It's probably 2093891023% OOC as well but eh.
“I’m here.” Fuji’s voice was soft, almost too soft but he knew the other had heard him. He sat down and leaned his back against Kikumaru’s.
The other was sitting with his legs drawn up, his arms around them and his head resting on his knees. Fuji noted that at least there did not seem to be any tears but that did not mean that all is well. No, everything was far from being ‘fine’. He could tell because he felt the same way. Even now, even after time had passed but the wounds were too deep to have healed.
“I’m glad I still have you.” Kikumaru finally spoke up. His voice was quiet and also a few notches lower than it usually was. There was no cheer in his voice. It’s a voice reserved for very rare occasions only when Kikumaru showed a side to himself that only few people know of.
Fuji was one of those few. In Seigaku, he was one out of only two people who know.
“It’s not easy when they go to a place that seems beyond your reach. But it opens up doors for you, too. Although it is your choice whether to step through them or not. And which path you will choose from there.” Fuji had decided for himself that he would not try to ‘catch up’ with Tezuka anymore. It was something that was impossible. But instead he would try to ‘walk alongside him’. Fuji was Fuji after all, he was not Tezuka. That realization had been rather liberating.
He knew he could not give the same advice to Kikumaru, though. The other’s situation was different and maybe a lot more complicated than Fuji’s own.
While Fuji was free of pressure now, Kikumaru was being weighed down by it. As one half of a whole, he would have to make himself fit once more and he was struggling and doubting himself, doubting whether or not he would ever be able to fit together with the other half again.
So far the two had always found together again somehow but for some reason it seemed that things would be different this time. Fuji could tell. Kikumaru’s behaviour was different from the other times. Maybe the two had reached a point where they had been torn apart and broken so much that they had now become unable to be fixed again.
Kikumaru was bracing himself for the moment that they would be reunited and they would realize that they no longer fit together. The thought made Fuji turn around and wrap his arms around the other. Kikumaru did not flinch but lean into the embrace immediately.
“He’s going to hurt worse than me. He hasn’t realized it yet. He never really realized it.”
This was the Kikumaru Eiji that nobody but Fuji knew. This was a side reserved only for him, one that was a secret to anyone else. Even Kikumaru’s ‘other half’.
Ever since meeting his doubles partner, Kikumaru had developed a hidden inferiority complex. It was not obvious to anyone else but Fuji had been able to tell. After all he had a bit of experience when it came to it. He had been too blind with Yuta but he had seen the signs with Kikumaru. It had not been because Kikumaru had been proud and arrogant before meeting Oishi. Of course he had possessed the confidence of a young talented boy but nothing out of the ordinary (or say, Atobe Keigo level). Meeting Oishi and playing with the other had made Kikumaru realize things. Had made him realize a lot of things before anyone else.
He had talked to Fuji about it before. Fuji remembered the conversation because it had been so strange at that point. It had merely been a week or two after Oishi and Kikumaru had first started to play together - in their first year at Seigaku.
“I think he will be a good vice captain.”
“Who?” Fuji had asked, confused.
“Oishi. I’m sure that once we hit our third year, he will be the vice captain of Seigaku. We all know that Tezuka will be the captain but Oishi will be next to him.” Kikumaru had sounded very confident about his words. Fuji had not been able to understand that confidence then.
“Why do you think so?” Oishi was by far not the best player among them. His caring personality was a plus, though and Fuji had admitted that it would make for a good vice captain but it was nothing that qualified for a strong enough argument.
Kikumaru had looked up at the sky then. “He’s really strong, Fuji. He doesn’t know yet but he is. He has a different strength than Tezuka, though. A different strength than you. And maybe that’s what makes him dangerous? You two, you know you’re strong. He doesn’t. He hasn’t realized it yet and I don’t think he ever will. But he’s, he’s really strong.” He smiled. “For now, I’ll cling to that strength and let it pull me along but I know there will come a day when I will no longer be able to hold onto it. I will eventually have to let go of it.”
It seemed like that time was now. Kikumaru was letting go.
Until now the other had been able to hold on, had been able to push himself to new levels for the sake of their team, of their combination but now Kikumaru had reached his limit. It was the only explanation Fuji could come up with. After all, there was nobody who knew Kikumaru’s limits better than Kikumaru himself. It was a dead end now.
Kikumaru reached up and held onto Fuji’s arms. “You hurt, too, right? When you let go.”
“Yeah.” Fuji replied softly. It was a rhetorical question - because Kikumaru had been there with and for him when it had happened - but he felt the need to say something. “It’ll pass. Eventually. Maybe.” He added. It was the truth. Or rather, it was his hope. It still hurt sometimes, even now.
“He’ll hurt, too and maybe he won’t understand but that’s okay. He’ll move on. We have no more obligations after all. We’re going to retire from the club soon anyway.” Kikumaru sighed. “So it’ll be okay.” The other sounded surprisingly resolved and oddly at peace. Sometimes Fuji could still be surprised by the other’s actions, despite knowing Kikumaru so well.
“It sounds like you already did?”
“You chose your path, too, didn’t you Fuji? Right after.”
“I guess I did.”
“Because deep down you already knew.”
Thinking about it, it made sense. Kikumaru had already known from day one. He had had a long time to prepare for it. That was why he was so calm.
“I’m glad you and me work differently.” Kikumaru looked up then, his eyes meeting Fuji’s own. “It means that even after all of this, we’ll still have each other. Thanks for that.”
“I could say the same to you, Eiji.”
They stayed in their positions for another moment but then Kikumaru wiggled out of Fuji’s hold and got up onto his feet. Smiling, he offered Fuji a hand to help him up again.
“Alright. That’s enough of this for now.” Kikumaru’s voice had changed back to his usual one and the usual cheerfulness was back as well. It was as if the past few moments had never really happened but had merely been a figment of Fuji’s imagination. “Let’s go to Taka’s. I feel like having sushi. How about you?”
“Wasabi sushi does sound good right now,” Fuji accepted Kikumaru’s hand and let the other help him up again. “Let’s go.”
Both of them in their own way, would move on from here. Life had a habit of forcing you to move forward and not back after all. Sometimes walking that path was hard but ultimately it would be for the better and it would lead you to a new place.
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