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*
Summary: What’s behind a smile…?
Warning: Shonen ai heh… and well… I rewatched 21 and 22… and this is kinda supposed to take place around there, which I took to be like directly or shortly after the Fudo match… but if you think of it… that means Ryoma has super healing powers… but then he can also blow Sanada away with a tornado… sooo I guess anything is possible
Angsting… blah blah blah
If he really thought about it, the ceiling of his bedroom was extremely boring. The white expanse was plain and unexciting, not even a crack marred its surface. But Fuji was trying his best not to think. In fact, he was trying to keep his mind as blank as the white rectangle above him that was slowly becoming grey as night approached.
Try as he might though, he couldn’t get thoughts of the Fudomine match the day before out of his head. So much that he was avoiding his friends and teammates at every turn. He just couldn’t get over the fact that Takashi had done what he’d done.
The scene kept running through his mind, over and over again. A stark reminder playing in front of his eyes against what may as well have been a harsh white projector screen.
His determination not to lose, a determination he rarely let crystallise, gripped him and Fuji found himself refusing to give even an inch. He didn’t care if the shot coming towards him could hurt him, he didn’t give a shit if he suffered damage from it. It wasn’t something he could just let go, because Fudomine would then gain the upper hand. So that was not an option for him. He readied himself, eyes open fully, focusing intently on the ball that was coming his way.
Like in a slow motion replay, he heard Takashi cry out his name. “Fuji…” He couldn’t wipe the surprise off his face as his doubles partner took the shot for him. The strain was obvious, the muscles strained and stood out on Kawamura’s arms, yet he managed to return that amazing shot, winning that all important point.
But at what cost.
The prodigy still couldn’t believe that his friend cared enough to do that for him. He couldn’t believe that anyone cared that much for him. To risk harm to themselves, just to save him from injury… it was something he never thought anyone would do for him. The day was an eye opener, but one that he hadn’t dealt with very well.
He knew that Takashi had hurt himself. Even though the other boy seemed to think that he was fine, Fuji knew different. It was hard to overcome that urge inside him, the one that screamed at him to tell the boy off for being so stupid, so reckless. But the other part of him couldn’t allow that… because Takashi had done something for him few ever had.
He’d cared. Although Fuji cared about his friends with an intensity that sometimes frightened even himself, he had never, even once, thought that someone could reciprocate that same friendship.
With all of those thoughts whirling through his head he grasped Takashi’s arm and called a halt to the match. Seeing his friend’s crestfallen face, he smiled, so as to hide the emotions roiling within him. With soft-spoken words he set his friend at ease.
And for the rest of the day, Fuji felt entirely off balance.
As if that hadn’t been enough, the imbalance was extending itself. He’d avoided Tezuka at Taka’s the night before, and successfully managed to dance around any conversation anyone else struck up with him. The smile affixed itself permanently to his face, making Fuji wonder if it was the real him, and that maybe he’d been deluding himself after all.
The current day wasn’t much of a success story either. Lying there in the dim twilight of his room, Fuji rolled onto his stomach, sick of the ceiling that somehow now seemed to be accusing him of things he was quite sure he didn’t want to think about.
Was it a bad thing if you weren’t sure where your mask ended and the real you began?
Fuji glanced at the clock next to him, and closed his eyes. Sure enough, his cell phone started ringing – for the second time that afternoon. He made no move to answer it, no move to see who was calling him, because he didn’t need to. When it stopped, he sighed thankfully, knowing that he wouldn’t need to ignore it again, because it wouldn’t ring anymore that night.
He reached over and picked up the offending object, running a finger along the tiny screen. 2 Missed Calls: ~Tezuka~ the student council meeting would have just finished. Being the dutiful friend that he is, Fuji had expected a call. However Tezuka was also not one to harp on something. He knew Fuji well enough to know, that when and if Fuji chose to speak to him, the prodigy would.
That was something Fuji was grateful for, and yet he found himself feeling slightly guilty for not answering his phone. His eyes fell on the compact little thing again and he scowled at it, something he could afford to do in the darkness of his room. Like the previous night, it took a long time for sleep to overcome him, and when he woke… his balance was still off.
School passed in a blur for him, he just wasn’t up to it. One of his teachers actually asked him if he was all right, because he’d lost track of where they were up to and not answered correctly. His irritation grew at that. What? Wasn’t he allowed to have an off day?
Fuji took the long way home, walking past and through parks that he and Yuuta had visited as children, wanting to remember everything. But most of all, he was trying to remind himself of the pain he went through when his brother pushed him away. Maybe, if he remembered it vividly enough, he could rebuild his walls. It was silly to give into the urge to need another person, no matter how well they might understand each other.
Someone might ask why he was being as stubborn as he was, and he would answer that it was better to let himself hurt, than to watch others hurt in his stead. If someone deserved it, Fuji enjoyed watching them suffer, in fact, he enjoyed being the one to give them back what they so richly deserved. If the situation warranted it, he could enjoy watching his friends endure the pain that training could inflict on them… simply because other people’s misfortune could be so entertaining.
But his friends meant something to him, and he would protect them in any way he possibly could. Practical jokes, teasing, winning because he could, and Inui juice were one thing… but he would spare any of his friend pain and humiliation by anyone else if he could.
Which was why what Taka did was so damn wrong. It was Fuji’s place to protect the people he cared about, his place to risk himself for their sakes… not the other damn way around. They couldn’t, shouldn’t care about him in return. If they did they could hurt him, if they did…where was the logic in hiding himself from everyone. It was logic he clung to, the reason he needed to lock his real self off from everything, in that quiet corner of his mind, protected and yet protecting. If he lost the reason for those locked doors, how could he hide from himself?
His eyes snapped up from the pavement outside his house, realising two things instantaneously. The first was that he’d almost walked past his own driveway. The second was that Tezuka was leaning against the gate, already changed into jeans and a shirt. With a second glance, Fuji realised the other boy also had hiking boots on, and a slight furrow creased his brow.
“Tezuka…” It wasn’t a greeting; it was a question.
Which Tezuka answered silently by stepping forward and relieving Fuji of his school bag. The prodigy relinquished it only because he was trying to figure out why Tezuka was there. They’d made no plans; in fact, Fuji had been avoiding Tezuka at every turn. Oh, well, there was probably that. Resigned, he looked up at the taller boy and wasn’t disappointed when that deep voice answered the question in Fuji’s expression.
“You have ten minutes to get changed, and back down here. The appropriate clothes are on your bed already. I didn’t expect you to take this long to get home.” Tezuka used his captain’s tone…with an underlying something that the prodigy couldn’t define.
It’s probably the first time ever that Fuji’s jaw dropped. His mind still whirling with self-recriminations, he just blinked.
“Nine and a half minutes now, Fuji.”
The prodigy moved. “Ahh, Tezuka. So forceful.” He mumbled under his breath as he finally made his way to the door of his house. “I wonder if your ten minute obsession applies to everything.” He could almost feel the disapproving eyes of Tezuka weighing on his back, and right then, didn’t care. To be honest, he was a little ticked off, but if was useless arguing with Tezuka in this mood. So, Fuji chose to forgo his planned afternoon of solitude, and annoy the crap out of Tezuka. It was only fair… after all.
Getting dressed was no problem, yet Fuji couldn’t help but wonder about the hiking boots Tezuka was wearing, and the choice of Fuji’s slightly more robust clothing. He shrugged. No matter what, he planned to get some entertainment out of the rest of the day. After all, maybe Tezuka didn’t know Fuji the way he’d thought he did. Syusuke didn’t feel like talking yet, and he felt Tezuka was pushing the issue. The little voice that told him to give the taller boy the benefit of the doubt, was firmly told to shut up.
Reaching the hall, Fuji pulled on his hiking boots, figuring he should follow Tezuka’s example. He could hear his sister approach, waiting for him to finish what he was doing. Righting himself he simply turned to look at her. Sometimes the way she just seemed to know, annoyed him, but he really did adore her.
“I hope you don’t mind that I let him in.”
Fuji shrugged. “He’s my friend.” And he couldn’t help but notice the huge smile that spread over his sister’s face. Shrugging, he stepped outside; closing the door behind him, smile firmly in place.
Tezuka was no longer holding Fuji’s bag, but instead had another, bulkier one over his shoulder. With just a glance at Fuji, the taller boy began to walk. Syusuke sighed softly and followed. It looked like he wasn’t going to get much ammo to play with. If he wanted to tease Tezuka, he was going to have to do it all by himself.
“Fuji…” Tezuka used that warning tone… telling him to just let it drop and not even try it.
Fuji chuckled. “No fair. You’re no fun, Tezuka.”
There was a brief pause, before the taller boy murmured softly in response. “Oh, and I try so hard.”
Syusuke laughed despite himself, and decided that annoying the other boy could wait… for a while.
They walked, and Fuji contemplated where it was they were going. He wasn’t surprised when they ended up at the bus stop, nor was he surprised when they got off at the last stop. It wasn’t immediately obvious where they were going, but Fuji did have a vague idea. His curiosity got the better of him. “Ne, Tezuka. Where are we going?”
Tezuka barely even glanced at him as they wound their way along a well-worn path. “You’ll see.”
Fuji grinned. “Yes, but, you can tell me.”
The captain suppressed an obvious sigh. “You can wait…”
It was no fun when Tezuka didn’t bite properly. So Fuji decided to just humour the other boy. He could hear the sound of running water. It wasn’t too loud, but it spoke of a somewhat larger mass of water. After a few more minutes they came to the source of the noise, and Fuji raised an eyebrow at the small river before him.
“Swimming?” Fuji’s smile was teasing.
Tezuka looked at him for a few moments, a slight frown creasing his face, almost looking through him. But he didn’t say a word. Instead, he knelt down and began unpacking the backpack he had with him. Two fishing rods, a blanket and some live bait later, he looked up at Fuji. Wordlessly he handed one of the rods to the prodigy and began to piece his own together.
Syusuke followed suit curiously. They weren’t that hard to piece together. Finally done, he couldn’t help but ask the bleeding obvious, because he couldn’t figure it out. Just when he thought he had Tezuka figured out, the boy went and discovered words that weren’t in Fuji’s dictionary. “Fishing?”
Another one of those weighing looks was directed at him. Tezuka flicked the blanket out for them to sit on, and went about threading his bait onto the hook. Fuji watched in rapt fascination, still not entirely sure of himself. This wasn’t his environment; it was Tezuka’s and it made the short boy wary.
Once the line was cast, Tezuka turned to look at Fuji once more. Those brown eyes seemed to weigh him. “Patience… and acceptance of a situation over which one has little or no control.” The captain turned his attention back to the water, and so did not see Fuji’s eyes narrow.
It’s too close, his mind screamed. Too close, too far, too much, too soon. His eyes focused on squishing the live bait onto the hook. Fuji felt the need to focus on destroying something – anything. He cast the line out… frustration making him not care where it landed.
A quiet, thoughtful voice broke through Fuji’s reflection. “Will you ever stop this?”
Immediately on guard, Fuji’s retort was careful. “Stop what?”
Tezuka turned to look at him yet again, reaching up with a finger to brush at the corner of Fuji’s upturned lips, indicating the topic of his concern. “When you hide behind it, I can’t see you.” That voice was lulling, soft and contemplative.
It made Fuji wonder if Tezuka had meant to say that. “Ah, but, Tezuka. Everyone loves happy people.” Fuji’s smile increased, as if he could make himself believe what he was saying if only he smiled enough.
The taller boy raised an eyebrow. “You’re happy?”
Fuji sighed – the smile slipping just a tad. Manoeuvring himself onto his stomach, he rested his chin in his hands, watching the secured rod bob slightly in time with the current. He sighed before murmuring softly: “Everyone loves a smile.”
It took a moment for Fuji to register that the other boy was looking at him, and he refused to give in and look back.
Tezuka sighed, voice low and deep – with a hint of something Fuji was loathe to define. The voice that spoke was barely audible, and yet Fuji heard the words as clear as if they’d been shouted.
Cerulean eyes stung and he strove to ignore the cold, sick feeling that swept through him. The smile froze in place, and wouldn’t budge. He didn’t know how to take that. What did it mean? Did it mean that Tezuka had changed his mind?
Suddenly he found himself lying on his back, blinking up at those brown eyes he’d come to know so well. Tezuka looked down at him, a frown on his face, and offered him a hand to rise to a sitting position. It brought them close, yet no closer than they’d been before. Fuji just looked into those eyes, seeking something…
Finding it, he heaved a soft sigh of relief, and waited for Tezuka to speak. He watched the way the sun glinted off the greenery surrounding them, and suddenly saw a side to Tezuka he hadn’t realised before. It made his smile soften.
“I don’t need…this…” A finger rubbed against his lips this time… outlining the smile. “I want what you hide.”
Fuji blinked at the bluntness. He knew he should have expected it, but sometimes Tezuka just threw him a curve ball. “I don’t know if I want it…”
Tezuka cocked his head to one side, fingers still warm against Fuji’s lips, and the prodigy didn’t feel an urge to dislodge them. His eyes focused on Tezuka’s lips; waiting to see, hear what he would say.
“I’ll be with you.” The fingers moved to cup Fuji’s cheek, brown eyes promising him more than words could say.
And Fuji felt himself relax, finally realising that no matter how hard he tried to push Tezuka away… he’d never be in danger of losing his friend. He closed his eyes, and just let the feelings wash over him; the feeling of contentment, the feel of the warm sun, and the feeling of those fingers giving him such gentle reassurance.
Well, tell me what you thought… go on… I can take it!!!
Yes… well hmmmm