title: Through the Years
fandom: Prince of Tennis
characters/pairings: Yanagi/Inui implications, Inui/Sakuno, Yukimura
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Renji waits.
notes: for dare, on her birthday. *tosses confetti on dare* *snuggles her* also, um, for kneazles, for this request on fic on demand, because, um, i'm, uh, efficient like that? *hides*

Renji did not check his watch again, because to do so would be an admission of defeat, and if he had learned anything at Rikkai Dai, it was that you did not admit defeat, no matter what the scoreboard said. He waited patiently, ignoring his growing frustration.

Sadaharu would come when he would come. That was all there was to it.

He happened to be glancing at his watch when Sadaharu rushed forward. Sadaharu's backpack was slightly unzipped, and he was holding the stylus to his PDA in his hand.

Very odd behavior. Off the top of his head, Renji would have to say 'unprecedented.'

"I apologize for being late. I ran into an old friend in the park, and lost track of the time."

"Did you?" Renji took note of the color of his friend's cheeks, and the way he was checking his pocket every few seconds, undoubtedly to be sure that he hadn't lost something he had put in there.

Unprecedented, to be sure.

There was forty-two minutes left on his incubation, and he needed eleven minutes to prepare the third step in the protocol, so that left him thirty-one minutes, and not a second to spare. He sat out on the quad, and was his wont on Tuesdays, because Sadaharu would be walking back from the high school his 'friend' attended.

He laid out his bento precisely, his yellow cloth napkin across his lap, the box directly in the center, and situated so the onigiri were in the back. He lifted his chopsticks, and paused, looking around for nothing in particular.

He blinked. Sadaharu was strolling along, quite leisurely, with a rather cutely animated girl at his side. Sadaharu's hands were at his sides, and he was watching the girl, and the movement of her hands, very closely. She had her hair in long pigtails, and she would tug on them every few seconds. This action garnered the most attention from Sadaharu. Renji could see that his friend's hands were clenched, and he surmised that Sadaharu was uncomfortable without the notebook to hide behind as he took data.

She reached up and touched Sadaharu's shoulder for a moment, and then Sadaharu looked away, to hide his blush. She blushed and stammered and nearly walked into a garbage can.

They were sickeningly cute. How... nice.

Unfortunately, Renji now only had thirteen minutes to eat, wash up, and get back to the lab. He had no more time to watch them.

Sadaharu was face down on his bed. Still. Renji did not sigh, because that would be far too obvious.

He ignored Sadaharu, and proceeded to comb out his hair.

"Do you mind if I kill time here?"

It was such a horribly vague way of stating what he really wanted to know, Renji had to turn away.

That girl was having effects on his Sadaharu.

"Do as you please. Are you sure she doesn't mind?"

"I have relayed sufficient information to her that she should comprehend the situation."

"Does she?" Of course he already knew the answer to that.

Sadaharu said nothing. "I don't... want things to change."

Renji shrugged, indifferent to Sadaharu's weakness. "It is the inevitable result the passage of time."

Sadaharu sighed, far too audibly.

Renji went back to the bathroom to shave unnecessarily, just to escape.

She folded her hands together, and refused to meet his eyes. "Yanagi-san, can I ask you something about Sadaharu?"

It will never stop seeming odd to him to hear someone else - particularly a cute girl - calling Sadaharu by his given name. A portion of his heart wished to rise up and claim rights. He was there first, after all. But he maintained his calm and composure.

She lowered her head. "Well, we've been dating for a long time now, and... and... he's been very... gentlemanly, but... I don't know. Perhaps he isn't attracted to me?" She looked up at him with watery, fearful eyes.

He wanted to tell her that there was no chance that Sadaharu could ever be attracted to a small thing like her. But he held his tongue, and counted to ten silently. "He would probably be more comfortable if you made the first move. There is a gap in your ages, and he would consider it inappropriate for him to take advantage of your youth."

"Oh!" she squeaked. Renji disliked things that squeaked, but he was predisposed to dislike her, so he ignored it. "That's... I suppose that makes sense, but..."

"If you want to have that sort of relationship, then be brave." Otherwise, Renji pondered, Sadaharu would just come back to him.

She blushed.

He had to admit, she was terribly cute when she blushed.

"She's late." Sadaharu's glasses were drooping on his nose.

Renji was disturbed. "What time did you expect her?"

"Not that sort of late," Sadaharu sighed. "Come with me to purchase the necessary diagnostic equipment."

Renji looked at the clock. "I only have seven minute before I have to leave for my next lecture."

"Skip?" Sadaharu suggested hopefully.

If he skipped, they were sure to have a quiz, and if he missed a quiz, he might not have time before the semester was up to make it up. He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "Fine. But let's hurry."

Sadaharu smiled at him gratefully.

The things he did for friends...

"Aren't you rushing things?" He stared down at his blank page. His pencil was poised to make a mark, but he held off. He wouldn't be able to make a precise mark at this juncture.

"It has moved quickly. But I feel ready. And she is eager. We have undergone some things together. I feel our bond is sufficiently tight."

By the same token, he and Sadaharu had been through even more. And Sadaharu was avoiding certain issues. There were things that he would say if it were not too late, but it was.

He nodded, and put his pencil down. He turned to face Sadaharu. "Then congratulations are in order. I trust you will both be very happy."

Sadaharu smiled. "I have based this choice on certain calculations."

That hurt, but Renji did not show it. It was well past being too late now.

"Oh," Yukimura sighed, lazily. "We're going to Chiba next weekend. Come with us?"

Renji smiled, because Yukimura always had a way of asking a question so it left the impression of a command. "Next weekend is impossible. That's the weekend of Sadaharu's wedding."

Yukimura sat up, and looked at Renji with an odd mix of concern, surprise, and disgust. "Ah. Are you still planning to...?"

"Of course," Renji replied, tired. It was too early to feel this late. He disliked it when his internal clock got off. He'd slept poorly the past few nights. He would have to brew some chamomile tea tonight.

"I see," Yukimura sighed, and he probably did. It never took him any time at all to catch on.

Renji shrugged defensively. "I'm sure you will have fun with Genichirou without me."

"That's not the point," Yukimura sighed, because Renji had stated the obvious again. "Isn't it time to move on?"

Renji's shoulders sagged slightly. Yukimura was so decidedly right so often, it was irritating. He often felt as if the past was like an anchor he was dragging along. It was easier to keep dragging it on the path he had set upon, because he was used to it.

Sadaharu would say that he left first, of course, and that childish decision, which had felt so out of his control at the time, would be the error that would haunt him through his life.

Unless he found another path.

"He is still my friend. I will be at his side." There really wasn't anything else he could do.

Yukimura got to his feet, and kissed Renji on the cheek. "Fine. But you're coming to lunch with me from now on. It's about time you met some new people."

This, too, was inevitable. Yukimura was more persistent than time, after all.

this was supposed to be... more... inui/sakuno-ish. renji took over. hm. whoops?