A/N: This is a goodbye fic from me. no, I'm not quitting PoT fandom or writing in general but I'm not going to be able to write anything (or at least post anything) for at least two months. Explanation is in my LJ. Check it if you care. Anyway, in the spirit of DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki love, this fic is inspired by many RPS that I read during train rides. Unbetaed because I'm too impatient to wait to get comments XDDD
Disclaimer: I don't PoT and the fics that inspired this fic and the boys that inspired the fics that inspired this fic XDDD
Under the Bright Night Sky
Tezuka bowed quietly to the sobbing family. He offered a few polite words of sympathy and grief then went into the room full of silent people in black. The atmosphere there was dark and tense, unfitting to the bright summer day outside. He heard the faint chirping of birds, drowned by soft incantations of prayers from the monk. The scent of incense made him slightly dizzy, the effect strengthened by the fact that he just arrived from hour-long flight but he tried not to show it. Tezuka knelt in front of the altar, taking a moment to look at the no-longer-so-familiar face in a framed picture between two vases of white chrysanthemum. Age had brought more lines and wisdom to Ryuuzaki-sensei's face since the last time he saw her many, many years ago at his graduation from Seigaku. He took a deep breath, inhaling more of the intoxicating scent, and then paid his respect.
There was no emotion to speak of. The memory was too distant to carry any psychological effect but Tezuka did spend three years under her guidance and being a good student he had been, he just had to come. He owed her a lot though he never did manage to bring himself to the professional level he had coveted. Echizen carried that dream for them now and Tezuka had mastered the technique to not mull over is occasionally aching elbow. He was all right, though. It's not a life he had dreamt but it's all right. And he owed Ryuuzaki-sensei for letting him practice control and selflessness, the two things every adult need to have.
Soft shuffling on his side roused him out of his thoughts and he realized that maybe he had taken too long. Tezuka glanced to apologize and saw long brown hair tied neatly into a ponytail at the back of a slender, pale neck and perpetually closed eyes. It didn't take too long for him to recognize the man even without the trademark smile. He blinked when blue eyes suddenly locked on him calmly, as if the other wasn't surprised to see him there. He might not be for he was always observant and calculative… at least that's how Tezuka remembered him to be. Had that changed now? Tezuka cleared his throat, feeling nervous and self-conscious suddenly.
The smile came to the once pretty face (it still was but there were some fine lines at the corner of the eyes and around his mouth that somehow made him more good-looking in a mature way but not old, not like him) but Tezuka noticed something had changed. It's sharper, sadder, angrier. Fuji's eyes told nothing, though, as he replied almost as politely with a brief mischievous tone that bring a tiny semblance of comfort to Tezuka, the tone that never failed to rouse his curiosity and gained his undivided attention. "Tezuka." He knew then that none of his plan for the four-day stay would go according as planned.
Tezuka stared at the orange liquid in his glass, then glanced up to where Fuji was sitting with a can of beer in one hand and a stick of cigarette between his lips (those plump, pink lips…). He looked away again quickly, wondering why on earth he agreed to come with Fuji to his tiny apartment. Of course he knew that Fuji's offers were never really offers. Maybe that was why he just nodded quietly when Fuji whispered the 'suggestion' to him as they tried to walk through the mobs of tall bodyguards, fans, and reporters that Echizen brought. Or maybe he was curious. Or maybe suicidal. Tezuka could never figure it out when it came to Fuji. It's always better to just wait and observe carefully until he could see the glimpses of the true intention, spoke up, and was proven wrong once again.
"So how are you doing now?" Fuji asked after exhaling a cloud of smoke with practiced ease.
"Fine." Tezuka replied, trying not to cough at the poisonous air entering his lungs. "Smoking's not good for your health."
Fuji chuckled, low and dark and… something Tezuka dared not define. "We will all die, anyway." He noticed Tezuka's frown, smiled, and took another lungful of the poison. "What do you do?"
"I'm a tax accountant." Tezuka replied, glaring disapprovingly at the cancer stick between Fuji's long, graceful fingers.
"Do you still play tennis?"
"No." Tezuka paused, his left arm unconsciously shifting. "I don't have the time." And money but that was not Fuji's business.
Fuji gave a melodious hum and looked away to exhale a puff of smoke. "And you were the most passionate about it. Ryuuzaki-sensei would've been disappointed." Fuji paused and looked at the patch of night sky outside his tiny balcony (is this supposed to be an emotional spiritual moment? Tezuka shifted uncomfortably, not having that concept in his practical life). It seemed so bright due to artificial lights coming from the entertainment district not so far from there. There was no star visible and Tezuka wondered if he'd be able see the moon if he looked up. "Never thought I'd see you again. You kind of disappeared."
"I stayed in contact with Oishi and Inui for a while." Tezuka defended himself. He wondered where they were now, why they didn't come to the funeral, what changes had happened to them. How were they doing now? Were they doing better than him, than Fuji? Or were they also stuck in another version of this place; a cramped living space with little room to breathe, thin walls, unfavorable location, and the grand view of another building's wall? At least Fuji kept his place clean and tidy, homely with a touch of memory, family, and beloved cacti and not left it to deteriorate to match its surrounding area.
"Haven't heard from them for ages. They didn't come to the funeral. Inui has lost his touch." He smiled as took a big gulp of beer. "Ironic, isn't it?"
"Re-encounter in a funeral. A new beginning in an end." He smiled slightly wider and Tezuka could almost see the boy he once was, buried underneath thick layers of time and adulthood they once couldn't wait to reach. "It's an ironic world, isn't it, Tezuka?"
The nod he gave wasn't entirely out of courtesy and the thin smile Fuji gave in approval made him feel lighter. He shouldn't stay too long but he knew he would.
On the second night they sat together in the filthy roof of Fuji's apartment; cans of beer, a pack of cigarette, a lighter, and a carton of juice keeping them apart. The stars were invisible and the moon was hiding somewhere behind the clouds but at least it wasn't as hot as Fuji's living space down there. Tezuka was tempted to take off his jacket but didn't know where to put it so that it wouldn't get dirty and Fuji was too busy smoking, drinking, and generally staring at the bright night sky to help him.
"I write novels." Fuji announced suddenly. "Drama and angst. Lots of angst." He took a drag of cigarette (the second that night), paused for a stretched second, then continued with a puff of white smoke. "They're pretty well received but the general readers prefer romance. And what the readers like, the publishers love."
"Then write it." Tezuka said, practical as ever. Summer wind caressed them and he watched in more than slight fascination as it made Fuji's long, unbound tresses danced. He fisted his hands and forced his eyes to train on the distant top of a random building (it's a love hotel, he grimly with slight distaste. A love hotel with fancy name, flashy lights, and probably better rooms than his apartment all the way in Nagoya).
Tezuka hadn't asked what Fuji was doing. They had talked about him yesterday. Fuji was almost as talkative as before (he wondered if that's because he preferred to write things down now) and seemed more interested in knowing Tezuka's life than in telling him about his. Tezuka took it in stride, not quite used to the adult he was facing now, unsure where to draw the line. What had changed other than the looks? Where were they standing when concerning each other now?
Fuji chuckled. "Nah. I know a lot about sex. But romance? No." The chuckle turned into laughter (melodious as only Fuji knew how to) when Tezuka gave him a slightly scandalized look. "What? Don't tell me you're still a virgin at twenty six years old!"
Tezuka frowned. Of course he was not. There was that girlfriend of his in college (vanilla scented skin, soft brown hair, pink lips, disturbingly naughty brown eyes, long legs… Oh, and very, very extensive vocabulary. He had gained quite a handful of new words from her), the first of quite a number of them, who dumped him because he's too boring, really. There were memories of smooth pale thighs, soft smiles, curves (and plains), heat, and… He cleared his throat and thought of the amount of work waiting for him back in the office.
"And why don't you want to drink alcohol? Real men drink." Fuji provoked with that naughty gleam in his eyes that reminded Tezuka of the boy he had been and a smirk that Tezuka was trying to familiarize himself to.
"I don't believe that drinking alcohol defines manhood."
"Interesting choice of word."
Tezuka flushed slightly in embarrassment and sent Fuji a berating glare. Of course it didn't work, it was Fuji after all. Despite the long hair, the earrings (he hadn't don them yesterday. Tezuka wished he had because the blue matched his eyes), the cigarette between his full lips, and the dirty smiles, he was still the Fuji Syuusuke, the prodigy, the genius, the prefect student, the gifted tennis player (or had he graduated to gifted player now?), the good friend he hadn't met in over a decade.
"You know, I could introduce you to some friends. Do you have any preference? Big boobs? Flat chest? Legs? Ass?" He paused and sent Tezuka one of his most mischievous look yet. "Dicks?"
Fuji guffawed and applauded noisily when Tezuka finished a can of beer in one go.
"Do you have any girlfriend?"
Tezuka sighed and drank the liquor in his glass. "You sound like my mother. No." Perhaps it's the alcohol (it's definitely the alcohol because Fuji had decide that since Tezuka was now willing to drink, they're going to have to have something stronger, much stronger) because Tezuka felt more relaxed tonight than the previous ones. Maybe it's the jokes Fuji cracked the previous nights, the taunting jokes that though slightly green were the reminder of the mischievous boy he had been and Tezuka knew. Tezuka talked more tonight about his mother and her demands for daughter-in-law and grandchildren, his father and his endless advice about work, and his grandfather with his tired gaze. Perhaps it's the alcohol and the jokes. He didn't care to think and the alcohol wasn't helping.
"Oh, that's surprising. You seem the type no one would pass up. What's with your model's look and all."
Tezuka let out a soft, short chuckle. "My model's look?"
"Yeah, the moment I saw you I just thought 'that boy's cute enough to be an idol'. Then you grew taller and more mature and I wasn't the only one looking forward to seeing you in the cover of some magazine." Fuji said with a wide reminiscing smile.
"I don't find being pawed at by adolescent girls and perverts very appealing." He took another shot of liquor, feeling his lightheadedness grew. He should have more practice at this. Maybe going out with coworkers on after-hour parties wasn't such bad idea after all. "Do you have a girlfriend?"
Fuji smiled, cynical and sad. "I told you, right? I don't know romance. There are some… acquaintances but no, nothing like that."
Tezuka grunted. He undid several buttons of his shirt. It was a humid night and Fuji's cramped apartment and the liquor didn't help. How the hell did Fuji manage to live here without a fan at least? "Why not?"
Fuji watched him, curious, observant, calm, dangerous, everything Tezuka remembered him to be and the liquor helped him to relax even more. "Can you keep a secret?" He waited for Tezuka's look of affirmation and flicked his cigarette ashes to the ashtray before continuing. "I still can't get over someone."
"Someone very special. A first… crush." The he stopped to watch Tezuka intently until he felt compelled to probe.
"Is it someone I know?"
Fuji nodded slowly, still watching Tezuka closely. "I didn't have the courage to confess. Would've been rejected anyway."
Tezuka said nothing. His head felt light but his heart felt heavy. He took another shot of the drink but only felt worse. "Who's she?" he slurred. Damn, he's definitely out of practice in the drinking department.
"Oh, someone from long ago. Has changed a lot now, I bet. But I'll still be turned down."
"You don't know that."
"I do. Time changes many things but not this. I almost gave up, tried to forget and move on. But apparently Heaven didn't approve." He sighed then took a big gulp. Tezuka envied how he seemed to still remain in control even after that. Fuji's eyes were still as piercing as before, as knowing, as probing, as enticing. "I wouldn't have believed it. Didn't want it but here I am, back to square one. I think I'm not meant to move on."
"Go to her. Tell her." Tezuka said, his logic slipping further and further by second. But the hate and anger remained. Stupid girl. Stupid, stupid girl. How could she reject Fuji? How could she reject someone anyone could barely wish to have? "Go. Try. She'll be happy to see you." Was it the liquor or did he sound bitter? Definitely the liquor.
Fuji scoffed, soft and sad and hopeful. "It's better if I move on but life is ironic. There he is, sitting right in front of me."
Tezuka briefly remembered saying something not so smart and most probably suggestive but that didn't matter because then there were soft lips, warm mouth, skin, heat, agile fingers, desperate grinding, soft grunts, needy moans, pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, stars, and stickiness. Then they panted for air for a minute or two before the need for a repeat performance arose again and again and again until they were too tired, too drunk, and too satisfied to stay awake. In the morning he woke up when Fuji gently shook him and reminded him that he still needed to go home and pack before flying home that afternoon. Fuji smiled and waved like a little boy when he saw Tezuka off. Tezuka tried not to think about anything and mentally calculated numbers until it blurred into a certain set that Fuji gave him just before he left. He closed his eyes and sighed heavily, the lingering scent of cigarette followed him home, a reminder that would never go.
It took him a week and a visit to the library to work up the courage to call Fuji. He hadn't had a reason to call and he refused to be the butt end (another interesting choice of word. How did Fuji manage to rub off on him in the span of three nights?) of Fuji's jokes. It also took many hours of reading the riddles that were Fuji's works. Tezuka could read Fuji there between the lines, mysterious and fleeting and a lot angsty. It was funny, it was dark, it was happy, it was sad, it was confusing, it was obvious. If he should pin down Fuji's writing style he would describe it simply as 'whimsical'. He marked and re-read some of the lines that reminded him so much of Fuji and his eccentric lines of thoughts. He fancied getting to know the new Fuji better through his work. He convinced himself that he understood when he called Fuji.
Fuji was pleasantly surprised that he had read his books. He excitedly explained the hidden meanings behind the choices of scenes and phrases, the verbal maze he begun to love and learn to create in high school. Tezuka listened quietly on the other end, trying to fight off a smile.
The phone calls became common occurrences. They didn't call each other every day. That's for lovers and they're definitely not that. They were both male, both straight (or at least Tezuka was), and good friends with each other. Once or twice a week was enough but never two days in a row because that's a little too desperate. Fuji would tell him about the development of his latest project, complained about his writer's blocks, Yumiko's unworthy boyfriend(s?), and Mizuki's tireless courting to Yuuta while Tezuka told him that his life was fine in various kinds of voice tones that told different stories.
Friendship brought unbelievable changes in life. Tezuka began to work harder, greeted people more often, and glared at random adoring strangers less. He made friends, those who were previously intimidated began to feel more at ease with him. He still refused to go to after work parties, choosing his relatively silent ritual over the noise. He would return to his quiet apartment, read Fuji's books, and wait for his cell phone to ring and even though some days it didn't ring, he was grateful to have something to look forward to, an excitement of sort that helped him get through the day, a contentment in the form of soft laughter muffled by cigarette stick and distance that accompany him to sleep.
"I'm going to write romance."
"What about 'I don't know about romance'?"
"The editor demands me to write that for a change."
"I think you're going to do it well."
"Well, my muse apparently has something against the idea of love. Sex makes a whole lot more sense."
"…Consider this expanding your style and expertise."
"I'll just throw in some porn and kill the main character. Which one is better, being poisoned, drowned, or ran over by a train?"
Tezuka almost never called first. He had little to say and a lot to listen. Fuji was the storyteller, not him.
But bad days do happen and one particularly bad day that stretched to night of grueling works, unfriendly clients, demanding boss, and complicated numbers and letters Tezuka gave in, not caring about the extra bill he had to pay later in the month because it would worth it. He dialed Fuji's number with little hesitance, knowing that although this was near midnight, he would definitely pick it up. Friends were always there for each other any time right? And weren't they the best of friends?
A few seconds passed before sleep-roughened voice answered. "Hello?"
"It's me." Tezuka said, still annoyed and now a little guilty for his lack of consideration regarding the time. Not every writer stay up all night every single night and Fuji definitely needed some sleep after depriving himself of it too many times a week. Tezuka felt an urge to scold, concern rising to beat the selfishness.
"Tezuka? What's wrong?"
Tezuka opened his mouth to apologize and say that everything was fine and that he'd call again tomorrow but soft rustling on the other end stopped him. A deep, unmistakably male voice came from the background, followed by Fuji's 'it's a friend' reply. Concern and guilt disappeared, replaced by dark turmoil of emotions Tezuka would rather not name (anger, grief, betrayal, jea…).His hand clenched so tightly around the plastic he would later be surprised that it hadn't broke. "Sorry." He managed to say, short, clipped, laden with something dark and cold and burning and ugly. The call ended before Fuji managed to reply and the device was turned off.
That night was the first time he slept with a stranger. Long brown hair (dyed. He could see the tale-telling dark roots no matter how hard he tried to ignore), fair skin, indecently red lips, talented mouth, knowing hands, cigarette scent, knowing fingers, few curves, alcohol-laden breath, and blue contact lenses were all he could remember. He woke up alone in a small room in a cheap love hotel, short on cash, and more empty than before.
Fuji called that night and he wasn't sure he should pick up but did so anyway. They were silent for a very long time before Fuji sighed, long and suffering like Tezuka wanted to do. "Have you ever heard of phone sex?"
Half an hour, a lot less article of clothing, and a sticky hand later Tezuka sighed in defeat, mortification, and a whole lot of contentment.
"So are we on good terms again?"
"It's your cigarettes."
"I'll need something else to satisfy my oral fixation then."
"… keep talking."
The new variation added some much needed spice in Tezuka's life that increased his productivity and zest in life. He learnt to not call too late at night and kept a box of tissue near in his bedroom and Fuji learnt that his walls were thinner than he thought. Sometimes there were chatters. Sometimes there was silence. But Tezuka found comfort in knowing that they were connected via technology. And when they're not, he would look up to the bright night sky and if he tried hard enough he could imagine being in Fuji's apartment once again, watching the young man smile at him with that darned stick between his lips a can of beer in one hand, hearing the words he hadn't heard forever and long to hear.
And somehow, it never failed to calm him.
"I wish my line of work has promotion like yours. I could use the raise of income."
"You're a great writer."
"Thanks. Have you told your parents?"
"Yes. My father is exceptionally happy."
"I bet your mother's demand for a daughter in law increases."
"It does. She had arranged an omiai for when I go home."
"Well, Yumiko's baby is going to distract my parents for a long while. Maybe you should give your parents a dog."
"Do you have any girlfriend?"
"Have you had sex with anything other than your hand this last three months?"
"I think I'm going to write porn for my next novel."
"Are you going to kill the main character again?"
"Hmmm… no… but what do you think of death during sex?"
"More humiliating than only having sex with your hands for over three months?"
"I can think of a new plot already. The main character's name is Mitsu, a reserved young man living alone in the suburbs. He had the look of a model and a giant imaginary stick up his ass that no amount of booty call could remove…"
"Get a girlfriend, Tezuka. I'm going out with someone."
Miko was a pretty girl with pretty face and good personality. She was soft curves in all the right places. Her wavy brown hair's soft to the touch. Her skin was milky white almost like it's never been kissed by the sun. Her lips were constantly smiling politely except when she was chanting Tezuka's name amidst pleas and curses and other unidentifiable noises. His parents adored her as much as she adored their son.
They walked together hand in hand many evenings after they finished work. Miko's hands were slightly too small for him to hold but he overlooked it. She'd make polite conversations and blushes like proper girls should while Tezuka ignored the increasing awkwardness he felt in his heart. His other hand that wasn't holding hers was clutching his cell phone in his pocket. Absently he fingered a certain number on the speed dial, fighting the urge to press it as he listened to the endless chatter. He looked up to the sky, the bright night sky and felt small and alone.
It's been four months since Fuji called.
The character's name was really Mitsu. But he wasn't a gloomy employee in a tiny apartment in the suburbs area. He (it?) was a teenager, an idealist teenager with big dreams and endless potential. He practiced hard in the hopes of becoming a world class tennis player. The struggle didn't go so smoothly, of course. There were injuries and rivals and Shou.
Shou was a childhood friend, supportive despite being a pessimist. He was right beside Mitsu during the highs and the lows until reality slapped Mitsu hard on the face and he gave up. There was no prodigious ability, no miraculous victory, only a young boy who worked hard to achieve a dream that moved further and further away as he made one difficult step after another. What was the point of running after what he would never have?
'You throw away our dreams!' Shou accused as he walked away, never to return other than in Mitsu's stubbornly hopeful dreams where he could see Shou smiled to him, hugged him, and told him that he'd always care no matter what cruelty he said, that he'd always care even though his stupid, weak heart gave up on him. Mitsu decided to push on and believe for them. He didn't win the first place but when he looked at the cheering crowd he fancied that he saw Shou's turned back and slight smile. He had won his dreams, their dreams and it was more than worth the struggle and pain because now he's living their dreams and Shou, wherever he was, would always be with him, watching him, caring for him, loving him.
Tezuka closed the book and stared at its cover for a long moment. The room ceased to exist, the world ceased to exist.
What was he doing here? What was he doing? Was this what he wanted? Was this what he dreamt of? Why did he choose this? His elbow didn't hurt that often. He hadn't been short on offer for going pro. Why did he do this to himself? Why did he kill his dreams? Why did he kill their dreams? Why did he choose to be unhappy?
His cell phone rang. Perhaps it was Miko or his office but he didn't care. It kept ringing in the background for a while until it seemed to be the natural sound of his life and the silence it left him with felt like a blessing. The blue of the cover blurred. He looked outside to the bright night sky and let tears slide down his face.
It hurt. It hurt a lot. But he hadn't felt so alive in so long and it felt so good.
"Do you love me?"
"Do you love me?"
"Leave your boyfriend for me."
"… there's never any boyfriend."
"Tell me to break up with my girlfriend. Tell me to leave my job to pursue tennis. Tell me to defy my parents' dreams and expectations. Tell me you'll be with me through all that."
"I love you."
A/N: Hmm, there's light pimping of my original fic. OoC becasue a decade changes many things. Tax accountant because I hate the statistic I had to do for my exam. Nagoya because I just watched a video of Tohoshinki's interview (or something. I have too many videos of them now) in there. Comment?