EDIT: Fixed line breaks, grammar, and minor details (8/29/2010)
A/N: The LAST chapter! We've reached the end! OMG! For the most part, I'm surprised. I actually finished the story. If you're still reading this after my last chapter and you don't absolutely hate my guts, then I must tell you, "I LOVE YOU!"
Congratulations on making it thus far with me! And this is by far the longest chapter, outstripping the others by half a thousand words. Or more. Not really much more though.
Thank you to all who have reviewed my story.
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis; I just lived, breathed, and slept it for a while while I wrote this fanfic. Oh, I don't own the song either.
"A smile, no matter how beautiful or how sweet, if it isn't yours, it isn't special.
No matter how bitter or sour my tears, with your solace, it's a bright day."
~Only Have Feelings for You~
Fahrenheit; featuring Hebe, from S.H.E.
~*~After the Match~*~
Fuji followed Eiji and the others to Kawamura Sushi. As promised, Fuji got a full platter of wasabi sushi. Yuuta had been invited as well, but declined. He was being considerate, Fuji knew, but that didn't stop Fuji from worrying. Eiji could see that nothing could hold Fuji's attention at the moment; no, Fuji was lost in thought at the moment.
As they left the restaurant, Eiji told Oishi to leave without him. "I want to talk to Fuji."
"Okay. I'll be off then."
"Bye bye!" Eiji waved energetically.
Turning to Fuji, Eiji questioned the other boy. "So? What did you say to Tezuka after the match?"
Satsuya and Iwamoto sat opposite each other on the dining room table. They were currently engaged in a staring contest. Well, at least Satsuya was engaged in a staring contest with Iwamoto. The latter was simply giving his Captain odd looks, frowning slightly when the former cursed quietly every time he blinked.
"Nii-san, stop picking on Aki-chan." A girl enters the room with a plate of cookies. Placing them down in the middle, the girl took a seat next to Iwamoto.
"I'm not picking on him. I'm thinking."
"When do you ever think?"
"Oh, just go away. I can't concentrate with you here! We're busy here!" Satsuya swore that if Iwamoto had not been dating her, he'd strangle her, even if she was his little sister. "I really don't see what it is you see in her," Satsuya told Iwamoto after she left. Iwamoto said nothing in reply.
After another minute or two of staring, Iwamoto finally said the thing Satsuya couldn't. "What will we do with Fuji?"
Satsuya jumped. He didn't think they'd have to talk about it so soon, even if it has been five hours since the match.
"He'll…he'll have to be a Starter, doesn't he?"
"I would assume so. But we can't just drop someone. That would be unfair to them."
"We could just rotate between the nine players…"
"Rotate how? By rotating it would put us at a disadvantage. We only have one more tournament. I don't think any of the ones graduating want to give up their position. But if we have Fuji, it would give us more of an advantage."
"We could have someone play doubles. And shift that around."
"It's hardly fair that way."
After another minute or two, Satsuya said, "I remember Kikumaru-san saying something about a ranking tournament. We could do that."
"Do you know how it worked?"
"Uh. No. Sorry, I didn't think I needed to ask."
"That's okay; we'll make our own between the nine Starting players. Come on." Iwamoto stood up. Satsuya followed him, curious.
Fuji had known this day would come sooner or later. After all, Eiji was not dimwitted, no matter what others may think. He was just overly energetic.
"You know what I said to him."
"Fuji. What are you going to do now?" Just what Fuji had been thinking.
"I don't know. I haven't decided yet. I'll think of something." He always did.
The conversation turned to a happier subject, then.
"Tell me everything. What happened since you've been gone? What happened after you came back? Tell me everything!"
Fuji talked, but he wasn't paying much attention to what he was saying. What to do now?
He knew now. He knew what strange force compelled him to hop a plane and return to Japan. He knew why he so decidedly settled on Tokyo—University when the thought had never even crossed his mind before Inui made that call. He knew now just why it never quite felt right in Germany. It wasn't exactly an epiphany, but it was as close as Tezuka ever got, except for maybe when he knew, just knew, tennis was meant for him.
Tezuka sat sipping tea. It was quiet in the house that Sunday, but Tezuka liked it that way.
Satsuya stood in front of every club member present. "Today we'll do normal training. You're dismissed. Starters and Fuji, stay back, I need to speak to you."
Members who weren't present on Saturday looked on curiously but were soon forced to return to practice by one very strict and somewhat irritated Vice-captain. Spending the weekend at Satsuya's was never fun for him, especially when both sister and brother insisted on calling him 'Aki-chan.'
"Starters, since you were all here on Saturday, you should know that Fuji has proven himself worthy of being a Starter." Nods went around the group. No one missed the worried look on all the Starters. What will happen now? "Iwamoto and I," Satsuya said pointedly shooting a glare in his vice-captain's direction, "have decided that we'll have a ranking tournament between the Starters to decide who will be playing in the last Tournament." He looked at Tezuka then. Tezuka made no reaction. He just continued to watch his captain.
"Ranking tournament?" It was Fuji. "Now I haven't heard that in a while." His last ranking tournament was the one where he lost to Tezuka in.
"Uh. Yes, Iwamoto and I have devised a time table. We got the idea from one of Tezuka's old teammates, Kikumaru-san. I'm not sure how you did it then, but this is what we have." Satsuya showed the Starters and Fuji the end result of what he and Iwamoto had spent the weekend designing. It was a little difficult since it was a match between nine people. When they finally came up with the chart, it seemed like the most logical thing. But that didn't mean it was easy to figure out. Once again Satsuya looked at Tezuka for some sort of confirmation or comment. None came, at least, not from him.
"It looks right. Exactly like Seigaku's." Fuji once again answered for Tezuka. Satsuya stared at him.
"How…how do you know?" Satsuya asked.
"I was on the team." That spoke volumes, yet at the same time left him more confused.
"You were on the team?"
"Yes, Tezuka was my captain. He hasn't changed much, still doesn't smile." Fuji's own smile seemed to emphasize the last point.
Tezuka watched the tensai. You haven't changed much either. But he said nothing.
Satsuya just stared, oh, well; I guess that explains a lot.
"The ranking tournament will start on Friday. You can use today to prepare however you want. That is all." Iwamoto finished for Satsuya, who was still busy staring at the honey-brown haired boy.
The starters each went their own way. Fuji walked over to Tezuka.
"Let's have a rally."
Fuji looked up at Tezuka, "Alright."
The rally between Fuji and Tezuka caught the attention of many members, even though it wasn't really anything, just a rally for warm up.
Fuji hadn't said anything about the confession after their match. Neither did Tezuka. Fuji was waiting and so was Tezuka. Fuji was waiting for Tezuka to answer and Tezuka was waiting for the right moment. That didn't stop Fuji from sticking to Tezuka, though. The tensai seemed to be everywhere Tezuka was. The only time Tezuka didn't see Fuji was during the classes they didn't share. It made Tezuka wonder whether he had any classes at all, but of course Fuji did.
"Eiji wants to have a reunion party, since you didn't come on Saturday."
The old captain made no comment. Fuji continued.
"Are you free this weekend? I think he was planning it then."
"We have matches this Saturday."
"We can go after the matches."
"Here is the schedule for the ranking tournament." Iwamoto posted the schedule up. The Starters gathered around the schedule.
Fuji was playing Tezuka on Saturday, right before the party.
~*~SATURDAY: Last Day of Ranking~*~
Every match of the Ranking tournament was done, except one, the one between the two undefeated players. The crowd was much smaller this time around. Only the seven other Starters were present to watch the last match. The outcome should have been expected, yet all were surprised.
Tezuka and Fuji made their way to Eiji's house for the Reunion Party 'Eiji' had planned, walking side by side. Neither said a word.
Tezuka wondered if Fuji was upset. If he was, he didn't show it. Fuji's smile was glued there.
Fuji had given Tezuka a week to think it over, and still Tezuka made no answer. The match had lasted a lot longer than Fuji had anticipated and now he was to be late to the party he had planned. He was grateful Eiji volunteered to play host. More so now than before.
To say that Fuji wasn't upset would be a lie. Smile or not, a part of Fuji wanted to cry all the same, whether this was the first time or the second. Truth was, maybe because it was the second time that Fuji wanted to cry. No matter his personal feelings, though, he knew Tezuka, like him, was not one to lose twice.
Tezuka glanced at Fuji. The other boy wasn't looking at him, wasn't looking at anything, and was just letting his feet carry him to wherever. The two stopped at an intersession.
Fuji glanced at Tezuka, only to see that the former captain was watching him. "Tezuka?" A crease formed between his eyebrows as a slight frown formed on his face. "Is something wrong?"
"No." Tezuka turned away. "It's nothing. Let's go."
Tezuka reached out and grabbed Fuji's hand, pulling him along the near empty street.
No one would have been more surprised than Fuji at that moment. At the touch of his hand, whatever was holding Fuji's tears back broke and the tears flowed freely.
Tezuka felt something was wrong, almost instinctively. Turning, he saw the tears that streamed from the tensai's eyes and stopped. His free hand reached out and wiped away tears that had fallen. Whether it was by choice or involuntary, Tezuka never did know.
"Sorry. I just—"
Fuji shook his head, "No, it's okay."
The two made their way to their friend's home and the rest of their teammates at a much slower pace now. A comfortable silence settled around them, one Fuji did not find the need to break. They were walking much closer to each other now, Tezuka still holding Fuji's hand and Fuji still letting the tears flow, though not as much as before.
A house away from their destination, Tezuka stopped. He let go of Fuji's hand, and, without a word, wiped away Fuji's tears again. This time, Fuji stopped crying. They stood for a minute wondering what to do next. The unexpected intimacy from Tezuka was answer enough for Fuji. He no longer needed to go to the party. He already got his answer. He grabbed Tezuka's hand and pulled him away. Where they were to go next, Fuji did not know; he just knew he wanted to have Tezuka to himself. Tezuka followed wordlessly, letting the smaller boy lead him where ever.
Eiji peaked out the window. He'd been doing so every ten minutes since the appointed meeting time. Where are you, Fuji?
His answer came in the form of two figures on the street, standing just a little too close to be considered just friends, but only a just a little. Eyes wide in surprise, the acrobat watched as Tezuka wiped away the tears Fuji had cried. As Fuji pulled the captain away, Eiji couldn't hold back the silly grin spreading across his face.
"Eiji-sempai, what are you smiling at?" Momoshiro approached the window that Eiji had been looking out of, wondering if something outside had made the other boy grin like that. Whatever it was, he wanted to be a part of it.
"Nothing! Come on! Let's eat! Yay!"
"But Fuji-sempai and Tezuka-Buchou aren't here yet."
"They snooze, they lose! I'm hungry and I'm not waiting any longer!"
"Eiji, that's rude. We should at least wait—"
Eiji cut off his doubles partner, "It's my party and my house and if I want to eat I'll eat! Besides, it doesn't seem like they're coming anyway."
"What if they're just running late? What if something happened to them? It's not like Tezuka to be late. You know, maybe we should go look for them. Forget about the party." The more Oishi said, the more worried he got.
Eiji pulled Oishi away from the others and said sternly, "There's nothing to worry about. They can take care of themselves. If I say they're not coming, then they're not coming!"
Oishi gave his partner a strange look. What was Eiji up to?
Eiji knew Oishi was suspicious of his behavior. Taking a quick peak to make sure none of the others had followed, Eiji quietly told Oishi what he saw.
"WHAT? TEZUKA AND FUJI?"
Tezuka and Fuji's little secret was secret no more. The other Regulars attacked Eiji for more information, for who could know more than Eiji Kikumaru, Fuji's best friend?
They sat side by side. Tezuka held Fuji's hand. The park was too dark for anyone to really see anything, but it didn't bother either of them.
"Tell me again why you came back?"
"Fuji, I've told you at least ten times already."
"But I want to hear you say it again."
Tezuka sighed. He's already told the boy ten times, once more wasn't going to make a difference. "Because I wanted to see you." Fuji's normal serene smile was eclipsed by an idiotic grin that has been there since the first time Tezuka said it, but it was okay since it was Tezuka.
"Tell me again why you came back."
*~**The Last Tournament of the Season**~*
The tennis team at Tokyo—University might not have heard of the Tensai Fuji Shusuke, but that doesn't mean no one else has. Even though he disappeared during high school, there were those out there who knew him and recognized him. That was the case at the last tournament of the season when the Tokyo—University Tennis club Starters showed up. Talks about Tezuka were expected. What the other Starters did not quite foresee were the talks about a Tensai, and for a while, none knew who the 'Tensai' was. Certainly, they hadn't expected that the 'Tensai' was in their tennis club. They just thought it would be a good idea to be careful.
At their first game, they did not expect the crowd that gathered. They did see Shiba-san from Pro Tennis Magazine with her assistant, but she was there a lot to cover Tezuka anyway. But Shiba was on the phone talking excitedly and not really watching the match. "Inoue-sempai! It's Fuji-kun! He's back!" But none of the Starters were close enough to hear her say any of that. Most of the crowd was disappointed to see that neither Fuji nor Tezuka played in the first game.
If possible, the crowd around the Tokyo—University Tennis Club's second match was even larger. This time they had an idea of what the fuss was about. Shiba-san made her way over to the club.
"Satsuya-kun, can I talk to one of your team members for a minute?"
"Uh, sure, if it's okay with them." To everyone's surprise, the one Shiba approached was neither Iwamoto, whom she sometimes talked to, nor even Tezuka, whom she always had something to ask of, but their newest Starter, Fuji Shusuke.
"Shiba-san, long time no see."
"How about an interview? Everyone was so surprised when you stopped playing." Fuji just smiled.
"I'm sorry Shiba-san, but there really isn't much to say on the subject. Oh, it's my turn to play."
As Fuji walked on to the court, whispers surged through the crowd.
"It's him! The Tensai!"
"I bet he isn't as good as he was before. He did stop playing for three years."
"Keigo! Keigo! Look! Look! It's Fuji-kun! I wonder if he'll use that move again…or that serve...They were SUGEE!"
So the match begins. And Fuji, being Fuji, answered the questions of the crowd. He was still the Tensai. Even after three years out of the tennis circuit.
"Seigaku's Tensai is still famous, even now, I see." A boy wearing thick, square glasses commented.
The rest of the team turned to look at Inui. Satsuya asked the question lingering on everyone's mind. "Seigaku's Tensai?"
"Yes, Fuji. He got just as much attention as Tezuka in those days."
"Wait. Fuji is the Tensai?"
"WHAT?" It took a while for the rest of the team to absorb this bit of information.
*~**OMAKE: Four Years Later**~*
Fuji didn't mind the fact that Tezuka didn't say 'I Love You.' It was just to be expected from so passive a person.
But that day had been different. As they sat next to each other, hand in hand, Fuji couldn't have been more content. A smile lit his face. Fuji did not expect words like 'forever' or 'eternity'. He was happy now and that was enough. This day was important, and the fact that he could sit here with Tezuka after all these years was more than he had ever hoped for.
"Where are we going next, Tezuka?" Tezuka made no answer. "Tezuka?"
Turning to look at the person beside him, Fuji saw that Tezuka was looking at him quietly.
"Fuji, I'm going back to Germany." That wasn't the answer Fuji was looking for. But what was he to expect? There was no 'forever' or 'eternity' after all. Fuji forced a smile, something he had never had to do in front of Tezuka.
"Oh. I guess it can't be helped. I-I'll write this time." Fuji tried to pull his hand back.
But Tezuka didn't let go.
"I want you to go with me."
Fuji looked up wide-eyed at Tezuka. "Go with you?"
For the first time since that day they got together all those years ago, Tezuka said three words (well, actually, he said four) that Fuji never thought he'd hear. "Fuji, I love you." Then he added five other words, "Go to Germany with me."
Fuji didn't believe in the words 'forever' or 'eternity' but being with Tezuka sure made it hard for him to remember that.
Tezuka had been wrong four years ago when he thought the tennis courts were his true home. Now he knew. It wasn't the tennis courts, it was Fuji. Four years ago, something led him to the tennis courts and the feeling of coming home had engulfed him. He thought it was the courts, but it was really Fuji who would later come to those courts that ignited the feeling. He knew now. His truest home was wherever the Tensai was.
A/N: Thank you again to all my reviewers. Please Review one last time. And I really do love all my reviewers!
**Fuji doesn't believe in 'forever' or 'eternity' because Tezuka kept leaving...so it's all Tezuka's fault! Hehe…