Hello, all.

It's been some time since I've had anything to post here. Sorry about that. College life - it's crazy, yes? Well, I've been working on this one for quite some time. It's complete, so no one has to worry about my beginning to post it and never finishing. I will, however, be posting it in pieces - partly to increase the number of potential readers, and partly because I'm a cruel, cruel person.

Well, not much else to say. It's Tezu/Fuji (my favorite!), and the characters are several years older. I tried to stay in character, but allowed myself a little leeway in imagining the ways that their characters would mature as they moved out of middle school and into highschool and college. There's Golden Pair fluff in here too, just FYI.

Hopefully you enjoy it. Any comments, questions, criticisms (constructive is best, please), typo-notifications, etc. are always welcome! I thrive on reviews, and more reviews usually means faster chapter postings!


Prologue:


Any ambition that Fuji Syuusuke had was a closely guarded secret

Any ambition that Fuji Syuusuke had was a closely guarded secret. He played tennis, but he wasn't like his teammates - he won, but he had no dreams of being the best. He loved playing with his camera, but no one ever heard him talk about pursuing photography. He always received perfect scores in all his classes, but never seemed to focus on a single subject. He had flown through the entire mathematics program (he and Tezuka met in the library at least once a week to go through math homework together – their friends were sure that it was just an effort to spend some time together, since neither of them needed the help), tried almost every science class for at least one term, and, through the course of his schooling, triumphed in every history, literature and language course he took (by his last year of high school, he could fluently speak both French and English, and read a higher than average amount of Greek and Latin). He could play almost any instrument placed in front of him, and even though his friends had never heard him, his sister claimed that his voice was angelic (Fuji, whenever he heard her, would let his smile widen and make a quip about certainly sounding like something dead. It was his favorite line - it had almost made Tezuka choke on his sushi).

By the time he was in his third and final year of high school, what the local tensai would do after graduation was as much of a question as what Inui Sadaharu used to turn his concoctions such abnormal colors. Interrogating his closest friends was no help. Eiji and Taka could only shrug. Fuji's brother and sister claimed not to know, and Tezuka, if he knew anything, refused to say. No one thought of simply asking Fuji himself.


The thump of the landing gears on the tarmac roused Tezuka Kunimitsu from a rather fitful sleep. He never slept well on crowded airplanes, and he had been flying all night. Tiny streaks of daybreak were just beginning to color the midnight blue of the horizon as he left the airport. He was glad to be home. He found his father sitting in the car and reading the morning paper. He felt a little guilty as he watched his father stifle a yawn. He had told his parents that he could easily take the train and they didn't have to pick him up; he didn't have much luggage. But they had insisted. His mother had smiled in her quiet way and gently teased that he'd be so tired, he'd fall asleep and miss his station stop. Considering how tired he was now, she'd probably been right.

"How was your trip?" his father asked as they pulled out of the parking lot.

"Very interesting," Tezuka replied. "Certainly different than anything I've seen here."

He had been surprised to receive a letter from a university in Switzerland, of all places. They had been very impressed by reports from his school and the clinic in Germany and were interested in recruiting him. He had an extremely impressive reputation as both an athlete and a student, well-rounded and dedicated. They had offered him an excellent scholarship, but even so, he was reticent. He had been planning on attending college in Japan, but they were persistent. They asked that he come and visit the school to look at the facilities and meet the trainers before making a decision. They were sure he would be impressed. Much to his surprise, he was.

His flight had arrived late in the evening, and when he declined an offer for dinner, one of the students had shown him to his room. He rose early the next morning, slipping into training clothes and catching up the pass he'd been given ("Just in case you didn't want to skip your training," his guide had said, handing him the pass and pointing out the athletic complex. "It's open twenty-four hours. Any equipment you need can be rented at the desk, unless you'd rather bring your own. Outdoor tennis courts are behind the dormitories, but we have indoor facilities too. It's rather cold in the mornings") before heading out. After running and warm-ups, he came face to face with an older man who, seeing his racket, immediately challenged him to a set. They played a slow game, Tezuka reticent to win too easily. However, they sped up as the games moved on, and he realized that the other man was holding back as well, watching him. He was reminded of Inui, measuring his opponent, except whenever he increased the tempo, the older man was right there with him. Curious, he placed a perfect zero-shiki drop shot, gaining a leading game, 4-3. Laughing, the older man held up a hand.

"I think that's enough for now. It was your left shoulder that was damaged, correct? It has healed well."

Tezuka found himself unsurprised.

"You must be the trainer that I was supposed to meet, correct?"

The man smiled, holding out his hand.

"Hans Whilden," he said. "And you must be Kunimitsu Tezuka."

Tezuka shook his hand and bowed respectfully, earning a laugh from Mr. Whilden and a sigh from the females in the small crowd of spectators they had inadvertently gathered.

Mr. Whilden was, apparently, the coach of the university tennis team, as well as being one of the trainers. He also didn't go by "Mr." Whilden.

"You're a doctor?" Tezuka asked, noticing the M.D. next to his name in front of his office.

Dr. Whilden smiled and pulled out a file folder, handing it to Tezuka. It held pictures and medical information about a younger Hans Whilden, records of serious tennis injuries, including an overstrained shoulder.

"That never did heal entirely. Ruined my chances of becoming a professional player. I'd seen that happen too many times. I could've stopped with the basic trainer's certification, but I figured the only way I could help was to learn as much as I could about it."

They spent much of the next two days together, Dr. Whilden introducing him to his team and even accompanying him around to meet different professors.

The entire school was impressive, far surpassing his expectations. He told his father as much as they drove home from the airport.

"I'm glad you liked the school, Kunimitsu."

Tezuka was too. They'd all worked hard to pay for his flight. It would've been disappointing if he hadn't liked the school.

"If you really like the university, you'll have to add it to the list of schools you're considering."

He paused.

"Your mother will be excited. She'd have an excuse to go to Europe if you started going to school there."

They shared identical smiles. Ever since Tezuka had come home with stories of Germany after his stay there in his third year at Seigaku, his mother had been entranced. She loved European languages and cultures, and Tezuka had several packages tucked into his luggage, tiny treasures snagged in street stalls, haggled and bartered for the way he had learned during his rehab in Germany. His mother was, in general, a steady, practical person, but she could never entirely overcome her love of beautiful things. She was, as far as knick-knacks and decorations went, what westerners called a "pack-rat." One of the prints he had found, a sprig of local flowers in muted greens and purples, brushed in oils on a porcelain tile, had cost more than he had wanted to spend, but it was perfect, and he knew that the look in his mother's eyes would more than make up for it.

"I'm fairly sure," his father continued, "That she'll be awake with breakfast for us."

Tezuka nodded solemnly, trying to hide his fatigue, when his stomach let out a loud, undignified growl. His own voice joined his father's low chuckle as the first rays of the morning sun breached the horizon.


Well, that's it for the intro. Hope you liked it. Thanks for reading, and again, comments are always welcome!

-Song