Thirty Days and Thirty Nights
Don't Look Away
Tezuka sat on the coach's bench, watching Echizen play the Hyotei second year.
Fuji had to admit that the first year was something special, that watching his game was watching something powerful evolving. As Echizen demolished Hiroshi, the spectators watched in awe. Hyotei wasn't supposed to lose, not to Seigaku - but this upstart was changing the tides, rewriting history by himself.
It still didn't excuse the slightly transfixed look Tezuka was wearing.
He was cold, and he wrapped his arms around himself. The wind kissed his hair, and he wondered how it was possible to feel lonely in a crowd.
Tezuka didn't like sweet things.
On Valentine's Day, there was a plethora of candy, of confessions, of tears of rejection. He felt horribly uncomfortable, wishing the girls and their chocolate didn't exist. A few tried to steal a kiss, and he hated them the most.
At practice, the regulars compared chocolates to decide who was most popular. Fuji won for the second year with Ryoma coming in a close second.
"Looks like someone replaced you, buchou," Fuji teased.
It was a loss he could deal with.
Tezuka didn't like sweet things. Maybe that was why he liked Fuji.
In the End
This is how it ends.
It ends with just Fuji Syuusuke and Tezuka Kunimitsu, ignoring the rain that beats down from the night sky.
It ends on the tennis court, their rackets fallen carelessly to their feet as they lean across the net to break that final boundary between them.
It ends without words, their actions speaking louder as their arms wrapped around each other and lips meeting in unspoken agreement.
It ends with the realization that the other shares the same feeling, the sudden jolt of amazed pleasure that they are possible.
This is how it begins.
Tezuka wished that Fuji wasn't the jealous type. He never said anything, but the way Fuji looked at him after he played a match with Ryoma after returning from Germany spoke volumes.
They weren't a physically demonstrative couple, no stolen kisses or heated moments where hands fumbled. Instead they had trust, and belief in the other's feelings.
He'd silently walked Fuji home that night, unable to find words of explanation. Fuji had offered him a smile as they paused in front of his house. He made no move to touch Tezuka.
"It's okay," he assured Tezuka. "I understand."
But Tezuka wondered.
Fuji loves to hear Tezuka's voice. It's the only thing that keeps him from going crazy when he's confined to bed with a torn ligament in his knee.
Tezuka understands better than anyone else on the team about how a career-threatening injury feels. He spends time every day visiting Fuji, filling him in on the latest school gossip. Tezuka is quiet, and most people don't know that he hears everything that goes on around him: who was caught kissing in the closet, whose father was arrested for fraud, who was suspended for fighting.
Fuji listens, and hears what's left unsaid.
Promises Not to Keep
The last time they met was at the train station.
They stood together in silence as they watched the departures click up on the board. One by one, trains left and departed, and Tezuka knew it was time to say goodbye.
"I'll call you," he said, although the words were empty. He didn't even have Fuji's phone number.
"That would be nice," Fuji said, not pointing out the lie. He started to move away, but turned back abruptly to place a kiss on Tezuka's cheek as a farewell and a thank-you. "I'll keep in touch."
Tezuka never saw him again.
Tezuka tried not to snicker as Fuji held court among the team. Fuji was standing with a hand on his hip, running his other through his hair. "Ore-sama no bigi ni yoina!" he declared, snapping his fingers before blowing kisses to the hysterically laughing crowd.
Fuji was doing his Atobe impression. Tezuka mentally vowed he would not react. "Twenty laps, everyone," he ordered instead. He would not react.
"Let's go," Fuji replied as he raised a finger in the air, declaring: "Katsu no wa ... Ore da!"
Tezuka caved. The Seigaku regulars almost had heart attacks when Tezuka keeled over laughing.
Their Own World
Inui watches Tezuka and Fuji, trying to decide are-they-or-aren't-they. The team believes they are just friends, but girls whisper they are lovers, stealing kisses when no one is around.
They are never far apart, but there is no evidence they are involved romantically. They stand close, but not inappropriately so. While watching matches they may comment to each other on an impressive play, but usually remain silent. There are no stolen caresses, no signs of hidden affection. Inui begins to think the girls are being ridiculous.
Then Tezuka looks at Fuji, and Inui has his answer.
The Home Stretch
They'd been studying together for weeks, a mad scramble to assimilate enough information to score well on entrance exams for university. They both wanted to go to Toudai, but Toudai only accepted the best.
Tezuka felt his eyes crossing as he stared at math formulas. Fuji was sitting on the bed, fighting a losing battle with sleep.
Enough was enough, Tezuka decided. He pushed his books aside, and lay down on the bed next to Fuji. Fuji didn't say anything, merely wrapping his arms around Tezuka and leaned in for a kiss.
This was the best kind of study break.
There's times when Fuji will point out a detail or comment about a color Tezuka missed. It may be a painting, someone's clothing or a view Tezuka's always taken for granted, but suddenly the familiar is strange, and the monotonous is exciting again. It's like getting his world turned on its end.
Tezuka wants to see with Fuji's eyes, to understand the world that Fuji creates by merely existing. Romance is not about stolen kisses or passion; for him, it's about fascination.
Tezuka doesn't need his glasses to know he wants Fuji in his life, now and forever.
The fireworks went off at midnight.
It had been a long day, and Tezuka knew Fuji had only agreed to the hike because of him. Fuji didn't like cold weather but he had made no complaints as they climbed the mountain. Tezuka thanked him silently, wrapping his arms around Fuji's waist and pulling him close to share body warmth.
From their vantage point high on top of Mount Fuji, the explosions looked like small flowers, blossoms of brilliant color across the black January sky.
He leaned over and kissed Fuji. "Happy new year," he murmured softly, before stealing another kiss.
Celebrate Good Times
The night of Seigaku won the national title, the team partied at Kawamura's. The celebration didn't end until 2 a.m..
Fuji and Tezuka walked home together, talking about the future. Tezuka was uncharacteristically verbose, expressing his happiness. He wanted to keep playing, and keep his team together in high school.
Maybe it was because he was high on adrenalin, but when they arrived at Tezuka's house, Fuji impudently grabbed Tezuka's arm, pulling him closer. Rising on his toes, he gave into the impulse to press his lips to Tezuka's in a chaste kiss.
He was thrilled Tezuka kissed him back.
The Real Thing
Fuji Syuusuke was married four times before he turned thirty.
His longest marriage was three years; the shortest, three weeks. Women loved him, but he found himself disenchanted with each of his wives quickly. Once the thrill of the chase wore off, he lost interest. He wondered if there was something wrong with him.
He met Tezuka again at a charity ball, and that night, he kissed a guy for the first time. He felt something hard inside of himself melt, and suddenly saw his future. This time there would be no marriage, but this time it would be forever.
Shall We Dance?
The radio on Tezuka's desk hissed and spat like an angry cat. Tezuka watched Fuji with patience, not offering to help. Fuji would enjoy figuring it out on his own After a few minutes, Fuji managed to find a station that satisfied him. The languid melody throbbed through the room.
"Do you want to dance?" Fuji asked, holding out his hand.
Tezuka rose to his feet, embracing his lover closely. They rarely took the time to touch, so the intimacy was thrilling. Their hands glided lovingly over chests and faces, as they stood barely swaying, their lips and hearts entwined.
For the rest of his life, blue would mean Seigaku.
Blue was tennis: the sky as they practice, a perfect blue that defied description; the deep blue of their banner as it waved on the wind as they accepted the award of the National championship; the regulars in their matching blue jerseys as they laughed and celebrated.
There were other, little things: the notebook he used as class president, the signs his fans made, his history text - all of these were Seigaku.
The color of Fuji's eyes after their first kiss.
For that, blue would always be his favorite color.
Anything But This
Fuji knew of Tezuka's justifiable pride in his tennis skills, and knew that the one thing Tezuka wanted most from him was a real game. Tezuka wanted to know, once and for all, who Seigaku's strongest player really was.
Fuji could give him friendship, offered in the firm clasp of a handshake. He could give him his loyalty, couched in respectful words. Fuji could even give Tezuka his love, wrapped in soft kisses and warm caresses.
But he could not give Tezuka what he wanted most. He did not want to play Tezuka because he was afraid he would win.
When Tezuka becomes angry, he grows quiet and still. Most people wouldn't notice, since Tezuka tends toward reticence, but Fuji can feel his rage. It's a strange energy in the air, crackling like electricity. Fuji thinks that if he reaches out to touch Tezuka, he will be singed.
Tezuka has better control than anyone else, waiting until the team has left. Tomorrow there will be many laps for Seigaku, but for tonight, Fuji is the only victim.
Fuji watches, fascinated, as Tezuka walks toward him. The kiss as Tezuka presses him against the wall is nearly bruising, but Fuji thrills.
Love was about compromises, and even after many years together, Tezuka Kunimitsu and Fuji Syuusuke still had to work hard on bending when it was necessary. Both were stubborn personalities, and yielding to avoid conflict had been difficult for them to learn.
Some things, though, Tezuka would not budge on.
Fuji leaned in to kiss him, but Tezuka held up a hand to stop him. "I know what you just ate. Go brush your teeth," he ordered.
Fuji gave a slight chuckle, before rising to his feet. Tezuka absolutely refused to have anything to do with wasabi, even second hand.
There were times Tezuka was cute, though no one would have believed it if Fuji told them. Not that Fuji would – there were some things he kept for himself. Fuji collected memories of Tezuka in relaxed moments, gathering them in his heart.
He liked Tezuka first thing in the morning, adorably tousled and not completely awake. He adored the way Tezuka would nibble on his pencil thoughtfully as he worked his way through his homework. He cherished the slight growl Tezuka would release right before they kissed.
He loved Tezuka's face, stained with a heavy blush, after they made love.
Fuji hasn't been to Japan in years. It's only when Yuuta sends a wedding invitation that he makes time to return to Tokyo.
He arrives late at night, expecting no one to meet him. He thinks he'll get a room in a hotel, and see Yuuta the next day. The man waiting with a card, bearing his name in neat kanji, takes him utterly aback.
"This was the only flight you could have taken," Tezuka says, and there, in the airport, he draws him close and kisses him. "Welcome home," he whispers, and Fuji knows he will not leave alone.
Fuji is indifferent to many things, but when he becomes angry, he is beautiful to behold. He becomes sharper, dangerous like a sheathed knife in a killer's hand.
Tezuka finds it fascinating watching as Fuji grows upset. It's rare that true emotion stirs under his usually placid surface, but today Mizuki has pushed him too far. Although his smile is still present, there is a brittleness in his voice when he speaks. His eyes are spitting blue fire, and Tezuka knows that someone is going to get hurt.
Wisely, Tezuka pulls him aside. He kisses him, and Fuji's anger stills.
As Fuji slept, Tezuka held him. In repose, Fuji resembled a child, tucking his hand against his cheek. He snuggled closely, clinging to Tezuka's shirt with the fingers of his free hand.
It was rare he saw Fuji without his smile. Fuji always wore that mask, and sometimes Tezuka wondered if that mask was slowly becoming real. As they grew older, he could feel Fuji retreating into himself for protection. Tezuka didn't know how to prevent it.
That's what made these moments so special. He leaned forward, brushing a kiss against Fuji's forehead. Fuji shifted, and smiled in his sleep.
Only an Ocean Away
The phone rang late that night. He could hear the nurses down the hall, tucking the children in and offering good night kisses to the youngest. Hearing their German whisperings just emphasized how far from home he was.
"Tezuka? Am I calling too late?"
"It's after nine. Did you need something?"
"I - no, it's nothing important."
"Fuji, what's wrong?"
"It's nothing, really. I shouldn't have called. Good-"
"I just wanted to hear your voice."
Fuji laughed, and then spoke of Seigaku, of Ryoma and Oishi and the rest.
He bathed in the sound of Fuji's pleasant Japanese.
His fingers gripped the wire fence as he watched the boy play. Fuji wasn't really interested in the clubs Seigaku offered, but he had agreed to check out the tennis team with Eiji.
He hadn't expected to actually find someone like him. Fuji watched the boy play, feeling his heart in his throat.
He never faltered. The boy dove, kissing the ground as he managed to make a miraculous return. His arm was scraped, but as he rose, Fuji met his eyes.
"Game and match, Tezuka!"
It was then Fuji decided to sign up for the Seigaku tennis team.
Fuji had a posessive streak a mile wide, but he would never own Tezuka.
He hated watching the people swoon over Tezuka. The tennis world had become his oyster, and while Tezuka never sought attention, it had a way of finding him. The Tezuka Zone worked off the court as well as on, with people swarming to him like bees to honey. All Fuji could do was watch, powerless to stop the phenomenon - and Fuji hated that.
It may have been his kisses Tezuka sought, his bed Tezuka shared at night, but when morning came, Tezuka belonged to his fans.
Lean on Me
Tezuka was never sure how he and Oishi began dating, but he did know that it would not last forever. Oishi loved him, but he was in love with Kikumaru. Tezuka resolved to enjoy their relationship while he could.
Oishi figured it out eventually, and Tezuka let him go without complaint. It hurt, but he loved Oishi enough to wish him well. Oishi apologized sincerely, but his farewell kiss was relieved.
When Tezuka went home that night, it surprised to see the lights on, until a pleasant voice called out to him.
"Would you like some coffee, Tezuka?" Fuji asked.
The pills on the tray sat there for fifteen minutes, discretely ignored as Tezuka and Fuji reacquainted themselves with each other. Tezuka's fingers brushed long paths along Fuji's skin that he marked later with his lips.
It was a surprise when Tezuka hissed in pain, a muscle in his shoulder catching him off-guard. It was hard, but Fuji forced him to stop, to take his medication. Tezuka could not pretend all was well.
He was not happy, hating the drugs, but Fuji would not back down. Fuji only wanted a whole Tezuka, body, mind and spirit. Nothing else was important.
Ocean Colored Dreams
Fuji keeps Tezuka's tape recorder by his bedside on the nights when Tezuka is traveling. He grew up by Rokkaku's shore, and he finds playing quiet ocean sounds calming. He falls asleep to the noise without fail.
He only dreams when Tezuka is not there. Those nights he dreams of Tezuka himself, and it is like he is never gone. They are on the beach, making out alone under the vast blue sky. Tezuka holds him like he never wants to let go, and Fuji is content.
It is only when he awakens in the morning that he is alone.
"Did you hear? Oishi and Eiji were in the locker room kissing."
"They'll be dealt with later."
"Spoilsport. Don't you have an ounce of romance in you?"
"Think of the illicit thrill. Don't tell me you never thought of it."
"Tezuka, you're so staid. Sometimes I wonder if you have a sense of curiosity at all."
"I do, it's just tempered by common sense. Don't look at me like that."
"Like I want to drag you to the locker room and prove that it is a good idea?"
"Yes. Fuji... Fuji!"
Pros and Cons
He can think of a dozen reasons not to pursue a relationship with Fuji. He's even written a list, which grows exponentially longer every time he looks at it: his parents, Fuji's parents, Fuji's brother (with several subclauses of explanation), their team, their reputations, his hopes for a pro tennis career, Fuji's amoral attitude...
The list goes on and on, but he can't stop from looking at Fuji, or responding whenever Fuji's touch lingers just a bit too long. He wants Fuji, wants to own that smile and make it his.
His frustration grows, and finally he breaks down, creating a "pro" list. There is only one item, but the truth stares at him accusingly, asking why he doesn't throw logic out the window and follow his heart.
'I love him.'
The next day, as soon as they're alone, Tezuka backs Fuji up against the lockers and kisses him.