at the same point of unfolding (paper cranes)

Because he has learned these things - You need to be blind to truly see, and you need to lose someone to realize what they meant to you

Tenipuri, Tezuka/Fuji, G-ish.

started: April 21st 2005

finished: September 5th 2006

for: 31days community at lj

wordcount: 1,762

The odd style is due to age, and despite a lot of editing on my part, the difference in prose and characterization is really evident. I can't stand to have things fallowing away on my harddrive, though. As for a note on characterization – this was written when all the chapters I had ended at the end of Rikkai, thus the setting is post!218, but still retains the feel of 218

...Did I mention that I got into Tenipuri on March 16th?


They say if you fold a thousand paper cranes, your wish for health will be granted. Or that's what Fuji's mind vaguely processes from a conversation long ago had with his sister, Yumiko. The details escape him, but it still remains with him. The thought is blurry, the edges are faded, but it persists. Patiently sitting in the back of his mind day after day until he gives, until he admits, until he lets go of the denial.

Fuji smiles, thinking to himself "Even now, I can't win against you. Even now."


His fingers move dextrously over bright, colorful paper which twists and bends into a near-translucent beak, long neck, pointed tailfeathers and wings bent at precisely the right angle. The thin paper slides easily through the motions of his hands. Forward. Back. Release. Finish. Until this new creation, arises in the palms of his hands. It is graceful, wings outspread as if to flight, and a shade of light, coppery red.

He sets it down, and soon it is joined by one more a shade of bronze. Together, they glimmer golden in the sun's fading rays.

The next is made of a peach color, the shade of it light, pastel, slightly larger.

And so forth these special cranes are formed, one with plain notebook paper, looking especially studious and calm, one with bright red paper, bits of orange melded into the weave of the paper to give the effect of fire burning. There is one that is smaller than the others, and one that is emerald green like the scales of a lithely moving grass snake. A magenta one, three smaller ones, last of all, he places one that is cerulean blue. Somehow it seemed more gracefully formed, more elegant than the others.


Fuji checks the calendar for the third time that day. Of course it hasn't changed. Of course there isn't a set date, but this has become a routine which isn't easily broken, something he finds himself unconsciously doing before he can even stop it. He shakes his head to clear it, trying to focus beyond the hazy melancholy that threatens to rest across his mind.

Whenever Fuji trains, he securely ties a blindfold just across his face, just close enough to simulate the loss of vision - just enough so he can feel the searing warm of the ball as it approaches. Enough to push his limits just farther, until his body reaches a point of no return, muscles straining

Because he has learned these things - You need to be blind to truly see, and you need to lose someone to realize what they meant to you.

The cloth smells clean, fresh against his face and light still filters through the weave. If he focuses just enough, he can see the lines of a profile in the summer heat. Stern and intense, he can just make out the solid curves of shoulder

Thinking of this, he smiles, and releases, letting a shape take form to the amount of his hidden talent.


"You've changed a lot, Fuji." Eiji muses one day walking from practice.

Eiji's voice is querying, and Fuji knows exactly where this will lead.

So he just smiles and nods, quickening his pace and finds a quick topic for distraction.

He knows the twisted paths of tact and courtesy far better than Eiji, and he can tread on them with ease. For the whole rule of manners is that there need not be any hint of feeling beneath them. Whatever hostile thoughts stay neatly tucked under an all encompassing smile.

And this is not something he wishes to share. It's twisted in his stomach, paper charms all written with words that never reach his mouth.

Not for the first time, Fuji is glad for Eiji's short attention span.


Twelve. They line his room, alined in neat rows in-between a Christmas Cactus, now in full boom. Its long fronds hang over the twisted poles of the metal stand, circle around his camera supplies, folders and framed photographs. A younger Yuuta and Yumiko smile out from a silver frame, no longer alone as the cranes press closer and closer with each new addition.

Above his bed, on the pine nightstand and hung like a mobile above his bed. It's a hourly homage to an unspoken promise.

He still has so far to go.

A slight mistake, and the paper bites into his fingers, leaving a deep stain on the pure whiteness of the bird, his smile is rueful, a pained one as he presses the injured digit to his lips.

This bird is special, he thinks. Bloodstained just at the bend where wing and body meets,

if it was human, it would be at its left shoulder.

Fuji keeps that crane, placing it by the bedside. He gazes at it before he finally drifts off to a dreamless sleep.


Tezuka has learned that when it comes to Fuji, it's better not to ask. So when a package shows up at his residence in Kyuushyuu, he makes no pretense as to any knowledge of it's contents.

He approaches it with care - weighing each side with his vision, then feeling the rough brown paper covering, mentally tracing the red lettering. The note is brief, and he reads through the familiar hand writing several times, as if to read between the lines for some codec to a hidden code. There's a large photo enclosed, glossy and with several cranes on a bedstand beside several plants and photographs. And written on the back, so small he has to squint to read it is a message.

24. We're waiting for you.


Fuji is rarely surprised or caught unaware,but when his cellphone rings precisely ten minutes before tennis practice, while he's still half undressed into his tennis uniform, he cannot place who it might be. He almost chances to let the voicemail pick it up, but his curiosity got the better of him. Who knows, it could be Yumiko or Yuuta or–


"Ah, Tezuka. I wasn't expecting to hear from you" Fuji says, cradling the phone between his shoulder and ear.

Tezuka makes some agreeing sound, and Fuji thinks, with amusement that he's probably nodding on the other end, forgetting momentarily that Fuji can't see him.

" We miss you" Fuji says, putting extra emphasis on the first part, as if trying to cover that the first word that came to mind was possessive, something he had no right to.


Fuji changes the subject before it falls into silence. Phones are odd like that, you can't enjoy the feeling of being together, the dead air

"Your therapy?"

"It goes well"

Fuji almost says just how different the team is without him, how everyone is training with a desperation Tezuka's never seen. Even him.

But he doesn't, just murmurs a pleasant enough goodbye ("practice will begin soon." Hopefully the weather is nice there, that the same sun that shines on me is kind to you. ) Oishi will inform him of training, whatever Tezuka didn't already know instinctually.

Their phone conversations are always rather short, there's only so much you can say with words.


It is several days later that Tezuka wakes up in the middle of the night covered in sweat and gasping from pain in his shoulder. His vision clouds as his hands furtively search for glasses upon the bedside stand. A half empty bottle of pills lies on the nearby table, soon it will have to be refilled. He waits for the pain to subside, gritting his teeth and steadying his body just a bit more, holding the injured arm, cradling it to try and appease his shoulder for even just a moment.

When his vision finally clears, he sees the picture, cranes all staring at him, as if guarding him. Asking him for guidance. Gold, white, copper, white, green, blue. It's quite clear now. I wish you health. I wish you closer. I wish you were here. We all do.

A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. "How like you" he thinks.


Fuji wakes with a thin sheen of sweat covering his body, making his hair stick tight to his face. He is not one to worry, but his mind thrums with half-finished thoughts and stuttered possibilities,

it takes him three hours to get back to a numbing, restless sleep.


With several days before the nationals, Seigaku is a veritable bees nest of worry, excitement and determination. No one has much to say, for each was making battle plans, training and pushing themselves that much further, for it could be the difference between victory and going home in defeat.

But Fuji knows, Tezuka will return. Sure as the sun rises, he would be there even if he had to walk, crawl and hitchhike the way back. Simply because he is their buchou, their leader, simply because he is Tezuka. He will return with time to spare and fall into place as if he was never gone at all.


It was scalding hot the day that Tezuka returned, unannounced. Anti-climatic ways suited him, though, and Fuji was not surprised, at least for long. He had predicted the day to be completely ordinary, but was slightly off. Perhaps he needed to atune his sixth sense a little more.

But Fuji knew he would return, it was something he never allowed himself to doubt or question, something that would go against Tezuka's personality and the very fibers of his being. Tezuka stood tall against all the rival teams, dodging any bitter words aimed his way, and Fuji fell into step beside him.