by Peppermint Kiss
Date completed: 10/06/09
Word count: ~12k
Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis - that's Konomi's. I don't own Hoshi wo Mezashite either, that's copyright NEWS, of Johnny's Entertainment.
A/N: Written for Rea (Sweet Obsidian Rain). It took maybe two years to write because I wrote a little bit, then stopped, wrote some more, etc. Then today I sat down, TOLD myself I was going to finish it...and I did. :) Thank you to my betas - S and A. Please see A/N at the end of the fic for further details on the part headings and helpful links to stuff referenced in this fic :)
i - 一度死んで また生き返る
It's fall in Tokyo, when the trees that line the streets burn vivid colors of orange, red, yellow, brown. It's fall in a district in the west side of Tokyo, where in a spacious apartment on the seventh floor of a fairly new apartment building, Fuji Shuusuke stares out of the window at the street below. Schoolchildren, released from school, alternatively run and walk back to their respective homes after a long day. First, it's the elementary school children, small and carefree, laughing and running and playing mindless games amongst the fallen leaves that swirl around them.
After them, the middle schoolers walk by, joking and comparing school stories, and Fuji feels a pang of something like nostalgia, as he remembers walking home, talking with Eiji, a tennis racket slung over his shoulder.
Much later, the high schoolers emerge and walk down the lane, much more serious now that in high school, the crunch of exams and good grades to get into university is upon them. Many have their heads engrossed in books, perhaps for an impending test, while others share anecdotes, laughing while they still have the time to do so.
More leaves blow by Fuji's window, even though Fuji resides on the seventh floor. The flurry of colors breaks him from his almost-hypnotized trance by the window and he abruptly turns away and pads into the kitchen to pour himself a drink - chilled green tea, it seems, as he blindly reaches into his small refrigerator and grabs the first bottle that catches his eye and tips its contents into a glass.
The coolness that radiates from the glass almost numbs his fingers, and Fuji makes his way back to the living room, spacious and comfy, with that gorgeous ceiling-to-floor window that he likes to spend time in front of, contemplating and hoping.
Fuji knows that he hopes too much, but it can't hurt to keep on trying.
His gaze idly flits across the walls - proudly displayed on the walls are a few fruits of his photography efforts. In simple teak frames, an idyllic shot of Mt. Fuji, the one time he visited, a daffodil with dew drops, in the small garden out in front of the apartment building one morning, and the trees outside on the street, blanketed in a layer of snow when Tokyo received a rare blizzard just a year earlier.
In the simple, few photos that Fuji have deemed good enough to mount on his walls, none of them feature any people. The apartment gives the stark feeling of a museum - there are no pictures of Fuji laughing with his friends, or reveling in triumph when the Seigaku tennis team won the National Championship too many years ago to remember (that particular picture is still left behind, tucked safely in his bedroom drawer at his parents' house).
Resplendent in a smooth glass frame without the slightest speck of dust is the only picture containing people that Fuji will allow. It was the day of his graduation from the University of Tokyo, and despite the hordes of other students milling around, diplomas clutched in their hands, the shot only focuses on Fuji...and the love that he had lost.
Lost, being the key word. Fuji wrenches his eyes away, refusing to dwell on past memories and hopes that will never be fulfilled. He sets down his glass of tea and wipes his hands, wet with condensation, on his plain black slacks. He reaches down and picks up his violin, a finely wrought beauty with ebony pegs and a delicate rosewood fingerboard, thin strings traveling down the body of the instrument in perfect proportions.
His bow is slender and perfect, with worn-away edges at the frog where Fuji's fingers have settled for so many years. As his hand slips into the familiar bow-hold, calluses rub against those areas.
The first note he eases from the strings rings loud and clear, and before he knows it, he's slipping into his favorite piece of all time, Bartok's solo violin sonata, movement three: "Melodia".
Fuji likes to lose himself in the music, preferring not to stare at black dots and lines striping across an endless amount of pages. He usually memorizes the music and then improvises a bit if he forgets a few notes. However, he thinks that today his Bartok rendition is very true to the original, and he's pleased at the way his fingers glide effortlessly across the strings.
A solemn vibrato bounces off the walls of Fuji's apartment, and dissatisfied, Fuji sets down his violin again. He sinks down on the sofa and twirls his bow between his fingers. He can't help his eyes from locking, again, on that damned picture of him, and the boy - no, man - that had completely taken over Fuji's life, regardless of if he is still here or not. In the picture, Fuji stands mysteriously smiling, as always, but a rare smile graces the other man's features, his glasses glinting in the sunlight of that beautifully bright March day, the rays bouncing off of his brown hair, accented with lighter streaks.
The throbbing pain in the back of Fuji's head as he had worked through the Rachmaninoff suddenly becomes much more intense, causing momentary white spots to dance in front of his eyes as he drops his bow.
Fuji grits his teeth, waiting for the pain to pass, and he wonders what the other man is doing at this moment. Sometimes, the pain from losing him hurts Fuji so much - even though all of the drama happened two years ago. He almost wishes he could just die sometimes - die, and not have to suffer so much pain for all of the mistakes he had made.
The pain slowly starts to subside a bit, and Fuji wets his lips, whispering brokenly, "If I died right now, would I be reborn in a better life?"
Let me have another chance.
He doesn't expect an answer, and he doesn't get one.
He manages to stand up, bypassing a moment of alarm when the world spins, but he steadies himself with one hand on the arm of the sofa. Remembering to pick up his glass of tea, he drains it and sets it in the sink, realizing that it's almost five thirty. Symphony practice starts at six thirty, so Fuji thinks that should give him enough time to get there, plus grab a quick dinner (at a ramen stand, perhaps) and pick up a bottle of aspirin for his headache at the convenience store.
Gently, Fuji picks up his precious bow and violin, and places them in his case before stuffing the scattered pages of music into his folder, deciding to sort them out once he arrives at rehearsal. Zipping up his case, he throws on a light jacket to ward against the fall chill, and leaves his apartment, turning off the lights and locking the door, without so much as one last glance at the happy graduation picture.
In Fuji's dark, empty apartment, the smiling faces of Fuji Shuusuke and Tezuka Kunimitsu might just be lost forever.
ii - みんないるかい?
It was graduation day at Seigaku high school, and everywhere there were students rushing around, showing off diplomas to friends and family.
The official ceremony had wrapped up just about ten minutes before, and Fuji Shuusuke left his parents and Yumiko talking to some old family friends. Yuuta had wandered off somewhere, but Fuji wasn't too worried about his otouto, not until Yuuta got into a fight, at least.
Fuji's clear, sharp blue eyes scanned the crowd, trying to pick out a specific person with perpetually-rumpled brown hair accented with lighter-colored streaks, and thin-rimmed glasses. Finally, Fuji spotted Tezuka standing in the courtyard, looking bored as his mother chatted with a friend.
Fuji lithely elbowed his way through the crowd and Tezuka's eyes pivoted on him as Fuji emerged and waved to Tezuka. Tezuka cocked his head in bemusement, and Fuji motioned for him to come with him.
Tezuka nodded, and after a few words exchanged with his mother (Fuji waved cheerily as Tezuka-san looked around before smiling at him), he caught up to Fuji. "What?" he deadpanned, as taciturn and to-the-point as always.
Fuji smiled (when was Fuji not smiling?). "I just wanted to offer my congratulations for graduation, as well as your speech. As valedictorian, it was very impressive."
Tezuka inclined his head. "The same for you. Although I'm still confused as to why you turned down the principal's offer for valedictorian. It's not unheard of to have co-valedictorians."
Fuji shrugged. "I'd rather let you have all the glory." His smile widened into a grin, and Tezuka could tell that Fuji wasn't going to tell him anytime soon.
Tezuka let him off the hook, knowing that Fuji, being Fuji, would tell him in good time.
"Have you heard back from your colleges yet?" Fuji asked mildly, lifting his face towards the warm morning sun.
"It depends on which one," Tezuka replied, his eyes dancing mysteriously.
Fuji's look changed from mild teasing to impatience. "Did Todai* accept you?"
"I don't know," Tezuka said blithely, casually strolling along with Fuji.
"Tezuka," Fuji complained. "Think about it! The two of us at Todai, we would probably take over the campus."
"And all that goes on in Fuji Shuusuke's mind is world domination," Tezuka shot back, still dancing around Fuji's prior question, which irritated Fuji to no end.
"Kunimitsu," Fuji tried again. "If you don't, I'll go to your house and search through all your mail until I find that acceptance letter."
"No need," Tezuka said lightly. "It's right here." He dangled a piece of paper in front of Fuji's nose, and Fuji grabbed it and read, with impending delight, that the paper indeed read "Congratulations! Thank you for deciding to attend the University of Tokyo for your studies next year", the same as his had read.
Fuji couldn't decide between hitting Tezuka for not telling him earlier, or hugging him (Fuji was touchy-feely, what could he say) because they were going to be at the same school. Eiji and Oishi were going off to Osaka for university, and Inui had landed a scholarship to study abroad at the California Institute of Technology in the U.S. Taka-san was leaving as well, to the university in Yokohama.
Tezuka and Fuji's grades were undeniably superior, and they had often engaged in a playful competition to see whose grades were the best. It was no surprise to the rest of the their class that Fuji had been accepted by Todai, the top university in Japan, although Tezuka had been relatively tight-lipped about his university of choice.
"Come on!" Fuji exclaimed, tugging Tezuka's sleeve. "We have to go tell Eiji, and Oishi, and Taka-san!" Their eyes met and Fuji's sparkled in delight and the grin on his face was absolutely infectious.
Tezuka was known for rarely displaying emotions, but this time, he couldn't stop the grin that rose over his lips as he followed Fuji.
(* - "Todai" is the affectionate name for the University of Tokyo.)
iii - 君 に 導 か れ
Once fall rolled round, Tezuka and Fuji had somehow landed a dorm room together, and Tezuka suspected that Fuji had used his myriad of connections to arrange it. However, when questioned about it, Fuji merely smiled that cryptic smile of his and neither confirmed nor denied Tezuka's accusations.
College life was good - both of them met top-scoring students from all places across the country, and made several new friends. Tezuka had decided upon a chemistry major, as chemistry had always interested him and he admitted to Fuji that it was something he could really see himself devoting the rest of his life to researching.
Fuji, meanwhile, had gone for a double major: one in art history, and one in music. Art history, for him, wasn't quite the equivalent to him as chemistry was to Tezuka, but it was something he definitely enjoyed and the classes weren't too bad, either.
However, Tezuka could tell that Fuji's real passion was music. In middle school, Fuji had been brilliant at tennis, as well as nearly a professional at photography. In high school, Fuji had played a bit of tennis here and there to refine his tennis skills, but he had also decided to join the school orchestra.
Nobody had known that Fuji had even played the violin until high school; Fuji hadn't felt the need to mention that he'd been playing violin since the age of seven, for some reason. But in the Seigaku high orchestra, Fuji's skill with that instrument became something to be reckoned with, and the orchestra director was so pleased by this new prodigy in her ranks that Fuji was promoted to principal first violin.
All the way until the end of high school, Fuji had kept up with orchestra, but now, in college, Fuji had realized that music was his passion, as well as his life, and he thought that devoting the rest of his years to perfecting his skill and moving thousands of people in audiences was something he would quite enjoy.
Tezuka thought he was mental, but Fuji tossed back that Tezuka was equally mental for spending the rest of his life staring down a microscope at atoms and things that nobody could even see.
It was all banter, but inside, both deeply respected the decisions that the other made.
iv - ぼくは歩きだす *smut*
It was December of Tezuka's and Fuji's junior year at Todai, and all Fuji wanted to do was snuggle down in the warm, comfy kotatsu* and sip tea and forget about impending exams.
Fuji was ensconced under the kotatsu on one side, idly flipping through his notebook of art history notes - the exam was in three days, but Fuji felt he already knew all the material. On the opposite side, their legs just barely touching under the warm kotatsu, Tezuka had his enormous chemistry textbook propped open and was taking notes - he had a research project due next week, but the data had screwed up, apparently, and he had barely enough time to fix the experiment and write up an official report to turn in as part of his exam credit.
Fuji really wanted to ask Tezuka something, but he also didn't want to disturb the other man's study session. Just because Fuji was prepared for exams didn't mean he could assume others were, too. But the question on the tip of Fuji's tongue had been nagging at him for weeks on end, and he felt he surely could go insane if he didn't receive an answer, or at least, some form of an answer.
Fuji didn't realize he was staring thoughtfully at Tezuka as he contemplated this; only when Tezuka's amused, "Yes, Shuusuke?" interrupted his thoughts did Fuji notice that Tezuka had set down his pen and was meeting Fuji's gaze.
"Oh, I--ah..." Fuji scrambled for words, trying to diffuse the blush that spread rapidly across his cheeks. Damn Tezuka, he was the only one who could unnerve the usually-composed Fuji Shuusuke to such extremes.
Now is as good a time as ever, a small voice chided in Fuji's head, so he nervously licked his lips, and warily asked his question.
"Well, I've been gay since high school, but you already knew that. What if the person I like was a close friend of mine? And I think he's beautiful, smart, and funny, and surprisingly, he's a good cook. But I don't know if he's gay, and I'm too scared to make an advance on him in case he takes it the wrong way." Fuji realized that he was babbling but he couldn't avoid slightly ducking his head in a futile attempt to hide the blush that rapidly diffused across his cheeks.
Tezuka's eyes were burning holes in Fuji, and Fuji almost thought that Tezuka knew that Fuji was talking about him. But Fuji pressed on, anyways. "So, if you were me, what would you do?"
Tezuka thought about this in a comfortable silence of a few minutes, before simply stating, "Fuji, I'm gay too."
Fuji panicked, picking up on Tezuka's implication. Dammit, how'd he figure it out? In an attempt to salvage what dignity he had left and save himself from complete and utter humiliation, he said, with as much pompous air as possible, "Well, yes, but you're not the person I'm talking about."
Tezuka merely looked amused. "Fuji, don't play stupid. I'm not so completely drowned in my work that I don't catch on the way that you always stare at me when I'm taking notes, or how you always find an excuse to help when I'm cooking. You bring me tea, when I've been writing my lab reports for too long, and you always practice your violin when I'm not here, or when I'm not studying."
"Well, that's just what good dorm mates do..." Fuji mumbled.
Tezuka was silent, contemplative, and Fuji blushed even redder. "I mean, I--" Fuji was cut off and promptly forgot whatever he was going to say when Tezuka leaned across the kotatsu, roughly grabbed Fuji's shirt, and kissed him.
The kiss was unbelievable and breathtaking, unlike any other kiss Fuji had ever had before. Tezuka's lips were smooth, slightly chapped from the cold Tokyo wind, but otherwise warm and pliable against Fuji's own. Tezuka's tongue slipped out and barely ghosted Fuji's lips, and Fuji started to kiss back, his mouth opening compliantly under Tezuka's demanding ministrations.
Eventually though, all good things come to an end, and Tezuka gently extracted himself, staring into Fuji's blue eyes, a searing, intense look that made Fuji's breath catch. Tezuka looked thoroughly kissed, his hair messier than usual and his glasses askew, and Fuji could only imagine what he looked like.
Fuji allowed a small, truly content smile to play across his lips. "Shhh, Kunimitsu. I know."
Tezuka's eyes stared warmly at Fuji. "Good," he replied huskily before seeking out Fuji's lips again.
But all of a sudden he growled and pulled away, and Fuji made a little protesting sound in his throat. But Tezuka merely shoved himself away from the kotatsu and stalked around the small table before gently grasping the sides of Fuji's head and continuing the kiss.
Fuji decided that kissing this way made a lot more sense, but that was before Tezuka's tongue slipped into his mouth and all other thoughts were therefore forgotten.
"Kunimitsu," Fuji moaned, his fingers automatically latching onto Tezuka's hair, as Tezuka's hands gently gripped his jaw.
They broke apart, panting, Fuji's mind reeling from the sheer intensity of the kiss. "Bed," Tezuka managed, before hauling Fuji up, and slamming him against the conveniently-nearby wall with another kiss, the framed photographs rattling alarmingly.
"Yes," Fuji breathed, hot breath mingling with Tezuka's. His elegant, long fingers scrabbled at the front of Tezuka's button-down, violin calluses bumping against round buttons.
Tezuka ripped himself away, latching his lips at the pulse point of Fuji's neck, nipping and sucking and leaving a delicious, moist trail.
Fuji whimpered, his hips blindly rocking against Tezuka's, the friction of their trapped erections only contributing more to the overall sensation of yes, finally and more than fulfilling Fuji's every fantasy.
Fuji would probably have been more than content to just have Tezuka take him against the wall, bruises forming as his head crashed against the wall repeatedly in ecstasy, but Tezuka had more traditional means in mind. After a long journey, interrupted as either Fuji or Tezuka slammed the other against the wall to complete the want, the need for touch, Tezuka finally threw Fuji onto a bed.
The surroundings were bare, and rather plain, and Fuji realized that this must be Tezuka's room, for his room was much messier, scattered with a plethora of classical music CDs, photographs he took, a music stand, and everything in between. Tezuka's room was painfully neat, clothes stacked neatly in one corner, assorted textbooks arranged on a plain desk, and the bed made.
"Shuusuke," Tezuka breathed, a deep, husky sound that made shivers run down Fuji's spine. The other man's eyes were dark with lust as he stared down into Fuji's blue orbs. "I am going to fuck you into the ground on this mattress, right here, right now - I'm going to fuck you until you scream my name when you come and you can't walk for a week."
The shivers increased in intensity as Fuji's body strongly reacted to the low, sexy whisper of Tezuka's voice, as well as the rarity of Tezuka tossing around dirty language.
"Yes, Kunimitsu, please," Fuji begged, his hips shamelessly thrusting against Tezuka's. "Please, please, fuck me."
The last of Tezuka's hesitation and restraint seemed to give out, and with an animalistic growl, he quickly ripped off Fuji's sweat-soaked shirt and pants. As Fuji found the strength in him to strip off his socks and boxers, Tezuka undressed himself and threw his glasses onto the bedside table. It was almost routine, the way they danced around each other, and an outsider looking in could not possibly have guessed that this was their first time together.
At last, slick skin pressed against slick skin, Tezuka loomed over Fuji, their breaths reduced to harsh pants. Fuji's pulse raced, thump-thump-thump, his mind exploding with pleasure and giddy excitement.
"Do you know how gorgeous you are?" Tezuka asked, and Fuji found this ironic, as his cerulean eyes traveled the length of Tezuka's body, from his pupils dilated in lust, to the muscles bunching under Tezuka's gloriously tanned skin, shiny with sweat.
Fuji's body convulsed as Tezuka's tongue traveled down the length of his sternum, laving generously over a hardened nipple. Fuji's hands knotted and twisted in Tezuka's dark locks, as he moaned Tezuka's name.
Tezuka's wickedly skilled fingers traveled the lengths of the planes of Fuji's chest and enviably flat stomach, finally settling on his hips. Fuji's cock throbbed in anticipation; he was almost painfully hard.
"Wait a minute," Tezuka whispered, placing the gentlest of kisses on Fuji's lips, as he turned away and rummaged through a bedroom drawer, conjuring up a small tube of lube. He generously coated his fingers, and then, without any warning, pushed it inside of Fuji.
Fuji hissed as his muscles tensed around Tezuka's gently thrusting finger, then relaxed after a while and he easily accepted a second finger.
After three of Tezuka's fingers were rhythmically thrusting in and out of Fuji, the sensations stopped and Fuji lay still, his heart pounding in anticipation until finally, the head of Tezuka's cock brushed against his entrance.
"Shuusuke..." Tezuka started hesitantly, and Fuji nearly growled in frustration. Why did he decide to get chivalrous now?
"Just do it," Fuji gritted out. "Please, Kunimitsu, I--ah!"
Whatever the rest of Fuji's sentence was, it was cut off into a keening cry that escalated in volume as Tezuka slammed all the way into Fuji, pulled out, and slammed in again, his hips meeting Fuji's ass as he set up a fast, furious rhythm that sent shiver of pleasure racing down Fuji's spine as his body squirmed helplessly under Tezuka.
Tezuka leaned forward, pressing a hot, open-mouthed kiss to Fuji's shoulder. "You have no idea how long I have waited for this," he whispered urgently.
"S-same h-h-here," Fuji choked out, his own hips just barely matching Tezuka's pace. "S-so l-long...OH MY GOD!"
Fuji's head flew up from the mattress as Tezuka minutely angled his hips and hit that spot, the spot that made white dots dance in front of Fuji's eyes and sent warm waves of heat cascading over his body, over and over again.
"Holy fuck," Fuji gasped, as he regained semi-consciousness.
Up above him, Tezuka managed to quirk a small smile, the bastard. "That's the idea," he replied in a dry voice.
Fuji opened his mouth to retort, until Tezuka hit the spot again, and again, and again and Fuji screamed Tezuka's name, "Kunimitsu, Kunimitsu, yes, yes, yes--oh my god I'm going to come--"
What was Fuji's undoing was when Tezuka leaned down and wrapped his hand around his cock, and then murmured hotly in Fuji's ear, "Come for me, Shuusuke."
Fuji sobbed as Tezuka's fingertips teased the head of his cock, and then slowly started pumping it as Tezuka hit that spot again and Fuji screamed Tezuka's name as he came in a messy splattering of come against Tezuka's stomach and the bed sheets.
As for Tezuka, Fuji's muscles clenching tightly around his cock proved too much, and with a shout of "Shuusuke!" Tezuka followed Fuji over the cliff into sweet orgasm just moments later.
Afterwards, they collapsed into a boneless, sticky mass of two bodies on Tezuka's bed.
"That was amazing," Fuji mumbled, cuddling up against Tezuka's body, brushing his lips against Tezuka's ear, the only part of him that was convenient for him to kiss without exerting too much strength. "But I'm going to be sore for weeks." He laughed lightly.
Tezuka's brows furrowed and he pulled Fuji closer to him, strong arms holding the smaller man tight. "Did I hurt you?" he asked concernedly.
Fuji continued laughing. "Not at all," he replied. "Didn't I just say it was amazing?"
Tezuka relaxed and wrapped his arms around Fuji, pulling the slighter man closer into the shared warmth of their bodies. "You ruined my bed sheets."
"You can go wash them later." Fuji yawned widely, and pillowed his head on Tezuka's chest.
"We're sticky and we need a shower," Tezuka pointed out, as tactful as always.
"Later," Fuji replied. "Now shut up and go to sleep."
With an amused smile on his lips and a content gleam in his eyes, Tezuka obeyed and drifted off into the peaceful realms of sleep.
(* - a kotatsu is a low, wooden table frame covered by a futon, or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits; used almost exclusively in Japan)
v - 傷だらけの少年時代など
It had been two years since the start of Tezuka's and Fuji's relationship, and surprisingly, most of their friends accepted it quite well. Both of them had graduated from Todai with honors and now lived in a small, cozy apartment a little bit outside of the main campus, because Tezuka had decided to pursue a PhD in graduate school for chemistry. On the few days that he didn't have class, Tezuka worked as a lab assistant to his old chemistry professor, doing some simple jobs around the laboratory for some money.
Fuji, meanwhile, served part-time as an assistant to Tanaka-sensei, a rather eccentric art history professor that Fuji had never met, but was introduced to the job opportunity by his own art history professor, Aizawa-sensei. The elderly Tanaka-sensei had taken a rather affectionate shine to Fuji, and the job wasn't that hard - mostly just filing legions of paperwork full of valuable information on various works of art the professor analyzed, and answering the phone on the rare occasions when it rang.
Every now and then, Fuji accepted some jobs at social events that needed music. Often, friends or teachers of his would recommend Fuji, with his violin, to play the music needed for the event. The music generally wasn't that hard - sometimes it was a party, or a funeral, or even a wedding. He was pretty well-paid, and Fuji was happy at where he was right now. Eventually, though, he planned to join a symphony or orchestra to further refine his musical talent.
The two of them were poor, yes, but still comfortable and not that terribly off. Besides, the rapport they shared through their relationship was more than enough for both of them to stay content through whatever else life threw at them - right?
One night - it wasn't that late, actually, just five or five thirty - Fuji was curled up on the couch with an interesting text on Muslim traditions (Fuji was known for having a rather odd taste in literature). Tezuka was off at his laboratory, conducting experiments and gathering research and god knows what else he did in that cramped space of his that Tezuka had shown Fuji once.
It was rather chilly, as it was the beginning of November, and Fuji snuggled deeper into the couch, his nose happily buried into one of Tezuka's shirts, thrown over the sofa from their love-making last night that Fuji hadn't bothered to pick up, and inhaling the half-musky, half-sweet scent that couldn't be summed up in words other than one: Tezuka.
An abrupt knock on the door distracted Fuji, and curiosity piqued (it couldn't be Tezuka, since he had a key), Fuji discarded Tezuka's shirt, carefully set down his book, and went to answer the door.
He was a bit shocked at who stood on the other side, as he peeked through the peephole.
Fuji warily opened the door, question marks probably dancing in his eyes, as he took in the sight of one Atobe Keigo leaning casually against the doorframe, foot tapping impatiently against the ground.
"Atobe?" Fuji asked confusedly.
Atobe Keigo had proceeded to high school at Hyotei, and had served as tennis captain for two years. Despite his wealth, Atobe's grades were still undeniably superior and he had been accepted at Todai as well, although Fuji and Tezuka had seen little of him in their years spent together on the same campus.
After graduation, Atobe had immediately assumed a high-ranking job at Atobe Enterprises, and Fuji remembered that he had wryly thought, when the news had come out, that in the company's headquarters there would soon be all sorts of sycophants tripping over themselves to cater to the future CEO's every need. Right now, though, Atobe had enrolled in Todai's business school, and rumor was that the elder Atobe had promised the whole company to Atobe Jr. once the younger had graduated and attained his M.B.A.
Fuji was pretty sure that Atobe was in his last year of business school by now, graduating the May of next year. He looked…well, Fuji supposed. His hair was as ruffled and elegantly tousled as always, and his eyes were still piercing and sharp, taking in every little detail; Atobe was dressed in (as far as Fuji could assume) expensively tailored black Italian trousers, a crisp light blue shirt, black leather gloves, his signature snakeskin boots, and a tan-colored suede jacket that must have cost as much as Fuji's apartment rent slung over his arm.
Fuji hadn't seen him in perhaps three years.
"Fuji," Atobe replied courteously, his voice cultured and distinctly aristocratic, as he gave a small bow.
"What are you doing here?" Fuji asked coolly, recovering back his collected persona after a brief moment of surprise.
"I have a proposition for you," Atobe replied, not missing a beat in the conversation. "But I feel we could choose a better place to discuss it than your doorstep."
"Ah, yes, I forgot my manners," Fuji said, his voice just barely bordering on sarcastic simpering. "Do come in." He held the door open, trying not to be mocking to a guest, but after all the history he and Atobe had, it was kind of hard not to be mocking.
Atobe didn't seem to notice too much, and he whisked past Fuji and into the living room, folding himself onto a blue leather armchair and viewing the surroundings with a slight wrinkle of his nose as he pulled off his gloves and stuffed them into the pocket of his jacket.
"Go ahead and have a seat," Fuji muttered, unable to keep the sarcasm out of his voice this time. Atobe didn't seem to hear, or at least it didn't show like he did, so Fuji headed to the kitchen, calling "I'll go make us some tea" over his shoulder.
As he dropped green tea powder into two cups and waited monotonously for the kettle to boil, he snuck a few glances at Atobe checking his Blackberry in the living room, inspecting his nails, and continuing to take in the environment with distaste. Fuji wagered, rather redundantly, that Atobe much preferred the spacious living room at Atobe Manor compared to the humble setting that Fuji resided in.
The shrill whistle of the tea kettle distracted him from his thoughts, and he carefully tipped the boiling water into the two cups, whisking the tea powder in with precise movements before taking the tray and carrying it out into the living room.
"Interesting choice of literature," Atobe remarked upon Fuji's entrance, holding up Fuji's book.
Fuji shrugged. "What can I say? My choice of literature covers a wide spectrum."
They sipped tea in companionable silence (Atobe at least had the manners in him to give a nod of thanks as Fuji passed him his tea), and Fuji decided that the only reason he hadn't kicked Atobe out already was because Atobe was an old friend.
Just as Fuji took a breath of air to break the rather tense silence that had settled over them, Atobe spoke. "Atobe Enterprises is having their thirtieth anniversary gala later this week. We had a whole orchestra scheduled, with a special violin soloist to play, but she cancelled just earlier this morning. I called Oshitari – you remember Oshitari, he's head of events such as these at Atobe Enterprises – and he heard from your friend Inui that you were a very talented violinist." Atobe smiled thinly before continuing. "I know this is rather short notice, but it would truly be wonderful if you could fill in at the gala as the soloist." He drew out an elaborate gold card and offered it to Fuji.
Fuji opened the card, reading:
Atobe Enterprises 30th Anniversary Gala
Saturday, October 22, 2008
Shirokuta Hotel ballroom, Tokyo, Japan
6 PM hors d'oeuvres, 7 PM dinner
Featuring live music, entertainment, and dancing
"Today is Tuesday," Fuji deadpanned after reading the invitation.
"I did say it was short notice," Atobe replied defensively. "However, because of these circumstances, I'm sure we can settle on a suitable payment for your services."
Fuji cracked a smile. "Well, I think that's rather acceptable," he murmured. "Now, shall we talk details?"
"It was a pleasure doing business with you," Fuji said, all courtesy and politeness as he rose from the sofa and shook hands with Atobe. Atobe nodded, saying "Pleasure," in response. "I'll make sure Karen-san emails the music to you," he promised.
Fuji started towards the door, noting that it was about time for Tezuka to come home. "Well, if that's all..."
"No, wait," Atobe said, his gloved hand catching on Fuji's wrist, forcing Fuji to spin around.
"What are you do—"
That was as far as Fuji got before Atobe stepped closer and tilting Fuji's head up, he kissed the smaller man.
Fuji stood there leadenly, frozen in shock, as Atobe's expensive cologne penetrated his nose and fine, silk-strand hair ghosted over his cheek. "Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?" Atobe whispered into Fuji's ear, hot breath caressing the earlobe.
Fuji tried to speak, but no sound came out of his paralyzed throat.
"Gorgeous," Atobe breathed, moist lips and tongue attacked the length of Fuji's neck.
"Do you know how gorgeous you are?" Tezuka asked, and Fuji found this ironic, as his cerulean eyes traveled the length of Tezuka's body, from his pupils dilated in lust, to the muscles bunching under Tezuka's gloriously tanned skin, shiny with sweat.
"No, no," Fuji whispered. "Please, no, DON'T!"
Atobe pulled away, but his hands still held a quivering Fuji in a vice-like grip.
"I don't think it would be wise to protest," Atobe suggested, his voice deep and dangerous, as dark grey eyes locked with Fuji's blue ones.
He started advancing, one designer pant-clad knee planting itself firmly between Fuji's legs, his hands handling Fuji's face with the utmost gentleness as Atobe kissed the leaden Fuji.
Fuji's mind stopped and shut down completely; he blankly figured he should be fighting Atobe, throwing him off, but as he willed his arms to move, they just stayed limply at his sides like a wooden doll.
Atobe! Fuji's mind screamed. Not Tezuka! Fuji couldn't help but think that Tezuka's lips were softer than Atobe's, Tezuka knew how to feather his fingers through Fuji's hair just right, how his talented hands could actually make Fuji moan, not just stroke skin uselessly, like Atobe's.
"Off," Fuji managed, as Atobe had fully pinned Fuji's smaller body against the sofa, crushing the other man's lips with his onslaught.
Atobe appeared not to hear, twisting his fingers in Fuji's hair to the point of pain, his knee slowly pushing up against his crotch.
TezukaTezukaTezuka, Fuji's mind pleaded for Tezuka to appear, to save him of this slimy, grimy monster.
Fuji's arm discovered strength, and they futilely battled Atobe, but Atobe's strength won out in the fight and in the end, he only appeared to take it as a signal that Fuji was more enthusiastic and he resumed the kiss with far more intensity, teeth running along Fuji's swollen lips.
Fuji, facing the door, saw the knob jiggle and the door open slightly before his mind let loose a rush of exhilaration, of freedom, as he kicked against Atobe and Tezuka entered the room...and froze.
Fuji tried to call to Tezuka, yell to him to get Atobe off of him, and help, Kunimitsu, please, but he couldn't, not with Atobe's disgusting lips planted firmly against his.
He watched, in increasing horror, as the expression of Tezuka's face changed from surprise, to confusion, to understanding, to sadness, and finally, to anger.
"No!" Fuji tried, but it was only a choking sound in his throat as Atobe, not noticing Tezuka's entrance, thrust his tongue into Fuji's mouth.
He tried to plead with his eyes, staring at Tezuka, willing Tezuka to understand that it was not what it seemed, Kunimitsu, please, but disgust and hate marred Tezuka's features and he glared at Atobe, writhing on top of Fuji, and Fuji, pinned helplessly on the sofa, and he turned on his heel and stormed off, slamming the apartment door with a loud bang.
Atobe looked up at this, and Fuji took the momentary distraction to kick Atobe in the balls, ignoring the other man's sharp gasp of pain. As Atobe toppled over to the side, Fuji extracted himself from the death grip, and without looking back, he raced out of the apartment, down the stairs, and out onto the street, only one thought repeating in his mind. Kunimitsu.
Fuji ignored his mussed hair, his bee-stung lips, the overall feeling of griminess from Atobe that made him nauseous. Right now, Tezuka was the most important thing. He couldn't possibly have thought that Fuji was involved with Atobe...could he?
He sprinted out onto the street, the rain outside immediately drenching him. A taxi had pulled up to the front of the apartment building, and Tezuka was in it, talking to the driver.
"Kunimitsu!" Fuji yelled, ignoring the odd looks of passerby.
Tezuka's eyes flicked to the window, glaring coldly at Fuji. Just as Fuji was about to dash to the taxi, pound on the window and explain, Tezuka's lips moved in a silent command, and the taxi started to move, gathering up speed as it disappeared down the road.
Fuji imagined that the whole time, Tezuka's eyes had been burning into Fuji, those accusatory eyes that Fuji couldn't help but remember the magnitude of love they had once held...for him.
"Kunimitsu..." Fuji repeated, his mind reeling in overdrive.
Fuji stepped up to Atobe, so close that he could feel the other man's breath on his skin. "Absolutely not," he intoned.
"Fuck you." Raising his hand, he squarely slapped Atobe across the face before retreating back into his apartment and slamming the door and securely locking it, before he collapsed on the floor and cried his heart out.
Four days later, an article came out in the local newspaper proclaiming the Atobe Enterprises gala a success, especially with the skills of the young violin prodigy, Aoyagi Reiko. The accompanying picture showed Atobe smirking at the camera, one arm wrapped around the waist of a stunning, slender young woman holding a violin and a bow, smiling at the camera with what could only be the Shirokuta Hotel ballroom in the background with its grandiose crystal chandelier.
The caption read: Atobe Keigo-san, heir to Atobe Enterprises; Aoyagi Reiko-san, the talented principal violinist of the Tokyo Chamber Orchestra.
Fuji came across the article while blindly flipping through the paper in a futile effort to find any information about Tezuka. He ripped it out and mechanically tore it to shreds.
vi - ぼ くは 確 か に
It had been one week since Tezuka's disappearance, and Fuji grew more panicked with each and every day. Terrible scenarios filled his mind - what if Tezuka had committed suicide? What if Tezuka had run off with a prostitute? What if Tezuka this, what if Tezuka that.
Finally, solace came - but not the kind that Fuji had wanted.
Riffling through the mail, as was his daily ritual in the hopes that Tezuka would send a letter to him, any kind of letter, Fuji saw a plain brown envelope with "Shuusuke" written on it in Tezuka's painfully familiar handwriting.
Fuji sank onto the squashy armchair and with shaking fingers, pried open the envelope. Two pieces of paper fell out and fluttered to the ground and Fuji retrieved them.
After quickly scanning the one on top (it was in English, a language that Fuji was almost fluent in), Fuji realized that it was a letter offering Tezuka a job as a researcher at the Max Planck Institute.
Confused, Fuji started to read the other piece of paper, and realized that it was an email from Tezuka to a person with his email address ending in .
It read: I would be pleased to accept your kind offer of a position at this prestigious institute.
Fuji was sure that Tezuka wrote more, but that little excerpt was all that Tezuka had included in the envelope.
It was all the information Fuji needed.
The world slowed down to the dull tick, tock of the clock on the mantle as Fuji realized that the Max Planck Institute was in Germany…Germany…almost half a world away, and as good as thousands of worlds away to Fuji, as far as he was concerned.
At the end of the email, Fuji noticed that Tezuka had ended with I look forward to meeting you November 10.
Scrawled in what Fuji recognized as Tezuka's favorite black pen (how dumb, he could even recognize what pens Tezuka preferred), were just a few short words: Oishi will come for my things. If you need me, contact me through him.
I thought you loved me.
Fuji set the letter down with trembling fingers, realizing with sinking despair that today was October 25th, in two weeks Tezuka wouldn't be in Japan anymore – maybe he already was in Germany.
Hot tears fell from Fuji's eyes, rolling miserably down his face. "I did love you, Kunimitsu," he whispered.
"I still do."
vii - 道 に 迷 って た
Two years had passed since Tezuka had left. Since then, Fuji had somehow, blindly, picked up the pieces of his life that had lay shattered by the departure of the only man he had, and would ever, love.
He moved out and found a new place, and settled into a steady job as a violinist in the Tokyo Symphony.
Life went on; there was no other choice.
Oishi had come to Fuji's apartment, as Tezuka had said he would, to pick up Tezuka's things. Not a word was exchanged as Oishi placed clothes and papers in cardboard boxes and glanced worriedly at Fuji with sympathetic green eyes.
The next day, Fuji couldn't bear to stay in the old apartment any longer, not when Tezuka was gone and everywhere he looked he still saw traces of the other man's presence.
The kitchen stove, where Tezuka liked to hug Fuji from behind as Fuji attended to a pot of soup or a kettle of boiling water.
The sofa, where they curled up to watch dramas and rented movies when neither of them had work to do, and Tezuka's long fingers would card ever-so-gently through Fuji's hair, as if it was made of the finest, fragile glass.
The bed, which they shared, where Fuji could always count of Tezuka's warmth and the pillow that still bore his scent.
Oishi and Eiji adopted Fuji for two months as Fuji slowly got back on his feet and looked for a new place. They loved Fuji, but Tezuka had forbidden them from giving Fuji any of his contact information.
"I really wish we could tell you Shuusuke," Oishi said sadly, "but Tezuka made us promise not to."
"You know we would do anything else in the world for you, though," Eiji added, in hopes of cheering Fuji up.
The only thing they could tell Fuji was that Tezuka had come to them "that" night, an utter mess, but they couldn't tell Fuji what had transpired between then and when Tezuka had sent the emails over to Fuji.
Fuji had told Eiji everything that had really happened, he had let it all pour out of him, the truth that he never had the chance to explain to Tezuka. Eiji had listened with wide eyes, softening sympathetically when Fuji finished his story.
"Will you tell him that for me, Eiji?" Fuji had pleaded.
Eiji paused for a moment. "No," he replied softly. "You need to tell him this yourself."
Anger and frustration flared up within Fuji. "How?" he demanded. "I have absolutely no way of getting into contact with him!"
"Write him a letter," Eiji suggested. "I'm sure Oishi would send it for you."
He spent days and nights trying to formulate the exact words to use to convey his feelings, his message (his desperate message – come back Tezuka. I miss you. I love you. I need you to make me whole).
It was too late, only when the letter had already been mailed and was on its way to Germany, had Fuji realized how (unintentionally) half-hearted he had sounded.
Days and weeks passed, and Fuji never received a reply.
Two years later, and he was still waiting.
viii - 深 い 暗 闇 で
It was the first day of third grade, and Tezuka Kunimitsu did not want to be there. He was a newcomer, having just moved to Tokyo.
"Everyone!" the teacher shouted over the clamor of energetic schoolchildren. "This is Tezuka Kunimitsu. He just moved here from Kusatsu. Tezuka-kun, why don't you introduce yourself to the class?"
Fuji sat up a little straighter in his seat as the new student, Tezuka, shuffled to the front of the class from where he had been lingering by the doorway. "Yoroshiku onegaishimasu," he muttered. Please treat me well.
The teacher placed the books they were studying into Tezuka's arms, and sent him off with a "There's an empty seat next to Fuji-kun in the back. Why don't you sit there?"
Fuji grinned at Tezuka as the student settled himself into the desk and started unpacking his bag.
"Ne, I'm Fuji Shuusuke," Fuji announced. "Pleased to meet you."
Tezuka's eyes snapped to Fuji's and he inclined his head in courtesy. "A-ah, pleased to meet you as well," he responded rather stiffly.
The teacher started class and the pair obediently opened their books to the correct page. Fuji watched Tezuka push his glasses back onto his nose every few minutes, and copy down the vocabulary that the teacher wrote on the board.
When the lunch bell rang, Fuji was the first to turn and ask Tezuka, with an innocent smile, "Do you want to eat lunch with me, Tezuka-kun?"
The first day, they ate lunch together.
After three days, they walked home together.
After one week, Fuji invited Tezuka over to his house after school.
After one month, Fuji was invited over to Tezuka's house.
After two months, Fuji asked Tezuka to sign up for tennis lessons with him.
After six months, as they walked home together on a crisp October afternoon, Fuji suddenly stopped.
"Tezuka-kun," he said solemnly, sticking out a hand, "let's promise to be friends forever."
His blue eyes steadily met Tezuka's hazel eyes, which were wide with surprise.
"…Okay," Tezuka replied, and took Fuji's hand.
"Friends forever," Fuji whispered.
"Friends forever," Tezuka assented.
"We won't let anything get in between us!" Fuji announced proudly, a wide grin on his face. "Right, Tezuka?"
The smallest smile twisted Tezuka's lips. "Aa," he agreed.
Reminiscing on the memory, Fuji bitterly wished he hadn't been so naïve.
ix -孤 独 に 泣 い て い た
It's drizzling outside on the streets of Tokyo and Fuji thinks it's too cold for anybody to be tramping about on the streets, even if it is New Year's weekend and an excuse to celebrate.
He's just returned from a grueling symphony practice where he patiently waited as the conductor nearly drove himself mad trying to resolve thirty issues in only twenty minutes. Fuji thought the symphony sounded fine, but apparently Kazuyama-san begged to differ.
He unlocks his apartment door and flips on the light, moving towards the kitchen with large bags of groceries balanced precariously in his arms that he picked up on his way home.
Just as Fuji tucks away the prepackaged miso soup (he can never be bothered to make his own, even though homemade miso soup always tastes the best), an impatient meow sounds from somewhere around his feet, and Fuji grins and picks up Karumiya, his beautiful tan Siamese cat with chocolate brown fur on his paws and the tips of his tail and ears, setting him on the counter.
Karumiya huffs and licks a paw, staring at Fuji with eyes as blue as Fuji's own as his owner fills a saucer with milk and sets it before the cat.
"What a demanding brat," Fuji jokes gently, affectionately ruffling Karumiya's fur between his ears, despite the cat's disgruntled growl.
Dinner is a pleasantly quiet affair, as usual. After washing the last plate, Fuji dries off his hands and wanders into the living room, settling onto the windowsill and dialing Eiji's number. Actually, Fuji would like nothing more than to go to sleep – perhaps he had caught the flu? – but Eiji would be worried if Fuji didn't call. Long talks every Tuesday night had become a ritual for the two best friends.
"Fuuuuuuji!" Eiji cried enthusiastically as he picked up the phone.
"Hi, Eiji," Fuji says, reclining further into the windowsill and gazing out at the night view of the city.
They talk blithely about their day – Eiji and Oishi are both teachers at a middle school; Oishi teaches Japanese and Eiji of course found his calling as a P.E. teacher.
Fuji recounts Kazuyama-san's repeated frustration at the violin section during symphony practice, and the upcoming concert on Friday.
"…concert next Friday night, you should try to come, Eiji. I'll see if I can get free tickets for you and Shuichiro. Yes, we're playing Dvorak's Symphony no. 8 in G major. It's really a beautiful piece, although in my opinion, it can't compare to his New World Symphony."
Fuji chuckles as Eiji retorts that it doesn't matter since he doesn't really care about classical music anyways. He knows his best friend is only joking though, since even if Eiji truly didn't want to come, he knows Oishi would never turn down free tickets to a Tokyo Symphony performance.
"It's all right if you don't want to come, though. I'm sure Shuichiro will show up with you in tow Friday night anyways."
Eiji whines halfheartedly; then changes to topic to how at the middle school he works at, several students are absent in his class each day due to an outbreak of the flu.
"I might have the flu too," Fuji admits. "During symphony practice my fingers and arm muscles started cramping, and now my joints ache." However, before Eiji can start worrying over Fuji's health, he laughs it off. "I'm getting arthritis at age 25! …No, really Eiji, don't worry. I think it's just a cold. Yes, yes, I'll make sure to put on an extra coat…no, don't tell Shuichiro, it's really fine. I just have a bit of a headache and I'll make sure to take some cold medicine before I go to bed tonight."
Eiji is still skeptical, pointing out that the last time they saw each other, Fuji was terribly skinny, and he demands to know if Fuji is eating enough.
Fuji laughs lightly at his friend's alarm, but reassures him that nothing is out of the ordinary; he's just lost a little weight, that's all. Truly though, Fuji has noticed a dramatic weight loss.
Eiji backs off after repeated assurances from Fuji, before venturing a question about Tezuka.
"…Yes, I miss him. I miss him every day. I try not to think about it, but it's always there in the back of my mind.
Of course I still love him, Eiji. I always have and always will. The question is if he still loves me."
Fuji asks, as usual, if there have been any news from Tezuka. He expects the usual "no, I'm sorry," from Eiji, but suddenly, his headache worsens, so much that he just barely hears Eiji's "no" through the phone.
Searing white pain fills Fuji's head and spots too bright to be normal lights dance before his eyes. Dizziness and nausea sweep over his body.
"I think I'm going to faint," Fuji mumbles, an odd heaviness pulling enticingly on his mind.
His cell phone slips out of fingers and clatters to the ground as he succumbs to the darkness.
x -目 覚 め た ら 君 が い て
Eiji panics as he hears the loud tumbling of the phone hitting the ground. "Fuji! Fuji!" he yells, and Oishi runs into the living room, disturbed from cleaning the kitchen at Eiji's distress.
"What's wrong, Eiji?" he asks.
"Fuji just fainted on me on the phone," Eiji replies. "I knew there was something wrong with him these past few weeks, I knew it…"
"I'll call an ambulance to Fuji's place," Oishi says, green eyes locking with Eiji's. "Get your coat, we'll meet him at the hospital."
It's 1 AM in the hospital and Fuji is sleeping soundly, hooked up to a heart monitor. The beeping makes Eiji uneasy (he hates hospitals), but he refuses to leave Fuji's side.
He wonders if he should call Tezuka. There's something gravely wrong with Fuji – a simple cold wouldn't knock him out. But even if he called Tezuka, would Tezuka come back?
Eiji finally decides that it's worth giving it a shot, and pulling out his cell phone, he escapes into the hall and sinks into an armchair, dialing Tezuka's number.
He picks up on the second ring. "Hallo?"
"Tezuka…it's me, Eiji."
Tezuka's voice slides from the harsh German back into familiar Japanese. "Hi, Eiji. What's up?"
"Please handle the news well when I tell you this, okay?"
There is silence on the other end of the line. "Eiji. What's wrong? Is it Oishi?"
"No, no, it's not Oishi…"
"It's Fuji!" Eiji exclaims, and he thinks he hears a sharp intake of breath over the phone. "He…I was talking to him on the phone, and he fainted, and he was rushed to the hospital, and now he's sleeping and the doctors say he's stabilized. He keeps on saying he's fine and he only has a cold, but Tezuka, I really think something's wrong with him…I'm not trying to tell you what to do, but I think that you need to come back." He prattles, unsure of what Tezuka's reaction will be.
The silence seems to be unbearably long.
"Have the doctors examined him yet?"
"No, not thoroughly, the nurses say they'll be here tomorrow morning."
"I understand. I'll be on the first flight to Japan. I'll call you when I get to the airport."
Without any further words, Tezuka disconnects the line with a click. Eiji closes the phone with shaky hands and wonders if he did the right thing.
The next morning, at 7 AM, Fuji is awake and apologizing to Eiji for what occurred last night. Eiji laughs it off, telling Fuji he's glad that he's okay.
The doctor slides open the door and walks in, explaining that what's afflicting Fuji may just be a common cold, or the flu, but he'd like to run some tests just to make sure everything is okay.
Fuji readily acquiesces, and he doesn't seem to notice the doctor's smile doesn't quite reach his eyes.
Eiji, however, notices, and wonders.
Eiji took the day off from work to spend it with Fuji, even though Fuji protests that he's fine – "I'll be out of the hospital by tonight." Oishi dropped by before going to the school and scolded Fuji, as everyone knew he would, for not looking after his health.
11 AM – Eiji goes to the cafeteria and returns with two cartons of sushi since Fuji plaintively refuses to touch the hospital-issued food.
After polishing off the last eel sushi, Fuji quietly sets his chopsticks down and murmurs, "I wish Tezuka was here."
Eiji debates about telling Fuji what transpired between him and Tezuka, and in the end decides against it – he has no idea how the sensitive, still-hurting Fuji will take the news.
"I wish he was here, too."
9 PM – the doctor returns, not necessarily with good news.
"Your blood cell levels are abnormal, Fuji-san," the doctor reports, flipping through the clipboard.
"That's…not good, is it," Fuji murmurs, his face blanching shockingly white.
"I'm afraid not," the doctor replies. "We decided to run a few more tests to see what could be causing this large decrease in red and white blood cells, and what we discovered was not good."
"Just say it," Fuji says, his voice surprisingly steady.
"According to the tests, you have acute myeloid leukemia."
"No!" a shout issues from the doorway, and everyone in the hospital room – Fuji, Eiji, and the doctor – turn to look at the intruder.
Tezuka is standing in the doorway.
"This is a really nice dream," Fuji remarks sarcastically. "Half good and half bad…" his eyes fixate on Tezuka, still frozen in the doorway.
"Fuji-san, I'm afraid this isn't a dream," the doctor remarks sadly.
Suddenly, everything hits Fuji at once. He really does have leukemia, a life-threatening disease. Tezuka…really did come back. But why?
"Why…?" Fuji whispers before the world twists inwards and he blacks out again.
xi - もう二 度 とは 同 じ 過 ち を
When Fuji blinks open heavy eyelids, the first thing he realizes is that he's been moved to another room – one with more sunlight and smelled much better than his previous one that stank of antiseptic.
The second thing he notices, as his eyes travel lazily around the room, is Tezuka sprawled out in the chair pulled up to his bedside, long limbs awkwardly trying to find room in the cramped space.
Just like back home…before he left, Fuji thinks sadly.
Fuji wonders if he's real. Maybe the leukemia was making him hallucinate Tezuka, because when the doctor broke the news to Fuji, Tezuka had been standing in the doorway as well…
He musters the strength to lift his right arm (since when did his arms feel like they were weighted with lead?) and reachs out towards Tezuka's dozing face. His fingertips encounter the strong jawbone he kissed and nipped so many times during their intense lovemaking sessions, the unruly hair framing his face, and the prominent, almost aristocratic nose that Fuji liked to plant kisses on the tip of for not particular reason.
Eyes flutter open from behind the glasses that just scream Tezuka and his eyes lock with Fuji's.
"K-Kunimitsu?" Fuji ventures, almost expecting Tezuka to be an illusion and to disappear right before his eyes.
Tezuka blinks slowly. "Yes," he replies.
Fuji slowly retracts his hand. "I'm confused, Kunimitsu. I was fine two days ago, but now I have leukemia, I'm in the hospital, and you're supposed to be in Germany, but instead you're in Japan…"
"Eiji called me the night you got admitted to the hospital," Tezuka says softly. "He told me something was seriously wrong with you and advised me to come back. I took the first 6 AM flight from Munich to Tokyo and when I got to Tokyo, I took a cab straight to here."
"You came back to Japan…for me?"
Tezuka averts his eyes. "Yes."
An awkward, uneasy silence falls over them.
Some time later, Tezuka speaks again. "I sent Eiji home with Oishi. Your sister and brother dropped by earlier, while you were still asleep, and they said that they would be back later. The doctor told me to tell you…."
Fuji half-tunes Tezuka out as Tezuka rattles on about the details of acute myeloid leukemia – it spreads fast but the doctors caught it early; it's fairly easy to treat but they would have to do it fast, before it spread; they wanted to start treatment as soon as possible, but they needed Fuji's permission before they could.
Fuji wonders if this would be a good time to apologize, to finally set things right. However, he's too much of a coward to initiate the conversation.
"Chemotherapy…" Fuji muses. He never would have thought that at the age of 25, he would be a cancer patient.
But afterward, Fuji realizes that right now might be the only chance he gets, when Tezuka is right here before him. He draws a breath.
"Ku—Tezuka. I…I want to apologize for what happened two years ago, what—"
Tezuka cuts Fuji off, standing up from his chair and stalking across the room, his voice stony, his eyes like daggers of ice. "I don't want to hear it. That's not what I came back here for."
"No," Fuji retorts, struggling to sit up in the bed. "I have to tell you this. You need to know the truth!"
"I know what I saw, and I'm sticking with that."
"No, Tezuka! I have tried to do everything to get you to listen to me. It's not fair to me, or you, if you make judgments about something without listening to both sides of the story!"
Tezuka does not back down.
"I'll refuse chemotherapy if that's what you want me to do! If that's the only way to do it, by dying, then I'll do it!" Fuji screams, so frustrated at Tezuka. Why won't he just listen?
The tension fills the room, as Fuji determinedly stares Tezuka down. Eventually, Tezuka's stance softens and he settles back into the chair, crossing his arms and legs defensively. However, his icy glare does not soften one bit.
"I'm listening," he grinds out.
Fuji recounts the whole story again – of how he was accosted my Atobe, how Atobe forced himself on him, how he tried to push him off but Atobe was too strong.
"My heart broke when I saw your face when you walked in," Fuji says sadly, tears welling up in his eyes.. "I was trying to push him off so I could run back to your arms, but I couldn't…he didn't see you, but I did. I was trying to communicate to you to help me, but instead you turned around and ran out the door. I followed you, but by the time I got to the ground floor, you were gone."
Fuji finishes his story with a heavy sigh, staring blankly at his hands lying atop the starkly white hospital sheets. He doesn't dare sneak a glance at Tezuka's reaction.
"I missed you so much," Fuji rambles on, hot droplets falling carelessly from his eyelashes and splashing onto the sheet. "I think of you every day. I think of my love for you, and how I would always love you, no matter where you were in the world."
He finally turns and faces Tezuka, his blue eyes brimming with tears. Tezuka's eyes are hidden as he stares at his clasped hands.
"Kunimitsu…say something," Fuji softly implores.
Tezuka raises his head, and his gaze slowly sweeps over Fuji's face.
"I am going to kill Atobe Keigo," he remarks, slowly and dangerously.
Fuji, shocked, just stares at Tezuka.
"As soon as I moved to Germany, I realized what a big mistake I had made," Tezuka admits. "I was angry at you, yes, but no matter what I believed at the time – and now I realize how utterly wrong I was – anyplace without you was not where I was supposed to be."
"I still love you, Shuusuke. I never stopped loving you."
Tezuka stands up and gently takes Fuji's face in his warm palms, bending so his nose perfectly caresses Fuji's. The moment hangs suspended for a moment as they both revel in the reunion of each other's company.
When they finally do kiss, there are no sparks or fireworks. It is instead an eccentric melting of flavors – bitter from the coffee Tezuka just drank, and salty from the tears that still roll fatly down Fuji's cheeks.
They cling to each other, because finally, now both of them can be whole again.
xii -愛 の 力 の 大 き さ貴 さ を 思 い 知 っ た よ
"I got a cat," Fuji offers. "His name is Karumiya, and he's about as arrogant as Momoshiro."
Tezuka's hand clasps Fuji's, and his fingers feather over Fuji's skin.
"What kind of cat?"
"Siamese," Fuji replies, his lips curving into a smile as his gaze rakes across Tezuka's body.
"I had a rabbit in Munich," Tezuka says thoughtfully. "His name wasn't very creative – it was simply Usagi-san."
Fuji snickers. "I wouldn't have expected anything else more original from you, Tezuka-sama," he mocks.
Tezuka squeezes Fuji's hand tighter. "Shut up," he commands. "But, Usagi-san's stay was brief, and I ended up giving him away to a colleague whose young daughter wanted a rabbit."
"I'm curious, Kunimitsu…" Fuji starts. "What did you do in Germany? Why did the Max Planck Institute offer you a job in the first place?"
"The Max Planck Institute was apparently quite impressed with my work with my professor on the quark theory," Tezuka replies. "They saw some potential in me, I suppose. In Germany, it was pretty boring – I attended several lectures a day to enrich my knowledge, and conducted some research. I wanted to visit the LHC*, but I didn't get a chance to before I came back to Japan."
The door slides open at this point, and the doctor steps into the room.
"Sorry to interrupt," he murmurs. "Fuji-san, I'm glad you're up. As I'm sure Tezuka-san has already informed you, your form of leukemia is quite serious, but it is treatable if we act fast and stop it before it can spread. Thus, the best plan of action is to start stage I chemotherapy as soon as possible. It would be advisable to start it today, and thus I need your permission to start chemotherapy."
The doctor extends a clipboard and pen to Fuji, who reluctantly detaches his hand from Tezuka's.
The doctor goes through the list of complications and side effects of the chemotherapy, and the expected results and treatment time. "Do you have any questions, Fuji-san?"
I'm a cancer patient. I have cancer.
"No," Fuji replies, and signs on the indicated line.
"I hoped that you would agree, so I already made arrangements," the doctor informed him. "A nurse will be by in three hours to take you to your first chemotherapy session."
"Thank you, doctor," Fuji says, and the doctor inclines his head at both Fuji and Tezuka before walking out and sliding the door closed behind him.
"Should I really have agreed to chemotherapy?" Fuji asks, his hand instinctively seeking out Tezuka's again.
"Yes," Tezuka replies strongly. "You can't die on me now, Shuusuke. We have lost time to make up."
"Kunimitsu…are you going to go back to Germany?"
Tezuka's other hand moves to stroke Fuji's hair. "I believe that is unnecessary. I already have everything I could possibly need in my life right here in front of me."
Fuji feels terribly insecure and weak asking this, but he needs to know. "Did you have any lovers or relationships in Germany?"
Tezuka's eyes steadily meet Fuji's. "No. Did you?"
Relief washes over Fuji. "No."
Maybe it meant something; that neither of them could find the heart to move on.
Fuji's eyelids start to droop – Tezuka's supple fingers caressing his hair reminded him too strongly of that exact same action Tezuka would do after they collapsed on top of each other in bed after amazing sex, before Fuji drifted off to sleep in Tezuka's arms.
"Now we can go anywhere, can't we, Kunimitsu?" Fuji murmurs sleepily.
"Anywhere," Tezuka replies simply, leaning to press the softest of kisses to Fuji's forehead.
"Then…let's aim for the stars."
(* LHC = Large Hadron Collider)
xiii -行 こう
Four months later…
"It's good to be walking out of the hospital for the last time," Fuji remarks. He was officially cancer-free, although he had to go back every so many weeks for a check-up.
"Let's go home, Shuusuke."
Fuji grins as the sun shines gently on his face. "Let's."
xiv epilogue -星 を め ざ し て
The sweet sounds of a single violin ring in the space of the apartment. Fuji practices violin, his bow dancing over the strings, his eyes closed and neck bared enticingly.
The music wraps around everything – the furniture, and the walls – the walls, which used to be bare and austere, are now covered with dozens of pictures of Fuji and a certain Tezuka Kunimitsu.
The music grinds to a halt, and Fuji sets down his bow, frowning. He picks up a pencil and scribbles something down on the sheet of music.
However, what is the most different in the previously spacious, empty apartment, is the warm presence of Tezuka Kunimitsu and the stacks of paper that follow him wherever he goes.
Currently, he's seated at the kitchen table, musing over his latest newly acquired papers. Tezuka is working to finish the PhD degree he walked out of two years ago to go to Germany.
Hazel eyes look up from their work when they notice the sudden stop in music. Tezuka stands up, stretching, and walks over to where Fuji is standing; circling Fuji's waist with his arms and his chin resting on a thin shoulder.
Although Fuji is still thin, Tezuka's glad he's been gaining some weight back ever since the last chemo treatment.
"Stop distracting me," Fuji murmurs absently, engrossed in his music.
"Is that a new piece?" Tezuka asks, recalling that he has never heard it before.
Fuji turns around in the safe circle of Tezuka's arms and beams at him. "Yeah, it is. I wrote it myself."
Tezuka raises his eyebrows, impressed, and chuckles softly. 'Fuji Shuusuke, general genius and now composer extraordinaire."
Fuji swats Tezuka lightly on the arm before returning his attention to the music. "I need a name for this piece though," he remarks. "I was thinking of naming it Hoshi wo Mezashite – as a tribute to us, Kunimitsu."
Tezuka whirls Fuji around so quickly that Fuji emits a surprised yelp that's quickly silenced by Tezuka's lips kissing him deeply and passionately.
"That," he whispers against Fuji's lips, "sounds perfect."
Translations (of part headings):
i - ichido shinde mata ikikaeru (once you die, you're again reborn/ that sort of magic has been floating in the air)
ii - minna iru kai? (is everyone here?)
iii - kimi ni michibikare (with you to lead the way)
iv - boku wa arukidasu (as we go along)
v - kizu darake no shounen jidai nado (our youth filled with pain)
vi/vii - boku wa tashikani/ michi ni mayoteita (I had surely lost my way)
viii/ix - fukai kurayami de/kodoku ni naiteita (and I was crying in the deep darkness of loneliness)
x - mezametara kimi ga ite (but then you were there when I awoke)
xi - mou nidoto wa onaji ayamachi wo (I'll never make the same mistakes)
xii - ai no chikara no ookisa tottosa wo omoishitta yo (I've come to realize just how precious the strength of love can be)
xiii - ikou (let's go)
xiv - hoshi wo mezashite (aim for the stars)
Please refer to my livejournal for all links to performances of Hoshi wo Mezashite, or the classical music pieces Fuji is talking about, research, etc.
"http:// arizaki-shisaku. livejournal. com/ 28456. html" minus the spaces. FFN is not liking my links today.
Interesting facts I used:
- The Japanese school year ends in March and starts in April, thus Fuji and Tezuka's graduation ceremony is in March, and Tezuka starts the first day of third grade in April.
- Apparently, the flight time from Munich, Germany to Tokyo, Japan is around 12 hrs 20 mins (I don't know if time zone differences are factored into that), so I just used that. If Tezuka hopped on the 6 AM Munich flight, he would arrive in Tokyo around 6:30 PM, and have enough time to catch a cab or something to the hospital, give or take, and be there by 9 PM. Just getting my timeline right :)
- I didn't really give Atobe a resolution here...let's just all assume Tezuka marched up to him in his fancy office and bitch slapped the hell out of him.
Please review! If you liked it, hated it, I appreciate all questions, comments, and concerns! ^___^