Learning to Fall. 
by Suteishichic

Chapter Thirty Four

Warnings: Yaoi, Love, Angst, Fluff, and Lots of Sex. Some kink. You've been warned ;)

Disclaimer: Nope not mine. Still in my dreams. ;)

"Fuji-senpai?" Oishi asked getting the tensai's attention, "Do you have plans later?"

"Ne. Not really. What did you have in mind, Oishi?"

"I would really like Eiji to stay with you today, " Oishi saw the tensai start to protest, "for both of your sakes. He walked past Eiji and knows he saw him. I don't think any of us should be alone and allow ourselves to be targets. At least until rankings are over." Oishi waited for Fuji to protest but the tensai seemed to know he has more to say and was waiting him out. "I agreed a few days ago to play Tezuka this evening, he seemed to want to talk to me about something, I'm not sure what."

Eiji picked up the conversation, "Hoi Fuji, want to hang out with me until Oishi is done? Then he and I are going to his parents if they are out of town and my house if not."

Fuji looked confused for a minute wondering why the two locations, and then put it together. "Ah."

Oishi blushed harder. "We're not trying to ditch you or anything Fuji..." Oishi had started blushing the whole time.

Fuji laughed, "Oishi, its fine, I understand. That works out well for me. My sister is supposed to be home late and we were going to watch a movie together when she gets back. So you'll come by here to get Eiji when your done playing?"

"See, Oishi?" Eiji said hugging both of them making Fuji wince, "I told you it would be all right! He was worried." Eiji said conspiratorially looking at Fuji.

"Eiji! You're hurting Fuji!"

"Nya Oishi!" But Eiji did let go and then looked at Fuji, "Fujiko, you can play today right?"

"As long as you don't hug me anymore I should be able to." Eiji went to reach for Fuji's neck again checking and Fuji moved away, "Or! Or do any of that, for a little while, all right?"

"Nya. Both of you are big babies."

"Ne, Eiji, pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." Fuji and Oishi smiled at each other, knowing the quote.

Fuji then looked away smiling, as if contemplating it.

Eiji was pouting and Oishi kissed him as Fuji stood and started clearing things away. Oishi got up to help and do most of it for his friend. Eiji helped too making the two of them laugh as he told a story from school.

Then they got their things, grabbed the lunches Eiji had somehow made for them while making breakfast, Oishi and Eiji had one last kiss, and they all headed out the door into the early morning, laughing.

The three changed, with Fuji wisely staying between them in the locker room, plus they covered Fuji so no one saw the tensai was hurt. Then the three went to warm up together. They were early but later than Eiji liked to get there and he was restless to move. Because tennis was canceled the day before more people seemed to show up early as well. Several asked the tensai how he was but he said with his smile, "Ne, I'm fine, it was nothing."

Kawamura joined them and they stretched out, Fuji grabbing Oishi before Eiji could. As if worried Eiji might do another "adjustment" on him when the tensai wasn't looking.

"Ne, Oishi-senpai, thanks."

"You are moving better now though?" Oishi had noticed that the tensai seemed less stiff as the morning wore on. He, himself, was sore from whatever Eiji did but felt a greater range of motion. He looked forward to playing.

"Mn. Actually, I am." Fuji smiled a little wider.

They warmed up hitting as doubles on an open court in the pairs they partnered off with to stretch. Oishi was fine with it but Kawamura asked Fuji to switch with Eiji saying he had been doing a lot of practicing with Fuji. Eiji was fine with it to Oishi's surprise. Eiji also started signaling which way he was going to go to Oishi just after the ball was hit. It was an odd way of gesturing as they had never worked out any real signals. Oishi understood just knowing him.

Oishi had planned on leaving little for Fuji wanting him to rest but Fuji dominated the other side allowing Kawamura only to back him up. Kawamura hit hard and was a determined player. Oishi felt a little bit more flexible and powerful after whatever it was Eiji did to him.

Eiji went to whisper a bit of strategy and Oishi told him and thanked him. Eiji smiled.

Then Eiji landed hard on his sore left side again making Oishi wince. Eiji just rolled his eyes and did it again to stop Oishi worrying. He came off the ground in a handstand and flipped himself over to prove his point. He finished with a grin and a wink making Oishi laugh.

The four of them forgot about everything, the people watching, the senpais, everything and just played hard. They had fun. And Oishi knew he and Eiji won.

Fuji talked quietly to Kawamura. Kawamura asked Oishi to play for a while and Fuji and Eiji went in to shower. Oishi gladly agreed and tried to give them enough time praying nothing happened while he was out here. Even Kawamura came to the net and said, "Oishi-senpai, please don't worry, they'll be fine."

Oishi apologized and tried to go back to playing but his head wasn't into it. Soon after they went into the locker room and everything was fine. Oishi was amazed. He went and showered, cold after thinking about possibly catching Eiji in the showers, and then about how hot the water was that morning and what they did that morning. Ice cold.

Kawamura talked about this and that, things he had done before tennis, his family. It was nice. It was normal.

Eiji and Fuji waited while they got dressed. Oishi enjoyed seeing, catching actually, that Eiji had been blushing after looking at Oishi. Oishi had turned his back, he normally did when he dressed around others, and there was no way he could have let Eiji watch him and known about it. But it gave him a little thrill that Eiji had been watching and had blushed at his thoughts. Oishi figured he would have to ask him what he was thinking later. They went to their classes and talked about meeting up for lunch on the roof.

Oishi had a little time before class so he texted Eiji unable to wait. You blushed?

About a minute later Eiji texted back, Want you.

Oishi sent him, Good. Want you too.

Eiji sent, Love you.

Oishi sent, Love you too.

Eiji sent, See you later...

Oishi didn't answer him figuring he had to go.

Tezuka sat down. His seat was near Oishi's. He looked tired. Oishi wondered when he had left Fuji's but didn't dare ask him.

"Seven?" Tezuka asked him.

Oishi blinked in response, thinking Tezuka read his mind and was talking about what time he left. But no, Oishi realized, he was talking about tonight. "S...sounds good." Oishi said in reply. Tezuka looked like he might say something else but then he only nodded and turned to his notes. Oishi wanted to ask him if he had the notes Oishi missed just in case that girl's was incomplete but he figured he could ask him later.

Oishi tried to turn his thoughts back to school and off a certain pout, a certain blush, and certainly off later.

Fuji, Eiji, and Oishi had lunch on the roof. Kawamura came along too and they all shared what they had. Kawamura could not believe Eiji had made everything. Oishi had a hard time believing it sometimes too. Kawamura talked about food a lot with Eiji and how he wanted to be a sushi chef someday.

The more Oishi talked to Kawamura, the more he liked him. He was a great guy, strong on the outside and so shy on the inside. Oishi knew he was loyal to a fault much like he was, a good, hardworking student, and he really seemed to care about his friends. Kawamura had taken karate for several years before and during his starting tennis. Oishi found out more about Eiji actually as Eiji told Kawamura about the many, many, many gymnastics and tumbling his mother had enrolled him in for years as a child. Oishi could easily see Eiji's mom wanting to tire an inexhaustible Eiji out with class after class after class to keep the rambunctious kid busy. Everyone else apparently could too as they all laughed about it.

Then Fuji said when he was a kid, he competed seriously in chess matches. He told of winning a grand title and then never playing again because the kid he beat, the former champion, was so crushed. He started with tennis because as much as tennis is a mental game, its physical also.

Oishi felt he had nothing to contribute to the conversation so he stayed quiet. Kawamura noticed after a time of everyone swapping stories. Eiji reminded Oishi about the rope swing at his grandparents. The kids would swing out and fall into the river all summer long. That and catch bees. They all listened as Oishi remembered the neighborhood kids all gathering any and all pots they could find. They would head out into this field where all these wildflowers grew. They would trap the bees under the pots. Fuji asked why, what would the kids do after they used up all the pots. Oishi laughed realizing how silly it was but it was serious back then. "We would take the pots off and then run as fast as we could trying not to get stung." Everyone laughed picturing a little serious Oishi running for his life.

"Ne, Oishi," Fuji asked unable to resist, "Didn't you get stung?"

"Oh." Oishi said making a face, "All the time. But the next day everyone was back out there doing it again." Everyone laughed. Oishi smiled at Eiji to thank him for reminding him. Eiji smiled back very happy with Oishi's stories and him.

Towards the end of lunch, the senpai who had hurt Fuji the day before found them. He was with a few of his friends including the other senior senpai Fuji would be playing. He approached alone and asked Fuji if he could talk to him, just talk. Oishi was going to object but seemingly shy Kawamura was already on his feet to protect the tensai before Oishi even finished his thought. Oishi was very glad he was on their side.

It was Fuji who put a stop to the near fight. "Ne, Taka-san, I'll hear him speak. He and I will be right there where you can watch us. All right?" Kawamura did not like it but he finally agreed to Fuji's persuasive logic. The three friends stood watching as Fuji and the senpai walked a little ways away.

"Nya Oishi," Eiji whispered to him, "I don't like this."

"Me either Eiji, me either. But we're all right here, nothing is going to happen, okay?" They spoke without taking their eyes off Fuji watching the tensai's body language and the senpai's the entire time. They had no clue what was going on nor could they discern one from either guy's posture or mannerisms. Fuji at first kept his head down, listening, and nodded a few times, then later occasionally looked the senpai in the eye, and then looked almost past him. The senpai knew he was being watched by Fuji's friends and his own and he stood still as a stone doing most of the talking it seemed.

Then he moved his arm and Oishi had to put his hand on Kawamura to hold him from springing into action. The senpai only held out his hand for Fuji to shake. Fuji paused, seemed to hesitate, and then shook his hand for a moment. The three stood with mouths open as the senpai walked up to them. "I am extremely sorry Oishi-senpai for any injury or harm I may have caused you and Fuji-senpai. Fuji-senpai and I spoke and I will play you fairly today. Fuji-senpai told me the truth of what is going on and I am truly sorry. I hope you can please, please forgive me Oishi-senpai." Then he held out his hand to Oishi.

Oishi shook it, shocked. The senpai bowed and then left.

Oishi looked at Fuji still standing away from them. He went to talk to his friend to find out what this newest twist was about. Oishi heard Eiji start to call him and Kawamura stay his call. Probably reminding him that Oishi would tell Eiji anything later. Oishi wasn't sure but he had to make sure Fuji was all right.


"Fuji-senpai."Oishi waited. It was at least a minute before the tensai spoke.

"I told him the truth, Oishi. That you and I are just friends. That there is someone else I am interested in and have feelings for. That I am not interested in the senpai. He apologized and said he would play fair today. Its over."

"Why did he do this, all of a sudden?" Oishi was confused.

"Because, Oishi-kun, he isn't a monster." Fuji would not look at Oishi.

And right then Oishi knew what Fuji was really saying. What he was doing. Oishi knew because he had done the same thing to himself for the last two years. "And you think you are? You think you caused this? You think this is your fault." Oishi knew what Fuji was saying but still was stunned.

"Ne, Oishi, you have no idea what I..." Fuji's soft voice was barely a strained whisper.

Oishi stopped the tensai right there, "Fuji, I don't know and I don't need to know what you did or what you think you did, but no one, no one has the right to lay his hands on you or hurt you. No one has the right to touch you without your permission. There is no excuse for acting that way. You did not cause this to happen Fuji. Its not your fault."

"No, Oishi, you don't know..." the tensai's voice dropped even more and Oishi could only make out a few words. Words like, drove him to it, inflamed, teased, and Oishi decided it was time the tensai stopped blaming himself. Just like Oishi had.

"Fuji, there is no excuse for someone hurting you. It is not your fault. Look, you've seen, Eiji and I have a terrible time right now keeping our hands off each other. We can't even shower or undress anywhere near each other,"

Oishi was beet red but he continued knowing he was right, "but that doesn't mean that we will hurt each other, or be violent, or that we don't control ourselves. Do you think Eiji doesn't tease me terribly? Or take things too far because he isn't sure of what the limits are? Or that I don't do the same back to him? Fuji, you did nothing wrong. Whatever you think you did, whatever path lead him to do this, its not your fault."

Oishi paused thinking, "Fuji, you didn't want him to hurt you or lay his hands on you did you?"

Fuji shook his head no slowly and said, "Ne, no of course not. I never thought he would take anything seriously or that far or I never would have..." Fuji stopped his voice tight again.

"Don't you see Fuji, you're not at fault? He took it too far. You can't blame yourself for how other people respond. You just, can't. Fuji-senpai, something like that...only...well...in a way, worse, happened to me a while ago. I never told anyone for a long time. I blamed myself for letting things get too far, for not being more in control, and...well...for the entire thing. I blamed myself instead of the person who...hurt me. It kept me from getting close to people. It scarred me, inside. It would have continued to if someone else did not help show me that what happened was not my fault. I did nothing wrong. Nothing I said or did before justified what happened. Nothing I did gave that person the right to hurt me. To not stop after I said no. It was not my fault just as this is not your fault."

Fuji looked very surprised at Oishi. Finally the tensai said, "I'm sorry Oishi. I had no idea anything like that happened to you." Then the tensai thought a little more. "Ne, Oishi, who? Who helped you?"

Oishi smiled thinking about who helped him, who helped him just by loving him, "Eiji."

Fuji looked over at Eiji and looked confused. The tensai looked at Oishi and his smile, for a long time as if processing the information, then mirrored his smile. "Thank you, Oishi-senpai."

"Anytime. Now, shall we join the others, even Kawamura probably won't be able to hold Eiji back much longer." Oishi smiled and the tensai laughed, just a little. "Please, Fuji-senpai, think about what I said. Its not good to walk around blaming and hurting yourself because someone hurt you. And if you ever want to talk more, please let me know."

"Thank you again, Oishi-senpai. And I appreciate the trust you've shown in me."

Oishi appreciated the tensai's discretion more than he could say so he said instead only, "You're welcome, anytime."

Oishi turned to Eiji because they had walked back over. "He said he was sorry to both me and Fuji. He said he would play fair today."

"Nya! That's it?" Eiji looked to a once again smiling Fuji for answers and found none.

"But, that's, that's good, right?" Kawamura said confused.

"Its a start." Fuji said leading a confused Kawamura inside, everyone starting on their way back to class.

"Hoi. You're really going to tell me all the rest later, right?" Eiji whispered to Oishi.

"As you wish..." Oishi whispered back making Eiji smile and laugh in delight just because he could. Oishi wondered if this new truce between the senior senpai and them would hold and hoped it did. It did lessen his stress load to know that the guy at least said sorry even if it was seemingly from nowhere. Oishi never even got one of those. And now the guy said he would play fair. Oishi still knew he could beat him. Oishi still knew he had to.

"Hoi Oishi?" Oishi looked at Eiji being startled out of his thoughts, "Better?"

"Better." Oishi agreed and they all went their separate ways smiling.

Before Oishi had left class to change for tennis, Eiji sent him one more text message. Win.

Oishi sent him back, I will.

He waited about two minutes for another text but got no response. So Oishi went to go change and get ready to play.

Fuji was waiting for Oishi in the locker room. As soon as Oishi got there, the tensai went behind him to change where no one could see he was hurt. Oishi went to suggest that the tensai say something to someone, but Fuji saw him and fixed his azure eyes on Oishi shaking his head slowly, no. Oishi then figured since Tezuka knew, if it went too far, he would put a stop to it. Oishi would watch too.

"Ne, Oishi, Eiji said he is going to watch but he didn't want me to tell you because he didn't want you to be nervous." Fuji smiled thinking of their silly friend.

"You know," Oishi smiled back realizing that was why Eiji didn't text back again, "its okay to be a little nervous."

"Ah. Shall we then?" The tensai smiled and they walked out to warm up together.

Oishi saw the tensai was moving much better now. He mentioned it to Fuji who agreed. Fuji seemed to be thinking of something. The tensai smiled and said, "Mn. I thought I knew him pretty well, but he keeps surprising me." The tensai rolled his neck as if he was surprised at how easy it was.

Oishi laughed, "Eiji? Yeah, he does that all the time to me too."

"You bring out the best in him." Fuji said smiling.

Oishi thought about it, "I don't know about that, but I do know he brings out the best in me."

Fuji smiled, and they stood to start warming up hitting. "Ne, Oishi-senpai?" Fuji seemed to want to say something more and then shook his head, "Don't hold back today, all right?"

"With you?"

"Mn. Especially with me." Fuji smiled looking a bit wicked.

"What were you going to ask Fuji-senpai?"

Fuji smiled deeper, pleased it seemed, at being read, "Ah. I was going to ask you not to hurt him, but then I realized you never would." Fuji smiled genuinely.

Oishi nodded in agreement, smiling, and then they began.

Oishi had two opponents before the senpai and he easily dispatched with both. He was in good form and though he could not see Eiji, many other people were there, watching and cheering for him. It was a big deal whenever a junior first made it to regulars although only Fuji and Tezuka ever stayed a regular for very long. It kept the school strong even if, as Eiji had noticed, it was not as arbitrary as it seemed. Oishi knew that by next rankings he could be knocked out, even by Eiji and that it would only make him more determined to climb back up again.

Oishi understood after the senpai's second serve why Fuji had Inui and Kawamura play against him. The senpai hit hard and played a calculated game. He had watched Oishi closely and knew how he played, or thought he did. What he did not count on was how determined Oishi was. The senpai was both fast and fierce at the net and Oishi understood why Fuji had him play against Eiji as well. Eiji was better at the net but when Oishi played them both in doubles, him against Fuji and Eiji, it felt exactly like this. Only Fuji and Eiji were better. Oishi saw holes and took chances knowing he could win. And he did. 6-3.

He met the senpai at the net and shook his hand when the guy offered it to him. The senpai again apologized and told Oishi quietly that he had decided that it would be best if he finished out the rest of his third year at another school. He was planning on transferring to another school, possibly even Saint Rudolph's the following week, but was not returning to Seigaku. He wanted Oishi to know, but asked him not to mention it to anyone unless they asked. The guy walked away without looking back.

Oishi watched the end of Fuji's match with his friends and teammates congratulating him. Fuji beat the other senpai 6-1.

Oishi called his home and told his mom. She had him call his Father at work to tell him the good news. Oishi did, nervously, heart pounding, as he had never called his Father. His Father was elated and told Oishi that if Oishi was happy and doing this well at Seigaku, unless Oishi wanted to, they could consider Saint Rudolph's another time. Oishi said he wanted to stay right where he was. His father invited him to his grandparents house as the family was going for the weekend again. They would wait for Oishi to get home if he wanted to go with them. Oishi told his Father he would like to but couldn't, practice on Saturday. His Father seemed proud, he told Oishi to keep up the good work, to stay away from the girls for a while and concentrate on his studies and tennis, and then had to go.

It was over. Finally.

Fuji warmly congratulated Oishi and the two went to shower. Oishi still did not know where Eiji was and when he checked his phone there was no messages, voice or text. Fuji smiled and rolled his eyes not wanting to say anything in the crowed locker room. As they undressed, Oishi handed the tensai a folded note to give to Eiji later when he saw him, just in case Oishi didn't.

Fuji had a towel around his waist and one around his neck trying to hide the bruises. Oishi tried to hide the tensai with his body and they showered in a corner but people kept coming up and congratulating Oishi. Someone, Oishi forgot who, saw the bruises.

The guy exclaimed loudly and it drew much unwanted attention. Many people saw. Fuji smiled through it all and following the tensai's lead, Oishi acted like it was nothing. Everyone was amazed the tensai played a now former regular and won in that condition. It just made the legend of the tensai a little grander.

Oishi overheard one guy freshman guy, the one in the yellow shirt who was always squaring off with the other in the bandanna, talking about the terrible bruises on Kikumaru-senpai who was playing better than ever. That must be how to become a regular he speculated. Oishi felt people looking at him for marks and he blushed, making Fuji sincerely laugh.

When they walked out of the shower, Kawamura, Inui, and Eiji were all there. They congratulated Oishi and Fuji. Kawamura invited Fuji and Oishi to his family's sushi restaurant later to celebrate, he had made it as a regular as well. Oishi to Eiji's shock thanked Kawamura but declined saying he had plans and first some errands he had to run. He congratulated Kawamura and said he would like to celebrate another time. Oishi turned to finish drying himself and to get dressed. He soon heard Eiji loudly telling a story. He turned when mostly dressed, to see Eiji finishing by standing on his hands and talking. Eiji flipped back over just as Oishi was buttoning his last button. Oishi laughed with everyone else but he knew the story well.

Oishi laughed because he realized Eiji did it to cover his blushing at seeing Oishi undress, it was Eiji's answer to a cold shower in a crowd. Eiji saw he was dressed and went to talk to him.

"Hoi Oishi? Why aren't you going?" Eiji looked crushed. "We're celebrating." He pouted.

Oishi smiled and said "I know, I do want to go, but I have to meet Tezuka and I have a few things to do first..." He looked meaningfully at Eiji, "for later, at my house, if you want to?" Oishi finished quietly, "I want to."

Eiji bit his lower lip and Oishi knew it was to keep from pouncing on Oishi in a public place. Eiji smiled and nodded still biting his lower lip. Oishi wanted to kiss him to make him stop biting that beloved spot even in such an adorable way.

"So, I'll see you later?" Oishi realized the two of them were grinning stupidly at each other and forgot to care right then.

Fuji stepped in and saved them, thank goodness. "Ah. Too bad. Okay, well we'll be seeing you around then Oishi-senpai, right Kikumaru-senpai? Let's go. Eh, Taka-san?"

Kawamura grabbed half of Eiji and Fuji the other half of him on his uninjured side. It was so funny, Oishi laughed out loud, though several people looked over at Oishi wondering why. Then they saw the three of them, Kawamura dragging them, Eiji in the middle yelling wait, hold on, and Fuji just hanging on for dear life, all trying to fit out the door at the same time. Everyone figured it was just more of Kikumaru's antics, and laughed with Oishi.

Oishi really did want to go, but he felt he had more important things to do right then. First he went to a bookstore. He browsed around until he found similar books to the one Fuji had lent them. He scanned through them in a quiet corner of the bookstore his face burning red, not really liking most of the stories which often were brutal or graphic. He just didn't see things with him and Eiji like that. But what Oishi did see is that it was a common thing, sex, making love, and people did it every day. He even went through some how to books and read some worst case scenarios just in case, trying not to scare himself out of it. Oishi would not hurt Eiji if he was careful. And he would be. It made Oishi feel much better.

Then he wanted to plan the rest of their evening. Oishi bought that bubble bath knowing Eiji liked it, he talked himself into buying more lubrication, just in case, although he was totally embarrassed. He even thought of getting flowers but that seemed too hokey, to girly, somehow, for them, not, right. Alcohol was out of the question for Oishi. He remembered that the last time he drank was his grandfathers party and that in addition to the disaster that happened that night, he felt terrible and hungover the next day. He did not even want to consider it for him or Eiji. He felt drunk just being around Eiji as it was, he figured smiling.

Oishi next went to the noodle place where they had been before. He knew Eiji was eating sushi but they could eat it the next day if they didn't get to it that night. Oishi could not cook but he was a master of reheating. He bought both what he and Eiji had the night before to go. On impulse, feeling silly and stupid at the same time, he picked up a little teddy bear for him that he saw in a store window. It was outrageously expensive and so silly, but Oishi didn't care. He had the girl gift wrap it after seeing how Eiji liked things wrapped. The bear reminded Oishi of the one Eiji thought he had left at an airport when he was little and made the plane turn around for. The girl at the register said how cute the bear was and Oishi's girlfriend was very lucky. Oishi blushed crimson as he said thank you and headed home. He took the bus and stopped by a grocery near his house. He bought ice cream, both flavors he knew Eiji would like. He bought things for breakfast that Eiji liked to make and Oishi enjoyed eating.

As Oishi unlocked the door and listened hard to see if his quiet family had left yet or not. They had. Just then Eiji texted him from Kawamura's. Miss you. Got my note. Thank you.

Oishi put his bags down and texted him back, Having fun?

Eiji answered Yes. Where did you go?

Oishi smiled and wrote back Shopping...

Eiji answered and Oishi could just see his eyes light up as if he was there, grinning at the dot, dot, dot, For me?

Oishi answered Maybe... Knowing not knowing would drive Eiji crazy in a good way.

Eiji right on cue asked Anything good?

Oishi smiled knowing it would torture him, Maybe...

Eiji responded with in seconds A present?

Oishi smiled at him trying to wheedle information out even through texting Maybe...

Oishi must have driven Eiji over the edge with that one he sent back in a second only Y/N?

He smiled and decided to give in Yes

Eiji must have typed something and erased it probably thinking Oishi would hold out, it took a minute for him to send back What?

Oishi shook his head no and said Not telling

Eiji was frustrated again Mean!

Oishi sent back No, nice!

Eiji tried again Hint?

No way was Oishi telling Nope, you'll see later

Eiji gave it one more shot I'll like?

Oishi said honestly Hope so, I love you

Eiji gave up. He must have checked the time too which Oishi forgot. He would have to run to make it. I love you, play well, see you soon!

Oishi sent him back a smile and then went to throw the groceries in the fridge, the ice cream in the freezer, new clothes on to play and then decided last second to take his bike or he might be late. Tezuka hated when people were late. Oishi ran out the door just remembering to grab his phone that he had set down by the door on his way.

Tezuka had, of all things, a present for Oishi when he arrived two minutes late. Oishi felt terrible about being late but Tezuka waved his apology away insisting Oishi open it right there.

Tezuka gave him his first regulars jacket. The stitching and Oishi's name was already embroidered on it. Oishi was speechless. "Te...Tezuka, thank you, very much. When, when did you have this done?"

"A couple of weeks ago. I knew you would make it. Congratulations."

"Again, thank you." It was gorgeous. Oishi was thrilled. It was such a kind thing his stoic friend had done, and so like him.

"My pleasure. Shall we play? I watched your matches today, you did well. Think you can beat me?" Tezuka gave what passed on him as a smile.

"I can try." Oishi said honestly, but thought to himself, no.

They played for a while each working up a sweat. Tezuka, Oishi knew didn't have to, but he did regardless. He rarely practiced or played around other team members but would with Oishi. It was a kindness Oishi understood borne from their mutual experiences together. Their mutual friendship. Their mutual goal from their freshman year together.

They took a break eventually. Tezuka said "Do you think we'll go to nationals this year?"

Oishi thought about it, the team as a whole was hard to picture from his perspective just after rankings. But as he thought more about it he realized his answer was already there. "Yes, I think we can. We have a lot of strong players. We have a good chance."

"Mn." Tezuka agreed. Oishi was glad he thought so too. Tezuka paused and looked at Oishi, "Oishi, we need to talk."

Oishi did not think this was going to be about tennis anymore.

On to Chapter 35!!