Compassion

Mizuki has to deal with Tsuzuki’s unexpected perception. Drama, I-3

"Okay, so let me get this straight," Tsuzuki said, nibbling one fingernail
in concentration.

Hajime tried not to laugh at the rather cute picture the man made.

"Because St. Rudolph isn’t participating in the tournaments any more,
all the third years are supposed to retire from the team and pay attention
to studying for exams."

Hajime nodded agreeably.

"And you and Akazawa-kun are not doing this because you feel like you
have an obligation to be good examples to Fuji-kun for as long as you really
should have been able to had fate not conspired against you in inexplicable
ways," Tsuzuki recited more or less verbatim from Hajime’s explanations.

"That’s right." Hajime crossed an ankle over his knee, watching Yuuta
practicing doubles with Kaneda. Kaneda’s natural flair for it just about
made up for Yuuta’s stubbornness.

"And how is breaking the rules a good example to him?"

Hajime snorted. Tsuzuki had a talent for asking questions like that while sounding
honestly curious. "Knowing when to abide by the rules and when to bend
them is a valuable lesson," he noted. "Not that Yuuta-kun hasn’t
learned it very well already," he added, casting a look of possessive
pride on the new team captain.

Tsuzuki gave him a cheerful smile. "For someone who hates surprises as
much as you do, Mizuki-kun, you have an odd taste for unpredictable people."

Clearly, Tsuzuki had heard the whole story of St. Rudolph’s matches against
Seigaku, and Yuuta’s insubordination. Hajime leaned back on the bench, brows
raised. "I like a challenge as much as the next person, Tsuzuki-san,"
he murmured.

Tsuzuki directed his smile out over the courts. "Why tennis?" he
asked after a minute.

Hajime was genuinely surprised, now. "What do you mean?"

Tsuzuki blinked at him innocently. "Well, I would have expected you to
chose debate or something like that. Politics, perhaps. It seems a lot closer
to what you actually like doing."

Hajime looked away, reminded sharply of Tsuzuki’s disconcerting perceptiveness.
"Where’s the fun in meeting people head-on, when they know where you’re
coming from?" he asked, lightly.

Tsuzuki’s voice gentled, and he rested a steady hand on Hajime’s shoulder.
"Just because you change your mind that doesn’t mean your life is out
of control, Mizuki-kun. You can always choose again, if your first choice
isn’t what you hoped for."

That cut too close to the bone. "Which is, of course, why you stay in
your current occupation when you dislike it so much," Hajime shot back.

"That’s because he’s a masochist," Kurosaki said, briskly, from behind
them. "Tsuzuki," he added, as if Hajime wasn’t there, "you
have a call from Watari-san."

Tsuzuki winced, suddenly looking far less piercing and far more hangdog. "I’m
on assignment, he can’t test anything on me while I’m on assignment,"
he muttered, sounding more forlorn than hopeful. He reached for the phone,
and paused, glancing back and forth between the distinctly cool look Kurosaki
was giving Hajime and Hajime’s amused smile.

Hajime folded his hands ostentatiously. "A challenge, I said, Tsuzuki-san,"
he repeated, smoothly.

The suppressed laugh in Tsuzuki’s eyes said he understood the implied comment
on Kurosaki’s straightforward nature. Tsuzuki’s hand brushed over Hajime’s
hair as he stood. "Trust yourself. You don’t need to control everything
to win," he said, softly.

Hajime bit his lip, trying not to react to the sudden shiver of warmth in his
chest. He heard Kurosaki sigh as Tsuzuki took the phone and they moved away.

"I swear, you’d pick up every stray we met if I let you…"

Hajime settled comfortably into his irritation at the insult. It was much easier
than dwelling on the ache of Tsuzuki’s unexpected sympathy.

 

End