A/N: This is just a one-shot that I came up with during the stagnant days of Forgotten Heroes. It's just that the idea for this kept on haunting my dreams for almost a week now and I just have to write about it. This might be a lengthy one. This will be full of angst and OCness but that's how it is.
This is my first thrill pair fic. I hope I could give justice to this. this also contains TezuFuji
As for the title, I guess you can deduce where I got the idea. Thank you so much for Ms. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She's the bomb!
Oh yeah I don't own POT nor the poem used in this one-shot.
"" for dialogs and '' for thoughts. The memories are italicizedand the poem will be underlined.
Ryoma rummaged through the black box that was hidden under his bed. A surge of assorted emotions filled his heart as he gazed into the pictures one by one, each of it depicting his happy days.
Ryoma is in love…not a thing that he would admit out loud. And of all people to be in love with, he ended up with the sadistic tensai. He couldn't help but smile a little at the memories. For two months they lived in a bizarre affair which Ryoma couldn't even imagine starting.
He took out all the pictures from the box and at the bottom saw a clean white paper.
"What's this?" He muttered before picking up the paper. He unfolded it and felt his stomach fluttered at its contents. 'Oh I remember! I was supposed to give this to Syusuke for our third monthsary!' His cute golden eyes scanned the text, taking each word to heart.
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
Ryoma let out a sigh of content. "Yes. I think I should give this to him." A picture caught his attention.
It was a picture of him that Fuji took just before they started dating.
The freshman has been nursing this crush on the tensai right after they won the Regionals so when the tensai wanted to spend time together after Tezuka departed for Germany, he grabbed his chance.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can
reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
"Now Echizen if you really want that Saturday game, you have to give it your all." The sing-song of Fuji's voice gave him shivers.
Ryoma strained against the bonds that held him to the wall. Despite being blindfolded, he could imagine that Fuji was enjoying this torture of a pictorial.
"But Fuji-senpai!" His voice trembled. He's not that much of a fan of being tied. He is Echizen Ryoma…helplessness is unbecoming of him. "I'm scared now." He pulled at his restrains.
"Saa…you need to stay still so I can capture the real you." Fuji states while tracing a finger on the trail of tear on his cheek. "You must keep your end of the bargain."
"But senpai!" Ryoma strained helplessly. "You didn't tell me we're doing it like this!" He could feel Fuji's fingers tapping his chin.
"Now, now Echizen if you really want this to end immediately then behave." He moved away from the quivering figure and positioned his camera.
"Echizen Ryoma, he who becomes the most powerful person when yielding a racket now sits before me looking vulnerable." Fuji licked his lips. Ryoma flushed at his words. "Do you know how beautiful you look right now? Such surrender…it's perfect for my collection."
"Now show me what beauty is."
Ryoma bit his lips and tried to block that sultry voice which kept on caressing his body. He closed his eyes, hoping the added darkness would calm him as he slowly coaxed his body and soul to give Fuji what he wanted.
Ryoma blushed crimson at the memory. He set the picture of him, wearing nothing but a ripped over-sized shirt and tied to the wall, at the bottom of the box.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
He took another picture. It was just a candid snapshot that his Eiji-senpai took after their practice.
"Now why are you pouting Ryo-chan?" Fuji stooped a little to level with him.
"Fuji-senpai!" Ryoma muttered in outrage while sporting a blush. "I thought we're going secret!" He added before nervously eyeing their surroundings. They're at the back of the clubhouse when Fuji grabbed him and kissed him senseless.
Fuji chuckled, still wearing that closed-eyed smile of his. "But I thought you liked your mouth being ravished by me?"
Ryoma let out an irritated sigh. His head hung low when Fuji leaned in and nibbled at his ear. "And I know you turn into a pile of goo when I do this." Ryoma whimpered when a soft wet tongue caressed his earlobe.
"S-senpai!!!" he gripped Fuji's shirt tighter.
A click interrupted them and by the time that Ryoma got his wits back, his Eiji-senpai was skipping away from them, holding Fuji's camera up in the air.
"Inui! O'chibi has a really cute blush! You lost the bet!" The redhead a long gone before Ryoma would think of mauling him.
"B-bet?" Ryoma looked up to his lover questioningly which Fuji met with a blank smile.
"I made a bet with Inui that I can get you blush redder than a tomato."
Ryoma shook his head. 'Syusuke can sure be ruthless.' He was about to put it on top of his S&M photo but he changed his mind. He took out a picture frame from his bedside drawer and gently placed the photo inside.
He realized that it's the only picture he has with Fuji.
need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Rights;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
Just as he was about to put it on top of the dresser, the door slammed open, revealing a very angry Nanjiroh.
"D-dad!" Ryoma scrambled to hide the pictures but Nanjiroh already grabbed him. He winced when the older man yanked him to sit on his bed.
"What monstrosity is this?!?!" The man growled, dropping a whit envelop on his lap. Ryoma took it with trembling hands and opened it.
Out came a bunch of pictures of him and Fuji. He doesn't recognize these pictures that depicted his intimate yet supposed-to-be secret relationship with the tensai.
"Let me explain—" A distinct sound of flesh hitting flesh cut Ryoma off.
"Explain this pictures to me!!!" Nanako burst inside the room. "Convince me that these pictures are all lies!!!"
The girl saw that Ryoma was caressing his reddened cheek. Fear and anger mixed in his eyes.
"Jii-san!!!" Nanako rushed to the boy who's in the verge of tears.
Nanjiroh ignored the girl. "Tell me that you're not like this."
Ryoma took a deep breath. "It's true. I'm gay." Nanako suddenly grabbed him just as Nanjiroh's hand strike.
"LIES!!!!" Nanjiroh bellowed at his son who succumbed to Nanako's protective embrace.
"Stop this Jii-san!" Nanako tried to soothe her trembling cousin. "It's who he is! You can't blame him for deciding for himself!"
Ryoma closed his eyes. 'This is not happening. Oh Syusuke help me!'
"Stay out of this Nanako!" Nanjiroh snapped at her. "I do not have a child who—who—"
Ryoma struggled out of his cousin's embrace and face his father head on. "Who is a what, Dad? Go on say it!" Nanjiroh gritted his teeth at Ryoma's obvious insolence. Ryoma took one step forward, no longer caring if he's treading on his precious memories.
"I'm gay and I'm not going to hide it anymore." He clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white. "I love Fuji Syusuke. At least he can see me and appreciate me for who I really am. Unlike you…"
Nanjiroh's world dimmed. If it wasn't for Nanako who came between them just in time, he would've done something terrible to his son.
"Get out of my sight!!!! I do not have a son who's…who's a freak!!!!"
Ryoma felt his heart dropped to his gut but he need not to be told twice.
"Fine." He grabbed his jacket, his wallet and the framed picture before storming out of his room, of their house.
"So you finally had the guts to do it." Atobe muttered. He and Fuji met in a café not far from Hyotei. The Seigaku tensai seemed tense on the phone so he decided that he really does need Ore-sama right now.
Fuji set down his teacup and sighed. "I had to. I couldn't let this go on."
"But why now Fuji?" Atobe rested his chin on his hand. "Is it because Tezuka's arriving tonight?"
Fuji's eyes snapped open. "How did you—?"
Atobe could help but laugh. "Ore-sama is not as gullible at your little pet, Fuji. I can immediately tell that the kid's just on the rebound when Tezuka left for his treatment."
Fuji glared at the diva. "It was your fault that he left anyway. If you hadn't hurt him—"
"But it wasn't my fault when you decided to use your over-eager kohai as a temporary replacement."
Fuji bit his lips. 'Damn Atobe can really hit the mail sometimes.' He let out a frustrated sigh. "I did love him Atobe."
The diva took a sip from his cup. "It was just unfortunate enough that you love Tezuka more than you loved the brat."
Fuji looked outside the café's window. 'Oh Ryoma I'm sorry.' He gazed back at the diva who was still waiting for his reply.
"I can't do anything about it anymore. The pictures were sent."
I love thee with a passion put to use
Ryoma sighed and placed his phone back into his pocket. Fuji's not answering his call. He tried calling everyone else but no one was able to tell him where the tensai went.
'They told me that Tezuka-buchou's coming home tonight though.' He sighed and collapsed on a park bench. He didn't realize how long he's been walking. Sadness filled his heart as he remembered his father. He took out the frame picture from his jacket and stared at it for a while.
'It seems like it's only you that I have now.' Ryoma gently traced Fuji's profile. "Syusuke."
In my old griefs, and with childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints.
"S-syu…please!" Ryoma whimpered in pleasure while Fuji continued to pleasure his body.
"Please what, Ryo-chan?" The tensai asked while nipping gently at his chest. He watched the boy writhe under him while his fingers slowly penetrated the boy.
"Please—!" Ryoma's body arched off the bed as he relished the pain and the pleasure of being filled slowly by Fuji's finger.
Fuji snickered. "Please what, I say." He hooked his fingers forward, brushing against that sweet spot which made Ryoma scream his name.
His body was quivering under the skillful ministrations of tensai. Ryoma's ragged panting and moans filled the air just as Fuji added another finger.
"Tell me and I'll give you what you want." The tensai nipped at his ear just as he brushed against Ryoma's prostate once more, making the cat-eyed boy gasp in pleasure.
"Please…" Ryoma moaned louder when a third finger went in. "Ahhh Syusuke! Please, do it now!" He pressed his body against Fuji's. "Please make love to me now."
"Tell me to whom do you belong first." Fuji muttered against his lips.
Ryoma inhaled sharply as his words poured like hot honey. He could feel Fuji's fingers started to retreat. He tried pushing against it but Fuji held his hips firmly in place.
"Tell me." Fuji muttered again, his hand on Ryoma's hips gripped him a little too tight, making Ryoma wince in pain. "To whom do you belong?"
Ryoma struggled to swallow hard. He knew that the tensai can be really insistent. "T-to you."
Fuji smiled. "Say it louder." He truly enjoys the wild abandon the freshman was showing him and him alone. He made sure of that.
Ryoma's eyes glazed as he tried to contain his emotions. "To you. I belong to only you."
Fuji leaned in and licked Ryoma's swollen lips. "And your heart and soul?"
"Is yours too."
Ryoma couldn't help but agree. Unknowingly, his cold, solid identity cracked under Fuji's gazes and caress. Now matter how much he denied it, he already surrender almost everything to the older boy.
The Echizen Ryoma whom the world knows disappeared under the tensai's gaze. With him, Echizen Ryoma is just Echizen Ryoma, just a boy…not a superstar.
But suddenly, he couldn't keep himself from wondering why tears are falling down his face as he reminisced.
Tezuka scanned the crowd for a familiar face. a small smile, barely recognizable, formed in his lips when he saw the expectant face of Fuji waiting among the crowd.
"Syusuke…" He muttered just as he was only a few feet away from the tensai. The smaller brunette opened his eyes and smile genuinely at the newcomer.
"Hey there." Fingers interlaced as they walked out of the airport and to Taka's sushi shop where everybody else is waiting for them.
Fuji caught a glance of himself on the glass windows of the airport. He caught himself smiling…smiling the real Fuji smile. it was without hint of sadism and his eyes seemed to be twinkling. Soon he found himself frowning.
'Had I ever been like this with Ryoma?'
Ryoma sighed and decided to meet with Fuji in Taka's sushi shop. The tensai never picked up his call all afternoon. As soon as the tears stopped flowing and reality tucked safely away for now, he stood up.
"It's ok. Now that your father knows about your relationship with Syusuke, it's ok to go public." Ryoma racked his tousled hair with his hand. "I can be more at ease with Syusuke because of it." He took in a deep breath, savoring the sweetness of summer.
He forced himself to wear a genuine smile as when he was a meter away from the sushi shop. At that distance he could hear the happy cheers and laughter of the tennis players. He prepared his smirk.
He held on firmly to the picture frame in his hands just before he slid the door aside.
"CONGRATULATIONS FUJI AND TEZUKA!!!" In the middle of the crowd, with their backs turned to him, stood Fuji and Tezuka. Fuji's arm was protectively wound around Tezuka's waist while Tezuka's was around Fuji's shoulders.
Sensation left his fingers numb as the picture frame slowly eased out of his grip and into the floor, glass and ceramic shattered into millions of pieces as the sound punctuated the cheerful announcement.
All eyes fell on him.
There he stood, pale as if someone poured down a liter of vinegar in him, fingers slightly trembling.
Fuji turned around and gaped at the sight of the bewildered freshman. He felt like his heart was ripped out of his chest as two tears rolled gently down his soft pale cheeks. His eyes then fell on the shattered mess on the floor and gasped at the sight of the picture…the one that Eiji took.
"Echizen…" Tezuka muttered. Atobe, who was sitting in the corner shifted to watch the interesting scene.
Ryoma, as if in a daze, wipe the tears away nonchalantly before picking up the picture from the glass carnage. "I-I seemed to have interrupted something festive." Golden eyes looked up to them, to Tezuka then to Fuji then to the rest of the people inside. The glow in Ryoma's eyes gently faded away.
"Ryoma…" Fuji broke off from Tezuka's grip but the freshman already took a step back.
The air inside the shop was heavy and suffocating. Ryoma clutched his chest, hoping that his heart would stop beating so hard…beating so hard for Fuji.
"It's ok." Ryoma muttered. He pocketed the picture and readjusted his cap. "You could've just told me earlier Syusuke." He tried to keep the bile from rising from his stomach. He tried to keep the spite from oozing into his voice when he spoke Fuji's name.
He wanted to treasure the last moments that he will be able to say Fuji's name.
His eyes wandered to Tezuka who was watching the scene to unfold with much concentration.
He chuckled a little. "I mean I can understand plain Japanese, you know. I'm not stupid." He stepped back more, wanting to distance himself from the love of his life as slowly as possible…to savor the bittersweet taste of defeat.
Fuji staggered to get closer to him but Ryoma wouldn't let him. 'One touch.' His mind raged. 'Just one touch from him and I know I won't be able to let him go.'
"Ryoma, please let me explain." Fuji half-pleaded, trying not to break in front of so many people.
Ryoma shook his head. "You just won't let it down so easily, ne Syusuke?" He met the tensai's gaze, an empty smile grazing his lips. "Here I am, letting you go without so much of a resistance and yet you still won't accept."
Fuji froze at the way those golden eyes stared back at him. It used to be so bright and full of life but now it's empty.
Ryoma smirked and shrugged. "It's ok. I understand." He turned around and made for the door. "You're just being your usual cruel and sadistic self, I guess."
No one else moved as they watched the freshman walking out of the shop and into the darkening horizon. If Tezuka didn't reach out and wipe the tears off his face, Fuji wouldn't realize that he's crying.
Ryoma bit his lip as his slow strides turned into a run.
I love thee with the breadth, smiles, tears of all my life!
No one tried to comment when Fuji started telling them about his relationship with Ryoma. it shocked most to them to know that Tezuka knew about this and yet he and Fuji continued to grow closer behind the freshman's back.
Atobe stood up and sighed. "Oh well, that couldn't be helped." He was about to leave when a distressed Nanako stormed inside, looking for the freshman.
"What happened Nanako-san?" Fuji asked.
Nanako saw how Tezuka held him and frowned. 'So that was it?' she tried hard to bite down the snide remark that boiled from her gut. "Ano I was just wondering if my cousin dropped by."
"O'chibi just left Nanako-san!" Eiji whined. He was just recovering from his tears.
Nanako's shoulders slumped. "Oh well. Thanks though." She turned around to leave and paused just when she was at the door.
"Did you know Fuji-kun…"
"What is it?" Fuji wasn't able to suppress himself. The weight of his betrayal urged him to do almost anything to help his ex-lover.
Nanako sighed and smiled sadly at the beautiful brunette. "I guess my cousin will not have the opportunity to tell you this anymore so I better say it now. "Her eyes lingered on Tezuka. "Ryoma did the bravest thing this morning."
Fuji's lips quivered and tears welled up his eyes.
"He stood up for you Fuji-kun…even if it is against his own father. Even if it meant that he's going to be disowned, he still chose you." She sighed against at the boys gasped at her announcement.
"It's just too bad that you are not doing the same for him." She walked out, not wanting to hear Fuji's cries. Her heart and sympathy is solely for her cousin.
He needed someone to side with him, right now…more than ever.
Ryoma walked aimlessly along the streets as darkness embraced his body. He felt oddly numb. In the time when he should be hurting the most…he could feel nothing.
Despite the numbness of his fingers, he felt a piece on paper inside his jacket's pocket. He took it out and realized that it was the poem from the box.
Tears welled up his eyes once more. He scanned the poem to the end, memories of Fuji and their time together flooded inside his head. It all happened so fast that he felt the world started spinning around him.
He staggered to the road side, nauseous from the recall and hurting from the pained beating of his heart.
'I want it to stop.' Ryoma mused. He tried to go back to the poem his reading.
And if God choose,
I shall love thee better after death.
He swayed and bumped against a bigger body. "Hey watch out where you're going!!" the force made his stumbled backwards.
His eyes became blind to the light, his ears became deaf to the cries and the honks of an approaching car.
How could he be thinking of that last line just as when he's about to crash into an oncoming car's windshield?
The world went still as the blinding light faded and darkness embraced him fully.
A/N: Am I being to cruel? Just kidding! please read on.
One year later
They were all gathered inside the conference hall. Most of them are in the same high schools now…looking more mature.
This should have been a very memorable experience only if they were complete.
Atobe sighed. "How long are we supposed to wait for the director?"
"This is a rehabilitation facility Atobe…" Tezuka muttered, not even looking up from the book he's reading. To his side was Sanada…his current lover.
Yukimura yawned. "No news about Echizen yet?"
Atobe frowned and glanced at his seatmate. Ever since a certain freshman disappeared a year ago, the tensai was always seen with that fake close-eyed smile of his. 'A year…I wonder where the hell Echizen is today.' He briefly recalled that a weak after Echizen disappeared, Fuji and Tezuka officially broke up.
'I guess he just couldn't take the guilt.'
"What's on your mind, Fuji?" Atobe asked. The tensai just shrugged and continued staring outside the window. He's awfully calm and quiet despite the ruckus of having at least 30 kids with them was making.
The door opened and a kind-faced old man in a white coat came in. he was accompanied by Sakaki-sensei and Ryuzaki-sensei.
"Good morning boys." He smiled at the sight of them. "Welcome to DREAMS Rehabilitation Center for Kids. I am Dr. Yoshizawa, the director of this facility. I'm really glad that you chose this place to hold your outreach program. I'm sure that our kids here will really appreciate your time."
Atobe raised his hand. "What kind of kids are in here?"
The man smiled. "This center caters to a wide range of patients. Most of the kids we have here are recovering from multiple fractures, some are cancer patients, some are psychotic patients."
"Psychotic?" Momo gasped. Most of the kids groaned, making the old man chuckle
"Don't worry." he said, smiling at them. "Your charges today are those with mobility problems and some cancer patients."
Fuji sighed and looked outside again. For one year, there's only one person in his head. He felt a twinge of pain in his chest.
'Ryoma…I've done so much to hurt you.' Good thing that he can hide the sadness behind his smiling façade. 'I'm just praying with all my might that you're ok right now…that someone else is loving you the way you deserve.'
"Fuji." Atobe nudged at him. "Let's go."
they were split into three groups and toured the facility separately. Fuji's group consisted of him, Atobe, Tezuka, Yukimura, Eiji, Choutarou, Niou, Kaidoh, Yuuta and Kirihara. They were led by Dr. Yoshizawa himself.
"It's really nice that a facility like this exists to help these kids." Yukimura said.
"He's once one of them you know." Niou told the doctor.
Fuji wasn't paying attention to the conversation. The beauty of the place captivated him. it doesn't look like a normal rehab facility. The place seemed like it was taken from a fairy tale book and the patients are living in a dream.
They came into a long trail surrounded by green grass, trees and flowers.
"Oh my god."
The group halted when Atobe gasped. Fuji sighed. The diva can be overrated sometimes but it's not bad to look. Soon the group was put in the same trance that Atobe was in. Fuji got curious. He pushed past them to see what they are gaping at.
And it made him gape as well.
A few meters from him sat the one person whom he's been longing to see for a very, very long time. He seemed to have lost a considerable amount of weight judging by the way his cheekbones became more prominent. His usual dark and unruly hair grew past his chin, adding more to his feminine look.
He had his knees brought up to his chest while he's looking off at a distance.
Despite how the past year seemed to have taken a heavy toll on his physique…there was still no doubt that Echizen Ryoma's regal and ethereal beauty intensified.
Fuji found himself slowly approaching the boy. "Ryoma…" He was so close to the freshman when Dr. Yoshizawa pulled him back.
Dr. Yoshizawa shook his head and gestured him to keep quiet.
"But why?!" Kirihara was the firs tone to recover from shock. "He's been missing for almost a year!" making sure he's voice was down to a whisper.
Fuji struggled to get away from the doctor's grip which was surprisingly strong for his age. 'Please! Let me get to him. I need to…I have to…'
Their attention shifted to a young girl in a wheelchair to wheeled in next to Ryoma. They watched Ryoma unfolded his knees and turned to the direction of the sound.
Tezuka's eyes narrowed. 'That's not right.'
"Oh my god…" It was Yukimura's turn to gasp. Fuji's having a hard time to deduce what's happening. The only thing in his head right now was to take the boy in his embrace and to never let go and to babble out his apologies until the boy gives in and forgives him.
"I'm sorry for being late Oni-sama." The young redhead said. "The nurse insisted I do all sorts of stuff before I go out."
Ryoma reached out and felt the girl's face.
It was Fuji's turn to narrow his eyes. 'What is going on?'
"It's ok Aika." A rather low and soft voice came out of the freshman prodigy. "I didn't wait for too long."
"Ok let's go!!!" Aika pulled at his hand. Ryoma sighed and slowly stood up. he felt the back of a bench and produced a wooden cane. "Easy Aika." Ryoma muttered when he slowly moved to stand behind the wheelchair.
"But you said today's the day!!" The girl protested. Ryoma let out a soft chuckle.
"Such an impatient girl you are Aika." He gently grasped the handles of her wheelchair. "Stop being so cruel to Oni-sama and start guiding him."
Fuji's breath got stuck in his throat. "Is he…is he…"
As the pair slowly wheeled away from them, Dr. Yoshizawa turned to the boys with a sad look in his eyes.
"10 months ago Echizen Ryoma was brought here by his parents. Two months before that, he suffered from a car accident that nearly took his life away." The doctor glanced back at the two, Aika's vocal instructions for direction still echoed in the air.
"His body healed just fine but he remained partially blind."
"P-partially blind?" Fuji's lips quivered.
"He's not completely blind. The thing is, the only things that he can see now are pure white light and shadows. No more details nor colors."
They quietly followed the pair until them came into a field of violets. Ryoma, despite his disability, was able to lift Aika up from her wheelchair. They settled on the flower carpet, not noticing the small group coming up from the distance.
Aika turned around and saw Fuji and the rest. She saw Dr. Yoshizawa motioned her to keep quiet. She turned back to Ryoma just as the group sat just a few feet away from them.
"Why did we go here?" She asked. She watched intently as Ryoma brought his knees up to his chin.
"I'm here for a death anniversary." The boy replied.
"Death anniversary? Did someone die? Then why are we here?" The girl asked again.
Ryoma sighed. 'Hmm…'
"Oni-sama!" The girl tugged at his sleeves.
Fuji had to cover his mouth with his hands to keep any sound from coming out. Seeing Ryoma now, looking so tired yet beautiful, shattered his heart into pieces. The once-prodigy smiled an empty smile and it hurt Fuji more.
Tears trickled down his face as they waited for Ryoma to answer. 'Oh god what have I've done?!'
"No one died." Ryoma said, his blank golden orbs blinked a couple of times. "It's just that when I came here, I buried something somewhere in here. I can't exactly remember where. I just woke up this morning and realized that it's been a year since that thing died."
Aika's face contorted in confusion. "Thing? What thing? Is it a dog?"
Ryoma chuckled softly before reaching out to pat Aika's head. "Do you really want to know?"
"Argh!" Niou cursed under his breath. "The suspense is killing me!" Yukimura elbowed him gently.
"Behave yourself Haru." The teal-haired boy glanced at Fuji sympathetically. 'Does it have to be this tragic?'
"Yes!!!!" Aika cried.
"Fine…" Ryoma sighed once more. He's been doing a lot of that lately.
"It's my heart."
"My heart died a year ago. And I buried its remnants somewhere here." Ryoma's head moved as if he's looking around.
"How can your heart die and yet your still alive?" Aika asked out of innocence. "Isn't it that you have to die as well if your heart dies?"
Ryoma raked a hand through his hair. "There are a lot of ways for a heart to die and yet continue living Aika. Like me, my heart died when the one I love left me."
Tezuka reached out and gripped Fuji's clammy hands. 'I know that this is sheer torture for you to watch. Hell! I know that it is my fault. The only thing I could do for you right know is help you get through this as a friend.'
Fuji glanced at Tezuka. "Tezuka…h-he…"
"Hush Syusuke." Tezuka whispered. "Listen to him this time."
Aika was quiet for a few seconds.
"Did it die because it got so hurt and you don't want it to hurt anymore?" Green eyes looked up to the boy.
"Then why did you let it die then?"
Ryoma smiled sadly. "I let it die because I don't want it to love another aside for that person who left me. What I buried here are the tangible memories left with me. I buried it not because I want to forget but because I want to preserve it. They have served their purpose when I still have my eyesight."
"I may not see colors now but the memories in my head are still vivid as if they just happened yesterday. I guess I'm ok with being blind now. When that person disappeared from my life, all the colors and the vivid details of the world I used to know don't matter anymore. You will understand someday Aika, when it's your turn to find that one person whom you'll love despite everything."
Fuji bit his lip to suppress his cries. The pain acted like a pacifier for the greater one inside his heart.
Throughout the year, Ryoma continued to love him despite his betrayal.
'I don't know if I can surpass that Ryoma. Oh god why do you have to be so perfect? Why do you love me to this extent?'
A hand clasped his shoulders and he realized it was Atobe. He leaned against his friend and quietly sobbed his heart out.
"I do not deserve his love." He muttered against Atobe's chest. 'After everything that I did to him.'
"Where is this person right now?" Aika asked again.
"With someone he loves more than he loved me." Ryoma stated.
"Are you mad at him for doing this to you?" The girl wound her arms around him. "Do you still love him? You are supposed to hate him for what he did."
"I've been asking myself with that same question a long time ago. Even if I tried, I couldn't hate him. And I'm not mad. I'm just sad and if by being sad for him, for what happened to us is love, then I guess I can say I still love him. Loving someone doesn't necessarily mean happiness all the time. When you decided to love, you decided to embrace pain and sadness as well. "
"They why won't you go back to him?"
Ryoma sighed. "I have let him go like a flower letting her butterfly go to mingle with other flowers."
"But butterflies usually fly back to their bellowed flowers." Aika replied. Her statement made Ryoma chuckle bitterly.
"Aika dear…no butterfly would be in its right mind to fly back to a flower which has lost all its petals and fragrance."
The more that he listened to his words, the more pain Fuji felt. The guilt is much bigger that him that it started eating him up whole.
"No. no. You're wrong." Fuji muttered under his breath. Ryoma's words, no matter how kind and gentle they were, still stung him like scorpions. There was no more trace of remorse, of bitterness in every utterance and it made Fuji feel angrier at his self.
'I'll fly back.' Fuji wiped his tears away. 'No matter how ugly you say you look, to me you're still the most beautiful flower in the world. I was just a stupid butterfly who played too much in the garden.'
"Let me fly back to you." The whispered request never came to the blind prodigy.
Aika sighed. "Why are you like this Oni-sama? Why do you love this way? Why do you continue loving after everything?"
Ryoma placed an arm around her. "Did you know that there is a poem that answers your questions? This particular poem is my favorite."
"What is it Oni-sama?" Aika snuggled closer to him. "What's this poem?"
Ryoma took a deep breath as he let the gentle breeze caress them. 'Syusuke…wherever you are, I'm still hoping you get to hear me say this.'
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…"
Ryoma sat back on the same bench that afternoon. For 10 months he's been sitting on the same bench, every day. That is why most of the kids in the facility never sit on that bench. They declared it as Ryoma's sanctuary.
Aikai's questions still burned in his memory. The innocence in it cannot be denied. Ryoma sadly gazed out into nothingness. 'I have been like her once.'
"Why are you like this Oni-sama? Why do you love this way? Why do you continue loving after everything?"
Ryoma smiled bitterly. "Why did I?" A shadow hovered over him, casting darkness in his line of sight.
Ryoma looked up curiously at the direction where the voice came from. "You sound like someone I know."
Fuji bit his lip as he gingerly slid next to the boy.
"And you smelled like him too."
The brunette sighed, trying to calm the rapid beating of his heart. "Really? Who is this someone?"
"Just someone…" A miniscule smile grazed his lips. "If you search the fields of violets you might find my heart buried in there."
"Ask it…it might tell you who this someone is."
A/N: I don't know why I did this but I'm glad I am able to get this out of my head. Whew!!!!! My first thrill pair and it is heart-wrenching. Great…just great.