Genre: Angstish, bit of drama… um… yeah
Pairing: Kinda sorta almost TezxFuji
Summary: What’s behind a smile…?
Warning: Bit of angst, um bit of cuteness… more analogies… yeah hehehe… covers episodes 24 - 27
Dedicated: yuki_scorpio … she knows why… and she knows what happens if she defaults on her end of the deal *evil grin* and to lina_lau for her wonderful drawings
Lights dimmed, Fuji stood with his hands on his hips, watching the rolls of negatives drip dry from where they were hung. Granted, he could have used the more modern dryer… but there was just something about doing things the old fashioned way that appealed to him. Tezuka stood off to the left a little, watching the same reels dry, a slight frown on his face.
Syusuke laughed. “It’s not that bad, you know.”
“I didn’t think it was.” Tezuka’s voice was soft, and Fuji was fairly certain his friend was thinking about things that had nothing to do with photography.
With a slight sigh he moved closer to look at the negatives, determined them dry and decided to pick the larger ones – his pictures – first. There were still a few things Fuji wanted to… make a point of, and this was the only way he could think of to get Tezuka to understand. Visual aids could work wonders, after all.
Fuji motioned for Tezuka to come join him he was about to speak when Tezuka spoke first. “I always thought negatives came after the photo…” There was mild curiosity in that voice.
Syusuke chuckled. “No. Without the negative, I can’t print the pictures. I have nothing from which to define what I’ve taken.”
Tezuka’s next words were murmured so softly that Fuji might have thought he didn’t hear them. “Mmm foundations to build upon…”
Fuji just smiled and simply cropped the negative he wanted to use the most. Bypassing the more modern machine in which he could easily dispose of the negative and let it take over, Fuji made his way to an older set up, vaguely aware of Tezuka following him. The prodigy smiled, fingering the negative delicately, making sure not to smudge it in any way.
He kept up a murmur of running narrative as he prepared to print the picture, and couldn’t help thinking that he’d chosen it well for the purpose he intended it for. “A lot of photo studios use machines these days, but I can never seem to get the same sense of satisfaction out of them. I like to feel what I’m doing, to touch it… see what could and couldn’t be, all the possibilities at once.” They open like the paths you’re disinclined to chose, and yet offer you the whisper of so many forgotten promises, he thought, but didn’t add.
Fuji could feel Tezuka come to rest behind him, watching what he was doing, and instead of feeling annoyed or agitated like he would if it were anyone else, he simply felt comfortable. So it was easy for him to continue, because he didn’t need Tezuka to speak, or answer, or ask questions to know that the other boy was listening.
“You need to see what you’re doing.” The negative was slipped onto the slide and masked appropriately. Fuji then fished for some of the paper he needed, and put the light sensitive material on the tray. “Need to make sure the focus is right, the filters, if you use any, are correct, and that overall, you’re going to get the moment that you captured and not just some cheap imitation of it. Because that’s what the machines do… they have no…sense…” He bent over and began to focus, check, focus, and attach the filters that he felt were necessary, although he didn’t want much for this one… this one would be better as natural as possible.
The necessary checking out of the way, Fuji made a noise like satisfaction under his breath. He switched on the printers light and began to watch the paper carefully… narrating his actions with a soft, slightly distracted voice. “Now we print, but you can’t just let it print. That would be pointless. This won’t be the final… draft.” He almost chuckled at the last, finding it strangely appropriate. Tezuka shifted a little behind him and Fuji bent to his task.
Syusuke started by exposing parts of the paper, two inches at a time. “You need to make sure you capture what you want in its best possible light. This looks a little different, but it’s easier to judge what degree of exposure would be best for your subject.” Slowly Fuji pulled the paper through, every ten seconds, pulling the mask back a little at a time so that he had strips of paper with varying degrees of exposure. He took a step back when finished and shivered slightly, feeling the brush of air along the back of his head that told him Tezuka was standing closer than he thought.
Moving a bit he then fixed and rinsed the picture, and set it to the side before starting on another run through. He repeated the process another five times, adjusting the filters, and the exposure along with them. When he finished rinsing the last one he moved to let a little more light on the situation. He wouldn’t be able to see what exposure was right if he didn’t do that. Tezuka moved over to the pictures, looking at them, that slight frown still on his face. When Fuji returned the taller boy asked simply. “Why?”
Fuji’s face softened a little. “See how the strips highlight your face differently? How they highlight your hair and the very tension that surrounds you?”
Tezuka’s only answer was a partially confused nod.
“And you see how some of the filters add a softness to the atmosphere and others are harsher?”
Again a nod, but less confused.
“So you can see how much more there can be to this than just a machine that you press a button on, ne, Tezuka?” There was a soft smile in Fuji’s voice as he pushed his friend to understand what he was saying… what he was trying to show him.
“Yes…” Tezuka’s voice seemed hesitant, knowing, but not quite believing yet.
So Fuji pushed that little bit more. “Tell me, Tezuka, which light do you think you look best in?”
His friend blinked at him, a raw look passing over his face so briefly that had Fuji not been intent on watching, he would have missed it. In that look he saw the person that Tezuka kept hidden, the person that he’d been sure was under there all along. That vulnerable side that no one ever got close enough to see, because the older boy hid it so damn well. The fact that Tezuka, despite outward appearances, was still a child with a child’s hopes, dreams… and uncertainties.
In that brief instant Tezuka let Fuji in, finally, fully, and the prodigy smiled a true smile… and waited, just waited for the answer his friend would give.
A hand reached out, briefly brushing the hair out of Fuji’s eyes in a gesture that spoke of trust. “This one… “ Brown eyes locked momentarily with Fuji’s. “Because… it… finds me.”
That was all he needed to say, he knew it and Fuji knew it. As Fuji dimmed the light, and retrieved another sheet of paper, the silence was pleasurable, easy… and welcomed.
When Fuji developed the picture…it showed the strength, the vulnerability, the determination, the confusion, the charisma, the concentration, the pain and the discipline that it took to be who Tezuka Kunimitsu was. In short… he’d captured the moment he wanted for as close to an eternity as was possible.
And Fuji wasn’t about to give it up.
Fuji was glad of the Sunday, because for some reason Tezuka seemed a lot more relaxed after it. He was also glad for it because that following week, his friend decided to keep something from him and the prodigy wasn’t used to it. It was quite easy to notice when the taller boy was thinking about something.
And then of course, Tezuka seemed distracted that morning when they got ready for school. His voice was distant when he spoke. “I can’t come over tonight. I have plans.”
Fuji blinked and smiled. “Well, I’ll let you off just this once.”
Tezuka only seemed to half acknowledge Fuji’s flippant answer and shrugged with a slight grunt as he shouldered his school bag and headed towards the door. Fuji almost frowned, hurrying his steps to catch up with his taller friend. There was something wrong, but for the life of him, Fuji couldn’t figure out what. And when Tezuka was disinclined to tell you something, he didn’t tell you.
It felt strange when Tezuka didn’t appear to the practice that afternoon as well, and Fuji’s eyes narrowed when it appeared that Echizen and Oishi weren’t there either. All sick? That was just strange, and besides, Fuji knew for a fact that Tezuka wasn’t sick in the slightest.
He didn’t let it worry him; at least he thought he didn’t. Tezuka was able to look after himself after all, and wouldn’t appreciate Fuji thinking that he couldn’t. And that wasn’t it anyway. The thing that was slowly gnawing at him was the fact that there was obviously something that Tezuka didn’t think he could share with Fuji.
Not even his music and rocking chair could put the thoughts out of Fuji’s mind. He ran through the possibilities. That Tezuka had an injury, he knew. That his friend was slowly recovering and should be okay for the up and coming tournaments was something he also knew. He also knew that Tezuka had been watching Echizen closely.
Fuji opened his eyes and blinked, ignoring the fact that his stomach ran cold at that thought for some reason. He let himself remember that it was their last year of junior high. Knowing Tezuka he would be thinking about that. It made Fuji smile, because he couldn’t help but be fairly sure, somehow, that he knew what Tezuka was doing. And suddenly he didn’t feel as bad as he had before.
The next day saw Tezuka and Echizen missing training once more, but Fuji no longer worried about it. Tezuka would come over when he was ready to again, and not a moment before, so it was useless to dwell. Fuji simply refused to admit that he might miss his friend…well maybe a little.
The next day was a little strange. It seemed that Echizen’s cat had followed him to school. The boy was beside himself and had headed back home to search for it, when Momo caught it in the clubroom. Fuji found it highly amusing, and would perhaps have laughed a little more, had he not been so aware of the fact that Tezuka seemed to be ignoring him, even though they walked side by side.
It chafed a little, and so, as they were all walking home and Fuji’s sister offered him a ride home, he gladly accepted it … and tried not to laugh at the look on Momo’s face when the boy saw Yumiko. So he said goodbye to his friends and climbed in the car.
“Syusuke, you’re quiet.” Yumiko sounded concerned.
“No… I’m just thinking.”
Yumiko stopped the car in their driveway and looked at him for a few seconds. “So is he…” And with that cryptic comment that Fuji could make far too much sense of, she got out of the car.
He wished he could damn her insightfulness some of the time. Getting out of the car he slung his bag over his shoulder and walked into the house, not bothering to smile in the process. To be honest, he couldn’t really be bothered right then… he began to think that he’d pushed his friend a little too far on Sunday and that Tezuka was now regretting the knowledge that Fuji had the insight into him that he did.
Chiding himself as climbed the stairs, Fuji decided to jump to conclusions when he had some information other than just supposition. Suddenly he felt the urge to play, to get out some of his frustration in a way he understood. He changed quickly and headed back down stairs, pulling a loose crème jumper over his head, and almost collided with his sister.
“Oh,” he smiled at her. “You going out?”
She nodded. “I just had a call.” Slipping on her shoes she looked up at him and smiled too. “Don’t stay up too late!” And in a swirl of her usual vibrancy, she was gone.
Fuji sighed, and decided to go punish the piano keys. It was an easy way for him to think, to sort through thoughts, and feelings and things that he generally didn’t like to think he possessed… the things he generally liked to ignore. Fingers cascaded lovingly over the keys, in a way he couldn’t when he thought someone might see him. The hearing was never a problem, just the seeing.
Fingers flowed gently as he played, but then felt the need to be less gentle, felt the need for turbulence… to vent, to be, and just to let go. His piano wasn’t an organ, but he’d long ago adapted Bach’s little fugues in G-minor to suit that instrument. It was the speed he needed, to wrest his concentration away from things that were confusing him, and to place it with the music, making him become a part of it.
As always it took a few minutes for him to come back to himself when he finished that piece, his breathing even sped up. When his awareness returned properly, he realised there was someone knocking on the door. Standing up he made his way to the entrance hall to open the door, half expecting and half hoping who would be there.
Tezuka stood on the step, bag slung over his shoulder, eyes focused on Fuji from behind sun-glinted glasses. “The prefecturals are tomorrow.”
Fuji nodded, a small smile gracing his face. “I know.”
The taller boys eyes flicked to the ground once, before looking back at Fuji with determination. “I… had…”
With a slight chuckle, Fuji stepped aside to let the other boy inside. Tezuka seemed almost grateful not to have to finish what he’d been about to say. “Sometimes you just need to, Tezuka.” Fuji didn’t need to add that he understood… because they both knew it.
Tezuka smiled, a slight smirk almost. “Even on a road trip?”
Fuji laughed, as they headed into the kitchen, feeling fully at ease once again. “Maybe, especially then…”
Okay well yes… there you go. I didn’t go into as much detail with this part of the photography as I could have, but there was only really one point I wanted to get across hehe
Hope you enjoyed it. Feedback is really appreciated!
Oh and yeah.. envelop me came from me wanting to call it develop me... and the latter made even less sense... so nyah