How Buchou Found the Christmas Spirit

Chapter Six: Exchange

A/N: Merry Christmas to all! Especially to Microgirl whom I don't believe I've thanked yet for beta-ing through this fic. Microgirl reins in the ellipses and keeps them from taking over. She also makes sure the service amount meets the daily intake of healthy fangirls. Also a big thanks to my reviewers who give me the self-esteem I need to write this. hugs

Must also give nods to embyr81788 who inspired the ending. I added my own twist on the idea, so I hope it doesn't feel like I stole anything. Everyone should give "Tokyo Lights" a read though as it's AWESOME!

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The next day, the kitchen metamorphozed into dangerous war zone: far too many knives flying at too quick a pace for anyone's comfort. Tezuka remained in the living room, standing guard with his father and pretending to watch a parade on television.

"How long is this going to last?" Tezuka finally questioned after the first hour of such activity.

Tezuka-san leaned forward to pick up his mug of tea, then set it down as he realized it was still empty and would remain so until he had the courage to cross the no man's land between him and the tea kettle. With a resigned sigh, he asked, "You remember the time your aunt visited?"

Tezuka nodded. His aunt Shizuka spent the entire week making subtle comments about the household's upkeep, matters of cooking, even the upbringing of then ten-year-old Kunimitsu. The last day had been ... unpleasant to say the least.

"Probably longer than that."

Just then, the doorbell rang, and Tezuka jumped at the excuse to get a few steps further away from the battle zone in the kitchen. He wasn't too surprised to see to see Fuji at his doorstep. The rainbow-sprinkled bunt cake -- that was surprising.

"I've been assigned to offer your family a truce and a peace offering," Fuji stated. "Effective until December 1st of next year."

Tezuka's father joined them at the door, staring at the bunt cake with the eyes of a man whose breakfast appeared to be delayed until after the new year. "Did your mother bake that?" he asked.

Fuji shook his head, looking sideways. "Ah... no. My father, actually. We decided not to inform my mother of the proposed truce as she's somewhat ... busy this morning."

An uncharasteric battle cry accompanied by the gruesome sound of a cabbage head (at least Tezuka hoped it was a cabbage head) being split in half illustrated that Tezuka's mother was also "busy."

"May I come in?" Fuji asked, face assuming its usual innocence.

Tezuka turned to his father, whose hunger appeared to overcome whatever suspicions he might have possessed. He glanced at the kitchen, then at his son, pondering his options. Finally, he whispered, "I'll keep her away from your room. Be quiet." Snatching the cake, he ushered the two of them towards the staircase, eyes darting left and right to make sure his betrayal wasn't noticed.

Fuji chuckled as Tezuka closed his door as quietly as he could. "How long do you think we're going to have to sneak around like this?"

"Not long," Tezuka shrugged. "She'll want to get back to using you for inside information soon enough."

"Mn. My mother's already invited you over for dinner on Wednesday. Oishi and Eiji as well."

"She saw the paper." It wasn't a question. The newspaper lay open to the "local interest" page when Tezuka came downstairs: "Annual Holiday Display Winner: Oishi Hiroki-san." "I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and neighbors," says Oishi-san. "I hadn't even planned on doing a large display this year, but my son convinced me of the importance of expressing how thankful I am during this season." The photo featured the Oishi family --Kikumaru posing with them as naturally as if he lived there-- in front of a monstrous display entitled "Christmas Candyland." The two tennis players both smiled at the camera the way they did after winning a particularly underhanded doubles match.

"I think they might need to be taught something of a lesson after school gets back in session," Fuji breezed. "They both have a few extremely persistent fans who might enjoy a copy of their school schedules and a map of hang-outs and escape routes home."

Tezuka raised an eyebrow.

"Just a suggestion."

As captain, Tezuka couldn't openly endorse such a plan, though if he and Fuji were to walk home via the route that led by a bike trail the Golden Pair frequented, he couldn't be held responsible with what Fuji did with the information. He considered other pieces of Oishi's schedule he might accidentally let slip when Fuji said, "Ne, Tezuka, did you know there was a giant stuffed ham on your bed?"

Tezuka blinked, glancing at his bed and remembering while trying to keep his face from heating up. The only way to deal with situations like this was to remain absolutely adamant about their normalcy. Said stuffed animal (a three foot long and extremely festive pig wearing a Santa hat) was an early gift from his aunt who collected farm animals and believed everyone else should too. He informed Fuji of this, and then sat down using it as pillow to demonstrate its practicality.

Fuji nodded, posed no argument, and sat on the bed next to Tezuka. Reaching into a plastic bag he'd brought with him, the tensai began, "So you know, I'm not going to apologize for anything that happened. I'll probably do most of it again next year... except maybe the burglary part."

"Fine," said Tezuka, who hadn't planned on apologizing either.

"If that's settled, then I suppose you can still have your Christmas present." Fuji withdrew from his bag a large box elegantly wrapped in fuscia and silver paper. His expression as he presented it to Tezuka too closely resembled the look he got before performing a Higuma Otoshii for Tezuka to feel comfortable. The captain opened the package with the care of one defusing a large bomb.

A bomb probably would have made Tezuka jump less than the severed head of the plastic snowman that greeted him when he opened the box.

Fuji beamed with pride. "I thought when the weather warmed up we could play tennis with it. Or we could destroy it sooner, if you like."

"Sooner," Tezuka stated, shoving the lid back on the shoebox. And then, because he couldn't think of anything else to say, he said, "Thank you." Only Fuji could come up with a gift like that: personal, unique, and decidedly morbid. He supposed it was the perfect souvenier for this season.

"Ne... I wanted to buy you something, but my mother cut off my allowance until April for returning the polar bear."

"I get mine back in March," Tezuka sighed, reaching behind the pig where he had stashed Fuji's gift. Then, not sure why he was feeling suddenly nervous, he added, "I hope this will do anyway."

Fuji's eyes opened, searching Tezuka for some clue as to the small box's contents, but Tezuka didn't think he could give the answer away even if he were more prone to facial expressions. Fuji gingerly unwrapped the box in a way that suggested he'd rather be tearing the paper off but refused to look like a seven-year-old in front of Tezuka. Every fold was a concentrated battle against his instincts, but he managed. His face wrinkled in puzzlement as he removed the lid.

"It's a camera," he said.

Tezuka nodded.

Fuji picked the camera up, inspecting it before saying, "It's my camera. The one I lent to Eiji a couple days ago."

Tezuka nodded again.

Closer investigation prompted, "Except it only has one shot left."

This time when Tezuka nodded, the reindeer antlers he'd slipped on his head bobbed forward.

Fuji blinked several times in rapid succession, piecing together the scene: the stoic captain, the blinking lights on the antlers, the loaded camera in his hands.

"One shot," Tezuka warned. "And no else is to see this. Ever."

Fuji considered this. "How many laps if someone does?"

"Fuji."

"Hai, hai. No one else. Smile!"
"Don't push it."

Fuji laughed before lowering the camera. "Actually, I think I'm a little sick of the entire holiday season. Would you mind if I took the picture without them?"

Tezuka's brow furrowed in confusion. He'd thought Fuji would leap at the chance to capture Tezuka embarassing himself, particularly after how heated their rivalry had recently become. So why after all that would Fuji turn the gift down?

"Unless you enjoy wearing it?" Fuji asked when he grew impatient waiting for a response.

"No," Tezuka said quickly, grabbing them off his head and tossing them next to the santa pig. Fuji studied Tezuka then, a look intent enough to make the captain feel awkward. Fuji had always been prone to snapping random shots of him and most everyone else at school, but Tezuka had never actually posed for the tensai. It was a strange feeling, though not entirely unpleasant.

After a few more moments' thought, Fuji pointed at Tezuka's face and said, "Those as well, please."

It took Tezuka a second to process that he was referring to his glasses. "That wasn't a part of--" he began, but Fuji wasn't listening to him, already leaning in to gently remove the frames. As usual, Tezuka froze the second Fuji invaded the space so rigidly guarded against most people. Tezuka could feel the other boy's fingers brush against his temples as everything within five feet of him blurred into hazy suggestions of objects. He always felt horribly vulnerable without his glasses-- not truly being able to identify anyone or anything around him. For example, he couldn't tell why Fuji hadn't leaned away once he'd removed the glasses...

... until he felt the tensai's lips press against his.

Later, Tezuka would remember little of this kiss aside from a soft though forceful pressure and a taste that was part the sweetness of the cake Fuji must have sampled and part whatever wasabi-coated breakfast Fuji had eaten; an odd combination that somehow suited the moment perfectly. His brain chose to focus on this rather than what the tensai did after he pulled away, in fact registering nothing else until the flash of the camera bulb.

He scrambled for his glasses with an indignant, "That was--"

"I had to make it count," Fuji protested before Tezuka could complain. "Besides I already promised not to show anyone else."

Tezuka's brain hadn't gotten to the photo yet. It actually skipped right over the kiss and fixated on getting his glasses back in place. If he could see clearly, maybe he could think clearly again. He found them next to the discarded antlers, setting them as quickly as was dignified.

"Are you angry with me?" Fuji asked.

Vision cleared, Tezuka could see Fuji looking part defensive, part deeply worried. His eyes were open, looking right through Tezuka though they clearly would have been more comfortable looking somewhere else. Fuji was too proud to make excuses or look away from his own actions, though. Tezuka sighed. "I should be."

Fuji shrugged in half-agreement.

Tezuka was not usually one to analyze his own emotions (or anyone else's for that matter). He therefore found himself in unfamiliar territory as he searched for the anger that should have been there. But instead, all he felt was a little light-headed and somewhat nervous about the tensai's plans for that photo. "I'm not," he said.

Fuji exhaled, seeming surprised that he'd been holding his breath in the first place. Tentatively, he began, "Would you be if I did it again?"
"There is no film left?" Tezuka verified, waiting for Fuji to nod before saying. "Then, no."
This time the kiss was deeper, and Tezuka was aware enough to kiss Fuji back a little. And when that one broke, Tezuka found himself closing the distance for a third try. And a fourth. If this was the end result of all of their competitions, Tezuka decided he didn't mind if their rivalry remained intact.

A thought Fuji seemed to share as he paused to catch his breath and asked, "Ne, Tezuka, does your family decorate for Halloween?"

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The EllipsesBandit...'s commentary:

Myu Reference #1, yes Oishi's dad is named after Zukki.

Myu Reference #2, the giant ham exists solely so I could make fun of Shirotan in the Winter Hyotei Myu. Anyone else know why he comes out for the curtain calls riding a giant stuffed pig in a santa hat? Cuz I don't, except that Shirota Yuu is a GIANT HAM!!! If you are not a myu fangirl, discard that conversation. If you are, I think that's 4 references total this fic.

Yes, the EllipsesBandit… has gotten Tezuka's megane off again. It's my Christmas fic, and I want a megane-free buchou. So does Fuji.

And that's it! Thank you all for joining me on my crack-holiday adventure. Am still working on the crossover with microgirl and one day we'll even post! I swear!