"Echizen…" Fuji's words were no more than a whisper. His body had an unusual shaking to it as he sat there beside a small hospital bed. With hands grasped together, he let out a sigh and adjusted himself to look at the floor. "I was too late."

Pulling himself up from the chair, Fuji wandered over to the window and placed his hand against the cool glass. Every beep that came from the machines in the room hit a nerve that he began to think would drive him insane. If this was some sort of fairy tale, he knew he'd be able to touch his lips upon Ryoma's and magically wake him up, but this was reality. His being there was not going to help anymore than him not. The only person who could wake Ryoma's unconscious body was Ryoma. His wanting to be alive and to continue to live day to day was the only thing that could truly save him.

I really have become pathetic… hiding from everyone in this darkness. I wonder… can I run away from myself? My hero, my father, he tore everything from me and seemed to ruin every memory I've come to make. If he was my father, why did he do such a thing to me? It wasn't my fault that you've become such a drunken wreck or that Mom seems to love you less. Yet, you still put the blame on me… punishing me for the actions you've done. The lonely hero falls victim to his own hate… and turns again those he loves the most. It's bitter. Everything is fading… farther… and farther…

Fuji focused on the darkening clouds in the sky and frowned. The gloomy weather seemed almost planned out with such a terrible scenario. Though, Fuji couldn't help but wonder if this would have been the perfect day to go out and play tennis. Shaking all thoughts from his mind, he returned to Ryoma's side. He contemplated about calling the others about the situation, but he was sure it wouldn't make the younger boy happy.

"It seems, Echizen, that I have broken my promise," Fuji's pale hand brushed across Ryoma's soft hair. Bending over his body, he allowed his lips to gently caress the young boy's cheek. Even if it wouldn't wake him, Fuji wanted to touch Ryoma. He wanted to do anything within his powers to get a message to him.

All precious memories have been ripped away and stained with my own hate. If I'm able to, I would like to make new memories… better memories. I want to spend more time with those who wanted to save me and protect me. Still… I'm finding it hard to pull away from this fading life. I feel so heavy, and I can't seem to even move my body. My chest… hurts. What am I crying for? I knew that I wouldn't make it out alive…

In the room, a young woman, Rinko, walked in and noted Fuji before turning to her son. Biting her lower lip, she looked off to the side; attempting to hide her swelling tears.

"I'll give you time alone," Fuji swiftly passed by the woman, but felt a hand wrap around his arm.

"Ryoma would want you here too," Rinko fixed her eyes onto the older boy. "If anything, he wouldn't want me to be here. After all, I so blindly let all of this happen to him."

A smile formed on Fuji's face. "You're not responsible for his father's actions."

"But as his mother I―"

"You should stay by his side and pick him up when he falls, right? Echizen might be naïve, but he knew what was happening to him. If he wanted help… if he wanted to get away from that abuse sooner… he would have said something."

Rinko scrunched her face; giving the boy a sour look. "You must be the one Ryoma calls Fuji-senpai then."

"I am."

"Ryoma tried to pretend as if none of it was happening. He always said he just fell down the stairs or Karupin was playing a bit rough. In my heart, I knew what was happening, but I didn't do anything. I just went day by day hoping Ryoma would be okay when I got home. I should have done something sooner…"

"We all knew," Fuji broke away from the woman's clutch. "I'm no better since I promised not to tell anyone. It was Echizen's wish… and I wouldn't break it even for his own safety. I, too, helped to place him in this situation."

Allowing a small smile to form, Rinko grabbed Fuji's hand and pulled him back to Ryoma's side. "Then stay with me. We'll wait together for Ryoma to wake up."

I don't want to die. It hurts too much… it burns and stings. What's happening to me? I want to be with him. I want that promise to be kept… to be saved from what was happening. I don't want to just slip from life like this. Is he thinking about me? I can't remember a thing. My head… is all foggy. I'm dying. I must be dying. I don't want it to be this way.

Mada mada dane…

Is my voice reaching anyone?

Mada mada dane…

I don't understand.

Mada mada dane…

I want to continue.

Mada mada dane…

I want to be with him.

Mada mada dane…

I want to love him.

Mada mada dane…

I don't want this to be the end.

Mada mada dane…

Please… please love me back!

Ryoma's fingers twitched a bit as his body rested on the white bed. Slowly, his eyes fluttered open and focused up on the ceiling. His vision was blurry as he felt tears falling down his cheeks. Beside the bed, two chairs sat close together with Rinko and Fuji in them.

"Where…?" Ryoma could barely get words to form as chaos clouded his mind. "How…?" He just barely turned his head to see the two of them peacefully sleeping. "Mom… Fuji-senpai…"

Rinko allowed for her head to rise up and off Fuji's shoulder. When she noticed Ryoma conscious, she quickly stood up and wrapped her arms around her son. Though, she pulled away when he mumbled in pain.

"What… happened?" he mumbled as he laid there on the bed.

"Hold on," his mother turned to Fuji and shook him. "Ryoma… Ryoma is awake."


"I'll go get the doctor," Rinko left Fuji alone with Ryoma to explain what had happened.

Fuji let out a sigh and stared down at the ground; not able to look at Ryoma. "The doctor said that you were lucky. The knife missed hitting you in the heart, but recovery will still be slow. You won't be able to play tennis until your wounds are completely healed, though I'm unsure if you'd even want to come back on the tennis court after all of this."

"My father?" everything Ryoma had to say seemed to be short due to just waking up.

"He was shot three times and didn't survive."


"I wasn't able to save you."

"I'm alive."

Fuji quickly turned to face the boy with tears building up in his eyes. "But you could have died! I should have done something from the beginning. I should have gotten you out sooner. Echizen… I―"

"Mada mada dane…" Ryoma attempted to let his usual cocky smile show. "My chest… felt like it would explode… and my body was… heavy… but then… then…"

"You shouldn't talk so much. It's best if you rest some more."

"Will you be here… when I wake up?"


Days went by, but Ryoma still hadn't returned to school. His body was still trying to recover as was his mental self. He requested that all visitors be turned away because he just wasn't ready to face his teammates. Then again, there were a lot of things he couldn't face.

Finally, after two weeks came and went, he stumbled around his room and fumbled to place on his tennis outfit. Shivering, he grabbed for his bag and left a short note on his bed. Taking small steps, he noticed his mother not looking, and walked out of the house without a word. Still unsure of the plans he made, he continued down the road and towards the school. The school day had already ended and afternoon practice was in session. Without being seen, he sneaked around to the clubhouse and placed his bag inside; only taking his tennis racket and a tennis ball he saw with him.

Creeping up towards the fence, he went unnoticed by the others. With his right hand clenched tightly around the racket, he tossed the tennis ball up into the air and made contact with it. Hitting the ground, it spun up and hit Fuji in the back of the head.

"Echizen." "Echizen…" "Echizen!"

A small commotion began at the sight of the younger boy. Everyone quickly gathered around him besides Fuji who took the tennis ball in his hand.

Ignoring the questions being asked and anything that was said, Ryoma rose up his arm and pointed his racket at the older boy. "Fuji-senpai," he turned away in a flustered manner. "Thanks…"

Fuji took a couple steps and paused before moving just inches in front of Ryoma. He bent down and adjusted the hat that rested on the shorter boy's head. Taking his hand, he caressed Ryoma's cheek; causing the boy to blush. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Mada mada dane," Ryoma placed his hand over Fuji's and lightly rubbed up against it.

Without much thought about who was watching or where he was, Fuji leaned in a bit more and allowed his lips to meet with Ryoma's. Though, when they broke away, Eiji hugged the boy from behind; questioning where his kiss was. A cheerful aura filled the area just by knowing their young Ryoma was slowly going back to his normal self. To have him able to hold a tennis racket without fear was something they all saw as a miracle. None of them believed he would come back onto that court with such confidence after all the trauma he had gone through. In the end, none of them cared how the conclusion came to be. All that truly mattered was having Ryoma back with them.

Are you watching me now, my fallen hero? Are you ashamed of what you have done to me, my father? After all the abuse and nearly being killed by the hands that showed me how to live, I refuse to give in. You who should have loved me is now far from my heart. I will not be pained by these memories that are burnt into my mind. Instead, I will learn to grow. Even if I have to take someone's hand and ask for help, I am no longer afraid. To show my fears and shames is a much better option than being tortured. Still… in the end… you were my hero and I loved you. Though, my heart now belongs to someone else… someone who I know will not abuse me. These people I stand with… I trust them with my life…

I will not allow my life to fade and disappear…

Ryoma's eyes had once again flickered open to see Fuji still sitting close by. His head rested up against the window; staring down at the small world.

"Senpai… I love you…" Ryoma's words were no more than a whisper.

Fuji turned to see the younger boy. "Oh, you're awake."

"Thank you, for staying…"

"I do what I can for those I care about and love," Fuji let his eyes flash open as he noticed what slipped from his mouth.

Blushing, Ryoma nodded his head. "Our feelings are the same…"

"It seems that way," Fuji brushed his lips up against Ryoma's forehead.

If I had not reached out for you back then… would you have still come to save me?

It's nothing I wish to think about…


NOTE: *insert tears here* I'm sorry! It's finished though. Alright? Don't hate on me for taking forever, please. I'm not used to juggling chapter fic writing and school at the same time. I apologize.
Anyway, I'm feeling bitter about this ending. I can't say I'm satisfied with it, but it's what I've written, and I'm sticking to it. You all knew I wasn't going to kill Ryoma, right? I mean, I know I'm a Ryoma sadist, but I'm not that evil. Actually, I've just killed him enough times. Heh. Ryo-sadists unite? *cough* I've been gone from my fics too long that I think writing this end note has made me gone crazy. Oh, and Rinko almost became "R…ko" because I couldn't remember her name besides that.
Thank you for reading this fic until the end… even though it took so long to finish. I apologize. Thank you, again.