"Aahhaaahh, Fuji never came to class," Eiji sighed as he entered a classroom that held the rest of the regulars. "His reaction seemed so… not Fuji-like."
Behind him, Momoshiro pushed Eiji further into the classroom. Looking around, he noted that he was the last to arrive. With Eiji wobbling with him, the two of them sat down.
Tezuka, who stood at the front of the room, stared at each of them before opening his mouth to speak. "It's best that we continue to work hard even after what has happened to Echizen this morning." Taking air into his mouth, he closed his eyes. "There isn't much else we can do until we know more about his condition."
"Lets go see him then," Momoshiro tapped his fingers against the top of the desk.
"Yeah, usually seeing friends helps a person recover faster," Kawamura agreed.
Bouncing up from his seat, Eiji turned on his heels towards the door. There was no hesitation in his steps as he swiftly opened the door; only to be startled with a unison call coming from three, young first years who stood there.
"We're going with you to see Echizen!" Horio turned to Kachirou and then Katsuo. "It's not fair to leave us out of the plan when he's our friend too."
Kaidou hissed; slamming his fists against the desk. "Lets just go then."
"Right~ Ochibi is waiting for us!" giggling, Eiji grabbed the wrists of the first years and pulled them down the hall.
"Impatient as always," Oishi shook his head and slowly followed behind. After he left the room, the others trailed just a few feet from him.
After weaving around the streets and into the hospital, Tezuka asked a young woman behind the front desk about Ryoma. When he came to speak to the rest of the group, his solemn look still painted his face. With lips parted, he had managed to utter that they young boy was in a state of unconsciousness; grasping onto life while still being so lifeless. It was odd, the silence that fell upon them. Not even Eiji could find a cheerful smile nor could Horio's so called experience with tennis be of use at that moment. There was nothing but the reality seeping into their minds and telling them how the stubborn Ryoma might not come out on top like he had so many times before.
"But… Ochibi is… Ochibi―"
"The rest of the cast has arrived?" Nanjiro scratched the top of his head as he starred down the schoolboys that stood in the waiting room. "You all are here for the kid too? Ryoma sure is popular today. That Fuji guy was here earlier, but he already left."
Tezuka extended his hand forward and it was taken into Nanjiro's grip. "I'm Tezuka Kunimitsu; Echizen's tennis captain."
"Ah, buchou, buchou. Well, you guys are more than welcome to go see the kid, but I doubt the people here will like everyone cramming into his room at once. Check number ten," with a crooked smile, the older man waved himself away; leaving the hospital.
"We'll go in groups of two besides you three," Tezuka turned towards Horio and the other two first years. "It will be best to not take too much time with him though."
Once the order was decided, each of them took a few minutes with Echizen. Eiji clung to Kaidou after he could help but crying from the sight; mumbling over and over that his Ochibi had to be okay. Momoshiro went along with Horio, Katsuo, and Kachirou in order to make sure they would be okay. However, it seemed that the younger boys were the ones needing to comfort their upperclassman. Just as those before them, Oishi and Kawamura were shaken from the sight. To see their teammate without movement seemed so unlike him. The last to enter the room were Inui and Tezuka.
"Even my data couldn't have seen this coming," Inui pushed up his glasses and turned to his captain. "The probability of him waking up and the chances of him recovering smoothly… not even I can predict. What will you do, Tezuka, if he loses the ability to play tennis?"
Tezuka cleared his throat and shook his head. "No matter what happens, Echizen is part of Seigaku's tennis team. As long as he wants to stay with us, he will. Nothing can change what he means to our team."
"Hmm. It's nice to see you have a soft spot," the other boy smiled. "Should we return to the others?"
Nodding, Tezuka headed for the door only to turn back to the lifeless teammate. "We will be waiting for your return, Echizen."
Heading out of the hospital, visiting hours were coming to a close. Outside, Eiji spotted Fuji staring up at the building. No questions came in his steps as he grasped the shorter boy in his grip. Tears in his eyes, he could only cling to his teammate; demanding why he never came back to school.
"Sorry," Fuji's breathing was unsteady as smiled and patted the other lightly on the back. "You all came to see Echizen? He must have been happy."
"Ochibi will be okay! He has to be!" Eiji dug his fingers into Fuji's shirt. "No matter how much it hurts or how much we don't like seeing him this way… we have to smile. Ochibi… he… he wouldn't want us to cry!"
A sad smile painted Fuji's face as he pushed his friend away. He looked at those around him and saw them nodding to Eiji's words. "You're right. If we only sulk, he'd scold us with his 'mada mada dane'."
"Tomorrow we'll have practice like normal for him," Tezuka adjusted his glasses. "We cannot lower our guard for one minute for Echizen's sake. When he wakes and needs our help, let us become his pillars; supporting him to full recovery."
"And hamburgers!" Momoshiro hit Tezuka from behind.
"And bowling," Oishi chirped.
"We'll do whatever is needed," folding his arms in front of his chest, the captain turned away. "We should head home. I expect to see everyone ready for a hard practice tomorrow after school."
"Right!" everyone cheered as they headed their separate ways. Though, they all paused for a moment to turn back to the hospital one last time. For Echizen sake, no matter how hard it would be, they would keep pushing forward. No matter if he came back as a different person or the same, he would still be a teammate that they would never be able to let go. Even with their positive motions, no one could help but feel uneasy. What if he never woke up? To think of never having their cocky first year Regular back, it was worse than any other thoughts they could have at that moment. It was that fear that determined them to keep pushing forward for Echizen.
NOTE: My apologies for my long hiatus on this fic. I do hope those who waited for this chapter have come back. Thank you for taking your time for reading this chapter, and I wish to produce the next soon.