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[fic] Always With Me

Title: Always With Me
Author: absolutehymn007
Claim: Prince of Tennis - General
Table: Buffet - 50 Prompts
Prompt: #25 Better left unsaid
Rating: PG
Pairing: Sanada x Yukimura friendship
Word Count: 6,625
Summary: The reason for why Sanada started tennis as well as his reason for making it an essential part of his life. The beginning of a friendship that happened unexpectedly and has never tarnished since.
Warnings: None
Notes: My first Alpha Pair fic. It is a touching tale of ambition, dedication, inspiration, and friendship. With the normal Yukimura and Sanada quirks of course.

Genichirou Sanada felt like taking an alternative route home from school one day instead of his traditional way. There was nothing that could have explained why he wanted to since he always did things exactly the same way when he could, but something was telling him it was the right choice. He also was really good about trusting his own instincts, so with his schoolbag slung over one shoulder, he set off in the direction of the grocery store, which was a couple of blocks northeast of his residence.

The air was a bit steamy from the rain they had earlier and he tugged on his shirt collar uncomfortably. Sanada didn't really like the heat, but he really disliked not having control of it more. At least summer was almost over and the cooler fall breeze would take the heat's place. He was wondering if he should stop by the store to get something for his older brother when the sound of children laughing reached his ears.

He had forgotten there was a park on this road because he never needed to go to one. Playing around was something he never desired to do since he felt that it was a complete waste of time. However, he couldn't resist scanning the area a little to see what everyone was doing, and he spied a young boy that looked about his age hitting a ball agains the wall with a racquet.

He was a thin person - almost frail in appearance, Sanada observed with a hint of disapproval. He had long blue hair that was damp with sweat with a white headband keeping it out of his eyes. Compared to Sanada, who was one of the tallest students in his class as well as one of the most built, he was nothing but a branch next to a tree.

The boy hit a shot so powerful that Sanada could have sworn that the wall itself shook from the impact. Immediately, his attention was intently focused on watching this boy, who he had judged a few moments earlier as weak, hit the ball over and over with increasing intensity. There was something captivating in the fluidity of his movement, the velocity of his running, and the pure effortlessness that he emanated as he rallied one ball after the other. If he could have seen his eyes, he was sure that they were sharpened in a way that could have pierced deep into your skin with one glance.

Sanada shook himself out of his daze - only ten minutes had elapsed, but he didn't want to worry his family by being late. The boy had not noticed that he was watching since he was so focused on his practice, and Sanada breathed an inward sigh of relief from his spot on the sidewalk behind the fence. As he headed home, he couldn't stop thinking about what he had witnessed and came to the conclusion that he had to try tennis now, which he had originally thought was something lame compared to kendo.

This mysterious yet talented boy sparked an interest in him - showing him that this was what he had been looking for for a long time. He showed him that the sport needed discipline, technique, hard work, determination, and patience, which were things that Sanada embodied and always wanted to be keep improving in. Sanada was going to train extremely hard and become powerful enough to defeat this boy at his own sport.

The first time he tried, using a wall in the back of his own home, he failed miserably. He kept wanting to draw the racquet like his kendo sword, which resulted in him sending the ball off in strange directions or completely missing the ball altogether because he moved too fast. Then, when he was able to hit the ball, the strike was too powerful and he was sure that all of them would have been out if he was on a court. He needed refinement in his abilities and the only way he would get that would be by observing.

Two or three days a week, he would take his new way home so that he would pass by the park, and every time he went, the boy was always there in his solitary practice. The boy advanced at an alarming rate, which both inspired Sanada and angered Sanada. He admired talent in others, but there was something ridiculous about how good he was. Sanada demanded the highest standard from himself and he was not about to let someone who looked more fragile than him to be that better than him. After fifteen minutes or so, he would leave unnoticed to attempt to do what he needed to do next.

As he went through his own practice day after day, he saw that he was gradually grasping the concepts that he noticed the boy was working on. Things were starting to fall into place as he accomplished the basics, and once he was solid at those, a lot of other things became strong at a lightning pace. He went to bed every night, painfully exhausted from school, kendo, and tennis, but with a sense of satisfaction that he had never felt until he was that busy.

Today was the first day of his last year in elementary school. He couldn't wait to be in the middle school because he had researched that they had a tennis team and he wanted to become a regular on the team. For now, he had one more year left to endure, and he told himself that it was going to go by faster if he didn't think about it too much. All of his other years were easy since he was strong academically, and he had hardly any acquaintances, which made the time go by without any incidents.

Every year they changed classmates, but Sanada always managed to find a spot in the room with peace and quiet so that he could approach his studies with a calm mind. He was one of the first ones into his classroom and headed towards a seat by the window in the front of the room. Once he was settled, he watched the doorway to see who he was going to be joined by - some new faces, but a lot of old faces. He looked away for a second at the chalkboard and he heard a somewhat feminine voice speak to someone in greeting that he didn't recognize.

He looked in the direction through his peripheral vision and was immediately stunned. It was the boy from the park that was joining his class and he ended up turning his head completely in the direction to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. Sanada did not realize he went to the same school since he had never seen him the hallways before, but then again, Sanada tended to avoid all sorts of social activities. He watched as the boy sat down in a seat on the far side of the room about two rows behind him before turning back to the book that was laying on his desk. It was going to be an interesting school year now.

Seiichi Yukimura was this boy's name and he was extremely friendly to his classmates, agreeing to help them out on their homework or to eat lunch with them. His voice, other than being quite a bit feminine, had this sweet, melodious tone to it that made Sanada feel like he hid some kind of devilish personality underneath his kind demeanor. Not that he wanted to prove anything about Yukimura, but he knew he didn't have any form of evidence to prove this idea since Yukimura was nothing but an angel to his teachers and the students. It was also hard to wrap his mind around the fact that this fearsome and companionless tennis player was such a considerate and warm person that was friends with almost everyone.

He was everything that Sanada wanted to be in terms of tennis, but everything he lacked in terms of people skills. They shared the same values of respect and honesty, which Sanada appreciated as it helped him acknowledge him as a good person instead of a shallow goody-two-shoes. Part of Sanada wanted to find something wrong with him to make him seem less of a perfect being and therefore easier to surpass, but the other part of him admired this about him because it pushed him to work beyond his visible limits.

The only connection he had with Yukimura was that he knew how he played tennis from those times he watched him practice with the wall in the park. It had been about a month or so now since he had first laid eyes on him, but he did not feel an inch closer to his level after all of that time. He was infuriated with himself, but he didn't have a choice but to keep pushing himself. Defeat was not an option.

They had never spoken a word to each other during school since they did sit on opposite sides of the room. At lunch, Sanada ate by himself in the corner of the room while Yukimura ate with different people each day. He had never been paired with him in any of the group projects either. However, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't help but watch Yukimura from time to time, trying to figure out this mysterious enigma that contained so much talent and skill, yet was able to contain it fully during school. The thing that Sanada found the most puzzling of all was that he was absent of any form of arrogance, which was surprising since most people that were good at things tended to brag it off. He was almost too perfect to be true.

In truth, Sanada probably had too high of requirements for what he wanted in his friends. It was hard to find someone that came remotely close to having all of the qualities that he respected and he was used to being alone. Now that someone finally did appear, unexpectedly from the unknown boy from the park, he didn't know what to do about it.

Sanada strode briskly down the hall towards the art classroom towards the end of the lunch period. He had accidentally forgotten his school bag in there because he was preoccupied with how he did on an exam earlier in the morning. If he hurried, he would probably make it back in time to his current class before he was marked late. He opened the door rather forcefully and looked into the classroom where he saw a lone figure painting on a canvas by the window.

Of course it was Yukimura who was sitting there with a paintbrush in one hand and a thoughtful look on his face. Now he was mildly confused, but with a twinkle in his eyes as he turned to face Sanada, inquiring about what brought him there. Sanada politely said that he simply left his book bag in the classroom and promptly went to get it before any further questions were asked. As he left the room, he apologized for interrupting and Yukimura smiled saying that it was not an interruption if it wasn't unwanted.

As the week went on, he realized that Yukimura had a passion for art, and that he was really gifted at that as well. His works were usually on display somewhere, and as other students congratulated him, he humbly accepted their appreciation with a gentle smile. Yukimura most certainly had pride for himself, but it was never portrayed in an extreme and rude way. Sanada had a hard time fathoming how he could be passionate about two apparently different things - tennis and art. He was now under the impression that Yukimura existed to mess with his head, but he could not stop himself from wanting to know why he was the way he was.

If Sanada was art, he would be composed of straight black lines running in a parallel motion for organization. The lines would all be the same thickness and darkness because it is simple and uniform. The canvas would probably be a rough texture to reflect his brutally honest nature. An artwork like that would not reveal too much about himself, but what it does show is easily understood and not mistaken for anything else.

If Yukimura was art, he would be light pastel colors arranged in a flurry of magnificence. All of the different opacities used in the artwork would draw you in, trying to find the real meaning underneath the abstract. The canvas would be smooth like his gentle and friendly persona. An artwork like that would show that he was capable of adding beauty to his environment simply by existing and people would wonder what exactly was causing it to happen.

There was a reason why Sanada did not particularly excel in art. He couldn't even begin tell you what subtlety could have been.

At one point or another, it was bound to happen. His teacher paired him up with Yukimura for an English project. It was an assignment that had to be done completely out of class and so they had to decide where and when to meet. There was time given at the end of the hour to figure this out and Sanada sat through some awkward feelings of anticipation for the hour waiting for the moment to come.

He approached Yukimura's desk and held out his hand with a serious expression, introducing himself as Genichirou Sanada. Yukimura smiled and shook his hand, also introducing himself. Sanada was not quite sure what he thought the first conversation was going to go like, but it was normal like any other conversation he would have with a fellow classmate. The fact that Yukimura, who was extraordinary in Sanada's opinion, acted completely average confused Sanada. He really needed to stop making things up in his mind about one person that he really knew nothing about.

After Yukimura recalled that it was he who walked in on him in the art classroom to Sanada's slight embarrassment, they settled on going over to Yukimura's house since it was closer. Sanada didn't want to him to see all of the tennis equipment he had in his bedroom and he also wanted to know more about Yukimura without asking. Yukimura gave him directions since they were going to meet later in the evening and dismissed himself because he had to finish up a painting he had been working on.

Yukimura's bedroom was neat and organized with a appealing assortment of colors painted on the walls. There were tennis items in one corner of the room and his best artwork either on shelves or hanging on the wall. They ended up in conversation a little bit about school and people they both knew, but then proceeded directly to the homework. It was the best-case scenario for Sanada who felt his lack of social skills sit uneasily in his stomach. He even felt a bit of envy for Yukimura's natural sense of bonding with people, but there was no real reason for him to build that skill since he preferred to be independent most of the time.

Once they felt satisfied with their project, they ended up talking about Yukimura's passion for art since it was the only thing he knew about him. In the process, he found out about Yukimura's love for plants and flowers, and was taken outside for a small tour of the beautiful garden. Never in his wildest dreams would he had come to the conclusion that a tough and determined athlete liked the simpler things in life such as art and nature. It was almost like being able to combine fire with water to make something entirely new instead of extinguishing the flame.

The sunset was fast approaching and it would be time for Sanada to go soon. They headed back to the bedroom and he was about to start packing up to go before Yukimura stopped him. He insisted politely that Sanada tell him something about his own hobbies since he now knew about his. Judging from the enticing gaze and smile, he knew there was no way out. He revealed that he had been training in kendo for a very long time insecurely since he had never told anyone before. To his pleasant surprise, Yukimura listened attentively and was legitimately interested. Before he could stop himself, he told him that he was also into calligraphy.

Now Yukimura was smiling even brighter if that was possible. He said that Sanada didn't have to be ashamed of something like that, which confirmed that Yukimura knew that he thought it would be considered trivial to most others. Grabbing a piece of paper off the desk and a calligraphy pen, he placed them in Sanada's hands and requested that Sanada show him something. For such a kind person, he seemed to be able to demand everything that he wanted to.

He ended up writing his name since it was something first learned to do. He could tell that Yukimura was following his every movement with his eyes, but he didn't seem to mind (arguably, it could have made up for the times he had been watching him). Sanada finished quickly and Yukimura applauded softly. Now he wanted to see his own name drawn so Sanada obliged him. Then, out of nowhere, Yukimura had one last request. He wanted "friends" written out since he claimed her really liked the structure of the kanji. Giving into Yukimura's eccentricities, he drew out this last request and Yukimura thanked him warmly for opening up to him.

With a merry wave from the doorway and a polite wave back, Sanada left for his own home feeling a bit less stressed than he had been feeling before the project. Something about being able to share with Yukimura and knowing that his secrets were safe and not frowned upon made him feel content. He was one step closer to figuring him out, but that one step also lead to about a dozen different pathways that he could follow that may or may not lead to an answer. The fact didn't matter at that point because he wanted to feel this nice feeling of acceptance for as long as he could.

Sanada collapsed against the wall of his house, sweating profusely from three hours of tennis practice. At last he felt like he was a strong player with well-rounded skills and immense endurance. He also created some special moves and worked on them since he knew he needed something to stand apart from the rest of the players. They were not perfect yet, but they will be within a year or so, and he knew he would be a force to be reckoned with. He felt confident enough in his own abilities to be able to reveal to Yukimura his biggest secret and challenge him.

From the time they did their English project to now, they talked to each other every so often about school, their likes and dislikes, and their family. It was a nice change for Sanada, who was used to being reclusive, to be able to expand out of his comfort zone a bit without being on edge. Yukimura was intelligent in things that Sanada didn't care too much for and Sanada excelled in things that Yukimura had trouble understanding. They were acquaintances that liked each other's company when they were together, but Sanada wasn't exactly sure if they were friends.

Their relationship status didn't really matter in this instance. This challenge was between rivals (although Yukimura wouldn't know he had been his rival for quite some time) and Sanada wanted to see how he measured up against someone he had aspired arduously to emulate. He weighed the best option for asking him to play him in tennis - would it be better to ask him at school or at the park? School might draw unwanted attention to them, but the park might cause some suspicion to arise of how Sanada knew he was there.

He wiped the sweat off of his forehead in frustrated thought. Maybe if he waited one more day, the correct solution would come to him. Interacting with people was complicated so Sanada avoided that with all costs. However, since meeting Yukimura, he realized that he wasn't complete by himself and was missing certain feelings that could only be felt when around other people. Yukimura was frighteningly intuitive - almost as if he knew exactly what Sanada needed.

Sanada somehow got roped into staying after school by his teacher to help some students out with their homework that he had done really well in. He couldn't decline since it was a compliment for him so he viewed it as another experience in social interaction. He amazed himself as he found that he was good at tutoring because they respected him and he didn't have trouble explaining anything. He knew that he was still awful with doing anything that was even remotely fun and had a harder time expressing emotions, but those issues were for another time.

He grabbed his possessions and left school in a hurry once they were done. Today was one of the days he went to the park and he hated breaking traditions. He knew he was running late, but there was nothing he could do about it but hope that Yukimura was still there, practicing hard as always.

It was a chilly atmosphere - autumn had settled in fairly quickly this year meaning that the days for tennis practice were getting shorter and soon they would be gone. Sanada didn't want to imagine what he would be doing instead of practicing tennis or watching Yukimura practice tennis since it had been an integral part of his lift for the last few months. He needed to challenge him soon unless he wanted to wait until the spring, which he firmly decided was not an option.

When he arrived, slightly out of breath, he didn't see Yukimura anywhere. Disappointed, he pushed against the fence and thought about what to do. Ultimately, he decided to venture into the park, which was devoid of people because of the cold temperature and bleak skies. He stood in front of the wall that he was accustomed to watching Yukimura stand in front of and closed his eyes, imagining that he was able to move as quick as lightning while leaving no presence like a ninja. Imagining that he could strike the ball with the strength of a lion and the finesse of an artist.

His eyes flashed open as he heard some faint sounds coming from the other side of the wall. He quietly and hesitantly walked around and saw that it was Yukimura sitting on the ground with his arms wrapped around his knees. He was crying slightly, racquet laying beside him on the ground and torn pieces of paper discarded around the area. It looked as though all the light that he always seem to radiate was gone, leaving behind a miserable and frail human being that didn't know what to do.

"Oh, it's you Sanada," Yukimura said as he looked up at him. "I didn't think a person like you visited the park."

"It's my first time in the park," Sanada replied softly. "Something unexplainable told me I should go in it today."

"It's a pity that you found me like this, Sanada. I'm at such a low point right now compared to what you are accustomed to seeing."

"How long have you been here?"

"Since after school."

"Without a jacket?" Sanada noted, looking at Yukimura who was only wearing a short-sleeved shirt. "You'll catch a cold."

"Doesn't matter too much right now…" Yukimura said sadly as he sniffed back some tears.

Situations like this were nowhere near Sanada's area of expertise. He hadn't had any experience with comforting people and supporting them and didn't want to feel like an idiot for trying. However, he knew he couldn't abandon Yukimura in this state and so he gathered up his pride to have the courage to try something.

Pulling off his jacket, he draped it around Yukimura's smaller shoulders and pulled it close together. He then sat down next to him facing forward to look out at the tennis courts.

"The jacket-on-the-shoulders look works uniquely well with you even though my jacket is too big for you," Sanada stated honestly.


"And now you're warm too. Or at least, you will be. Don't worry about me - I have a sweater on."

"… Thank you," Yukimura said with a mainly subdued tone that contained a trace of appreciation. "This is very nice of you."

"Do you want to tell me what happened here?" Sanada inquired, but it probably sounded like a demand. This was not at all like the Yukimura he knew, admired, envied, and disliked at times, and it seriously unnerved him to see him in such a hopeless state.

"I didn't know that this was going to happen…" he started. "Some boys had seen me practicing tennis and asked me to play them in a game."

"I don't see why there's any problem in that," Sanada replied, a part of him angered that he wasn't the first to challenge him to a game.

"They were completely obliterated," Yukimura continued. "I had never actually played a real game and they figured that out somehow and they were livid."

A couple of tears slid down Yukimura's cheek and he raised a trembling hand to wipe them away.

"They tore through my belongings and ripped apart everything to spite… including some things that I had been painstakingly working on."

The paper scraps surrounding them were now miserably explained for as a sudden gust of air came by and caused them to rise up in the air in a chaotic way.

"I'm sorry Yukimura," Sanada said wholeheartedly. "Really. But I'm glad that you are unhurt because you are irreplaceable. You can always piece together these things even though you will have to spend time doing so."

"That's the most… touching thing I've ever heard."

Sanada felt the color rise into his face. It was completely unintentional and he felt like a moron for saying something as tacky as that.

"Well, I meant…uh…"

"Don't try it, Sanada," Yukimura stated, a bit of an amused timbre now evident in his solemn voice. "You know perfectly well what you meant and I appreciate it."

Sanada fell silent, looking up at the sky to clear his thoughts. Yukimura also sat there in silence as he tried to regain his composure.

"You know, before you came, I was seriously considering quitting tennis…"

"What?!" Sanada said in alarm. "But you can't! It's something you really love doing, right? Since you're here and all upset…"

"I was wondering what the use in trying when people punish you for being exceedingly good at something."

"They don't count Yukimura," Sanada declared vehemently. "They're jealous and didn't know how to act mature about it. You shouldn't give up on your passion that easily."

"Sanada…" Yukimura said, now a bit surprise at his outburst of emotion. "I really didn't think you would get worked up so easily over someone else. Not that I think you don't care because you are very respectful, but I didn't think you knew what to do in this kind of instance."

"I really don't, but I'm trying," Sanada confirmed lamely. "Just… please don't give up on it."

"Are you seriously pleading with me?"

"…I guess I am unfortunately. I've sunk down to some strange level of not acting like my normal self."

"You didn't need to. Just you being here reminded me that there are truly some remarkably good people in the world that will support my endeavors and things I enjoy." He finally smiled and the brilliance of it cut through Sanada's mental dilemma like a sharp dagger. He felt the corner of his mouth tug upwards involuntarily into a small smile in response. He hoped he didn't look at awkward as the motion felt.

"Will you walk me home, Sanada?" Yukimura asked politely.

"Of course," Sanada agreed, reaching out for Yukimura's racquet and handing it to him. Yukimura took it and held it up towards the sky.

"I won't ever think about giving this up ever again." Yukimura said defiantly. He stood up and gathered up the rest of his things with Sanada's help and they started walking towards Yukimura's home together. Yukimura still wore Sanada's jacket on his shoulders with his arms crossed underneath as Sanada carried his belongings like a loyal servant. Sanada really thought that the look fit him perfectly - something unique that enhanced his air of superiority and power as it fluttered in the wind without falling off.

There was a question lingering on Sanada's mind for a while and he figured it was a better time than any to ask. Getting his attention by clearing his throat, he asked him when and why he started playing tennis as they walked and Yukimura's reply was in the middle of the summer because it simply seemed like a fun idea.

Sanada felt his blood boil in response. If he calculated it right, that means that Yukimura had only been playing for a few weeks before Sanada saw him for the first time. He had been under the impression that Yukimura had a year's worth of experience on him considering his skill level, but now that he knew the truth, his newfound confidence fell to the ground and shattered. Some things were certainly left better unsaid.

"Well, thank you for walking me back home," Yukimura said from the doorway of his house.

"You're welcome - it wasn't a big deal."

Yukimura smiled again and took his jacket off of his shoulders, draping it around Sanada's shoulders in the same way.

"Hmm… the look doesn't work for you though," Yukimura pointed out as he looked at him up and down.

"Of course it doesn't. I look ridiculous," Sanada scowled.

"Always brutally honest, aren't you?" Yukimura noted dryly as he watched Sanada put it back on in the proper way. "Maybe this will look better?" Out of nowhere, he pulled out a black baseball cap and put it over his neat black hair. "Oh, it fits perfectly!"

"Umm… why do you have this?" Sanada asked skeptically since he couldn't see what he looked like wearing it.

"I wanted to try the look, but I looked dreadful in it. So I want you to have it as my thanks for everything so far."

Sanada took off the cap and looked down at it appreciatively.

"Thanks. I'll wear it since I trust your opinion."

Yukimura beamed in response.

"So, is there anything you have on your mind?"

"Is this supposed to be a trade?"

"No, I'm just curious."

"There isn't really," Sanada lied. The only thing left on his mind was exactly how to challenge Yukimura to a match considering what had just happened and the whole anticipated awkwardness that might occur once he did ask.

"Well, just so you know, I would love to play tennis with you sometime," Yukimura said cheerfully.

Sanada was caught speechless. He just stared blankly at Yukimura who was still smiling in a bright way.

"You're wondering how I know…" Yukimura confirmed, reading Sanada's expression of disbelief and astonishment. "You really didn't think I didn't notice you watching from your spot behind the fence for the ten to fifteen minutes a day that you stopped by?"

"You never looked behind you!"

"There are other people in the park that know both me and you."

Of course, Sanada had not even thought about anyone else in the park. The explanation was too simple and Sanada vowed to become more aware of his actions.

"So why didn't you say anything?" Sanada asked in annoyance.

"I didn't want to take away your inspiration by making you feel self-conscious," Yukimura said matter-of-factly. "And besides, I felt happy that someone aspired to be like me so I was able to keep pushing myself to be better each time."

"You were phenomenally better each time…I was jealous."

"But even though you were discouraged, you never gave up. That's what I admire about you, Sanada."

Yukimura last comment had Sanada taken aback. He had never been truly complimented in his life by one of his peers, and not only that, but he was acknowledged for something that he thought was part of his prized secret.

"I think, if it was anyone else that showed up today, I would have probably given up tennis," Yukimura said in reflection, causing Sanada to turn a brighter shade of red.

"Those boys… they challenged you the other day," Sanada guessed. "When I wasn't around, am I correct?"

"Yes, and since I had never played a real match and wasn't quite sure of how it was going to turn out, I set you up to be stuck at school for a while."

Yukimura was officially a manipulative demon. Sanada was no longer surprised at how much of the world he had on strings to play with.

"You didn't want me to see you potentially fail," Sanada concluded. "Because then I might think you're weak and lose part of my drive to become better."

"I couldn't admire something about you if I knew I caused you to lose it."

"I can't believe you've had me set up from day one," Sanada said gruffly as Yukimura laughed softly.

"So, Sanada, will you play with me sometime soon?"

For the second time in the day, Sanada smiled unintentionally, but quickly reverted back to his stoic expression.

"Of course. I've been training hard to compete against you," Sanada answered back confidently.

"I know you have," Yukimura said endearingly. "Let's see… the next time you'll come to visit me at the park will be two days from now so you can bring your racquet then. It will be fun!"

"… Fun?"

"Well, aside from you experiencing the bitter taste of defeat that will propel you to even work harder, you will find that you can enjoy yourself in the company of others. You'll understand when it happens."

"I won't go down that easily. Absolute defeat is not an option!"

Yukimura chuckled softly as Sanada was becoming fired up.

"Oh, one last request from me before you go."

"What is it?" Sanada inquired as Yukimura disappeared from the doorway and came back carrying paper and a calligraphy pen.

"Can you write out something for me?"

"Can't you do it yourself?"

"I like your hidden talent. Your writing really does look nice."

"Okay, what?"

"I've always been a fan of the kanji for the word 'forever'," Yukimura admitted. "It has such an interesting appeal… can't place my finger on it."

Sanada took the pen from him and wrote on the paper that rested flat in Yukimura's hands. After a grateful smile that extended all the way into his sapphire blue eyes, Sanada left for his own home, lost in thought. At the forefront of his mind were Yukimura's strange eccentricities that appeared from time to time since it seemed like there was no logic to it. He decided to dismiss the thought quickly since he knew it would be a headache to try to figure it out.

Another thought encompassed the whole situation and what it revealed about Yukimura. Yukimura was an intoxicating danger - his personality lured you in, but you didn't know you were in a trap until he told you. He also had everything around him in his control and could manipulate to get what he wanted without attracting attention. If honey was poison, then Yukimura was unknowingly lethal even in small doses if you decided to make him angry.

Yes, Yukimura was both an angel and a devil at the same time and Sanada could not resist being drawn towards both sides of him. He wanted to understand his actions and how he was capable of doing the impressive things that he could. Sanada shivered slightly as he thought about their upcoming tennis match. Something told him that Yukimura would be an exceedingly sly and utterly vicious player, but Sanada vowed that he would fight all the way to the end. Otherwise he wouldn't be able to live with himself.

He sighed. Yukimura brought out emotions within him that he didn't know he had. He was easily pushed from being completely on edge to feeling wonderfully content - some feelings he privately welcomed and others he wished he could exert more control over. He would learn to deal with it though since Yukimura considered him as an associate and a rival now, and he knew that Yukimura would not restrain himself from playing cunning mind games with Sanada just to see where his breaking point was. Despite it all, he was truly happy to have someone that he could share his thoughts with and know that the other person felt exactly the same way.

Sanada stopped in his tracks as the dawn of realization hit him. They were not mere associates - they were now friends. He had meandered unknowingly into a trap again as he remembered the calligraphy that he had written for Yukimura and put them together. Sanada Yukimura Friends Forever. It didn't occur to him earlier since the requests were seemingly random and spaced apart, but it was all a part of his devious plan. Sanada looked down at the black baseball cap he held in his hands in admiration of this cunning boy who had known that that was what he had desired too.

"There will be a part of you that is always with me," Sanada whispered softly to himself.

Over the years, the entire Rikkai team minus Yanagi could never figure out why Yukimura always wore his jersey jacket on his shoulders. More importantly, they could never figure out how he was able to keep it on his shoulders while doing training exercises or playing a match. It was an impossible feat and they inquired about it, to which Yukimura simply responded that curiosity killed the cat, but he would do something more painful to death. They backed off of him out of overwhelming terror, which lead them to find something else to wonder about: Sanada's black cap.

They noticed that it never faded from its obsidian black hue despite the countless of hours it had spent in the sun, which was another impossible occurrence that needed explanation. They also knew that he took meticulous care of his beloved hat and didn't allow anyone else to touch it. When they asked what the hat meant to him, he dismissed them with a yell of "Tarundoru" and if they wouldn't leave him alone, then he made sure they would run punishment laps even during the years he wasn't vice captain.

"Why do you still wear your jacket like that?" Sanada asked gruffly one time in the locker room while he was putting away his tennis racquet. "It attracts a lot of unwanted questions and distracts people as you walk by."

"Why do you still wear that black cap?" Yukimura responded coolly, leaning against his locker with his arms crossed. "Even though it makes you look more angry and older than you really are."

There was a silent pause between both of them and they both smiled because they alone knew the real reason. Words could never explain a deep and perfect connection that was forever everlasting.


( 2 Admirers — Katsu no wa Hyotei )
Jan. 9th, 2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
It will sound weird, I know, but I really really want to hug those paragraphs.

"If Sanada was art, he would be composed of straight black lines running in a parallel motion for organization. The lines would all be the same thickness and darkness because it is simple and uniform. The canvas would probably be a rough texture to reflect his brutally honest nature. An artwork like that would not reveal too much about himself, but what it does show is easily understood and not mistaken for anything else.

If Yukimura was art, he would be light pastel colors arranged in a flurry of magnificence. All of the different opacities used in the artwork would draw you in, trying to find the real meaning underneath the abstract. The canvas would be smooth like his gentle and friendly persona. An artwork like that would show that he was capable of adding beauty to his environment simply by existing and people would wonder what exactly was causing it to happen."

These are perfect. I never could have better words to describe those two ♥

And oh!the plot about the jacket on his shoulders and the cap <33
Jan. 9th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Hug those paragraphs away! :D Since this was one of my earliest stories, paragraphs like those two really made the difference to me because it showed that I could be a good writer. And that I like symbolism in the form of art and music and movement and dreams.

♥ This is still my favorite oneshot. It's very heartwarming and I like to think that the jacket on the shoulders and cap mean something deep.
( 2 Admirers — Katsu no wa Hyotei )

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