A/N: I think this came from a prompt from a1y_puff about both Tezuka and Fuji being playboys after reading my fic, Happy. Not… quite what I had in mind at first but… *shrugs* I think I kinda like it better now. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: PoT doesn't belong to me.

Love Afire

Eyes scanned the crowd, not minding the chatters, soft music, the waft of delicious scents, and interested stares. He checked the time once more to make sure that he was not too late. It was difficult to contain excitement when it came to the person he was looking for. He had been looking forward to this meeting; days spent away from that person felt like ages. The anticipation nearly drove him mad. The only thought in his mind was the time he would meet his beloved, the only person he'd ever love, the only person for him.

When their eyes met, he couldn't fight the surge of joy in his heart. He tried hard to keep the smile off his face as he approached his beloved, his company faithfully in tow. Everything ceased to exist around them. Nothing else mattered but each other.

His lover stood up to greet him politely and he must remind himself that this was a public space where their display of affection was not a welcome sight. He contended himself with empty promises as they shook hands good naturedly, not showing how much they truly missed each other. The touch lingered but not so much that others might notice. It would be their own little secret. Another thing that they shared only with each other.

"I'm sorry to make you wait."

"It's all right. I just arrived as well."

A smile nearly uncurled on his lips. So the he was not the only one excited for this meeting as well. Though it might not be as private as they preferred, they were willing to take any opportunity to see each other for they couldn't bear to be apart for too long.

He was roused out of his musing, when the polite smile turned to his side. He remembered his company's presence then. There was awkwardness and a little guilt but they were topped by annoyance. He wanted to be left alone with his beloved but he reminded himself that this was a request from his lover to avoid suspicion. Unfortunately he hadn't quite mastered the ability to say 'no' to his beloved. He could see from the wide fake smile that his companion's presence wasn't as appreciated as it should be but this was necessary inconvenience. The thought sent a thrill to shot up his spine. He knew what that expression meant, had learnt to recognize the meanings behind every little thing his lover did after years of watching, listening, loving, yearning for his beloved. If he could he would take his lover away this very moment but anticipation was part of their game, it added to the flame already burning inside them, it would make the time they could unleash their desire sweeter. They must wait for a little while.

"Fuji, let me introduce you to my wife, Erika."

They met in a club many years ago when they thought rebelliousness reflected strength and independence. When he was introduced to Fuji by a friend, he had thought that they couldn't possibly be friends. They were too different, that much was obvious. Fuji was friendly, chatting with strangers and spreading his charms to everyone who laid eyes on him while Tezuka was... well, he definitely wasn't the friendliest person one had ever met.

They bonded over booze and cigarette sticks and within several hours Tezuka found himself a new friend. Soon they met in the same club whenever Tezuka felt convenient to lie to his proud but clueless parents. Fuji would already be there, chatting with his friends with a girl (a new one every week) by his side. Tezuka would wait until he was invited to join, then spent the rest of the night listening to Fuji's stories and paying some attention to the willing girl on his lap.

Other boys found their friendship highly unlikely and enviable as girls found their combined charms irresistible. It was unlikely, yes, and Tezuka wasn't sure exactly what Fuji brought into his life. He didn't feel the need to understand, though, only knew that he felt more at ease with Fuji than with his other friends and that was enough to keep Tezuka content with his company. So that's how they were often found, sitting quietly next to each other, wrapped in their own world none dared to enter, one with an unreadable smile, the other with pensive eyes, watching the world move slowly before them.

"So, Fuji-san, what do you do?"

Fuji laughed good-naturedly and Tezuka could tell that Erika was immediately captivated by him. He couldn't blame her though, for he was, too. Tezuka carefully hid his adoration and affection for the brunette. It wouldn't do to show it here, now. He must be patient. "I think my work isn't as interesting as Tezuka's. I'm a lawyer."

"Well, that's very fascinating, isn't it, Kunimitsu?" Erika asked, turning toward Tezuka with a smile while lightly touching his hand.

Tezuka caught a flicker of rage in Fuji's blue eyes though the smile remained the same. He cleared his throat, fighting annoyance from showing in his voice or countenance. Must she do it here? Must she do it in front of Fuji?


Their gazes met for a brief second as Erika continued to make polite enquiries to Fuji. Tezuka recognized jealousy there, a well controlled anger and envy and passion colliding into one. He recognized yearning, fueled by the time they spent apart and unwelcome display of affection from a stranger. Tezuka recognized affection, a force beyond their control that became the core of their existences. The things he would never feel towards his wife.

Girls approached Tezuka for reasons he couldn't understand but he tried to humor their wishes as best as he could; he was not good at saying 'no' and people took advantages from it. He opted to ignore them as he couldn't deny that he, too, experienced pleasure from their brief exchange. Tezuka let the bold ones approached him then leave him when they realized that Tezuka refused to let them have his heart.

No, he isn't a romantic person. He believed in practicality, in contentment, and a generic future led by his family. He also believed in science which gave him a reason and an explanation for the behaviors he condone, the behaviors no one expected him to perform. Yes, he cared about what others think but he also couldn't resist the temptation of hedonistic lifestyle led by his ignorant peers. Tezuka wanted to let loose once in a while, knowing that one day he would be bound down by obligations befitting an adult, the obligations Fuji never seemed to mind very much.

Tezuka should've realized much earlier but he didn't. He was only comfortable around Fuji, he could relax near him, knowing that someone had his back. He trusted Fuji, valued his company. In the rare nights he was without Fuji's company, he would feel lost and rush home, barely able to wait for another night for another chance to meet his friend.

Then there were the girls. He had often thought that Fuji always had prettier girls, that they were always more attractive than his temporary girlfriends. Then one day, perhaps out of boredom or madness, he approached a girl Fuji had just left merely a day ago. She welcomed him gladly and their relationship last just a tad longer than his previous relationships, ended just after she got over Fuji and became seriously interested in pursuing what Tezuka didn't want to give. That girl became the first of many Fuji's exs that he dated and it was true that they were somehow more fascinating.

This happened so many times over the years they knew each other. Fuji had said nothing about it, only perhaps found it amusing. Tezuka took the indifference as permission, feeling no guilt as he dated one ex after another. Never in the years they knew each other that it was ever questioned. It was a fact, an anomaly, a sign Tezuka tried to deny.

They went to the same university though they took different majors. Very little of their teenage lifestyle had changed but they were more aware now of the responsibilities they must assume soon. They couldn't delay the inevitable. Independence could be so frightening sometimes. They sought comfort in each other's company, trying to make the best out of the little time for irresponsibility that they had.

It was during one of those night outs that something that would forever change their lives happened. Tezuka blamed it to stress that they spent a night in Fuji's apartment drinking their heart out. He didn't see it coming when Fuji leaned on him tiredly. He didn't expect to have Fuji's lips on his. He didn't expect the warmth that sprad all over him. He didn't expect how nice it felt. He didn't want it so he pushed Fuji away and stormed out of the apartment building.

Fuji called the next morning with apologies that fell to deaf ears. Tezuka refused to accept them. Fuji had violated his trust and there was no way to fix it. He refused to forgive or forget and he could tell that Fuji's exasperation soon turned to annoyance.

"Don't contact me again." Tezuka said crisply.

"I won't." Fuji answered bitterly before he hung up the phone.

Several days later, Tezuka learnt that Fuji went to continue his study in America, probably never to return.

"We were introduced by a mutual friend. Kunimitsu was fresh out of college that time and was working as an intern at a company. He was so busy he barely had time to see me." Erika paused to look at her husband lovingly. "But I'm glad he managed to make time for a meeting."

Tezuka gave her a slight smile, trying not to show his annoyance. Fuji said nothing, quietly watching them with an unreadable expression on his face. How long should they bear this? How long could they last pretending that there was nothing between them?

Tezuka opened his mouth to tell Erika that it was the time to end the night but before he could say anything her cell phone rang and she excused herself from the table. Tezuka watched her leave then turned his attention to Fuji.


Fuji shook his head, looking pensive. "You don't have to be."

Tezuka wanted to argue but knew that he wouldn't be heard. It was not a place for this kind of conversation. They stared at each other, trying to convey what they couldn't through words. Tezuka wished Fuji had refused this meeting but they had waited for weeks to meet again. They were desperate enough to use any excuse to meet, even though it might hurt them both. Tezuka promised himself he would make it up to Fuji somehow. There was no excuse to hurt him like this, not even longing and desperation.

"I'm sorry, I'm afraid I have to go now. Kunisuke wanted me home now." Erika said with a smile. She stopped Tezuka when he stood up by touching his arm. "It's all right. I believe you two have a lot to catch up. I'll go home alone."

"Ah, it's all right to go. I'm also..." Fuji said, trying to stop Erika.

"No, it's fine. I insist." Erika shook her head with a smile. "I'll take a taxi home. Thank you, Fuji-san. It was a pleasure meeting you. I would like to stay but I'm afraid I'm needed at home."

"Are you sure?" Tezuka asked his wife.

Erika nodded. "Yes. Good evening, Fuji-san."

They watched her leave, feeling light, as if a heavy weight had been lifted away from their shoulders. Tezuka looked at Fuji and for the first time that night saw an unrestrained smile on his face.

The strange thing was that perhaps Tezuka chose Erika because she left no deep impression within him. She was a nice, well-educated young woman. She didn't probe for information from Tezuka, letting him speak only when he wanted to, understanding his hectic schedule as a new employee. Appearance-wise she was not as beautiful as several girls Tezuka had dated previously. She never tried to put too much effort into looking beautiful as many young women did. Tezuka knew immediately that this was the kind of woman his parents expected him to bring home.

Everything went smoothly. His parents loved Erika and soon there were talks about wedding. Tezuka didn't refuse as this was also a part of his responsibilities. He ignored the nagging feeling that told him he was making a mistake. He did what he was supposed to do. He should be content. He would be content with the family he was to build. He was convinced that he was merely anxious about marrying Erika. Yet only days after his wedding he realized that he had indeed made a mistake.

At first Tezuka dismissed it as a persistent guilt or loneliness but then he began to realize that it was something else completely different. He started to think of how much more comfortable he was when he was with Fuji than when with Erika. He began to miss Fuji's companionship, something he at first contributed to the fact that he didn't have any close friend after Fuji left. He wanted Fuji to be there with him, to talk to him, to accompany him, to understand him, to make him content like no one else could yet told himself that it was just remnants of rebelliousness and longing for freedom. But he knew when he was lying on the bed with Erika in his arms and wished that the brown hair and pale, lean body belonged to Fuji and the silver band on his ring finger didn't exist other to bind him to his old friend, that it was not just guilt or loneliness or anxiety.

He loved Fuji, he had always loved him.

Tezuka spent the next few months immersing himself in work. He knew the feeling was true; he loved Fuji, always had, always would be but it was too late. It had been years since he had heard from Fuji. He might have moved on, might never return to Japan ever again.

At home Erika was blissfully oblivious to her husband's misery, believing that it was merely wrk that burdened his mind. Tezuka didn't dare to tell her the truth. He might not love her but he cared for her and didn't wish to hurt her. Yet it was impossible to forget Fuji. He spent every minute thinking how different it would be if it was Fuji with him and not Erika. Tezuka knew he would be happier. He knew things would be a little better and bearable. He knew that he was living a life he didn't want and yet couldn't find a way to escape other than by hurting others. He slowly resigned himself to the fate he had chosen, a fate to live in longing for a true happiness.

Two years later, by a stroke of luck he saw Fuji in the crowd. Maybe he should've regretted his actions but he knew that it should be done. He would never let Fuji go away ever again.

"Fuji-san just called you."

Tezuka froze as he stepped into the bedroom where Erika was sitting on their bed, nursing their child. He fought fear from showing in his face and gave Erika a questioning look instead. He had always been careful to keep the phone calls hidden and Fuji usually texted him before he called. Perhaps it was because they had been unable to meet for many weeks -Tezuka too had not been free from the intense longing for Fuji- but it was a careless move. Had she figured everything out? A part of Tezuka celebrated the idea of no longer pretending but another part of him, the one attached to the baby cradled by Erika's arms dreaded the thought.

"He called your cell phone while you were taking a bath so I picked it up."

"He's an old friend." Tezuka said quietly, wondering if she had suspected anything.

"Were you two close? You never mentioned anything about him."

"You could say that."

Erika hummed softly, turning her attention to the child she was nursing. Tezuka watched the spectacle a moment longer, thinking of how wrong it seemed. Tezuka gingerly sat next to her, trying hard to feel compassionate not only to his child but also his wife. He loved Kunisuke dearly and had no regret for having him in his life but Erika... Could he tear this image of happiness for his own?

"Ne, why don't we invite him for dinner in that new restaurant downtown?" Erika suddenly suggested. "I would like to get to know your friends."

Tezuka looked at his wife, torn between excitement and worry. He should've refused. It was the logical thing to do. And yet he nodded, unable to say no to the gentle smile directed to the sleeping baby in those arms.

Fuji was not convinced at first, unwilling to be more than mere acquaintance with a man who had pushed him away in the past, a man who was now married to someone else. Tezuka refused to give up, though, and continued to beg for forgiveness and another chance to have Fuji's company. It was terribly inappropriate, it was completely wrong and Fuji was right for refusing him but Tezuka could see that beneath the stubborn refusals, there was a yearning to accept and affection undiminished by time. Fuji loved him back, he knew it for sure so he kept pursuing Fuji, putting aside shame and conscience in the pursuit of a love like no other.

"What about your..." Fuji whispered during one of the many date nights Tezuka invited him to. Tezuka had seen his resolve waver since their last couple of meetings, the affection he had for Tezuka only grew stronger as he witnessed his determination to gain his love. They both knew it was wrong but…

Tezuka placed a finger on Fuji's lips. "Doesn't matter." Then Tezuka leaned close and whisper to Fuji the truth he had never dared to say before. He felt Fuji trembled so he wrapped his arms around the shorter man. It took several long seconds before Fuji wrapped his arms around Tezuka's body, giving up and giving his heart which had always belonged to him from the very start. Tezuka tightened his hold around his new lover and kissed the top of his head, vowing to himself to always cherish the love they shared. The warmth and the contentment they felt could not possibly be wrong. This was what they're meant to do. This was what they were meant to be.

Tezuka quietly entered the dark room. After changing into his pajamas, he slipped under the covers carefully, not wanting to rouse his wife. He just settled on the soft pillow when she turned to him sleepily. Tezuka tensed, worried that she might notice anything unusual. Would she realize what he had done? What if she realized it? What should he do?

"Did you have fun?"

Tezuka nodded slightly, peering into the darkness. He felt the softness of her body closing in and felt slightly sick. He made no move to push her away though and remained stiff as she cuddled close to him.

"Mmm... We should invite him to dinner here sometimes."

Tezuka tried to read Erika's expression and saw no suspicion. He sighed softly in relief and closed his eyes, returning his mind to the event that transpired not so long ago. Already he had missed Fuji. No amount of time would be enough. He wanted to spend eternity with Fuji. But for now he would occupy himself with the memories and the hopes for another meeting, another love confession, another love affair.

"Of course."


A/N: I find that my attempts at realistic approach to these two always ended up in twisted stories *sighs* Well, IMO canon!Tezuka+Japanese culture won't allow them any happy ending. Damn me for being so pessimistic. Two parts of this fic is rated NC-17 and is posted in my J. Link is in my profile. R&R, please...