A/N: This is a scene that never quite made it into TCAFS, tweaked and polished a little.
For as long as he remembers, Fuji Yuuta has always been in his brother's shadow.
They are playing at the park one day when he's five, and his older brother picks up an old tennis racket. It's old and battered, but his brother is inspecting it curiously. Yuuta tugs on his sleeve; he wants to play hide and seek, and what is Aniki doing, Mom said that they shouldn't pick up things on the ground.
Instead, his brother picks up a pebble and throws it up, hitting it with the center of the racket. It lands perfectly in the trash can a few meters away. Yuuta claps, enthralled, his eyes sparkling.
His older brother is so cool.
The next thing he knows, they are both in tennis lessons. And they both do well; Yamaguchi-sensei is nice and kind and patient. At first it's very subtle, but gradually Yuuta notices the ease with which his older brother learns the serve, the slice, the backhand. And then one day, when Yamaguchi-sensei is visiting, he hears it.
"Tensai", Yamaguchi-sensei calls him. "Prodigy."
From there it goes downhill.
By the time he is ten, all he hears is talk about his brother. His brother, who already has six medals from the Under-12 tournaments and two from the Under-15 tournaments… His brother, who has his Grandma's blue eyes and Mom's delicate chin and is so, so beautiful… His brother, who did you hear, ranked 4th place in academics this year…
His perfect, 'tensai' brother.
And he knows, he knows that it isn't Aniki's fault, that he didn't do anything wrong, but Yuuta can't stop the waves of resentment from washing in and pulling him away, because if he brother is perfect and a prodigy, what did that make him?
So when Yuuta also enrolls in Seigaku, boys, girls, teachers, everyone wants to meet Fuji Syuusuke's little brother. His surname becomes a curse, a label, a benchmark.
His brother asks him to join the tennis club, and he refuses, mumbling an excuse about not having time. When in reality, he has already heard the upperclassmen talking about Fuji Syuusuke, tensai Fuji Syuusuke.
Yuuta is frustrated. He is Fuji Yuuta, he is not Fuji Syuusuke and will never be.
He's been compared to Syuusuke all his life, and he is so, so tired of it.
Secretly, he begins to toy with the idea of transferring.
He is in the library one day, researching a history assignment. The books on the classic period are pretty hard to find, and he is scanning the shelves, where is it, where is it – ah!
His hand collides with someone else's as they both reach for the same book.
I'm sorry, she says, retracting her hand. She looks vaguely familiar – those dark eyes and that long black hair.
No, don't worry about it, he responds, unsure of what to do. Isn't it rude for him to take the book now?
As if reading his thoughts, she prompts him. Go ahead, she says, looking at the pile of books in his arms. It looks like you need it more than I do.
Thanks, he says gratefully, and adds that book to his pile. She is looking at him with a puzzled expression, as if she can't quite place him. He feels a sinking feeling of dread.
What's your name? she asks, after introducing herself.
Fuji-, He sees the embroidered 'Seigaku' on her bag too late, -Fuji Yuuta. With a grimace, he waits for the flash of recognition in her eyes as his surname leaves his lips.
But surprisingly, the flash doesn't come.
Nice to meet you, she says softly. Fuji Yuuta-kun.
You too, senpai, he tells her. So you go to Seigaku too, then? He indicates her sports bag.
She nods. You're doing your first year history assignment, aren't you, she suddenly asks. Nakamura-sensei's assignment?
Yes, he says vehemently, I hate him.
A hint of a smile appears on her face, and he gets the feeling that she does not smile often. Write more on the warlord era, she advises. Nakamura-sensei likes that. Also, don't use too many dates and facts, and focus more on the analysis.
Okay, he replies gratefully, trying to remember it all. Thanks.
Good luck with the assignment, she says. I should head home. I'm glad I could help. She gives him a small bow, before she frowns, repeating quietly, Fuji Yuuta…
The sinking feeling returns, like an unshakeable shadow.
I think your older brother is in my class, she says. The hint of a smile appears again, and then she leaves.
I think your older brother is in my class.
Something about the way she said it made him feel… relieved. Like a weight on his shoulders was lessened. Yuuta has to echo the words twice in his mind before he figures out why.
For once, he wasn't Fuji Syuusuke's younger brother. Fuji Syuusuke was his older brother.
Yuuta likes that.
This girl knows him as Fuji Yuuta. Not Fuji Yuuta, younger brother to a tennis prodigy. Not Fuji Yuuta, the lesser of the Fuji brothers. But Fuji Yuuta, just Fuji Yuuta.
And maybe, maybe now she'll think of his brother as Fuji Syuusuke, Fuji Yuuta's older brother.
Yuuta really likes that.
It is then and there that he decides to transfer. He wants to go somewhere where no one will associate his name with a tensai, where his name won't come with strings and expectations attached. He wants every girl he meets to smile at him like this girl did, smile at him because they like him for who he is and not who he is related to.
He is more than just Fuji Syuusuke's little brother.
A week later, he puts in the paperwork to transfer to St. Rudolph. Nakamura-sensei returns his history essay – an A – with 'Great work! I guess you do have the same genes as your brother, I taught him too! scrawled across the top of it, which confirms his decision and banishes any doubts he had.
(It also solidifies his hatred towards Nakamura-sensei. He always knew he hated him.)
As he packs his bags up, he thinks of the dark-haired senpai from the library. He wonders, being in the same class as his brother for two years, how did she not know the relation? He wonders if she knew all along. Maybe she also lived in a shadow. Maybe she understood.
He decides not to dwell on it, and finishes packing.
Yuuta shuts the door behind him. He exhales; a breath he has been holding tightly since he was five.
Finally, he steps out from under the shadow and into the sun.
A/N: Let me know what you think. Also, if you have time, check out TCAFS, the story that this scene was originally written for.