A/N: I've been writing a lot lately, haven't I?

I have, er, sort of jumped ship to Rikkai. So this story is basically what Sanada and Yukimura's reunion at the hospital would be like if Rikkai won the Kantou finals. Based on a fanart of the same name. Slight Alpha Pair, if you squint.

What Could Have Been

~X~

I'm alive.

That's his first thought when he opens his eyes. It is not of surprise, nor relief. In fact, as he struggles to prop himself up, he finds that what he feels is more akin to quiet amusement. It is most definitely an odd feeling. Perhaps he had been too prepared for failure, too prepared to die.

It takes a while for him to absorb his settings. The sterile white sheets. The faint smell of disinfectant. The sunset streaming in from the window, painting the hospital walls a soft orange color.

He swings his legs over the side of the bed. It is probably too early to try walking, but…

He tries, anyways.

His legs tremble with the effort, so he grabs the small desk next to his bed for support. And to his amazement, they hold. He is on his feet. He is standing.

It's when he takes a step forward, that he falls. He stumbles backwards, falling back onto the bed.

'Of course,' he tells himself, surprised at the bitter disappointment he feels. He has been inactive for so long; it makes sense that his legs aren't as strong as they used to be. As he stares at the ceiling, however, he can't help but feel disheartened. These legs used to carry him so swiftly and so effortlessly across the court.

Something is digging into his skin. He frowns as he shifts on the bed, but it remains lodged beneath him. With a sigh, he pushes himself back up, reaching behind him for the protruding object. It is a zipper, attached to a jacket that has been draped over his back. He must have been wearing it the whole time, he just didn't notice.

His regulars' jersey is on his shoulders. 'Well,' he thinks. 'That's odd.' For a moment, Yukimura is not entirely sure what to make of this.

It means his team has gone and left, probably while he was still asleep. Yes, he thinks, they'd be pretty tired after the Kantou finals with Seigaku. They probably went home.

The finals!

Suddenly, he is sitting upright again. How could he have forgotten? His team, gathering around him just before he was getting whisked off into the operation room. Sanada's jacket in Jackal's hands. He glances out the window. Could it be that the finals were still going on, that Sanada's still playing? He isn't even sure what day it is, he suddenly realizes. For all he knows, he could've been sleeping for a week.

As he is looking around the room for other clues, the door suddenly opens and someone walks in. Yukimura's head jerks up. His name escapes his lips in a breathless whisper.

"Sanada…"

The black-haired vice-captain is panting slightly, as if he'd just finished a jog. Seeing Yukimura, he takes off his cap and inclines his head, a faint smile on his lips. "Sorry I'm late."

His hazel eyes meet those angel-blue ones. His face doesn't betray anything. His posture is as firm as ever. But somehow Yukimura knows, he just knows. Or, at least, he thinks he knows. Actually, he isn't that sure. So he just repeats, "Sanada…", slightly uncertainly.

As if deciding that continuing to keep Yukimura in the dark would be too cruel, he smiles and pulls out a gold medal from his pocket. He takes a few steps forward, draping it over the other boy's neck with surprising gentleness. "I believe this is yours."

"Sanada…" And this time Yukimura can't keep the elation out of his voice. "You did it. You won."

"We did it, Yukimura," he says in response, because that is exactly how it is, Yukimura has been with them every step of the way. "And of course we did. We're the kings of Rikkai, aren't we? Rikkai always-"

He doesn't get to finish his sentence, because the next thing he knows, Yukimura has leaped forward to embrace him. The captain is half-laughing and half-crying in his arms. And while it surprises him, ("Don't be so emotional. This was the expected result"), it is a relief to hear Yukimura's laughter. It's been a long time since Yukimura has had something to be happy about.

Suddenly he notices something. "Yukimura… you're standing."

Yukimura takes a small step back, staring at his legs. He doesn't even remember getting to his feet. It had been so easy this time, so painless. "Yes," he says, somewhat strangely. "I am."

"You'll be standing on the courts in no time."

At this, Yukimura looks outside. He is tired of inactivity, tired of staying in bed, tired of being immobile. He wants to run and breathe again. He wants to be free. He wants to reclaim his throne at Rikkai. He wants to go home.

Sanada abruptly reaches out, adjusting the yellow jersey on Yukimura's shoulders. "It suits you."

At Sanada's caring gaze, Yukimura suddenly catches a glimpse of the young boy. He hasn't changed at all. Yukimura touches the 'Rikkai' symbol that is printed on jersey, tracing the 'R' with his finger. "Nationals, Sanada. Nationals undefeated. It's what we wanted when we were first years."

He smiles. "I promised you, didn't I?"

Yukimura returns the smile. He takes a small step forward, gently touching his forehead to Sanada's jersey, leaning into him. It is a much softer embrace, and the taller boy is a little taken aback.

He will never admit it. How scared he actually was of dying, or the inkling of doubt that ran through him when Sanada didn't make it in time for his surgery. It doesn't matter anymore. They have both pulled through. All is well.

"Sanada…" he says into the boy's jacket. "Thank you."

"…for?" Sanada's voice carries a confused tone.

For taking the team's weight on your shoulders. For keeping your promise to remain undefeated until Nationals. For giving me strength when I wasn't strong enough. For supporting me now, just as you have always done.

He just tightens his arms around him. Sometimes, there's no need to say things out loud.

Gradually, he feels Sanada returning the embrace, his calloused fingers coming to rest on the back of Yukimura's neck.

You're welcome.

They stay like that for a while longer.

~X~

Of all sad words of tongue and pen

The saddest are these: "It might have been."

~X~

End

A/N: (See, Ryoma, this is why I hate you with every fiber of my being.)

The image that inspired me is the cover image. If you really want to see it, you can go to my profile and search for the photobucket link, under my OCs pics. It's in that album.

Also, please tell me I'm not the only one that watched the New Prince of Tennis OVA that actually had Sanada/Yukimura's match.

So yeah, review? xD