A/n: just another tezufuji fic ^^;

WARNING: Fic might contain MATURE language and theme.


Distant Proximity

By anek

The bed gave a small creak when he stood. He could tell it was still early from the streaks of faint streetlights the window blinds were letting through, and the noises from the usual early evening commotion on the streets

He bent to pick up a pair of discarded trousers on the floor, leisurely donned it and loosely belted it around his lean hips. He was on the process of picking up the white, slightly crumpled shirt when he heard another creak. A lithe body stretched languorously on the bed, followed by a stifled yawn.

"What time is it?"

He turned to the boy on the bed, who lay naked on his back, small reddish marks still visible on the otherwise flawless skin. After frowning slightly at the noticeable bruise that had started to appear at the other's left arm, which he suspected was from his own thoughtless act; he brought his gaze to the grandfather's clock just a few feet above the headboard.

"Eight-thirty," he answered flatly, and then returned his attention to the shirt on the floor.

The other uttered a muffled "thanks".

"You're not going home yet?" he asked after buttoning his shirt.

The other gave another slow, languid stretch, before pulling a thick blanket over his head.

"Hm… no one's going to be home till 10. I think I'll stay for a bit."

He nodded silently, striding to the bathroom. Taking off his oval-framed glasses, he splashed a handful of cold tap water on his face.

"My flight is 2:30 tomorrow," he volunteered the information after turning off the faucet. He reached for the cream-colored towel that was folded neatly on the white cabinet beside the sink.

The other didn't make another sound. Just as he reached for the doorknob thinking that the other had gone back to sleep, the bed shifted again.

He turned to see the other lifting himself from the pillows. The blanket fell a few inches in the process, revealing cream-colored shoulders on slightly protruding collarbones; light-colored hair carelessly tousled and slightly hooded eyes from an interrupted sleep. The lips were pulled into an angelic smile.

"I see…"

He gave another nod, returning his eyes to the doorknob again. He paused for a moment, as if deciding on something that he wasn't sure if he should do or not. After a long silence, he turned on his heels and walked over to the bed where the boy's smile hasn't once faltered.

He lifted his hand to lightly touch the purplish mark on the other's arm.

"Put some ice on it," he stated in a commanding tone.

The other gave him a quizzical look, as if not quite understanding what he meant. After a short pause, the hooded blue gaze slightly brightened in realization.

"Oh this? Ah, thanks, but it's not a big deal, it'll be gone by tomorrow."

Tezuka frowned.

"No, put some ice on it," he repeated more firmly. He lifted his hand to give his glasses a small upward push. "I should have been more careful," he added with a slight regretful lilt on his voice to indicate that the statement was intended as an apology.

The other only smiled in return.

When silence fell and he felt that nothing else needed to be said, he nodded at the other's direction and casually strode out of the door, the doorknob giving a small click as he closed it from behind.

"All passengers to Frankfurt, please proceed to the departure area," a feminine voice announced.

Tezuka took his hand-carry luggage with him and walked to the platform. Two attendants in neat blue uniforms stood by the entrance, wearing smiles that he could only surmise as forced and obligatory, nothing like the pure, nonchalant smile of someone he knew.

He showed his ticket to the taller attendant. After a brief inspection, the attendant smiled again, spoke in a sickeningly pleasant voice that sounded almost like a recording, and motioned for him to continue.

He was lucky to get the window seat. After stocking his medium-sized travel suitcase on the overhead compartment, he took out a magazine from its pocket and settled himself on the seat. The plane wasn't packed, and no one has taken the seat next to his yet. It was almost time for the scheduled departure and he hoped that would remain the case.

He flipped through the tennis magazine aimlessly. He had already read through it, and he silently regretted having packed the other magazines and books on his main luggage. Another feminine voiced came out of the intercom, announcing their imminent departure. A slight vibration that followed told him that they were now taking off on the runway. When the plane took off, he gazed through the window. It was a nice day, the sky not being too cloudy so that he could see the cars and buildings increasingly growing smaller as the plane continuously gained altitude.

In a far off distance, among the tall buildings of the city, he fixed his gaze somewhere among the midst of the tall buildings. Somewhere… although he couldn't see it, the school must be there. He could almost see the blue jerseys of the tennis club members as they lined up the court and practiced their swings. And among them would be the regulars… Oishi, Kikumaru, Inui, Kawamura, Momoshiro, Kaidoh, Echizen, and…

He paused for a bit, squinting his eyes under his glasses, as if doing so would let him see certain familiar smiling face.

… and Fuji.

He leaned back on his seat. His mind wandered off to the previous night, and he wondered briefly what time Fuji had gone back home. He had left the hotel earlier than usual for he had many things to prepare for the flight.

But that wasn't anything new. There have been many nights like that before… countless nights. Sometimes he'd wake up to find himself alone on the bed, the pillows cold and the blankets neatly folded… the earlier passionate lovemaking feeling so surreal that he could almost convince himself that everything had been nothing but a dream. But he never thought of it strange… after all, there were times as well when it was him who left the bed without a word and he knew that Fuji never found it strange either.

Deciding that he might as well take a nap for he had a long flight ahead, he placed the magazine on the empty seat next to his. Leaning back on the velvet-covered seat, he closed his yes… lulled by the faint humming of the plane engine and the distant hushed voice of the passengers. His mind drifted back to where it had all started…

It was early summer, school year having just ended though spring wasn't quite over yet. Having lost the Nationals didn't dampen their spirits… or perhaps it was the opposite, and they simply wanted to forget the disappointment and failure.

It was both to commemorate the end of the school year and to celebrate the graduation of their senpais that Ryuzaki-sensei had suggested a trip to the coastline, which was a good three-hour trip. He had agreed without much thought, though it was more because he felt obliged to do so, with their senpais and other club members having more-or-less appointed him as the next Captain, he didn't have much choice. It wasn't that excursions and such weren't to his liking, it was only that he usually preferred going off on his own.

The resort hadn't been busy. He supposed it was for the better, for he never liked crowded places. It was after lunch when he had decided to take a walk to the shore, the cottages having become too noisy for his liking. In contrast to the dense air in the cottage, a mixture of barbeque, smoke, and burnt meat, he found the fresh sea breeze rather inviting.

He had walked quite a good distance when he noticed the narrow fjord between two cliffs that had blocked the shoreline. He had always been fond of mountain climbing and the steep rocks had naturally whetted his own interest. He came to a boulder, which narrowed the inlet into a mere one meter in width. Inspecting the boulder closer, he found a slab of stone that protruded on it's side, and it was just enough for him to step on, but as soon as his foot landed on it, it crumbled into an almost powdered state. The water was deeper than it had looked, and he sank a good few feet under before getting over his initial surprise and floating to the surface. The sight that greeted him was something that he would have wished that he had a camera. The boulder had blocked most of the incoming current so that the surface seemed so still that it almost seemed like a narrow lake instead of a sea inlet. He shook the salty water off his hair and brought a hand to wipe droplets of salty water from his glasses.

"It's a really pretty place, isn't it?"

He turned to face the source of the soft voice.

"Fuji…" he breathed when his eyes found the source of the sound sitting carelessly against the boulder.

Fuji smiled in reply.

Tezuka tried not to mind the fact that Fuji was sitting naked against the boulder, with no evident piece of clothing other than the strap of leather he had slung across his neck, making a stark contrast against his pale skin, but his curiosity made him raise an eyebrow in question, which didn't escape Fuji's notice.

"Ah, I fell. I wasn't intending to swim so I didn't bring any spare clothes," Fuji offered in explanation to answer his unspoken question. "It's a good thing I have my waterproof camera today," Fuji continued, indicating the black object that hung just below his chest.

So that explained the leather strap, Tezuka concurred, for he had not dared to look farther down earlier. Not that he thought it strange for him to be leery upon seeing another boy's body, but he was a person who valued personal space and privacy. If Fuji was uninhibited, he was simply the opposite.

But he had realized a crucial thing that he hadn't had the chance to think of before-- he didn't bring spare clothes either.

He effortlessly swam to the nearest rock, and lifted himself from the water. Ignoring his sagging clothes, he sat himself against a smaller rock, a few feet away from the other boy.

"So, what are you doing here?" he asked, gathering a handful of his front shirt in an effort to squeeze water out.

"Hmm…?" Fuji began distractedly. He was in the process of positioning his camera to catch a picture of a reddish fish that was flapping it's fin in the water, making circular disturbance on the still surface. "Oh, I was just walking around and found this place. I thought it'd be nice to take pictures."

Tezuka nodded in response, seriously debating now whether he should take out his own clothes and let it dry out like Fuji was doing. Deciding that it was not a big deal whether he did so or not, he shrugged off his polo shirt and laid it against a smooth rock.

They fell silent then. It had always been the case. Even after knowing each other for almost two years, the conversations they've had had been short and concise, and almost always involved nothing other than tennis. Fuji didn't make the effort to break the silence either, and they fell so silent that all they heard were the distant waves and the soft sea breeze that occasionally stirred the still water in the inlet.

After a moment, he eyed Fuji curiously, wondering if the other had fallen asleep. It was hard to tell, for Fuji almost always kept his eyes closed. He leaned back on the cold stone, deciding that taking a nap wasn't a bad idea either. The scenery and the silent nature was lulling him off to sleep. He had almost nodded off when a sudden gush of air blew, stirring the water enough to send small waves against the rocks. He would have welcomed the occasional disturbance, but it had blown off his shirt off the ground where he had left it to dry.

He stood abruptly in an attempt to catch it before it fell to the water again, but the sudden action had made him forget the uneven rocky surface. Although he had successfully caught his shirt, his foot had landed abruptly on one of those protruding slabs, making him loose his balance. He fell forward, and although he had expected a painful fall, he landed with a soft thud, and it was then when he realized that he had fallen on top of Fuji.

The smaller boy gave a surprised gasp, before fluttering his blue eyes open and stared at him with a hooded, dazed and slightly confused gaze characteristic of someone who had just been abruptly woken up from sleep.

The silence that followed was different from the companionable silence before. This one was filled with tension, of surprise and of dangerous uneasiness that accompanied their compromising position.

He knew should have made an effort to pull away… for that was what he was supposed to do, yet he had forgotten that he still held his shirt on one hand, and that one of his knees might have been badly scratched from the fall. His gaze had dropped to Fuji's slightly parted mouth, and down to the exposed skin on his neck where Tezuka could see light traces of reddish sunburns, and where the small black leather strap he wore around it left a noticeable mark…

He didn't question what it was that made him lower his head to capture the other's mouth… nor did he question what it was that made Fuji return his kiss. Perhaps it was only curiosity that drove to do so… or perhaps it was the romantic scenery engulfing them that made them loose their senses... caught in the frisson the sudden contact of their bare skins made.

Many things they didn't question or think about, but they simply indulge themselves in the pleasure of the moment. No questions were asked… in fact, no words were said. And a few minutes later… the scent of lovemaking slowly fading, carried away by the salty breeze, they had stayed silent still… no guilt, and no regrets either. They didn't speak as they both lay on their backs in the cold stone, side by side, their bodies spent, their arms barely touching.

"Maybe we should get back, they might leave soon."

Fuji had said then, the same smile never left his face.

"Aa," he answered. He busied himself, occasionally glancing at the other who stayed silent. When Fuji turned to fetch his own clothes he had left to dry on a flat stone nearby, he did the same. Tezuka noticed the reddish marks on Fuji's back made by the uneven rocks where they had lain.

That was the first time he found out that Fuji had such sensitive skin.

Tezuka was jerked from his sleep when the stewardess who wore a small blue cap perched on top of her hair which was tied into a neat bun, offered him a tray of western food with various garnish that he didn't quite recognize. He took the tray with a nod. He glanced at his watch; five hours had passed since they took off.

He glanced at the window, it was dark.

Although he was a bit hungry, his mouth was dry and he simply didn't feel like eating.

Yes, if there was something between Fuji and him… it was sex… sex and nothing more. Things have simply taken their own course after that first time in the beach. Sometimes, it was him who made the move, at other times, it was Fuji who made the invitation. Their bodies may have connected… yet they remained detached. They did well in bed, and that was their unspoken agreement. They asked nothing else of each other, other than the pleasure of the flesh each of them was willing to offer.

And that was fine. It made everything easier. Their school, their tennis… and their partings.

It was two weeks later when he decided to call. He had just finished talking to Oishi, who gave him excited accounts of the events that happened since he left. He was about to put the receiver down, when he changed his mind and dialed Fuji's number. When the ringing tone stopped, a rather loud noise came out that for a moment he had to bring the receiver a few inches away from his ear, thinking that he must have dialed a wrong number.

But Fuji's familiar voice came.

"Hello?"

Tezuka could barely make out the words above the loud voices in the background.

"Fuji?" he clarified, raising his own voice. When Fuji mumbled some incoherent words that he couldn't make out above the noise, he continued. "Where are you?"

There was silence, then the noise slowly ebbed.

"Aa, I'm in the movies. How are you Tezuka?"

Their conversations have always been casual, polite and impersonal.

"I'm fine," he answered curtly, glancing at his watch. It was just past mid-afternoon. It must be almost midnight in Japan.

"With who?" he asked, maintaining the casual tone.

"Hm? Oh, with an old friend from Rokkaku. We met again in the Regionals. Oishi told you about the results, right?"

Tezuka paused. An old friend… that should have been enough information. He wasn't supposed to ask, and he didn't have to know. Commitment was something that they've always lacked.

"Old friend?" he asked just the same.

"Saeki, you've probably never met him. Anyway, how is Germany Tezuka? It must be cold."

Maybe it was the way Fuji kept steering the subject elsewhere that irritated him most, or maybe it was the infuriating noise… or maybe it was something else altogether, but he was sure of one thing… his mood had suddenly gone sour.

"Of course it's cold," he curtly replied, voice laden with a tinge of sarcasm that was rather uncharacteristic of him.

"I see…" Fuji answered lightly.

"Good job on the Regionals, support Oishi with the club," he commanded abruptly, and as soon as he heard Fuji utter a polite "thanks", he placed the receiver down.

Tezuka eyed the phone irately. He didn't have the right to be angry, to do so would be a clear breach of their unwritten contract. Nor did he think he had any reason to be irritated either. Even when he was in Japan, he never concerned himself with the people Fuji affiliated himself with, nor did Fuji involve himself in any of his affairs. Outside of bed, they were nothing more than teammates.

He strode to the kitchen to pour himself a cup of steaming green tea, and settled himself on the leather couch. He absently fetched a book from the center table.

After reading the same passage at least 15 times, and not once comprehending a single damn word being written, he glanced at the phone again. A small beep from his wristwatch told him that it had just hit 4 o'clock in the afternoon… it should be just about midnight in Japan.

With a sudden new surge of irritation, he quickly picked the wireless receiver up and hit the redial button.

"Yes?"

Tezuka's frown deepened when an unfamiliar voice answered.

"Where's Fuji?" he asked in a brisk tone, a simple deduction had told him that it must be the old-friend-person Fuji was with.

"Ah, Fuji?" the voice on the other end almost screamed, as if attempting to make himself heard above the noise. "He went to get some soda."

By then, Tezuka had decided that, no, he didn't like the guy one bit.

He pursed his lips.

"Don't touch him."

"Eh?"

"Don't touch him," he repeated, though after realizing that he had just said his most foolish, irrational words yet, he placed the handset back without another word.

The morning after, he decided to go for an early jog. The weather was becoming increasingly cold, but he had been idle for too long and he needed the exercise. It was still slightly dark outside; although he could already see the sun slowly making it's way up the horizon. He followed a narrow trail that led to a small park beside the lake. He slowly picked his pace up until he was half-jogging, half-walking, ignoring the chilly air that made his knuckles almost numb.

He passed a couple of sparrows silently perched on top of a wooden bench. They fluttered their small wings and flew away when he passed by, disturbed by the sudden loud noise his phone made.

After rubbing his hands lightly against each other to bring back some circulation into his numbing fingers, he answered the phone, slightly out of breath. He didn't bother stopping from his light jog.

"Yes?"

"Ah, Tezuka. Good morning."

Tezuka paused, slowly decelerating until his quick steps were reduced into a casual stroll.

"Fuji."

"As expected, you're still up early even in Germany. It must be still dark over there."

He glanced at his watch.

"Not really, it's almost six."

"Oh, I see…"

They fell silent, and all he could hear was Fuji's light breathing on the other end.

"Tezuka…" Fuji began, but trailed off as if to hesitate on something.

And Tezuka knew Fuji wasn't one to hesitate.

"What is it?" he prodded, quickening his pace again as he rounded the corner of short shrubs that surrounded a small flower garden.

"Saeki told me about a call he got for me last night. Well… he wasn't sure who it was, so I'm just checking…"

Tezuka unconsciously gripped the small black cell phone tighter. It wasn't only that the mention of that name didn't bode well on his morning disposition, but he was reminded of something that he had almost spent a sleepless night over, yet still wouldn't come to a clear, satisfactory answer.

He wasn't one to lie… but he knew he wasn't ready to be completely honest either, for he didn't have the answer he sought.

"I don't remember," he evaded, turning slightly eastward to where the trail veered to the right.

It was a while before Fuji spoke again.

"I see…"

Just when he thought their conversation had ended, Fuji continued in a smaller voice.

"Although if it was you… I don't think I would have minded."

Tezuka abruptly stopped on his tracks. It wasn't until he thought his lungs would freeze due to the sudden intake of icy air that he realized that he had been involuntarily holding his breath before.

After a sudden realization that he was blocking the narrow trail when a light-haired boy in a bicycle called out for him to step aside, Tezuka continued forward, his mind almost in a turmoil, and his chest tightening in various emotions that he didn't quite comprehend. He noticed another wooden bench a few feet away, a couple of sparrows pecking on the wooden seats, and Tezuka realized that it was the same bench he passed before and that he had rounded the park and had ended up on the same spot where he had been before.

He stopped and sat on the bench, the sparrows fluttered their wings again and flew.

"Fuji… if I was with someone else, would you have said the same thing?" he asked, referring to what he had said to Saeki the night before, and admitting that his earlier denial about not having remembered the conversation didn't have any truth.

"Yeah… I think so. I haven't really thought of it before," Fuji answered after small sigh.

It almost brought a small, almost invisible smile on his usually pursed lips.

He was exactly the same. Too many things they didn't think about, and too many questions they preferred not to seek answers for. And it was not until they found themselves miles away from each other that they realized just how much they wanted to protect what they've always had.

"Do you miss Japan?" Fuji asked after the long silence.

Do you miss me?

Tezuka could almost hear the underlying unspoken question that went with Fuji's casual voice.

"Aa, I miss Japan." Yes, I miss you.

"The tennis club needs you." I need you.

"I'll be back soon." I'll be home soon…

For the first time, Tezuka understood why their time together had more silence in them than spoken words… because they never needed many words to begin with. That small voice that made them communicate almost subconsciously, had always been there from the start, yet they had chosen to ignore it, brushing off their relationship as purely physical and impersonal.

"I heard they make great gummy bears in Germany. Can you bring home some," Fuji asked, and Tezuka could almost see the other's smile widening a notch.

"I didn't know you liked candies."

"Aa, I do have a sweet tooth."

"I thought you preferred more peculiar tastes. I didn't know you still had normal taste buds."

"And I didn't know you have a very lousy sense of humor, Tezuka," Fuji shot back.

Tezuka found it amusing how they knew the other's bodies more than anyone, yet so many things they've yet to learn of each other. His lips almost curved into a tight wry smile.

He stood from the bench and walked a few feet forward, closer to the lake, so that he was standing on a wooden plank where a small rowboat had been tied to its corner.

"It's a very nice lake. Maybe we'll come fishing here some day."

He heard a soft chuckle from the other end.

"Aa, I'll buy a fishing rod."

A promise for the future, a subject they never once discussed before. Perhaps they had started too fast, and too soon, that neither of them completely understood what it all had meant. They might have had the process of their relationship reversed… but no one ever said that it was too late to start over again…

And maybe what they had before was simply a gloomy prelude to the real bright beginning of what was to come… and Tezuka somehow knew, that things would be a little bit different when he returned.

~~end~~


a/n: phew… I swear, Tezufuji is a pain to write. Humor tezufuji I think I can deal with a bit easier, their personalities just kinda flow, but drama TezuFuji makes me want to scratch my head (or maybe it's just me ^^; ) coz they both have complicated personalities @_@ But that's why it's my FAVE fave pairing! I just somehow get this feeling that if they get involved romantically, it will be a deep, complicated kinda relationship *melts to a puddle* XD

After I finished writing this, I actually realized that the way Tezuka and Fuji are being a bit cynical on how they view love and sex might be a bit more mature (I think that's how old they should be in this fic…) but gah, it's so hard to watch/read tenipri and get convinced that they really are only in junior high! @_@ so uh... yeah ^^;

And your reviews will be greatly appreciated ^_^

Thanks for reading

~anek