Author's Note:Meh. One-shot dedicated to a friend who recently converted to Perfect Pair. Although, I confess, she needs to watch the entire series and not go directly to the limes... xD We love you, M!

The poem (it is NOT a songfic, which I know is illegal) is written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Brilliant guy, and yet very melodramatic. If you really have a problem reading seperate things at the same time, read the poem after reading the one-shot. :x It's a rather keen and lovely poem. Oh, and please tell me if this is actually allowed. I'll take it down if it is. :( But I'll still be very sad.


-Sympathy-

He remembered the accident clearly; it was altogether much too intense to pretend that it never happened. That was why, for once, he was afraid. At first, he couldn't see anybody, he was pushed around by pushy bystanders. He wanted to scream.

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass

There was a lot of blood. At first, Tezuka was relieved that it was purely physical. He had hoped that Fuji had retained everything that they had built up for the last six years of training and playing tennis together, but that wasn't the case. Why? In the cruel, harsh world, nobody had warmed up to homosexuals. Whenever he and Fuji went together people would whisper behind their hands and give them a weird look.

"Why are you so self-concious about it, Kunimitsu?" asked Fuji airily as he perused the menu. "You're imagining it. Besides, am I not fairer than any girl in school?"

"That's not the point," Tezuka said, aggravated. "I come from a family of conservatives."

Fuji rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I could cross-dress. You know Mizuki? Yuuta-kun brought him home and he introduced me the hobby. It's quite--"

"That's enough." Tezuka cut through.

When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!

Once, the regulars had gone for a picnic presumably for training. While the others were exploring the meadow and other good things for boys their age, Tezuka had preferred to hike by himself. But not by himself. He could see out of the corner of his eye that Fuji was studiously following him. He smiled for a second, then gripped the sack of sand tighter.

"Fuji-kun, I know you're out there. Come out."

"Ah, buchou, you noticed me quickly."

"Anyone would've noticed you. The wind is blowing from the other direction. Where there is shadow, there must be light."

"Very sentimental, buchou. Who taught you that? Frankly, I've never heard you talking that much before."

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
'Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing

Now the happy memories were gone. They were in high school, and of course things had changed. Surreptitiously, at first. Tezuka had continued on his road trek on becoming a professional, while Fuji had given up on that particular ambition and took up photography, sometimes revealing things that he had never noticed in middle school. For instance, Tezuka had never really known that he had a favorite cactus until Fuji Photoshopped him with a similar posture to another cactus.

Fuji was breathing barely and the nurses were crowding around him, checking his pulse and snapping on IV tubes.

"Fuji..." Tezuka's voice was muffled with an emotion he rarely displayed: desperation. "Live."

And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!

After a long grueling month, Fuji had gained consciousness. It was terrible. The floor was cleaned but it reeked of something else. Loss. And Tezuka knew that this was a completely different person that he had known since seventh grade. Fuji had fixated a look at him that made Tezuka feel uneasy. Fuji looked... vulnerable. Trusting. Innocent, like a child.

"Ah, it's Tezuka-san... right? The nurse told me you would visit today." An unfamiliar high pitched voice bounded into his ears unbidden.

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee...

He extended a hand, expecting him to shake it. It was official: they were strangers. Fuji had lost everything that made him Fuji. Tezuka could not bear looking at him any longer. One perfect round teardrop fell to the ground. Fuji looked startled.

"Goodness me. Did I do anything wrong?" he said worriedly. Fuji had never been worried about making others cry.

But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!

Tezuka hesitated for one more moment, and then grasped the fragile boy in his arms. The happiness they had shared had flown out of the window. He'd been a fool not to dwell on them for one more second, or minute, or hour... He could feel the warmth from his body leave and settle into Fuji's cold and dark interior. He had never felt so much contempt for himself before, not even when he had lost a tennis match to Atobe, or even Sanada...

They were wrong about the seven deadly sins. They left one out. When Pandora had mourned, the last, deadliest sin rose up and gave her false joy.

Hope.