Raising The Bar

By: Smash41KMF

Disclaimer: I do not own The Prince of Tennis, but I do own this story and Kathryn!

Chapter Thirty-Four: Confessions and Confusion

Hiya guys and peeps, I'm back and I'm feeling great about this story, I love Fuji and I love the thought of how he's so sweet, oh it'd be so great if he were really real, I'd sooooo call dibs!

By the way, thank you to EVERYONE who reviewed, favorited, or alerted my story! I love you guys, and thank you sooooo much!

By the way! Atobe will also be going in and out of being ooc, but he'll be mainly ooc with only Hikaru, and perhaps Sam later on, but with everyone else, he'll be the good old atobe we all know and love! Anyways, Enjoy!

Eveyone, I believe that there is a note of warning that belongs at the beginning of this chapter.

It's going to be a little bit different and honestly, it might take a little while to grasp, but I know she hasn't even been in their lives for a week, but after this, the story will be running a little more smoothly, and easier.

Anyone who may cry easily, you have been warned.


They froze. Like two children being caught with their hands in the cookie jar before dinner, they knew I was unhappy. They shared the same look of guilt, both knowing exactly where I stood on keeping secrets, but neither seemed willing to speak, despite their obvious opposition towards each other.

Normally, I would applaud them for the sudden truce, but there was something going on and it involved me. It annoyed me that they thought it was better to keep whatever it was from me, and truthfully, it also hurt my feelings. I wasn't weak, and I could take care of myself, but they had decided that it was better to shield me from the truth of a matter that involved me. I was through with trying to ignore it, so I was going to get to the bottom of this before it could progress any further.

Walking up to them, I first turning my gaze to Shusuke and raised a brow as he gave a nervous laugh and rubbed the back of his neck. I let out a sighed in response, ignoring Keigo for the moment, and turned towards the brunette.

"Unless you have something to do with this, Shusuke, would you mind meeting up with me there?" I asked as calmly as I could, trying to spare the poor boy. He nodded slightly in response, before turning on his heels and walking past Keigo, stopping only to mumble a few words under his breath and pat the other boy on the shoulder. I watched in silence as the boy rounded the corner, before turning my attention to Keigo. "I want answers, Keigo." I wasn't in the mood to play around, and he knew it. He let out a soft sigh, and I waited for him to continue, but nothing came out. I frowned, crossing my arms over my chest and sighing as I walked over to him, refusing to let the look of distress in his eyes shake my resolve to find answers.

However, when I finally came to stand in front of him, my anger had dissipated and all I really wanted was the truth, so I asked again. "Keigo... I deserve to know if this involves me..." I said with another sigh, deciding that being angry was just a waste of my energy and made things harder to control. "Maybe, if I knew what was going on... Maybe I could help...?" I wasn't sure if I could have said anything else at the moment, but I doubt it would have mattered because the contemplative expression never left his face.

It was obvious that there was something bothering him, but I had a feeling that he wasn't going to tell me either; and I was okay with that. I understood what it was like to have a secret you were afraid of telling others, but I also understood that nothing will come of telling no one. Then again, who was I to expect him to tell me everything? The only reason he knew my pathetic excuse of a life story is because he just so happened to be the only one around when things began to fall apart completely, so I clung to him.

I had burdened him with my problems, but he never admitted it because he knew how hard it has been for me. He was the first person I had learned how to trust in a long time. I had always seemed to make matters worse for the people around me, and I had hoped that Keigo would be different. I had hoped that after all the years of sacrifice and suffering, I had finally managed to make someone else happy... and then I become the source of his problems.

I glanced at Keigo and saw his jaw clench, his eyes grow cold, and his posture stiffen and straighten. Something inside me began to churn uneasily as he lifted his head to meet my gaze. What I saw made my chest hurt and I covered my mouth to hide the soft gasp that escaped my lips, I never would have known if I hadn't asked. No longer did he look so remorseful and torn, but instead, his gray eyes made him look nothing short of a tortured soul; so dull and foggy, not a single speckle of the playness I was so used to seeing.

I wanted to reach out to him, to say something, to make him realize just how much it hurt to see him like this, but he never gave me the chance. I had barely lowered my hand, before he had taken me by the wrist and was leading me by the wrist away from my cousin's house, towards the park. I didn't shout, didn't yell, I didn't even try to pull away; and even if I had, I doubt it would have done me any good. So I let him lead me on, ignoring the protests of my sandaled feet as we weaved our way through the late afternoon crowd in silence, him leading as I followed.

It continued like this for some time, a tense silence hanging ominously above us as we slipped wordlessly inside the park. I didn't want to notice everything around us, like the slight chill of the earlier evening air, despite the late summer temperatures. Or the way our footsteps failed to falter as we continued deeper into the park, nor the way our hands fit the other's so perfectly. I didn't want to remember the gentle smile of his that was currently set in a firm line, or the way he always knew what was wrong without ever asking. And I didn't want to feel the pain that stabbed my heart as his hand slipped out of mine, as our feet came to gradual stop, as the distance between us grew... as he stood with his back to me.

Everything hurt.

And I don't know why, but I was surprised when he turned around. I took a deep breath and averted my gaze to the ripples in the clear water, watching as a small leaf fall from one of the trees overhead and land gently on the water, before being carried away again. We had come to a stop in the very center of the park where a water fountain stood tall, soon to be alit by the underwater lights when the sun dipped below the horizon.

"It was only to protect you, Hikaru, please understand that." he said carefully. He slowly lifted his head, but had yet to look at me. I felt myself stiffen at the sound of his voice, of how frigid it sounded, and I couldn't bring myself to look at him. I didn't want to answer, I didn't trust my own voice, I didn't know what to say, but above all, I just wanted to hear his voice.

I could sense his unease, even if we were a few feet apart, it made me feel numb to think that this is what my happiness had come to. However, much to my relief, he took my silence as the go-ahead, and he took a shaky breath.

"I love you, Hikaru." My head shot up, and I looked at him with wide eyes. I received no reaction, and I gave no response, but he continued on anyways. "I love you, but I wish never met you."

That hurt. Badly. It was such a simple sentence, but it hurt so badly. I willed myself not to cry at the harsh tone of his voice, at the evident pain that was woven into his words. The pain that I caused him. I wanted to reach out to him, to pull him into my arms, to do something, but how could I? It would only be hurting him more, so I remained painfully quiet. He sighed at my silence.

That's when he finally looked me in the eye, his beautiful gray eyes hard with anger and pain, his lips pulled into a frown as his shoulders stiffened and his hands curled into fists by his sides. I saw his mouth open as his cold gaze paralyzed me, and I felt my heart stop.

"Damn it, Hikaru! Of all times, you choose to be quiet now? Say something, damn it! Yell at me, say you hate me, tell me to get out of your life forever! Please, just make me end this before I hurt you..." My mouth dropped slightly and I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"You idiot." I couldn't stop the words from coming out, and when they did, he looked utterly baffled. "I don't think I could never hate you." And it was true. It had been so long since I had ever felt so secure around someone. He had shown me that not everyone judged based on what they saw. He knew about my past, most of it anyways, and still, he accepted me, protected me. He said he didn't want to hurt me, but that's exactly what he was doing.

"Hikaru, please..." his voice was soft, as if he was losing the will to continue the argument he so obviously opposed. "I don't want to hurt you."

No, you just want me to hate you.

"And I don't want this." I replied firmly.

The response didn't seem to faze him, but I wasn't about to let up. I took a step towards him and he stiffened, as if waiting for me to yell. But no, I wasn't going to yell at him, nor say that I wanted him out of my life because I knew it would have been a lie. So, I threw caution to the wind and sighed.

"I don't know what's going on, and I won't ask if you feel uncomfortable, but you should know that I don't want this, Keigo." He remained silent, but his hands relaxed a little and he lifted his head slightly. I continued, "I don't want this secrecy, this tension. I don't know you very well, but I can see that this painful for you. And forgive me, but I will not push you away."

Now he was looking at me, straight in the eye, fully intent on what I was saying. "I don't want this drama, Keigo. I want to be your friend. I want to give Sam a childhood worth remembering. I want to move on, beyond the past, to start over the right way. I want to be happy again, and I want you to be apart of my life." I didn't know how else to say it. I didn't know him well enough to say that I loved him, but I wasn't about to let him push me away either.

"I don't want a relationship with you Keigo, and I refuse to let you push me away." I took a deep breath and glanced down at my hands, before carefully sitting on the edge of the fountain. There were a few moments of silence that followed, and I ignored the excited butterflies that danced inside my stomach when he sat down beside him. He said nothing, but I knew he was listening, and that was enough for me.

"So, if you don't mind, I want you let us be apart of your life." I sighed, lifting my head and staring at the sky. "So, please, don't tell me to push you away."

"Hikaru." I looked up at the sound of my name, but he gave no immediate response, he didn't even look at me. He simply stared at his hands, his mouth forming a grim line, eyes forlorn and unreadable. I wanted to say something, to prompt him to speak, but his words came first.

"I'm getting married."

Fuji sighed. He had long since decided that life was not fair, but even to him this seemed cruel. As much as he disliked the Atobe heir, he hated seeing the people he cared for sad, which also included Hikaru. That annoyed him, he knew what he was trying to do was wrong, that it shouldn't even be considered, and yet he was still trying. He couldn't help it though, even if she was his best friend's cousin, Atobe's love interest, Sam's older sister, his classmate; even if she was more like a sibling to him than anything else... Kathryn Hikaru was more like Reika Mikona than he truly wanted to admit.

It had been about a month since her parents had her transferred out of Seishun and flew her to live in England with the rest of their family. He missed her, Reika Mikona. He loved everything about her, from her smiles and scowls, to her laughter and her tears. She had become a part of him, securing a special place in his heart as the only girl he had ever actually had to chase after. In fact, if he were older enough, he would have chased her all the way to England. He would have proposed to her and brought her home to Japan, where she was happy, where she belonged.

Fuji let out a sigh and closed his eyes, leaning back against the entrance gates and lifting his head to the sky.

"Forgive me, but looks like I've gone and made a mess of things again, Reika." he smiled sadly, opening his eyes and staring up at the setting sun as it cast beautiful hues of orange, red, and gold upon the neutral colors of the school buildings. The sight would have made a truly magnificent photograph, but even Fuji would agree that there were some things in the world that held such natural beauty that a photograph would do no justice. He smiled softly, closing his eyes again and leaning back against the gates once more. "But perhaps, just this once, I can help her."

OKAY! So, I know it's been awhile, but I've been CRAZY busy! But yes, I lied, the story is going to stretch out a little more now, as I try to finsh E=mc2 and more likely Vibrations of String. E=mc2 will most likely be shorter than I had intended, but with the progression of this story, and Vibrations of String, I need to finish it quickly. Anyways, I'm back, sort of, and I can't really say how frequent my posts will be. But I know everyone has been waiting on this chapter, so here it is.

Also, my style has changed a bit, hopefully for the better and my stories will be more solid. Also, I'm sorry for the spoiler, but it had to be done to write this chapter, and for those who didn't know it, I won't tell you. But yes, I suggest checking out E=mc2 (sequal to the one-shotish story Math) and Vibrations of String (my pride and joy!)

Nevertheless, I hope to get some reviews, and now I have homework to do! Cya!