He had spent three days walking. Everywhere - at the seaside, in the city, in the woods, at the parks. He hid out in libraries and bookstores for hours. Anything to keep him away from home or school. Anyplace where he couldn't be found. Where he could be left alone to think things through. When he felt all else had been taken from him, he could still, at least, think.

It wasn't simply that he'd witnessed his boyfriend and another kissing, but more in the way Tachibana had pushed the kiss, almost forcing himself upon Tezuka. He wanted the other teen so much. It hurt, that the person he was with had been thinking of someone else.

But in all his wandering, he'd realized something - that in that kiss, Tachibana hadn't been all there. It was different than when he kissed him. He was still thinking of someone else; when with Tezuka, Tachibana had been thinking of him. He was sure of it.

It still hurt, but also left hope. Now he just had to wait and see if his wayward boyfriend would come back to him.

 

 

It was when it started raining that he finally decided to go back home that night. Though it was earlier than he had been returning to his house the past few days, it was still long past sunset, and streetlights were all he had to see by. He was glad, at least, that he'd thought to bring an umbrella with him.

He was on the street walking from the bus stop to his house when he saw a person sitting, in a miserable attempt to stay out of the rain, under a sparse tree. And as he drew closer he realized it was someone he knew. The most unexpected of people he'd ever thought he'd come across on a night like tonight. How appropriate it all was, suddenly.

"Atobe Keigo."

The figure looked up slowly, wet droplets trailing down his face. Not tears, but rain, for the highly regarded star of the Hyoutei tennis team did not cry. "Rikkai Dai's...Yanagi.."

He did not know why Atobe was here. Though he was obviously pained by the recent break-up with Tezuka, he could not have known what occurred between the Seigaku and Fudomine players. But still, Yanagi held out his hand to the other teen.

"Come on."

 

 

When Yanagi returned from his shower, he found Atobe laying on his bed, head turned to face the wall. Most of his wet clothes had been removed, but there was sure to be a damp spot where he lay.

Yanagi sat in the desk chair, ruffling his hair dry with a towel. "So, do you want to talk?" He paused to hear the response, but when none came he continued his hair-drying. And that was it - they were silent for a good half-hour at least. If Atobe didn't want to talk, he wouldn't force him.

It was strange, the situation they'd come to. He'd never imagined he would be with this person, in his room...with neither of them speaking. Really, he'd never thought much of Atobe Keigo outside of the 'he's a great tennis player' spectrum, or even the 'this is the boyfriend of the person my boyfriend liked...still likes' spectrum, so this was a scenario he'd never have predicted. So why was it so easy for him to reach out to the other teen, whom he hardly knew? Was it because he knew this person was feeling pain as he felt? They were both so different, it was so unusual they would end up like this.

"It feels like I'm in a dream." Atobe's sudden words pulled Yanagi out of his thoughts, but when he looked over he saw the other still staring at the wall. "Everything was fine, and then all of a sudden parents and family obligations matter." Now he turned his head, looking with eyes full of a deep sorrow. The pain was so clear on his face, but still he shed not a single tear. "I keep thinking it's all just a bad dream and I'm going to wake up and he'll be there and everything will be right again."

He didn't need to explain who 'he' was; Yanagi knew and Atobe knew he knew. He knew Atobe and Tezuka were both only sons to prestigious families, and both would be under tremendous amounts of pressure now that they were in high school to prepare to fulfill family duties. And he knew how unfair it was, but that was life.

So he answered "I was thinking more the opposite; this is harsh reality. In reality, things don't always work out. In fact, they hardly ever do." Atobe looked away again, knowing this to be the truth, but not much caring for it. Yanagi continued, "I think how people survive is by living in that space between dreams and reality; press on through the hardness of life, but don't lose sight of your hope and everything that makes that life worth living."

Atobe snorted. He wanted to scream that he'd lost everything that made life worth living to him, but really he knew that was because the wound was still so fresh. When the hurt faded he'd remember that he had his friends and tennis and scholarships and his own fanclub who cheered for him on command. His dog and his classic literature and all the things that made Atobe Keigo who he was. So no matter how bad a dream it seemed to be, the reality was...he would survive.

"Atobe," Yanagi caught the other teen's attention. "Tachibana kissed him. .... It wasn't reciprocated, but...it happened."

".... I thought you and Tachibana were..."

"We are."

Atobe said nothing. He understood.

 

 

"I'll stay over for the night."

It was really quite the Atobe way to tell instead of ask to spend the night, but Yanagi didn't mind much. It was late and still raining anyway, so it was the proper thing to do. And he even allowed his guest to sleep on his bed while he took the floor...since it was still damp from Atobe's wet clothes. It gave them time to talk about other things, and he learned they actually had several things in common. He liked talking with the other teen.

But now he took a moment to watch the Hyoutei diva as he slept. And to his astonishment, in that place between dream and reality, a tear slid down the side of Atobe's face as he whimpered softly.

"Tezuka..."