Tezuka is only human, after all. Shounen-ai. TezuRyo.
Tezuka smiles, as he looks at the boy.
He has been smiling a lot, lately. And always, he has been here, with this boy.
“Buchou, I think we should do this more often.” The boy says to him.
“What do you mean, Echizen? We meet almost every two weeks.” Despite his words, he agrees with the boy. It is different, playing Echizen, then any of his other opponents. They always manage to find a way to push each other further, improve their game.
“But it would be better, if we met every week.”
“Don’t you have other things to do on your Saturdays?” There must be, even Tezuka finds his Saturdays full of invitations to join his friends in their activities. But he always declines them, when there is a match against Echizen to look forward to.
“Playing Buchou is much more fun.” Echizen answers. “Besides, the day doesn’t end at four pm.”
True, most teenagers began to celebrate their weekends much later in the evening. “Fine. Every week, then?” He asks, and receives a smile for his answer. He find’s an answering smile tugging on his lips, but suppresses it. It might have been fine, letting the smile show on his face just once more, but he himself has become wary of the smiles, and the reasons behind them.
Echizen leaves first, and Tezuka looks after him, hoping the boy will make it safely home. Maybe he should follow him, to make sure he got home safely? No, it was stupid, Echizen managed fine on his own. And following him would make him seem like a stalker. Even thinking about it made him feel so.
Shutting his eyes, he shook his head, trying to rid himself of strange thoughts. When he opened them, he saw his friend before him. “Oishi.” He greeted. “Why are you here?”
“I followed you.” Oishi looked at him with anger in his eyes. It was surreal. Shouldn’t he be the one who was furious at his friend for following him? Still, all he felt was shame, and Oishi, seeing it on his face, grew even angrier. “He is too young.”
“So am I.”
“Yes, you are both too young. But he is younger then you, you have an obligation, as his senior, his mentor. You cannot do this.” Oishi’s voice was pleading.
“I have not done anything.”
“Don’t lie to me, Tezuka. Seeing him is bad enough, on itself, and you know it.” Tezuka twitched at his disapproving tone. “You can not continue with these meetings, they must stop.”
“If I stop now, he will ask for a reason, and I cannot tell him the reason, not when…”
“When he might shun from you out of disgust.” Oishi finished the sentence for him. “That would be a better option, then this. You must end it Tezuka. You can’t let this go on.”
“He still needs guidance. His skill isn’t yet -”
“He has other people that can teach him, others to guide him. He doesn’t need you! ” Oishi shouted. “He doesn’t need you. You have to stop!”
“No.” Tezuka stated stubbornly.
“I need him, Oishi. Even if I can’t… All I need is to see him. Just to see him.” The last sentence came out as a whisper.
“How long have you been seeing him? Ever since we graduated?” Oishi asked, and Tezuka could only nod as an answer. “I knew of your infatuation, but thought it would pass once you were in separate schools. You should have let it end then. Why Tezuka, why would you do something so stupid, as to continue seeing him, knowing it would only hurt you in the end?”
“He asked me, if we could continue playing,” was his week defence.
“You could have said no.”
What Oishi didn’t understand, was that he couldn’t have said no. There wasn’t anything he could deny from those golden eyes, not anymore. Perhaps there had once been a time he could have said no to the boy, but not anymore.
“Tezuka, could I speak with you?” Fuji asked him, the sound of tennis balls hitting rackets and the ground, around them. It filled the silence, making it seem as if there wasn’t any. It almost covered the urgency in Fuji’s voice. “I have been feeling uncertain about something lately, and I must speak with someone whose judgement I trust.”
“After practice then, Fuji.” Tezuka answered. “But I warn you, if this is about your brother and Mizuki again, I’ll not listen to another rant about them.”
“But you must admit how bad of an influence he is to my Yuuta.” When Tezuka growled, Fuji hurried to say, “But it isn’t about them, I swear. It’s something much more serious, about my self.”
Tezuka considered the seriousness of Fuji’s words, and his expression, and finally nodded. No matter how many years he had known Fuji it still felt like he hadn’t even scratched the surface. There was a time, he had hoped to know more about Fuji, be more then a friend to him. That had all changed, though, after Echizen had smiled at him, with a question in his eyes, ‘Did I do well, Buchou? Was I good enough for you?’ Everything had changed for Tezuka, after that.
The change had been gradual, and it had started in a way, that did not alert Tezuka that something, very essential to his character, had changed in a way that altered him completely. He noticed that he began to wish for moments when he was alone with Echizen, felt his hands sweat each time the boy looked at him, became more conscious of the others presence.
When he caught himself staring at the boy’s mouth, he finally understood. The dreams he had after that were torture, because he knew they could never come true. Moments alone in the locker room became something he both wished, and feared, for not knowing how long his self control would last. He sometimes wished he did not have so much self control that he could allow himself just to snap, let his desires take over. But fear of losing the boy’s admiration always prevented him. Fear that he would never again see that smile, or that question in the boy’s eyes.
He showered, and dressed quickly knowing Fuji was waiting for him. They walked in silence to Tezuka’s home, where they noted that no one was home. There was a note in the refrigerator. His family would be gone till evening. His grandfather had to be taken to the hospital. Nothing serious, it said, just his knee acting up again. “Would you like some tea?” He asked Fuji.
“Yes, thank you, Tezuka.” Fuji answered.
He put the kettle on the stove, and the phone rang. He answered, knowing it would be his mother, calling from the hospital. Yes, he had come home alright, a friend was visiting, he was making tea for them. He knew how to heat the sauce; his mother should not worry about him. His homework could wait, his friend wouldn’t stay that long, and he did not need help with it anyway, but he would ask, if it made his mother feel better.
“Would you like to stay for dinner?” He asked Fuji, after returning to the kitchen, where the boy sat at the table.
“No, I must go home for dinner. The whole family will be there, for a change, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Tezuka nodded. He knew Fuji’s parents were busy, and now that Yuuta no longer lived at home, it was rare for the Fujis to gather for dinner. He remembered Fuji telling him that he missed having his whole family around him.
He poured the tea for them, and gave Fuji a cup, before sitting across him. “What did you want to tell me?”
Fuji did not answer immediately, but stared in to his cup. “I… have feelings for someone. They are not recent, but… I only noticed how deep they were after I no longer saw him frequently.” Fuji curled his fingers around the cup, still not lifting his eyes. “And before you say anything, it’s not about him being a boy. I’ve known I was gay a long time, and have told my family. They were surprisingly accepting.”
“I’m happy for you Fuji.” Tezuka said. “But why are you here then?”
Fuji lifted his head, and looked at him, blue eyes open, jaw clenched tightly. And for a moment, Tezuka thought Fuji had come to confess him. And for a moment, Tezuka felt hopeful, and surprised by his own feelings, that were now divided between two people.
“The person I like… You know him too, Tezuka. I hope you will help me to decide on what to do.” So it was not him, Tezuka thought, disappointedly. If it had been him, perhaps he could have been able to get over his own feelings for Echizen. If there was someone that could have made him forget about the boy, it would have been Fuji. A surge of jealousy rose in him, towards the person that had captured Fuji’s attention.
“So who is it?” When Fuji did not answer, he continued, “I can not help you, if you do not tell me who it is.”
“It’s Echizen.” Tezuka felt cold. The moment Fuji formed that name on his lips, his heart froze. Fear of loosing Echizen nearly crippled him. He knew, had he been holding his cup at the time, it would have fallen from his grasp, and spilled the hot tea on him.
“He is too young.” Tezuka heard Oishi’s words from his mouth. The moment he said them, he knew he had made his decision. “Too young to consider a relationship with anyone, much less a sempai, especially one he trust and respects.” He said the words, knowing he himself would not comply with them. “You would do wisely, if you waited for him to grow up, take notice in something other then tennis. I do not think there is anything else that fits in his head now.”
Fuji sighed. “I know. I knew it before I even spoke with you. But I think I needed to hear the words from someone else too. Convince me not to do anything foolish, as to confess to him. He is only thirteen, after all.”
Only thirteen. The words echoed in Tezuka’s head, rousing his guilt. But he crushed it. He could not afford waiting, not when he knew he wasn’t the only one who felt something for the boy.
“Well, it will probably bee easier after puberty really hits him.” Fuji chuckled, and leaned his head on his palm. Tezuka found it hard not to fling the hot tea on his face.
“I’m glad you feel that way.” He told Fuji.
A week. That’s how long it would be until he could see Echizen again, and after hearing Fuji’s confession, he was not as patient, as he had been before. Every hour felt like a day, and Tezuka wasn’t sure he could make it through the week without finally snapping. He spent the whole day contemplating on a good excuse to stop by at Seigaku’s junior high. He became even more frantic when Fuji sat down next to him at lunch, with a bright smile on his face.
“I’m happy that I talked to you Tezuka. I took your advice, and I’m going to see Echizen tomorrow.”
“I thought you agreed with me that he is too young?” Tezuka tried to keep the coldness from his voice. It seemed he was not successful, since Fuji looked at him sheepishly.
“I’m not going to do, or say anything, Tezuka. We are simply going to see a movie with some other people.” Fuji fiddled with his sandwich. “I realized that even if he is too young for the kind of relationship I wish for, there is nothing that will stop us from being friends. It will give him a chance to get to know me, to grow used to my presence. Maybe it will make things easier in the future.”
Fuji made sense, and that was precisely the reason why Tezuka did not approve of his plan. There had to be away to keep Fuji away from Echizen.
Tezuka dialled a familiar number. After a few moments, Echizen answered, with a familiar title, “Buchou?” puzzlement in his voice.
“I would like to play a match with you, today.” He told the boy.
“Today? But Buchou, it’s only been a couple of days.”
“Of course, if you have other plans-”
“No, I’ll come! The same place?”
“Yes.” They did not speak anymore, or said goodbye. There was no need for futile words between them.
Tennis, that was all that Tezuka had, all that kept Echizen’s interest in him. If he did nothing before that interest faded, before Echizen defeated him, he would loose the boy to Fuji, who he knew, was far more interesting, and alluring.
It rained. He did not expect Echizen to arrive, not when water was pouring down from the skies, with the force, that knocked down Tezuka’s bike by the chain link fence that surrounded the court. He himself was using the underpass as a cover, staring at the rain that had made the scenery grey and misty.
Knowing it was no use, he still gazed hopefully at the tennis court, hoping he would see a familiar white cap. When he did see it, he was momentarily frozen in place. Why would Echizen come? The rain must have started right when he left home.
He ran to Echizen, his tennis bag pouncing on his back. He placed a hand on Echizen’s shoulder, and nudged the boy towards the underpass. But Echizen shook his head, grabbed Tezuka’s hand, and guided him towards a small warehouse, next to the court. Echizen grabbed the door handle, and the warehouse door opened.
Tezuka stepped in, after Echizen. It was no bigger then his room. Not much of a warehouse, more like a storage closet. But it provided shelter from the rain, and was empty.
He refused to look at Echizen, when he asked, “Why did you come? You must have known it would rain.”
He heard Echizen move, felt the boy come stand next to him. He saw him shrug at the question. “I didn’t want you to wait alone in the rain. And I knew you’d be here.”
Tezuka stared at the rain again. He smiled.