Series: Prince of Tennis
Disclaimer: Konomi Takeshi
Pairing: Pretty much Alpha Pair with hints of other pairs
Note: This is a future fic I made while ignoring U-17 arc since NPoT plot gives me headaches. Highly influenced with Nagai-san (Yukimura's Seiiyu)'s "Ai no Uta" and "Ai no Uta 2010". Also, this is the fruit of long discussions with my friends in tumblr, and also with Hirocchi. There's also a personal thing that happened and it pretty much affected my mood in writing this fic as well, but I don't think the details is important so let's just forget it.
Anyway, I'm also experimenting again, this time in the time flow of the story. The primary timeline in this story is 15 years after the Nationals arc, so it's when Sanada and Yukimura are 30 years old. There are also minor timelines, posed as some sort of 'flashback' in this story. I sequenced it to be 'present - past - present - past' so hopefully it won't confuse you too much.
As usual, if this isn't your cup of tea, go hit that 'back' button immediately.
Yukimura stood in front of Sanada's apartment door, with a tennis bag on his back and a big suitcase placed near his feet. He waited until the owner of the room opened the door for him. And when the door was opened, he wondered how many years had passed since their last meeting. The blue-haired man smiled—tired, dejected; yet there was also relief smeared all over it. He stared right into the pair of ambers he knew he had missed for a very long time.
The day of their graduation was probably the most emotional day of their life. Yukimura gathered the regulars of tennis club for the last time to bid a farewell to them. Kirihara cried very loudly, as he was the only regular left after the other 7 were all graduated.
"A respectable captain won't cry like that, Akaya. Have a little more dignity," told Yukimura as he petted his junior's hair lovingly. The younger boy sniffed and rubbed the sleeve of his jacket to his face, trying to wipe clean the tears and snot that glistened his face.
"We'll be leaving Rikkai to you, Akaya. Go have a proper revenge to Seigaku; crush them in next year's Kanto tournament and Nationals. Show them that Rikkai won't fall just because we're not there to challenge them," added Sanada. Kirihara nodded firmly, silently vowed that he'd definitely bring the golden trophy to respect his seniors.
"I also have an announcement for you. Sanada and I will go to England for sport scholarship program to pursue professional career in tennis. Our flight is scheduled in the next 3 days, so I'm afraid this will be the last day we see each other," announced Yukimura. They were all surprised, but what Sanada said after that made them even more surprised.
"Yukimura, I'm sorry, but… I'm not going. I'm staying in Japan," said Sanada firmly. Yukimura darted his sight to the capped teen, eyes widening in shock and disbelief. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out, so he closed it again. His fists were shaking slightly. He couldn't believe what he had just heard.
"Why is it, Genichiro? This is a good chance for you to go pro, yet you throw it away at the last second—that's what everyone wants to say," asked Yanagi. He was also surprised with Sanada's decision. It was probably one of the times when his prediction went wrong.
"I can't leave my family and my nation," he stated firmly. Yukimura sighed; his lips curled a bitter smile.
"That's very Sanada, isn't it?" he commented. Before anyone had the chance to say anything else, the graduating students were called to the main hall for their last farewell song. They bid a final farewell to Kirihara, telling him to stop crying already or just run laps around the school until he felt satisfied. Kirihara sprinted off afterwards, actually running laps until he calmed down.
The graduates filled the main hall, singing their last farewell song together. Not a few of them started to cry uncontrollably, especially the girls. Some of them held the hand of their closest friend or leaned to their shoulder. Some of the boys cried as well, including some from the baseball club or other sport clubs. Only the regulars of tennis club that looked to be most content of all, although some of them—like Kuwahara and Niou—had their eyes teary and glassy.
As the song ended, people started to cry even louder. The groups of classes dispersed as people walked to the other classes' lines to find their loved ones. Niou clenched the front of Yagyuu's jacket as he cried on his chest, letting the brunette to stroke his head gently. Kuwahara burst in tears while Marui was teasing him for being crybaby, but then the redhead cried almost as badly as his former doubles partner. Yanagi was about to console both of his closest friends when he found that the two of them had already gone out from the building right after the song ended. He sighed and joined the former members of disciplinary committee, knowing that both Yukimura and Sanada would probably need private time of their own.
Outside the building, hidden behind the largest cherry tree in their school, Sanada was holding the trembling captain gently yet firmly. He nuzzled his cheek against the silky midnight blue, inhaling the sweet scent of lavender he knew he would miss.
They sat side by side on the only couch in that room. Sanada had made them tea: Chamomile tea with honey for Yukimura and sugarless green tea for himself. There was no sound heard except for the ticking clock and occasional sipping. Sometimes Sanada would steal a glance to the man beside him, wondering if he had always looked that matured.
It had been at least 5 years since their last meeting.
And there they were, by the age of 30, sitting side by side in silence as if they had nothing to talk about. Other than Sanada's "Welcome home" earlier, they didn't talk at all. It was either they had no question at all or they had too many that they couldn't figure which one should be asked first.
"I retired," said Yukimura suddenly after Sanada took their empty cups to the kitchen. Sanada paused, not knowing what to say or react to that. But if he were to tell Yukimura the truth, he wasn't really surprised. Not that he had expected Yukimura to retire. He just thought of it as something normal to do.
Silence fell between them again.
The pen that previously Yukimura held idly almost snapped into two when he heard Sanada's words over the phone. The pair of sapphires were widening in utter disbelief. It was just like in their graduation day, only this time it was even more shocking for him.
"What did you say again?" he asked, still couldn't believe in his own ears. The other boy sighed before he repeated what he had said before, even more firmly and seriously.
"I quit tennis. I'm focusing on kendo now," repeated Sanada. There was no 'I want to' in that sentence, implying that he was sure about that decision. Yukimura felt as if his world turned upside down. He was very sure that Sanada would pursue a professional career in tennis. He was very sure that one day he would stand on the court with Sanada at the other side of the net with the world watching them. He was sure that Sanada's decision to stay in Japan was so that they could face each other again in a match. Apparently he was wrong. He was terribly wrong.
"Why?" That's the only word that he managed to say upon hearing Sanada's statement. He was devastated. His hope was crushed into tiny little pieces that he wouldn't be able to recover.
"I'm being a dutiful son to my parents," stated Sanada again, as firm as before. Yukimura snapped.
"You have an older brother, don't you? Why don't you just leave everything about inheriting the family dojo and other 'dutiful son' things to him? You don't have to be responsible about anything! You are the second son! You are free to do anything you want!" scolded Yukimura. Silence fell upon them, before a long sigh was heard from the other end of the phone.
"This is what I want, Yukimura," he said, still as firm as before—immovable as mountain. Another long pause, and Yukimura let out a bitter laugh.
"And I thought I know you, Sanada. Apparently I was wrong all along." With that, he ended that call. Sanada didn't call back. Yukimura didn't make any other call to him anymore.
Their ties were severed.
Sanada carried Yukimura's luggage to the spare room in his apartment. Usually he let it empty in case any of his family members or friends wanted to stay over. But then when Yukimura said that he hadn't booked any hotel room and that his family's house in Japan was long sold when they moved to London, Sanada let him to use the room for unlimited time.
"This room seems bigger than your own room, Sanada," commented Yukimura after he took a little tour around the apartment. He took the liberty to peek at Sanada's room before looking at the spare room. Sanada shrugged as Yukimura stepped into the room, taking a better look at the room that would be permanently his.
"I'm not quite fond of large rooms. Besides, with larger room, you'll have more space to paint if you decide to start doing it again," replied Sanada. Yukimura turned to the slightly older man and smiled. How thoughtful, he thought.
"I can redecorate this room to my liking, can't I?" asked Yukimura. His words were more like a statement than a question, but Sanada didn't mind. It was just very Yukimura to say things like that. Sanada nodded firmly, already knowing that no matter how many years had passed since their first meeting, he wouldn't be able to reject his former captain—at least, not this time.
"Do whatever you want. This room is yours now," he stated firmly. Yukimura beamed even brighter. Sanada couldn't help but to smile a little as well when he saw how happy the blue-haired man was. He also noted that he was indeed missing the warm and beautiful smile for the last years.
If it weren't because Atobe insisted that Sanada should come with him in his little trip to Europe, Sanada would probably miss the chance to see his former tennis rivals from the middle school years again in the professional international-level match. The diva went to the same university like Sanada was, and since Sanada was probably the only tennis geek Atobe knew best in the university, he invited—no, kidnapped—the raven to watch the final match in Grand Slam. Sanada was busy with university assignments and part-time job that he had little to none time to follow Grand Slam, although Atobe would always shower him with the latest news.
So although it had been at least 6 years since the last time he saw both of the athletes that were competing in that match, he knew whose match he was going to watch. A brunette that carried the flag of Germany made his appearance first, and Sanada could easily identify him as Tezuka Kunimitsu. It wasn't very hard to do, since he didn't change very much except for the stronger jawline, shorter haircut, and far better built. Atobe was clearly cheering for the left-handed player, and suddenly it became clear for him why Atobe was being overly excited about that match.
When Tezuka's opponent made his appearance, Sanada felt his world stopped. The midnight blue locks were still the same, although it was cut much shorter than he last remembered. The white headband was almost the same, except that this time he had a sponsor branding it. His face was as beautiful as always, although time and puberty had definitely added more masculinity to it. The way his jacket draped and flapped on his shoulders gave him the godly presence like always, although this time it was amplified with the fact that he had become much better in tennis, and that the world was watching him.
As he watched Yukimura walked to the other side of the court, Sanada realized that it could be him standing on Tezuka's place right then, but he had thrown away that chance when he was given all the right to keep it.
Suddenly he felt that he couldn't watch that match and left even before both of the players tested the balls and passes, ignoring Atobe's bickering about him being an ungrateful bastard. He didn't care that people were looking at him thanks to Atobe shouting in both English and Germany. He just wanted to go away from there, as far and as fast as he could.
The thought of him, Yukimura, and tennis were making him felt sick.