They sat in silence simply enjoying each others presence. Neither of them knew how to start the conversation they definitely needed to have. Tezuka sighed.
It was Syusuke’s turn last time. I’m afraid it’s mine now. I cannot hide forever waiting for him to say something. After all it was my fault that made him feel miserable the last days.
“Fuji – we, we need to talk.”
Tezuka waited a little longer, hoping Fuji would make this any easier for him. But obviously Fuji didn’t intend to do so. Sighing again Tezuka tried to find the right words.
“I messed up a lot of things between the two of us, didn’t I?”
“No doubt about that.”
Fuji didn’t look at him. He hadn’t protested to stay with him for the night, but it didn’t look like he felt comfortable either.
“I’m sorry about what I said back on the courts…”
“In fact you didn’t say much at all.”
“Well, that’s the point, isn’t it?”
“I don’t understand.”
“It was wrong to leave you without saying anything at all…”
“Yea, kinda rude, wasn’t it?”
“I guess. Wanna give me a chance to explain myself?”
Fuji didn’t give him an answer on that question but simply waited for him to go on.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you back then… I, I was afraid.”
“Well, it doesn’t make things easier for us, does it? There is no other chance for me but to go with my parents to Germany. I don’t think that a relationship over such a distance would work and … and I don’t want to risk one of the friendships that’s most precious to me…”
“So you just want me to go back to normal, forgetting any feelings I might have just to make the departure more comfortable for you?”
“Fuji, I don’t want to be selfish.”
“You do quite a good job acting so.”
“Fuji…” Tezuka groaned. He was right. Fuji was mad with him, was hurt and it didn’t seem he wanted to let Tezuka get away with what he’d done easily. The vulnerable boy standing outside in the rain had suddenly become a man fierce fully trying to protect himself, hiding behind a thick wall.
“I’m sorry. I got carried away. I mean, love can’t be forced, can it? And if you’re telling me that you don’t feel anything but friendship then I should try to be a good friend accepting it, shouldn’t I?”
“Fuji… You don’t understand.”
“Or am I simply not good enough? Just tell me, it’s ok. I never assumed I was in the first place, so don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine.”
“Fuji, stop it! It’s not like this, ok?”
“What is it like then? Tell me, Tezuka. If you want me to stop guessing you ought to tell me!” Fuji stated desperately.
“You don’t understand.”
“Then try to explain it, will you?”
“Since the day we met I thought you were special. You’ve never been as superficial as most others were. You saw right through me, have never been impressed by my cold behaviour. … You… You always seemed unreachable to me, like an angel high in the sky. I enjoyed watching you and being around you. Whatever you did, you did it with an amazing grace and you always did good, too. You excelled most others even if you never intended to show them. Just like an angel, untouchable and free…”
Fuji listened in disbelieve while Tezuka kept babbling. He was sure he had never heard Tezuka to talk so much without interruption.
“I don’t want that to change, I – ” Tezuka hesistated. More to himself he finally whispered. “I loved you, I mean I still do, but …” Another break. “One mustn’t catch an angel.”
“I – I don’t believe what I just heard. I -”
“How can you be so selfish?”
“Did you ever think about what it might be like for me?”
“Did it ever cross your mind, that I probably didn’t want to go on like this all my life?”
“Listen, you’re talking about angels? Angels mustn’t be catched, that’s what you think, right? But angels cannot fly on their own. They want – no they need somebody to protect them!”
Never waiting for an answer Fuji got up. Happy he hadn’t changed to any sleeping clothes yet he left the room and the house leaving Tezuka behind.
— — —
Fuji decided to no longer avoid Tezuka.
If he wants me to be nothing but his friend then I won’t be anything else but his friend. If he wants me to forget about everything, fine, I will. It’s only one more week, isn’t it? Whatever I do afterwards won’t bother him, will it?
Preparing for training Fuji took his racket ready to leave.
I just hope the others won’t ask too many unwanted questions. At least Taka-san, Eiji and Oishi won’t. They knew what had happened, didn’t they? They would be friendly enough to act normally, wouldn’t they?
He shouted his goodbye at nobody in particular and took the bus to the courts.
— — —
“Fuji is that you?”
“Hi Taka-san! How are you?”
“Fine, thanks. I have to admit I didn’t expect you to come for training today.”
“Well, I guess I simply missed you guys too much. Plus I can’t wait to stand on the courts holding a racquet again. So I thought to get rid of both problems I should simply join the practise again.”
“Fuji-senpai, you’re back.”
“Where have you been lately?”
“I just didn’t feel like playing tennis. I’m sorry.”
“I wonder how many laps you’ll have to run. Momo-senpai had to run quite a bunch last time he skipped training for some days.”
“Hi Echizen. I’m afraid I deserved it no matter ow many laps it’ll be.”
“But Fuji.” Kawamura wanted to protest. It was not only Fuji’s fault, was it? The captain had his hands in as well but nobody would make him run laps.
“I’ll be fine, Taka-san.” Fuji gave him a confident smile.
“What do you think, you’re doing? Morning practise started 15 minuted ago. 10 laps around the courts-” Tezuka stopped when he saw Fuji, but went on after a short break. “10 laps for everyone of you. Now.”
When the four of them passed him, Tezuka added. “And it’ll be 50 extra laps for you, Fuji.”
“Ah, Fuji doesn’t have to run as many laps as I had to back then.”
“Stop complaining or you’ll join him running!”
Without leaving any further words about injustice Momo and the others started running around their laps. When Fuji was done everybody was already on the courts playing. Only Taka-san was taking a short break watching Oishi and Eiji playing against Inui and Kaidoh.
“Taka-san. If you’re free for now, would you mind playing with me?”
“Ah, you’re done, Fuji. The 4th court is free at the moment.”
To Fuji it felt great to play tennis again. He had not even realized how much he had really missed it.
I guess there was just too much swirling around in my head. But feeling the breath of air on my skin while playing makes everything get clearer. It feels great, even better then I had remembered it to be like.
Tezuka and Fuji didn’t talk for the whole morning, nor did they afterwards. They’d secretly watch when the other wasn’t looking, but they avoided any confrontation. The tension was awkward it the others felt it, too.
“Not now, Oishi. I’m really not in the mood to-”
“Did you talk to him?”
“Are you listening?”
“I mean Fuji’s here again, but something went wrong, didn’t it?”
Tezuka decided not to answer. If his friend wouldn’t take him serious then he might as well show him, that he really did not want to talk.
“I hope it won’t go on like this for the rest of the week. I mean you have only few days left, haven’t you?”
“Oishi, would you please leave me alone? It’s not that difficult, is it?”
Oishi sighed and left for the club room. The training was over and the two of them had been the last on the courts. Tezuka leant against the fence.
Yea, something went wrong, very wrong, didn’t it? I don’t think I have any other choice but to go with my parents. I mean they brought me up, they’ve always supported me and now I should support them, shouldn’t I? And on the other hand there’s Syusuke, who has always been a loyal and understanding friend and who’s the most important one to me. It looks like there is no other thing I can do but to finally make a decision. Decide if I really want him or not. But that’s not the question, is it? I love him and I know it. Everytime I see him my mood seems to sheer up and when I hold him last night it felt like the first time everything was right. What should I do now? … Well, giving up should certainly not be an option.
— — —
The following days passed without Fuji and Tezuka ever Talking to each other. While Fuji started to hang around with Kawamura, Oishi tried to talk to Tezuka, but Tezuka started avoiding him. Stayed at home helping his mother packing.
— — —
“Ok, dear. We’ll be alright. So we’ll meet you at the airport in Frankfurt then. – I love you, too.”
His mother finished her call.
“Mum, I … I need to talk to you.”
“Kunimitsu dear, what is it?”
She smiled at him. Obviously happy that she would see her husband soon.
“I don’t think I can come with you.”
“Of course you can. Your dad’s waiting for you and he just told me that he took some days off so that we can spend some day’s together and we’ll have some time to explore our new home and -”
“But I don’t want to? Germany’s not my home and it’ll never be. I’ve lived all my life in Japan. My friends are here and – “
“You’ll find new friends. Life’s always about changes, dear.”
“You don’t care what I feel like, do you?”
“Do you care what your father and I feel like? Do you think we want our son to be far away and see him only once a year or so?”
Tezuka stared at her. Fuji was right, he was being selfish a lot lately.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to be hurting.”
His mother mustered him pensively.
“Kunimitsu, what’s wrong?”
“I… I don’t want to leave the one I love behind.”
Here I go and there’s no way back this time.
“We didn’t know you had a girlfriend. You never introduced her, did you?”
Damn it. How am I supposed to explain to her, that I’m not talking about a girl? Why did I start this in the first place anyway?
“It’s… It’s not … It’s not a girl.”
His mother stared at him in disbelieve for a second.
“Are you telling me that it’s a boy you’re in love with?”
Her voice was getting louder. “No, I don’t want to hear this. My son is not gay, tell me my son is not gay!”
“You must be joking right? I won’t accept my son being in love with another guy!”