Title: Cinnamon

Pairings: Tezuka/Fuji, Golden Pair

Rating T: For language and fluff

Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis is not mine.Stories Blame Konomi

Author's Note: My first PoT fic. It's set immediately after the Hyotei arc, just before Tezuka leaves for Germany. Fluffy, saccharine fun and meant to be nothing more. Constructive criticism appreciated. Enjoy! Special thanks to microgirl for previewing and patting the nervous author on the shoulder.

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This was all Oishi's fault.

Yes, Tezuka was leaving for Germany in a few days, and yes, Fuji did seem a little upset about that, but that made avoiding the tensai all the more logical a solution. Oishi refused to understand this. When the Golden Pair had problems, they talked and talked and probably discussed all manner of feelings. Tezuka and Fuji were no Golden Pair and had made a very nice, comfortable friendship out of never, ever discussing their feelings.

A comfortable friendship had boundaries, lines one should never cross, and Tezuka had always respected them. Even if Fuji had on occasion been prone to dance along those lines, sometimes with an almost breathtaking grace, Tezuka had made sure the lines stayed firm. Everything was safer that way.

Especially since Fuji had spent the entire time since the Hyotei incident trying unsuccessfully to corner Tezuka. Everywhere he went, he could sense Fuji's eyes on him, a feeling like a dozen aquamarine butteflies in his stomach. Fuji was worried about him, and Fuji could be dangerous when he worried, so Tezuka made excuses to bolt everytime he smelled the faint hint of cinnamon that gave the tensai's position away.

And now one rant from Oishi had left his head so spinning he had asked Fuji to meet him on the roof to talk. He may need to acquire a new best friend after this.

Fuji was already on the roof, gracefully leaning back against the railing, tossing a tennis ball into the air andt o all appearances perfectly calm. Tezuka, however, knew this was merely another of Fuji's facades as he had long ago trained his eyes to watch how tightly Fuji gripped a tennis ball when he served. The force with which the tensai snatched the ball from the air nearly caused Tezuka to walk right back through the school's rooftop entrance. Only the thought of several months worth of lecturing voice mail messages from Oishi kept his feet moving forward.

Tezuka knew he didn't need to announce himself, so he just walked to stand next to Fuji, facing out so he could look at the tennis courts. Nice, safe, familiar tennis courts. After it became apparent that Fuji was not going to initiate any sort of conversation, Tezuka reluctantly asked, "Are you angry?"

"Angry?" Fuji's voice remained even and soft.

"That I didn't tell you."

"You mean that you've been methodically avoiding me for the last three days, not bothering to inform me about your injury, or that you were fleeing the country, and making me find out with the rest of the team before you continued methodically avoiding me?" The timbre of Fuji's voice did not change, but he gripped the tennis ball hard enough that Tezuka could see impressions in its surface. "No. I'm not angry." Fuji tossed the ball, as airily as if he had said nothing at all.

Tezuka realized voice mail lectures could be deleted. It certainly wasn't too late to turn around, though that would involve moving between Fuji and the door which could be dangerous.

"Fuji, I haven't been avoiding you," Tezuka began. "At least ... not for the reasons you think." Careful. Don't get Fuji started on anything uncomfortable.

Fuji stopped tossing the ball, setting it on the roof's edge. Aquamarine eyes opened and pierced through Tezuka. "Tezuka, why didn't you tell me about your arm?"

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"Eiji, they're going to be able to see your hair," Oishi whispered, trying to pull the acrobatics specialist down. There was not a lot of cover on top of the school, and the best the Golden Pair had been able to find was the roof of the entrance shed. For Kikumaru, clambering up had been routine, but for Oishi, it had been a struggle to not injure himself before practice. He had managed to learn that climbing muscles were very different from tennis muscles.

"Nyah, Oishi, but I can't see anything!" Kikumaru struggled to keep his high pitched voice down. Both knew Fuji had a rather spooky sense of hearing.

"We shouldn't be listening at all." Oishi was aware that spying on one's best friends, particularly at private moments such as this, should be frowned upon. Eiji, however, had made it seem imperative that they oversee the conclusion of their recent meddling. Honestly, Oishi felt surprised Tezuka had listened to him at all.

"But they're never gonna tell us! And what if something goes wrong? We should be here if they need help." Eiji nodded his head parentally as he justified their position.

"How exactly would we help?"

"Shh! Buchou's talking."

"Really?" Oishi risked another inch of vision. Sure enough, Tezuka's mouth was moving for more than three words. Maybe they were doing some good, after all. Oishi sighed, trying to reenact the events that had led him here. Eiji insisting they help Fuji and Tezuka work their situation out. Tezuka behaving like an insensitive moron at practice. Oishi ranting at Tezuka for behaving like an insensitive moron. And then Eiji pouting. Ah yes. It always ended in the pouting.

Oh, he was going to run a lot of laps if Tezuka ever found out about this, acting captain or not.

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"It wasn't that you couldn't handle it," Tezuka sighed at Fuji's usual moodiness. "I just ... wanted to decide some things first."

Fuji took a breath, closing his eyes.

"Disappointed?" Tezuka asked.

"By what?"

"I might never be able to play you at full strength, Fuji. I know you've been waiting for it, but at this rate, it may never happen. Even with everything this clinic says they can do, it still might not happen." Tezuka turned to look at Fuji, wishing he could read the tensai as easily as the other boy could read him, but the silence that followed could have indicated a dozen different reactions.

After an aeon, Fuji finally said. "Tennis is just ... tennis. There are more important things to me in life." He reached out a hand to tentatively touch Tezuka's own, eyes opening to look directly into the captain's, making sure there was no way he could misinterpret the meaning of that statement. Tezuka remained awkwardly silent, but couldn't bring himself to actually pull his hand away. "I know that's not true for you, though." Fuji looked up, into the clouds, watching the white plume of an airplane's engine disipate in the sky. "Germany is ... very far away."

Tezuka had no idea what the expected response for this was, so he just said, "Ah."

A silence during which Fuji may or may not have been plotting the messy demise of Atobe Keigo.

"I wanted to ask you ..." what? What had he wanted to ask. What the hell had he come here to say. Admitting the thoughts that were roiling around in his head ... he couldn't do that. Even if was leaving, it was better to just leave things as they were rather than start something he knew he would be unable to finish, no matter what Oishi said. Knowing would just make Fuji more upset when Tezuka had to leave. Best to play it cautious, even now. Especially now. "... if you would take care of the team while I'm gone. Oishi is going to be upset and need help ..."

Tezuka halted as he felt a delicate hand touch his chin, turning his face. "Forgive me for interrupting, Tezuka, but may I say something before you continue?" A light wind appeared on cue at that moment to move Fuji's hair gently. Tezuka had long ago become convinced that Fuji had developed a supernatural control over the elements for just such times as he needed to summon a Hakugei and/or destroy his captain's power of speech. Tezuka was only able to nod numbly.

Fuji took a step towards him, turning so he was better able to look at Tezuka's face. "Tezuka, I understand that you care about the team. I do too. I know that you've worked harder than anyone to help them reach their potential. I have waited while you fulfilled your responsibilities to the team. I have waited as every moment of your free time was devoted to tennis and helping the team. I had to wait, had to watch powerlessly as you destroyed your arm, ignoring my advice and the advice of everyone who cares about you because you were too stubborn to let the team down. You always put the team first, and I have always respected that about of you. You are a noble person, Tezuka, even if that nobility occasionally turns you into a complete, self-sacrificing idiot --"

Tezuka opened his mouth to protest, but Fuji silenced him with a finger to his lips.

"But if you're leaving, then I must for the moment be selfish and ignore the others. I am tired of wondering if you see me as nothing more than another member of the team, Tezuka. So before you go, you have to tell me ..." Fuji's hand drifted down to Tezuka's chest, turning Tezuka so that his face was now inches away from Fuji's own. Tezuka could smell Fuji's breath, warm with the slightest hint of cinnamon as he said, "did you really come all this way just to ask me to take care of them?"

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"What's happening?" Oishi whispered. He didn't dare hold his head up much higher.

"Fujiko looks angry. He has buchou pinned against the edge. He's still talking, but there's no way he's letting buchou run away. He cut off the only exit," Eiji reported.

"Tezuka could still jump," Oishi worried, daring to peek a little higher. He could see the tops of his two friends' heads. Fuji must be standing on tip toe to get that close to Tezuka's face. A few inches more and...

"Ow! Eiji! Your elbow."

"Quiet, Oishi!" Eiji whisper-shouted back, removing his elbow from where it had slipped into Oishi's collarbone.

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"Did you hear something?" Tezuka asked suddenly, glad of the excuse to pull away as quickly as possible. This was too much. Tezuka realized he had been about to do something very careless and side-stepped around Fuji so that he was no longer pinned against the edge. It was a long fall down, but might be worth the risk.

Fuji, however, was not about to let him slip away, moving with a speed Tezuka usually only saw on the courts to block him from getting back towards the door. "You didn't answer my question yet. Is that why you called me up here?"

Those astonishing eyes remained opened, trapping them in their focus. He couldn't see anything but that serious, azure gaze. He was amazed he found a voice to speak at all. "No."

"Then tell me what you came here for because brushing me off like this is too cruel, even for you."

Tezuka had never seen Fuji this desperate before. Actually, he had never seen Fuji look desperate at all. Still, there were no tears in those eyes, only that fierce determination ...and other emotions too. Emotions Tezuka simply did not want to contemplate. He turned to grab hold of the railing, trying to look anywhere but into that blue. His own eyes found the tennis courts, clung to them. But even so, he singled out one court among them: the court where he had begun a match almost three years ago, a match he had yet to finish. Finally, Tezuka found his voice again. "Fuji, I came to tell you that deciding to leave was the most difficult decision of my life, and it's been difficult because ... of you."

He felt the feather light touch of a hand on his elbow, but Fuji didn't speak, instead waiting patiently for Tezuka to gather his thoughts.

"You're the reason I want to stay, Fuji. And you're the reason I have to go."

Tezuka didn't need to look at Fuji to see the confusion flutter across his face. He was one of few people who had ever seen the tensai confused before. Still, Fuji didn't interrupt, but waited for Tezuka to elaborate.

"Fuji, if I don't go, there is no chance we will ever be able to have our match." Tezuka's eyes remained on the courts, even as Fuji tried vainly to bring himself into the buchou's eye line. Don't look, he told himself. Don't look or you'll do something stupid.

"I told you, I don't care about the match," Fuji protested, beginning to reach out again, but Tezuka grabbed his hand.

"I do." This seemed to stun Fuji suitably. His hand hung in the air, supported only by Tezuka's own. The buchou was forced to close his own eyes to keep from faltering at this point. It was now or never. "Fuji ... I've made some promises since I came to Seigaku. You're right when you say I destroyed my arm because of the team. I promised to take them to nationals, and now they're going. I have to take care of my arm to make sure I can keep the rest of my promise. But more than that, more than the team, more than all the tournaments, I want us to play our match."

Fuji didn't move, though through his grip on the other boy's wrist, Tezuka could feel Fuji's pulse quicken.

"The team is important to me. Tennis is important to me. But, you ... of course you're more than just another member of the team. I would rather never touch another racquet in my life than break a promise to you." Somehow, the words did not provide the relief he'd hoped. His chest tightened further, constricting his lungs waiting for Fuji's response. But there was only a frustratingly unnerving silence. He had no choice.

Tezuka opened his eyes, and fell into Fuji's, fell deeper than any ocean could dream of being.

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"Come on, buchou! You're leaving in two days! Quit messing around!" Eiji's whisper-shouts had begun to hold far too little whisper for Oishi's comfort.

"Eiji, I think Tezuka already heard us once-"

"If he heard me, he should have listened. Why can't those two make anything simple? Fujiko likes buchou. Buchou likes Fujiko. Just get it together!" Eiji slumped down a little, chin resting on his hands in an adorable pout that made Oishi forget his anxiety.

"Not everyone's as smart as you are," he said, which seemed to soothe the acrobat nicely. He pulled Eiji a little closer as their current location at least afforded them some privacy. Eiji settled in, and Oishi realized how difficult it could be to keep his attention on his friends when he had a pouting Eiji sitting very close to him.

Eiji seemed to be thinking the same thing and gave him a wink. "Nyah, Oishi. Mission."

Yes. Tezuka. He was doing this for Tezuka. He straightened to peek over the roof's edge again. "Honestly, if he'd just open his eyes ..."

"There!" Eiji squeezed his hand as Tezuka's eyes flitted open for a moment behind his glasses. "Kiss him now, or I'm coming down there!"

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Seigaku's captain had a well-deserved reputation as a cautious person. Many a freshman had been made to run laps after quoting the buchou's catch phrase, and Fuji himself liked to tease Tezuka about it. But that usual caution seemed to have been swept up by the wind Fuji nearly controlled. The voice that usually helped him make his decisions nagged at the back of his head, telling him he could leave now without having done too much damage. He could brush this moment off, and it would certainly go away and never be heard from again. He'd ignored these feelings this long. It would be no big deal to continue the status quo.

But another voice, a quieter voice that sounded all too familiar whispered that it didn't matter how many continents he put between himself and Fuji. He could never run far enough away to make these feelings disappear.

"Fuji, I want to make you one more promise before I go."

"Yes, Tezuka?" And now those eyes were trembling, trembling with sadness and --just maybe-- hope.

Fuck caution.

Tezuka took Fuji's shoulders in his hands, leaned down, and kissed him. He let himself sink into the kiss, drowning in the sensation of Fuji's skin, Fuji's lips, Fuji. Pressing Fuji closer to him as if this would make the pain of separation more bearable instead of less. And he was amazed to find Fuji kissing him back, wrapping his arms around Tezuka, returning the kiss with a desperate passion equal to Tezuka's own. They kissed until the only remaining options were to stop or pass out from oxygen deprivation.

A silence passed while the two recovered. Then, Tezuka said, "I promise you that I will remember that moment every day I'm away."

Fuji caught his breath, looked at Tezuka in amazement, and then smacked the buchou smartly on the shoulder with a hushed shout of "baka!"

Okay, so perhaps not the reaction Tezuka had hoped for. He took a few steps back, but was nearly knocked over when Fuji followed up his insult by throwing his arms around the buchou's neck.

"I've been trying to get you to do that for three years, and you choose now? Now when you're about to leave for who knows how long!" Fuji wasn't crying. He may have had a rather effiminate reputation, but he was not about to cry in front of Tezuka. Still, his voice was more strained than Tezuka had ever heard it. Not exactly an expert on comforting, Tezuka spent several awkward seconds frozen under Fuji's attack before he had the sense to return the embrace.

"Fuji ..." he began when after nearly a minute, there was still no sign of Fuji detaching. "I'm sorry if ..."

"You don't need to apologize." Fuji let go, his arms sliding gracefully off of Tezuka's shoulders. "I would've been more angry if you'd left without doing that."

Silence for a moment.

"Are you going to leave now?" Fuji asked. Resignation hung in his voice, but it was the kind of resignation Tezuka usually heard when Fuji was forced to forfeit a match after Kawamura had injured himself; the voice Fuji used when events were left unfinished. Whatever Tezuka had just started, he would not be able to stop it anytime soon. The idea was oddly comforting.

"Not yet," he answered. This seemed to please to tensai, whose eyes opened as if they didn't fully believe what they were seeing. He never hesitated, but gently looped his arm around Tezuka's neck, pulling him into another kiss. With Fuji in control, the kiss was much different, much more teasing. He pressed in deeply only to pull away the next instant, flicking his tongue inside Tezuka's mouth again and again. Tezuka felt intoxicatingly frustrated, fighting to wrest control back. Finally, Fuji allowed it, melting into Tezuka -- all warmth and cinnamon.

Cinnamon.

Halfway through the kiss, Tezuka realized he had been played as easily as every opponent who had ever faced Fuji across a tennis court. He thought he should be angry, but was too amused to actually break the kiss off early.

He waited until Fuji slid back down before calmly asking, "So, how long have you you been planning this?"

Fuji flashed one of his enigmatic smiles, saying, "How long ago did we first meet?"

Tezuka would have smiled at this, but a smile from him would only encourage Fuji's manipulations more -- which would probably be unwise. Instead, he nodded stoically and then asked, "And how long have you known I was leaving?"

Fuji's eyes opened for breath of a second before his smile returned, though now it more resembled that of a child who has just been caught closing the door to the closet where his parents had hidden his birthday gifts. "I really can't hide anything from you, can I?"

Tezuka shook his head, his expression unchanging.

"Since I accidentally saw the brochure for the institute in Ryuzaki-sensei's office two days ago. I wasn't sure if you were actually going until the morning, though."

"You accidentally saw the brochure that Ryuzaki-sensei keeps in her locked filing cabinet in her locked office?" Tezuka knew she moved it to the filing cabinet after that damned reporter saw it. It was in the file along with the rest of Tezuka's athletic records at Seigaku. He wondered what else Fuji had accidentally looked through.

"Yes," Fuji said, innocent as a fox in a henhouse.

This is what comes of getting involved with a tensai, Tezuka reasoned. "I'm going to have to get used to invasions of privacy like this, aren't I?"

"I hope not. They wouldn't be half as fun," Fuji smiled. "What gave me away?"

Tezuka decided now would be an appropriate time for some mild retribution. He swept Fuji up into a powerful, but far too quick kiss that left Fuji hanging in the air, reaching for more. "That," he stated.

Fuji shook his head as if to clear it. His voice, when he finally spoke, was delightfully unsteady. "That?"

"In all the time we've known each other, I have seen you eat many things. Things that have sent grown men crying to find the nearest water fountain, some of which you have conned me into trying. Not a one of them was ever as mild as cinnamon gum."

"Mn. I've been chewing that stuff for two days hoping you'd get up your courage. If you didn't kiss me by tomorrow, I was going to ambush you in the showers after practice." He said all this as carefree and innocent as if he were discussing a new tennis strategy. Tezuka had to work to keep his expression nonchalant as he wondered at the tensai's exact definition of "ambush."

Fuji, however, had rarely been fooled by Tezuka's masks. "Ne, Tezuka, if you're not careful, I still might."

Tezuka looked down at the mischevious smile flickering in those too blue eyes. He reached one hand out to touch Fuji's cheek, running his fingers back and through the other boy's hair. In all his fantasies, he had never been able to capture how soft Fuji's hair truly was. A rare, genuine smile crossed Tezuka's face. "I seem to be getting less and less careful these days."

Tezuka was about to lean down and kiss Fuji again, simply because he could, when Fuji put a hand on his chest. "One moment, Tezuka." Fuji cocked his head to one side. "Ne, Tezuka, lend me your racquet?"

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Oishi and Kikumaru were both very happy for their friends. However, that didn't mean they could allow themselves to be seen, which meant they were both stuck on the roof until Tezuka and Fuji finished their conversation ... which did seem to be dragging on a bit. And he and Eiji had so very little time alone together. But perhaps, Oishi admitted, getting distracted when meddling in the personal affairs of a tensai was not the smartest plan in the history of plans.

Neither expected the tennis ball which landed with impressive accuracy an inch from their heads, surprising both of them into jumping up. Oishi caught the barest glimpse of an extremely annoyed Tezuka before his vision blurred in panic.

"Eiji. Oishi," called the deceptively soft voice from below. "Tezuka and I will not be attending afternoon classes. Will you see that the senseis are informed and collect my homework?"

Oishi felt the color drain from his face. He was a dead man.

Eiji, however, simply saluted. "Hoi hoi, Fujiko!" he laughed.

Eiji laughing eased Oishi's fear enough that his vision returned and he could unlock his knees. Fuji's smile did not appear to be one of his dangerous smiles. At least Eiji didn't seem nervous, and Eiji was excellent at reading people, even the tensai. Tezuka frowned stoically at them, but Tezuka usually frowned stoically. Maybe it would be all right. The Golden Pair waved at their friends, beginning to clamber down

"Oishi. Kikumaru."

Tezuka's buchou voice snapped both of their spines straight. "Hai, Tezuka," Oishi replied instinctively as he saw Eiji grimace.

"Thirty laps each at practice."

Eiji started to giggle uncontrollably. "Hoi hoi, buchou! Have a good afternoon!" Oishi didn't have time to see Tezuka's face before being dragged down through the door at breakneck speed, likely to avoid hearing Tezuka up their laps to fifty.

"I ought to make it fifty for that giggle," Tezuka mumbled after the door shut.

"They mean well," Fuji replied, hooking his arm into Tezuka's. The feel of Fuji pressed so natuarally against his side made Tezuka almost forget his anger with the Golden Pair. Almost.

At the very least, he had better things to do with his time now. "Come on," he said, tugging Fuji toward the exit. He reasoned it would be no real trouble if he let Fuji stay attached until they entered the actual hallways.

"Where are we going?" Fuji asked.

"Somewhere we don't have to worry about an audience," Tezuka answered. Fuji smiled, a genuine smile that added an almost ethereal glow to his skin. Tezuka could get used to smiles like that. The tensai squeezed his arm, pulling him into the stairwell. Tezuka wondered if he'd be able to convince Fuji to disengage before they got into the halls. Then he realized that with only two days left at this school and in Fuji's company, he really didn't give a damn. So instead, he held him a little closer before following him off the roof.