A/N: It's my interpretation of the song. I know that you might interpret it differently, but this is what I think the song means. For milkyxduckie who also loves this song. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: the song that inspired this story isn't mine, the prompt is from someone else, and most of the characters aren't mine. Believe me, you're not going to get anything, suing me.
Blah : narration, spoken words
Blah : online conversation, thoughts
Blah : song lyric
Other Side of the World
Over the sea and far away
She's waiting like an iceberg
Waiting to change
But she's cold inside
She wants to be like water
"Good night, Tezuka. I'll see you tomorrow morning. Please remember that you have an interview tomorrow."
Tezuka nodded to his manager. "Good night, Franz."
The blond man flashed him a smile before closing the door behind him, leaving Tezuka alone in his study. Like the rest of the house, this room didn't have a single trace of Japanese design. The room was simply furnished with several tall bookcases, a classic wooden fireplace that was lit to provide warmth for the occupant of the room, and a desk in front of a window overlooking the frozen garden outside. It was still a little to elaborate for Tezuka but as it was simpler than the rest of his house, it became his favorite room.
Soon after his graduation from high school, Tezuka started is tennis career. His grandfather had objected, wishing that he would go to college before starting his career. He couldn't deny his grandson's talent and determination in tennis though, and eventually relented. Tezuka still caved in and was enrolled in a virtual university. As predicted, it didn't take very long for him to gain the attention from the tennis world even with his busy schedule. He quickly became a revered tennis player, having won series of tournaments. Now in his mid twenties, he was acknowledged as one of world's bests.
To accommodate his new career and lifestyle, Tezuka moved to Europe. He now resided in Germany, where he focused on his continually growing career. Between rigorous training, tournaments, various social events, and not to mention interviews, he had very little time for his personal life. Various magazines commented on his lonely life, fueling frenzy among his female fans. It occasionally bothered him how certain people would overlook his skills and instead focus on his personal matters. While it's true that Tezuka had never taken a lover, he very rarely felt lonely, mostly because of his friends. His small peer group, consisting mostly of his former teammates, contacted him every now and then. It was enough for Tezuka to have several close friends than to have numerous acquaintances he wasn't so close to.
After logging in to a private chatting room online, Tezuka searched for familiar names. He quickly found one, a name that still made him feel light headed every time he read it. It was a name he had longed to find for weeks now. It was a name that had constantly been repeated in his mind. But despite his longing, he held back, waiting for the other to begin because he wasn't sure how to, because he was afraid that he would ruin everything if he did. There was always a part of him that wondered of what could happen if he would just let go of the strict control over himself denied himself of the experience. His fear of the unknown and the uncontrollable always defeated his desire to know. He knew the time would come for him where he could no longer back away but for now, his fear won out.
Holding back a smile, he typed a reply. Fuji. He typed as if they were face to face and his silent words that hovered in the air conveyed more than just a simple greeting. He wondered if Fuji could still sense it through the cyber space. Tezuka hoped he could. A part of him wanted desperately to know that they still shared this unique connection they shared with no one else despite the years and miles separating them cruelly.
It's been a while since we chatted. How are you?
I'm fine, thank you. How are you?
I've just been toasted but otherwise I'm fine, Fuji replied. He inserted a smiling face in the end of his sentence. The smile didn't come close to Fuji's smile that was imprinted on Tezuka's mind. Tezuka wondered if the smile was still as mysterious and knowing now. He knew that either way it would be still as beautiful. Fuji was never less than beautiful.
Where are you?
Australia. I was to photograph the desert. It's scorching hot out there but the view worth it all. It's breathtaking. I could send you some pictures if you want.
Thank you. Tezuka typed.
At times like this, Tezuka wondered what it felt like to live Fuji life. Unlike him, Fuji lived a free life with few obligations. Fuji lived by his own rules to fulfill his own expectations, minding little of others. Tezuka was bound by responsibility to his family and expectations from everyone. His life was shaped by those; to rebel was not an option. He had learnt to be deaf to the voice inside of him telling him to follow his desire, questioning why he was always the one to compromise when no one would do the same for him.
I bet it's freezing in your place now.
Tezuka glanced at the window, taking in the vision of falling snow outside. Winter made him slightly melancholy and brought back memories of one unforgettable day many years ago, one rare day when he found the courage to for once follow his desire. He found the view and the silence calming and wondered if Fuji would think the same. How he wished he could share this view with Fuji. It is, he typed. Then he paused before echoing Fuji's earlier offer. I could send you a picture if you want.
Even through the time and space, Tezuka could still picture Fuji's reaction. The tensai must be chuckling right now, amused by his reply. His blue eyes would dance beautifully in genuine happiness, showing a glimpse of his true self. Had anyone seen his true self? Were those glimpses no longer exclusively his own? Tezuka pushed down the sudden pain in his heart, dismissing it as a moment of carelessness.
I'd like that, thank you. I watched your last match on TV. You're great as always. I wish I could be there on the next tournament but I have prior engagement.
Though it was an expected reply, Tezuka was still disappointed. He knew it was selfish of him to wish that Fuji would do something for their sake just because he lacked the courage. It was cruel of him to want someone else to blame but it was a line he dared not cross just yet and yet wanted to cross.
Not yet. It wasn't the time. It was for best that they didn't see each other. Wouldn't they only hurt each other if they did? He really should stop hoping but he couldn't. Why?
Fuji reply that appeared several seconds later made his heart clenched painfully. My boyfriend set up a romantic vacation for two.
All the muscles tighten in her face
Buries her soul in one embrace
They're one and the same
Just like water
Fuji smiled at his reply and left his laptop temporarily to get a bottle of cold mineral water from the refrigerator in his hotel room. He had been working all morning and had just gotten back to the hotel an hour ago. He was grateful that his work was done because it's sweltering hot out there right now. Another day under the hot summer sun could not be good to him. He had dehydration several days ago and was briefly hospitalized. He had no intention of telling Tezuka that though. His mother's reaction when he told her was difficult enough to handle. It's quite amusing how his mother was still extremely concerned about the risks in his profession despite the fact that he had done this for many years -since he graduated from college and even during his college years. It might be presumptuous of Fuji to think that Tezuka would care so much about his well-being. But deep inside Fuji knew that despite his seeming aloofness, Tezuka was a caring person, though charmingly oblivious at times.
He returned to his laptop shortly after taking a rather large gulp of refreshing water. He expected a reply from Tezuka and frowned slightly when he found none. The lack of reaction alarmed him just as Tezuka's silence sometimes did when they were face to face. His mind furiously worked out what might be hidden behind the sudden nothingness. It didn't take long for Fuji to realize that Tezuka was upset by his latest response. Abandoning the bottle of water on a nightstand, Fuji immediately typed again.
Just kidding. I have an assignment on the other side of the world on that date. Fuji typed his explanation quickly. He waited for Tezuka's reply impatiently, his entire body and mind tensing in anticipation of it. Had he tip the precarious balance with his thoughtless message? Tezuka's seriousness made him unable to take jokes sometimes and the distance between them only put more edge in the virtual conversation. Written electronic words did not carry the same expressiveness as manually written ones did. And being unable to put an expressive face on the writer one's conversing with could easily lead him into misunderstanding.
Perhaps only seconds had passed but to Fuji it was an eternity of quietness. His fingers danced on the keyboard again, typing another line of apology and explanation.
I'm just joking. I would be sent to South East Asia on that date. There was this event that I'm supposed to cover. Fuji continued to type, giving details that their silent language could not convey. Technology became inconvenience now and Fuji could then understand Tezuka's aversion when it came to dealing with it.
One word, his name, was enough to put his motions, both physically and mentally, to halt. Tezuka didn't send anything anymore but Fuji could sense that it was forgiveness and understanding. Even as years passed, Tezuka was still the same person, unwilling to waste even a single word when silence could convey a thousand of them. Fuji chuckled, relaxing. Just one word, it was a wonder how Tezuka did it to him. Just a word could be a harsh glare, a smile, a caress, or an embrace, affecting him so.
They both liked to play with words, both the verbalized and non-verbalized ones. They skirted around each other with it, teasing and taunting each other with it. They used it to communicate and hide. Tezuka hid himself behind his silence and Fuji hid himself behind his riddles. They knew how vital the words were, how much power it possessed and were careful with them. But sometimes, as already shown, they weren't careful enough. A slip of the tongue, or finger, could lead them teetering on the edge, ready to fall to irreparable ruin. A quick, careful recovery could bring them back up, back into the cautious dance they dare not break.
Was it stubbornness or stupidity or fear, Fuji sometimes would find himself wonder. They both were all three when concerning each other. The same stubbornness that drove Tezuka to pursue a career in tennis despite his injury and Fuji to maintain his deceitful mask certainly play a part here. So was their stupidity, their lack of knowledge in dealing the fragile thing called feeling, prevented them from doing more. Their fear to hurt others, for they are taught only to please, was also a major factor needed to be considered.
Were you surprised? I got you, didn't I? Fuji typed, trying to lighten up the atmosphere.
I was surprised. Tezuka admitted.
I don't have a lover. Fuji typed, sent it, and then after a moment of frightened consideration typed again. I'm too busy to keep one.
There was silence and they both knew they were imagining what could be the beginning of an end: two travelers, in search of elusive dreams just beyond the reach of their fingertips, together. They both followed the fluidity of their rigid schedule, using it as a shield for imaginary threats that might only be the product of their paranoia. How would it take before they were pulled to different paths or were forced to collide to each other harshly? Could they withstand that?
Maybe we could meet when we're not busy. Fuji offered an open promise that neither had the courage to take.
I look forward to it but for now I have to leave. My plane will be leaving in four hours. And I haven't packed. Fuji inserted a laughing face by the end of his last sentence in a vain attempt to mimic his reaction.
Where are you leaving to this time?
Yudan sezu ni ikou. Tezuka typed and Fuji knew that he wasn't merely talking about the tropical rain forest and its wild animals and diseases, but also the temptations, in any form, from the locals.
Same to you. Good luck on your next tournament.
Thank you. I will not bother you anymore. Good bye.
Bye. Chat with you again soon.
There was always a pause after their goodbyes as if they were waiting for the other to drag on the conversation or perhaps pulled the other to stop out of the thin line and into the unknown territory. But being the paranoid fool he was, Fuji sighed and logged out of the chatting room, convincing himself that he had done the right thing.
And the fire fades away
Most of everyday
Is full of tired excuses
But it's too hard to say
I wish it were simple
But we give up easily
You're close enough to see that
You're the other side of the world to me
The phone call from Oishi was barely surprising. His long time friend contacted him once in a while for a chat. Neither was the subject of the conversation surprising. Oishi wanted him to go to a reunion of former Seigaku regulars that would be held next summer in Japan. It wasn't the first time Oishi tried to appeal to him to come. There had been many, many invitations in the past which he had refused under the pretext of joining some tournament –which was true.
There was a part of him that wanted to go, to take a break from his routine, the routine that slowly choked passion for life away from Tezuka. It was weird how doing something he had always wanted to do could be so dull. The change hadn't been so obvious at first but it made itself known soon. Perhaps it started soon after he entered high school, Tezuka wasn't sure, but he started to feel as if he was missing something in his life around that time. He ignored the feeling though, and continued to pursue his life-long dream. The growing void within him grew bigger and bigger and he was now at the phase where he started to wonder if he had made the wrong choice back then. It's a wonder how something so meticulously planned could go wrong but then maybe it was the unforeseen and unpredictable factors that had thrown him off course. Something incalculable like Fuji.
"You couldn't possibly have tournament all year long." Oishi said through the phone, sighing softly, exasperated by Tezuka's blatant lies. Tezuka wasn't sure if Oishi had seen through his lies yet. There were times when Oishi brought up the topic of Fuji and seemed to drop hints about his knowledge of what was going on between them. Tezuka was always nervous whenever the topic came up because the urge to talk and thus revealing himself would be almost too great to resist. "You shouldn't overwork yourself even if your injury is already healed."
Tezuka smiled slightly. It's nice to know some things hadn't changed. Oishi, as most of his former teammates in Seigaku, were quite easy to predict in their development whether in tennis or otherwise even without the help of Inui's data. The former vice-captain's caring disposition was a fixed trait obviously, unchanging even through the years. The only change perhaps was his skill in persuasion and determination especially when concerning loved ones but even that had been anticipated. Oishi was nothing like Fuji at all.
"Is your manager overworking you?" Oishi asked again.
"No. Franz is a competent manager." Tezuka answered. He sighed mentally. He was not a good liar and coming up with a believable lie was not an easy task for him. His mind worked hard to come up with eligible excuse to not come but he couldn't make any this time. Should he tell the true reason behind his reluctance to meet his former teammates? He had spent so much time acting like he was strong that he couldn't bring himself to reveal the more vulnerable side of himself now.
"Then I think he could arrange to give you a day off next summer."
Tezuka sighed, knowing he had lost the argument. "I'll talk to him." He promised finally. He wished that Franz would tell him that his schedule was full on that date but at the same time he also wished that he would be able to come. Maybe it was time to face his fears. Maybe it's time to put things to rest once and for all. Maybe it's time to meet Fuji. Maybe… "I'll talk to him."
But Tezuka wasn't the only one being forced to make decisions. Fuji was also experiencing the same thing thousands of miles away from him. While Oishi was persuasive, Eiji was demanding. Fuji always found it difficult to deny him anything. There had only been few things that he said no to, one of them was attending the Seigaku reunions. His lies had worked smoothly the previous years but this year, Eiji was far more persistent. Fuji smiled bitterly as Eiji wailed on the phone. He wished he could tell the redhead how it wasn't easy for him to do this, either. He did want to meet his former teammates and see how they're doing but his fear kept holding it back. He knew that by not coming, he could preserve the delicate balance between him and Tezuka.
"Why not?" Eiji demanded, temporarily reverting back to his fourteen years-old self.
"I have work." Fuji chuckled.
"So do I!" Eiji pouted through the phone. "Or do you not want to see us anymore?"
Fuji chuckled again, a little bitterly this time. "Believe me, that's not the case."
"Fuji." Eiji said after a brief pause, suddenly serious and somber. Fuji couldn't but compared the way Eiji said it to Tezuka's, noticed how his name seemed to have less meaning when spoken by someone other than Tezuka. For a second he was overwhelmed by the feeling of longing but he shook it off. "You can't keep running away from him."
Fuji blinked. Sometimes he forgot that Eiji was more perceptive than he was taken for. They had been friends for years, he was bound to notice some things even from someone as mysterious as Fuji. Words clogged Fuji's throat, wanting to be released from the confines of his barred heart, but he swallowed them back. "I'm not running away from anyone, Eiji." He denied.
"Then why won't you come?" He waited for Fuji's answer for a second before continuing. "Avoiding your problems will not solve them. You told me that before, ne?"
He had indeed said it a long time ago when he could no longer bear watching Eiji stare longingly at their vice-captain. He had encouraged Eiji to go and tell Oishi his feelings. He had watched them from afar, wishing deep down inside that he could convince himself that he could do the same. But he couldn't and until the graduation day, he could only smile at Tezuka as they wished each other good luck and bid each other goodbye.
"Please, come next year, Fuji." Eiji whined again, returning to his childish side that Fuji felt more comfortable dealing with.
Fuji sighed. Eiji was right, he knew. He wasn't going to solve the tension between him and Tezuka by avoiding it. He paused to consider and somehow managed to summon enough courage this time. "I'll see what I can do." He said before the courage dispersed.
Fuji hung up several minutes later after convincing Eiji that he would indeed tried to come. He glanced at the laptop screen and was tempted to enter the chat room to wait and seek for that one name. Where was Tezuka now? How was he doing? What was he doing? There were so many things Fuji wanted to ask. Many things he wanted to tell him. He turned away from the screen though. He couldn't talk to Tezuka while being emotional. He had many things to think through and somehow he knew that Tezuka needed a moment for himself, too.
And on comes the panic light
Holding on with fingers
And feelings alike
But the time has come to move along
The streets had changed. The buildings had changed. Tezuka could barely recognize his hometown now. Had it been so long? His mother said that it had been an eternity since he came home and urged him to make more visits in the future. Tezuka agreed reluctantly if only for his family. A part of him wondered when the time would come for him to return for someone outside of his family and he quietly cursed his cowardice.
The taxi slowly came to a halt and Tezuka spared a moment to raise an eyebrow at the choice of meeting place. True, they have all now matured but he hadn't expected them to have the reunion in a private club. He wasn't familiar with such scene at all. He preferred spending his time in the gym or on the court, not socializing with people with questionable reasons.
Thankfully Oishi was there to guide him once he stepped out of the taxi. His former vice captain seemed more mature now, the lines of his face had strengthened but he had not lost the kind of attractiveness that had earned him female fans then. He had also changed his hairstyle though it didn't really surprise Tezuka since Oishi had changed his hairstyle every year when they were still in Seigaku. The young employee's face had brightened upon seeing Tezuka and shook his hands almost too vigorously.
"Tezuka! Glad to see you again! It's been such a long time, eh?"
Tezuka nodded, smiling slightly and betrayed his own pleasure in meeting an old friend. He had lived quite a sheltered life for a long time. It was definitely pleasing to meet someone so close to him. "It has." He agreed.
"You haven't changed much." Oishi commented as he led Tezuka inside. "I know you no longer use glasses but otherwise you didn't change at all." Oishi laughed, probably remembering how Tezuka was always said to look older than his age when they were in junior high school. Now that they were in their twenties, Tezuka's unchanged appearance perfectly fits his age finally.
Oishi told him how he and Eiji, now living together, have always watched his matches. Tezuka was one of the two regulars who pursued their tennis dream. Echizen, whom they met shortly after was another one. Tezuka nodded and shook hands with his former junior who was in the middle of receiving a call in his cell phone. He had had the opportunities to play the proud player with varied results -their unspoken rivalry had yet to be resolved until now. Echizen was taller now and was no longer what girls would call cute. He was instead one that would be called handsome or gorgeous. His sharp hazel eyes, his best feature, had gained him a huge popularity among female tennis fans, something Tezuka was not envious of.
Kaido and Momo seemed to be on slightly better term now as they were spotted speaking on one side of the room, with the close surveillance from Inui. Those three were perhaps the ones that changed the least. Momo had gained a more tan from working on the field while the only thing that changed from Inui was the lack of his notebook. Perhaps he had dropped the habit of taking data. Or perhaps he had mastered the ability to memorize data without the aid of notes now that he worked as a researcher in medical company. Kaido was almost exactly the same as the last time Tezuka saw him, except with more lines adorning his face and the lack of hissing from as far as Tezuka could tell. It seemed like working with animals had softened him.
"Nice to meet you again, Tezuka." Inui greeted him with a glint on his glasses that Tezuka had associated with data gathering and evil plots.
"You look good, buchou!" Momoshiro exclaimed as he shook Tezuka's hand, earning him a scowl from Kaido. He ignored him though and told Tezuka about how much he enjoyed watching Tezuka's last match until Kaido shoved him slightly out of the way.
"It's been a while, Tezuka-senpai." Kaido greeted politely.
Immediately it appeared that some things hadn't changed and an argument broke out between the two former rivals. Oishi quickly ushered Tezuka away from them, perhaps worried that Tezuka would make them run laps as he used to do in the past. By then, Tezuka's eyes had already adjusted to the dim light and though he didn't quite enjoy the atmosphere, he didn't dislike it as much as he thought he would. Some juniors whose name he couldn't quite recall came to greet him and those who couldn't gather quite enough courage kept staring at him. Picking up his discomfort, Oishi led him to the bar faster.
"Eiji would be so excited to see you." He said. Tezuka noted that Oishi's eyes brightened whenever he mentioned his former double partner's name and felt slightly envious. The smile on Oishi's face widened as he went on about his favorite topic. "He was so excited when he planned all this. I know he is always excited, but he was especially excited this time. He was determined to bring everyone together this year. He was the one who forced me to call you and make you come, or else…" Oishi didn't continue and chuckled instead, his face reddening slightly. "He really wants us all to get together again. Somehow he even managed to get Fuji to come."
Tezuka's steps faltered when he heard the name and panic rose within him. He had no time to leave however as Oishi had already found Eiji and was calling his attention. Upon seeing him, the now short-haired young man ran to hug him; his maturing feature still somehow fitted his childish antics. Eiji told him how he had wanted to meet Tezuka for so long and how he was so cruel for not attending the annual reunion until now but all were lost to Tezuka whose eyes and attention were trained to the person sitting at the bar.
Fuji seemed slightly surprised to see him here. His blue eyes, still as brilliantly beautiful as they were in Tezuka's memory, were revealed. His lips were slacked for a brief moment but then curved into a beautiful yet hesitant smile. Slowly he got off the stool and approached Tezuka who couldn't ignore the way he moved gracefully. Tezuka's fingers twitched, longing to run through the soft long tresses and flawless skin. How could he be more beautiful through the years?
"Hello, Tezuka." Fuji said, holding out his hand to shake Tezuka's.
Time seemed to stop and everything else ceased to exist around them. Tezuka took Fuji's offered hand and shook it gently, marveling in the softness of the skin. His heart beat quickly in his chest and he could not decide whether to move away or pull Fuji into his arms. Gods, how he had missed him! How he longed to embrace the one person who had haunted him in his sleeping and waking hours for so many years! How he wanted to convey the words that wouldn't escape the recess of his mind! How his feeling didn't disperse but strengthened instead!
Colors caressed Fuji (and by gods, did he envy them!) and Tezuka vaguely heard a familiar voice saying something about dancing. He heard a sweet sound but wasn't sure if it was a product of his imagination and uncontrolled emotion or a part of reality. His reality, his world, his universe was before him now, holding hands with him. Perhaps he should be alarmed of his thoughts but couldn't bring himself to care just yet.
His worries were put to rest. The connection between them was indeed still there. Tezuka could feel Fuji's longing as it echoed in his soul. He could feel his relief, pleasure, and fear and understood completely for he felt the same. But most of all Tezuka sensed uncertainty. A question hovered in the air. Where do we take it from here?
Tezuka froze as reality crashed down on him. Responsibility and desire battled within him and he pulled his hand back. Where should they take it from here?
Can you help me?
Can you let me go?
And can you still love me
When you can't see me anymore?
Making that first step wasn't easy. Fuji had hesitated, prolonging his stay in the hotel for questionable reasons. He almost didn't come but eventually couldn't bring himself to break more promises than he already did. Eiji was obviously really looking forward to meeting him again and Fuji couldn't break his heart one more time. The fear remained. He didn't know what was going to happen, whether Tezuka would come or not. He didn't know whether to want Tezuka to come or not. He had thought of many scenarios, many possible outcomes of this reunion but though there was a chance that he had been worried over nothing, he dismissed that possibility. Fuji didn't want to get his hopes up, knowing the pain would be tremendous if he was let down.
He was both relieved and disappointed when he couldn't find the longed face in the crowd when he arrived in the club but he had little time to ponder this predicament. The moment Eiji saw Fuji, he jumped him and wouldn't let go until Oishi came to interfere. Eiji thankfully was too excited to see him to notice anything unusual about him and inquire more than he's willing to reveal. Fuji led Eiji dragged him around, introducing him to mature faces that were the ghosts of younger, more familiar ones. Fuji smiled and greeted them politely while hiding his pain. There was no point in pondering the past, bittersweet as it was. It had gone, never to return… like Tezuka to him.
Kawamura was probably the only one who noticed the sorrow concealed in his eyes. The kind man gave him drink to help relief his pain but made sure that he wouldn't drown himself in it. He tried to distract him with stories of his family and store but it only drove Fuji to think of what he couldn't have. Not a wife and children -he had long since lost interest in having his own- but the contentment of having someone to return to, to love, to let him know that he was loved back in return.
Sometimes Fuji wondered how he had lived until then. While he was rarely alone, he was always lonely, accompanied by dreams that might never come true. His house was not a home, just a place to live in, to entertain guests, to work, not a place where he belonged. More than one time he felt like there was a hole in his soul and he felt incomplete and somehow no matter how he tried to reach out, he couldn't grasp the missing piece that was just beyond his reach. Then he would seek refuge in work which offered little comfort and a lot of suffocating obligations and tried in vain to move on.
"Don't drink too much." Kawamura warned him before he left to help a junior who had pushed his tolerance toward strong liquor too far.
Eiji, still not quite grasping Fuji's mood too thrilled by his presence as he was, replaced Kawamura and began talking about what he had missed all these years; the weddings, the victories, the deaths, the births, the happiness, the sorrows. His best friend's cheerfulness helped to alleviate Fuji's pain briefly and for a while he could almost believe that it's all right. Nothing was going to change. Nothing would change. They were still they way they were. He could still return to that familiar state. So why did he feel so sad? Why did he feel like he was once again making a big mistake?
That name…Fuji's heart skipped a beat, his smiled dropped, and his grip on his glass tightened. He froze and slowly turned in his seat. Amidst the crowd, partially shadowed by the darkness was the figure he had always dreamt about. His heart leapt in his chest in fear and joy. His eyes were inevitably drawn to those hazel orbs, as sharp and beautiful as they had always been. Those orbs that were cold and blank to others were full of unsaid emotions to him. Tezuka zone, he thought briefly as he was inevitably pulled towards Tezuka as he always was. Fuji put on a smile and stood up. Dreamily he approached Tezuka, expecting to be rudely awakened from yet another dream.
He was taller now, but Tezuka was still several inches above him, peering down at him in joy and uncertainty. "Hello, Tezuka." He greeted, reaching out for his hand, wishing that he could pull their bodies together instead. Would it feel like what it felt like in his dream, when he could freely embrace the taller man and whisper secrets of their hearts? Would Tezuka's warmth envelop him the way it was in his dreams? Would Tezuka's arms be as kind and gentle? Would his eyes shone with unspeakable affection? Would his lips curved to a loving smile he had showed to no one but Fuji? Would Fuji be willing to try to find out?
Tezuka nodded slightly and took his hand and the world seemed to freeze around them. Fuji nearly shivered, the simple touch of the calloused hand made his body and heart. How did he still do this to him even now? How could he still be affected by this even now? He saw fear and pleasure battled within Tezuka and wished that he could relief them of it. He knew that there was only one way to do it, by asking the one question they dared not ask. Where do we take it from here?
The slip of mind wasn't concealed fast enough. Reading his thoughts correctly as he always did, Tezuka pulled his hand back quickly. "Sumimasen." He apologized before walking away.
Fuji stood rooted in his spot; his heart ached badly, his eyes smarting painfully. Colors danced in his eyes and for a second he hated the sight of Oishi and Eiji dancing together, their bodies pressed together but not as close as their hearts were. He could never be like them, he could never be able to love freely, he could not ignore others' displeasure to have his own happiness… or could he? Should he let this chance get away again? Should he be relieved that he didn't have to risk anything when they could possibly have something? Should he return to the way things were? Should he experience that painful longing again? Why didn't he try? Why couldn't they try?
"Tezuka!" He called out, walking quickly after the taller man.
His feet brought him to a private area, far from the music and the lights. His heart sought Tezuka's whispering comfort to little effect. Tezuka still hadn't stopped, chased by fear, urged to hide. Fuji sped up and caught his hand. They should put an end to this. Even if it meant breaking their hearts, he should end this maddening craving.
Tezuka turned to him and gently tried to pull his hand. Even now, he was still considerate of Fuji. His eyes quietly pleaded Fuji to let this go but Fuji was determined. They could not run away from fear anymore. He wouldn't let them. They weren't children anymore, they should face their problem. Where should we take it from here?
He didn't care anymore about others. Why couldn't he have true happiness? Why wasn't he allowed to love? He knew having Tezuka beside him would be worth everything, every pain, every rejection, every hatred. He only needed Tezuka. That's all. He knew they could make it together. They just had to take the risk. They just had to try.
"Please." Fuji pleaded.
Tezuka's swallowed, eyes softening in compassion. His hand floated as if to touch his face. But then he pulled it away and shook his head again. "You said it yourself. You're too busy to maintain a relationship." He said softly, rephrasing Fuji's words carefully.
"Maybe. I've never tried." Fuji confessed. His lips curved slightly when Tezuka's eyes widened slightly.
And the fire fades away
Most of everyday
Is full of tired excuses
But it's too hard to say
I wish it were simple
But we give up easily
You're close enough to see that
You're the other side of the world to me
He knew that many things stood in their way; expectations, responsibilities, society, and career among other things. It might not work. They might hurt each other later. But they didn't know that yet. They wouldn't know unless they tried. They couldn't try if they didn't have faith, and Fuji had faith in Tezuka.
Yes, they could hurt each other deeper if they tried. They could grow to resent each other as they turned into strangers. They could make mistakes, but then again who wouldn't? They could make amends. They could forgive. They could make it work. They could be happy. They would be happy, finally.
They had spent too much time dismissing pain, pushing back desires, convincing themselves that they had made the right mistakes. All those sufferings just because they hadn't tried hard enough… It wasn't impossible. Certain things were indeed difficult to perform but nothing was impossible. Wasn't it what Tezuka had been trying to tell their team long ago; no dream was unreachable if they would only try. Fuji had dreamt of this forever, just as he knew Tezuka had. Why shouldn't they try to make it come true?
"We could try."
Tezuka paused, thinking. Fuji could clearly see desperate longing in his unmasked eyes. He knew it was in his eyes, too. They couldn't conceal it anymore now. It didn't matter that the entire world could see. They couldn't deny it anymore. They've always known what this was, what it meant. Now it was the matter of acting on it.
Tezuka stepped forward and slowly lifted a hand to caress Fuji's face. There was awe in his face when they finally crossed that line together. Smiles bloomed in their faces. Relief, fear, joy, confusion, and wonderment mixed inside but they wouldn't take a step back. "We should try." He said. Then he pulled Fuji into his loving arms, finally embracing the undeniable.
For the first time in his life, Fuji felt contentment. He wrapped his arms around Tezuka, marveling how this felt right, perfect even, like he was now complete. He knew that Tezuka knew this was how it's supposed to be. This was how they're meant to be. And what's meant to be would always find a way.
You're the other side of the world to me
A/N: Oh, my god, finally!! It took forever to finish this. It drained me mentally and physically because I love, love, love this song and I really want to make a good fic out of it. It didn't help that I have zero emphatic ability and am not a romantic. But here it is. Hope you like it.