First off, I am so sorry for writing this! I don't know what came over me! And I really hate to write deathfics, but this just came to me last night, and I had to get it out before it killed me! I even cried writing it (especially the ending)! I really am an awful person, ne? So, if you aren't into fics that involve death and dark themes, then I suggest you turn away now!

Summary: Oishi was diagnosed with a teminal illness at the young age of thirty, and Eiji finds himself struggling to cope over the next twenty years after his death. Will he finally find his footing without his boyfriend there with him, or will he forever be stuck in a hole of sorrow and guilt?

Pairing: Golden Pair and Burning Pair (TakaFuji).

Rating: T, I guess. Maybe more towards M.

Disclaimer: This is one of those times when I'm glad I don't own Tenisu no Ouji-sama.

Forever and Always


It had become an unconscious routine for him: wake up, shower, get dressed, eat, brush, leave the apartment, buy the sweetest bouquet of flowers he could find... and then walk—walk to that one place he dreaded more than anything.

He and Oishi used to walk the same paths together, back in high school and college. And occasionally still after they had moved in together. It had been fun then though, nothing like what it was in the present, mostly because he now had to do it alone, and he knew the destination he would inevitably reach always left him crying and cursing and contemplating his continued existence.

Why did the one person he had ever truly loved (and only ever would), have to be the one person to leave him?

Oishi had always been so worried about everyone else, and never enough about himself. And Eiji had grown to love that most about his boyfriend. Of course, it could get a little annoying at times, especially because he worried too much, but for the most part, it was truly wonderful to know that he was with someone who devoted himself to tending to others.

And that was why he always got what he wanted from Oishi—love, attention, care, comfort. He adored the time they spent together (not to mention how much Oishi spoiled him with candy and toys).

But then, when the illness was discovered, instead of taking the time to dote on himself for once, Oishi focused on his friends and family even more than before. He bought his parents and imouto expensive gifts they had never had the money to buy; he took each and every one of his close friends out to dinner, then hugged them and told them how appreciative he was of their kindness; he held onto Eiji each dark and silent night, loving him with as much passion as he could, quietly whispering just how deep his feelings ran, while his lips placed soft and gentle kisses all over the body he had come to love so much. He knew his end was drawing near, but he didn't want to face it—didn't want to accept it.

Eiji knew he spent his nights crying. As hard as he tried to hide it by locking himself in the bathroom each time, and with the perfect excuse of needing to clean up after they had just finished making love, Eiji still found out about it.

It began as a hunch one day, but then, when he was able to successfully tiptoe across the apartment to listen, he discovered that his fears were absolutely true.

The water was running in the shower, and yet it did nothing to drown out the sounds of Oishi sobbing. He kept repeating, over and over again, how much he loved the redhead; how sorry he was to be leaving him; how he was letting him down by being such a coward, because it was his job to be the strong one, to protect and comfort his boyfriend, to hold back his tears and push through to the end.

But all he had become was a crying mess.

… … … … … … … … …

They fought a lot after Oishi was diagnosed.

Most of it stemmed from the tension—the fear that they would soon be parted forever. Neither knew how to explain it, or how to express it properly, so it just lay dormant inside them until it became too much and they burst.

They argued about the smallest things, too, because any little spark of irritation ignited into something far worse than it should have been. Trivial things like making the bed correctly, eating an adequate amount at dinner, folding their clothes a certain way, and much more turned into an everyday struggle they almost always failed to overcome.

Eiji was probably the worst out of the two of them. He had the added annoyance of watching his dying boyfriend care less and less about himself, and more about their friends and families as the days passed on. It was just simply not the time to give himself to others when his own body was what needed attention the most.

… … … … … … … … …

Eiji had never cried so hard in his life as he did when he saw Oishi laying in that hospital bed. His skin was pale, cold; his breathing was erratic even with a machine to help; and he seemed to sleep more often than not. They both knew he was getting rapidly close at that point, because his body refused to work on its own anymore, and his brain was losing what little grasp it had left on him.

… … … … … … … … …

He lost his memory only two weeks later.

Eiji sat down at his side during a visit and asked him how he was feeling, but he only replied with a question of his own:

Who are you?

Eiji felt his heart break when the realization struck him. Oishi had truly forgotten him, their life together, their friends, their past. All he saw was a strange redheaded man kneeling at his bedside, with rivers of tears streaming down his cheeks, and loud cries of "remember me, koi" and "I love you, Syuuichiro, please come back to me".

He never remembered.

… … … … … … … … …

The funeral came a month and a half later. Friends and family members from all over Japan gathered around the body that had once been Oishi Syuuichiro to mourn his passing. Past rivals like Yukimura and Tachibana, and even Atobe, showed up and gave their sympathy.

No one said anything to Eiji though, because their relationship had always been kept a secret. Only Fuji and Taka-san knew they had lived together as more than best friends, and it was those two who he leaned against for strength when everyone said their final goodbyes and left the cemetery.

But he collapsed on the walk back to the car. His muscles were weak, tired, and defeated. All he wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position and cry until he and Oishi were reunited once more.

But Taka-san picked him up and carried him the rest of the way. Then Fuji buckled him in and held him close on the ride home, insisting that he stay with them until he felt well enough to be out on his own again.

He accepted, if only reluctantly.

… … … … … … … … …

Fuji and Taka-san were good to him. They let him move in with them when he was diagnosed with severe depression, and never asked anything of him return... except to get better and be the cheerful Kikumaru Eiji they used to know.

But that was impossible.

They had no idea what it felt like to lose the person closest to them; what it felt like to spend their final time together with arguments; what it felt like to watch their boyfriend forget everything of their life—to forget them; what it felt like to watch the person they were supposed to spend forever with get buried deep into the ground right before their eyes, never to be seen again afterwards.

… … … … … … … … …

Counseling had helped.

He opened his heart in those sessions, spilling every little secret and desire he had ever had. He spoke of their time in school, their apartment, the sex, the words Oishi used to say to get him to smile, what used to annoy him most about his kind boyfriend—everything.

And it felt good, kind of, to let it out. He could really share everything he had been holding in, and with no boundaries as to what he could say. The first thing he had talked about when they met was the fact that he and Oishi had been a couple, not just good friends like everyone thought. And that was liberating all in itself, to tell a complete strangeror just another person period—that he had been dating his best friend from middle school, who just so happened to be male, like himself.

But the ache never left him.

… … … … … … … … …

Eight years passed and nothing had really changed. Eiji still lived with Fuji and Taka-san—who had adopted beautiful three year-old twins for him to help care for—remained unemployed, and never paid a penny out of his own pocket for anything.

He tried, of course, and felt guilty whenever Fuji firmly told him "no". Then he just got upset and annoyed when he was told that he had to visit the cemetery first, if he ever wanted to make his own purchases again.

He knew he really should go back and see it—him—but he was too afraid to. He didn't want to lose control of himself again. He didn't want to revert back to the way he had been back then, when Oishi had died: a depressed and introverted wreck.

He didn't return to the cemetery.

… … … … … … … … …

It was another five years before he finally had the strength. He really missed Oishi, perhaps even more than before, and knew that, even though he would only see a tombstone, and would only speak to the open air, that it was better than never seeing Oishi again at all.

It was his birthday the first time he returned. Fuji and the kids had baked him a cake to bring along with him, which he did, and so he quietly sat in front of the stone face, just eating the treat. He never said a word, but he left a piece of the cake behind for Oishi to have later when he was gone.

… … … … … … … … …

Two more years went by and Eiji turned forty-four. Age had caught up with him, along with the depression, but people still told him he looked a lot younger than he was. And sometimes, it felt good to hear that.

But more often than not, he felt really old. To know so much time had passed without Oishi there beside him, to hold him and kiss him and tell him he loved him, made him fear his own end. Would Oishi be there when he drew his last breath? Would Oishi be the one to carry him away into the sweet afterlife?

He sat in front of the tombstone, staring at the face and the words carved into it.

Oishi Syuuichiro: A son and friend forever loved for his kindness

The date was what got him the most though, because he had only been thirty. So young, and yet, at the time, he had seemed so old. They used to laugh at that age, saying that he had become an elder before he even hit middle-age... but it wasn't really much of a joke once he had been diagnosed with the illness that would kill him in less than a year's time.

Fifteen years had passed since then, and ironically, Oishi was the one who had remained youthful. Everyone's vision of him was that of a thirty year-old man, while Eiji had had time to physically age, to actually grow older and wiser.

He leaned forward and touched the stone. It was cold against his fingertips, but he refused to move them away. It was almost like... he was touching Oishi. Of course, his real body would have been warm, and soft, and cozy, but the stone was really as close as he could get to the real thing anymore.

He still refused to speak, mostly because his voice was lost whenever he stepped inside the gates of the cemetery, and laid his eyes on the one stone he cared about. It was just so hard to think of the proper thing to say. "I'm sorry" or "I love you" seemed appropriate, but what would he look like if he were to stand there and speak to a piece of carved stone? Not only that, but what would happen to the fragile state of his mind? It was hard enough just thinking about Oishi... what if he were to try to communicate with him?

… … … … … … … … …

"You will always be my best friend, Syuuichiro," he murmured out into the cool air of the evening, "no matter what happens, or how much time passes."

A soft breeze blew by then, seeming to wrap him up in a warm embrace. That was his answer. He would always love him as well, and they would, somehow, always be together, no matter the circumstances or passage of time.

Tears rolled down his face, and he fell to his knees, hugging the stone he had come to memorize almost as well as his old partner. He really, really missed him, and no amount of counseling, or comforting, or cake could change that. Only his death would bring about the peace he so desperately sought, the warmth and love he so desperately missed.

He laid the flowers down in front of the grave and smiled. Oishi looked as young as ever, he noted, as he knelt down to touch the familiar kanji carved into the rain-soaked stone.

"I missed you last night," he said. "I wish you would have come home to visit me. Maybe tomorrow though, ne? Unless I beat you here first."

He was only met with silence, but it was answer enough for him. He knew Oishi was listening, even if there was no audible response.

"The kids are really big now," he continued, "Yukiko-chan is the buchou of the Seigaku tennis team... for the girls, anyways. And Sora-kun plays on the baseball team. They are quite the athletic pair, but I guess it's to be expected from the children of Fuji and Taka-san."

He felt a cool breeze roll by, calming him down just the slightest. He was getting nervous a lot lately, thinking that Oishi may not really be listening to him, but the wind always helped to reassure him that he was never truly alone, and that Oishi was still there to hear his every word.

"Me?" he asked, acting as if someone had just inquired about his own status. "Well, I found a job at the conbini near our old apartment, and I'm kind of hoping to move into my own place soon enough. Fuji and Taka-san have too many things to worry about with the kids and the sushi shop, so I really just need to stop being a burden. Besides, I'm forty-nine today. It's about time I lived on my own again, ne?"

He laughed and leaned back onto his hands. "I brought cake again, if you want some," he added. "I know how much you like vanilla, so I asked Yukiko-chan to make us one, even though it's my birthday."

He rummaged around in the shoulder bag he carried, and pulled out a plated slice of cake. He placed it down in front of the grave. "Hope you enjoy it, nya," he japed, reverting back to his old middle school vernacular—Oishi had always liked when he did.

"And I have a piece of my own," he said as he pulled out another plate. "Itadakimasu!"

He uncovered the cake and took a bite. It was quite good, as to be expected from Yukiko and her cooking, so it was really no surprise that the slice was gone in less than two minutes. He pouted when he noticed the sudden emptiness of the plate, and stared over at the slice he had given Oishi.

"You know, I would have asked you to share yours with me, had we been younger. But you only get two slices a year now, and I'm not as selfish as I used to be, so you can just keep it to yourself. I can ask Yukiko-chan to make more some other time."

He looked up to the sky as the clouds began to darken. It was going to rain soon, so he really had to head home before he got caught out in the storm. Oishi would only be upset with him if he came to visit with a cold.

"Look, Syu, the sky looks so ominous right now," he sighed disappointedly. "I guess I have to go home now, ne? But I will come visit again tomorrow, I promise."

He stood, stretched, and leaned forward to place a kiss on the gravestone. "I love you, koi," he whispered, "and I will forever and always."

He turned from the man he loved more than life itself, and trudged back home in the pouring rain.

… … … … … … … … …

The cake slice was gone the next morning.

So? How did you like it? Personally, I think the ending was happy in a way... though not as happy as I would have liked it. Eiji really learns to accept that Oishi has passed, but is somehow still there for him, perhaps just differently than he would have hoped (i.e. through the wind, the disappearing cake pieces, etc.)