Archivist's note: this was written for the "Dear John" challenge.
by Tk DuVeraun
Hey.. Choutarou. I know I said that I'd help you practice tennis this year, but I guess that that's just not going to happen anymore. Since I quit the tennis team, my parents are pulling me out of the Hyotei track(a). They said that it's not worth the stress and money if I'm not even going to be on the team, which was the reason I went in the first place. So... They're pulling me back to the house and I'm going to the local school. It's sports department is nill, but since I'm not playing, it doesn't make a big difference, but the academics are harder. I had to try out and take a lot of tests to get in, and most of it was due to help from my dad. The school is near my house though, and the distance, added onto all of the homework and studying I'll have to do won't me go over to help you.
I know, I'm a terrible sempai(1) for lying and then just leaving this letter to get sent to you, but... it's more than just that I'm leaving the school. And there was more than just the named reasons for my parents taking me out of the Hyotei track... I asked to leave, I just, can't. I'm as competitive as the next guy and I do work hard for what I want, but I.. It's just not enough and there are other things as well, things that... No one can know.
You know how everyone hated me because my wallet wasn't as big and I couldn't host huge parties at my house and I couldn't buy expensive things to bribe people with and buy friends, but yeah, I stayed on because I was good at tennis. But... I don't have anything except for my speed, which you gave me. Apparently.... After Taki was dropped, he did nothing be train straight, letting his grades suffer. He had his parents pay off some of the teachers and school officials so that he could still pass with decent grades. But now... I can't beat him, I can't even measure up.
My skills just aren't enough by themselves and he has a grudge. There was no way I would survive. Atobe's cast me off as one of the people he'll help to the top, he dropped me and picked Taki right back up, on the only condition that he kept his grades up with his brain and not his pocket. Heh, this is it now, disfavor from the king, it wasn't so bad when I lost my spot as a regular because at least I was still acknowledged by His Highness. Now though, everything's changed. Atobe's influence doesn't mean as much, true, but that just makes it that much worse, if I'm not seen by him, then I'm invisible. I'm just not enough on my own.(b)
Which is the real reason why I'm leaving. I've finally realized something terrible: I'm nothing without you with me on the court. Sure, I could match up with Seigaku's fuku-buchou(2), but he's nothing compared to these highschoolers and then, you were right there anyways. I... I don't want to be dependant and strained like that. I hate having to rely on someone else for my strength. I hate that when I'm playing all I can see is your pained face as you stood across from me, hitting serve after serve. Sending the Scuds(3) straight at me with almost as much pain as I felt getting hit by them. I hate that whenever I see someone with a really fast serve, my mind flicks back to memories of your serves and how we tried so hard to make them more accurate.
Everything reminds me of you and the empty space beside me on the court. Every flash of silver metal brings back thoughts of when you lost your precious silver cross and we spent hours looking for it, only to find that it was caught on the zipper on the inside of your bag. And every move I make moves that selfsame cross that now hangs around my neck. A gift from you when I graduated. It means more to me than anything else and the luck you entrusted in it to help me with tennis is all going to waste because I'm not even playing anymore, so now it stands as a symbol of my betrayal to you.
But I couldn't wait for you so that we could play doubles again. I couldn't do it. The only things that people was that badly aren't real and thinking it over, what I truly wanted wasn't real either. I wanted you. I wanted us to be more than friends and partners and while waiting, I would've created fake memories and ideas, covering up what was really there and coming up with all sorts of actions and things you'd said that were suggestive to other things, but... They aren't really there and it would be unfair to pretend that they are because then I wouldn't be seeing you as yourself, I'd be looking and seeing what I wanted.
What and how I wanted things to really be. I think that... I think that I don't even really know you anymore, the "Choutarou" that I know isn't who you really are. All of the little touches and words of jest or encouragement don't mean anything more than a casual passing by or support or anything more than the jokes and words they appear to be. I'm not to you as you are to me, but the you to me isn't even real, I know.
I know because I remember, like a stain on my uniform. I remember it like a stain because it is, a stain on my heart where the blood fell from the dagger in my chest at your words. I can clearly remember when your father talked about how you would carry on the family name and how your children would play with your sister's and they would all be good friends and perfect little role models like their soft-spoken polite father and I remember you nodding and joking about how how your sister probably wouldn't even have any kids until your second was already teething, with the anti-male attitude that she had, despite how much she seemed to like me.
THAT was real, that was the real you when you were with your family, joking about all of the children you would have. You just love too much to not have children. I know because you used to want to take in every stray animal we found when we went to street courts or just wandered around. And just as I know that, I know that you could love me, too, but only as an older brother, a mentor, someone you loved, but were never "in love" with. And that thought just twists the dagger of every kind word to other people, every innocent touch. It all burns within me until I take a deep breath and remind myself that you're nice to everyone. That you care about everyone.
That I am one of everyone and not set apart with different, gentler treatment. This is my shame, me, the peacock of Hyotei Gakuen, the only Regular to have a fan club to rival Atobe's, not only fell in love with another guy, but one who didn't have any feelings of the sort. No one will ever find out. No one except you because you deserve to know. You deserve to know why your sempai lied and left you alone. But you'll never really be alone because you care about everyone and they in turn look out for you, so I...
Don't feel bad, I may be leaving because of you, but there was nothing you could've done differently to change that. I know that you don't feel for me, like I do for you and I'm only leaving to help myself feel less guilty about those feeling and save myself the stress of being around you all of the time.
So I guess, this is my good-bye, as well as my apology because there's no way I can face you know that you know. No way I can face the pity that'll be in your eyes, or the sorrow at being lied to and abandoned by me. Just... Just... follow your own path and your own dreams. Don't let me drag you down. Don't make me unreal in your mind as I did with you. Just forget that we were ever partners, anything more that people who played doubles together.
So... Good-bye Ohtori-san(4).
(a) "Hyotei track" I dunno about other places or Japan or whatever, but around here, if you go to a certain elementary school, you'll follow from that school to a middle school and highschool that are all connected. So all of the kids you go to kindergarten with, you'll graduate with. We call them tracks.
(b) I don't know how Hyotei intra-school politics work, so I'm just using the system used in Learning to Land by suteishichic.
(1) "sempai"- Japanese- most literally, "one who came before" used typically to denote someone who is your senior in a club or sport or school.
(2) "fuku-buchou"- Japanese- vice captain (at least for a tennis club, it's different than military terms).
(3) "Scuds" Choutarou's serve is called the "Scud Serve" "Scuds" is referring to several of them.
(4) "Ohtori-san" -Japanese "san" is basically "Mr." and a term of respect. In the series Shishido called him "Choutarou" (which is his given name and therefore denotes a close relationship, typically only your family and very close friends use it) while Choutarou calls him "Shishido-san" (a term of respect, but I suppose more familiar than Shishido-sempai) Shishido calling him "Ohtori-san" is basically to sort-of put more distance between them and to show that everything's completely changed.
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