You Never Said "I Love You"

(Inspired by the song lyrics from Weib Kreuz, this fic was written to serve as a memory of a love I thought I'd lost only to find out that I never lost it in the first place. I just never saw through the clumsy kindness of that person. Again, this is written from Sendoh's POV. I will be making a sequel from Rukawa's POV soon. I'm in an angst-writing mood which would explain the uniform plot-themes I've been doing.)

Like the flames I lost you to, sadness overwhelms me, too

The rain sends shivers down my spine and seeps into my memory

Who was it that loves you so? Who was it that hates you so?

I gasp in pain- the memories begin to swirl inside my mind

I was perfectly happy with my life before you came crashing into it like a Goddamned tidal wave. You knocked me senseless, with just one icy stare that plunged into my heart like a sapphire spear. Heaven knows I don't need someone like you to disrupt my worry-free, messy routine that consisted of the simple joys in life such as fishing with my beloved pole while watching the sun set on the docks, slamming the ball in a gut-ripping dunk, and clowning around with my teammates whenever life gets uselessly boring. My life was wonderful and painless, but you just had to barge in uninvited.

How selfish of you Rukawa Kaede, taking a huge chunk of my heart, when you never said "I love you."

I've always loved basketball, loved it so much that I never bothered to look the other way for any emotional sustenance from the opposite sex. As long as I had basketball, I didn't need to fall in love---until you came and dunked the most bittersweet shot into my heart. You loved basketball, too, loved it so much my passion towards the game paled in comparison. You loved it so much you became one with the sport, and Aphrodite would cower in shame at the beauty you radiate whenever you play on court. Soon, you were the game itself, ruling it like no other player I have met. It was so unfair, the way you became a veritable God whenever you touched that seemingly insignificant orange sphere.

It took all of my strength to resist you, for I liked my life the way it is right now without you in it. But you just had to go after me, pursuing me like a relentless thunderstorm. So we played more often, just the two of us and with each meeting, I got to uncover the layers of your cold sophistication. Each new thing I would learn about you left me floating, like a little kid opening presents on Christmas day. Every time we'd meet, I'd get you to say something a little bit more and smile a little bit more until I would finally see a real smile blossom on your enchantingly pale face. I was so hooked that I even made a chart, unbeknownst to you, where I would tally the number of smiles I could get from you in a week.

I could feel the mountainous layers of ice slowly melting away and that gave me hope that someday, I would finally be able to see your true soul.

I could feel you give me tiny sparks of warmth every now and then, which were probably a whole lot more than you could ever give to a single person even if you never said, "I love you."

Should I believe in what we did then?

And if I do, leave you behind and feel regret again?

Is this the way to say goodbye, love?

When you and I had promises yet to fulfil?

That kiss you placed upon my heart, there still remains a lonely mark

Can't seem to lose the memories of when we met in the dark

And as I sigh, I can feel you once again

But it fades just as fast as it began

My life began to drastically change, and I swear by the Gods I never expected this to happen. I was so hopelessly in love with you that I didn't even notice how my perfectly worry-free routine altered completely just so I could have you in it. I would see you almost every day, for a day without you seemed totally meaningless. I would wait every night for your call, even though my eyes hurt from trying so hard not to fall asleep. I would keep my weekends free, much to the annoyance of my family and friends who told me they were growing extremely anxious of my one-sided decisions---decisions that involved only you. I was addicted, but I couldn't stop the ball from rolling straight into your court.

But you did your part as well, and that reaffirmed my faith in my decisions. You would see me every day, even though you never were the type to be thrown into routine commitments. You would call me every night, even though I knew your eyes had to hurt twice as mine for you prided sleep over and above any luxury. You would keep your weekends free, amidst the tumultuous protests of your family and friends who told you that you were the most selfish ass they ever came across. You stuck with me, and held the ball that I threw to your court.

But despite all these, though my heart longed for it, you never said "I love you."

Why are we born into this life? Why do we die into the night?

It seems the only one who ever knows these things is the rain

Which takes my tears, keeps them oh so far at bay

Until love fades away

Then one day I noticed, that you were slowly pulling away from me. We still see each other every day, but you would come later and later each time we do. I knew you had basketball practice and schoolwork and I shouldn't hold it against you but I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. You seem quieter too, not that you were always much of a conversationalist, but now the silence between us is no longer comfortable and understanding like the way it was before. You still called me up, but many times, I had to call you first and check if you had gotten home safely for we lived far apart from each other. You still kept your weekends free but you would always leave a little earlier, saying that you had other important things to do. I knew that you were also tired from your activities so I kept my mouth shut and spread the wings of my heart a little wider to accommodate you.

I was dying a little more each day, as I felt a piece of you slip away from me each time we are together. It's ironic but the more I held on, the easier it was for you to slip away from my grasp.

You still said that I was the only one who understood you through and through.

You still said I was the only one whom you would bother to call each night to say "goodnight" and "take care."

You eyes still sought mine whenever we are in a crowd, just so we could make the connection.

You still say "I'm sorry" whenever you can feel me hurting with your careless actions.

I knew that you did all these for me but my wounded heart kept hurting for you never said "I love you."

Gaze into the flames of blue, all my memories to view

The rain comes pouring down like stinging needles falling from the sky

Who was it that screamed in fear? Who was it that dreamed in tears?

I hear the voices but the faces have been washed away for years

The thought of losing what we have scared me so much I thought death would be a softer fate. Thus, I threw away whatever precious pride I had left and decided to tell you exactly how I feel. I had never felt so small, so insecure, and so defeated before, and it hurt like hell not knowing what to expect from someone whom you have lost your heart to, but I figured that if I could be more honest with you, then maybe---just maybe---I would stand a chance.

So I gathered whatever confidence I had left, which was difficult since I just didn't know anymore where I stood with you. I called you up but you never picked up, something which you never did before, but I thought to myself that you're probably still busy with practice so I'll just have to give it time. I went to your school and waited near the gym, waited till dusk drew near and the cold wind whipped through my body, draining my already fragile resolve. Then I saw you approaching, shoulders slumped, skin glowing like freshly fallen snow. One look at you and I felt my heart slam against my chest and whatever confidence I earlier had evaporated into the cold night air.

You looked mildly surprised seeing me standing out there in the cold, and asked me quite bluntly of the reason for my sudden presence. I wanted to tell you right there and then that I loved you, but the words refused to come out. Instead, I just asked you why you didn't answer my calls. You merely froze me with that icy cobalt gaze and started to walk away. I called out to you, desperation driving me to finally say what I came there for, tossing away the last vestiges of my pride into the biting wind.

"I love you, Kaede."

You stopped and turned around, meeting my desperate gaze. The silence between us stretched for what seemed like an eternity of pain and as usual, I was the first one to crumble.

"Kaede…what am I to you? This…what we have…what does this mean to you?"

Those beautiful orbs shone like jewels bathed in moonbeams but they were colder than the bitter winter winds.

"You assume too much, Akira. There was never anything between us, apart from the reality that you and I share the same passion for basketball."

Your response tore me apart. Inside, I was reduced to nothing but raw, bleeding flesh.

"Kaede, what are you saying? Surely you don't mean that…I know that you also care for me…don't you? I'm not expecting you to feel the same way, but surely, we had something going on, something special, didn't we, Kaede? Didn't we?"

Your laugh that night was as mirthless as the freezing night air. You were ice and stone, the Rukawa Kaede that everyone knew.

"Special? You really are a confident asshole, Akira." The blue orbs now ceased to shimmer. "If I had any feelings left Akira, I would gladly give them to you, but unfortunately I have nothing left to give you. We share the same passion. That's all."

I bled that night but still, you never said "I love you."

I fear there's nothing that I can do

Soaked by the rain I stand upon the concrete, sobbing now

It seems so long since I last held you

And even longer since the last time that you smiled...

This rain that hides my tears away, this rain that turns the world to gray

Those happy memories of you and I are slashed in the night

Fading so fast, as I watch them, helplessly

All my tears have begun to overflow

I truly believed time healed all wounds, as I crossed out each meaningless day in the calendar, but the wounds you carved when you walked away did not stop bleeding. My once carefree life is now in shambles and I hated myself for being so weak. I couldn't hate you though, no matter how I tried, for I knew I was partly to blame for allowing myself to give too much all at once.

I heard you had graduated college and would soon be leaving for America, just as you had dreamed. I seriously wanted to be happy for you, because there was no denying the reality that I still loved you, even though you were the one who walked away. But your words from that day wounded me so much I knew I would be scarred for life, so I spent the years trying to convince myself that you never loved me and I should not have expected anything from you.

Then the day you are about to leave came and everyone went to see you off---everyone but me. I still harbored the tiny spark of hope that you may somehow find it in your heart to notice my missing presence and perhaps call me up and ask me to come. But you were right, I was indeed a "confident asshole." And so you left without saying goodbye.

Days after you left, I was going through the daily routine of life, like a puppet on a string. The mask I put on was as impenetrable as your icy soul and I knew no one could tell that inside, I was dead. At night, I lie down on my bed, a pathetic figure curled up in the sheets. I had shed so much tears for one lifetime it's a wonder they still come down whenever I see your face in the blanket of the ebony sky. And I truly blamed the heavens for letting me live such a long life.

Then Christmas came unceremoniously, for I had even forgotten to count the days of the week, much less the seasons that came and passed. I told my family I would be with be with my friends, when in reality I just wanted to be alone for being alone made me suffer a little less. I made my way to the park where we would always meet and play on weekends. The memory wrapped around my heart, refusing to unwind. In the nest of the shadows made by the moon's pale glow, I saw a lone figure walking towards me. It was your old teammate Mitsui and now a fellow employee in the company I was working for. He approached me with purposeful strides that I had no time to walk away. But I didn't need to run away, for he merely held out a small package to me.

"It arrived at exactly 12:00 midnight yesterday, just in time for Christmas. You were out until today and I couldn't contact your phone so I called Koshino-san instead. He said you might be here. I wanted to leave this at the office but the messenger insisted it had to be opened on Christmas day."

Mitsui left and I glanced at the package in my hand. It was wrapped in ordinary brown paper with no note attached. I peeled away the wrapper and unearthed a notebook in bold, blue cover, painfully reminding me of your eyes. I wondered why anyone would give me such an insignificant gift. I opened the book and found that it was already used, full or writings in every page. Curious, I sat near the stone bench and read through the writings with the help of the light from an ancient lamppost. And just when I thought I had no more tears left to shed, tears fell like warm rain, drenching the notebook that I held.

For in each and every page was written ever memory we had ever shared.

For in each and every page was written every day we had ever spent.

For in each and every page was written the reason why you had left.

For in each and every page was written every day that we are no longer together.

And in each and every page you had written, "I love you, Akira."

My heart cried a thousand times more tears than my eyes ever could that night. Kaede, you had never said "I love you," but now I knew…now I knew.

This rain that washes pain away, this rain that blows the flames away

And lets the dreamers dream of songs to sing, releases the life

And takes my tears, keeps them oh so far at bay

Until love fades away, until love fades away...