Title: In Undertones

Fandom: Tenipuri

Pairing: Tezuka/Fuji

Rating: PG? G?

Word Count:

A/N: this a companion to Walking Down The Road Twice. I never was completely satisfied with the ending of that, thus, this. This is half retelling at a different point and half addition to the end. Draft circa 05-06. Merry Christmas, ketchupblood!

you have changed little by little throughout the years

wrapped in the gentle memories

- kaze no tabibito

I.

Fuji is not sure when it exactly happened, somewhere in-between college entrance exams and

packing, between planning their own lives, they drift apart. Teammates, friends, he vaguely wonders if he'll ever see them again, or if they'll be lost the time they spent will just be captured in memories and fading pictures.

They never said goodbye.

Nothing official, nothing more than a half-hearted "see you tomorrow" so like every other of the thousands of other times, and they move towards other paths and dreams now.

He shelves it, sets it on some distant mental crevasse and at first he visits them often dusting them off daily, revisiting each triumphant moment or any event which has finally become amusing, something they could laugh at now – then again, he always could laugh off embarrassments, shame was some unknown thing to him.

It doesn't take too long until days, weeks, even months pass without him thinking of his old teammates. It is life, he accepts it much easier than other members and moves on. Fuji isn't one to linger, the future is far too bright to dwell on the past.

Yet, when it rains, he is reminded of the pinprick feel of it, icy and startling, lingering with him for days on end.

.

They have changed, it was inevitable, of course.

Fuji did not plan the meeting with Tezuka then, but it was not unwelcome. Each successive meeting leaves Fuji wondering if fate, the fate his sister is so intimately acquainted with, is laughing with witty tongue-in-cheek ironies to shuffle his way.

Tezuka is so different now, rugged and matured, like a fine wine he has aged well, has finally grown into the body of a man which had always seemed comical and hung from him like a too large jacket at age fourteen.

The first cup of coffee they shared at an airport with frostbite and loneliness shuttering the windows, the second, weeks later and grabbed quickly in between errands. Soon there is a third, fourth, fifth until it becomes routine. Is easily worn on the backs of their palms,

It is subtle and non-threatening, underneath it all they are cautious and appraising, Tezuka wondering what card was hidden up Fuji's sleeve, what new game to expect. Fuji wonders the same of himself.

But it was Tezuka who made the first move.

II.

There is a quality about frost that accentuates a sunset, perhaps it is the lack of usual color, greenery that makes something so simple, day in day out seem brilliant and exotic.

"Will you walk with me?" Tezuka says.

"Yes," Fuji replies.

It's a simple acknowledgment, Tezuka is closing the distance between them. Fuji hadn't even looked back long enough to realize how significant each move was or how close he'd come.

Their strides are even and measured, despite differences. They are synchronized, it is natural when Tezuka leans and kisses him. It's of everything unsaid from ten years, warm and forceful. When Tezuka kisses him, everything slides into place and Fuji lets the world pass him by. It is enough to live, to exist in this moment. It is enough.

"We might be seen," Tezuka says, drawing back.

And Fuji laughs. "If I remember correctly, you were the one who kissed me first."

Tezuka pushes his glasses up. "Ten years is a long time." is all he says.

They walk on as is nothing happened, but there's a new feeling in the air. Everything seems fresher, brighter, everything is new.

III.

The steps to cohabitation are not exact. Each of them are independent and strong-willed in opposing ways. For months they sleep in separate beds with lives with only happen to intersect at a point. Tezuka's tennis career was doomed from the start, it only took a few years before his arm was rendered nigh unusable.

Tezuka did the only sensible thing and enrolled into a college course. He was stoic enough to accept that his dreams had a statute of limitations on them. Fuji's dreams are transient and fleeting. He chases some, forgets others. Life is river-like and unending to him.

With Tezuka, Fuji has remembered how it once was. Together they bind their dreams until they can tether each other to some form of solid ground. Their not-courtship and friendship is taken slow. It is stretched over mochas and lattes and black coffee, over family deaths and the last entombing of childhood wishes. Lifting the weight the world has left them is far easier with both of them. Together, they are not quite so jaded.

IV.

Fuji has a dream. It is a tomorrow and another tomorrow. It is tennis courts and coffee shops and lives entwined. It is eventual shared rooms with cameras beside old, unused tennis rackets that gather like bones of a beloved old skeleton.

The dream is half formed and half fulfilled. What is life but the unending cycle of the created wishes and granting and letting go? He has his whole life to fill these spaces.