Title: Waiting

Author: isumi'kivic'

Pairings: TezuFuji, written for


's challenge in LJ: One More Time, One More Chance. I know this fic doesn't even fit the song, and it might not meet your std, aiy-neesan, but I tried.. haha..smiles sheepishly

Warning: Shounen-ai, excessive OOC-ness. They grow! Their personality would change, right? Okay, that was an excuse.. hides

Disclaimer: I wouldn't want to take either Tezuka or Fuji from each other because I still love my life. grins That, and I'm not sure I'll have enough money if Konomi-sensei sues me.

A/N: This fic could be a continuation from my other fic, Cherry Blossom Petals, but you could read it as a separate piece. I just wanted to highlight the word "drifting apart" and "waiting". shrugs Okay, I know I'm selfish. Gomennasai!

Saa, aiy-neesan, I hope this fic would at least brighten your day a little bit, ne.. v Gomen, it's really late, but I've been down with a bad, bad cold.. coughs Bodoh sekali kan, sakitnya justru setelah pulang dari asrama.. sighs

En-joy, nya!


A Tennis no Oujisama Fanfiction

The Narita Airport was far more crowded the he'd thought. Understandable, though. It was the beginning of school holiday at last, almost a week after the third graders graduation. People swarm everywhere like ants sharing their food, foreign faces appeared almost in every corner. It was hard enough to move slowly, and the fact that there were eight of them didn't make it any easier. Not to mention the addition of the other three members of Tezuka's family, of course.

It felt a little bit surreal, Fuji mused. They had just come to this very same section of airport two days ago to see Echizen off to USA. And now, they had come again, this time to see their former Buchou off… to Germany.

The Tensai sighed. If it were as easy to go to Germany as everybody could say its name..

He glanced to where his friends were. A week after their graduation, they still meet each other every now and then. The euphoria of graduation and the melancholic atmosphere of leaving their beloved junior high time were probably the cause of it. And Fuji understood it. He knew that, once high school started, they'd be all busy. So, he decided to just enjoy his friends' antics while he could.

As for now, their most favorite topic of conversation was: Which high school would you go to?

The Golden Pair—Oishi and Eiji—had instantly agreed to continue their high school in Seigaku. And Fuji had to admit that he envied the Golden Pair so much. They just meant to stay together, always. Both teens hadn't changed a bit since the graduation, and Fuji wondered if they ever would. Surely humans were in constant change?

Meanwhile, Inui would go to Rikkai Daigakuen, accepting Renji's request—much to Kaidou's disappointment, by the way—and he told Fuji that he was looking forward to see Sanada's expression when he drank one of the data collector's concoctions. Taka himself, having resigned in his tennis, entered a small high school close by his father's sushi restaurant.

And Tezuka… Fuji's eyes strayed ahead to where the stoic teen was talking to Oishi. Subconsciously, his smile faltered a bit.
Germany. Today, Tezuka was leaving to Germany.

Absently, as if he wasn't actually there, Fuji watched his friends—from his seemingly closed eyes—said goodbye and wished the bespectacled teen luck, one by one. Tezuka stoically responded with a nod or his standard reply of "Hn," and some short answers. The honey brown-haired teen absently thought of what he should say to his friend. Goodbye? That's ridiculous. Tezuka had given him his number in Germany so they'd definitely keep in touch. Yet, maybe, just maybe, this would be the last time they'd meet each other. Then, wouldn't a farewell greeting be proper?

"Where's Fuji?" the rich, deep voice of the object of his thoughts snapped him back to reality. Raising his head, he put on the most perfect, cheerful smile he had, and steeled himself as he approached Tezuka.

"Saa… Tezuka," his voice came out even as he looked up at Tezuka from his seemingly closed eyes. "If it's you, I'm sure there won't be any problem. Good luck."

"Aah," was the only reply he got.

"And.. here. I figured you might want something convenient to remember us, so.." Fuji's hand drew out a wrapped rectangular thing from his bag, offering it to Tezuka. The latter seemed to scrutinize his expression, before taking the gift and murmured a gentle, "arigatou."

Something to remember us… Fuji smiled bitterly inward. It was actually a desperate effort to etch himself into Tezuka's heart—even though Fuji knew better than anybody that Tezuka had long reserved a special place for him in his heart. Still, time and distance could change even the strongest bond, and when that happened, he wanted Tezuka to at least remember…that a Fuji Shuusuke ever existed in his life.

Carefully, Tezuka opened the gift to reveal a hand-made agenda, with a picture of the whole Seigaku team on the soft wooden cover. Slowly, Tezuka skimmed the small book, finding more pictures of his junior high school days—him and Oishi in the clubroom discussing something, Momo and Kaidou bickering, Echizen with his Ponta watching Eiji cling to Oishi, Inui offering his latest concoction to Kawamura, him watching the first graders running laps, and some others, mostly of him and the regulars—and his fingers finally stopped at the last page—the only page left after a list of contact numbers and addresses of the whole club members. There, on the last page, was the only picture of the Tensai—other than his presence in the picture on the cover—together with him, arms wound around each other's shoulders, both smiling, although he could still see the remnants of tears on Fuji's cheeks.

It was a picture after their fateful match, Tezuka realized.

He raised his gaze to meet Fuji's beautiful cerulean eyes, and the Tensai smiled—his rare, open-eyed, real smile—and Tezuka didn't even think anymore. He simply forgot the fact that he was in an airport, with his friends and family surrounding him. His body moved in impulse as he reached forward and pulled his friend—well, maybe more than a friend, but he could never be sure except if he uttered the three sacred words—into an embrace.

As he felt Fuji returning his embrace with gentle pats on his back, he opened his mouth. This was it. This was maybe the only time left to say it, to make sure about Fuji's feelings and secure the bond between them together…

He chastised when what came out of his mouth was, "Thank you for everything."

Was it only his imagination, or did Fuji's voice sounded like restraining a sob when he replied, "No, Tezuka. Thank you."

How much more do I have to lose, before my heart is forgiven?
How many more pains do I have to suffer, to meet you once again?
One more time, oh seasons, fade not
One more time, when we were messing around

To Fuji,

How are you? It's been quite a while since the last time you called. I apologized for not writing to you in a long time. It has been hectic as June approaches quickly. By the time you read this letter, I am probably in a summer program my tennis school holds every year. We will be isolated for a month, which is exactly why I write you letters, not e-mails. I am unsure of when I can call or e-mail you again.

One of my teachers took a liking on the agenda you gave me back then. He is interested in photography, and he would like to know about you more. I gave him your e-mail address and phone number. He might contact you around July or August.
Oishi told me about how you have been doing. Do you make it into the regulars?


Tezuka Kunimitsu

Smiling, Fuji folded back the letter he received this morning for the umpteenth time. He knew the letter by heart, every word, every coma and dot. It was actually a little silly to read the letter over and over again, but he just couldn't help it. Ah, now he felt slightly guilty for teasing Yumiko when she received a letter from her first crush in Junior High years ago.

Do you make it into the regulars?

Moving towards his bedside drawer to put the letter in the drawer—with all his 'memorable' stuff—Fuji glanced at his opened walk-in closet. There, hung neatly amongst his clothes and high school uniforms, was Hyoutei's regular jersey and shirt.

A satisfied smile appeared on the ever-smiling teen's physiognomy, a smile that was quickly turned into a light, but satisfied chuckle.
Yes, Tezuka, he thought. I made it into Hyoutei's regulars. Too bad you couldn't see me beat Atobe seven games to six. It was such a thrilling game, too. Not as thrilling as our match back then, but still…it was a good entertainment.

Fuji didn't regret his decision to accept the scholarship Hyoutei had offered as soon as he had graduated.

And that night, he dreamt. The Tensai dreamt about the green courts in Seishuun Gakuen—the cheerful "Nyaan!" that reverberated to the corners of the court, the caring, slightly worried tone that always drowned other noisy voices whenever someone got injured, the constant bickering of "Mamushi!" and "Fssshuuu..", the arrogant attitude that annoyed everybody, but also endearing at the same time, the familiar, spirited shouts in English such as "Buuurnningg!!" or "Come on, Baby!" that made the alarm in everyone's head went off, the casual sound of a pen scribbling on a notebook followed by mutterings of calculations and sometimes weird concoctions, and the rich, deep voice ordering laps and laps around the courts for everyone, including Fuji himself, and yet, the beautiful hazel gaze that caught his cerulean ones was very soft… and gentle..

And he dreamt about himself—chuckling and laughing at his friends' antics, fighting down a blush when his arms brushed against his captain's, smiling threateningly, and faking total innocence when his captain caught him doing some pranks he had planned together with his red-haired partner-in-crime..

When he woke up, the honey brown-haired teen smiled softly as he stared straight to the wall, where a big photograph of the Seigaku Regulars was hung.

He really missed everyone—the Regulars. But most of all, he missed—no, he longed for Tezuka.

Whenever we disagreed, I would always give in first
Your selfish nature made me love you even more
One more chance, the memories restrain my steps
One more chance, I cannot choose my next destination

"Game! Hyoutei's Fuji Shuusuke, six games to three!"

Loud screams and exclamations of victory nearly drowned the referee's announcement of the end of the game. Fuji let out a breath as he wiped off the sweat on his forehead, and smiled respectively at his opponent across the court.

He knew his opponent. He was one of his respectable senpai back then—one of Yamato-buchou's close friends—and while his tennis wasn't really good, his sportive nature was what made Fuji respect him.

"Good game, Fuji-kun," his opponent grinned cheerfully. "It's so much fun to have an actual game with you. What Yamato had said years ago about you and Tezuka proved to be true after all."

"Arigatou, senpai," Fuji replied, bowing a little before shaking his opponent's hand. "It was a good game."

The booming screams and victorious yells of Hyoutei's supporters accompanied Fuji's steps as he walked out of the court. The Tensai received some satisfied smiles, proud pats on his back, and acknowledging nods from his current teammates. Stepping away from the crowds that was Hyoutei's supporters, the ever-smiling teen sat down under a tree. He just had to wait for the Singles 2 and 1 to end. Even though both Seigaku and Hyoutei had secured their 'tickets' to the Kantou tournament, Hyoutei needed to win all singles matches in order to be the champion of the prefecture tournament. Seigaku was the last obstacle to reach the title.

"Hoi hoi, Fujiko!! Nyaa!"

The cheerful, familiar, bouncy-toned call Fuji had missed so much successfully drew his attention away from Atobe's Singles 2 match. Turning to the source of the voice and quickly rose to his feet, Fuji smiled. "Eiji!"

A tight hug that was almost choking him—and yet, he had to admit that he missed it—made him chuckle as the bright—brighter than the yells of Hyoutei's supporters—exclamation of "Nyaaa!! I miss you so much, Fujiko!!" filled his ears.

He hugged back the redhead once before releasing him. "Eiji.." he laughed, shaking his head. "You still haven't changed a bit. Ne, Oishi?"

Slowly nearing them, Oishi smiled—the former fukubuchou looked extremely happy to see him in a good health—and raised his hand. The two of them exchanged a high-five.

"Long time no see, Fuji," Eiji's partner chuckled. "That was a good game. You're still almost invincible, ne?"

"Glad to hear that from you, Oishi," the Tensai said truthfully, smiling. It was true. For some reason, only the former members of Seigaku Regulars could ensure him of his current tennis skill. "Doubles 1 was also fantastic."

"You saw?" Eiji exclaimed excitedly as he flopped down on the green grass, patting the spot next to him for Oishi to sit on. "Did you see our new move? Hoi hoi, we practiced it for months, nyan!"

They sat together there under the tree, talking over so many things—Eiji and Oishi's ne move, Seigaku, the former Regulars, Fuji's new cactus, Eiji's new taste on toothpaste, Oishi's new hobby—oblivious to their surroundings, even though Hyoutei's supporter's hysteria blasted out when Atobe finished the game seven games to five and was enough to deafen anyone's ears within the radius of 12 kilometers.

"It's really weird to see you in Hyoutei's jersey, nyaa.." Eiji commented, looking slightly disappointed. "But you do still look good in it."

Fuji laughed. "Is that a compliment, Eiji?"

"Unnyaa and practice feels weird, too!" the redhead whined, and added sulkily, "I miss everybody.."

Patting his partner's head, Oishi said softly, "We all do. Right, Fuji?"

"Yes," the Tensai agreen, his smile widened in slight wistfulness. "Besides, Eiji, you're lucky to still have Oishi by your side. Isn't that enough?"

Both Oishi and Eiji blushed beet red at that, but Eiji was the one who stuttered, "Nyaa, nyaa! Fujiko!! It's not like that! Of course it's enough if I can be together with Oishi, but I just miss everyone! It's not like I don't want Oishi, I just…!"

"Maa, Eiji, Eiji," the honey brown-haired boy chuckled in amusement. "Calm down. I'm sure Oishi understands perfectly what you're trying to say," turning to his former fukubuchou, the Tensai sent a wink, making Oishi blushed deeper.

The redhead pouted slightly, but then a sly look entered his face. "And how about your own story, Fujiko?"

Truthfully, Fuji stiffened at the question, but his reflex took over as he gave a wide, cheerful smile at Eiji's direction. "Story? What story?"

Eiji snorted. "Mou, nyaa, Fujiko! We all know what I'm talking about!"

Giving a small chuckle, Oishi continued for his partner. "Tezuka mentioned in his last e-mail that you haven't sent him any more e-mails since last month. Not even calling him," he paused, carefully examining Fuji's smiling face, knowing that it could be fake. "He thinks it's a little bit unusual for you."

"Really?" somehow, in Oishi's ears, the Tensai's chuckle sounded a bit bitter. "Did he tell you why he haven't been contacting me lately?"

Blinking in confusion, Oishi exchanged glances with his red-haired partner. "Yeah.. he told me that he's busy.."

"But he still sends you e-mails," Fuji countered back. "Even though he's busy, he still sends you e-mails. Why can't he send me one, then?"

A tensed, awkward silence fell, and Oishi realized he was bringing up a sensitive subject for Fuji. Quickly, he looked at the Tensai sincerely and said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to.."

"Saa, Oishi, it's quite alright," the ever-smiling Tensai shrugged. "Tezuka just needs some… encouragements when it comes to this kind of thing. He won't contact me first unless he has something important to tell me."

"Then why don't you contact him, nya?" Eiji finally voiced out his curiosity.

"Saa, nee…" even Oishi could catch the wistful tone in the brown-haired teen's voice. "Maybe I'm just tired of always being the one who makes the first move."

There was a gap of silence after Fuji's statement reverberated in the air around them. And then, Eiji's voice rang clearly, filling the silence.
"I really don't understand how in the world you fell in love with him, Fujiko.."

I'm always waiting, for your figure to appear somewhere
On the opposite platform, in the windows along the lane
Even though I know you couldn't be at such a place
If my wish were to come true, I would be at your side right away
There would be nothing I couldn't do
I would put everything on the line and hold you tight.

Na, Fujiko, have you called him yet, nya?

Subconsciously, the Tensai sighed. It was the—what, tenth?—umpteenth time Eiji sent the same message nearly every hour since this morning. Lazily, he texted his friend back with the same message he had used to reply Eiji every time the redhead sent him the same message.

Not yet, Eiji. I'm busy. Maybe later.

Later could be tonight, or tomorrow, or next week—or even next month or next year, Fuji thought in amusement. He knew he was being childish for not contacting Tezuka unless the stoic teen contacted him first. Moreover, today was Tezuka's birthday. So really, Fuji was the one who was supposed to call first.

"Are you truly deaf or are you purposefully ignoring Ore-sama, Fuji?"

If he was startled, the honey brown-haired teen never showed it. Instead, he turned and gave Atobe a cheerful smile. "Saa, gomen, Atobe. I was spacing out. Do you need something?"

Standing behind Fuji—who was sitting on the bench in the clubhouse—Atobe looked down, scrutinizing the cell phone his teammate was holding. Clicking his tongue, Atobe ran his hand through his shiny hair, eyes glinted in a teasing manner as he said, "Ah, yes. Ore-sama had just remembered. Some girls in Ore-sama's class said today is Tezuka's birthday."

Fuji let a smile appeared on his face. Being in Hyoutei for a little more than a semester now made him used to Atobe's own antics. After knowing Atobe and being in the same team for quite some time, Fuji could see that Atobe wasn't that bad. The narcissistic teen was actually a loyal friend and a sharp-minded person. And Fuji had grown to respect him nonetheless.

"Ore-sama assume that you were sending greetings to Tezuka, then?"

Fuji didn't have any time to answer as his cell phone vibrated, a sign that a new text message had come in. Glancing down, Fuji suppressed a sigh as he saw who the sender was. Oishi. Eiji must have told him about his being stone-headed. Almost grudgingly, he opened the message.

Fuji, really, I don't think you should be like this. Today's Tezuka's birthday, and he'd be so happy if it's you who call and wish him a happy birthday. He's been pretty busy with a tournament coming up, remember? A call from you would make him happy. Eiji and I just want you two to always be in a 'good term' even though Tezuka's far in Germany right now.

An amused smile appeared on his physiognomy. Oishi was still a mother hen, after all. Even to the tiniest, simplest, silliest, self-made problem like this…

He was quite aware of Atobe reading the message from behind his shoulder, so he wasn't surprised when the latter remarked, "You're not in 'good terms' with Tezuka currently?"

Fuji pursed his lips playfully, before replacing it with a wide smile. "No, not at all. Everything's alright. I have no problem with Tezuka. Oishi's just always too worried about practically everything."

"But you refused to call Tezuka?" Atobe pointed out, raising one of his eyebrows, brushing away the bangs covering his eyes gracefully. Fuji chuckled and shrugged, turning his attention to his bag. Maybe if he took the longer way to go home, he could stop at Kawamura Sushi and ordered some wasabi sushi… would Taka-san be home yet?

"Ore-sama was going to ask if you're free for a match, by the way," Atobe said suddenly, and Fuji caught a tone of playful challenge. "If Ore-sama win, you have to call your beloved over in Germany. Agree?"

A pair of cerulean eyes flew open at that, and Atobem for the first time since Fuji entered Hyoutei, confirmed that Fuji'e real sharp look was, indeed, fearsome. But he steeled himself—saying inwardly that he was the high and mighty Ore-sama!—and looked at those blue orbs evenly.

The Tensai's voice was bordering on something dangerous as he spoke, "How do you notice?"

Atobe blinked, the question wasn't what he had expected. But he answered anyway. "It was obvious from the time when both of you were still in Seigaku," he said, purposefully leaving out the words "You two just naturally fit together" that popped up into his mind just in case Fuji didn't approve the word choice. He knew better than to make Fuji's mood worse. The Tensai had proven to be quite troublesome—and scary—when he decided to have a revenge on something—or simply was in his manipulative and playful mood.

Fuji sighed. See… Atobe was sharp. "It's that obvious.. huh?"

"Are you accepting Ore-sama's challenge or not?"

He wasn't at all in the mood of playing Atobe, so he wasn't surprised in the slightest when Atobe finished him off seven games to five in a matter of ten minutes. The latter wrinkled his nose in irritation as they shook hands, knowing perfectly that the Tensai wasn't even putting much effort in the match.

"You're not even serious." Atobe remarked irritably. "Are you looking down on Ore-sama's skill?"

Fuji could only smile. "Saa.." he began. "Of course not, Atobe. But maybe.. maybe I really wanted to call him after all."

Atobe had given him an incredulous look, but still, that was what Fuji did that night: calling Tezuka. Using the cordless phone he took from Yuuta's room, he flopped down onto his bed, a tiny phonebook in his hand. He didn't necessarily need it, really, because he knew the number by heart, but still, somehow, gripping it gave him some more courage.

Fifteen digits of number. The monotonous calling tone. It felt like a lifetime for the petite teen before finally he heard a 'click' from the other end of the line, followed by the rich, deep voice he'd longed for so long, murmuring a short, "Hello?"

"Tezuka!" He cheerfully greeted his friend. "Otanjoubi omedetou."

"Aah," was the curt reply. "Arigatou."

"It's been a while, ne, Tezuka? Are you doing well?" the brown-haired teen ignored the thumping sound he could practically hear from his chest, silently hoping that Tezuka wouldn't hear it. Chuckling a little at his own nervousness, he continued, "How was your birthday?"

There was a pause from the other end of the line, and Fuji laughed softly. "I take it that you completely forgot about it. Didn't Oishi send you a birthday greeting?"

"He did," the stoic tone rang beautifully in his ear. "Early this morning."

"Ah, and you forgot it completely once you're into your routines. Very typical of Tezuka-buchou, ne?"

"Fuji." The voice sounded like a chiding, but it was much too gentle than the usual firm voice ordering laps around. Fuji closed his eyes, listening intently to his friend's voice, noticing how Tezuka's voice had turned slightly deeper now, how his voice had a slightly happy tone that betrayed his stoical voice, and a hint of smile in his voice.

He missed Tezuka—more than anything.

And so, they talked long into the night, forgetting the time difference that it must have been around sunrise time in where Tezuka was, and Fuji never noticed Yumiko knocked on his door several times, peeked in, and smiled knowingly before leaving him on himself, letting her brother to skip dinner. A whole lot of news and remarks were exchanged—Tezuka's upcoming tournament, Fuji's routines as a Hyoutei student, and even their family—as previously masked feelings began to unveil in disguise of casual remarks and statements.

But not the three sacred words. Never the three sacred words. Even though words of affection naughtily slipped in under the name of "curiosity" and "worry", the three sacred words always died in their throats before having a chance of being uttered, leaving only regrets and guilt that gnawed on their minds.

"Are you coming back for Christmas, Tezuka?" the ever-smiling teen inquired. He just had to know, so that his heart wouldn't freeze in waiting. He just had to assure himself that he'd meet Tezuka again someday.

There was a pause, and the blue-eyed teen could feel a regretful air even before his friend said, "No."

"Sou ka?" a chuckle masked his disappointment. "But you'll definitely be back to Japan, ne? Your family is still here after all."

He wondered if his desperation was showed clearly in that question-slash-statement, but decided to shrug it off when Tezuka answered, "Aah."

So he smiled. "I'm glad," he said truthfully. He could almost picture Tezuka nodding his head, and he chuckled at it. Each and every figure of Tezuka could never gradually disappear from his memory.

"Fuji, sorry. I have to go." Nevertheless, the petite teen was disappointed when he heard Tezuka said that. But the slightly guilty and disappointed tone hidden in the stoical voice somehow made him feel better. He wasn't the only one who was reluctant to hang up.

"Saa, good luck with everything, Tezuka," he said sincerely. There was a pause, and he heard Tezuka took a long breath, and he could picture the stoic teen gripping the phone harder. But before he could call his friend's name, Tezuka beat him to that.

"Fuji," the voice sounded somewhat tentative at first, but the turned firmer without losing the gentle streaks in it. "Yudan sezu ni ikou," a pause. "Take care. I'll call you soon."

Fuji's heart missed a beat. Tezuka never, ever said "take care" to anybody, less in that gentle tone! A happy smile quickly spread his face, as he murmured affectionately, "You too, Tezuka. I'll be waiting. Bye."

Fuji knew they loved each other. They just hadn't had the courage to say the three sacred words yet. And so, he decided to wait still.

If I just wanted to avoid loneliness, anybody would have been enough
Because the night looks like the stars will fall, I cannot lie to myself
One more time, oh seasons, fade not
One more time, when we were messing around

"Fuji Shuusuke, right?"

That evening, standing in front of one of the bookcases in the bookstore, Fuji had to admit that he was quite surprised to see the two figures he hadn't seen since God-knows-when. Sanada and Yukimura stood before the brown-haired teen—both holding a green-colored, hard-covered book.

"Sanada. Yukimura." The petite teen quickly offered a smile, which was returned very cheerfully by the purple-haired teen. "It's a surprise to see you here."

"We're visiting some relatives." Yukimura replied, still smiling brightly. "Right, Sanada?"

The latter nodded, but Fuji could feel his sharp gaze on him. If he weren't Fuji Shuusuke, he would've taken a step back. Hiding a smirk, Fuji thought, typical Sanada.

"How's Rikkai?" out of formality, the blue-eyed teen decided to ask.

Yukimura chuckled. "We're good—very well, indeed. And we have your friend Inui to thank for that. His concoctions even scare the laziest third graders."

Sanada glanced at his wristwatch, and a frown appeared. He put his hand on Yukimura's shoulder and murmured, "I'll go pay for the books."

Handing his own green-covered book, Yukimura looked up at Sanada—and for the first time, Fuji witnessed and affectionate, beautiful, loving smile spread across the former buchou of Rikkai—and said, "Sorry for the trouble."

Sanada grunted a "Hnn" as an answer, taking the book gently from Yukimura's hand and walked to the cashier counter with firm steps. Yukimura followed him with his tender gaze.

Fuji's smile widened. The two of them complemented each other. A beautiful, natural match.

Suddenly, all colors dissolved, all shapes changed, and before his eyes, Yukimura's figure disappeared, replaced by an all-too-familiar honey brown-haired youth,standing on where Yukimura's figure previously stood, gazing at the back of a taller teen with dark brown hair who was picking a book from one of the bookshelves in the shop.

It was him—and Tezuka.

And Fuji saw himself stepping right next to Tezuka, smiling cheerfully, accidentally brushed their arms together. Then, he heard himself speak in a calm tone, "Do you think we can drop by Taka-san's restaurant, today? I need to buy some sushi for dinner."

Tezuka nodded without any argument, and gently took the book Fuji was holding. "Then I'll pay for these, so we won't be home too late."
The Tensai saw himself giving Tezuka his most sincere, real smile as he murmured tenderly, "Arigatou, Tezuka."

Dazed, Fuji didn't even blink. His brain searched the memory—and he remembered. It was the first day of their second year in Seigaku back then, when Tezuka had volunteered to accompany him to the bookstore on the way home.

"Fuji? Fuji. Fuji, are you still here?"

Yukimura's voice snapped him out of his daze. Blinking, Fuji saw the previously dissolved world was put back together—his other self and Tezuka vanished into thin air—and there was Yukimura standing before him, looking vastly amused at the spaced-out Tensai.

"Gomen, I spaced out a little," the brown-haired youth gave an apologetic smile.

Yukimura shrugged it off. "It's alright. Sanada and I have to go, anyway. See you soon at the Kantou tournament, then."

"Please say hello to Inui from me."

"I will."

Watching Sanada and Yukimura walking out of the store, Fuji sighed. He ran a hand through his brown hair as he picked out a book from the shelf. Shakespeare's Hamlet should satisfy his English Literature teacher for his book review assignment.

As he stepped out of the bookstore, tiny droplets of water started to fall heavily from the sky.

I'm always searching, for your figure to appear somewhere
At a street crossing, in the midst of dreams
Even though I know you wouldn't be at such a place
If a miracle were to happen here, I would show you right away
The new morning, who I'll be from now on
And the words I never said, "I love you."

Avoiding a big puddle of water, Fuji lightly jumped across it, continuing his journey home. His umbrella was held tighter in his hand as the rain fell heavier and heavier. Every color suddenly mixed with a tinge of grayish color, somehow making the atmosphere darker than it usually was. The wind started picking up its pace, blowing hard, and the umbrella didn't help much.

Fuji knew he had to find somewhere as a shelter. At least until the wind slowed down. And he had to find it quick, before he and his stuff got wet—which weren't good considering he brought a load of books with him.

So, when he saw the first building he could use as a shelter, he quickly went to stand on the building's porch. Heaving a relieved breath, he closed his umbrella.

That was when he noticed he was in front of the hospital. The very same hospital where Tezuka usually went to get his injured left arm treated. The hospital where, once, he had stood outside for nearly an hour—or maybe two or three, he didn't quite remember—in a freezing winter weather, waiting for his buchou to come out of the hospital.

His mind flew back to that time when he was waiting—how he patiently watched the cars on the street drove down on the slightly slippery road, and he could still remember how he subconsciously gripped his umbrella, wondering what took Tezuka so long and whether his left arm was okay. It had to be, they hadn't even have their promised match, yet! And that made him wondered, what if they had entered different schools? Would they meet as opponents in the courts? Would they be the hardest rivals to each other? Which would Tezuka prefer, then? Would Tezuka…

…the automatic door swished open, and Fuji turned, a bright expression on his face, expecting Tezuka's figure to come out… only to see a little girl with her father stepped out, looking at the heavy rain in disappointment.

But his smile didn't falter. Not even when the little girl's father looked at him and gave him a weary smile. "Beautiful weather, isn't it?" he said sarcastically.

He nodded, still with a smile, while inwardly, he chastised himself.

I'm such a stupid person. He isn't here, of course. What was I thinking?

As the raindrops slowly ceased, Fuji fell into silent steps as he lost in his own world. He didn't quite remember—or realize—where he was going afterwards. He only remember a haze of grayish blur, and before he knew it, he was in front of an all-too-familiar sushi restaurant.
Something pounded in his chest—much alike a boxer punching a sandbag—so hard that it practically hurt. He could hear the cheerful "Hoi hoi!" as a flash of a redheaded figure passed him, followed by an exclamation of "Taka-senpai's gonna treat us again!" only to get a "Fssshhuu.. baka!" in return. And the honey brown-haired teen's ears rang as the expected quarrel began, intervened by a casual "Don't fight," and an arrogant "Mada mada da ne, senpaitachi," and a gentle, slightly shy chuckle while the sound of mad scribblings and crazy muttering continued. Then, when everything had come to its highest pitch, there was a firm, exasperated bark, "Everyone, 10 laps! Now!"
Fuji let out a chuckle, turning his head slightly to the source of the voice, and said, "Saa.. we're not even in the courts, Tezu.."

He trailed off as the blowing wind greeted him. No one existed within his range of sight. No sound except the still howling winds from afar.


"…ka.." his voice came out a weak whisper. For a while—and he never knew how long exactly it was—he stood there, as if the time had frozen—and maybe it had—staring blankly at the empty spot on his right side.

"Fuji? Is that you?"

The familiar, gentle voice snapped him back into reality, and even before he turned, Fuji knew whom the gentle, almost shy voice he'd also been missing belonged to. A soft smile spread on his face, and he turned—his smile fixed perfectly—and answered the call as cheerful as he could, "Taka-san!"

His former teammate slowly led his bicycle toward where the Tensai was standing. A wide, happy smile appeared on his face, and he beamed, "Fujiko! It's been quite some time since the last time you dropped by. What are you doing here?"

"Saa.." the petite teen grinned. "I decided that I miss your wasabi sushi."

"Really? Why don't you come in, then?" Kawamura gestured him to the restaurant, and Fuji followed. But then, the Hadoukyuu user paused, his eyes scrutinizing Fuji. His eyebrows were narrowed, a sign that he didn't like what he saw.

"Are you okay, Fujiko? You looked pale."

The memories of summer are revolving
The throbbing which suddenly disappeared

That evening, he stood by his windowsill, staring lovingly at his cactus, Cygnusia. Carefully caressing its—actually, it was a he—pricks, the petite teen murmured softly, "Don't you miss him, too?"

Cygnusia nodded. Fuji chuckled, but this time, it really sounded hollow. "I wonder what he's doing right now…does he ever think about me? Or I am forgotten, too? Drowned by his routines, like his birthday was forgotten?"

He still sends you e-mails and calls sometimes, Cygnusia reminded him.

"But not as often. It's getting rarer and rarer." Fuji countered, sighing. "I guess routines do have a way to make someone forget about nearly everything. Especially for a very dedicated person like him."

Shuusuke, you're being pessimistic, Cygnusia chided.

Fuji turned his head as he heard a soft knock on the door. Leaving Cygnusia on the windowsill, he quickly approached the door and opened it. There was only another person home that evening aside of himself, so he knew who it was.

"What is it, Neesan?"

Fuji Yumiko appeared before his door, smiling softly at her brother with a tray of tea and cookies in her hands. "Are you busy doing something, Shuusuke?"

Fuji shook his head and stepped aside, letting his older sister to enter his room. It was very rare for Yumiko to come to his room bringing some snacks to be eaten together by the two of them. Usually, if she had just finished baking something, she'd call Fuji to come downstairs and taste whatever it was she was making. If she brought snacks upstairs when there was no friend of Fuji came over, that meant she wanted to talk. About something serious, very serious. Or at least, whatever it was she wanted to talk was a serious issue for her.

Setting the tray down on the small, low, round table close by the window, Yumiko gestured her younger brother to sit down next to her. Fuji complied, and the two of them enjoyed their own cup of royal milk tea.

"Try the cookies, Shuusuke. It's a new recipe I got from my friend today."

The cookies tasted good; Fuji could taste the ginger and a touch of wasabi in it. Such a great snack for a cold, rainy day like today. He smiled, appreciating his sister's thoughtfulness to add a little wasabi for him.

"What is it that you want to talk, Neesan?"

"Nothing important.." Yumiko hesitated, but then shook her head. "Ah, what am I saying? Of course it's important. I'm worried about you, Shuusuke, that's what I want to talk about."

Fuji's eyebrows raised. "Worried? But I'm perfectly fine.."

"Yes, physically," the young woman cut him off. Gently, she took her brother's hand and put it on his own chest. "But not here, Shuusuke. If it hurts, you have to share what you feel with someone. I've been watching you closely these past several days. You're not okay."

Fuji was stunned. He could see the sincerity practically shone from Yumiko's beautiful eyes, and he knew his sister wouldn't take an "I'm fine" for an answer, even if he did actually feel fine. And truthfully, he didn't feel that fine.


"Everyone is drifting apart.." he said quietly, dropping off all the mask he wore. It was Yumiko after all, the one who had watched him closely since he was only a baby. In front of Yumiko, his masks never masked anything he felt. So, why bother?

"Everyone..who?" Yumiko pressed in.

"The former Regulars." Fuji answered truthfully, and something in his chest was starting to pound again painfully, and somehow, he wanted to cry. "We're all busy and sparing some time to keep in touch isn't even important enough and often forgotten. I'm.."

"You missed them?"

"Very much, Neesan." His voice was choked, and Yumiko held his hand tighter. "No matter how much I tell myself that it's normal, and that I'm prepared for not seeing or hearing from them for months since the junior high graduation…" he trailed off, but then continued in a much quieter tone, "Even e-mails and phone calls have become so rare. Especially Tezuka.."

Yumiko nodded in understanding, and Fuji knew he didn't have to say anything else.

"You're still waiting for him, huh?"

"I simply can't move on."

"I don't blame you for missing your friends, Shuusuke," Yumiko carefully picked her words, knowing that the slightest mistake of her word choice wouldn't be wise. "Even when you do have new friends, they still hold a significant part of your life and you shouldn't forget it. Moreover, you should be the one initiating a get together of something in order for everyone to get closer. Bonds can be renewed, and sometimes, it gets stronger after years of drifting apart."

Fuji nodded, eyes staring absently at his reflection on the surface of his tea.

"As for Tezuka-kun.." Yumiko sighed. This was a very, very sensitive subject to bring up. "It's not healthy for you if you kept dwelling on him, Shuusuke. Why don't you try to move on? Look for another significant person who will come into your life. Believe me, whoever it was, it could be a better person than Tezuka-kun is. It's not that I don't like Tezuka-kun or I don't agree that you love him, but.. he's your main problem, isn't he? The cause of the pain here?" again, Yumiko brought Fuji's hand to touch his chest.

Fuji's cerulean eyes raised up to meet his sister's in disbelief. "Neesan… did you just ask me to…stop loving him?"

Yumiko didn't answer, but Fuji understood. The honey brown-haired boy sighed, and slowly shook his head, mouthing the word "impossible." His sister let out an exasperated breath. "Shuusuke.."

"It's like you're asking me to stop breathing, Neesan.."

Yumiko's eyes widened, and for the first time, she was taken aback at the realization of how deep her brother's love for Tezuka. Could he be really deep in love with the stoic teen that he'd happily suffer the pain of longing? It could drive anyone crazy…and that was exactly why Yumiko had been worried. But then again.. if Shuusuke said that what he just asked was the same as to ask his brother to stop breathing… it would kill him, no?

All she could do was draw her beloved brother into her warm, protective embrace. She loved her brothers, more than anything in this world. And she wanted the best for them, she wanted happiness for them.

"Then, Shuusuke," she whispered. "Remember this. You want happiness. You seek happiness. To cause his happiness. To be his happiness.."

I'm always searching, for your figure to appear somewhere
At dawn on the streets, at Sakuragi-cho
Even though I know you couldn't be at such a place

The next morning came in a complete daze.

Fuji never knew how in the world he ended up standing in front of the very gate of his former school—it was, like, five-thirty-ish in the morning and he was on his way to go to morning practice, but instead, before he knew it, here he was.

Seishuun Gakuen. A name he was very fond of. A name that brought so many memories—good and bad ones.

And what the heck was he doing here? He really wasn't supposed to be here. If he didn't rush to Hyoutei soon, he'd be late for morning practice and the current buchou would give him no less than 20 laps as his punishment.

But his body couldn't move.

There wasn't anybody around him, and that was understandable. It was still so early in the morning—not even the early riser Kaidou would have been at school this early. The viper would still be no the way to school. Seigaku was empty, except maybe for the cleaning service who had opened the school gate.

Fuji stared blankly ahead, taking in every detail of his former school. It didn't change at all—Seigaku.

And suddenly, as if he were pulled by an invisible force, he fell into steps, entering the school gates, and walked up straight towards the main entrance he still remembered perfectly. The quiet sound of early autumn morning breeze accompanied him until he stepped into the main hall of Seishuun Gakuen.

Out of habit, Fuji turned to his left without much thinking—up until half a year ago, his shoe locker was on the left section of the hall, right before the corridor towards his class, 3-6, and every time he went into the school building, he'd had to turn left. Slowly, he walked towards the corridor.

And he saw a flash of a familiar, tall, dark brown-haired figure clad in Seigaku uniform.

"Tezuka.." was the only thing he could breathe out, before his feet moved on its own account, falling into hurried steps, chasing the figure ahead. Once again, the world seemed to dissolve, every color mixed into one, and, he saw another figure of himself, walking next to Tezuka, smiling cheerfully, greeting him with a gentle "Good morning, Tezuka,"

Tezuka's figure turned his head slightly to see the smiling face greeting him, and gave a small nod. "Good morning, Fuji." His voice had a gentle, soft tone, giving off a sign that the one he was talking to was, indeed, a very dear person to him.

Then, the dissolving shapes of the world were put back together, and the two figures before him disappeared into a class. Rushing forward, Fuji followed suit, sliding the class door open in a hurry.


An empty class—except for the chairs and desks—greeted him.

Fuji stopped breathing for a second, before letting the hand gripping the door fell to his side. Drawing his lips into a thin line, he entered the classroom—the class of 3-6, his former class.

He never realized how empty a classroom could be without anyone inside.

A reminiscing smile visited his face. This was where he had spent his last, eventful year. This class, was where he sat down on that chair next to the window, having a perfect view of what was happening on the world outside, and a clear sight of the whiteboard and the teacher. This was where Eiji often bounced and gave him a 'good morning hug', before Oishi came and checked whether Eiji was in class already. Sometimes, even Inui dropped by to ask his opinion about his new concoctions, or Kawamura asking his help with English assignments. This was where Echizen once came in with Momo and Kaidou, asking the teacher to let Fuji and Eiji off the class to attend a meeting with the other Regulars, and in the end making the whole girls in the class squealed at how cute Echizen was when Eiji hugged him from behind and announced that this was the regulars' "Ochibi." This was where he always saw Tezuka passed on the corridor, going to the cafeteria every lunch break—and stopped for a slight second to search for Fuji's presence—and Fuji took that as a sign that it was time he went out of class and followed his buchou to have lunch together.

So many memories, Fuji thought as he traced the chair and the desk he used to sit on everyday lightly. And yet, the strongest ones were always of a certain person named Tezuka Kunimitsu. Was that a proof of how deep he had fallen for the stoic teen?

He was just turned around to go out of the classroom when he saw Tezuka's figure passed his classroom—and he stopped momentarily, glancing inside the class of 3-6, as if waiting for someone..

The dissolving world was back, and another figure of Fuji appeared from behind him. Fuji watched his other-self walked out of the class and jogged slightly, a smile on his face, keeping pace with Tezuka.

A wistful smile made its way to his physiognomy as he realized that it really was all his imagination. A nostalgic feeling washed over him, and Fuji frowned slightly. He wasn't an old man, for God's sake!

Sighing, he let his legs brought him out of the class and strolled down the corridor. As he passed the library, he stopped, turning to glance inside.

The two figures appeared inside the library, and Fuji watched them sat side by side, both holding different genre of books. And he saw himself offered his book to Tezuka, chuckling at something he read on the book, and Tezuka smiled slightly.

Such a beautiful sight to hold. Fuji remembered the moment well. Their second year at Seigaku, in the middle of the mid-semester exam week, they always came to the library to study together after school, and this was one of those times.

"Fuji…senpai? Is that you?"

Fuji visibly startled, and he spun around quickly. His eyes widened at the sight of a youth standing not far from him—a boy wearing a bandana, clad in Seigaku regular jersey, and had a permanent scowl on his physiognomy. Quickly, his lips curved into a smile.

"Kaidou. It's been a while."

Kaidou nodded, and, for a moment, Fuji thought he saw a smile on his former kouhai's face.

"So, has the morning practice started yet?" Fuji inquired, knowing full well that the viper was on his way to the tennis court after doing something in his own classroom—3-4, if Fuji remembered right. The bandana wearer shook his head and muttered loud enough for Fuji to hear.

"Do you want to come and watch, Fuji-senpai?"

"Saa.. I do. But is it okay? I'm wearing Hyoutei uniform right now,"

His former kouhai gave him a confused gaze—which Fuji read as "What does that have to do with watching our morning practice? Fuji-senpai is Fuji-senpai."—and Fuji laughed.

"Alright then. Tell me, Kaidou, how's the first years this year? Anyone as good as Echizen? Or maybe Tezuka?"

As Kaidou gave him a clear description about this year's freshmen while the two walked towards the tennis courts, Fuji's thoughts flew back to his junior high school days once again. If there was a place in the school that held most of his treasured memories, it would be the tennis courts and the clubhouse.

Tennis. It was what brought him to Tezuka, and Tezuka to him. It was the very thing that formed their strong bond, and what kept their bond tight. The tennis courts were their homes—where they showed their true feelings in the form of serves, counters, rallies, lobs, and smashes, letting them clashed until they could understand each other well. It was where they found their 'significant other'—as Yumiko would call it—and found their own selves. The court was where they learned so many things they didn't learn in school—friendships, determination, acceptance, appreciation, working together, trust, or even love..

"Fuji-senpai!!" from afar, Momoshiro jumped excitedly to see him coming. Fuji raised his hand and waved to the black-haired teen. It didn't take long for Momo to run towards him and beamed, "Whoa! Look at you, Fuji-senpai! It's been quite a while, ne?"

Chuckling, Fuji replied, "Yeah, and you look much taller and taller, Momo. You've been eating too much calcium for your own good—and for Echizen's own good. How is he supposed to chase your growth, then? He'd have to look up whenever you two have a date,"

Instantly, Momo blushed beet red, but then laughed. "You haven't changed at all, have you, Fuji-senpai? Ahahaha.."

Fuji only smiled. But apparently, his two kouhai noticed something was off with the Tensai.

"Fuji-senpai?" Kaidou began. "You look.. unusually off. Is something wrong?"

Fuji cocked his head slightly to the side, and chuckled. "Saa.. maybe I am? But nothing's wrong, really. By the way, Kaidou, the next time you have a date with Inui, tell him not to be too.. let's say.. enthusiastic with his concoctions. He doesn't need to poison anybody in Rikkai, really. Yukimura wouldn't appreciate that."

Kaidou flushed. "We're not…" he trailed off, and looked away, finding no word to give to Fuji.

"Anyway, Fuji-senpai," Momo continued, still with the same cheerful voice. "Do you know how Tezuka-buchou is doing?"

Silence fell.

Fuji must have stared at Momo for quite some time upon the question, because Momo then scratched his head awkwardly. "Umm.. senpai.. if this is something I shouldn't ask.."

"No," Fuji said, finally got back to his senses. "He's doing okay, no need to worry. He won't be home soon, though.,"

If my wish were to come true, I would be at your side right away
There would be nothing I couldn't do
I would put everything on the line and hold you tight.

"You've changed… Aniki." Fuji Yuuta commented one evening as he flopped down on Fuji's bed, looking at where his older brother was tending to his cacti. Said brother chuckled and turned his head slightly.

"Really, Yuuta?" the tone in his voice raised in a mock-surprise. "Is it for the better or the worse?"

Yuuta let his eyes bored into the brown-haired head of his older brother, as if trying to see through, but then shrugged. "I don't know," he said deliberately. "But you've changed. And I'm not sure whether I like it or not."

"Saa.. everyone matures up. Including me, of course. And you, too, someday."

"But I'm not talking about maturing up. You've changed, that's all."

Fuji paused his right hand that was just about to sprinkle some water for Cygnusia. He turned around, a perfect smile on his face. "I don't get what you're talking about, Yuuta."

"You've stopped teasing me for the last two or three months already. That, and you've been spacing out a lot even when people are around you." Yuuta shot his brother a pointed look, and for the first time, Fuji felt how sharp Yuuta's gaze could be. "Not to mention that the frequency of you locking yourself in your room doing God-Knows-what have grown more and more often. And stop smiling like that, Aniki, you can't fool me with your fake smile and you know that."

Fuji's smile faltered a bit. Was this the way Yuuta change because he was maturing up? He was sharp, maybe sharper than Yumiko herself. He could now differentiate between Fuji's real smiles and fake smiles. His younger brother seemed to be more thoughtful and observant, too. Combine all of those traits with passion, an open personality and honesty, and bam, you've got the new Yuuta who was sitting on the Tensai's bed now.

Turning his attention back to Cygnusia, he said lightly, "So, Yuuta, which high school are you going to choose? You'll be graduating from St. Rudolph in no time, ne?"

"I like the dorm life, so I'll stay in St. Rudolph." Yuuta frowned. "Don't change the topic, Aniki. I'm serious here. You've changed," he paused, his gaze turned into a pensive one. "Sure, I like the fact that you stopped teasing me.. but.."

Silence fell. Neither brothers said anything. Fuji kept his attention to his favorite cactus, not brave enough to turn around because—if Yuuta were as sharp as he thought—Yuuta'd see right through him, just as Yumiko did.

Then Yuuta's voice rang clearly, filling the silence, surprising Fuji with his choice of words, "You look…sad, Aniki. No, maybe not sad… but you look empty. Yeah, that's it, I think. You've changed a lot…and I'm not sure if I like it other than the fact that you don't tease me anymore." A pause. "Wait, scratch that. It feels weird with no one teasing me when I'm home. Maybe I don't like it after all."

"Yuuta.." for the first time in his life, Fuji used a warning tone for his brother. But Yuuta knew his older brother loved him too much to do anything psycho to him, so he ignored it. Instead, he said, "Do you notice how much Neesan and Okaasan have been worrying about you over the last half of the year? We're your family, Aniki. If there's something wrong with you, we'll be the first ones to notice that. Even with that seemingly cheerful smile of yours.. you can't hide, Aniki."

There's no barrier among family, their mother once said when they were little. And Fuji knew that it had been proven true.

The small laptop on his desk made a beeping sound, and both teens turned their attention to it. Fuji made his way to his laptop. He just got an e-mail.

From Tezuka.

A sincere, happy smile made its way to his physiognomy. Yuuta caught it. Smiling a bit, he said off-handedly, "It's Tezuka-san, isn't it?" The center problem of yours.

Fuji didn't answer, only threw a smile at his taller younger brother. Opening the e-mail Tezuka had sent him, he scanned the words.


I'm sorry for not writing to you sooner. It's been really hectic with the intra-school rank matches. I hope you're doing okay.

I'm writing this to send you a New Year greeting. I'm really sorry that I can't call you as I've promised last Christmas, but the camp for the youth tournament is starting. I'll make sure to call you once the camp end.

Give my regards to your whole family.

Happy New Year.

Tezuka Kunimitsu.

The smile faltered a bit from Fuji's face, but it was still a smile nonetheless. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't disappointed that Tezuka couldn't make his promise, but the e-mail somehow soothed the disappointment a little. Well, at least he sent him an e-mail.

Behind him, also reading the e-mail, Yuuta snorted. "Excuses, excuses."

"Yuuta," Fuji turned and looked up, giving his brother a bright smile. "He's busy."

"No. I think he just keeps giving you hopes and you're grasping it desperately, Aniki. It's not healthy," the short-haired boy flopped back onto his brother's bed. "And if you purposefully keep yourself blind from it, you'll end up hurt."

"I trust him."

"Blind trust." Yuuta rolled his eyes. "It's dangerous."

"Then what if you're in my shoes, Yuuta?" Fuji turned, opening his eyes to look at his brother's deeply. "What if Tezuka were Mituli-kun and you were me? Would you stop loving him just because you think you'll end up hurt?"

Yuuta visibly stiffened. Not finding any words to counter Fuji's statement, he ended up casting his gaze down, murmuring, "It's Mizuki."

"You won't, will you?" Fuji sighed. "It's the same with me, too. By loving him.. I breathe. I live."

Yuuta was rendered speechless. He never knew that his brother was truly, deeply in love with the stoic youth. He'd thought that it was only a matter of crush, and Fuji should be able to move on very soon. That's why he had purposefully begun this conversation.

Apparently he was wrong, very wrong.

"Besides," the Tensai continued, and Yuuta was lost in the depth of his older brother's cerulean eyes, where emotions and feelings swirled beautifully. "I know he loves me back. Even now. I can see it… I can feel it. He just doesn't have enough courage to say it, yet. And I won't say it before he does. I'm tired of being the one who makes the first move."

Closing his eyes and giving Yuuta a smile, Fuji closed the conversation with, "Now, whose fault is it, Yuuta?"

I'm always searching, for fragments of you to appear somewhere.
At a traveller's store, in the corner of newspaper
Even though I know you couldn't be at such a place
If a miracle were to happen here, I would show you right away
The new morning, who I'll be from now on
And the words I never said, "I love you"

The next year and the year after that, Hyoutei became the two-times National Champion, giving Fuji so many offers of college scholarships even though it was only the beginning of winter. The Tensai took it easy, though, because he had determined to have tennis as his hobby, not a job. Photography was still his main interest, and he knew he wanted to start a career in that path.

There was rarely any contact among the former Seigaku Regulars. Their last get together was nearly half a year ago, and there had been only few contacts from Eiji and Oishi since then. Fuji didn't even hear of Inui until Hyoutei met Rikkai in the last tournament, where the two former Seigaku regulars met up afterwards, Inui bringing along his new concoction and dared Fuji to try it. The Tensai received occasional e-mails from Echizen, telling him about his tennis life in USA and asking about the other regulars, especially Momo. Why in the world the younger teen asked Fuji about it and not Oishi, Fuji had absolutely no idea. Both Momo and Kaidou continued their high school in Seigaku, making the Golden Pair very, very happy. Eiji still called him often and asked him to go somewhere together, but their schedules often clashed and their plan had to be put aside. Fuji still dropped by Kawamura's restaurant at least once a week, but Kawamura was also busy with school, too, and Fuji rarely saw him.

And Tezuka… phones and e-mails slowly ceased as both teens drowned into the busy routines. Fuji knew, Fuji understood, and he didn't mind as long as he could make out the longing tone Tezuka had in his voice whenever he called Fuji. The three sacred words still hadn't been said—much to Fuji's exasperation—and Tezuka hadn't come home to Japan in nearly three years now. The only thing that kept Fuji's hopes was the certainty of Tezuka loving him—even though it was still left unsaid—and reminding himself that Tezuka, too, must be enduring the same longing to see him, as he did to Tezuka.

It wasn't that Fuji never considered going to Germany and visit, of course. And he could if he wanted to, because Jirou had offered him the chance several times—"You're so kind, Fuji! I'll let you go with my private jet to Germany next month, how's that sound? Now, let's have a match!"—and Jirou was serious, too. He just wouldn't accept it—it wasn't why he made friends with Jirou and he didn't anyone to think otherwise.

And as the time proceeded on, seconds ticked into minutes, minutes changed into hours, hours made days, days turned into weeks, weeks became months, and months finally shaped years, Fuji let himself being grasped under the power of routines, just to make the time flew faster. If only he could just warped into the time where Tezuka'd be back and finally say the three sacred words to him…
At the end of the autumn of his third year in Hyoutei, an e-mail from Oishi came.

To all former Seigaku regulars,

Echizen's coming back to Japan before this winter ends. Let's have a get together at Taka-san's place. Please send me your winter schedules before New Year's, I will arrange the time.


Oishi Shuichirou.

I always end up looking for your smile, to appear somewhere
At the railroad crossing, waiting for the express to pass
Even though I know you couldn't be at such a place
If our lives could be repeated, I would be at your side every time
I would want nothing else
Besides you, nothing else matters.

The get together was on February 13, at Kawamura restaurant.

It was really great to see Eiji hugging everyone, his cheerful "Nyaaa!" was heard even before Fuji could see his figure. Kawamura was there, expertly making sushi for them all, proudly serving them his own 'special sushi dish'. Apparently, tennis racket wasn't the only tool that could make him go into Burning Mode. Holding any cooking tools now sent him into Burning Mode, and the rest of the regulars were so amazed at that. Inui and Kaidou arrived together, Inui bringing a pitcher of his new concoction. Only after Kaidou reassured everyone that the concoction was delicious, everyone dared to drink it—which was indeed really good, something very unusual for Inui. Momo arrived next, being the tallest one among them now—yes, even taller than Inui—and looked slightly nervous. Fuji stole the chance to make a casual remark about how nervous the Dunk Smash owner must be to meet Echizen for the first time after two years, making the black-haired boy flushed and stuttered.

But the real surprise was when Echizen entered the restaurant. The youngest former member of regulars had grown so tall that he was almost as tall as Inui—Momo grinned happily at this—and successfully made Eiji weep sadly, saying something about not being able to give "Ochibi" a bear hug from behind again. Echizen himself admitted that his growth spurt had been amazing; he said he could actually feel himself getting taller when he slept at night.

"How's you and Buchou, Fuji-senpai?"

Fuji snapped another picture of his friends—playing on the snow as if they were eight year-old boys—and turned to smile at the now-taller-teen that stood next to him. "We're good, I guess. Why do you ask?"

Pulling his cap down—yes, he was still wearing his cap everywhere he went—Echizen muttered, "Mada mada da ne, Fuji-senpai. You know why I'm asking."

"Mnn.." Fuji hummed, raising his camera once again and snapped another picture. Throwing the younger teen a casual smile, he teased, "How about yourself and Momo?"

"He told me he got himself a girlfriend," Echizen shrugged, and one of Fuji's eyebrows rose in perplexity. At that, Echizen continued, "Only to make her mother happy. And because now I'm staying in Japan for good, he said he'll break up with her."

Fuji frowned. "That's not something Momo would usually do. It's…"

"Cruel," Echizen agreed, his expression darkening at the thought. "But he had no choice. His mother really wanted to see him with a girlfriend, for some reason. Although he told me that his girlfriend knew that he is still in a relationship with me."

"Wait, what?"

"She knew everything," Echizen raised his shoulders, and Fuji could catch the confused aura around the arrogant teen. "Well, Momo-senpai said that she herself has a boyfriend in another town, so their relationship is a mutualism. Still, I don't agree with what he had done. It's not right."

"I see."

"You changed the topic." Echizen pointed out. "I've answered your question, now answer mine."

The innocent arrogance that still underlining Echizen's tone made Fuji laughed—there were some things that just wouldn't change. Snapping his camera once again, he said lightly, "Tezuka and I are good. He still sends me e-mails occasionally, and calls me sometimes."

Frowning, Echizen asked in an incredulous tone, "That's all?"

"Yes," Fuji replied, smiling. "Why?"

Echizen hesitated a little, but then decided to say it anyway. "Well.. Yuuta and I have been e-mail pals somehow, and he told me a lot with what's going on between you and Buchou. Oishi-senpai and Eiji-senpai told me a lot, too, and from what I've heard.." he trailed off, looking for appropriate words that Fuji would approve, but found none. Shrugging, he drew his lips into a thin line. "Nevermind."

Silence fell between them for several seconds, before Fuji decided to give Echizen at least an appreciation.

"Yeah, they're quite right," he said quietly with a small smile. "Thanks for your concern, Echizen."

Echizen stared at his smiling expression for a moment, and then sighed, shaking his head.

"I admire you for loving him to that extent, Fuji-senpai," he said truthfully. "If I were you, I wouldn't be able to have myself still smiling at people."

Giving a cheerful smile, Fuji answered, "I take that a compliment, Echizen."

Echizen pulled his cap down and walked towards the other regulars, receiving a big snowball on his face as a result of Eiji's good throw. Laughter rang in the air, and Fuji smiled in happiness to hear the sound he had missed so badly.

Forever, the Seigaku regulars would always be one of the best thing ever happened to him.

Looking down to his camera, he examined the pictures he had just taken. He should send some of the pictures to Tezuka. He'll be happy to receive these pictures.

Looking up to the sky, he smiled, half sincerely and half bitterly. A tall figure with dark-brown hair reflected in his cerulean eyes, and he took a deep breath, steeling his soul, his determination—himself.

Loving someone like Tezuka was hard, but it was the only thing he could do. He didn't mind and he'd never will. Being allowed to love the stoic captain and received a silent love in return was more than enough. Even if that would change him entirely, even if everything was a lie, even if everything was an illusion, even if he'd end up hurt…he didn't care.

He'd wait.

He'd smile.

Because no matter what, Tezuka was Tezuka. And that in itself, was what he loved from the stoic youth. It was the very existence of Tezuka that he loved, and he'd continue to do so. There would be a time later on, to make up for the regretted times. There would be chances for both of them to show how much they loved each other. And although it would be later on—and later could mean tonight, tomorrow, next month, next year or even next ten years—Fuji believed it.

Wait under the same blue sky, for the three sacred words to be uttered.


A/N: I fail. weeps This fic doesn't even meet your standard, ne, aiy-neesan? Forgive me! And it's excessively long, I must've burned the readers' eyes… T-T

But comments and constructive criticisms would still be loved. I know this fic doesn't even make any sense, but the first word that came to my mind when I read the translation and listened to the song was "waiting", thus the plot was born. And I'm just a stupid girl who's still learning.

Forgive me for not being able to present a good fic for you, aiy-neesan!! T-T