Title: Frozen in Time

Author: a1y-puff

Fandom: Prince of Tennis

Pairing: Tezuka/Fuji

Genre: Romance/Tragedy

Rating: PG

Summary: Stay with me. The words sounded beautiful to Fuji's ears. Of course he wanted to stay with Tezuka.

Warning: Character's death.

Disclaimer: I'm just a fan screwing up with Konomi's characters.

A/N: Songfic of SPLIT by Suneohair. This is a mirror fic for Ryu Reikai-Akuma's LOVE IN THE ICE. Read that one FIRST!! If you haven't, go read it now before coming back here! Heheh…

Much thanks for La Fuego, coz she's beta'ed this despite her very, very busy schedule. She's awesome like that. :D

Anyway, please enjoy~


If these dull emotions could just
Disappear sooner without a word
It would have been easier

When I gazed at you
I saw myself trembling in your eyes
I opened my mouth as though I had a blank expression

Cold was all that he could feel. The freezing air hit the various parts of his exposed skin, his torn clothing no longer shielded him from the chilly wind, biting and numbing some parts of his limbs. He wondered if he broke some ribs and dearly hoped they didn't poke through his lungs or something. Hurt was an understatement to the pain spreading throughout his body. It hurt to just keep breathing; it hurt so much that he just wanted to stop. He felt tired, really, really tired that he wanted to just close his eyes and succumb to the siren call of much needed rest, but he struggled to keep his eyelids open, because he knew that once he gave up, he might never wake up.

He tried to move his gaze a little upwards; fighting the dizziness and keeping his eyes open until he found the face he was looking for. The normally stoic face looked pale, enveloped in both physical and emotional pain. He saw them in those hazel orbs; the guilt, the worry, the self-loathing that threatened to take over his normally composed self, and those brown eyes hardened in unshed tears.

The sight made his heart clench; to see the strong pillar threatening to crumble right in front of him… because of him. He didn't want that. He knew how the other man had his own share of pain, and he didn't want his companion to share his as well.

He had to be strong.

"Tezuka…" the name came out barely as a whisper, and Fuji forced his trembling lips to form a smile. He watched as the older man bit his lips, probably blaming himself for what was happening to them right now. Fuji reached out his hand weakly to touch Tezuka's cheeks, inwardly flinching at how cold his hand must have felt on the other's skin, but his smile widened as Tezuka closed his eyes and leaned slightly into his touch.

"It's alright… it's alright…"

Tezuka opened his mouth as if to deny, but Fuji merely smiled at him, wanting to comfort the man lying in front of him, to tell him that he was okay, that they were okay, that none of them were at fault, that none of these were Tezuka's fault. He watched as the other closed his lips again, lowering his head and shook it. Fuji knew Tezuka was stubbornly placing the blame on himself alone, and it made his heart twist. It wasn't like Fuji was alright with their current condition, but having Tezuka blaming himself didn't help in making him feel any better.

If anything, it made him feel worse.

"It's alright… It's going to be alright…"

A little voice in his head told Fuji otherwise, that at least, Fuji himself wasn't going to be alright.

We went on our separate paths
At that crossroad
It pains me so much that
We may never meet again

Gathering emotions which are lacking
Things that were warmed just a while ago have grown cold
I couldn't believe something like that
Just how long am I going to hold on to the same words?
How long am I going to hold on…

Fuji struggled to keep his smile intact, despite the fact that he could practically hear the cracking sound coming from his heart. He kept his tears to himself, not letting a single drop flow out, and yet he knew his smile would never be the same. He saw the pain in Tezuka's eyes, the doubts and uncertainties lingered with the other's desire to just embrace him… but Fuji gave him that smile. A smile to remind Tezuka of their decision, of Tezuka's decision. So he turned his back and walked away while his resolve was still strong. A resolve to let Tezuka go and move on.

Sooner or later, this day when they should separate would have come. Fuji had planted this into his mind since long ago, and he had always thought that when the day came, he would be strong enough to let go, but oh, how he was wrong. It was true that these three years hadn't been easy for them. The burden of secrecy and responsibilities, the fear of being hated and discriminated against, the nearly non-existent hopes of acceptance and a happy future; those hadn't been easy. But still, they had been strong, because they were together. But now, he had to—needed to let go of the only thing that kept him strong. He needed to let go of Tezuka and grant him a better future by letting him try to find happiness without a Fuji in the way.

Without him.

It was unbearable, the thought of being without Tezuka…

And suddenly, he was pulled back to the warm, broad chest that he loved so much, enveloping him in warmth that had kept him safe from the harshness of reality for the past three years, warmth that he was supposed to let go of. But Tezuka's strong arms felt so fragile just then that Fuji felt compelled to hold him in return, but refrained from doing so and stayed still… because once he gave in and held Tezuka in return, he would never want to let go. He would want to stay with Tezuka and never leave his side, to build their future together—a dream that both of them had decided to leave behind because now that they were both grown up, they could no longer be selfish and should start tending to their responsibilities.

Yes, he shouldn't be selfish.

"Come with me to the mountain," Tezuka suddenly said, and Fuji turned his head to look at those brown eyes. And those teary eyes spoke volumes of the unsaid words; an invitation, an offer, a plea to be together for this one last time.

And so Fuji nodded, thinking that he would savor this very last moment with Tezuka, so that he could then leave and try to move on, no matter how impossible the task would be.

The moment they fought to walk through the blizzard, when they fell into the deep, deadly trap, when he could only cry in pain, when he struggled to fight the pain in Tezuka's arms, when he felt blood warm his clothes, when he saw the fear, the guilt, the self-loathing that filled Tezuka's hazel eyes, Fuji wished he had said no. He wished his resolve had been stronger, so that he could just walk away and get on with his life instead of causing Tezuka more pain from blaming himself just because Fuji wasn't strong enough to fight these physical injuries.

"It's alright… It's going to be alright…" was the least he could say to Tezuka, silently promising to try and survive for Tezuka's sake.

But still, if he was allowed to be selfish for one last time, he would rather die here, in Tezuka's arms.

When I continue to gaze at you
The seasons changed in your eyes
My new light which I've not known before

We will walk our separate paths
Now, at that crossroad
I can never look back again
My feelings are too overwhelming

It hurt. His chest hurt too much just to breathe, and the urge to give up became stronger, but Fuji denied it. He could feel Tezuka's grip on his hand tighten, begging him to keep struggling, to not give up. But still, it hurt… it hurt to keep breathing, to fight the numbness that had taken over his body. The darkness that was slowly edging into his vision was growing bigger, inviting him into its embrace, promising him no more pain, no more hurting, no more…

"Stay with me. Stay with me. Fuji, stay with me, please." Tezuka's desperate voice sounded so far away, but still, it reached his ears, pulling him slightly away from the darkness. He fought his darkening sight to catch more glimpse of Tezuka, but all he could see was a vague image of the man he loved. Fuji felt more than saw when Tezuka leaned towards him, his voice rough, burdened and shaking when he once again pleaded, "Stay with me. Please, stay with me. I can't… I can't…"

Stay with me. The words sounded beautiful to Fuji's ears. Of course he wanted to stay with Tezuka. He wanted to stay with Tezuka and never leave his side, even after this supposed goodbye trip. But Fuji wondered if they… if he could actually make it back home from this mountain. Fuji struggled to clear his vision, to gaze tenderly at the man he loved so much, to give him the sweetest smile he could manage with his trembling, nearly frozen lips. Maybe if by some miracle he could stay alive and make it back down the mountain with Tezuka, safe and sound, he would ask Tezuka to stay with him, to risk their future together.

But Fuji knew better. He knew he wouldn't last any longer.

"Tezuka…" he struggled to call, letting a single tear rolling down his cheek. "Tezuka… I'm sorry… so sorry…"

Why, Fuji asked himself, when Tezuka actually asked him to stay with him, he couldn't even comply and could only say sorry? Fuji saw Tezuka shake his head, streams of tears began to flow down his usually stern face. It hurt… it hurt so much to see tears on Tezuka's face. Weakly, he moved his hand on Tezuka's cheek to wipe away the frozen tears, and as Tezuka bit his lip, Fuji's heart bled. What bad things have they done to deserve this? Was it so wrong to fall in love with each other? Was it so wrong to only try being honest with their hearts and be happy?

Why did Tezuka have to suffer this much only for loving him?

"…Just want you to know that…" Fuji started again, struggling to keep breathing and talking, because he needed to say this, he needed to let Tezuka know that their choice was mutual, that they were together in this, that Tezuka didn't have to suffer alone, because…

Fuji gasped for air when he felt his chest was too tight from the lack of air, and he winced as pain assaulted him. But still, he tried to smile—he needed and wanted to be smiling, yet he couldn't help the accompanying tears as he delivered his words, "…Love you… I love you… I love you…"

And Tezuka's tears spilled again. Only this time, it carried not only sorrow and guilt, and Fuji's smile widened as he was granted with a shower of kisses upon his face, wiping away his tears and giving him warmth that the snow denied him, warmth that stayed in his heart. Fuji felt another stream of tears as Tezuka sobbed into his freezing hand, and his heart clenched. He didn't want to leave yet… he wanted to stay… he wanted to stay, but…

"So it's alright… everything will be alright…"

…he couldn't, so he let out that little lie. For both of them, for Tezuka, for himself—he needed to say those words, giving the last of his strength to give hope, no matter how small it was. As he weakly caressed Tezuka's cheek and hair, he could only hope that at least, things would be alright for Tezuka. It was the last thing on his mind—the smallest of hopes—before his breathing grew shorter, and shorter, and shorter… until darkness gently embraced him, freeing him from any more pains and sufferings.

Everything will be alright...

You embrace me in the night that is about to disappear
Entangling me with your body which has grown cold
I feel that something is lacking
Just how long have I been holding on to
Lies and sighs to the point of falling apart?

Gathering emotions which are lacking
Things that were warmed just a while ago have grown cold
I couldn't believe something like this
Just how long am I going to hold on to the same words?
How long am I going to hold on…

Fuji didn't know how long he had been in the darkness, but when he came to himself, he was still there at the mountain. He felt no more pain, no more chill, nothing. And then he saw himself—his body down there, in the snow, pale and lifeless. Oh, so he couldn't make it. So he was dead. But he was still here. And Tezuka was still there, alive. Barely.

He tried to move closer—he floated—and kneeled on the ground, beside his loved one. Fuji saw his body was still in a loose embrace in Tezuka's arms, absently noticing the pile of snow covering their bodies like a white blanket. How long had they been there? Why was Tezuka still here? Couldn't he move? Hadn't anyone found them—him yet? How long could Tezuka hold on before morning came, before someone could find and rescue him?

Fuji watched as Tezuka brushed away snow from his hair, and his eyes traveled to Tezuka's face, seeing the traces of dried tears on his cheeks, the mixed emotions in his hazel eyes—the eyes that said a lot of things Fuji knew Tezuka couldn't say—hadn't had the chance to say. It pained him to see despair slowly clouding Tezuka's eyes.

He reached out his hand, pale and transparent, to touch Tezuka's cheek, but Fuji pulled back as soon as it went through Tezuka. He couldn't even touch Tezuka now…

'It's alright… it's going to be alright, Tezuka.' Fuji said it for Tezuka, for himself, repeating the words like a mantra, as if everything would truly be alright if he kept saying it. But is it really? Seeing the Tezuka's pale complexion—he nearly matched Fuji's lifeless body by now—Fuji couldn't help thinking that he wasn't going to be alright, that nothing was going to be alright.

A small smile curled on Tezuka's lips, immediately catching Fuji's attention, and he watched as Tezuka pulled his unmoving body closer, embraced him tighter. He moved his gaze to catch Tezuka's eyes, and it was then that Fuji understood the meaning of Tezuka's smile.

Tezuka was giving up.

No. Tezuka couldn't die here too. He shouldn't…

But… was Tezuka really still strong enough to hold on? Seeing the dulled hazel eyes, Fuji couldn't find the will to live—but his eyes sparked, even just a little, when they gaze at Fuji's still face. A part of Fuji felt happy. Happy that Tezuka chose to be with Fuji and give up the life without him. Fuji despised that ugly part of him, chastising himself for the selfish thought.

But still… Tezuka didn't look like he could go on…

Fuji could only watch as Tezuka took a deep breath, before slowly his breathing grew shallower, and shorter, and shorter… Fuji watched Tezuka breathe for the last time, until it was no more. He watched as Tezuka's body grew paler and colder, and his eyes stung from nonexistent tears.

But it was alright, it was going to be alright.

He would wait for Tezuka to travel through the same darkness as he had, wait for his soul to come out of it, and then maybe, maybe he would first scold the older man for being so stupid and giving up his life. He would tell Tezuka what an idiot he was for dying so young, and then he would pull Tezuka into his arms—he dearly hoped that when both of them were nothing but souls, they could touch each other—and then he would whisper those words to Tezuka's ears.

I love you. Please stay with me.

He knew everything would be all right.


A/N: Uh… I admit I was the one proposing the idea of a collab deathfic to Ryu, and I also proposed this song… but how the story turned out like this… it's 70% her fault! Blame her! *runs and hides behind Ryu*

P.S: Do tell if you cry reading this. Ryu and I are having a bet XD;;