A/N (written by Frog-kun): This is basically a collection of drabbles written by members of the NXYZ Community as a farewell gift to one of our departing members, Bonnsaka. This collection will be updated daily. I'd like to thank all the writers who were involved in this project. Your efforts were hugely appreciated! And I'd also like to thank Saka for being a wonderful and engaging member of the forum. Peace!

A/N (written by HaveYouNoMercy): Saka, I'm really sad that you've decided to leave the forum. I hope you know that it was nice talking with you the few times we did, and I'll be sure to get to that thing that I promised you once I'm back home with regular internet. :'D Just know that leaving isn't permanent; come back whenever you feel like it. Thanks for staying and chatting with us, dear!

A River in Egypt (by The Jabberer)

FANDOM: Prince of Tennis
ENTITLED: A River in Egypt
CHARACTERS: Tezuka, Seigaku
SUMMARY: No one really believes that relationships aren't meant to last forever. Tezuka still tries. And when he fails, he denies.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Prince of Tennis.
For bonnsaka. We love you, Stainless Steel. Well, I suppose it's they now, because this is meant to be something from the forum to you, but I do love you, in my Jab!way.
Also, I tried desperately to focus on Tezuka. I failed miserably, as you can see.
And also, I think Ryoma only wins because he's the main character. Which I would elaborate on more, but that explanation would end up being longer than the fanfic. So uh, yeah. That explains the end there. I'll just hide from rabid fans now.

o o o

Relationships never last forever.

That is what he says to himself when he joins the tennis club. He is joining the club strictly for the tennis–nothing else–and while he will not purposefully rebuff anyone, Tezuka is determined to keep his interests in the club purely tennis related.

Then, one be one, they come.

o o o

First it is Oishi, who is all admiration and star-filled eyes and dreams. He is not like the upperclassmen, who are just resentment and jealousy and broken.

So Tezuka bonds with Oishi. He thinks that Oishi will make a great vice-captain because, as much as he hates to be arrogant, the spot for captain is his. But Oishi will be able to keep the team together, and be able to encourage the people that he cannot.

Yes, Tezuka decides, when they are third-years, they will lead a great team.

And that is all Oishi will do.

Then Oishi inevitably brings along Eiji when they are virtually attached at the hip, after their little one-sided rivalry is over. Eiji is spontaneity and just pure elation and the cause of many headaches. But, as Tezuka will find over the years, when Eiji is not there, he has a headache anyway, and something amusing is always a nice distraction.

Kawamura manages to find his niche in Tezuka's inner circle all on his own. Tezuka doesn't quite remember how, but he is grateful, nonetheless. Kawamura is strength and resilience and, well, burning. Tezuka thinks that Seigaku will need his fire.

Then his elbow gets injured. Tezuka has told Fuji he would play a match with him later that day, and he's been looking forward to playing it. Fuji has an untapped potential that he is itching to release, to see, because even though Tezuka tries to enjoy every game he plays, he has gotten bored of playing people who are quick to sulk but slow to strive.

So he plays the game with Fuji and loses. Badly.

But in-between the bouts of searing pain in his wrist, Tezuka has fun.

Then comes Inui, who was always there, always watching (though for different reasons that he).

He is the other rational mind, and Tezuka cannot help but secretly thank him as they stand to the sides together, watching the jokes, the laughter, and never joining in. Because for them, just watching is more than enough.

o o o

The next year brings Momoshiro and Kaidoh.

They are mentioned together because they come into Tezuka's life together, and leave the same way.

They are rowdy, but they are determined to outdo the other, and somehow, that intense (nevermind slightly obsessive) rivalry is necessary.

It is only when he is captain does Tezuka realize that this rivalry of theirs is drawn out between the two of them for far longer than it should have been. This is their friendship, and, he must admit, they seem to be doing just fine.

o o o

The third year is when they win Nationals.

The third year is when Echizen comes.

He is rude comments and blasé attitude and short, but there is a raw talent in him that Tezuka has to unlock. It is eerily similar the pull he feels when he plays Fuji, but it is stronger, because he knows that Echizen will be the pillar.

So he does as he usually does–stands to the side while jokes are being made, enjoys them for a moment or so, and then barks orders for everyone to focus their attention back on tennis because tennis will last forever where friendship doesn't.

But he provokes Echizen. He frustrates him, and toys with him, and depends on him, because he can't be the pillar just yet–not when he's unlocked talent.

When the time comes, Tezuka comes to realize that Echizen will not improve if the only goals he has in mind are he and Echizen Nanjiroh.

So the next time they play, Tezuka lets Echizen win.

Echizen needs to set his sights on higher things. The boy plays best when he's striving for a goal that's beyond his reach.

And Echizen does.

And they win Nationals.

Tezuka smiles, because they won Nationals, and they are the best tennis team in the nation.

This has always been about tennis, after all.

o o o

Third year had been the end.

He keeps the picture of that team safely tucked away in a box in his closet. He refuses to let the image fade away in the sun.

Tezuka does not look at the picture every day or every night. He will honestly forget about it at times, and it will lie in the closet for months on end, gathering dust.

Relationships never last forever, after all.

But every so often, he will look at the picture and think back to the days of grueling tennis practice and watching the laughing while standing on the side.

At least, that is how it is supposed to be.

Oishi will always remember to call on important holidays, his birthday, or after a match.

Eiji will always send Christmas cards.

Fuji will always send pictures of Japan when Tezuka is traveling overseas.

Kawamura will always send him coupons to his sushi shop every week. (Tezuka will accidentally forget them every time he frequents the place, because he refuses to not pay.)

Inui will always analyze his play style and send him lists of the tiny faults he makes (which even computers seem to miss).

Momoshiro and Kaidoh will always make and send huge banners that support him (or Seigaku, if he is playing Echizen) at his games in a continuous attempt to outshine the other.

And Echizen will always manage to play against him on the court.

It is the ending of forever. There will be a time when everyone will finally disappear from his life, once and for all.

Tezuka finds that he mysteriously forgets.