Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis.


Pasty


I never knew the delicacy of life until now…

How fragile it was…

And how quickly it was broken…

Momoshiro was walking through darkness. His footsteps were silent down the empty corridor; the only little light provided from the moonlight seeping in threw the open windows. The hallway was suspiciously quiet, with only a few muffled sobs coming from hospital rooms.

A child dying from cancer…

A husband in coma…

A women who lost her baby…

The Seigaku regular bit his lip hard, his violet eyes completely shattered. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to get away from the pain. Even his dreams hurt.

His hand clenched painfully tight, almost to the point of turning white. His nails dug into his palms, nearly drawing blood. His heart roared in his ears. It had been doing that the whole night, not letting him grace even a moment of silence.

Momoshiro really didn't feel good. He grinded his teeth together, the pale shadows of the darkness haunting him. But then, he was walking blindly, simply in search of a place where the pain would go away.

Pain.

It had been only a day, but it felt perpetual.

I never thought things could change so quickly…

That life could be snatched away in less than a split second…

Momoshiro found himself sinking into a deep abyss of sorrow. Even as he smiled now, his lips quirked upwards, there was nothing but a trembling little boy in it.

He approached the hospital room 98 in slow steps, the ringing in his ears getting louder. The other regulars were sprawled across the benches and floors outside, waiting in agony.

Tezuka was sitting rigidly straight on the bench, his face remaining stoic. The fire in his burning eyes had disappeared, leaving only a cold gaze that went way beyond his years. Kaidoh, Oishi and Inui were all trying to comfort Eiji, who had fallen into a heap on the floor; sobbing. His knees knocked together as he shook. "Why – why did it have to be Ochibi…why?"

Fuji was sitting next to Tezuka, his icy eyes wide open. His mouth was pressed in a straight line as he stared at the wall in front of him. He felt dizzy. The world was a blur.

Momoshiro didn't feel right.

Why is everyone acting like he's dead?

He's not…

"Hey."

Everyone looked up when Momoshiro spoke. Their eyes clouded over with pity and discomfort. Nobody seemed to be able to look at him in eye, or return his fake smile.

"How's Echizen doing?" Momoshiro's voice sounded broken yet he tried to grin, the pressure of staying positive weighing on his shoulders.

It was Eiji's job, but Eiji had already fallen too deep.

"He's…" Oishi glanced up from his position next to Kikumaru. His face was wallowed in fear. "Well, you know he can't improve…they said the chances of him recovering from the coma are very low…"

Momoshiro's heart was tearing. His violent eyes were numb with terror.

I never had a clue how much he meant to me…

Why is it that you always realize how special something is to you when it's gone?

How it that even fair?

Momoshiro slid across the white tile floor, smiling with his teeth, shoulders shaking. Tears spilled down his cheeks, but he continued to smile.

Smiling.

It didn't even feel real anymore.

He didn't feel real anymore.

The world didn't feel real.

Not when he's gone.

Ryoma wasn't really gone.

Not really.

He was still there, lying on the bed, wires attached to his small, young frame. But Momoshiro couldn't feel his passion anymore.

And without his passion, Ryoma was not alive.

With stiff movements, Momoshiro walked into the room. The room where he had spent hours crying and losing himself to depression. The room where the one everyone loved the most was slowly drifting away from them.

Momoshiro felt like he was going to vomit when he reached the entrance. It was too dark. Too tragic. Ryoma was merely a lump under the white blankets; a pale, frail form of a boy that used to be a prince.

Momoshiro smiled harder. Smiling wasn't supposed to be hard. Ryoma had never smiled enough before anyway – he had to smile for the both of them.

I miss the way he would call me Momo-senpai…

Momoshiro's knees trembled as he reached the bedside. It was dark in the room, and the power-player could barely see the boy that was wrenched out of life. Only the moonlight gave him vision.

Ryoma was lying motionlessly under the blankets.

Machines were breathing for him.

Eating for him.

Living for him.

….

But machines couldn't love for him.

. . .

. . .

Momoshiro gently tucked a lock of Ryoma's black-emerald hair behind the boy's ear. His pale, pasty face was dimly seen.

I never thought I'd never see those brilliant golden again…

I never really heard his laugh either…

And now…will I ever?

Momoshiro watched as a tuft of cotton floated to the ground. Smiling was hurting more than ever now. The hurt would never go away, he realized. Not until he saw those golden eyes and cocky smirk.

"Ryoma." He spoke his real name out loud for the first time. It rolled off his tongue in the midst of tears. Slowly, he took the boy's hand, tightening his grip around his fingers.

The limpness of his hands made Momoshiro cry harder.

But he was still smiling.

Forever smiling.

"It doesn't matter if you can't play tennis anymore…"

I remember everything about us now…

All the moments…

And the memories come flooding back…

"You'll always be my prince."

And suddenly, smiling wasn't so hard anymore.