Summary: -AU- 31st October, Halloween. Tezuka meets the beautiful and elegant Fuji Syuusuke. Now if only he can persuade Fuji to stay with him forever.


"Hurry up, ochibi!"

Echizen grumbled as he slowed to a stop, "We've been walking for 30 miles, can't we take a break?"

"Hnya, what am I going to say to Momo," Kikumaru said, placing a finger on his chin in a mock show of thinking. "He managed 50 miles before a break, and to think I bet money that you'd be able to do better than him too."

The smaller of the two twitched a little, no way was Momoshiro beating him in something like this. Knowing Kikumaru, he'd go around shouting how he needed a break at 'only' 30 miles. And before Echizen could even curl up on the sofa for a well deserved nap, Momoshiro would be calling him and laughing and teasing and-

"Grr," tail swishing in annoyance, Echizen stomped along the path, passing a rather smug-looking 'senpai' as he went.

Nya, works every time.

-

Sunlight shone down from the sky above, colouring everything with the soft hues of dawn. The autumn air was crisp and cold, but Tezuka paid it no mind as he headed towards the town centre. He and several friends were planning on travelling to the next town that day so that they could harvest Crossets, a flower that held incredible medical properties, but only bloomed once a year. On Halloween.

The town square was bare and barren, as was expected at this time of day. The water fountain stood empty, it's only occupant a young man whom Tezuka had never seen before.

A traveller? Though he seemed to be dressing a little too lightly for a normal traveller; a simple brown tunic and boots, with the customary shirt and slacks. Brown hair waved in the wind as the stranger smiled against the sunlight.

Tezuka ignored him, and instead walked briskly to his friend's door. It opened swiftly after a succession of steady knocks.

"Ah, Tezuka," his friend smiled at him a little warily, "sorry, we're in the middle of a reinforcement ritual for our protection charms"

"I'll just wait outside then," he replied. Rituals, carried out to supposedly ward against ghosts and other supernatural beings. One of those old fashioned superstitions that should have been discarded long ago.

His friend was a little hesitant, but before closing the door he said timidly, "You're welcome to join us…"

"No thank you," he didn't believe in ghosts.

A sigh, "Alright then, we'll be out in a little bit."

Tezuka nodded and turned as the door shut behind him. His gaze fell upon the stranger that had been watching him.

"Already finished touching up your protection charms before you left home?" the stranger called out, "they're stronger if you fortify them in a group you know."

"Ghosts are simply a fabrication of people's imaginations," Tezuka said, descending the stone steps of his friend's home and heading over to where the stranger was still perched comfortably on the fountain edge.

The stranger chuckled lightly, "Wouldn't hurt to make them, just in case."

"There are better things to occupy my time with," Tezuka replied casually. "You're new to this town. Visiting family?"

The stranger shrugged, "I was passing by."

Passing by; this town wasn't exactly en route to anywhere particularly worth visiting. It seemed unlikely for him to be just 'passing by', nevertheless, Tezuka let it go. It wasn't his right to judge other people's wimps. Or problems.

"What about you? You're up rather early in the morning," blue eyes twinkled as hey settled on Tezuka, honey-brown hair was still swaying gently.

"We're planning on harvesting Crossets today. It'll take a while to reach the place where they grow."

"Crossets?"

"White flowers that bloom near the foot of mountains," Tezuka summarised, half wondering why he was saying all this, half glad that this beautiful stranger seemed so interested in his mundane little life. "They sell well."

"Busy working all day then?" the stranger smiled, "it's Halloween. Most people are getting ready to celebrate."

"There'll be a festival in the town we're staying at tonight," Tezuka offered. The stranger was still just smiling at him in that elegant and gentle manner.

"Saa, sounds fun."

"Would you like to join us? Not that you'll be asked to work or anything," Tezuka said, trying to find a way to keep in touch with this carefree traveller. It was rare he found someone that gave off such a tranquil aura.

Clear blue eyes stared at him for a few seconds. "I'm afraid I have some things to take care of here."

Tezuka nodded, slightly disappointed, but knew better than to show it.

Somehow, he thought the stranger picked up on it anyway. "But I might head over when I'm finished. It's been a while since I've been to a Halloween festival."

Tezuka nodded again.

The stranger stood up, and smiled some more at him, Tezuka wondered if he was constantly smiling. "I'm Fuji by the way."

"Tezuka."

Creak. A front door opened, and Tezuka turned to find his friends heading out.

"Sorry for the wait!" one of them called out joyfully, not sounding sorry at all. "Haru spilt the purified water so it took longer than expected."

"No problem," Tezuka reassured, these rituals always took a long time whether things went smoothly or not. "You all ready then?"

"Yep yep, carriage's that way!"

The whole group headed off, and Tezuka turned back around to say goodbye to Fuji. Maybe trying to gauge a time in which the brunet would arrive at the town. However, when he was looking at the fountain again, Fuji had gone.

Tezuka felt a pang of insult, but ignored it. He had said he'd head over for the festival, so he should just wait until then.

---

Eiji was staring wide-eyed at the town in front of him. This was not happening to him.

"He's not here." Echizen said, scanning the entire town with golden eyes, his dark blue ears twitched in annoyance.

Eiji felt his entire body droop in defeat, how could he just disappear like that? The signal had been strong and pulsing for goodness's sake.

"What should we do?" Echizen asked.

Eiji sighed, "Make another tracer, find out where he's gone." Atobe was going to kill him.

---

"That looks like hard work."

Tezuka turned around so fast, he nearly slipped on the wet grass around him. "You're here surprisingly early," he said, balancing himself for better footing.

"Saa, I finished quicker than expected." Fuji smiled, "but if you'd prefer that I leave…"

"You can stay."

Fuji's grin widened. Tezuka decided to focus on harvesting the Crosset. It was important that none of the roots or leaves were damaged, since they all held high medical value. As he worked, he felt Fuji's bright eyes studying him, before a conversation drifted out into the air around them.

"Where are your friends?"

"They're spread around. Crossets grow individually as opposed to growing in clusters," Tezuka felt like he was reciting a textbook, but he couldn't really think of anything more to say.

"So you're all working on your own?"

"I guess you can look at it that way. But the hard work of each individual is going to benefit us all within the team. So it's just efficient teamwork in my opinion."

Fuji chuckled. Tezuka continued harvesting. And as the sun rose higher into the sky, the two conversed, each feeling the threads of attraction pulling them ever closer.

It was shortly after midday, that Fuji excused himself from Tezuka's company. He left just before one of his friends headed over with his lunch, to which Tezuka took graciously, but claimed that he'd rather finish up with the few flowers that were left before eating. His friend left, and Fuji had returned with his own box of food, just as Tezuka finished plucking out the last of the Crossets in the area.

"Saa, were you waiting for me?"

"Yes." He didn't see any point in denying it. Fuji had looked slightly surprised, but happily so and they settled down under some big tree to eat in silence.

Tezuka had just finished the last of his food, when Fuji shuffled close and gave him a soft kiss. They didn't speak for a long while after that.

---

"What do you mean you lost him?" Atobe's angry voice shot through the phone like a bolt of lightning.

"Hnya," Kikumaru mewed nervously, cringing at the tone, "he's just gone. It's not my fault, nya~"

"Well find him!" The furious hiss-snarl cackled out of the receiver and Kikumaru had to force himself to keep the phone next to his ear. Geesh, why the heck was Atobe so worked up anyway?

"We will we will," he tried his best to placate the searing rage he could sense. "Ochibi-chan's already looking for his scent and making another tracer as we speak, we'll find him in no time!" As Eiji said this, Echizen melted out of the shadows, tail swishing languidly behind him. "We better go…yeah we will…okay already nya!" And he clicked the phone shut. "Hnya! Why is he in such a bad mood?"

"Probably because of the ghost hunter," Echizen reminded him, "you know how he gets when the higher-ups tags some useless deadweight on him right after assigning him on a completely boring mission."

Kikumaru sighed, "Did you find his trail?" he asked, thinking they'd better get this over with as soon as possible, least Atobe unleashes his wrath upon them.

Echizen nodded and waved an arm at the mountain vaguely, "he went that way."

---

Tezuka led Fuji to another secluded area when they packed up their lunch, another area littered with white flowers. He began working, as Fuji sat and watched him. It was almost awkward, to have someone watch him work. But Fuji's presence was calming, so Tezuka didn't mind.

Sometimes, when Tezuka had harvested a fair bunch of flowers and went to put them in the wicker basket, Fuji would nestle close. And Tezuka would kiss him, before going back to work. Fuji often chuckled when that happened. But then he'd sit down and watch him again.

When all the Crossets in the area had been harvested, it was nearing evening. The sun was dipping into ground far off in the distant, splashing the rocks and grass with a dreamy haze. Tezuka piled the last of the flowers into the basket, and Fuji nestled closer.

This time, Tezuka didn't kiss him. Not immediately at any rate. Instead he lowered Fuji down onto the ground, brushed hair away from those sparking eyes, and whispered, "I love you."

Fuji had smiled. And the two made love as the sun sank and gave way to twilight.

-

"Get it while it's hot!"

Tezuka weaved around the crowd, a plastic bag full of festival food dangling precariously from his hands. Normally, he slowed down his pace to match the other festival-goers, but he had left Fuji at the outskirts of the town and didn't want to keep him waiting.

After the first bout, the two had snuggled silently, simply enjoying each other's company. As the fireworks signalling the start of the festival filled the sky, Tezuka had drawn Fuji close, and they made love again. And again.

In fact, Tezuka had lost count of the amount of times it happened.

Yet as much as they enjoyed each other's company, their body's need for fuel made itself known to them, and Tezuka had offered to get some food at the festival to allow Fuji some time to rest.

"I was starting to think you had abandoned me," Fuji joked as Tezuka returned to the empty clearing.

Tezuka only smiled back and allowed Fuji guide him back down to the ground. As soft lips trailed across his cheeks, he chuckled against Fuji's skin. "Food first, Fuji."

"Mm...but you're so much tastier," came the whispered reply, "but I suppose if you insist," Fuji sigh, finally relinquishing his hold at Tezuka's gentle pushing.

The food was delicious, yet Fuji seemed rather reluctant to eat anything, choosing mostly to pick at the pumpkin pie in his lap. Tezuka frowned, wondering if he had bought the wrong things.

"Do you want something else?" he offered. Fuji started, and looked up.

"Huh?" Tezuka gestured at the pastry Fuji had been poking dully with his fork. "Oh, no, um, I was just…thinking, that's all." And, as if to prove his point, he scooped up a large piece and took a healthy bite out of it.

Tezuka nodded, and returned to his own food; he still kept an eye on Fuji, since despite his words, he did not look like he was eating much. However, the content continued to steadily disappear from Fuji's box so it must have been consumed.

"I'm full," Fuji said, sliding his arms around Tezuka easily, playful smirk upon his face. "So why don't we continue from where we left off?"

---

Festivals were always big, loud and full of cheer. But this festival had a strange ringing noise that made Kikumaru wished that he had called in sick like the rest of his colleagues. "It's loud, nya!" he wailed, covering his ears as his eyes frantically swept over the humans walking in and out of the entrance.

"Urgh, I can't concentrate with all this noise," Echizen complained, his own hands clamped tightly down on his head. The tracer he had created had clearly indicated this town; but the tracer won't be able to guide him to the actual person unless they were within a 20 metre radius. "He's not outside; I've checked all the perimeters."

"Well he's here somewhere!" Eiji huffed, edging closer to the forest as he spoke. The ringing was starting to make him feel nauseous. "Let's retreat for now, we can't work like this."

Echizen was quick to agree, half-running into the crowd of trees after Kikumaru. "I doubt even he can stand that," Ryoma panted once they reached a safe enough distance.

Ching~

Echizen blinked.

Chi-chi-ching~

He looked down at his wrists, the tracer he had made was pulling at him...pulling away from festival. He stared deep into the shadows.

Chi-chi-chi-chi-ching~

"Er…senpai..." he spoke loudly, trying to catch the attention of Kikumaru, who was clawing at a tree, crying about sick-leave and unreasonable expectations. "Senpai!"

"Hnya?"

"I think I found him."

-

To be continued~


Originally meant to be a one-shot for Halloween...but it's become longer than I expected, so I don't think I'll finish it in time. Which is why...have part 1! I hope you enjoy it enough to want more. ^_^

Please review and Happy Halloween!