Predicament

(by: Nirvash Serpentine)

Kunimitsu Tezuka – the stoic captain of the Seigaku tennis club whose physique and manner of speech complemented his redoubtable presence both in court and in class.

Syusuke Fuji – Seigaku's well-known prodigy who has this serene and calm attitude matched with an unfaltering angelic smile.

No matter how he puts it, Tezuka knew that Fuji was his exact opposite.

Such trivial thoughts never did bother the stern captain, though Tezuka was as well honest in admitting to himself that Fuji was the person whom he wanted to know more about. Maybe it was the tensai's unreadable thoughts, or perhaps his skills in tennis, which made Tezuka succumb to his initial feelings towards Fuji. When Tezuka pondered about what that feeling was, he simply concluded that it was an "incomparable fascination" towards a worthy competitor like the blue-eyed boy. Later however, he realized that 'fascination' was but too simple of a definition for his complicated affection towards his friend.

While Fuji considered being a third year junior high school student as a reasonable age to go on a date with somebody of the opposite sex, Tezuka stayed firm on his conviction that 'dating' was something that is of secondary priority, and must therefore be done, only when prior duties had been taken care of. In his case however, where responsibilities has been a daily menu, such things like dating didn't have even a place on his full-load priority list.

So as to why he willfully agreed when Fuji asked him out on a date, he didn't know. ( as if he cared about asking himself when in fact he actually enjoyed the tensai's company.)

It was not until the end of Tezuka and Sanada's match during the National tournament, when the former finally thought that maybe it was the tome to loosen up. The mere presence of Fuji inside the infirmary where Tezuka was receiving a first-aid treatment for his re-injured left arm somehow lessen the actual pain that he might have felt.

"Daijobo.., Tezuka?" Fuji asked with concern after the assigned nurse went out.

Fuji's voice. Tezuka believed that even if he lost his sense of sight, Fuji's voice was one thing he could surely recognize. 'How could it be otherwise, anyway?' He heaved a sigh, and went closer to the boy, whose blue eyes remained fix on his hazel ones. At that moment, the captain knew that it was not just the tensai's beauty which made him caress the latter's cheek; it was not just the tensai's gentleness which made him pull the other into a warm hug;….and it not just the tensai's innocence which tempted him to kiss Fuji's soft lips.

Rationality aside, Tezuka, for the first time felt that he was in love.

No confessions were made after their first kiss, yet they both were aware of the fact that they own each other's heart.

"Time matters most when decisions are irreversible."

-Peter L. Bernstein-

Graduation came faster than what they had expected, and vital decisions had to be made. Fuji didn't give much thought as to what course he would focus on college, for he has long been aware of his interest – photography (aside from tennis, of course). As to Tezuka's decision of studying medicine abroad, the tensai couldn't give out anything other that his perfect gentle smile. They knew even before that a romantic relationship between them wouldn't last, and that it would only hurt them in the long run. Tezuka wasn't really vocal in expressing himself, and Fuji guessed that they should just enjoy every moment they spent together. He even anticipated the day when they both have to bid each other goodbye….and Fuji believed that everything would be alright.

The tensai's smile never faltered as he welcomed the warm felicitations from his friends and relatives, who have been witnesses of his high school journey. Seeing Yumiko and Yuuta wearing genuine smiles on their faces as they congratulated him made Fuji believe that maybe he was indeed lucky…..and so he smiled back.

But at the end of the day, when their celebration had finally concluded, and when silence overwhelmed their house as its residents drifted off to sleep, Fuji found himself locked up in his room – one hand holding out a photo of he and Tezuka.

…and without even realizing it, his smile faltered as tears started to fall down his cheeks.

Time passed quickly like the swift blow of the southern wind.

In a blink of an eye, they were already professionals.

Seeing his former tennis captain on a pinstriped navy-blue suit during a charitable gathering on a grand hotel in London brought back bittersweet memories to Fuji. 'Tezuka is more handsome now' he thought.

His senses were not as keen when he was still the captain of their tennis team, but it doesn't mean that he was completely oblivious to the pair of blue eyes looking straight at his direction. Tezuka knew very well who that was..- the owner of the most beautiful eyes he had admired in high school. 'You're still the most beautiful man I've ever known, Fuji,,' he thought.

The crowd started to disperse as the event reached its end.

"Hisashiburi ne, Tezuka…"

Tezuka turned and faced his friend whom he haven't seen for such a long time – 8 years? 10? – he wasn't sure. He didn't care anyway.

"Hai."

Few moments of silence passed. The area was almost empty aside form few busboys who were busy cleaning the area.

" How are you?" Tezuka finally asked.

Fuji smiled.

" Doing good…" he muttered.

" Ah…glad to hear that.."

Silence.

Tezuka drew out a short sigh.

"I ….I apologize for my absence during your wedding. I was just having a hard time in the hospital…and well I was trying to avoid unnecessary compromises just in case."

Fuji's smile widened. That was so far the longest statement he heard from the taller guy ever since they parted few years back then. He never thought he has missed Tezuka's voice so much.

"Wakarimashita.." Fuji replied. " I might just had been a run away groom if you came, anyway.." he continued.

Tezuka gave out a disagreeable look . Fuji chuckled in amusement, but one with a hint of bitterness.

"I wished we didn't end up that way.." Fuji declared in a tone full of regret.

The taller guy frowned as he looked away. He never wanted to bring out the topic, though he already expected it. Such was because of his will not to hurt Fuji anymore…Even if it meant hurting himself.

Another moments of silence.

"You knew how much I love you Fuji…" Tezuka declared almost in a whisper.

The former tennis tensai stared at him blankly.

"But still you left me."

"I just wanted you to be happy."

"I never did."

"But you have a lovely wife."

" You know it's not her whom I love."

Tezuka sighed as he deeply closed his eyes. He didn't want to hear anything anymore. They're just hurting each other, and he hated it…so much.

"We can't be together Fuji.." he muttered as he looked back at the other guy. Tezuka felt a familiar pang of pain inside his chest as he uttered the words he would never have wanted to say in front of the person he loves…not in front of Fuji. The blue-eyes boy leaned closer – their faces few millimeters from each other – Tezuka swallowed the lump on his throat as he smelled Fuji's familiar scent…

He loved Fuji's soothing and vibrant scent even before, and their proximity at that moment almost tempted the former tennis captain to kiss the other guy. Good thing he still had a grip on his remaining willpower.

"Who said so?" Fuji asked as he locked his eyes on Tezuka.

When he got no answer, he pulled the taller guy closer.

"I love you Kunimitsu Tezuka….so much…." He whispered against Tezuka's ear.

They remained in that position for several seconds before Tezuka pulled himself away. He gently caressed Fuji's cheeks. An apologetic smile flickered on his lips before he planted a quick kiss on Fuji's forehead.

"I will always love you more.." Tezuka declared.

Fuji clenched his fist as he stared at Tezuka's receding back. He didn't know if he should be happy knowing that Tezuka's last words meant letting go….he just didn't know….

….and for the third time in his entire life, Fuji cried.

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BOTTOMLINE: They can't be together..Well they must have been really much in love..but I guess a mistake can never be corrected by another mistake…so it's best for them to part..

Anyway, I love them both…and it pains me writing this type of story…

(Ironic as it may seem, but this is my favorite among my entries so far…)