Across the World and Back Again - Chapter Four

author: Peppermint Kiss

date: 5.08.08

disclaimer: I tried to take Tezuka and Fuji and basically the whole cast of TeniPuri, but I didn't succeed. Because I don't own Prince of Tennis.

author's notes: Yay! The story's back to the present now. Warning: angsting!Tezuka heavy plus melodrama and overreactions galore. Yeah, my Tezuka's kind of OOC, but wouldn't this be what you would do in his situation? Enjoy the chapter!

"How easy do you think it is, Syuusuke," Tezuka ground out bitterly, his eyes darkened with emotion, "to accept your apology, six years late, after you told me that you didn't love me enough to stay by my side? Did you lie to me every time you told me you loved me when we were together? Why were you so selfish, so eager to satisfy your own needs that you didn't think about me? A compromise could have been reached, Syuusuke, if you had fully opened your eyes in our relationship!" The words tumbled out of Tezuka's mouth before he could stop them, question after question rolling out of the vault he had locked them up in after Tezuka had finally gotten over the fact that Syuusuke was indeed not coming back to Japan.

Fuji, his eyes downcast, raised them to stare regretfully at Tezuka, and Tezuka had to remind his heart to continue beating at one glance from Fuji's stunning cerulean eyes.

"I think we need to talk," Fuji murmured, his voice just barely above a whisper. "I came back to Japan to talk to you, to apologize, but I don't think my plan worked out too well."

Tezuka fixed Fuji with steely eyes. "You thought it would be easy to apologize to me and get on with your life?" he exclaimed, in disbelief. "Then you had no idea how much you hurt me." The last words were spat out with as much contempt Tezuka could muster at the moment, and he felt a twinge of satisfaction when Fuji visibly winced at Tezuka's words.

"I'm staying at the Marunouchi hotel," Fuji continued, as if Tezuka hadn't said anything. "Ask for me at the front desk. Is three o'clock tomorrow all right for you?"

"It's fine," Tezuka replied stiffly. "The Marunouchi hotel?"

"My stay in Japan wasn't planned to be too long," Fuji mumbled, averting his eyes. "Well then, I suppose I'll see you tomorrow." He made to leave, and Tezuka's eyes traced his every movement. He wanted to reach out and grab Fuji's sleeve, tell him that he accepted his apology and could they go back to what they were before?

But instead, Tezuka stayed rooted to the spot he occupied next to the lonely sakura tree, his eyes only fixed on Fuji's receding shadow until a cab pulled up and Fuji got into it. A moment later, the cab raced away and Tezuka realized that even though Fuji badly wanted to apologize to him, he had never said the reason why – for all Tezuka knew, this could just be another plot to toy with his emotions, right when Tezuka had finally begun the painful process of healing the scars.

"Syuusuke, come back," Tezuka whispered pathetically in the darkness, the only sounds being the light buzz that emanated from the hotel ballroom and the light wind whispering in his ears. "I miss you already."

In the ballroom, Echizen Ryoma craned his neck around a potted plant, and the tennis prodigy's golden eyes widened. "Oi, Monkey King, I found him!"

"Which one?" Atobe asked, annoyed, striding up to the potted plant, a martini balanced delicately in between perfectly manicured fingers.

"Tezuka-buchou, who else," Ryoma replied, his voice slightly muffled by the leaves of the obviously artificial potted plant. "I think Fuji-senpai just left in a cab." Atobe thought it rather endearing that the little brat still hadn't outgrown the old school habit of calling his older teammates "senpai" and Tezuka "buchou". Along with the whole endearing thing though, Ryoma still took glee in taunting Atobe with that dreadful nickname, "Monkey King".

"Did you see what happened?" Atobe asked in what he hoped sounded like a nonchalant voice. Truthfully though, he was worried about Tezuka because just the day before he was moping about Fuji (again), and suddenly, the other man barged back into Tezuka's life without any forewarning.

"I think they had a fight," Ryoma called. "Tezuka is just standing outside right now, do you think he's okay…? Monkey King?"

Muttering about damn Monkey Kings and being unreliable, Ryoma squirmed out from behind of the potted plant and blinked when all that was left of Atobe's presence was an empty martini glass.

A distance away, Atobe was speaking in a low voice into his cell phone. "Hello? Yes, I need the car to come to the event right now…no, no, it's to take Tezuka home…he needs to leave early, he isn't feeling too well. Yes, we'll be there…thanks, bye."

He flipped the phone shut, and sighing at the ridiculous drama that had wrapped itself up around Tezuka, and Fuji, Atobe strode out of the doors, heading towards the courtyard, and Tezuka.

It was safe to say that Tezuka was a shell-shocked mess when he got home that night, dazedly replaying the conversation he had with Fuji over and over in his mind and trying to remember which words he said. If it hadn't been for Atobe, Tezuka could probably have safely surmised that he would have stayed under that sakura tree all night, his eyes unfocused, and his mind only filled with thoughts of Fuji.

Somehow, once Atobe had rather ungraciously dumped Tezuka onto his bed in his apartment with threats of calling him at an ungodly early hour the next morning to make sure Tezuka was still alive, Tezuka had managed to fall asleep, and it was only at the shrill beeping of his cell phone on the bedside table did he realize that yes, it was morning, and yes, Atobe was keeping to his promise of calling at the lovely hour of – Tezuka squinted – six thirty AM.

He blearily scrabbled around for his phone, finally succeeding and managing a groggy "what?"

"Oh good, you're alive," Atobe's voice said at the other end, punctuating his words with an unnecessary dramatic sigh of relief.

"Fuck off, "Tezuka mumbled, and promptly hung up on Atobe, ignoring the indignant squawks issuing from the phone as he flipped it closed and flung it to some random corner at the foot of his bed.

As morning light filtered through his window blinds and sliced across the bed, Tezuka wondered if last night had actually occurred, or if he had just dreamed it all up. Tezuka scrunched up his forehead, his head hurting too much to think clearly (he had had perhaps one too many flutes of champagne). If it had been a dream, Tezuka thought that it hadn't been a particularly good one. Usually his Fuji-dreams were a lot nicer, and often involved those breathtaking kisses that Fuji had been particularly good at delivering and knocking all semblance of sense out of Tezuka.

Deciding that he couldn't go back to sleep now (it defied his circadian rhythm), Tezuka sat up, disoriented, and realized that he was still wearing the tuxedo that he wore to the party last night.

He froze, examining the wrinkled white dress shirt, the tailored black jacket flung on the floor, and the bow tie hanging haphazardly off of one side of his collar.

If last night had really happened…and if Tezuka correctly remembered every single word that had issued from his lips…

God, he had been such a stupid fool.

Atobe decided that working on the weekend was a bunch of bull, especially during New Year's weekend, because the stock market was closed, anyways. So at 2:30, he set out in his car, headed towards Tezuka's apartment to see if his friend had managed to hang himself or drown himself in the toilet yet (although Atobe had taken the care of stashing away all items that might possibly be used for suicide the night before, but one never knew what creative method of suicide a depressed victim could come up with).

As Atobe pulled up to Tezuka's apartment building at 2:45, he noticed a man emerging from the building in a very attractive tan Burberry trench coat (he could tell the label from a distance away, Atobe was that good) and shades, picking his way down the sidewalk to the bus stop. Upon closer inspection (Atobe had a Burberry trench exactly like it), he realized that the mysterious man was Tezuka, and the Burberry trench Tezuka was sporting was his. Atobe made a mental note to get it back from Tezuka, because he had liked that trench, all of the two times he had wore it before Tezuka somehow managed to swipe it from his immense closet.

A bus rattled up to the stop, and Tezuka got onto it, and Atobe wondered why. If he knew the other man correctly, Tezuka would wallow in misery all day until Atobe forced him to get up and do something. And nobody made Tezuka get up and do anything if he didn't want to, except for Atobe…and Fuji.

That was it!

"Follow that bus!" Atobe barked, feeling much like a secret spy chasing a bus in the middle of Tokyo.

"Sir, I can't," his chauffeur replied. "There's too much traffic."

Atobe panicked, slightly. "Well, do it," he snarled. "I pay your salary."

The chauffeur gulped, and within two minutes, he had manipulated his way through the crush of traffic and was now speeding down the street after the bus.

Tezuka got off the bus and admired the impressive building of the Marunouchi hotel for a moment before briskly striding inside, not noticing a familiar sleek black Mercedes roll to a stop just outside the front doors as well.

The receptionist looked up as Tezuka stepped inside. "How may I help you?" she asked brightly.

"I'm here to see Fuji Syuusuke," Tezuka said, slipping off his sunglasses and tucking them into a pocket of Atobe's Burberry trench coat that Atobe had dumped at his place one time after a night of too many drinks, and if Atobe didn't bother to come retrieve it, Tezuka wasn't going to bother returning it.

"Ah, yes, Fuji-san left a message here last night…" the woman rummaged through a stack of papers next to her, before finally pulling the one she wanted out. "Are you Tezuka Kunimitsu?"

Tezuka nodded his silent assent.

"He's expecting you. He's on the sixth floor – room 607." She smiled at him, and Tezuka forced a weak smile back, before he headed to the elevators.

Atobe, hearing the exchange from where he hid behind a large map of Tokyo in the corner, quirked up an eyebrow before stuffing the map into a trash can and following Tezuka to the elevators, bumping into a person engrossed in his cell phone with a white cap pulled low over his eyes.

"Sorry," Atobe mumbled, brushing past.

"Hey, Monkey King!" Atobe whirled around, annoyed, and met the eyes of one Echizen Ryoma.

"What are you doing here, brat?" Atobe spat out, not pausing in his stride to the elevators.

"I live here," the brat replied back, haughtily.

Atobe paused, facing Ryoma again. "Which floor?" he asked, jabbing the up button.

"The seventh," Ryoma said in a surly tone. "And since you'll be wanting to know which room, probably – room 707."

The elevator doors chimed open, and Atobe yanked a surprised Ryoma in with him, and punched the button for the seventh floor. "Excellent. I'm going to need to use your room."

"I—what? Why?" Ryoma demanded.

"Because we need to help Tezuka and Fuji," was all Atobe said.

Tezuka stood outside of room 607, pretty sure that that was what the helpful receptionist had said downstairs, and, his heart beating rapidly and thudding in his ears, he rapped on the door. Three quick knocks.

There were light footsteps, a pause, and then the sounds of locks being undone and the knob twisted and Fuji stood in the doorway, his eyes fixed on Tezuka.

"You came," was all Fuji said, simply, and he stepped aside, allowing Tezuka to come in.

The room was more of a suite, and that was to be expected since the Marunouchi hotel only catered to the best. There was a small sitting area with a couch and two armchairs facing the splendid view of Tokyo offered from the balcony, a small dining and kitchen area next to it, and a hallway leading down to the bathroom and the bedroom. Fuji motioned that Tezuka should sit, so Tezuka settled himself, rather uncomfortably, on the couch.

"I'll get some tea," Fuji murmured, just to fill up the awkward silence. For the moment, when they weren't saying anything, Tezuka was content just to stare at Fuji's back and watch the familiar fluid movements as Fuji poured hot water into tea cups and whisked them to perfection. Fuji had on a simple V-neck light grey cashmere sweater that clung nicely to his body and showed off his slender frame.

Tezuka nodded politely when Fuji pushed the tea over to his side of the table, but didn't say anything, waiting for Fuji to start.

"Kunimitsu," Fuji's melodic voice said, "I want you to start. Just give me everything you've got – I want to hear everything. I won't get mad. Hurt me all you want, but I just want to hear it."

Tezuka met Fuji's eyes. "Are you sure?" he whispered.

Fuji bit his lower lip before saying, "Yes."

"What you did to me was the worst kind of thing a boyfriend – a lover, even – can do to their partner. You walked out of my life, Fuji! I had dreams of an ideal life in Tokyo, living with you until the ripe old age of 99, even 100, but your dreams came before me. If I had known this sooner, perhaps I could've dealt with it, but it's horrible when your needs, you wants, come before the face of true love."

Tezuka paused for breath, choosing his next words carefully.

"I prefer not to talk, and instead let other people do the talking," he said slowly. "After you left, I was so lost, so shocked at everything that had just happened so suddenly. Keigo tried to help me, but he was nothing, because he wasn't you. You were in New York, living your dream, and I was here in Tokyo, attending one of the best universities in the world, but still, my dream wasn't satisfied, Syuusuke. Without you in the picture, there was no dream! I—I couldn't go on with my life. I wanted to die!"

Tezuka knew he was bordering on melodramatic, but the words flowed from his mouth like the dam on a river had suddenly burst. He sprang up from his seat, pacing back and forth, refusing to look at Fuji's face.

"Every little thing I saw, reminded me of you. You were everywhere, yet you weren't here. I thought, every passing year, that you would come back soon, but you never did, and when I finally gave up hoping, you barrel back into my life, looking for repentance? I don't think so, Syuusuke.

But even through all of this, I still missed you, and even though I told myself that I was moving on, that you were a thing of the past, I loved you, and…I still do." Tezuka's voice broke slightly, but he persevered on. "Do you know how much I missed you, Syuusuke?"

Tears stung at his eyes, and Tezuka furiously blinked them away, as he flung his head around to stare at Fuji, who sat there, looking rather taken aback at Tezuka's venting. "Do you know how much I missed you?" Tezuka repeated hoarsely.

"No," was Fuji's quiet answer. "I don't."

Tezuka found himself moving, propelling himself around the table to where Fuji sat on the opposite side. Fuji looked up at Tezuka, confused, but Tezuka cupped Fuji's face in his hands, and looked sincerely into wide blue eyes.

"I missed you a lot," Tezuka breathed before he closed the space and kissed Fuji.

-to be continued-

A/N: So so so sorry that I haven't updated in a million and a half years :( I've just been so busy, and well one day (tonight, actually), I sat down and said, "I'm going to write some of AtWaBA." And I thought I was only going to write the beginning, but, I ended up churning out this whole chapter! Right now it's going to be really overdramatic because Tezuka's hurting and Atobe's trying his best to help and Fuji's just plain confused. But I promise I'll pull up out of the angst soon.

I hope you guys liked the AtoRyo action I tried to put in there. I love those two. :D

Well, you know the drill. Review!! Hopefully I'll get another chapter up soon!