Title: Silence
Fandom: Tenipuri
Pairing: Tezuka Kunimitsu x Echizen Ryoma
Genre: Gen, Romance, slight fluff, very slight angst (for once!)
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 945
Notes: Established relationship
I haven't written a ficlet (or a fic!) for a long time in Tenipuri fandom. I figured I should start again before I lose my touch completely.

"I like you calm, as if you were absent:
distant and saddened, as if you were dead.
One word at that moment, a smile, is sufficient.
And I thrill, then, I thrill: that it cannot be so."
Pablo Neruda – I like You Calm, As if You Were Absent (lines 17-20)


Blurred darkness greeted him the moment Ryoma opened his eyes. He blinked a couple of times, trying to get the grasp of time and reality. A brief glance at the luminous clock on the nearest wall told him it was too early for perfectly sane human beings to be awake. He wondered if he did anything to mess up his biological clock since he highly doubted he was ever fully awake and functional at 4 o'clock in the morning. Forcing his eyes shut and willing his mind to lull him back to the realm of sleep became irritating after a few minutes, thus prompting him to slip out of bed and out of the bedroom.

Ryoma made his way down to the kitchen with practiced stealth; it would not do to wake the other occupant of the house who was still in the state of calm, peaceful sleep. He cursed himself when the floorboards creaked under his feet and he made mental notes to himself to get them replaced later during daytime. Ryoma had to admit that the uninvited sounds such as creaking floorboards and even the sound of his own footsteps gave him the creeps in the silence of the ungodly hour.

The kitchen was quiet, as of the rest of the house. He switched on the light and winced at the sudden assault of light, pupils slightly watery as they adjusted to the sudden invading brightness. Ryoma wasted no time in getting the coffee maker to brew the strongest it could manage. If he could not get back to sleep, he figured he might as well get himself fully awake and do something useful as he wait for the morning sun. The coffee tasted stale to his taste bud, and Ryoma blamed it all on his just-out-of-bed state. As he sipped the bland brew, his eyes fell onto a small picture frame hung on the wall over the kitchen counter.

Soon, he was lost in the memories brought forth by the simple picture. Ten years have passed from the day the photo was taken. A younger version of Ryoma stared back at him with a smirk. Ryoma's attention was not on his younger self, though. He was focusing more on the calm face of young Tezuka Kunimitsu who stood next to the younger version of himself in the photo.

Ryoma's gaze softened. He had forgotten they had once been so young. And carefree. And bloody stubborn too, his mind supplied, and Ryoma found himself chuckling at the memory.

He remembered Tezuka's shock when he showed up for his first year in Seigaku High. The young man did not expect Ryoma to return to Japan; like everyone else, Tezuka had thought Ryoma would start pursuing a career in the professional field once he was old enough to be in high school. He never expected Ryoma would be interested in continuing his studies before venturing all-out on his desired career.

Ryoma was not stupid. Rash, probably, but he was most definitely not stupid. He knew there was no way he could be a tennis player forever. He would have to retire even before he reached middle age, giving way to new talents to shine in a new era. Ryoma wished to at least complete high school to prepare himself for the challenges he would face in real life – real life that did not include an obsession of becoming world's No.1 tennis professional. Despite his obsessive nature that people seemed to love pointing out to his face, Ryoma's world does not only revolve around tennis.

There was Tezuka, for instance. When sixteen-year-old Ryoma told eighteen-year-old Tezuka he was taking a break from the tennis realm, Tezuka did not speak to him for a long time, waging a cold, silent war. It was only a year later that Ryoma could no longer suppressed his irritation and anger. He yelled at Tezuka, called him a 'selfish, manipulative, extremely insensitive bastard.' He poured his pent up anger into every word he showered Tezuka with, only stopping when his mouth was rudely silenced with the impact of another set of lips mashed against his. It was amazing how his tirade seemed to vanish into oblivion as he grabbed the older man's school tie and kissed him back with as much passion and a force of desperation. When they broke apart, Tezuka spoke against his lips in his husky voice that sent tingling sensations throughout Ryoma's spine.

'I thought once you're too complacent with life, you'd forget your dream. Who would I be looking forward to see on the other side of the court if you weren't there?'

A sigh escaped Ryoma's lips as he reminisced. The kiss they had then was the first of many kisses they shared as years rolled by. He did not notice he had his eyes closed until he felt warm lips placed a soft kiss against his temple, calling him back from down the memory lane. He hid a smile as the owner of the lips took a seat next to him a poured himself a cup of coffee. Ryoma did not bother telling the man of its foul taste for he knew the man would not admit how his taste bud was suffering from the taste of the concoction that landed on his tongue. It had always been that way.

"What are you doing up, Kunimitsu?"

"You weren't in bed."

Ryoma smiled a genuine smile. 'I couldn't sleep when I couldn't feel you next to me' was left unspoken, but Ryoma understood all the same.

After all, it was Tezuka's 'silent war' that had gotten them together in the first place.

"I couldn't sleep."

- End -