Kawamura, Oishi, Eiji, Momoshiro, Echizen and Fuji were sitting in a fast food restaurant. While Momoshiro, Echizen and Eiji helped theirselves with hamburgers the others simply enjoyed a drink.
“It’s strange – how fast – time passed, isn’t it?” Momoshiro managed to say while still chewing.
“Momo-senpai – one mustn’t talk with a fool mouth.”
“You’re not the one to lecture me, Ryoma!”
“Anyway. I think Momo’s right. I mean Tezuka’s flight’s tomorrow, right?”
Silence answered Eiji’s question.
“I think we should have a farewell party for our captain. What do you think?”
“Sounds like a good idea to me, Momo.” Oishi agreed.
Kawamura looked at Fuji who was sitting by his site. “What do you think, Fuji?”
There was a smile on the tensai’s lips, but his friend could tell that he was afraid of how this might work out.
“Do you think we could celebrate at your father’s sushi shop, Taka-san?”
“Well, I don’t know. There might be customers, but I can ask him anyway.”
“Great. So it’s decided. Ryoma and I will do the shopping, won’t we?”
“Yea. Don’t we need a gift?”
“Eiji and I will take care about this.”
“And Fuji will go with Taka-san, right?”
Fuji nodded. And so they paid their bill and left.
An hours later they met at the sushi shop. Mister Kawamura had agreed to leave the shop to his son and his friends for the night. The last customers would leave at 8 pm and so there was no problem for the tennis team to celebrate the departure of their captain.
While Eiji tried to help Kawamura preparing the food (nobody wanted Fuji to help for they feared the food would get way too spicy), the others started to decorate the room.
“By the way, what did you get for Tezuka, Oishi-senpai?”
“First of all we printed some photos Fuji had once taken and Eiji had on his computer. We also bought a card for everybody to sign in. In addition Eiji had the idea of buying tennis balls.”
“Tennis balls? I”m sure he has enough.”
“Of course, he does. But we bought eight balls so that everyone of us could sign on one and write whatever he wants on it.”
“That sounds cool!”
“Yea, I already know, what you’re going to write down, Ryoma!”
“’Mada mada dane.’”
Everybody laughed at that.
Oishi stood up. “I better call Tezuka. Hope he’s not mad at us for calling him so suddenly.”
— — —
“I won’t accept my son being in love with another guy!”
She was shouting at Tezuka and starred at him mixed feelings in her eyes. Anger, horror, even desperation. Tezuka was about to leave when his grandfather entered the room.
“This is ridiculous, Chiyuko.”
“You were eavesdropping! I expected better of -”
“I was not. There was no need to. You’ve been shouting loud enough to entertain the whole neighbourhood.”
“Anyway. You can’t tell me to simply accept my son being gay!”
“Why not? He’s in love! Who cares with whom?”
“Love comes whenever it wants and it comes to whomever it wants. And it should be fine, even if it landed on a midden.”
“A friend of yours just called, Kunimitsu. You better hurry if you don’t want to be late for your own farewell party.”
“Yes. This boy, I think Oishi-kun was his name, he said you’d know where they’d wait.”
— — —
“Fuji are you really ok with this party?”
Kawamura had asked Fuji to join him in his room so that they could take a little without everybody listening.
“You… You look sad – Fujiko-chan.”
Fuji smiled at the diminutive form of his name.
Taka-san. You always tended to treat me like a younger brother. But usually you only use this form when you hold a recquet. … or when he’s really worried.
“I know that Tezuka had been looking for you the day before you showed up for morning practise again. And I really thought everything was ok again, but it wasn’t…”
“Not, it wasn’t.”
So Fuji told Kawamura how Atobe approached him in the library and that he was absolutely distracted when he was able to get away.
“I’ve been wandering through the streets for hours and then it started to rain and – and suddenly I realized that my feet had taken me to Tezuka’s house.”
“If that’s not what we call destiny, what else is?”
“Well, I thought so, too, when Tezuka suddenly opened the door and hold me in his arms.”
“So what went wrong?”
“After having dinner with his mother we sat down in his room and talked.”
“Well, what did he say? I mean you don’t have to tell me, really. I just want you to be happy, Fujiko-chan.”
“Tezuka wants me as his friend only. Nothing else.”
“Oh” Oishi had said he was sure Tezuka loved him. I really don’t understand what’s going on in his mind.
“I had some time to think about it, you know. Probably I should simply find myself a girlfriend so that I would finally start to think about something else then Tezuka.”
“Or I could agree to go out with Atobe.”
“I don’t know how long it’ll tale me to get over him, but there’s no way I’ll be forcing him into a relationship with me.”
Kawamura saw Fuji’s eyes watering and took the other boy in his arms.
He always feels so small…
“I don’t understand why he doesn’t believe love could survive any distance.”
So Tezuka does love him? He loves him but doesn’t believe they’d be fine…
“I mean, if we stay in contact and make sure to be together one day, it ought to be ok, right?”
He doesn’t want to risk the friendship he shares with you, Fujiko-chan.
— — —
When Tezuka arrived at the party he was greeted with confetti.
“You finally came!”
“We’ve been waiting for you!”
“You never told me you were planning a -”
“a farewell party?”
“Well, that’s because we decided to do so just some hours ago.”
“Come on sit down.”
While he was greeted by the rest of the team, Fuji stayed behind avoiding to look at Tezuka.
“I guess, I have to thank you then.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“But, I have to admit, I won’t be able to stay long. I mean, you know that the flight’s booked for tomorrow and -”
“Yea, it’s ok.”
“Stay as long as you think you can.”
— — —
“The boy’s almost 20.”
“You cannot hold him forever.”
“He’ll definitely come with us. I won’t let him staying all alone in Japan, not if I know he’s dating another guy.”
“You know pretty well that he wouldn’t be alone. He could stay with me.”
“We cannot ask that from you.”
“You know I’d be glad to have my grandson with me. I would feel much better, after all my daughter is already leaving with her husband for Germany.”
“I have to talk to call Daiki. I want to know what he has to say about this. Let’s see what he thinks about his son being gay anyway!”
“Just promise me to consider that everything that’s important to your son is here. Here in Japan.”
— — —
Tezuka and his mother had already handed in their luggage. They were at the airport and there was still about an hour before the plane would take off. Tezuka’s grandfather asked them to have some tea in a café close to the gate the two would have to check in soon. The gate where the plane to Germany was waiting for them.
“I’m already so excited. The weather forecast said it will be sunny when we arrive in Frankfurt.”
“Is that so.”
“Well, that sounds like a perfect day in a new country.”
“Your father’s going to pick us up. He took the day off just to do so.”
“Is that so.”
“I’m curious what our apartment will look like. Diaki said it looks great, but well, I just can’t wait to see it with my own eyes.”
“Is that so.”
I don’t care what it’ll look like. There’s less then an hour left and then we’ll be gone. Syusuke will find somebody else to love him. At least I hope it’ll be somebody who’s not going to hurt him as much as I did. And somebody who treats him better then Atobe did…
Tezuka didn’t pay any attention. Instead he simply stared at the cup of tea in front of him. His left hand in the pocket of his jacket he kept fingering the surface of a tennis ball. It was one of the tennis balls his friends had given him. Written on it there were the words “a smile for an angel”. It was the one Fuji had signed on. And Tezuka was happy that Fuji had not signed it with his family name, but with “Yours Syusuke”…
Looking up from his cup of tea Tezuka saw his friends approaching.
“Oh my, we’re so glad we made it. Inui had just found out which plane you’ll most likely take and we’d benn hoping you wouldn’t check in hours before the plane leaves and – “
“Yea, it was really mean to not tell us you’d be leaving this early.”
“Eiji-senpai’s right. We don’t understand why you left us in the dark.”
Tezuka’s grandfather was surprised to hear that.
He didn’t tell his friends? Well, he probably simply doesn’t like to say goodbye and had prefered to do so in advance on the party they had yesterday…
Seeing that his grandson’s sight was fixed at a rather small boy standing behind the others, he frowned.
So that’s the boy Tezuka had been talking about. He’s quite handsome. His face looks familiar. The two of them must have known each other for quite some time. I remember seeing him on the courts…
“I hope you didn’t intend to leave without saying goodbye.”
“No, that’s not it. I – I just don’t like saying goodbye.”
“Why not try to say ’see you one day’ instead?” That was Fuji speaking giving him a smile.
Without answering Tezuka stared at the tensai.
So you finally broke the silence. I’m happy you did. Too bad it’s too late now, isn’t it?
“Well, that sounds like a good idea to me.”
Tezuka didn’t pay any attention to what his grandfather said or what the other’s thought. He stood up, taking a few steps towards Fuji.
“Fuji, I am – ”
“It’s ok, Tezuka. I’ll be fine.”
Fuji was surprised when Tezuka swung his arms around him. He wanted to pull away, but his body didn’t move. He had longed to be so close to him again, hadn’t he? Why not enjoying it as long as he had the chance to do so?
“I’m afraid I won’t.”
He could barely hear Tezuka’s whisper and his sight blurred with tears. Not wanting his friends to see them, Fuji hid his face behind Tezuka’s shoulder.
I’m glad I’m so small after all.
Soon he felt Tezuka shaking with tears, too. It didn’t make it any easier and so they simply held each other close hoping to get back control over their bodies.
Behind their backs their friends were looking at each other smiling.
Oishi, too, had tears in his smiles. “I have no idea why it had taken them so long…” Eiji agreed. “I’m glad that everything’s ok now.”
“But I feel sorry. I mean, it’s a little late now, isn’t it?”
Tezuka’s mother kept staring at the back of her son in disbelieve. It felt strange to see him embracing another boy, but it didn’t feel wrong to her.
“What do you think, Chiyuko?”
She sighed and looked at Kawamura. “It’s never too late, is it?” The power player looked at her in confusion.
“Kunimitsu, please look at me.”
Tezuka brought some space between Fuji and him, but only enough to turn around. Facing his mother he still held him close. Not saying anything he simply raised a brow silently asking what she wanted to tell him.
“So – you really love this boy, don’t you?”
Her son nodded.
“I see. … Fuji-kun, would you do me a favour?” Fuji who had been staring at his feed looking up at her. “Please take good care of my son, will you?”
In that moment Fuji’s emotions could be read as simple as a book. It was all written on his face. Frist there was the surprise in his wide opened eyes but soon it changed to cognition and then to pure happiness.
“Are – Are you serious?”
Tezuka’s mother smiled at him.
“I am. Kunimitsu will be staying with my father. That is of course, only if he wants to.”