Thanks to everyone who reviewed, and especially to Speadee, Shinjuku041, and Vierblith, who wrote awesome reviews and made me decide to move the posting date up a day, I am now posting the 4th and final section of my little story, plus, a tiny bonus epilogue (which might actually move this up to a T, but I think it should be safe).
I hope that the characters aren't too sappy here. After Tezuka's little revelation last chapter, I think that the phone conversation could happen - but I'll leave that up to you!
It was two weeks after their impromptu little get-together that things came to a head. Fuji was home alone, reading through and sorting his acceptance and scholarship letters, when there was a knock at the door. Uncurling from his place on the sofa, he went to open it, only to find Tezuka Kunimitsu standing on the other side.
"Tezuka?" he asked, surprised.
"May I come in?"
Fuji's eyes searched Tezuka's, trying to discern what could be wrong as he stepped backward, allowing his ex-buchou to enter.
"Would you like some tea, Tezuka? Go sit down, and I'll get us each a cup."
Tezuka moved to sit on the sofa as Fuji headed into the kitchen. He returned shortly, a steaming cup in each hand, settling down next to him and handing him the tea. They sat for a moment, fragrant steam caressing their faces as they drank in silence. After a while, Tezuka slowly lowered his cup and looked Fuji in the eyes.
"I received another letter from Switzerland yesterday," he said. Fuji nodded for him to continue.
"They're making an offer that is too hard to refuse."
Fuji stared into his cup.
"Next week. My parents are coming with me to spend some time sight-seeing before tennis practices start in earnest."
Fuji looked up with a smile at that.
"Your mother must be thrilled. She finally gets to go to Europe."
Tezuka had to smile at that, too.
"She is. She started packing even before the final decision had been made. My father had to stop her from packing her toothbrush a week in advance."
Fuji's laughter was like bells, silvery and light, and the idea that he might not get to hear it again shook Tezuka to the core. He turned his eyes downward.
"We're flying out on Monday."
Fuji pasted his smile on and grabbed the cups.
"Well, at least we can have another Sunday game before you leave, ne, Buchou?"
They hadn't been in Switzerland longer than a week, and Tezuka found his hand twitching toward his cell phone. It helped to have his parents with him, his mother's enthusiasm taking the sting out of his homesickness, but when Sunday rolled around, and nothing he did could recreate that adrenaline rush that came from facing Fuji across the net, when his parents went to dinner in town, he begged off. Going back to his dorm room, he pulled out his phone and punched in the familiar number.
"Tezuka. What's wrong?"
"Nothing. What are you doing?"
"Trying to sleep."
"I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't. It wasn't working."
"I don't know. What did you want?"
"Yes, Tezuka, we've established that. I know you didn't call me at four in the morning just to chat, so what's wrong?"
"I don't know."
"Are you sure this is Tezuka-kun? I've never known him to do anything without a reason."
Tezuka gave the phone in his hand a wry look before he sighed.
"Homesickness, I guess."
"Tezuka, isn't your family there with you still?"
"There's more to home than family."
Through the phone, he could hear Fuji's sharp little gasp of breath, and it gave him courage.
"I miss you."
"Would I have said it otherwise?"
In the darkness of his bedroom, Fuji smiled, one silent tear running down his cheek.
"I miss you too, Tezuka. Not much we can do to change that now though."
He winced at his slip, and Tezuka caught it.
"Was there ever anything we could've done to change it?"
Fuji thought a moment before answering.
"Even back in middle school, we were all so loyal to you. We followed you everywhere, even to Germany. Did you honestly think that that had changed? Why wouldn't I, who followed you from the day we met, follow you in this as well?"
"You would have come?"
"I would have come."
Staring up at the darkened ceiling, Tezuka closed his eyes as his shoulders slumped.
"I wish I had asked. I wish you were here."
"So do I. Goodnight, Tezuka."
A click, and the line went dead.
Turning, Tezuka jogged over to his coach.
"We've got a late comer to the team. You're the only player that doesn't have a roommate yet, so I'm putting him with you. Try it for a few weeks. If you two can't make a go of it, then I'll move people around. He seemed pretty confident that you two would get along though. He's going through the final details of the registration process today, but I'd like you to make sure he knows where and when to get to practice in the morning, alright?"
With a nod, Tezuka moved toward the locker rooms. Hair still damp from his shower, he made it back to his room, only to find it empty. There were new bags sitting on the bed opposite his, and a slim laptop bag sitting on the desk. What made him catch his breath was the sight of a petite cactus with bright orange blossoms and multitudes of tiny spikes sitting next to a black camera bag on the far corner of the chest of drawers. He was staring at it when the door opened, and a familiar voice chimed.
"I had been a little worried about whether Kiku-chan was up for such a long trip, but he seems to have come out of it just fine, don't you think, Tezuka?"
He found himself frozen in place as the lithe figure approached.
"Tezuka? Aren't you glad to see me?"
It took the wickedly amused gleam in those sharp eyes along with the warmth of a slim hand on his chest to snap Tezuka out of his shock. His arms came up, one hand cupping the sprite's face in front of him. Never one for too many words, he simply pressed their lips together, memorizing the feel of Fuji's slighter form relaxing into his embrace. They pulled apart slowly, Fuji letting his expression turn smug and Tezuka's lips curving slightly in response.
"How?" Tezuka asked, smile turning bemused.
Fuji's smile was entirely too self-satisfied as he leaned back up.
"A tensai never reveals his tricks."
"…And then the PR-rep was wondering whether you would be going back to Japan to attend the charity banquet again this year, once you've finished with the Australian tournament, of course."
Tezuka glanced to his left and was met with a shrug.
"My exhibition doesn't start until two weeks after the banquet, and it would be nice to go home."
The excited gleam in his personal photographer's eyes belayed the calm nonchalance of his answer. He nodded at his assistant, who smiled at the two before exiting. Atashi had gotten used to having to fit the photographer's schedule to the tennis player's. It was quite easy to do, actually, since Fuji Syusuke was a name with enough renown that he could practically call up any gallery he wanted to and name his own exhibition dates.
Fuji moved closer as the other man left the room, and Tezuka's arm came around his shoulders.
"I'm glad that we'll be back for that week. Kawamura, Eiji and Oishi have been planning a get together for the regulars – that might just happen to fall right around our Golden Pair's anniversary."
"What day will it be?"
"Right after we fly in," Fuji replied. "We'll have to rush if we want to clean up after we get off the plane."
"Should we let them know that we might be late?"
Fuji's low chuckle, no matter how often he heard it, could always send shivers down his lover's spine.
"I don't see why we should bother. Eiji and Oishi come late to everything anymore. Not that I blame them," he added with a sideways smirk. "If I had my way, we'd be late to everything, too."
Tezuka cocked an eyebrow at the shorter man.
"Then it's a good thing you don't have your way all the time. You'd ruin the public image that you and Atashi-san and the PR-rep have worked so hard to cultivate."
"Hn, if I didn't have my way some of the time, you wouldn't have an image to cultivate. You'd go out, play tennis, and disappear again. You're useless with publicity, Kunimitsu."
"Can't do anything without you right by my side, can I?" the taller man asked softly.
Fuji snorted lightly.
"Of course not. It's why your PR-rep made me your permanent photographer – I'm the only one who can get you to smile on a regular basis."
"Only because you're the only one with the leverage to either bribe or blackmail me into it."
"Hn. Now that you mention it, don't I owe you some bribery? I think I'm behind by a couple of payments…"
"You owe me bribery for the next millennium just for letting you publish those old photos you found from Seigaku. I can't believe you talked me into that."
"Come now, Kunimitsu, it was a good idea. Your popularity rating went through the roof. Now, are we going to talk business, or can we get back to the matter of my…ah-hem…back-payments?"
Again, thanks to everyone for reading. I hope you liked it.