Keigo folded his arms on the edge of his couch and rested his chin on them to regard the occupant. Kunimitsu seemed to be well and truly asleep, one hand holding his half-folded glasses against his chest, Keigo’s copy of Faust falling out of the other. His eyes were relaxed, though his mouth wasn’t, particularly.
Keigo didn’t have a great many examples to work from, yet, but he had come to the conclusion that Tezuka Kunimitsu never relaxed completely, even in sleep.
There were reasons, of course. Tezuka had at least as many responsibilities as Keigo, and was quite serious and dedicated about fulfilling them. In addition to the general run of Student Leader Responsibilities, such as keeping the photography club from getting into fist fights with the chemistry club over who got to use the well-plumbed and windowless lab room, there was the stress of keeping the tennis club in line and the team in trim. Keigo entirely sympathized, though it had been a bit hard to convince Kunimitsu of that the time he burst out laughing over Kunimitsu’s description of the taste of an accidental slug of Inui Juice. Keigo knew that Kunimitsu identified far more strongly with his individual team members than Keigo allowed himself to do, and that their advances, or lack of the same, just added to the strain.
But surely, he mused, sleep was the one place none of that could follow. Or should be.
Not, he had to admit, that Kunimitsu hadn’t woken Keigo from a nightmare once or twice when his waking troubles had followed him down to dreams. He had refused to say what it was about, last time, and Tezuka hadn’t pressed him. The memory of walking across a frozen lake, and looking down to see his team, trapped under the clear ice, of reaching down, only to find that he was reaching up, that he was trapped, too… He shuddered and pushed it away. It wasn’t even the images, really, it was the remembered feeling of panic and then helplessness that made his stomach twist. It had happened the evening after they played Seigaku at Prefecturals.
Keigo sighed to himself. All right, so perhaps he was more bound up with his team than it was entirely a good idea for him to be. He was even fairly sure when it had started.
It almost had to have been the day Tezuka had taken his world and tilted it up on one corner, proven to him that he had missed something about an opponent, that he hadn’t seen everything.
Keigo knew his coach was still dubious about the resulting change in Keigo’s approach to his team. A loss was a loss, in Kantoku’s eyes. Keigo insisted, though, that he never defended any player whose failure had not driven him to such improvement that it would not happen again. He had never been wrong about that, and so Sakaki permitted Keigo’s judgment to prevail. He had no doubts about what would happen if he ever were wrong. The rule of Hyoutei still held, albeit modified. The weight of it now rested on Keigo, should he chose to absolve one of his players of a loss.
How, after all, could he still believe that a loss was a loss after that first game? He had won… but he hadn’t. Tezuka had lost, and yet…
And that was what had brought Keigo to take such foolish personal risks on behalf of his team members. Looking at it objectively, he could only shake his head at himself. But it was also undeniable that his team had responded more willingly to his hand, after. Shishido even called him Buchou without it sounding like an insult, every now and then. He smiled, a bit wryly, at the man sleeping under his gaze, and recited, quietly, in German.
“My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
Going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
It has its inner light, even from a distance –
And changes us, even if we do not reach it,
Into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are.“
Keigo raised his head and lifted one hand to brush Kunimitsu’s hair back. “One match, Kunimitsu,” he murmured. “Maybe some day I’ll ask you if you knew what you were doing.” And then he chuckled to himself. “Quoting poetry over my sleeping lover, yet. One of these days I’ll lose my mind completely and actually write poetry for you, I have no doubt.”
He leaned down and kissed Kunimitsu, softly. Drawing back, he was pleased to see that Kunimitsu’s mouth had finally relaxed.
A/N: The poem is most of “A Walk” by Rilke, trns. Robert Bly.