was not much of a sight, really. It was just Yukimura wearing his Rikkai regular uniform, standing in front of him, holding out his hand to him, with a cheerful smile on his lips. Yet in Sanada's eyes, the image of Yukimura, being basked by the rays of the setting sun, suddenly became a new sight to behold. It was as if Yukimura was not Yukimura anymore, but a celestial being that came down from heaven, clothed in beauty and elegance and perfection. It was so amazingly breathtaking that Sanada stared at him for seconds without taking a single breath.

Yukimura edged his hand closer, his outstretched palm inches from Sanada's face; his eyes dulcet yet commanding, as if ordering him to take it.

And so Sanada took it.

And he had never felt his heart thump so loudly in his chest before.

It was a new kind of feeling – the kind that friends do not usually feel for other friends when they are just friends.

Sanada knew what friendship was supposed to feel like, and it was nothing like this.

No, this was something different.

This was something more.

Sanada did not quite know what it was yet, but he felt it. He felt it when his eyes met Yukimura's eyes after Yukimura tossed him a towel, when Yukimura offered his hand to him, when his hand made contact with Yukimura's palm, when Yukimura helped him up and smiled that perpetually gentle smile.

He did not know what it was, but he felt it.

And it felt good.

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A/n: This is one of my earlier SanaYu works. Just thought I'd post this up since it's rotting in my hard drive. xD

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