Author's Notes: I wanted to make a TezuFuji for my birthday and so here it is. I used a different POV and I hope you like it.
Dedication: First, to Maria-chan, thanks for all the reviews and the notes on my LJ. Then, to Reeza and Heiko, for your unending support.
Disclaimers: All Tennis no Oujisama characters and the song Freedom belongs to Konomi-sensei. The song Saisho de Saigo no Love Song belongs to Zygg, Slam Dunk and Takehiko Inoue.
"Let's say ten years passed
And we met suddenly in the town…
… you probably won't have changed at all."
I couldn't help but burst out laughing but
Somehow, just a little, that helped warm my heart.
If there was one cactus in the entire world who lived to be with Fuji Syusuke all throughout his entire life, it was me.
My name, Maria. Syusuke's cactus keychain.
I was a present from his always-traveling father when he came home from Mexico and Syusuke was just five. The boy absolutely glowed, I remember, when old Fuji Shinichi handed me to him. Syusuke, I gathered, had always been fascinated with cacti. Weird, I thought. I have never met a boy who adored cacti.
It was the first and last time I saw Shinichi and Syusuke laughing.
A year after, Shinichi died.
Tears soaked me as Syusuke held on tightly to the last memory his father gave him. But then when little Yuuta came to him and asked if Shinichi was coming back, Syusuke closed his wonderful blue eyes, smiled and wrapped his arms around his ototo.
"Daijoubu, Yuuta. We'll see otosan again soon."
"Will it be long, Aniki?"
"Yes. But I'll be here. I will never leave you."
And then Yuuta smiled. The bond between them was forged.
Yet it was when Shinichi died that Syusuke started to hide his real self behind those shut eyes. It was as if the Syusuke I had known – the expressive and loving Syusuke – was shunned, only to be replaced by a façade.
Yuuta didn't notice it much, having much fun because his Aniki could walk with his eyes closed. Yoshiko and Yumiko were bothered but they believed that Syusuke would eventually get tired and open them.
Yet, it was a different case for his best friend, Saeki.
Saeki saw what I saw, understood what I did, the way I did. That by closing those eyes, Syusuke had placed a barrier between him and the world.
Saeki and I never saw those eyes again, even when the family left for Tokyo. Even when Saeki and Syusuke parted ways.
It was only when Syusuke stepped into Seishun Gakuen Junior High that I saw those eyes again.
I couldn't understand at first why he opened his eyes. There was no one or nothing in particular that could pique his interest. Only a group of boys playing tennis, a younger one beating his sempai.
Yet it was this young boy that held his attention. It was this young boy that made Syusuke open his eyes once again.
His name was Tezuka Kunimitsu. Apparently, they were classmates.
Perhaps there was something in Tezuka that made him open his eyes. Something that I will be forever thankful for.
At first, I thought it was only curiosity because Tezuka was the only one who could beat him in tennis if Syusuke didn't play seriously. And it was only Tezuka who could sense that he wasn't really serious. And Syusuke had always been a curious lad. One that wouldn't be satisfied until everything was answered.
And it seemed that Tezuka was someone who didn't tell all. In fact, he reminded me so much of Syusuke himself.
Years passed by. Seasons changed. Friends had come and gone.
Curiosity changed to admiration. Admiration to friendship. That friendship to a deeper kind of understanding. And that understanding to love.
There were no words that were said to confirm that what they were feeling was mutual. Yet they knew. They knew without saying something. There was this special understanding. Something that only they had.
Syusuke's eyes were open again. His defenses were slowly thinning and so were Tezuka's.
Yuuta was also slowly opening up to his Aniki.
Yoshiko and Yumiko were finally relieved that Syusuke and Yuuta were back to how they were before.
Everything was alright again.
Well, until that came.
They were in Syusuke's room, Tezuka's arms surrounding the tensai. There was silence in the room except for the CD player playing one of Syusuke's favorite songs.
A twilight when your profile reflects bitter sweetly in my eyes
Selfishly, I wasn't to sweep you away
Since gentleness is erased by the bustling streets,
Let's combine our warmth in this quiet room
"It's not like we'll never see each other again, right?"
A smile. "Of course. I could always watch your games when I'm free."
"Can Time Magazine let you do that?"
"I have my ways, Mitsu. I thought you knew that by now."
A slight laugh. The room was still tense. Raindrops tapped on the rooftop.
"And even if we never do get to meet on purpose, perhaps we will accidentally meet in a town or something."
Syusuke glanced up and at the sight of Tezuka's serious face, he chuckled. The other raise an eyebrow.
"Gomen, gomen. It's just that you were so serious and it sounded so Shakespearean…"
The love song that bares everything
I want to protect you forever
Even if such a thought is too arrogant
After I touch your innocent smile,
I will hold you close and won't let go.
I will pour out the unchanging emotion called love.
And that will be the link that will softly lead us to tomorrow.
There was a pause. Syusuke's mirth-filled eyes turned wistful as he reached up to touch his boyfriend's face.
"And it's just that I may not hear that in a long time. I mean, you're going pro, I'm writing for Time…"
"I know, love." Tezuka ran his hand through Syusuke's hair. "But you know, even if ten or twenty years have passed, I don't think you would change. You'd still be the same Syusuke I've known since Junior High."
Syusuke snickered, a teasing glint in those cerulean eyes. "Tell me, oh gallant Sir Shakespeare, what have you done to my Kunimitsu? Hand him over at once!"
As much as we play around, as much as we gaze at each other
The excitement will know no end.
I am worried but…
I wanted to shake my head, if I had one. Tezuka was in the mood to return the teasing this would spell chaos.
"Do I need to prove to you that I am your Kunimitsu?"
The tensai wrapped his arms around Tezuka's neck and grinned.
There was something out of the ordinary in the way Syusuke melted into that kiss. It was as if Syusuke was saying that he would wait. And Tezuka was assuring him that he'd be back.
They were leaving all the uncertainties behind them, taking in only what was present at that very moment. Them.
I can hear him typing again. Another story for Time or Newsweek? Or perhaps, a letter to Tezuka?
The wind outside was bitter cold. It was already nearing winter. Almost all the leaves have fallen.
It hasn't even been ten years but has flown. And yet, nothing seemed to have changed.
The TV was open although I didn't know why. Syusuke was busy typing, his back on the tube.
"Here I am with the reigning Masters Tournament champion, world number one, Kunimitsu Tezuka!"
The typing stopped. Syusuke turned around.
"How does it feel to have the crown for five consecutive years?"
"Great. I have worked very hard, the opponents were brilliant and it's an honor to make my country proud."
A soft chuckle from Syusuke. I wanted to chuckle too and say "Same old Tezuka."
"You're the first Japanese to be ranked world number one, right?"
"Any inspiration? Secret to success?"
"I'd say passion for tennis and not inspiration. And the secret is not letting your guard down."
"Yudan sezu ni ikou," Syusuke muttered, chuckling again.
"A very good advice to your fans. Kunimitsu, sources say that you have a wonderful singing voice. Can you sing for us?"
I wanted to laugh. Tezzie-boy look flustered.
"I don't sing in public."
"Aw, c'mon. It's near Christmas."
The crowd cheered him to sing. Syusuke was trying not to laugh. Tezuka sighed.
"Ok. But I can sing in my own language, right?"
"Sure." The host turned to the crowd. "Our champion, Kunimitsu Tezuka."
There was silence. Then Tezuka's deep and smooth tone followed.
"Saisho de saigo no love song
Omae dake wa
Mune ni tojikometai
Mujaki na sono hohoemi ni
Fureta ato wa
Tsuyoku daite hanasanai
Kawaranu omoi ai wo sosoide
Ashita e sotto tsunaide yuku."
The crowd wailed and cheered for more but Tezuka was shaking his head. The host was asking for a translation however all Tez did was smile softly.
Syusuke turned back to his desk, a smile on his face.
They were miles away, separated by continents and oceans and yet the message that Tezuka sent was clear to Syusuke.
A song written in the language only they spoke.
Cheesy, I thought. But what the heck. Syusuke was happy.
It has been close to thirty years since I first came in contact with those eyes. And I know I can live another hundred to see those eyes sparkle with joy at the sight of the one he loved.
My name, Maria. Fuji Syusuke's cactus keychain.
And I am proud to have seen all those years in his life. To have lived long enough to his eyes open again.
The first and last love song
It's only you who I want to hold in my heart
After I touch your innocent smile,
I will hold you close and won't let go.
I will pour out the unchanging emotion called love
And that well be the link that will softly lead us to tomorrow.