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8th chapter of Smile...

Title: Smile: For Me
Author: Arithion
Rating: G
Genre: Angstish, bit of drama… um… yeah
Pairing: None really, heavy Fuji/Tez friendship… imply all you want though…ok and I’m willing to admit shonen-ai hints too…*grumbles*
Chapter: Eight
Summary: What’s behind a smile…?
Warning: Ok… if this chapter doesn’t scream shonen-ai… I don’t know what does…*curses muses* If you don’t like that… don’t read it. Angsting, cuteness, way the yummiest friendship…*huggly Fuji and Tez*… it would take place while the little snot nosed first years are at that tennis court teaching that idiot father… of that boy whose name I can never remember… a lesson.



Smile:
For Me


Fuji watched the car pull out of the drive, and gave a more absent wave than the one his sister was giving on the path below him. He debated closing the window, not really feeling like sunlight right then, but left it open for the cacti. Real sunlight had to be better than glass filtered, and he didn’t think that change would burn them. They’d been used to the sunlight through the glass for quite a while.

He picked up an old favourite record and placed it on the turntable, loving that scratchy sound of silence the player emitted. Reclining in his rocking chair, Fuji closed his eyes. If he sat just out of reach of the sunlight, he could almost believe that it was dark…calm and soothing, where nothing could touch him as he let the waves of music crash over him. Idly he wondered if his father would permit music as one of his choices, yet he somehow doubted that.

Something prickled at the back of his mind, so he opened his eyes. Tezuka stood, leaning against the doorway, an amused sparkle behind those clear frames. Fuji could feel his defense mechanisms sliding into place, and clamped down on them. It was just his room, right? Just his form of relaxation and reflection? They’d given each other their word… to be honest. So wasn’t this just another form of that honesty?

Fuji stood, inclining his head slightly and shut off the player. “I didn’t hear you ring the bell.” He turned around, leaning against his desk and crossed his arms, watching Tezuka. His eyes focused on everything at once, taking in what the other teen was wearing; from the pale jeans to the white polo shirt, black socks… why the hell was he looking at that.

“I’m not surprised.”

Fuji chuckled at the dry amusement in his friend’s voice. “Indeed.” Resisting the urge to ask just how long Tezuka had been there, Fuji moved to the window and closed it, absently brushing a piece of white fluff from his dark brown trousers. How come fluff seemed to follow him whenever he wore dark colours? He chastised himself… his mind was all over the place.

Gathering his thoughts, and trying not to let his mind drift, he grabbed his wallet and stuffed it in a back pocket. Walking past Tezuka, he grabbed the other’s hand, ignoring the warning signs his own body gave at the contact. Contact was dangerous it told him, so he told it to shut up. “Let’s go…”

He didn’t miss the brief flash of surprise that crossed over the captain’s face, and Fuji smiled smugly. Off balance was always good, friend or foe. For a friend it was just fun, for an enemy it was necessary. And there was some small satisfaction in the fact that Tezuka let him… didn’t let go.

When they reached the front door, Fuji dropped the hand and Tezuka fell into step beside him as they walked. The prodigy tried to ignore the fact that his hand felt cold without the contact of skin against it. He wondered why he couldn’t seem to get his bearings properly around Tezuka today.

That deep tenor interrupted his thoughts. “Is it important?”

Fuji smiled, his usual smile. They were outside now, it was just the way things were, but his words were soft when he answered. “It is… for me.”

He could feel the other boy glance at him curiously, but Tezuka resisted asking any questions he might have had, knowing he’d get the answers eventually anyway. It made Fuji smile a little brighter…

They came to stop on the sidewalk, outside a shop window that spread almost the entire length of the block. Looking through the windows it was green, as far as the eye could see. Fuji smiled. “We’re here.”

Tezuka looked up at the shop sign, before looking back at Fuji a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“Yes?” Fuji’s tone held a note of mischief.

“Oh, nothing. Lead the way.” The only difference from Tezuka’s usual tone of voice was the slight smirk he was unable to quelch.

Laughing, Fuji walked through the doors, entering Gardener’s Delight.

~*~

“Hmm,” Fuji surveyed the rear deck of the house. Generic plant soil, black gold soil mix, plain sand, miracle grow fertiliser, and five new pots. “It’s the growing season,” he mumbled to Tezuka, who stood to the side looking at the pile of things as if he was trying to analyse them. “Wait here.” And Fuji was gone, leaving the captain blinking behind him.

He returned with a bucket of water, which he set down before heading inside once more. When he returned this time, he had five of his cacti cradled against his chest. Open eyes sought Tezuka’s, who gently took the cacti from the shorter boy, placing them on the table.

Raising an eyebrow at Tezuka, Fuji asked. “You might get dirty. I should have warn…”

Tezuka cut him off. “Dirt washes out, Fuji.”

“Ahh,” Fuji smiled and promptly sat himself down on the ground, legs spread to either side. He motioned to Tezuka with one hand, signalling that he wanted the cacti.

The taller boy handed Fuji the cacti, one by one and watched as they were placed carefully beside one another on one side of the prodigy; opposite the items they’d lugged home. Fuji motioned for Tezuka to sit down opposite him, and smiled softly when the taller boy complied.

This was something that was his, that Fuji didn’t usually share, but at the same time he had an unusual need to talk… about anything. This was something he could talk about and maybe, at the same time, show Tezuka.

So Fuji started speaking, his voice soft, lilting with a care for the topic that he couldn’t hide and didn’t really want to. He began by repeating himself. “It’s the growing season.” He nodded at the cacti and handed Tezuka some scissors, gesturing to the bags they’d bought. Asking wasn’t even needed. “Thanks,” he murmured as Tezuka snipped the corners diagonally.

The shorter boy grabbed one of the new pots, and poured some of the black gold in. While he was feeling it with his fingers he frowned slightly, trying to decide, and continued to narrate. “Their pots are too small for them to attain healthy growth this season. It’s still early in the season, so by repotting them, after they’ve settled, they’ll flourish.” A little normal soil was added, along with some sand, and the frown left Fuji’s face. It turned into a smile as he felt the consistency that he wanted in his fingers. He lifted his eyes to see Tezuka looking at him curiously, and suddenly felt uncertain.

Fuji leaned forward, grabbing Tezuka’s hand, and facing it palm up, he dropped some soil into it. “That’s about what these need. Not too dry, and not too moist. The right… consistency.”

Tezuka locked eyes with Fuji for what seemed like an age before lifting the other hand to sample the soil he was holding. He frowned a little, and Fuji realised he was almost holding his breath waiting to see what his friend would say. “It needs to be this moist?” There was faint surprise in Tezuka’s voice, an undercurrent of interest.

Fuji relaxed marginally. “Yeah.” He laughed. “They do need water… moisture, just not as much as other plants. And although they can be neglected a little… outright neglect, or too much attention will cause their roots to shrivel, and impede their growth.” He looked up, catching Tezuka’s eyes and lowered his voice. “You need just the right balance, or else you lose them.”

The captain nodded, face serious. “And now we…?”

Fuji chuckled softly, suddenly feeling stupid for doubting that Tezuka would understand. “Now we repot them.” Very gently, Fuji picked up one of the cacti and freed it from its old pot. Soil fell around him, but he paid it no heed as he gently loosened the soil and roots. He studied the roots for a moment and showed them to Tezuka. Pointing to a slight curl of root that looked a little worse for wear. “See here? This one needs to heal.” Fuji felt a little sad all of a sudden. “I left it a little long to change its pot.”

Sighing softly, he placed the cacti in the new soil, working it in gently before patting down the top. Suddenly a hand covered his own around the pot, and he looked up, slightly startled.

“What do we need to do to heal it?” Tezuka’s voice was calm and soothing, and suddenly Fuji realised that he needed that…

“You need to make sure it’s comfortable, that it gets used to its new …surroundings.” He bit his lip, trying not to concentrate on the hand still on his own. “You can’t spoil it straight away and water it or fertilise it. It needs to heal before it can take full advantage of the nutrients you’re giving it. They need to settle, and you can’t overdo it… otherwise it might do more damage than good.”

“Ahhh,” Tezuka removed his hand, looking thoughtful for a moment before speaking. “Overdo it?”

Fuji flexed his fingers, losing eye contact and focusing on the plant in his hands. Despite its defences, it could be so fragile. “You need to get it used to the new pot, water sparingly at first, so that it becomes accustomed to it and leave it without fertiliser for at least a week or two.”

Tezuka raised an eyebrow. “I see…” Then a frown crossed his face, eyes straying to the other bags they’d bought. “Then why…”

“Oh, for the ones that aren’t getting a new pot.” Fuji heaved a soft sigh of relief. His eyes followed Tezuka’s hands as the other boy lifted one of the empty pots.

Brown eyes locked with cerulean. “Maybe we should keep going then…”

“Yeah…” Fuji couldn’t help but smile as he watched Tezuka dip his hands into the soils and sand in an attempt to get the mixture right. And he couldn’t help but laugh when the taller boy managed to spill moist soil all over himself when the split in the bag got bigger.

“Fuji…”

It was almost like a warning, but Fuji couldn’t listen. It suddenly seemed so funny. He laughed, noting the tone of hysteria to it, and still he couldn’t stop. Like a floodgate had opened, it bubbled out of him so fast and so hard that he found himself gasping for breath.

Hands gripped his shoulders, shaking him gently. “Fuji…”

It snapped the shorter boy back to reality… barely, and Fuji was disgusted to find that he was shaking… and couldn’t stop. He raised his head to find Tezuka kneeling in front of him, the cacti placed safely to the side, and suddenly the prodigy almost wanted to cry. His body sagged, eyes sinking away from the concern he could see, and he suddenly felt drained.

A finger hooked itself under his chin, raising his face, forcing him to look at Tezuka. The voice that spoke to him made Fuji ache to just let it out… to lose control and lose his temper like he wanted to. But what would that bring?

“Fuji? What is it?”

And Fuji knew it was up to him. Tezuka would never push him to tell, would never rush him. That was what they’d just discussed, wasn’t it? If he wanted to talk, Tezuka was offering an ear for when he was ready to. It wouldn’t be so bad would it?

He sighed, for once taking some comfort in the warm hands on his shoulders. The finger left his chin, but he didn’t tear his eyes away. “Do people expect you to be perfect, Tezuka?”

The taller boy blinked, thoughts flitting through those intelligent brown eyes. “No. They expect me to be myself. I expect me to be more.”

Curiosity overcame him, and Fuji pressed the question, successfully changing the topic away from himself. “Why?”

Tezuka shrugged, the hold on Fuji’s shoulders easing up a little. “If I don’t push myself, don’t expect of myself…how will I reach my full potential.”

“Ahh, I guess I’ve never thought of it that way.” Fuji grew thoughtful for a moment. Should he tell, could he tell? He glanced at Tezuka and realised that the other boy was amazingly strong. It was a strength Fuji envied, so he decided not to tell Tezuka what was troubling him.

The captain frowned and mumbled. “Road to Rome, Fuji…”

It had the desired affect. Fuji sighed and bit down on the bullet. “Is it more important to please others… or please yourself?”

Tezuka looked a little taken aback, but replied with that quiet resolve that always seemed to surround him like an aura. “Strive to be someone you yourself can be proud of. Don’t judge yourself by other people’s standards.”

“ Ahh,” and strangely enough, Fuji actually felt a little better.

That finger hooked under his chin again, and Fuji found himself wondering if there were bits of green in those brown eyes… he was that close. Tezuka’s breath washed over Fuji’s skin as he spoke. “Don’t lose yourself in other people’s expectations, Fuji.”

“Is that really important?” There was a tinge of desperation to his voice that almost made Fuji cringe. He hadn’t meant to sound that fed up.

Tezuka smiled that soft, barely there smile. “It is… for me.”

“Oh…” It was the only comeback Fuji could think of right then and he suddenly realised that Tezuka had meant every word. Tezuka really did see him; he really was there, and it didn’t seem like he was going away anytime soon… if at all.

Suddenly the warmth left his shoulders and Fuji blinked as a pot was thrust back into his hands. He smiled at Tezuka, and they wordlessly began the task of repotting the remaining cacti. The sun kissed the air, making the breeze warm and welcome. Light glinted off Tezuka’s glasses, and caught in Fuji’s hair.

And when Tezuka spilled soil on himself again, Fuji’s laugh no longer held any trace of hysteria.

~~**~~

And no… I didn’t make the cactus info up… I actually researched it *sweat-drop*

*awaits feedback and/or rotten tomatoes*

*hopes people got the cactus repotting convo…*

Comments

( 4 raindrops — Make it rain )
aiwritingfic
Apr. 30th, 2004 04:23 pm (UTC)
I loved this. It's going in my memories!
arithion
May. 7th, 2004 02:08 am (UTC)
glad you did :) Thanks for reading!
fic_faery
May. 6th, 2004 09:24 am (UTC)
*applauds you for doing research* Although when not for school researching is always more fun to me.

I love the way you have Fuji interact with his cacti and how sad he is that one is damaged. It's also nice to see how Tezuka does his best to respond to Fuji's needs and to understand what he is going through.

And after reading the cactus description for the second time I like how Fuji is not only describing the plant but also himself and this new friendship with Tezuka. Very clever way to describe how Fuji works, and I'm sure Fuji and Tezuka are the only ones who would fully understand all the implications of that conversation. Damn boys for talking in riddles all the time.
arithion
May. 7th, 2004 02:09 am (UTC)
yeah, speaking in analogies gets a little tiring lol, for me anyway, apparently not for them though lol... damn muses.

And yay, you got it! He was describing himself too :) giving away just that little bit more to Tezuka in the only way he could figure out *smiles*
( 4 raindrops — Make it rain )

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