(KAI) Trust me.
(I swear to God I am working on DES and WIM...)

--

Trust Me

Fuji had decided a long time ago to move past his feelings for Tezuka. So long ago, in fact, he was unsure as to when the decision had technically been come to. He was sure, however, that it had been long enough ago that the effect should have come about. His feelings should be passed. But, looking at Tezuka- with his gorgeous profile and commanding presence- he found himself still, woefully, smitten.

It was hard not to be. Kunimitsu invoked that same, frenetic excitement a good tennis match brought him. His heart skipped beats, and his palms seemed damp. He smiled, and sweat inside like a nervous fool. And Tezuka seemed not to notice. Rather, his attention seemed so horribly occupied by other things, that he appeared not to have the room for Fuji's occasionally erratic behavior. Fuji couldn't blame him; between captaining the team, and raising Ryoma, and dealing with his injury on his own (Oishi tried, God knew, but Tezuka was so solitary, so damnably self-sufficient), and of course school, and preparing for nationals, Fuji understood that dating was probably far, far from his list of things to do.

Fuji leaned against the chain links. Did Tezuka have a list of things to do?

It was Fuji's imagining that Tezuka instead committed everything to memory and left the unimportant to rot in the wayside, like a god or deity.

He allowed himself one more minute of watching the stoic captain finish the day's work before sighing heavily and pushing away from the chill fence. He stepped up to the clubroom quickly, wanting into his warm coat and sweater. And long sleeve shirt and ribbed undershirt. And gloves, and one day he was going to sneak leggings in, and if Eiji caught him, then he would just point out the spandex capris the acrobatic player had taken to wearing when the weather had tempered down.

Shuusuke shivered, and was dimly aware that watching Tezuka no longer filled him with a sense of hopefulness or pleasure, but rather with a resigned sort of morose depression. A sort of defeated feeling. Across the room, he saw Kawamura finishing, and smiled slightly. Lately, the quiet young man had been bringing Fuji dainty little wasabi rolls to munch on, for the chilly walk home.

Reliable as ever, Takashi moved up to where Fuji was pulling his coat on (over his sweater, over his long-sleeved shirt, over his ribbed undershirt), and nervously placed a small, round container on the bench. It was wooden and highly decorated. Fuji's favorite.

"I brought you a few other things today, Fujiko," he began and added seriously, "You seem a little weak in the weather this year."

Shuusuke looked at him sharply. His spine was painfully straightened, and he held his gloves in one fist, as if they were foreign objects. Inui hadn't said anything, and Tezuka obviously hadn't noticed- even Eiji had been charmingly oblivious, also distracting Oishi from any mothering he might have done in Fuji's direction. Takashi seemed chagrined.

"I'm, I'm sorry Fujiko, I didn't mean to imply anything, only..." he ducked his head, as if he wanted to hide his face and also get a better look at the tensai, "Are you feeling all right? Are you feeling... down?"

Another tense moment passed and Takashi moved to bow in forgiveness, "I'm sorry, Fujiko, I shouldn't have said anything, it was terribly rude of me, please forgive my forwardness."

"It's all right."

Takashi glanced up, eyebrows drawn in worry, "Fujiko?"

"It's all right," the smaller brunette replied, less softly the second time. He was, troublingly, unsure of what to say. It bothered him to be at a loss of words, and he tried to cover his lapse of poise by picking up the wooden box and smiling. Smiling always helped.

Except... Taka wasn't smiling.

He opened the box slowly, his own smile fading under the scrutiny of Takashi's concern. The box was indeed more full today. In addition to the wasabi rolls, there were an assortment of his favorites- packed delicately and prettily in protective paper. He sat down slowly, watching Kaidoh and Inui dress and leave shortly before Oishi and Eiji. No one seemed to think anything of Taka hovering over him at the corner of the farthest bench, and no one seemed to think anything of the quiet exchange. As though it was commonplace.

Maybe it was.

He reached into the little circular box, and Kawamura sat down beside him, hands deep in his overcoat pockets. His nose was ever- ever- so slightly red from the cold. The ichinen were all ready gone. Ryoma and Momo had cut out several minutes early to attend a premier together, and the second-years had milled and gone as well. If he craned his head... if he just peered around Takashi's broad shoulders, he could probably catch Tezuka changing.

Instead, he glanced up at the warm brown eyes that were watching him, and then back down. He reached his hand in, and drew out one of the new additions. He placed it into his mouth slowly, and chewed, as if it were his thoughts he was chewing over, and not this strange, terrible funk he had backed himself into. He finished it- and swore up and down, before he could confirm it with his eyes, that Takashi relaxed.

"Do I really seem... weak?" he finally asked, running a finger along the box's edge. It was an awkward question.

Kawamura seemed pained, "Ano... you seem tired. You're more quiet than usual. And I noticed you're wearing more layers than you did last year." Once he got started, Kawamura was able to pick up a bit of steam, and he shrugged as best he could, while he looked everywhere on Fuji except the face, "A little while ago I read a book about depression, because I was feeling down. It said some things about the weather having an effect on peoples' moods. It also said that people could lose their edge if they were feeling blue. Like... feeling more cold, or slow, or tired..."

"You're saying I'm too cold, and I'm slow and exhausted, maybe because I'm 'feeling down'?"

"N-no! Fujiko, no, I mean... more like..."

"No, it's exactly what you said, Taka-san," the tensai smiled, his finger coming to a rest on the box's side. He felt better for someone taking a moment to try to understand him. For that someone to try and help, not knowing if their hunch was on or off. Especially if that person was notoriously shy, and difficult to have his courage bolstered. He tried to say it out loud, tried to confirm Takashi's suspicions, to vindicate his instincts, but only managed, "This sushi is very good. I like it."

And then Takashi beamed. Like a ray of sunshine had summered across his face, and warmed him up right down to the toes. Fuji smiled back and hefted the box. "Would you like to help me eat it?"

"Oh, er, uh-" Kawamura seized a bit, trying to work his hands too suddenly out of his deep pockets. Fuji laughed a small laugh, and distantly heard Tezuka's bag zip up. It was time for the cold walk home.

"Say, 'ah,' Taka-san," Fuji said quietly, lifting a piece of sushi up to the taller boy's personal space. The power player looked vaguely surprised, and then colored beautifully, as he would occasionally when Fuji was playful. It made him smile. 'Trust me,' he wanted to say, but Taka's eyebrows slanted a bit, as if worried, and he opened his mouth obediently without further ado.

"It's good, ne?" Fuji smiled, standing. "You're getting so good at this, Taka-san."

Tezuka stood by the door, impassive as Fuji stuffed his gloves into his pocket, shouldered his bag, and carried the wooden container out. Takashi was fast on his heels, recovering quickly, and chewing just as fast. Tezuka locked the door, bid them a good night, and strode off into the semi-dark; a handsome, frigid figure in the twilight. Fuji watched him go, that same troubled constriction touching at his chest.

Kawamura was hovering nearby, watching the same path Fuji had. He looked away when Shuusuke glanced in his direction. Color touched his ears and cheeks as though he'd been caught at something. Fuji looked one more time at the receding figure that was their amazing, brilliant captain, and strode off in the opposite direction. Typically, he'd have followed Kunimitsu, and parted at the appropriate street, wishing him a good night and praying- God, praying- that the returned farewell would hold more warmth than it had in the past three years of knowing the stiff young man.

"Is it okay if I come to the sushiya tonight, Taka-san?" he knew it wasn't a request. He knew he was telling Takashi what he intended to do. It was a bad habit- worse when the sushi chef was involved, because telling him what was going to happen relieved the pressure of input from Kawamura's humble, simple shoulders. Except... he had noticed, and that wasn't so simple, was it?

Kawamura was all ready eating up the distance between them with his long legs, "Of course, Fujiko-chan. My dad'll be happy to see you."

It was true. Kawamura-senior enjoyed Fuji's lengthy dispositions on photography and tennis. He'd rather hear about tennis from Fujiko than his own son. Takashi should have been miffed, but he felt proud for knowing the tensai well enough to have befriended him.

It was nice.

He looked down at Fuji's gently moving hair, and smiled. The smaller boy was eating another piece of his sushi.

"The truth is," Shuusuke said after the ungodly delicious wasabi roll, "I haven't been feeling good. I feel well- I feel healthy, I do. But, I'm not feeling good."

"I'm sorry, Fujiko-chan," Takashi said without hesitation, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"You all ready have," Fuji said, lifting the sushi box up to Kawamura. They crunched through slushed snowfall, and Fuji added, "Please hold it while I get my gloves on?"

This time it was a request.

Takashi felt, suddenly, as though he had been asked to hold a purse while someone went to try something on. He smiled, shaking his head. What a silly thought. "When I understood why I was feeling down, I felt a little better. I found out I was depressed because of the seasons changing at the same time as my mom and sister's anniversary. It's almost, um, seasonal disaffect, uh, disaffected? …disorder, but I don't have all the symptoms. I just get bummed a little bit."

Softly, Fuji asked, "What do you do?"

"I think about things that make me happy. I write letters to them. I talk to my dad. Kata. Sometimes I go to the alley and hit a ball against a wall until I'm too tired to think," Takashi handed the box back as per Fuji's reaching hands, thoroughly ensconced in wooly gray gloves. "It can sometimes just be hormonal, and you have to ride it out until a better day."

Fuji was filled with a deep sense of respect for the taller boy. They talked somewhat infrequently, and it lead to him forgetting how deeply Takashi felt and thought about things. He realized with some chagrin that he had been overlooking their friendship for some time.

He was disgusted to find himself without words once more, and ate another wasabi roll viciously. Finishing it, he realized bemusedly, had made him feel better, and he noted with a smile that he was overall in a better mood than he had been for the past several weeks. He smiled at Taka, who walked carefully, one step after the other, with his eyes fixed forward. He seemed fairly relaxed, and without any shame for having shared so much personal information, without asking for anything in return. He had even made a reference to the passing of his mother and sister, in that horrible accident, years before they had even met. Fuji smiled slightly, feeling oddly special.

He offered another piece of sushi to Kawamura, despite how ridiculous it was to offer sushi to the son of a sushiya owner, and was pleased when Taka accepted it without bothering to free his hands. "It gets easier, right?" he asked suddenly, some blocks from the shop.

Takashi nodded until he could speak, "I feel better some days than others. But I feel good more often than bad, and I think right now I feel really good because I'm with a friend. It's harder when you're alone. So... don't isolate yourself all the time, okay, Fujiko?"

They paused outside of the sushiya's warm glow of light, and Fuji looked up at Taka's open, earnest face. His eyes were nearly pleading, and he looked like he was restraining himself from grabbing Shuusuke and shaking him. "All right," he said slowly, "As long as you promise to stick by me."

"Of course, Fujiko! Trust me, I wouldn't, unless you asked..." his nose colored, but he was smiling, and suddenly, that soft excitement flared up in Fuji's belly. The way it used to, when Tezuka was still the sun, and the moon, and stars, and not just the cold emptiness that held those things.

Takashi covered his bold statement by freeing his hands and sliding open the door for him, and Fuji smiled as the slow heat of the shop caught him around the shoulders. Takashi's father grinned and greeted him with gusto, and before long, he was caught up in the whirlwind of lively talk and fun that was Kawamura Sushi.

And every once in a while, when Taka handed him a new plate of sushi, or when he caught sight of the taller boy waiting on the happy customers with a smile on his honest face, he heard the words repeat themselves in his mind, one over the other, like a promise: Trust me, Taka's voice swore, Trust me.

Trust me.

Fuji smiled. It was going to be all right.