Title: Strange Allies With Warring Hearts
Rating: PG-13 at most.
Summary: Everything began and ended in tennis with Tezuka, and this was no exception. TezukaFuji
A/N: She asked for Touya/Shindou too, but it didn't go anywhere. I'll send it to you once I'm done, ok? But for now, here, have some more Tezuka/Fuji.
The title comes from Dave Matthew's Band, The Space Between.
Thanks to Saaski for the quick beta even when she was busy~
Meeting someone was far different from finding someone. One could know another for years before they truly discovered them. One could stand beside someone every day and not know them at all.
It started in their second year. Fuji had been young, prone to giggling in corners with Eiji. His Ichinen shirt hung loose on him. They'd played against each other once, and it'd been cut short by an injury that still haunted him today.
They hadn't played again since that day. After that, Fuji began his game of hide and seek. Tezuka watched Fuji closely because it was foolhardy not to do so. Fuji was enigmatic, tricky, and if Tezuka was ever lax in watching over him the other boy might get up to some mischief. More than that, Fuji was too prone to letting his talents go by the wayside.
But Fuji was not someone anyone truly knew. He kept himself, and knowledge of himself, closely guarded. Everything about Fuji was on his own terms. His charming, popular persona was mere shallowness; should anyone ever try to dig deeper, Fuji would retract, dark and reserved. He only showed those parts he wished and the rest was his own dragon's horde of secrets.
Everything began and ended in tennis with Tezuka, and this was no exception. It was the first hint that Fuji's brilliance might contain something more that pressed past those first adolescent fumblings. He caught sight of a shot, a return that was brilliantly planned; perfectly executed and took the opponent completely unaware.
When it was time to switch courts, Fuji turned and smiled directly at him. It was a grin so sly he may as well have winked. There was no question that the show had been a bit of teasing, a glance at hidden things. It was fascinating, and almost erotic – a striptease, a bit of shifting cloth that was quickly righted, the glimpse of the skin under a mask.
After that one reveal, it was a crackling, tense dance between them. It was subtlety, but they both knew the language. Fuji had taken an interest in him. Perhaps it had been simmering deep under smiles.
Tezuka knew that Fuji was playing with him, but Tezuka didn't back down. Even if he knew a loss was imminent, he was not going to surrender. He'd whether the storm and go down with the ship if need be, for that was what captains did.
He'd sent Oishi home early on account of an injury – a twisted ankle, Eiji had acted as a portable crutch to his double's partner. With everyone else gone, Tezuka showered and changed in peace. It was only when he heard another voice through the stillness that he realized that he wasn't as alone as he had thought.
"You always wait until every else has left...are you shy, Tezuka?"
Fuji giggled then. Tezuka noticed his hair wet and stuck against his face. His eyes were a starling shade of blue.
"Or are you just a hard worker?" Fuji said.
Tezuka didn't reply.
"You know, Tezuka...."
He stepped in close. "You should relax, Tezuka. You're much too tense all the time..."
Fuji's voice was soft, and undeniably suggestive. He stretched out each consonant and vowel until it became musical. Tezuka noticed little things, things he'd never seen or cared to see until then. Fuji's shoulders were thin and sloped, his skin looked abnormally soft. His lashes were dark and long. The eyes that regarded him were
the color of sky reflected on Caribbean waters, and deeply mischievous.
"If you don't rest you'll hurt yourself."
Fuji touched his shoulder, and let it linger there. It was a declaration of war, and a statement of knowledge. He had touched Tezuka's weaker shoulder -- touched it light enough so that the brush hadn't even hurt.
"It wouldn't do any good for you to be hurt," Fuji said. His voice was harsher now. "It would be very foolish to push yourself too far."
And for that fraction of time they just looked at each other, squaring off with their knowledge and force on the opposite sides of the war.
Fuji chuckled as he leaned back. The offensive was over for now.
"Until next time, Tezuka...."
The door closed behind him, clattered shut and Tezuka was left with nothing but the silence and emptiness of the locker room,.
Personal space invasion did seem to be one of Fuji's talents – or perhaps it was a hobby. After the time in the locker rooms, he'd taken to staying near Tezuka. No explanation was given, and he never asked if he wasn't bothering him or if he should come back later as Oishi
Fuji talked, yet his conversation was more observations, for he did not seem to expect them to be answered.
Tezuka did not claim to understand Fuji. He wasn't sure that anyone understood Fuji's whims – least of all Fuji himself. But through this something tender and green sprung up. A friendship grew and bloomed, connecting them.
As he closed the door behind him, Tezuka heard a voice call out his name. He turned to face a smile.
"You forgot your history textbook, Tezuka," Fuji said.
"Funny, as I put it in my bag," Tezuka replied drily.
"And somehow," Fuji said, "It got into my hands. What a coincidence.'.
"Indeed," Tezuka said.
It was cloudy on the horizon, the scent of rain in the air. Neither were surprised when the sky just opened up and released.
He heard something rustle and turned. Fuji pulled out a clear umbrella and held it up over the two of them. Droplets ran down over it and fell about them. Fuji moved close; it was a small umbrella.
"You're well prepared," Tezuka said.
"Oh, I'm always prepared when it comes to you," Fuji said.
Tezuka looked at him, one eyebrow raised, but Fuji's face was a smiling mask. It was the default one without cracks to peel away at its meaning. There were no nuances to grasp at.
"Alright then. Farewell," Tezuka said.
"Until we meet again," Fuji said, a smile like a secret kept on his lips.
And so the year went. Rain turned to snow. Fuji waited for him outside clinics and they walked in the snow, a time so similar to before. They played other people but never each other. Fuji's skills were growing, almost unseen behind the veil. There were hints, a won battle here, a well-played doubles there, but that was just seemed to be smoke and mirrors.
Tezuka knew more lay underneath. Underneath the underneath was Fuji, waiting, daring and pulling him closer. Tezuka stood firm. It was a standstill, a war without the formal declaration of words.
It was a long while after that point in time that the final battle came. It was after a talk of a match in the rain and after Kyuushuu. With the nationals before them and the dream, that was the final talk.
He'd already asked the question of where was the real Fuji, behind the plastic smiling masks.
Fuji waited for him, knowing and aware of this final force of wills between them. One of them would bend to the other's superior force, and Tezuka knew it wouldn't be him.
"Has my time on the team come to a close?" Fuji said. His voice was flat, it belied nothing.
"No," Tezuka said.
"Then what....? I can hardly think you pulled me here for pleasantries."
"Show me," Tezuka said.
"What do you want me to show you, Tezuka? I have a wide variety of pictures, some should be to your interest...." His voice was deceptively cheerful, though Tezuka could see the cracks forming, something else leaking through.
"You know what I want, Fuji," Tezuka said.
For a long indeterminable fragment of time, they stood in an impasse. It was a face off, a match of wills. It was Fuji who faltered, and who made the first move. Hands gripped at his shirt, and an expression Tezuka'd never seen before crossed Fuji's face. It was soft-edged and yet there was an underlying feeling – that same intense electric shock he'd sensed between them. And there, a question in a lowered gaze, a lingering of the hands upon them. And there, an answer
in a step forward. An armistice, a merging of two separate nations.
The war ended with lips crushing against lips, with fingernails digging deep into skin and the feeling was a shock, a tingle as he felt the wonderful strangeness of another body beside him. Kissing him. Touching him.
When they parted Fuji's hair was tousled from Tezuka's hands -he had almost forgotten that in the daze of their lips meeting- and his lips had taken on a swollen look.
He could only imagine the kinds of signs that Fuji had left on him.
Gazing back down at Fuji, his friend – though the bond was strange and bordered somewhere in the grey, his teammate and now, his...something. He wasn't a girlfriend, and not quite a lover. He was a undefinable edge that only Fuji could populate.
Tezuka looked back at all the scenes and wondered if this was the unsaid word they'd rolled over their tongues behind closed mouths. Had this been the key?
"This was your secret?" Tezuka said.
"One of them," Fuji whispered. "I have many more where those come from."
He stroked Tezuka's face, as if that kiss had released the fury between them. It was something approaching fondness, but it held a possessive edge as Fuji cupped his chin and held it there.
Then, with nothing else said, Fuji broke away from him and leaned down to smooth his rumpled shirt.
"Saa, you're far more passionate than people make you out to be. – Say, is that a blush?"
Tezuka didn't reply. Fuji chuckled as he bent to tie his shoes and free his racket from his bags.
Fuji rose again and took up his racket and looked back at Tezuka.
"Let's play a game together....that match, let's finish it."
"Ah. Yes, let's," Tezuka replied.
And it turned back to tennis as it always did with them. A set or two or three...who was counting? Enough to satisfy them, but not enough to hurt Tezuka. There was no hurry, for there were plenty of other games to be played.
Fuji's hair caught the waning sun as it turned from gold to dusk. His lips were parted just slightly, as if he were about to speak, but Fuji said nothing. As the sun set they finished what had happened years ago, and their war ended just as it had begun: with tennis.