Title: A Picture Says A Thousand Words.

Series: Tenipuri

Character/Pairing: TezuFuji

Rating: G

started & finished: August 15th, 05

for: 31days at lj

Whenever discussions lead back to their childhood, of the glory days of Seigaku, Fuji brings out one of his many photo albums, this one dustier and a little more worn than the others.

"Why tell you, when I can show you?" And he smiles, always smiling as he flips through the pages and exclaims over little things, Echizen, Eiji, Oishi, Momo, Kaidoh, Inui, Taka, the other members who have faded into memory, the place where it grows hazy around the corners and the unpleasant things disappear into subconsciously rearranged photographs.

In response, Tezuka closes his eyes, almost smiling, but not quite.

People do not often ask about their living arrangement. If they did, Fuji would merely reply that it started as a convenient thing, the Fuji family owned a summer house very near where Tezuka chose as a college. Fuji offered to let Tezuka stay with him when he was pursing a career in photography. Simple as that, old friends who haven't found a reason to stop living together.

And then? Those more daring asked.

"It remained convenient." Fuji would respond, he voice growing brittle, strained, like a cat beginning to wag its tail in anger.

Very few would dare to press Fuji for more information.

"Do you remember this one?" Fuji's voice becomes warm, full of nostalgia as he pulls out a photo, thin and sleek shining with a matte finish.

"When did you capture that?" Tezuka asks, perplexed as he studies the photo.

Fuji just smiles in response. My secret

Tezuka remembers the night it was taken, after an especially long and grueling day in college,

his mind foggy from exams, his body fatigued from being bent over a desk most of the day, then to several long lectures.

"Let's play" Fuji said, completely out of the blue as they passed a well-lit street tennis court on the way home.

"I didn't bring my rackets." Tezuka responds, weary and only wishing for sleep.

"I know. I brought them." Fuji answers, always one step ahead.

And as Fuji unpacks them, Tezuka turns his back, looking over the courts. (Tezuka now muses that is when he must've snapped the picture.)

Insects swirled about the side lighting, the night breeze was cool, but not cold.

Stars peeked out from behind slight cloud cover, Tezuka is not romantic, but supposes if he was, he would consider this romantic.

In the photo, Tezuka's back is turned, the light seems to surround him, a golden sheen which just silhouettes his body with warmth.

"I think this is the best picture I have even taken" Fuji remarks. Unabashed, unasked for, it is little things like this, times like this when Tezuka catches glimpses of Fuji's soul.

"Why didn't you ever publish it then?" Tezuka knows the reasons, but he asks anyways. It is more for show, for display purposes. Both know the answer, even if it was not articulated.

"But that's the precise reason why I didn't" Fuji says, effectively cutting the conversation as he packs up the photo albums.

Tezuka does not mention that he knows that even through the untold amount of photos Fuji has taken of him, those locked away in places Fuji assumes no one looks.

These are never shared. Fuji holds them close, treasures them, each book chronicling a section of his life. The first one was taken ten days after they met, both of them still freshman and with Fuji's brand new camera, the most recent taken two days ago with a much more professional camera.

And as Fuji presses the memories shut with a careful hand, Tezuka knows, knows all too well what Fuji has never said and what the meaning behind it is.

"Do you believe in forever, Tezuka?"

Tezuka peers up at Fuji from over his papers. There is something underneath this question, always something underneath Fuji's questions, and he carefully measures his words before speaking.

"It depends on the interpretation of forever." He responds carefully.

"Forever could be interpreted as the rest of someone's life. Don't you think?" Fuji responds, fishing for an answer, and Tezuka knows very well what.

"I suppose." Tezuka is still wary, when Fuji plays games, things tend to get unpleasant. Fuji's word games are entangling, he could very well get caught up in them without warning.

"Do you believe in forever, Tezuka?" Fuji asks again, a note of undefined unrest settling in his voice.

The silence lengthens in the room. Fuji waits for Tezuka to respond to the unsaid question. Tezuka weighs each possibility, careful now, never careless, always choosing his words like priceless jewels, they glitter in their brevity.

They stare each other down, waiting for one to give in, waiting for an answer to the unsaid question behind this front.

"I do." Tezuka finally says, breaking the silence.

Nodding to this, Fuji exhales. He didn't even realize he was holding his breath.

It is later in the week when Tezuka comes home early to the smell of a burning and a few harsh words directed at the stubborn and now decimated dinner.

Fuji's genius does not extend to kitchen duties.

Bent over a now burnt-black dinner, apron tied securely around his waist, Fuji looks up, smiling again at the sight of Tezuka.

"You look just like the perfect wife" Tezuka says, pursing his lips.

Fuji chuckles, recognizing this gesture. (Fuji has learned how to recognize the signs of Tezuka's stifled laughter. It is another thing he treasures, very few have learned that about Tezuka.)

Fuji easily spans the distance, and without warning, leans up and kisses Tezuka's cheek.

"I thought I'd play the part."

As Fuji turns his back, the barest specter of a smile forms across Tezuka's face.

You play the part well.

"Thank you." Fuji says to the unsaid compliment without even turning around.

Fuji will never cease to surprise him.