Disclaimer: POT not mine

Wintry Flight

Tezuka had been told repeatedly that ice-skating was a wonderful and 'fun' activity—he is most inclined to disagree.

Tezuka looked down at the pair of ice skates being held under his nose for a long moment. They looked heavy and clumsy, most unsuitable for movement, and the metal blades gleamed like weapons.

"No."

"Oh come on," Fuji smiled encouragingly, "there's no harm in it. It's just a little fun! While the winter lasts, ne?"

Tezuka frowned, "No."

"Saa… Haven't you skated before? It's like flying!" the brunette waved his arms around to emphasize his point, nearly clipping Tezuka on the nose with a skate. "Oops, sorry, wouldn't have happened if you'd just put them on. Here."

Sighing when he realized that he probably didn't have a choice in the matter, Tezuka reluctantly accepted the proffered shoes.

There were many things worth trying in the world, and he admitted that he probably didn't know the half of them. So he was willing to try some of them, albeit at Fuji's request. It was something he had gotten used to over the years. At least the others hadn't arrived yet.

Putting his feet inside the unusually stiff footwear, Tezuka picked up the very long laces and paused. He had, in truth, never gone skating before, and he had absolutely no idea how to tie the things.

Glancing to the side, he found Fuji just starting to lace up his second skate—he had brought his own, which showed in just how well they fitted his feet. Watching carefully, he copied the tensai's actions. When he had finished, he repeated it with his other boot.

"Saa, you really haven't done this before, have you?" Fuji asked, actually sounding mildly surprised. He knew Tezuka was attached to his tennis shoes, but having been brought to an ice rink every year since the age of seven Fuji hadn't thought that there could be anyone who hadn't encountered the sport at least once in their lifetime.

Tezuka made a noncommittal sound and stood up, only to sit back down again quickly as his feet each keeled in a different direction. Fuji laughed and Tezuka shot him a glare. He couldn't see what was funny about it.

"You should be a little more careful," the small brunette advised, grinning, "it can be a bit disconcerting until you get used to it."

"I surmised as much."

Standing up again, this time with a little more care, Tezuka balanced his weight on the blades. It still felt precarious, but at least he wasn't falling over.

"See, easy right?" Fuji beamed, tugging his friend in the direction of the rink. "Come on."

X

Ice, Tezuka decided as he stood stiffly on the edge of the rink, one hand latched on to the wall, was not a substance meant to be walked on. This was proved by the fact that every time he tried his feet would immediately try to shoot out from under him, often in different directions, probably just to spite him.

Now, if only he could get back to the exit and onto nice, solid, friction-providing ground… Of course, the only problem there would just have to be that it was all the way across the expanse of frosted white—which he wasn't feeling eager to cross.

Then, of course, the others had arrived.

He had first noticed their presence when Kikumaru had coming flying out onto the ice like something launched from a cannon. The redhead had been waving his arms around like a madman, and Tezuka couldn't for the life of him tell if he was laughing or screaming, but whatever else it might have been it was certainly a great cause for a wish for earplugs. Oddly enough, the acrobatic tennis player hadn't gone smashing straight into the opposite side of the rink—where Tezuka was unfortunately but coincidentally standing—as everyone who was leaping out of his way expected. Instead, he had managed to turn somewhere along the way.

It was a relief, but a short lived one.

Oishi, never far behind his doubles partner in most places and occasions, had discovered the joys of unstable footing. Apparently concerned about Kikumaru's safety, the generally overly worried youth had scrambled out onto the ice in a bit too much of a hurry—not that there was ever a good time to get onto the ice, in Tezuka's opinion. It was a treacherous substance. Oishi had then proceeded to do exactly what Tezuka was hoping to avoid and gone skidding over the ice on his rear end. He had spun a full circle too before one of the less skilled skaters had tripped over him in what looked like a very, very painful accident.

Kikumaru, having seen his doubles partner's plight, had let out an even louder exclamation and gone zooming back to help. The only problem there being of course that, nimble as he was on a tennis court, the redhead had not yet quite perfected the art of turning while on skates.

The result…well…Tezuka wasn't really sure he wanted to remember that particular feat. Rest assured it was not what he would call a boost to one's reputation. Really, if they had all been more intelligent, they would have followed Kawamura's example. The sushi expert of the team had begged off having to skate by offering to prepare the food for the little outing—a proposition, of course, that people like Kikumaru and Momoshiro would never let slip away.

Speaking of Momoshiro, the second year had made quite an entrance by striding proudly onto the ice and altogether doing quite well until he crashed face first into one of the rink walls. He always did use too much strength in everything, a lesson that had hit home rather harshly that day when he found himself unable to put on the breaks. It had actually been quite amusing, if it weren't for the fact that Tezuka himself was dangerously close to doing the same.

He supposed that Inui had actually been accurate this time when he predicted that there was a 99.9 percent chance that the event was going to be highly eventful and, consequentially, a perfect data collecting opportunity. Thus the data player had ensconced himself in a corner where he would neither get run into nor run into anything, pen and notebook ready and waiting as his glasses gleamed in anticipation. He was drawing quite a lot of strange looks from skaters who didn't know him—not that anyone could really blame them for that.

Kaidoh on the other hand was attracting his own share of odd looks as he glided slowly around the rink, looking even more sour than usual. It had turned out that he was not a cold weather creature by any means, and he had arrived in enough layers to clothe the entire team. The ungainly shape he cut against the pale backdrop of the rink was enough to make anyone stare—twice. On the other hand, he hadn't crashed into anything yet.

It was then that Echizen, having grasped at least the basics of skating—having learned a bit while he was in America—had decided to drop by where the Golden Pair were still helping and un-helping each other back onto their feet to deliver his favorite phrase in a smug voice. Of course, that meant retaliation, and Kikumaru had immediately leaped up—apparently forgetting that he wasn't supposed to be able to—and chased after the snickering youth. They had gone about halfway around the rink before they shot past a still somewhat groggy Momoshiro, spinning him around wildly and nearly causing him to do another face plant in the wall. Furious, the violet eyed teen had yelled angrily after them before taking it upon himself to join the chase.

And that, Tezuka had long since learned, was never a good sign.

He knew he was right a moment later when Oishi's horrified cry rang out through the chilled air. It was also the mark of when the majority of his fellow tennis players became basically indistinguishable.

Tezuka sighed. It was all Fuji's fault. He'd still be on the other side if the tensai hadn't tried to be helpful by giving him a push.

Where had the brunette gone anyway?

Sharp, golden brown eyes swept over the many skaters sliding their way in circles around the rink—wondering briefly why they looked so pleased seeing as all they were really doing was going around and around a piece of ice—before landing on the familiar figure with honey colored hair that was his friend. Fuji was gliding smoothly over the ice, beige sweater looking rather inadequate for the cold—especially compared to the sphere of cloth that was Kaidoh—but a genuine smile glowing on his face nonetheless. Watching him, Tezuka had to admit that the tensai made skating look very enjoyable indeed, but still…his wayward teammates were probably more accurate examples.

As if sensing that he was being watched, Fuji turned and skated over to where Tezuka was standing by the wall, making a sharp turn to come to a stop before him—just barely missing getting run over by a still frantically yelling mass of flailing limbs that was their teammates.

"Saa," tilting his head to one side, he gave the taller youth a quizzical look, "you know, it's a lot more fun if you're actually skating, you know? Look at the others, they're having fun."

"Hn," Tezuka frowned in disagreement.

Laughing, Fuji held out his hands, "Come on. You won't learn anything just standing there."

"I learned this was a bad idea," the other grumbled, but he accepted the proffered hands regardless. He would need Fuji's help to get back to the very inviting looking gate across the rink anyway, seeing as he didn't trust his rebellious feet to take him there without mishap. He might have thought it a bit embarrassing, but he was a practical person and sliding out of the rink on his stomach was certainly not practical. And anyways, he didn't want to get flattened by the Seigaku human bowling ball rolling around the rink.

"Ne, Tezuka, you should bend your knees," Fuji advised. "How do you expect to balance if you're standing all stiff, hmm? Okay, good, now move forward."

Sighing, Tezuka took a tentative step away from the wall, careful so as to be sure that he wasn't making any sudden moves. Then he stopped. Looking up from his inspection of his carefully positioned feet, his eyes narrowed slightly at the sight of Fuji laughing—at him, of course.

"May I inquire as to what is so amusing?"

Shaking his head slightly, Fuji calmed his laughter, but he was still grinning a fraction wider than his usual smile, "No wonder you're having a hard time! You can't just walk across ice, you have to skate!"

Tezuka only looked at him, eyebrows slightly raised.

"See, it's like this," Fuji explained, letting go of Tezuka's hands for the time being so he could demonstrate. "First you turn one skate, like this, and you push off with it. You glide on the other one, see? Then you alternate. It's really quite easy. Now you try it."

Not seeing that he had much choice in the matter, Tezuka did as he was bid. To his immense surprise—though not necessarily pleasure—he slid forward.

Fuji glided backwards in front of him and smiled brightly, "Easy ne? Now alternate."

Figuring that he might as well, Tezuka did so, pushing off a little more firmly this time as his confidence grew.

It was a mistake.

The next thing he knew he was shooting forward and he realized a little too late that he should have asked Fuji how to stop first. He flew past the—surprisingly—surprised Fuji, accidentally snagging the tensai's sleeve in the process as he flailed a bit in a wild attempt to halt his forward momentum. However, on the contrary, the addition of the tensai's weight didn't slow him down, instead it added a spin to things—literally.

Then Kaidoh appeared in the line of fire.

This has got to be a nightmare, was the last thing Tezuka had time to think before there were two Seigaku balls of limbs tumbling over the ice—two balls that were on the way to becoming one very big one.

x-X-x

"Um…are you guys…okay?" Kawamura Takashi asked uncertainly as he watched his fellow tennis players troop slowly into the dining area to the side of the rink. The straggling line looked rather bedraggled to be the generally chipper friends he knew.

"I'm aching all over nyah!" was Kikumaru's wailing complaint as he slumped onto one of the benches by the table Taka was working at. He was echoed by a chorus of groans that carried a distinct undertone of agreement.

Now, Taka had been a bit too busy to actually watch his friends, but from what he saw he found himself doubly grateful for the fact that he had managed to escape having to attempt to skate. Even Buchou was looking grimmer than usual!

On the bright side, he was pretty sure he knew how to cheer them all up—he was feeling a bit guilty for feeling glad he didn't have to go through whatever they had just gone through anyhow. Of course, Inui didn't look the least bit ruffled, but no one wanted to take too close a look at the delighted grin on his face anyway. It would be better for the health and one's sanity not to notice.

Tezuka watched in mild amusement as his companions' faces lit up brightly at the unveiling of the food Kawamura had prepared. They were always so easy to satisfy. Wincing slightly at the aches in his own limbs, he accepted a cup of hot chocolate from Oishi and moved off to sit at a small table off to the side next to the large, glass windows where it was quieter. And anyways, with the way his teammates were devouring the food—especially Momoshiro, Kikumaru, and Echizen, who seemed to have started an impromptu eating competition—he feared staying near them would result in the unpleasant and unexpected loss of vital limbs.

Fuji detached himself from the feeding frenzy, a plate of suspicious looking sushi and a cup of hot chocolate in hand. Smiling slightly, he seated himself across from Tezuka and started in on his dish. Thankfully, his eating manners were far more like those of a normal person—even if his choice of foods was not.

They settled into a comfortable silence.

Wrapping his hands around the warm mug of hot chocolate, Tezuka let out a soft sigh of contentment. Fuji could call sliding around on a giant ice cube fun, and it might even be a little for some, but this was more what Tezuka himself had in mind. Peace, quiet, warmth, and company that didn't mind the same.

-Owari-

A.N. Well, this was supposed to be longer, but oh well, it just didn't turn out that way. Anyways, I was originally going to write a Fuji b-day fic, but yeah, watching the Olympics made me write this instead So, hope you guys liked it! And just for the record, I love skating, it's just I remember the first days when I couldn't do anything but inch around the edge, hehe.