Across the World and Back Again - Chapter One

author: Peppermint Kiss

date: 12.30.07

disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis! Please don't sue me.

author's notes: Um, basically, I just wanted to know the public's opinion of my first TezuFuji multichap fic, and my first TezuFuji fic published here. Please let me know what you think of it!! Also, there's Atobe/Tezuka friendship, and nothing more. This fic is strictly TezuFuji.

On with the story!

The paparazzi milled around excitedly outside of the Tokyo Museum of Art's annual New Year's gala, a star-studded event that had only the rich and elite of Japan attending this lavish, over-the-top function when champagne, as well as talk and gossip, flowed freely.

Delicate flutes filled with sparkling, bubbling champagne clinked throughout the grand ballroom in the five-star hotel in downtown Tokyo where the function was being held. Outside, flashbulbs went off madly as yet another famous actor or actress stepped out of a limousine and glided into the hotel for a night of partying and counting down the minutes until the New Year.

Small lights were strung throughout the barren sakura trees outside the windows in the hotel's courtyard, where the winds were harsh and bitingly cold. Inside however, the atmosphere was anything but cold; it was warm and cheery, filled with the chatter of people talking as they moved about and sipped champagne, and the occasional trill of laughter in the ballroom hidden from the outside world by ornate, closed doors.

Tezuka Kunimitsu glanced around the surroundings as he gracefully balanced a flute of champagne in between his fingers, taking in everything from the models and actresses that he had only seen in magazines in their slinky, flowing gowns, to the grand crystal chandelier looming over the crowd of people, to the paparazzi with their cameras, yelling at whoever was walking down the pathway to the hotel to join the gala to stop and pose for a few more pictures.

He found it hard to believe that even though he had only faintly heard talk of Tokyo's premier New Year's gala, the bash that everybody who was anybody attended, he was standing here now, ensconced amongst the most widely talked about celebrities in Japan, and even some foreign ones.

He wouldn't have been here if it had been a choice of his own, but his boss at the law firm that Tezuka worked at had asked him to come and "make an appearance – have you heard the hype surrounding you? 'Up and coming best lawyer in Tokyo', huh? Come on, it'll be good for the company." Tezuka had wanted to stare blankly into his boss' face and say no, he hated parties, but he decided that he didn't want to jeopardize his luck at landing a spot in the best law firm in Tokyo, so he went home to dress impeccably in a Western-style tuxedo before wading into the mess that was the most talked-about New Year's gala in all of Japan.

"Oi, Kunimitsu! Made it, didn't you?" Tezuka whirled around to see one smirking Atobe Keigo standing behind him, dressed in all of his grandeur and with his hair coiffed to perfection.

"Obviously, Keigo," Tezuka replied dryly. "You're late."

Atobe looked miffed. "Fashionably late," he corrected Tezuka. "And is that how you greet an old friend? 'You're late'? It's not like we're in cahoots to pull off a tryst with ore-sama and Narikawa Ayano over there in the corner, are we?"

Tezuka rolled his eyes, and considered dumping his champagne on Atobe, if only to see the expression on his face as "ore-sama" got his hair ruined and his clothes wet. "Keigo," he began wearily.

"Hm?" Atobe asked absentmindedly, leaning back against the wall next to Tezuka and greedily observing the movements of one Narikawa Ayano, the famous actress.

"Shut up."

Atobe did.

After leaving Seigaku and graduating from high school, Tezuka's excellent grades had earned him a spot in the University of Tokyo, the best university in Japan. Many had expressed surprise that Tezuka had chosen to go to law school to become a lawyer instead of becoming a pro tennis player, including one loud-mouthed Atobe Keigo.

Atobe had also qualified to attend the University of Tokyo, because to matter how spoilt and arrogant the former Hyotei tennis captain was, his grades were still unarguably superior. The Monkey King (as one Echizen Ryoma had not-so-affectionately dubbed Atobe back in the days when the rivalry between Seigaku and Hyotei had been great) had graduated from the University of Tokyo alongside Tezuka, and Tezuka had realized with surprise one afternoon as they sat in a café in Tokyo shortly after graduation that he and the "Monkey King" had become good friends, in a rather awkward, but nevertheless strong, relationship.

Tezuka had gone on to pursue law at the Law School at the University of Tokyo, and Atobe was never too far away, since he had taken over the family business, Atobe Enterprises, almost immediately after college graduation, and Atobe Enterprises was based in Tokyo, anyways. Atobe Enterprises had never experienced a better period of time as their stocks leaped and revenue increased due to several smart deals negotiated on Atobe Keigo's part to boost the company to be the #1 company in Japan.

After law school, Tezuka had hopped around to see which law firm would take a young, aspiring lawyer fresh from the university, and he had been pleasantly surprised when the best and most renowned law firm in Tokyo (and possibly Japan) offered Tezuka a low, but still satisfactory, job at their firm. Tezuka had thought it was joke until Atobe hit him over the head and Tezuka had decided to accept the job.

He had appeared on several cases with his law firm, often winning the trial, but sometimes he accidentally gathered hype just for his strategy and clear, concise way of attacking in the courtroom even though he lost the case.

Tezuka didn't even understand his skyrocketing status until his boss showed him a magazine article in a law magazine (magazines on law existed?) detailing "Tokyo's new sensation: Tezuka Kunimitsu" and Atobe then decided to shove a printout under his nose of some girls that had decided to start their very own Tezuka Kunimitsu fan club.

Like the girls that followed him around in middle and high school didn't start their own fan clubs.

Atobe had then decided, because life was pretty jolly for both of them right now – Atobe Enterprises had decided to expand into Germany and possibly the United States; Tezuka had completed yet another successful case and there was talk of him being named a partner of the law firm soon – so Atobe, being Atobe, decided that Tezuka needed either a girlfriend, a boyfriend, or a good lay (Tezuka had been gay back in high school, a fact that had somewhat amused Atobe once they caught up together at the University of Tokyo, but now Atobe was completely mystified as to where his friend's sexual preferences lay).

It had taken Tezuka most (if not all) of his restraint to not strangle his (admittedly so) best friend sitting lazily behind the large desk in the Atobe Enterprises headquarters with a stunning view of Tokyo laid out behind Atobe's cocked head and inquisitive eyes.

"Kunimitsu, maybe you should stop," Atobe had then cautiously decided to say based off of the murderous look in Tezuka's eyes behind his glinting glasses. "He's been busy in America, and even here in Japan we hear all the hype he's been gathering in New York, Los Angeles—"

"I know," Tezuka gritted out, unaware that he had balled his hands up into fists until he felt nails digging into his palms. "Keigo, don't..."

Atobe peererd at his friend concernedly, a rare occurrence for the diva. "Kunimitsu, I don't know what the hell happened between you two, but it's been years. Surely..."

"I know," Tezuka repeated shortly, feeling foolish and frustrated. "Shut up, Keigo," he mumbled, the words tumbling out of his mouth like some kind of twisted reflex. Without another word, though, he turned on his heel and stalked out of Atobe's office, slamming the heavy door behind him.

Atobe raised a fine eyebrow at Tezuka's dramatic exit. "I guess that means our plans at the bar are canceled, huh?"

"Ne, Kunimitsu, guess what?"

Atobe had decided to open his mouth again, and Tezuka didn't appreciate that, because usually it would be some perverted comment or more sighing over "Ayano-chan".

"What?" he asked grouchily, staring morosely at the champagne in his flute and deciding to hell with self-restraint, and downing the fizzing liquid in one gulp.

"I heard that somebody special's coming to this party tonight," Atobe continued, being unusually cryptic, a point that did not bode well with Tezuka's headache (as usual at grand parties like these).

"Yeah? Like who?" Tezuka bit out, distantly thinking that alcohol seemed like a very good idea this evening, after throwing all thoughts of self-restraint out of the window.

He tried to scour the ballroom for a waiter to nab another flute of champagne off of, or possibly the whole bottle of champagne (since because it was a New Year's gala, they couldn't serve wine, beer, liquor, or cocktails like normal parties – no, it was only champagne tonight!), but then the next words Atobe said completely caught Tezuka off guard.

"Fuji Syuusuke."

Thoughts of the ever-smiling boy-turned-man that Tezuka had grown up with whirled rapidly in his head, in a blizzard of thoughts consisting of love, piercing cerulean blue eyes, Fuji's warm breath on Tezuka's skin, and then, a heavy sense of betrayal, grief, and regret.

"What?" Tezuka croaked, his eyes trying to bore through Atobe as if seeking solace that this wasn't true. "But—he's in America…"

"Well, he decided to return to Japan," Atobe said, as casually as he could under the pinning stare of his friend.

Atobe turned to his shocked friend and grinned in a cat-like, devious way, pointing to a person about half-way across the room that was surrounded by a large crowd. "Look, Kunimitsu, there he is. Fuji Syuusuke."

-to be continued...-

A/N: So, what'd you think? Let me know! Also, I have no idea if the Tokyo Museum of Art hosts a New Year's gala or not...the party is all a figment of my imagination XD

Atobe and Tezuka refer to each other by their first names because they're really good friends.

1.1.08 - Changed the flashback a bit, so now it's more cryptic and suits my plot better. Sorry to all of those who read the first version.

Please review!