Author's Note: This was written for the LJ community drabbles100. Tezuka/Fuji, from Prince of Tennis, which belongs to Takeshi Konomi and not to me. Reviews and constructive criticism will be very loved and appreciated. Thank you!

On family, on love, on crossdressing, and of course, on Tezuka and Fuji, older and yet, in some ways, still their parents' children.


Journeys


Family

8th September 2006

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

We've seen Fuji's family. Yumiko, and Yuuta, and a pair of parents in the background.

We know nothing about Tezuka's.

There are so many infinite possibilities. It might be too much to dream of a wonderful, loving, warm family for him, parents who accept their son and love him unconditionally and would do anything for him.

Far more realistic to think of a family that brought their son up in the strict, Japanese tradition. Far more believable to think of a typical Japanese housewife with Tezuka's high cheekbones, who never called her son 'Mitsu-chan', not even when he was young. Far more likely that his father was a strict man, who put a great deal of emphasis on discipline and propriety and determination, and had high hopes for his only (or eldest, at the least) son.

Possibly they did not approve of Tezuka playing tennis, but gave in when they saw how completely, incredibly talented he was at it.

In the five years they've been together, Fuji has learned not to ask about them. He doesn't know them but he intuitively knows that he doesn't want to, because they'll shatter the fragile, illusory peace of their relationship. Tezuka's silence tells him so, and so Fuji smiles, and jokingly tells him that they should start a family of their own. Tezuka lets himself be distracted.


Death

25th September 2006

So neither of them are prepared for it when the phone call comes.

In fact, neither of them even hear the first few rings, and even when they do hear it it's only a minor irritation in the back of their minds, their bodies consumed with each other and the sweet mindlessness of pleasure. Fuji's cry is louder than the last few shrills of the phone, and as they lie together in the warmth, Fuji nudging Tezuka to avoid sticky spots, both of them are too bonelessly sated to get up and answer the second call.

They're about to fall asleep when the phone rings again for the third time. At twenty-seven, Tezuka is as responsible as he ever was, and he goes to answer the phone. Fuji's stretches leisurely, luxuriating in the aches of his body, then wraps a sheet around his waist and saunters out in time to hear Tezuka say, 'I see. I'll be there. Yes.'

Tezuka puts down the phone, looks him square in the eye, and says, 'My mother died yesterday of heart failure.'


Parents

25th September 2006

He looks down into his wife's coffin. She's laid out in white and pearls, complementing her white hair and the grey-dead translucence of her skin. He tries not to resent her for leaving him so soon, for leaving him to face the leftovers of the world they built together, if not out of love than at the least out of a solid and enduring partnership.

Wife, husband, daughter, son, all the roles they've played, and parents, of course, they were parents and they had to fulfil their duty to their children, all these adult children who will return to the nest to pay homage to their dearly departed mother. And it will fall to him to endure the clash. He thinks of their son, Kunimitsu, the son he has not thought of in so many years.

Kunimitsu will be coming back.

He wonders, against his will, what has become of this son, who was so perfect and then left home over that one, unacceptable flaw in him, left them behind and never looked back. It was a source of shame, when he went to family gatherings and relatives mentioned that son, and there was nothing to say.

The dread coils in his stomach at the thought of the confrontation, of the sour memory or fury and rage and the fear of a sexuality that will never be mentioned, not under his roof. He only hopes that Kunimitsu doesn't have the gall to bring a man with him, though he has told him, in the most careful of controlled, neutral voices, that his siblings are bringing their families.

He watches the door slide open and keeps his face sedate as Kunimitsu steps in. But someone else follows in after Kunimitsu, and his eyes widen in involuntary surprise.

The lady with the soft, short-cut brown hair walks across to him, one step behind his son. She's dressed in a white blouse with a high mandarin collar and a respectful, sober black skirt that does not detract from the beauty of oceanic cobalt eyes. She waits at Kunimitsu's shoulder, waits for him to greet him with a respectful, formal 'Father' before she bows deeply and says, 'I'm Kunimitsu's wife, Shuuko. It's a pleasure to meet you.'


She

25th September 2006

Tezuka makes arrangements with a terrifying efficiency. He arranges to take leave off work, makes travel arrangements. Fuji asks to go with him, Tezuka refuses.

Fuji also refuses to fight with him. A quarrel is the last thing he wants, is the last thing they need. At night Tezuka lies motionless next to him and the tension that thrums through him permeates their every touch, every embrace. He knows why Tezuka refuses to let him accompany him, but as he fingers the gold band on his finger, he cannot help but feel that to be away from Tezuka would be deeply, impossibly wrong.

So Fuji makes his own arrangements. Tezuka's too focused to notice, but Fuji takes leave from the university, tells his students he'll be back soon, and goes to see his sister. He explains the situation and Yumiko agrees to help him.

It's fairly amusing, really, his unnatural transformation. He waxes his legs and arms and does all kinds of unspeakable things with a tweezer and studies the alchemy of eyeliner, lipstick and nail polish. Yumiko teaches him to walk, sit, stand and act like a woman. He's glad that Tezuka's distracted, or he would certainly notice this grotesque metamorphosis.

Fuji knows he is triumphant in his mimicry when he walks down the streets in a dress and no one gives him so much as a second, uneasy glance. When he orders a coffee at Starbucks the waiter even smiles at him flirtatiously, and Fuji smiles back.

He watches Tezuka leave the house then hurries into the change like a second skin, rushes to the airport and catches Tezuka at the gate for domestic flights. Tezuka may be stressed but he nonetheless recognizes Fuji anyway (Fuji would have been immensely disappointed if he hadn't). More, he recognizes that this is Fuji's resolve.

They board the plane together.


Strangers

25th September 2006

Despite himself, despite the severity of the atmosphere, Fuji cannot help but be fascinated by all these people he's never met, all these strangers. Tezuka – Kunimitsu, he must remember – has always been such a solitary person, it is a surprise to find out that he has four other siblings – three brothers and a sister.

Greetings are made, and introductions, and the irrepressibly mischievous side of him is loving every moment of this. He knows that the family must have known Tezuka was gay, and to see the looks on their faces when Tezuka – Kunimitsu – introduces him as 'my wife' is unbearably comical. He's even getting hostile vibes from the second brother's wife Kaede.

They're longing to ask questions, the questions that dance naked on the tips of their viper tongues, but Fuji cleverly deflects and dances and makes polite, meaningless chatter, and they don't dare to ask it all outright.

He senses resentment, and curiosity. They want to know who, just who is this Shuuko? What happened to that boy in high school, who played tennis with Kunimitsu, who had been the spark to dry tinder, who had occasioned a firestorm in this household the likes of which they'd never seen before, a younger Kunimitsu raging against the furious authority of the patriarch? What had happened after Tezuka left for university, estranged from them all?

These strangers know nothing. Fuji could tell them, but he will not, not to these voracious, hungry people, circling like wolves, faceless, unfamiliar, unknown.


Found

25th September 2006

Tezuka had gone to Tokyo University, breathing the heady air of freedom after two years of stifled words and sulky, impossible silences, pregnant with anger and repression. He'd chosen to study exercise physiology and injury rehabilitation, much to he amused appreciation of Atobe Keigo. What Atobe hadn't told Tezuka – 'Ore-sama knows a great deal more than he lets on to commoners, Tezuka-kun.' – was that Fuji Syuusuke was at Todai as well, contributing to the field of literary studies and driving his teachers to utter despair.

Till this day Tezuka doesn't know if he would have still gone to Todai if he'd known Fuji was there. (He also doesn't know whether Fuji had deliberately asked Atobe to keep his presence a secret, or whether Atobe had chosen to keep silent on his own. The both of them are mysteriously and aggravatingly close-mouthed on the topic.)

At that time, Fuji was a treasured but nonetheless raw memory, too tangled and snarled up with memories of quiet passion and childish love and the anger of his father, and the final, sorrowful resolution with which he had bid Fuji Syuusuke a farewell he had thought was forever.

But that after all, was water beneath the bridge, and you can never step into the same river twice. Tezuka Kunimitsu had gone to Tokyo University, and on a golden autumn day bronzed in memory, Fuji had come up to him, sat down beside him and said, 'Hello, Tezuka,' in a way that suggested that they had never really said goodbye.

You cannot find something that was never lost.


Children

25th September 2006

Fuji allows Tezuka's niece (his second brother's daughter, with her hair done in a severe braid belying her lovely, sweet childishness) to help him bake a chocolate mousse cake. She's seven, and Fuji likes her because she's adorable and artless, and like most children, she has an astute view of many things, including adult relationships.

Fuji has always treat children with respect, though not as if they're adults. (They're not, they're children.) He knows that they, like any other thinking human, see and observe things, and hear and understand. He never underestimates them because he himself used to be underestimated all the time.

The little girl dips her finger into the batter and licks it clean, then regards him with her huge green eyes. 'Mommy and Daddy don't like you.'

Fuji smiles and prepares the mousse. 'Really?'

She nods. 'You don't like them either, do you?'

'If you already know the answer you shouldn't ask,' Fuji admonishes mock-sternly.

She shrugs. 'It needs more sugar, onii-san.'

Onii-san. Older brother.

She knows.

'Too much sugar is bad for your teeth,' he answers cautiously. 'Your mommy will be angry.'

She pouts. 'I won't tell her. And I promise I'll brush my teeth.'

'I won't tell if you don't,' Fuji bargains, though he has a good feeling about this discreet little girl, who could have told everyone already if she had really wanted to.

She laughs and hugs his leg. 'Okay, Shuuko-nee-san.'

He laughs back and pats her on the head.


Dinner

11th October 2006

They all sit down for dinner together. The table is long and severe, a Western table of deep dark solid oak. Tezuka's father sits at the head of the table, and Tezuka as the oldest takes the seat to his right. Fuji sits down beside him, and smiles at her his father-in-law as the rest of the family sits with a rustle. Tezuka's father smiles back at him, and Fuji says a quiet 'itadakimasu' with the rest of the family as they begin to eat, in silence.

The silence is broken when Tezuka's father asks, 'Kunimitsu tells me you teach at the university, Shuuko.'

From the widened eyes around him, Fuji gathers that a taboo has been broken: the icy silence of the dinner table. He smiles and says, 'Yes, I do,' and goes on to describe his job. The old man listens, and when Fuji mentions a funny anecdote about a student, he even laughs. It softens his face, and Fuji can't help but be candid and tell him, 'You should laugh more, otou-san.'

He regards Fuji with a piercing gaze, and then smiles. 'I'll try, Shuuko, but a leopard doesn't change its spots.'

Fuji grins. 'You're not a leopard.'

He laughs again, and Fuji joins in.

Tezuka's youngest brother cuts in. 'I visited the university earlier this year... I thought the professor of literature was a man named Fuji?'

Fuji's expression doesn't change. He keeps his smile intact and lies through his teeth. 'I fell ill earlier this year, so they got a substitute for me.'

Tezuka's father says, 'You should take better care of her, Kunimitsu. Such a wonderful woman ought to be treasured.'

Fuji laughs. 'Don't flatter me, otou-san! And besides, Kunimitsu takes perfectly good care of me. If anything, he's the one who's overworked.'

'Take care of yourself too, Kunimitsu,' the older man says, softly, slowly.

Tezuka blinks, then smiles slowly. 'Hai, otou-san. You don't need to worry about me.'

Fuji takes a piece of chicken and listens with satisfaction to the endearingly stilted flow of their conversation.


Choices

11th October 2006

They bury her, and leave flowers over her grave, white carnations scattered and lingering in the wind.

Later that night, Tezuka turns to Fuji and says, 'We should tell them the truth.'

Fuji stares at Tezuka for a moment, then asks, too softly, 'Why?'

'This is a lie.' He gestures to the clothing Fuji's just shed, the skirt and the woman's blouse, the tissue still stained with blotted lip gloss, the shoes.

'It's a lie that's hurt no one,' Fuji replies. 'My concepts of morality aren't as rigid as yours, Tezuka. Does it hurt you so much to just make everyone happy?'

'By deception? Fuji, he thinks I've changed. If he's happy with me now it's only because he doesn't know the truth. How does that help matters?'

'Has it made things any worse, Tezuka?' Fuji questions again. 'He's an old man, Tezuka. Is it so difficult for you to lie a little so he can die happy knowing that all his children are successes?'

'I don't want him to die without knowing the truth,' Tezuka interjects, angry, impassioned. 'Even if he doesn't accept it, this is the truth of who we are. Not that.'

'Then you should never have let me do this. Wasn't it you who told me not to do things by halves, Tezuka?' Fuji asks softly, dodging around Tezuka and slipping into bed. 'It's your choice, Tezuka. But if you choose wrong, then the consequences are everyone's to bear.'


Life

11th October 2006

Tezuka doesn't sleep that night. He rises the next morning, knowing that their suitcase is packed, that they're returning to Tokyo, to leave his father to a lonely house and memories. Fuji stirs, wakes, dresses, and does not speak to Tezuka.

He does not know what to do.

They have a quiet breakfast, in which his fingers meet his father's over the butter dish. His father does not recoil from him. Tezuka lets him have the butter, and his father smiles and reaches to butter Tezuka's slice of bread too.

He does not know what to do.

Fuji is silent beside him, though he laughs with his father-in-law and tells him that he's had wasabi on bread before.

He knows he's happy. He knows his father is happy. The fact that Fuji is being made use of is not an excuse for his wanting to end this charade, because Fuji, in his own way, is enjoying this, and as Fuji told him, his standards of morality are different. Fuji values happiness over what is right.

Tezuka wishes he knew what to do. He wishes he could be as certain as Fuji.

They linger outside the door as they leave, Fuji laughing, telling his father that he should get a dog, to keep him company and lick his face in the morning. His father smiles, says he'll think about it. Fuji shrugs and says that if he doesn't like dogs he should get kittens, but personally Fuji has apparently always found puppies more affectionate.

Fuji gives him a glance and moves off, cheerfully saying, 'I'll meet you at the car, Kunimitsu.'

Fuji steps away, and Tezuka suddenly knows that he will tell his father the truth, because otherwise, he would be walking beside Fuji, walking away. He takes a deep breath and turns to his father, and tells him, 'Otou-san, there is something I have to tell you.'

His father merely waits, regards him, still smiling. Tezuka dreads the moment when that smile will fall. The urge to murmur some meaningless pleasantry is intense, but Tezuka has never been one to back down from difficulty. That's all that gives him the strength to say his next words. 'Shuuko's real name... is Fuji Syuusuke. We've been living together for the past five years.'

There is no way his father does not remember that name. Tezuka waits for his father's anger, but the older man merely gives a little shrug, of slight disappointment, or maybe, resignation. 'Do you think me a fool, Kunimitsu? I knew.'

For once, Tezuka has no words. His father touches him on the shoulder and gives him a little shove.

'Go home, Kunimitsu. He's waiting for you.'

Tezuka takes a step forward, then pauses, turns to his father. 'Thank you, otou-san.'

His father nods. 'You're welcome.'


Please R & R!