+ Into the Façade +
In the world where the boundaries between acting and living fade, life becomes confused… unreal… and almost as if imagination had taken over reality… The façade goes into place and life then becomes a living stage.
Sunlight filtered in through the soft curtains, presenting their warm golden rays onto the currently dozing boy, stirring him from the deep slumber he was caught in.
Blue irises then unveiled themselves to the world, blinking away any remnants of sleep that was still left behind. For the past two days, he had been lost in thoughts, wondering what had happened to Ryoma. Was it because of him?
As he got up and made his bed, a cheerful chirp from the door caught his attention.
"Syuusuke, breakfast's ready."
Fuji nodded, smiling as he usually does. When the door closed, he walked over to his window sill where five cacti stood, carefully arranged.
"Ohayou," he greeted, before heading towards the toilet to brush his teeth and get a change of clothes. After all, today was the day he could get to the root of the matter after enduring two long days to do so…
When he was done, he exited from the washroom and grabbed the piece of paper that contained Ryoma's address. However, his eyes widened as another object caught his eye. Not knowing how it got there, Fuji decided to just place it in his pocket and his grin grew wider.
Ryoma was startled awake by Karupin who happened to have unwittingly scratched his nose as she was making her way up to the blaring alarm clock.
Yawning, he switched it off, much to the Himalayan's displeasure, before getting out of bed. For a second, he forgot why he had set his alarm so early. Then he remembered.
With that, he headed towards the bathroom, Karupin trailing closely behind him.
Chapter 012 – A Day to Remember
"Thanks for the ride nee-chan!"
"Anytime Syuusuke," Yumiko gave a small grin. "Have fun! You did prepare a gift for him right?"
Fuji nodded before noticing the knowing twinkle in his sister's eyes.
Then he realized how that mysterious object found its way to his room.
Just before he closed the door, he reached over and gave a small peck on his sister's cheek. "Arigatou nee-chan! You know me justtoo well."
As his sister drove off, he turned back to the gate. Reaching for the doorbell, a sudden thought crossed his mind – what would be the most appropriate words to say? Thus he stood at the gate, fingertips barely an inch away from the doorbell.
He need not think for long though, as Nanako emerged from the house, before catching sight of him.
"Fuji-kun?" she inquired, reaching over to unlock the gate at Fuji's affirmative. "Ryoma-kun is in the kitchen. Have you taken your breakfast?"
His previous hesitation quickly disappeared and Fuji nodded, following the girl back into the house. Stepping within these new boundaries, he glanced around, catching sight of a tennis court at the far corner of the compound, or what was left of it. The net was sagging in the middle and the ground was littered with weeds. Curiosity was drawing him towards that place but he held back, continuing along the route to the house.
The next thing Ryoma found himself in his room, alone, with Fuji and Karupin.
As if intrigued by the new stranger, the Himalayan pawed at his legs and Fuji brought her to his lap, nuzzling her fur coat slightly. For a while, no words passed between two boys. Ryoma sat, perched on his bed, looking down at the duo that were on the floor.
"What was the reason for your absence?" Finally, Fuji's voice cut through the silence.
"Ann-chan was worried. I asked Eiji-kun too but he didn't know either."
Ryoma glanced down, absently wondering if that was why EIji mentioned Fuji-senpai in their recent conversation.
"Ryoma-kun, you should not look away when someone is talking to you." A finger slid beneath his chin to tilt it upwards. Once again, there was that lavender fragrance. "I was worried too."
The other's breath was light and ticklish against his cheeks.
With that, Fuji leaned in to steal another kiss from the younger boy's lips. For a moment, Ryoma was frozen in shock. Then he felt Fuji mouthing something against his lips.
"It was not because of this was it?"
Golden-green orbs softened before closing and he leaned into the kiss, answering Fuji's question at the same time. As he did so, whatsoever thoughts that burdened him for the past days simply vanished, and he found safety in the other's arms.
A few minutes later, Fuji was gently pressing the younger boy onto the bed as he ran a trail of kisses down Ryoma's neck, before nibbling at his collar bone. Ryoma moaned softly under Fuji's tender ministrations, cheeks flushed and breathing hitched. But just as Fuji began to reach under Ryoma's soft green turtleneck, a certain Himalayan jumped onto the bed, annoyed at being ignored. Surprised, Fuji paused and stared at the cat with his stark sapphire gaze yet the cat refused to budge from its current position on Ryoma's chest.
The younger boy moved to sit upright, clutching Karupin to his chest while smirking at Fuji.
"You'd come to see her after all."
"So I did."
Letting Karupin go and smoothing over his attire, Ryoma made his way towards the door.
"I'm going to get something to drink. Want anything?"
Fuji shook his head and watched as the door close.
A purr and scratching sounds caused him to look around, finding Karupin by an old wooden cupboard.
"You want to open this?"
Karupin mewled in response and began to scratch harder.
In the kitchen, Ryoma filled a glass with milk before sitting down and proceeding to drink, mind still digesting what had just happened. However, a photo frame by the microwave caught his attention, breaking his train of thoughts and he headed closer to get a better look. His reflection stared back at him through the glass.
The photo must not have been more than a few years old.
Reaching out, he took the photo out from its frame and brought it back to the table where his glass still stood, now forgotten.
Turning the photo around, he noted that it was indeed taken six years before while they were at the airport upon their arrival to Japan.
His mother was there, dragging the luggage with Tezuka-sensei helping her. To his parents then, Tezuka was like one of their own. His father had engaged Tezuka's services ever since Ryoma was a child to whom Tezuka had grown attached to. Hence, when they moved to Japan, Tezuka followed suit.
His father… he was there too along with Ryoma. They were the main focus of the shot, with his father's left arm slung over him while the other arm waving wildly at the camera. Even now, he could still hear the voice of his father telling him to look at the camera.
"Come on now Ryoma, smile for the camera."
"Nanako-chan! Over here!"
"Okay Oji-san! Look over here Ryoma-kun!"
Oyaji… how long has it been since he last uttered those words. Tou-san… that was the best he could call his father with now. Reverting back meant that everything is back to normal, that everything was all right.
Mere days ago, his father had sat in the very seat he was in, foolishly asking to come back. Golden-green eyes hardened at the memory and he made to rip the picture in two. Yet something held him back. As he stared at that smirk on his father's face, he could not help but wonder why he felt that there was something he was missing.
Changing his mind and placing the photo back into its rightful place, he finished the glass of milk before making his way back up the stairs. At the door to his room, he finally realized what was bothering him so. From the moment he and his father met six days ago, not once did he see his father genuinely smile just as he used to.
She had witness the internal struggle Ryoma had, watching his eyes glitter with memories from the past and when he had taken the photo into his hands with the mind of tearing it, she had clenched her eyes shut. But no sound of it being torn followed and she pried open an eye in time to see Ryoma replacing the photo back into its frame.
Hiding out of view as her son headed back up the stairs, Rinko then entered to take back the frame she had forgotten to bring back to her room, lips tilting into a soft smile.
Ryoma glanced up to meet Fuji's gaze, nodding to acknowledge the greeting.
"Karupin wanted to open that cupboard over there. You mind?"
He followed Fuji's finger and realized just where he was pointing to and he stiffened.
Hesitantly, Ryoma walked over and pulled back one of the long brown door of the cupboard, revealing a glass cabinet displaying rows upon rows of trophies. He flinched visibly, backing away into a warm embrace.
As if in a trance, Ryoma leaned forward to take a familiar toy, half wondering how it got there, half wanting to slam the door firmly shut.
"I guess she wanted this," Ryoma murmured as he closed the door.
Fuji gazed silently at the green-haired boy. Those trophies in the glass case were tennis trophies, meant to rot away in darkness just like the tennis court he saw earlier. What on earth happened?
Yet none of these questions escaped his lips. Instead, he reached out to take Ryoma by the hand.
"So where do we stand now?"
Ryoma shrugged nonchalantly which triggered Fuji to tug him into a hug, whispering into his ear…
"We are lovers Ryoma."
With that, he released the younger boy before walking over grab his coat from a chair.
"Shall we go out then?"
The toy slipped out of Ryoma's fingers andinto Karupin's waiting paws.
"Fuji? Ochibi?" A wide-eyed Eiji pointed excitedly at the duo. "Ne ne, Oishii… it's them isn't it?
Oishi nodded before sighing when he instinctively knew what was coming next.
"Nya let's follow them!" Smiling slightly, he allowed himself to be pulled along by his partner, long used to the antics the other always seem to be full of.
"It looks like Eiji found us." Fuji whispered to Ryoma.
Indeed, he caught sight of the familiar red head bounding his way down the street only to stop short with a soft "eep" when he saw that Ryoma had turned around and was looking directly at him.
Despite that, he happily bounded over with his companion.
"Oishi, how have you been?" Fuji began, talking to the other boy whom Ryoma recognize as Oishi.
Well knowing that Fuji had inconspicuously escaped from the endless bombardment of questions Eiji is currently throwing at him, he glared at the smiling boy whom recently was made boyfriend.
From across the street, a similar brown haired boy took two steps back in astonishment.
"Nee-chan. Isn't that Aniki with… Echizen?"
Yumiko glanced at them before patting Yuuta's head.
"Yes it is. You mean you didn't know?" She feigned an expression of surprise. "And you are the one who is in the same school as him!"
"Nee-chan, don't act like aniki!" Yuuta glanced away from his sister, embarrassed.
Giggling, Yumiko shook her head. "No Yuuta. It should be the other way around. After all, Syuusuke learns from the best!"
"I'll get you this one!"
Ryoma critically eyed the innocent little plant with Fuji had placed into his hands.
"Ah, excuse me. How much is this?"
"Fuji-senpai! I don't want it!"
"Objection overruled," Fuji grinned as he paid the man. "But why don't you want it? Isn't she cute?"
Ryoma held the potted cactus gingerly with both hands, wary of the sharp spines that protrude out of its thick green stem. After getting away from Eiji, they ended up looking at shop vendors by the road side which was how they came across this stand selling a great variety of plants, including cacti.
"Well, if you don't want it…"
It was nearly six when they returned home.
"Give me your right hand Ryoma." Ryoma did so, just realizing that the other had dropped the use of suffixes.
Momentarily distracted by that thought, he hardly realized that the other had slipped on a ring onto his ring finger.
Glancing down, Ryoma eyes widened when he saw the letters engraved into the ring- mine.
"Though I unfortunately didn't choose it myself, but someone very close to me did and I find it just perfect for your finger."
As he looked back up at the smiling boy, he knew he had one possessive person as a boyfriend, namely Fuji Syuusuke.
But he grinned and he leaned over to peck the older boy on the lips.
That was just fine…
As he entered the house however, his grin faded when he caught sight of the old tennis court at the corner. Usually, he would simply ignore it and walked straight home. Yet this time, something compelled him to head over and he did so, not really knowing what to expect. Perhaps it had been the trophies… perhaps the photograph…
Bending down, he placed the cactus to one side and began pulling at the weeds.
A while later he stopped, shock at what he had done. Quickly picking up the potted cactus, he rushed back home.
"Remember, you must pull out everything, the whole weed. Otherwise it would just grow again seishounen."
"I know oyaji. Why don't you come here and help then?"
"I would but as you know I'm growing old. So I should let you do it." Nanjiroh grinned from his perch by the bell, flipping through one of those magazines of his.
Ryoma sighed as he continued pulling weeds, clearing the court that had not been used ever since his father had left the house and went to America which really equals to a lot of work.
"You need help?"
"No Kunimitsu-kun! Let the seishounen do all the work. He needs the exercise."
"Baka…" Ryoma growled under his breath.
Ryoma leaned heavily on the door after slamming it shut, trying to force all thoughts away. Apparently, his father's sudden appearance affected him more than he thought.
Glancing at the ring on his finger, he focused on it, willing all other thoughts to go away. Slowly, he felt the deep void within him began to shrink, no matter how slightly. Shaking his head, he slumped onto the floor, knowing that though he can never totally mend the gap his father had left behind, there was still someone he knew he could rely on.
He brought the silver ring to his lips just as Karupin walk over, curling herself around one of her master's feet.
Fannychan: Yes! Finished this record time! Hahas. Okies, so here are the comments. I dun feel like killing myself (finally) because at least I won't disappoint u with my lack of updates (okay fine, it's only this one time but dun worry! I'll still try to get the next chappy up the following week). And at least there is Fujiryo? Hahas. Okies. I also wanna thank you guys a LOT! I received more positive reviews about the previous chappy then I had expected! THANK YOU! It was a real great motivational booster for me.
Ryoma: I'm wearing a RING?
Fannychan: Yes dear. Isn't it adorable? Me and chibifanny had chipped away all day and all night to get it done in time for this fic to be up didn't we?
Chibifanny: Sure did. By special order of Syuu-chan though we didn't have time to pass it to him so we just had to give it to Yumiko-chan.
Fuji: It's perfect. /smiles/
Fannychan: Domo. We even used a secret ingredient to make it stick to Ryo-chan's fingers unless we will it to be taken off due to the demands of this ficcy!
Ryoma/flew into an indignant outrage/
Fannychan: While we try to get things under control here /dodges a flying cactus/ Hey! That's mine! Oh technically Fuji gave it to you so it's yours but everything in this fic belongs to ME/remembers disclaimer/ Eeps… oh well, almost everything.
Chibifanny: What she is trying to say is that she's going to work real hard to get this arc up real quick. Yups, we decided that this fic shall continue for a loooonnnnngggg while. Or at least with sequels. Hahas. So this is kinda dubbed as Ryoma's arc. Temporarily. This decision is still under planning but you don't have to worry much. Hope ya enjoy the chappy! R&R!