Summary: Years have gone by and now Eiji is faced with a question he never thought he'd have to answer: When you find something broken, do you try to fix it? The problem with that is…some things are meant to be broken. Fuji x Eiji.
Forgetting was always easy for Eiji. God had seen fit to grace him with a limited attention span, and so be it. Sometimes it made life easier. But there were some things that Eiji could never forget.
Like the Nationals, all the way back in junior high. The feeling of the cool metal trophy in his hands, the light dancing across the silver finish. He couldn't forget that.
High school graduation day- the look on Ryoma's face when he realized that his senpai- tachi were leaving him, this time for good.
The last time they met as the Seigaku regulars. The way everyone had looked, down to the last miniscule detail- the angry tears standing in Ryoma's defiant eyes, the way Oishi hadn't even tried to hold them back. Momoshiro and Kaidoh had tried to be brave- tried to accept with a passive calm their new responsibilities as Seigaku's new pillars. Inui's little blue book, for once, had been nowhere in sight.
Tezuka- always the stoic one, Tezuka had been the same as always. Proud and upstanding. Only his eyes gave him away. Kawamura's easy, awkward little smile trying desperately to reassure them. To tell them that this wasn't goodbye, that they'd always be this way.
But it wasn't true. Eiji had known it couldn't be. Juvenile as he was, he knew with abject certainty that time changed everything.
Seigaku's glory days were nothing but memories now. Memories that Eiji rarely had a reason to dwell on. He'd left for Kyoto a week after graduation. College and then law school, and when he looked up, it had been five years since he'd so much as spoken to any of the regulars. Then three more years passed.
So much for always.
Three years ago he'd met Oishi, by chance, at a business convention. The Golden Pair- the two who everyone would've sworn would stay together- laid eyes on each other for the first time in years.
Eiji had barely recognized him. The round faced companion he'd grown to love existed only in pictures now. But his personality- that hadn't changed at all. He was still a mother hen. Proud husband and expecting father, Oishi had done quite well for himself as an investment banker. That bright smile hadn't dimmed over the years, and honestly, seeing him made Eiji happier than he'd been in a very long time.
They'd done lunch. Because that's what successful business people did, they "did lunch". Oishi had been a wealth of information- in true mother hen fashion; he'd kept tabs on all of the people Eiji seemed to have forgotten.
Inui was a researcher for the government. A top secret researcher no less... Eiji could only imagine all the poor souls forced to serve as test subjects for Inui Juice 3000.
Kaidoh and Momoshiro were living together, after all of these years, and while no one knew the true nature of their relationship…the gleam in Oishi's olive eyes had been answer enough. Both of them were among the top ten realtors in the country….competitive, as always.
Kawamura was running his father's restaurant…but not from the kitchen. He ran Kawamura Sushi franchises from a large, sky lit office somewhere in North Tokyo. Eiji remembered that something had cringed within him then, something had died a little. He still didn't know why.
Tezuka, ever the perfectionist, was a doctor. Not just any doctor…he was the dean of medicine at Tokyo's main hospital. His paycheck, (he still couldn't believe Oishi had actually known the exact number) made Eiji's saliva glands go into overdrive.
No one needed to ask where Ryoma was. Seigaku's youngest prodigy was everything they'd always known he'd be- three time world champion. His cap was always pulled so low, even when he played, that it was impossible to see his face. And even though Eiji saw him every day on the television…without seeing the eyes, he wasn't really seeing Ryoma at all.
And then he'd asked. He hadn't been able to help himself. He distinctly remembered the circumstances- he'd taken a swig of his bourbon, needing the reinforcement. And then the question had shot out of his mouth. For a moment, just for a moment, he was a bouncy junior high schooler again; blurting questions he knew he had no business asking.
"What about Fuji?"
Oishi's face had paled a shade. He'd raked his nails over his five o' clock shadow anxiously and fingered his drink glass, avoiding eye contact.
"That's…that's not really a question I can answer, Eiji." He heaved a deep, weary sigh. "I wish I could, though. I'd like to know myself…all of us would like to know. I haven't seen him since …god, how many years ago was it now?" His relatively deep voice had scaled up in pitch, like a man realizing for the first time that time had passed him by without his notice.
Eiji hadn't expected anything more. He'd been trying to find Fuji for years…after Yuuta was killed in that care accident senior year, Fuji had shut off. He'd pulled away from everyone, Eiji included. Especially Eiji.
He hadn't even shown up at graduation. His tell tale smile was conspicuously missing from Eiji's patchwork of memories. And it hurt. God did it hurt, like a searing poker being driven through his chest every time he so much as thought about the best friend he'd lost.
The friend he hadn't been able to save from himself.
He'd tried. God knows he'd tried…he'd called every single soul who'd so much as heard of the tensai, he'd hired private investigator after private investigator. Not a trace. Nothing ever came up, not even the slightest hint.
It was as if he'd never existed in the first place. It was an unspoken consensus that he was probably dead.
"I figured as much." He'd mumbled dryly, forcing out a laugh. "Look at us, Oishi. Did you ever imagine that we'd be sipping bourbon at a business conference? Listening to jazz music? If someone had come up to me eight years ago and told me that I was going to be a lawyer, I would've thought they were bat shit crazy."
Oishi's dimpled smile had only been slightly contrived.
"You didn't lose your sense of humor, I see. I'm glad. I really am glad…I really am glad to see you Eiji." Oishi's soft eyes had glistened slightly, perhaps with the beginnings of tears. "I've missed you…"
And then the conversation turned away from the others. It was only about the two of them. They talked about everything. They filled in every single blank, every tiny little gap that eight years of separation left. They tried, with everything they had, to fill the gaping hole that the glory day's had left inside their hearts.
They'd seen quite a bit of each other after that. It turned out that Oishi's bank needed some high class lawyers to get them out of a few scrapes…and Eiji's law firm fit the bill perfectly. Every day for months, the two had "done lunch", talking about everything and anything possible. Eiji had met Oishi's family…his very pregnant wife had eyes the same shade as his own, and red hair to match. Oishi had joked that it was the reason he'd stopped to talk to her in the first place.
After the project ended, Eiji hadn't even given leaving Oishi a thought. The Golden Pair was together again, and Eiji wasn't letting time take anything else away from him. He'd quit his job. Oishi's bank had hired him as one of their private, personal lawyers. He'd moved back to Tokyo. Life went on. He saw Oishi every day, and on weekends, the taller boy would spend the night. When they had said all that could be said in one night, the two would fall asleep on top of the bed, arms and legs intertwined, foreheads resting peacefully against each other.
Just like it used to be.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Oishi had made plenty of mistakes in his life. First and foremost among them was lying next to him at that very moment, snoring softly and mumbling every now and then.
Yes, there was no doubt that Kikimaru Eiji was his biggest mistake. There had been so many chances…so many perfect opportunities to whisper, "I love you…" But he'd always found a way out. He'd always thought, "I'll tell him tomorrow" and then it was "next month" and then it was "next year." And then the years had run out, and they had stood there on graduation day, Eiji giving him the type of brilliant grin that only he could give. And Oishi had opened his mouth to say it, to tell the truth he knew would keep them both together…and nothing had come out.
A few hugs, a gentle peck on the forehead, and Eiji was gone. Gone off to look for the reason why the smile no longer reached his eyes.
It had taken Oishi years to figure out what had stopped him from admitting his feelings. When he finally realized it, it was far too late to do anything about it.
Eiji had always loved Oishi like his own brother. The red head would've done anything for his happiness, and Oishi knew it. If he had come forth with his feelings, Eiji would've returned his affections wholeheartedly. Because that was just the type of person he was.
But he wouldn't have been happy.
Because Oishi knew…Oishi knew that the looks of adoration, the secret, fleeting glances were not for him. And he knew that they would never truly be.
For Eiji, there was only Fuji. Even if Eiji himself didn't know it.
Had Oishi been a selfish man, he would've tossed this revelation aside and taken what he wanted. Eiji would never have been the wiser. But Oishi better than that. He had values and principals.
And so watching Eiji walk away from him…watching him fade into the crowd until he could see no more of the boy he loved was the price he had paid.
Several times over the years, he had been left to wonder if his upstanding ethics were worth a damn thing.
Marrying a woman who looked like Eiji was another one of his mistakes. He'd liked her well enough; she'd been friendly, smart, and gentle. After a year of dating her, a year of trying to find Eiji behind her dark eyes, she'd asked him if he was in love with her.
In response, he'd dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. She'd said yes and that was that.
He never did answer the question.
It wasn't as if he were unhappy. No, unhappy wasn't the right word. He had a wife who loved him, a baby on the way, and a well paying, respected position at a very successful bank. Besides, he had discovered a long time ago that it was impossible to be unhappy so long as Eiji was so much as breathing in his direction.
Words couldn't describe the joy he'd felt eight months ago, spotting that familiar tuff of untamed red hair. He'd called out the name, hardly daring to believe what he was seeing. The man had turned, and for an instant, for a split second, Oishi thought he'd been wrong. There was no bouncy aura, no unabashed energy surrounding the man before him. But then he'd smiled, and there was no mistaking it anymore.
Oishi would always know that smile.
Eiji turned over, and Oishi grimaced as he felt the circulation in his arm slowing to a crawl. He gently extracted himself from beneath the shorter male and stood up quietly, sneaking on tiptoes to the living room.
Eiji's apartment really was nice. It was a stark contrast to the messy, unorganized bedroom he'd previously called home. Everything was clean and orderly, the pictures on the wall were perfectly aligned. The furniture was a synchronized inky black, and the plasma screen television sat proudly in the center, like a king on his throne.
Oishi still couldn't believe it. This place seemed more like it would belong to someone like Tezuka, or Ryoma or…Fuji.
Oishi sighed softly and padded to the kitchen, opening the fridge even though he wasn't hungry in the slightest. Three bottles of bourdon, flanked by two bottles of rum and a flask of whiskey adorned the top shelf. Eiji was certainly fond of his liquor. Perhaps a little more than Oishi would like him to be.
No, he wasn't an alcoholic, Oishi made sure of that. Though several times they'd argued over Eiji's love of drink.
"You're going to destroy your kidneys!" he'd fret, always under the same circumstances- he'd drop by unannounced, always to find Eiji sitting in his dark apartment, drinking in the silence. It was always like that- Eiji was bouncy, cheerful, normal whenever he saw him during the day. But at night…at night, it was as if he were a different person entirely.
Eiji would curl his upper lip, snort, and toss his glass into the sink with a resounding clang.
"Relax, Oishi. I was just finishing up. Besides, if I do shoot out my kidneys all you have to do is make one phone c all- Tezuka will fix us up in no time. "
"I'm not the one who's going to need dialysis at twenty eight!"
"No," the red head would quip, "But you're going to need brain surgery to fix that aneurism you're about to have if you don't stop worrying.
And then the conversation would be over, because neither of them felt like arguing.
Oishi reached for the open flask of whiskey despite himself. He wasn't a big drinker- it was more of a social thing for him. And he certainly didn't condone alcoholic beverages at 2:37 am. It was something he would've lit into Eiji about, and here was, following in friend's transient footsteps.
He sighed yet again, sipping his drink and wandering about the kitchen. He ran his fingers over the granite counter tops, stopping when he reached the answering machine. He eyed the blinking red number on the screen- 12 new messages. Oishi raised a brow. No wonder Eiji never returned his calls.
He pressed the "play" button and hopped onto a bar stool, swirling his drink around in his mouth and thinking about everything he could've, might've, should've done.
The first three messages were from work. Eiji's secretary bugging him to turn in some files. After the fifth or sixth generic message, Oishi stopped listening.
He leaned backward in his seat, letting his eyes roam and his thoughts wonder. He wondered when he fell out of love with Eiji, or if he had at all. He wondered if he would ever bring the smile back to his friend's eyes. He wondered what he would call his child, what it would look like. He wondered if everything being "okay" was enough for him. And he wondered if he'd ever stop wondering at all.
The answering machine ceased it's droning, and Oishi stood to turn the thing off.
Then he heard it.
And as many mistakes as he'd made in his life, there was no mistaking this. High, soft, almost melodious. The years had done nothing to tarnish the purity of that sound.
Oishi's glass shattered, the pieces sliding across the floor and into the darkness.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The wind was strong that day. It whipped Eiji's long red tresses into his face as they zoomed along the highway at well beyond the legal limit. It wasn't like Oishi to speed.
But the other man had been on edge all day. He kept glancing at his watch obsessively and making little squeaking noises. He was also working on chewing a decent sized hole through his lip. And now he was driving like a maniac, weaving Eiji's little silver Lexus in and out of lanes. At the risk of sounding like Oishi, he couldn't help but offer a word of caution.
"Oishi….Oishi, relax. I'm sure the client isn't going to care if we're a little late."
The olive eyed boy didn't take his eyes off the road, and if anything, his death grip on the steering wheel tightened.
"We're late." He bit out, tension evident in his bearing. "We're already ten minutes late."
Eiji sighed and raised a hand to shield himself from the wind. "Oishi, we're not going to get fired. Just take it easy. Buy the client an extra drink and I'm sure he'll forget about it. Besides, I don't understand why I have to be here for this."
Oishi swerved, narrowly avoiding swiping the back of a station wagon. Eiji cringed.
"Because. You're a lawyer and it's your job to make sure I don't say anything that could get us sued."
Oishi cursed under his breath as the light before them flickered red. Eiji rolled his eyes.
"I will never understand why you business men insist of having these fancy lunch dates. Why can't you just finalize the deal over the phone? From what you've told me, the deal is pretty much sealed anyway."
"Then it shouldn't take long. I don't know why you're complaining-" Oishi broke off and jammed his foot on the gas. The convertible shot forward. "You're getting a free lunch out of this whole thing. And all you have to do is sit there."
Eiji huffed. Oishi did have a point. The one upside of having to go to these ridiculous things was the fancy food on the company's tab.
"Alright, fine. But are you ever going to tell me why you made me wear a sports jacket and freaking khakis? I look like some snot nosed little rich kid. Don't people usually wear suit and tie to these things?"
Oishi squirmed uncomfortably and promptly continued trying to drill a hole in his bottom lip. He mumbled something incomprehensible, and then offered up a very audible curse as they got stuck at another red light.
"Look, Eiji, I don't know why we have to play twenty questions. It's not like I know the answers. My secretary called this morning and told us to meet the client at four. The end."
The red head shot a glare at Oishi, but the taller male wasn't looking at him. He was currently occupied with trying to teleport the cars in front of them some where else with his mind.
"Why do you always call Sayuri your secretary? She also happens to be your wife, you know."
Oishi made a grunting sound in response.
"Eiji, can you just shut up for five seconds? I'm trying to think. We'll be there in three minutes, give or take a few seconds, and I can't seem to….I just…don't know what I'm going to say, alright? This meeting is…important." Oishi's voice tapered out, and all of a sudden, he looked incredibly anxious.
Eiji frowned. "I thought you said that this was just a formality meeting. Besides, who the hell is this big important client who popped up overnight? Maybe I'm just out of the loop, but I haven't heard about any-"
Oishi jammed his foot on the brake. The car lurched to a screeching halt in front of the restaurant and if Eiji hadn't been wearing his seat belt he would've had a mouth full of asphalt. Eiji shot a very pointed "Are you out of your mind?" glare at the driver. He received a sheepish, very nervous grin in response.
The valet opened the door and Eiji climbed out, happy to be free of the screaming metal death trap his car had become. He noticed the restaurant name, scrawled across a white awning in black calligraphy and grinned.
Château. It was the nicest French restaurant in the city. You couldn't get a glass of water for free. It was the type of place both he and Oishi could afford to go to if they so chose, but quite frankly, it was expensive and was usually reserved for special occasions.
Eiji whistled under his breath. "You must really want to impress this guy, Oishi."
The olive eyed boy looked at him, apprehension written all over his face. He opened his mouth and shut it, and the sight would've been comical if Oishi hadn't looked as if the sky were about to come tumbling down.
"I….you should know-"he stopped short, the musical tones of Fur Elise floating up from his pants pocket. His face paled visibly. He snatched up the Blackberry and pressed it against his cheek.
"Yes? Alright. Uh-huh. Got it. Okay then. Bye."
He jammed his finger on the power button, eyes burning with a strange sort of fire. He turned to his companion, voice flat.
"Sayuri is in labor."
Eiji felt his heart leap into his throat. "What? Now? But it's too early- it isn't time yet-"
"It's going to be alright, Eiji. Tezuka's taking care of her." His voice was oddly calm.
"Oishi…we have to go. Come on, we have to-"Eiji looked around frantically. "We need those keys back. We need the-"
Oishi walked, very calmly over the front desk and retrieved the keys.
"Eiji…is it alright if I take the car?"
Eiji could only splutter. "No…yes…I mean I'm going too…I'm going with you-"
"No, Eiji. This is more important right now." Oishi's voice was soothing, almost placating. "You should go inside. He's probably been waiting for a bit now."
Dark eyes widened. "No, we can cancel- I can reschedule-"
Oishi wasn't listening to his former classmate's protests. He climbed back into the vehicle and gave Eiji a long look. Sadness and compassion swam in those olive orbs.
"I'm so sorry, Eiji…"
The red haired boy could only gape as Oishi sped away.
Oishi's having a baby. Oh my god, Oishi's having a fucking baby?! What the hell am I still doing here?
He might've stood there for several more minutes if the valet hadn't tapped him on the shoulder.
Eiji nodded stiffly, robotically. It was very simple. He was going to walk inside, apologize profusely to the client, explain the circumstance, and then he was going to politely excuse himself and go beat the crap out of Oishi for stranding him here like this.
He walked through the large window doors, ignoring the smell of freshly baked bread. He had to stay focused. The décor was classic, little glass tables adorned with a single rose and candle scattered about a large, well lit room. The large French windows allowed the sunlight to flit through the starch white curtains. The sound of the numerous fountains stationed around the restaurant created a tinkling melody.
Several distinguished looking people made small talk in hushed tones, and if Eiji really tried, he could distinguish the scent of expensive perfume.
A waiter in suit and tie was at his side in an instant.
"May I help you, sir?"
"Yeah-um-yes. Reservation was for four o' clock…three? Three people, I mean…"
The waiter raised an eyebrow.
"Your name, if you please, sir?"
He hesitated. "Um…Kikimaru Eiji. But I'm not sure if the reservation is under my name…"
The waiter glanced at the list pinned to the far wall.
"I'm sorry sir, but it appears that it is not."
"Oishi…check Oishi, please."
The waiter looked at the list again. "Ah, yes. Three, at four o' clock. The first member of your party arrived some time ago, sir."
Eiji grimaced inwardly. "Um…yeah…"
The waiter made an elaborate gesturing motion. "Then, if you please sir…"
"Yeah…Sure…" he mumbled, allowing the waiter to lead him through the restaurant.
Eiji kept his eyes trained on the ground, following the shiny black glint of his guide's shoes. His stomach reminded him that he hadn't eaten breakfast and the tantalizing smell of five star French cuisine did nothing to help. But there was no way around it. If Oishi thought he was going to sit here and make small talk with some stuffy rich guy while his godchild was born, he had another damn thing coming...
The shoes he was following stopped abruptly and Eiji raised his head, brushing his wind swept tendrils out of his face in an attempt to look presentable. The waiter bowed and moved away.
The sunlight poured in through the large window, framing the lone man at the table in a golden glow.
The client stood, honey brown locks sweeping across the side of his porcelain face. Sparkling azure orbs met his. A soft smile played across the man's face.
"It's been a long time…Eiji."
And then Eiji's mind shut off. The remnants of his last few coherent thoughts rattled around in his head, creating a deafening echo that drowned out all sound.