Title: Smile: Forget Me Not

Author: Arithion

Disclaimer: If they were mine, the series wouldn't just be implied shonen-ai in certain bits… trust me... not mine

Rating: PG13

Genre: Angstish, bit of drama… um… yeah

Pairing: TezxFuji …

Chapter: 45/45 – Final chapter

Summary: What's behind a smile…?

Warning: Um well… yes. Kiss and make up, angst and denial…

Dedication: yuki_scorpio because you put up with more crap from me than I ever thought anyone would. Thank you for being an amazing friend.

Note: Please note, this fic has been finished for a long time, I just keep forgetting to upload it here as well as well as my LJ =x I do want to thank everyone who's reading and reviewing this – it's nice to know it still hits a spot even after so long

Smile: Forget Me Not

It really was amazing what sort of disturbance Tezuka could cause simply by venturing onto the court with his racket in his hand.

"Isn't it better not to force it, Tezuka?"

"I wanted to play one last time on these courts before I leave."

"I see."

"Don't worry, continue with your practice."

Fuji heard every word. He couldn't help it when it came to Tezuka speaking. It was almost as if his hearing could zero in on the very tone his voice was. Hard though it was, Fuji refused to comment and tried his best not to look at the other boy. He was, after all, playing a practice match against Taka.

Of course, he hadn't counted on Tezuka being the one to approach him, not when the rest were there, and not after their parting that morning. Although he was fairly sure no one else would understand any of the meaning behind whatever it was they said to each other, Fuji was still surprised when Tezuka came to stand next to him.

"Fuji." Brown eyes locked onto Fuji's knowing where and how to look for those hidden blues. "I want to have a light rally. Would you join me?"

Fuji's eyes scanned the other's. So much was contained in those words. Acceptance, understanding, a peace offering; and it didn't take long to answer, because there wasn't too much to think about. As it was, Fuji was proud that Tezuka had actually made the overture of friendship despite the fact that Fuji was the one with the last parting words that morning. "Sure," he said, smiling. It was the sort of smile he knew Tezuka actually liked, and it offered support at the same time it told the other boy that the things they needed to discuss could be done so rationally later.

He refused to admit to how little time remained to them that they could call 'later'.

~*~

Tezuka was waiting for him after he'd gotten changed and they fell into step together on the walk home. The silence was a little heavy and rather tense. It was probably one of the first times ever that Fuji felt uncomfortable where he was. The need to speak overrode everything else, and he cleared his throat softly. "You knew he couldn't beat you yet."

"I know." Tezuka's eyes didn't even move from where they were studying the pavement.

Fuji sighed softly. He wanted to talk to Tezuka; he wanted to make him realise that he'd miss him. Suddenly the departure date was almost there, and Fuji wanted to talk about the fact that the other boy was leaving. He didn't think he'd be able to go and say goodbye to him. It'd hurt too much; it'd be so final. "The incentive will help." It was all he could say, because he couldn't bring himself to say what was really on his mind.

Tezuka looked up at him, a thoughtful look on his face. "You think?"

It was one of those few times when Tezuka required reassurance that what he had done was right and Fuji liked being able to give that, especially right then. "Rarely, but in this case, yes."

"Good." Tezuka said with a smile.

If Fuji thought about it, there was still a tension underlying every movement they made. It was almost as if they were both tiptoeing around the fact that Tezuka was leaving. The day was almost upon them and yet Fuji couldn't bring himself to admit it. The argument that morning had still skimmed around the real issue, and Fuji was loath to bring it back up again.

The way home from school was silent, and it made him wonder if they actually had nothing in common to talk about, or if they simply didn't need to talk. Their communication was usually fine without actually speaking but it did leave a lot of room for the wrong interpretation to surface.

"Stop it, Fuji."

Shaking his head, Fuji turned surprised eyes up to Tezuka. "Stop what?"

"Overanalysing everything."

A few more steps while Fuji processed that little bit of information. "I'm not overanalysing anything."

Tezuka simply raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"I'm just thinking."

"Then you usually think more subtly."

"Subtlety is overrated." Fuji's eyes continued to focus on the path in front of them.

"You used to think that about friendship too." There was an edge to Tezuka's voice that Fuji couldn't exactly define.

He chose his next words carefully. "Friendship is subjective. It never has the same definition for two different people."

Another raised eyebrow and Tezuka stopped in his tracks. "Is that so?" he said while crossing his arms and adopting that stern look he used at tennis practice.

"It's most definitely so." Fuji stopped too, put one hand on his hip and smiled. "Don't pull the captain on me, Tezuka. I have no need for him."

"So I'm a need now?"

Exasperated, Fuji actually spoke before thinking. "Well you were before you decided to bail. Now you're a want I can't have."

"I'm not bailing." Tezuka began to reach out a hand to brush Fuji's hair from his eyes before he realised that they were standing in clear public view and that anyone could see them. Instead, he lowered his voice and sighed softly. "If you need then you can want, and wait. There's never been any talk of not having." His eyes flickered around them before he briefly rested a hand on Fuji's shoulder. "You don't have to do things alone just because I'm not here."

Despite himself, Fuji laughed. "Careful, Tezuka. You're stealing my lines." The chuckle died down and he met Tezuka's eyes. "I could do a lot of things, I just need to see if I can."

Tezuka shook his head a little. "That doesn't make any sense."

"Since when have I ever made sense?" There was a sad note to Fuji's voice as he headed off once more in the direction of home. He could feel Tezuka's eyes following his progress as he turned into the path to his house, and he wished that he could stop pushing the other boy away.

A hand gripped his elbow as he pushed open the front door and the mild shove propelled him forward in a manner that surprised him making him stumble to keep his balance. Turning around he glared at Tezuka, angry words on the tip of his tongue, but that was as far as he got.

With a slam, the door closed and he found himself pushed up against the wall by the other boy, hands held to the side of him, lean body pressed against his own. For a split second Fuji allowed himself to feel mildly annoyed that this seemed to be Tezuka's answer to everything, but the moment didn't last.

The kiss was just this side of rough, and all the more enticing because of it. Opening his mouth to Tezuka's request was almost an involuntary need Fuji gave into. Hands strained only slightly against the hold as he gave himself over to the feelings, just long enough to try and drown everything else out.

It was a heady rush, a desperate plea, and an apology for anything that might be needed on both their behalves. For Fuji, it seemed like time had stopped indefinitely, and for all he cared right then, it could stay stopped forever. He felt guilty for that thought, for not being happy that it was possible for Tezuka to go somewhere to get his arm healed.

Guilt was something he hadn't known before the whole friendship thing had started, and Fuji wasn't sure how he felt about it overall, but right then it was inconvenient. He needed to talk, they needed to talk, yet all Fuji could think of right then were the hands letting go of his own, pushing under his shirt, of the lips tasting his own and luring him in return.

Breaking away for air found them both gasping for it. Tezuka leaned his head against the wall, so close to Fuji's ear as if trying to drag air into his lungs. His voice was soft and breathless when he spoke, and tickled Fuji's ear a little. "Don't push me away, when I'm not even gone yet."

For once not able to think of any appropriate words, Fuji twined his own hands in the material of Tezuka's shirt and waited, knowing the other would continue.

"And don't push me away when I am." It wasn't a question, nor was it a request; it was a simple statement of what Tezuka expected to be done.

For a moment, Fuji felt riled at the audacity. "I can't promise that. What's a plant without its water?"

Tezuka held him tighter and Fuji could feel the slight vibration of laughter. "A cactus apparently."

He didn't know why, but that was all Fuji needed to dissolve into a fir of quiet, stress relieving laughter. "If you ever annoy me I'll tell the team you're secretly a stand up comedian."

With a shrug, Tezuka kissed his head and Fuji could feel the answering smile. "If I believed they'd believe you, I might even be worried."

"Spoil sport."

Tezuka's only answer was another soft chuckle, but Fuji could feel the tension in the other's body. Suddenly he realised that this wasn't easy for Tezuka either, and it made him feel guilty once again. Tone hesitant, Fuji kissed Tezuka once, chastely. "Can we photograph a sunset when you get back?" He almost held his breath, hoping that Tezuka understood.

Pulling away, Tezuka looked at him and smiled that small smile he so rarely did. "Yes." Somehow in that one word, Fuji heard all he needed to hear. Immediately he felt less anxious, and yet, at the same time more scared. They were fourteen, how serious could their words really be after all?

"Stop it."

Fuji looked up at Tezuka, who was frowning at him, and had the grace to look sheepish. "I was just thinking."

"For tonight, do me one favour, and leave the thinking." Tezuka suddenly looked tired. "Can we just let ourselves remember?" Remember spending time with each other; remember getting along.

With a nod, Fuji sighed, realising that he'd been rather unfair lately. He kicked himself for not being more supportive, but wasn't sure how he would have gone about it. Resolve in place, he smiled and took Tezuka's hand, focusing on anything but the fact that the other was leaving the following day.

Right then, he needed to focus on what they had, and not what they soon wouldn't.

~*~

The next morning found Fuji making breakfast for them both with a false cheer that seared his soul. They were young, they were close, and Tezuka was the best friend he'd ever had. He didn't want to think about how strange it would be not to have the other near, at least, not while Tezuka was still there. He'd have time enough to dwell later.

"I won't be gone forever."

Forcing himself, Fuji smiled, wondering just how hard it actually was for Tezuka. "Forever is a long time, but I'll still be here a while."

They'd discussed things the previous night, in their own way. Both too tired to say much, but the understanding had been reached. Tezuka seemed to relax a little. "I'll play in the nationals," he said as he stood up.

"As long as you're healed."

Tezuka looked at him for a second, and nodded. "As soon as I'm healed." He glanced at his watch, and then at Fuji, who smiled and nodded. At the front door, the kiss lingered, promising nothing, and yet remembering everything. Promises that could well be broken were of little use. Sweet nothings had no place in pragmatic lives. Goodbyes were meaningless if they weren't wanted.

Fingers lingered against each other as feelings shared themselves without words before Tezuka stepped back and left the house. Fuji watched him until he was out of sight and finally closed the door. Tezuka was due to leave that afternoon, but he knew Fuji wasn't going to see him off.

Fuji didn't go to school that day.

That afternoon he stood just outside the back door of the house, just metres from where they'd repotted cacti. Fuji hugged himself, as if trying to ward off a chill. His eyes scanned the skyline as his ears caught the noise and he looked up to watch the jumbo pass overhead, making believe, just for that moment, that it was Tezuka's plane.

In his mind he saw the things they'd shared, in his memories he locked away a feeling that threatened to lay him bare, and in his heart he brought the smile to the fore once again. He needed the strength it gave, the protection it afforded and the emptiness he could escape to. All roads led to Rome, and yet some ran in circles as well. A silent goodbye was all he could manage, because if those words fell from his lips…they'd sound too final.

So, instead, Fuji smiled.

~~**~~

The end!

Notes: I want to thank everyone who's encouraged me, supported me and read this story. This has been the ending point of the story since I started it, so I'm sorry to those people who wanted it to go on and on.

You may lynch me now…

But I hoped you enjoyed it anyway. Feedback or comments of hatred for leaving it here are much appreciated. I only hope you all really enjoyed it.