Summary: Tezuka hated Atobe for having what Tezuka could never acquire. Now, that catlike smile of his was only reserved for Atobe, and Tezuka envied that.
Disclaimer: Don't own. Never did.
One touch. Was that too much to ask? Tezuka ended practice with a few words and then headed with the rest of the tennis players into the locker room for showers and apparel changes. He showered for a lengthy time; most unlike him, and the few remaining players noted that, but didn't question their captain as he exited the shower rooms wearing the school uniform which he would once again change at home.
It was unnaturally dark that evening. Tezuka found the cold wind and lashing rain waiting for him as soon as he left the school building, and surprisingly he wasn't prepared. For once, he was distracted, and Tezuka detested distractions with everything he had. He couldn't stop wondering about him. He had left much, much earlier than Tezuka, saying he had to go somewhere to meet someone. Tezuka had no doubt it was Atobe. How he abhorred their relationship, and envied it at the same time.
He didn't want to know why a dull throbbing erupted in his chest whenever he saw him and Atobe talking together. The wall of bricks and mortar that he had built around his frosted stone of a heart crumbled away slowly as he watched Atobe take away what was his. And yet he never fought to snatch him away from that conceited bastard.
He had to admit he was quite the looker. Golden eyes that captured everything they looked at; capturing Tezuka was definitely no easy feat, and the owner of those shimmering eyes had managed it in under a second.
Tezuka sometimes wondered if Sakuno still loved him, and if she did, how she put up with the pain that he gave her unknowingly.
It was never easy confessing.
'I love you.' Those three simple words were nothing for the captain, he could say those three words in four different languages fluidly but he stuttered them in front of Echizen Ryoma, and that was what made the difference. Echizen's smirk vanished. And Tezuka waited for a long while, standing motionlessly in front of the tennis prodigy, inwardly berating himself before Echizen muttered three words in reply: 'I'm sorry, Buchou.'
One touch. Tezuka's hand moved forward of its own accord and grabbed Ryoma's wrist, jerking him forward. Tezuka's brain wanted to stop, but his body didn't. Their lips met, and the side of Tezuka's glasses scraped against Ryoma's cheek, hurting him but he didn't think that really mattered, not when what he wanted was in his arms. Tezuka wanted time to stop at that very moment. Preserve this in his memory. He kissed Echizen Ryoma, and there was no Atobe in the picture to spoil it like water thrown at a still-drying oil painting.
'Buchou, stop.' Smaller hands than his removed Tezuka's fingers from the hair beneath that white cap.
Echizen pulled away, and in that one moment Atobe, who wasn't even there, proved himself to be better than Tezuka.
The rain was coming down on him furiously, as if it were on Ryoma and Atobe's side. Tezuka kept walking nowhere, going in circles, going anywhere but home, not caring what his grandfather would think of his behaviour, not caring how much his grandmother would worry.
Sounds of silenced pleasure. Tezuka turned his head to the left and his eyes widened as he recognized the two figures entwined in that alleyway. Even in the dark that white cap shone like a beacon of light.
Tezuka could pretend the drops on his face were because of the rain, but even he didn't believe his own lie. He finally managed to wander home and suffered under the torment that his grandparents gave him for being unacceptably late, and after apologizing, he retired to his room, seeking to be alone for a while.
The rain had stopped the next morning but for Tezuka the storm had just begun as he contemplated missing out on practice altogether. But captains are like the role models for the rest of the team. Tezuka pushed himself to cross the threshold into the locker room. Practice that morning was a quiet affair. Tezuka oversaw the first two hours and for the third and the last hour, he called upon Oishi to carry out his duties as the deputy captain. Tezuka just wasn't into it. Everyone stared as he walked out of the locker room, out of the tennis grounds.
For him, going to Germany was like an embraced escape from the suffocating days that he spent in Japan, with his agonized arm and his dreams of winning the Nationals with his team unfulfilled, because they would win, but they would win without him. He was just a spectator from Germany.
The day he announced that he was going to Germany to his teammates the atmosphere was chillingly dead. Like the team's most important part had been ripped out from the main body, which was of course the very thing that had happened.
Ryoma had cornered him in the locker room that very day. Tears were glimmering in the shorter boy's eyes as he demanded to know why. Tezuka knew that Ryoma knew it was because of his arm. Then why was he asking again? Before he could put that question to the prodigy, Echizen was kissing him. 'Because of me?' he begged. 'Don't go. There are good doctors in Japan too. Please...'
And Tezuka guiltily kissed him back, not answering his question.
'I'll never look at Atobe again,' Ryoma promised. 'And we-we can be together...'
Tezuka slowly, patiently kissed him, and said that was not the reason he was going, and that leaving Atobe was no good, because now it was too late to make a difference. And anyway, they loved each other. Why end it because of Tezuka?
Tezuka hated himself for spending that night with a distraught Ryoma, who was literally prepared to do anything to make him stay, just stay.
The last things Tezuka saw on Ryoma's face were tear tracks and a trembling mouth as he turned away to board the plane.
He shouldn't have hoped. Not ever. Atobe could, Atobe would make him happy. Not him.