Title: Smile: Show Me
Genre: Angstish, bit of drama… um… yeah
Pairing: None really, heavy Fuji/Tez friendship… imply all you want though…
Summary: What’s behind a smile…?
Warning: Um before the first Inui drink session in ep 9 I think. But it isn’t set in the episode itself. Silent conversations, mocking prodigy, cacti analysis and an argument! Oh and thanks to indirect for letting me bounce some things!!!
He remembered a time when everything seemed perfect. A time when it didn’t matter that he was different, when it didn’t matter that he was singled out and stared at. Those times it was just easy to shrug off everything that was expected of him and accept it.
Those were the days when he truly was still a child, before his first broken heart served him a harsh revelation of reality. No, it wasn’t broken in the sense that someone he was in love with left him destitute. Never anything that simple.
No… it was the day that his brother cut their ties. The day Yuuta made his dislike clear. It was the day Fuji’s smile served another purpose, hiding his aching heart behind crinkled eyes, pretending that everything was ok…while he broke inside.
When you’re young and running through fields and playgrounds with someone less than a year younger to you, someone who has, for all intents and purposes been there your whole life; the removal of that person from that life will hurt. And hurt it did; yet Fuji chose not to show it. If his brother was happier that way, then so be it.
Expectations on the average child are great enough. Suffice it to say that the expectation on a child with recognised genius is far greater. However, like the person he was, Syusuke never let on about the pressure and instead, not only fulfilled, but also exceeded any expectations made of him. All the while hiding behind a smiling façade.
Layer upon layer, he piled it on thick and delved himself down deep. Ever hiding, running, from the danger of someone seeing past that mask. The risk he could feel from anyone ever being allowed to get close again, was enough to make him pull away from all potential relationships.
A simple phrase could conceal so many motives, a simple smile could calm frazzled nerves, and a devious mind could play all sorts of games. So Fuji’s new hobby developed, and became his own game to wash away the boredom that was none of his fault, and loneliness he imposed on himself.
Fuji wasn’t sure when he decided to let anyone in, and not really sure that there was a conscious decision. It just happened.
“Fuji…” Tezuka’s voice broke the spell the prodigy had been weaving, the slight concern of the statement breaking in easily. It wasn’t often Tezuka was concerned.
“Hmm?” Fuji smiled at his friend, blinking his eyes as if only just registering the sunlight before letting the smile crinkle them. There was no openness in such a public spot. The school grounds were no place that Fuji would show himself, and he knew Tezuka was fully aware of that.
The captain didn’t respond straight away, instead he sat himself down next to Fuji, hooking his arms around his knees and watching the other students mill about the courtyard. The prodigy let him, watching with him, smiling constantly.
“The team will grow stronger for this.” Tezuka finally spoke, just as Fuji had known he would.
Turning his smiling face to his friend, Fuji opened his eyes only briefly. Just enough to show Tezuka that he was listening, understanding and as always… there. “It will.”
That appeared to be enough reassurance for Tezuka, whose lips quirked slightly before standing. Brushing himself off he muttered under his breath. “No practice this afternoon.” The captain didn’t let their eyes meet again.
It made Fuji a little curious. “I remember.”
Tezuka just nodded before walking off, and Fuji watched him go, thoughtful smile in place wondering for the thousandth time why Tezuka did that to himself. The shorter boy didn’t let it perturb him for long though, he’d figure out something…he always did.
The captain, for all his stony expressions and straight-faced responses, was like a book for Fuji. Well, maybe like an English book. The prodigy could read it, but he did occasionally need to look up some words. He chuckled at his own analogy finding it rather apt, before picking himself up from his seat and making his way to the last classes of the day.
Classes needed to be prepared for. Texts read, homework completed and exams studied for. That afternoon held no ounce of information that Fuji hadn’t already absorbed in preparation for it. So, as usual, he spent it in quiet contemplation of tree outside the window where he sat. One ear always listened so he could comment if called upon, which rarely happened anyway. Sometimes he even distracted Eiji, just to entertain himself with the way the other boy would lose complete track of the lesson and get flustered if he was called upon.
But not that day. Fuji was too busy contemplating the probable thoughts on Tezuka’s mind to worry about trivial amusements…for once. The prodigy didn’t profess to be a mind reader, but his musings definitely made the last class pass quicker.
There was really only one thing it could be: the result of the ranking matches. Although not entirely unbelievable, some of the regulars had been a little shocked when Echizen defeated Inui the previous afternoon. The resulting chain reaction where Kaidoh had also defeated the data specialist had definitely not been expected.
Fuji had to admit to having found the entire situation highly amusing, but that wasn’t the point right then. He focused his mind back on the topic he’d been pondering. The effect had yet to show itself on the regular members. No one could doubt the skill the freshman had, so that was at least something, however…
Yes…however. Fuji sighed softly, rested his chin on his hand, and ignored the curious glance Eiji sent him. The prodigy wracked his brains to try and find something he could do to convince Tezuka that he’d done the right thing in letting Echizen compete in the ranking matches.
Fuji was also all too aware that no one had expected Inui to be the one to be forced out of the team. That was the sore point, and undoubtedly the one that was giving Tezuka his bout of conscience. The thing was, and Fuji was quite sure his friend was aware of it as well, that most of the members of their regular team always had an amazing desire to prove themselves… and therefore improve their game.
The last ranking tournament was ultimately going to lead to drawing out a hell of a lot more potential from their team than would have happened had the freshman not been thrown into the mix. Fuji knew this, Tezuka knew this. Now Fuji just needed to figure out a way to get the point across to Tezuka and stop the captain second-guessing himself. Not that it would stop Tezuka from carrying out his duties, but it would reassure him just that little bit.
Only, sometimes…just sometimes… Tezuka was a little hard to reason with. For someone as talented and intelligent as he was, Fuji thought he could be damned stubborn. An idea crossed Fuji’s mind, and he smiled happily. Oh, yes, that would do just nicely.
The bell rang, dismissing the class, and Fuji smiled as Eiji ran out of the room yelling something over his shoulder. Perfect timing really. Fuji slung his jacket on, not bothering to do up the buttons. He was allowed his little transgressions. Perfect marks did gain him some privileges after all.
Tezuka was leaning lightly against the wall when Fuji exited his classroom. Raising an eyebrow at Tezuka in question, all Fuji got was a shrug as a reply.
School smile firmly in place, Fuji eyed the other students scurrying around for a few moments first. “It’ll be quiet at my place.” He knew he didn’t need to add that his parents had left town, yet again, that morning. Nor did he have to add that his sister would very likely not be home that night. Tezuka just nodded again and Fuji suppressed a sigh as they continued their way to his house in silence. It was obvious the captain was still beating himself up about it, at least, Fuji thought it was obvious. The silence served its purpose though; Fuji was able to make sure he was going to be able to achieve just what he wanted to.
When they entered Fuji’s room, he grabbed Tezuka’s hand and led him over to the windowsill where his cacti sat. Fuji picked one up and was silent for a moment, debating exactly how to go about what he was trying to do. He gripped one of the captain’s fingers suddenly and drew it toward the cactus, pricking the fingertip.
Tezuka yanked his hand away as two bright spots of blood appeared on his skin. Putting his fingers to his mouth he gently sucked on them, giving Fuji a glare that told the prodigy he had about twenty-five seconds to explain himself.
He decided it would be best to get straight to the point. Gesturing to the rest of his collection, Fuji began speaking, in a quiet, calm voice. “If you tried to grasp any of them that way, despite them all being different, they would prick you and make you bleed. That is their way. It is what is expected of them, and it is how their natural defences react to things that do not understand them.”
Fuji looked up to see Tezuka eyeing the cacti thoughtfully. So the prodigy took that as permission to carry on, and swapped the cactus in his hands for another, more spiky one. His voice had dropped a little, the smile completely gone from his face. “However, if you take the time to nurture them, to learn how to care for them, and realise how to understand them, they become something else entirely. You then have the power to touch them without pain, to reach them without physical touch, and all because you have taken the time to know them, to understand how they are what they are.”
The prodigy lowered his face, bangs hiding his eyes, and placed the cacti back in its place amongst the others. When he spoke it was almost a hushed whisper. “This is when you can watch them grow, because of the care you have taken and the necessary things you have nurtured them with. Even if the lack of water seemed detrimental at first. In the long run it helped them flourish, because that is part of what they thrive on.”
Fuji lifted his face, revealing eyes glistening with emotion. He held his head proud, not a trace of the smile in sight as he locked eyes with Tezuka. “And that is all anything ever is. Doing what you have to do, but doing it with an understanding of how and why. It makes anything necessary, no matter how negative it might seem, a gift in the long run if it concerns something you have taken the time to learn to understand.” He paused. “And you, Tezuka, understand Tennis.”
The prodigy waited patiently, eyes never wavering from their focus on those of his friend as the impact of what he’d said sunk in. Tezuka smiled, thumb pressing against his pricked finger absently.
Fuji deliberately misunderstood. “Oh, it was nothing. You know I like to watch things bleed.”
Tezuka chuckled softly before turning away from the window and seating himself on Fuji’s chair, arms crossed. “I had an idea…”
Fuji cocked his head to one side, a silent invitation to continue. He leaned himself against his desk, enjoying the novelty of looking down at Tezuka for once.
“I’ve spoken with Ryuzaki-sensai and Inui. He’s going to come up with a training plan for us. We’ll introduce it tomorrow.” It was said in what most would see as a purely rhetorical fashion, yet Fuji knew Tezuka wanted a response.
“It wouldn’t make sense to lose that benefit from the team.” Another seemingly rhetorical question that Tezuka could leave like that, or chose to answer.
Fuji was slightly taken aback when the captain chose to stand, bringing their bodies quite close together. Tezuka looked at him, and raised a hand to brush a piece of hair out of Fuji’s eyes, before placing that hand briefly on the prodigy’s shoulder in a show of thanks. “You rarely cut your hair.”
Yet another thing that Fuji wasn’t expecting his friend to say. Damn that, he’d need to relook into that translation after all. Unless… perhaps this was Tezuka finally letting him see more of who he was. In that case…
A shrill ringing interrupted Fuji’s thoughts and broke the moment. Tezuka stepped away, intently studying the cacti, while the prodigy answered his cell phone. “Yes.”
“Fuji! We have a history test tomorrow!” Eiji’s voice was loud and clear over the phone line, and it made Fuji smile.
“Yes, we do.” He waited.
“Why didn’t they tell us?”
“They told us last week.” And Fuji smiled, knowing the next line.
“Then why didn’t you remind me?”
“I reminded you two days ago, Eiji.”
“…can I come over?” Eiji was using the pleading voice he knew that Fuji rarely said no to.
Fuji glanced over at Tezuka and suppressed a sigh. Just when he’d finally gotten his friend to start being himself. “Sure, Eiji.”
“Great! See you soon!” Followed by a click.
Fuji released his pent up sigh. Feeling Tezuka’s eyes on him, Fuji had to push down on the urge to bring the smile back to his face. Raising his eyes, he met questioning brown ones. “Eiji’ll be over soon.”
Tezuka’s shoulders tensed as if to say that he didn’t appreciate their talk being interrupted. It irritated Fuji a little. Tezuka rarely opened up enough to talk properly. It wasn’t the prodigy’s fault that the one time the other boy had finally decided to stop being so distant, was when someone else needed Fuji. There weren’t many people Fuji took into consideration. Eiji just happened to be one of them.
Cerulean eyes flashed briefly, a little of that irritation reflected in them. “You know, Tezuka, I do have other friends.”
Tezuka’s jaw set in a hard line, which meant his patience was frayed. “I know that.” The words were slightly more clipped than normal, and should have given off warning signs.
And although Fuji saw the signs, he was feeling reckless. “Oh, really?” Smile firmly back in place, the prodigy turned it on full force. “There are times when you’re going to have to deal with the others outside of club time, Mr. If I pretend to be invincible I might be able to fool myself.” Oops, maybe that had been too much.
Tezuka took a deep breath, before answering. His voice sounded like it did when he ordered laps run for punishment and Fuji almost winced. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
“Nor should they shoot arrows,” Fuji shot back.
They were still glaring at each other when the door bell rang. Tezuka’s next words were almost growled. “Fine. I’ll stay.”
“Great,” muttered Fuji as he headed downstairs to let Eiji in. Probably for the first time ever, Fuji didn’t know what to expect.
Well… another chapter down…
Thanks for reading! Hope you liked it! Feedback much appreciated, and I’m not wearing white so I am prepared for rotten tomatoes
Oh and I am tired so sorry I missed beta mistakes...