Spinoff III-I: Calm Before the Storm
After Singles-3 there was a two-hour break for lunch, and the teams had dispersed to eat together, and some to warm-up before their matches. Seigaku was in high spirits, especially their tensai and their captain, who was actually smiling as they all settled down, Ryoma getting almost smothered by his brunet mother while the rest of the regulars looked on amusingly, almost feeling sorry for him with the way Fuji clung to him.
"You are never going to be out of my side again, Ryoma. Do you understand?" Fuji poked a finger into the freshman's chest before cuddling him again, oblivious to the fact that his son was straining to get a breath of air.
"Okaa-san… can't breathe…"
Yes, it was a very happy day for the reunited Tezuka family.
Sanada yawned, quickly bringing up his hand to his mouth to stifle it. He leaned his back against the trunk of a very stately tree, closing his eyes, feeling the coolness of the wind touch his face as he rested under the shade. He was far away from the courts, wanting to have some peace and quiet and had managed to find the semi-private seclusion of trees nearby. He could still hear the people around, as well as the speakers, but, so far, his team hadn't managed to find him yet, and knew that it was a matter of time before the serenity would be destroyed. He left himself getting lightheaded, and tried not to sleep in a place like this, but he felt extremely tired.
He was startled when he felt a touch of coldness pressed against his cheek, and quickly opened his eyes. Yukimura Seiichi hovered over him, half-standing, half-bending, a softdrink in hand as he gave his vice-captain a smile.
"I found you."
"Seiichi." He wasn't surprised to see his future spouse standing there, just marveling at the fact that he found him so quickly. "Where are the others?"
"I managed to convince them that I'll look for you alone." The captain handed him the drink and sat down, looking sideways at the raven as he chuckled. "I knew you wanted to rest for a bit."
Popping the can open he took a sip, the carbonated sugar exploded in his mouth, and he gave the other a quizzical look, knowing that Yukimura knew that he didn't like sweet things very much.
"Sweet things are better when you're tired." Yukimura leaned back just as another light breeze passed by, ruffling their hair. "And I know that after that match with Tezuka, you'll be quite exhausted."
Sometimes Sanada was disturbed on how well the blue-haired teen knew him. He observed Yukimura quietly from the rim of his can, shifting his gaze away once in a while, immersed in his thoughts. It scared him that there was a person who could discover his secrets so easily, to see through the façades he created completely, to hold his heart completely hostage to be used or discarded as he pleased. They were just teenagers, and yet Sanada never expected for himself to fall this quickly, to love so deeply, to grow up so quickly, to have a son this early. Just what about Yukimura Seiichi enthralled him? Was it because the other teen was kind? Gentle, loving? Was it because he was strong, powerful? Or was it because he was so enchantingly beautiful?
Yukimura caught him staring and quirked his lips up, looking at his vice-captain affectionately.
"What is it, Genichirou?"
"Seiichi, why…" There were many things he wanted to ask, Sanada thought, taking a deep gulp, but he opted for the simplest question.
"Why me?" He asked quietly.
"'Why me', you ask…" Yukimura propped one knee up, letting an arm rest on it before looking off in the distance, quietly mulling over the question. "Why not you? You're strong, kind and gentle. It didn't hurt that you're also good-looking." He chuckled a bit at this thoughts, earnestly honest with his response. "Apart from my family, I've known you longer than I've lived my life. You're my best friend, Genichirou." He felt a bit flushed with the confession, his hand playing with a stray leaf he picked up from the ground, feeling as if he was confessing all over again. "I trusted you, I liked you, I fell in love with you. Isn't that a good enough reason to choose you?"
"But…" Sanada looked away, his drink half-finished, still not convinced with the reason. "Before Akaya was born, you blamed me, and…" Sanada wouldn't think about that time anymore. It was too painful to think about, even up to now.
Yukimura sighed back. "Can you blame me? We were twelve then, Genichirou. It's not like having Akaya was a priority of mine. I had a lot of dreams then, and…" He exhaled another breath, not wanting to go down further. "We had to grow up faster. Akaya was an… unexpected surprise for us, after all." There was a soft smile of his face now. "But I've never regretted it. I never regretted my choices back then. Even though we weren't ready yet, we were prepared to throw away our lives, our future, for Akaya's. He's our baby, after all."
And as Sanada stared at him, he found himself falling in love again. He didn't need a reason to love Yukimura Seiichi. He loved him, his flaws and weaknesses, his beauty and complete majesty, his selflessness and dedication, and counted himself truly lucky that such an angel chose him.
"That's right." Sanada shook his head, unable to believe that moment of self-doubt. "Thank you."
"Did I assure you now, my future husband?" Yukimura giggled a bit, placing his other hand on top of Sanada's. "I will always choose you. Remember that."
Sanada smiled, before closing his eyes again and leaning his head back to the trunk, feeling, despite the sugar rush, quite drowsy. He turned his palm up, interlacing their fingers together, before falling into a light slumber, despite his attempts to chase it off a few moments before.
"Gen…" Yukimura didn't hear a reply, and just as he was to turn beside him, a weight suddenly leaned on his side, a head tucking itself to his shoulder as Sanada slept deeper, his hand curling around Yukimura's, his breaths evening out and slowing down.
He could be so stubborn sometimes, Yukimura thought fondly, gently taking off the black cap that rested on the vice-captain's head. "If you had wanted to sleep, you could've just told me." He turned his head and placed a gentle kiss in the soft, raven locks, blue eyes softening as he unloosened their joined hands and stretched out his legs, carefully guiding Sanada's head to his lap, threading his fingers through the short strands of jet-black hair as he pushed Sanada's back on the cool grass. Sanada sighed, falling into a deeper slumber, but not before catching Yukimura's hand that rested on his stomach, once again lacing their fingers together as the tension in his body disappeared.
Yukimrura chuckled, continuing to ruffle his vice-captain's hair, more than content to just sit there and stare at his spouse's innocent, sleeping face. He didn't have the heart to wake him up, and it was a rare chance to see Sanada so relaxed and unguarded, seemingly melting the years away from the mature face as Sanada slept on, oblivious to the tender look Yukimura gave him.
Raising their intertwined fingers the captain gave a kiss to the tanned knuckles, all the while stroking the sleeping teen's head.
"Sweet dreams, Genichirou."
The two hour break was over, and the match between Seigaku and Rikkaidai was resuming, with the Singles-2 match about to begin at any moment, but Rikkaidai's captain and vice-captain was still nowhere to be found, much to Akaya's confusion and worry. He arrived at their spot, and still not seeing them, he became even more anxious.
"Ne, senpai-tachi, have you seen Otou-san and Okaa-san?" He asked, voice quiet enough to be heard by the rest of the regulars, but not the people on the bleachers. "Have they come back yet?"
"Well, Yukimura said that he's going to look for Sanada…" Jackal said thoughtfully as he shared a concerned look with the others. "Do you think that they may be something's holding them both off?"
"I wouldn't worry about them." Marui shrugged. "I think they're just around, doing… stuff." He smirked, exchanging a knowing look with Niou, when they were both promptly whacked in the head by Yagyuu.
"Kirihara-kun, why don't you try looking for them?" The Gentleman suggested, ignoring his teammates' pitiful whine of pain and protest. "It's still quite a while before Yanagi-kun's match. If you hurry, I'm sure that you'll be able to find them."
"Right!" Akaya nodded firmly and sped off determinedly, waving to his seniors, starting to look for the familiar yellow and black jersey among the crowd. Finding no sign of them around the vicinity of the courts, he started for the less populated places, bypassing the Hyotei group, who was just starting for the bleachers to watch the match. Choutarou stared as the curly-haired teen disappeared from his sight, wondering what had gotten the Rikkai player running around at a time like this.
"Choutarou." His father was looking at him concernedly. "Is there something worrying Ore-sama's son?"
"O-Oh, it's nothing, Otou-sama. I just saw something… interesting."
"Okaa-san!" Akaua burst through the shrubbery, finally catching the sight of his captain sitting under the shade of a large tree, who looked up and merely smiled as he saw his son. Yukimura momentarily stopped running his hands through Sanada's hair and raised a finger to his lips, indicating quiet, gesturing silently to the sleeping vice-captain lying on his lap.
Akaya blinked as he slowly took in the scene. "Otou…san…"
"He's resting right now for the moment, Akaya. He's feeling very tired." Yukimura explained, his voice soft, resuming his previous action of stroking Sanada's hair. Akaya stayed rooted to the spot, a blush entering his features, suddenly feeling as if he barged in on a very private and special moment.
"I-Is that so…" As much as he tried to, he can't tear his eyes away at the scene. It was his first time to see his mother so devoted, to have that kind of expression on his face, to look so enamored and at the same time so protective of his father. He seemed to gently hold his father in his arms, to care for him like he was a precious treasure. It was love in its purest, most beautiful form, and Akaya can't help but be fascinated and envious at the same time.
"Akaya, come here." The captain beckoned to him, and Akaya edged forward, almost dropping beside his mother. Both of them shared a quiet laugh at the unassuming, almost innocent look on Sanada's face, with Akaya unable to believe that the person laying down and sleeping right at moment was his strict, stoic, mature-looking father.
"Is this... really Otou-san?" He asked in slight disbelief at the teenager below. "He looks so… young."
"He is just fifteen, Akaya." Yukimura pointed out, giggling as he brushed away the hair that covered Sanada's face. "Besides, he looks rather cute, don't you think?"
Both of them shared another laugh at that, with Akaya nodding, half-wishing that he had a camera at that moment so he could record this momentous event of seeing his vice-captain so unguarded. The announcement of the resuming matches interrupted their good time, however, and he quickly jumped up.
"Okaa-san, the others are waiting for you. It's time for Singles-2 against Seigaku."
"Akaya, would you mind doing something for me?"
"O-Of course not, Okaa-san! What is it?"
Yukimura looked up, after observing Sanada's face after a while.
"Please bench coach in my place for Singles-2." He smiled softly at his son. "If possible, I would like some more time here with your father. I don't want to wake him up yet." He patted the fluff of dark hair. "Don't worry, we'll be back to watch Singles-1, so can you tell the others not to worry?"
"… All right…" Akaya, a little uncertain, turned back to the courts, but not before giving one glance beside him. Yukimura was still looking at him, waving when he caught the eyes of the second-year.
Yukimura watched as Akaya ran out of the clearing, leaving him behind. He hummed thoughtfully, chuckling as the speakers announced the start of the Rikkaidai vs. Seigaku match.
"Well then… it looks like I'll have to miss Singles-2…"
"Akaya." Yanagi looked up and smiled as the second year returned back to the courts, panting and exhausted. "Have you found the both of them?"
"Y-yeah…" Akaya pressed his palms against his knees, drawing another breath. "Okaa-san said… that he'll return later… with Otou-san…" He still couldn't get that image out of his mind. Both of them looks so peaceful, serene and… complete. He blushed, cheeks just the lightest shade of pink, just enough for Yanagi to get the wrong idea.
"Is that so?" Yanagi didn't ask any more questions, merely took off his jacket and put in on the bench. "You'll be my bench coach, I'll presume?" He smiled slightly, staring at Akaya, who remembered what he had to do and nodded. "Yanagi-senpai, who's your opponent?"
"It's Sadaharu." Yanagi looked at the other side of the courts where Seigaku's own data man was preparing for the match. "We meet on the courts once again."
"I don't like him." The second year crossed his arms and huffed, feeling very irritated at the tall, bespectacled teen for some reason he can't understand. Yanagi glanced at him quizzically for a moment, thinking, before an almost imperceptible smile appeared on his face, as if discovering a secret that only he knew.
"Don't worry. He's my childhood friend." Briefly he ruffled the black locks, chuckling as Akaya yelped in surprise and blinked up at him. "I'll win."
"W-What do you mean, Yanagi-senpai!" Akaya was both confused and relieved at the words the older teen gave him. Don't worry? About the match? Of course he wasn't worried about it; he was sure that his senpai would win no matter what. But… why did he feel as if some big burden from his shoulders disappeared instantly?
"Think about it." They were calling him now to stand on the court, and Yanagi turned, intending to start the match.
"Senpai, wait!" Akaya didn't know what came over him. All he knew was that, the moment the older brunet turned his back on him, he suddenly had a feeling that he had to stop him, to not let him go yet. Before he knew it, he was half-standing, his fingers catching the arm of Yanagi's sleeve, pulling him back, a trace of fear in his voice.
"Akaya?" Yanagi felt the hand of his bicep and turned halfway, a look of curiosity in his face. Green eyes blinked, and Akaya was suddenly aware of what he was doing. He immediately released the arm, stuttering, face heating up as his arm flailed, trying to explain what he was doing.
"A-Ah! Um, I was just–! I didn't mean to, I just wanted to–!"
"What, Akaya?" Seeing Yanagi's smiling face made him even more embarrassed, and Akaya looked away, finally deciding not to make a fool of himself anymore.
"I just wanted to wish you… good luck." He muttered, decidedly not making eye contact, face still red. "And… don't lose."
"If that's what you want, then I'll do it." Yanagi bowed his head for a fraction before going to the courts, leaving Akaya red-faced and his heart pounding, wondering what the heck was that all about.
'Game and Match to Rikkaidai Fuzoku, 7 games to 6!'
"Good work, Renji." Yukimura smiled as the speakers sounded the announcement. Yukimura thought that the match was fought longer than the rest, since it was Renji he was talking about. Looking at his watch he realized that he was watching over Sanada for almost three and a half hours, more than enough time for his vice-captain to rest and recuperate. Connecting the lines together, he chuckled, internally thanking Renji for his thoughtfulness. It was about time before Singles-1 to start, and he promised Akaya that both of them would be there to watch.
"Genichirou, wake up." Lightly he tapped his fingers on Sanada's cheek. "It's time for Singles-1."
"Urgh…" Slowly but surely the vice-captain returned back to the land of the awake, his vision still blurry from sleep. "Seii…chi?"
"Yes, dear, now stand up." Yukimura can't stop chuckling, especially when his spouse looked like a lost, confused child at the moment. "You've been sleeping for three hours already."
"I… was?" Sanada rubbed his eyes, trying to get them back in focus. As he did so, the image of his captain appeared above him, eyes glittering and wearing the sweetest smile he'd seen. He blinked, eyes widening, before shooting up at once, just barely missing Yukimura's bent head as he took note of his surroundings. "What time is it?"
"Just a little before 4." Yukimura answered complacently, trying his best not to move his legs, which were starting to prickle. "It's time for Singles-1." He didn't have any complaints about pillowing his spouse's head, he only wished that he could escape the almost ticklish sensation that he would feel soon enough. "You were sleeping so soundly, I didn't have the heart to wake you up."
"Ha…" Sanada shook his head, clearing most of his drowsiness away. He looked back, seeing the captain smile fondly back at him. "So we missed Singles-2?"
"Renji won, if that's what you're asking." Yukimura tried to stand up, but he was just feeling his legs back, and instantly sat back down, feeling slightly sheepish when Sanada caught him by the arm. "I can't move my legs for a while. Sorry."
Sanada shook his head. "Do you want me to carry you? " He asked seriously. It was the least he could do after being watched over by his spouse for a few hours.
"Just let me lean on you. I don't–" Yukimura stiffened as bolts of prickling pain attacked his whole leg. "Want to use it yet."
Sanada nodded, carefully pulling Yukimura back up, with him wincing once in a while as he leaned on his more muscular vice-captain, cheek pressed to the crook of his shoulder, an arm wrapped around his waist. "Better?"
Yukimura nodded, a bit embarrassed that they had to go out there with him looking so... vulnerable. But it's going to Akaya's turn to play now, and what kind of a parent would he be if he wouldn't even go to his own son's game?
The Rikkaidai regulars unabashedly stared as they both saw their captain and vice-captain enter their sight, the former none-the-worse for wear, almost limping, the latter looking the same, if not a bit worried.
It was Niou who broke the silence.
"Do I really want to know what happened to Yukimura?" He was smirking widely, which left no guesses on what he was thinking right now. It took Sanada awhile to realize the innuendo behind his words, and his sudden flush didn't really help disapprove the theory that was running in their minds.
"T-Tarundoru." He set Yukimura down gently, who was chuckling and stayed silent, letting their minds run wild, even adding to the fuel as he remarked, "Thank you Genichirou. But I'd like to be able to walk next time." His blue eyes twinkled mischievously.
"I-I understand. I'm sorry." Sanada muttered back, sitting beside him, knowing that Yukimura didn't appreciate the fact that he was half-carried all the way back when his legs were already somewhat okay halfway through. "I'll be careful next time."
"I know you will." It was said in a cheeky tone, and set the rest of Rikkaidai off in a frenzy of laughter, Niou and Marui having stitches in their sides as they roared their way off the bleachers, Jackal and Yagyuu restraining the smiles that threatened to split their laughably straight faces. Sanada blushed a deep red as he glared darkly at his teammates, which wouldn't have been half as effective as his old one if not for his pink cheeks and ears.
"Well, it seems that all of you are enjoying yourselves at Genichirou's misery." Yanagi finally came back with Akaya in tow, looking amusedly at the others, with Sanada growling dangerously at his best friend, who, again, had their son's hand clasped in his own. "Akaya did a wonderful job being by bench coach, so rest easy, Genichirou." He added with a light teasing tone.
"Renji…" Thankfully the rest were saved from further conversation as the speakers announced the last match of the day, one that will determine complete victory, or total defeat.
'Singles-1 will be commencing shortly! Players, please enter the courts! I repeat…!'
"Singles-1, huh…" Yukimura took his place once again as bench coach while Akaya flailed, completely forgetting that he was the one who was going to play. With a smile and a coaxing glance Sanada joined his captain on the bench, watching as their son finally got his act together, standing in front of them, face flushed with excitement and anticipation.
"Are you ready, Akaya? Nervous?" The Rikkai captain asked gently, and Akaya quickly shook his head. "I'll be fine, Kaa-san! I'm ready!"
"Your opponent's Echizen, or should I say, Tezuka Ryoma." Sanada added with a glance to the other side, seeing both Tezuna and Fuji bench coaching talking to the freshman. "Do your best."
"Yes! Rikkaidai will win! I'll avenge your defeat, Otou-san!" The second year nodded resolutely and faced the court, his battlefield, the Seigaku player doing the same.
It was the do or die Finals match.
... Should I say "I'm back?" ^^