A/N: I made this on a whim because I realized that I only write AUs lately. Canon deserves some love, too. Though this isn't really set in canon timeline but the boys are former-students of Seigaku here… Or does this still count as AU?
Disclaimer: PoT is definitely not mine. If it were, SPoT would be published in yaoi manga magazines instead.
A Night of Nostalgia
"It feels nostalgic, doesn't it?"
Tezuka hummed in agreement as he looked around the clubhouse. Despite the many years he hadn't been there, he found very little change. Everything was where they once were. The wall, the locker, the windows, the views were identical to that in his memory. It almost the time had return to that memorable year. Tezuka looked at a forgotten jersey longingly. Would it fit him? Could he still play tennis? Would he be awkward holding the racquet? Had his body forgotten the techniques he spent countless of days perfecting?
"I wonder who is using this locker now."
Tezuka turned his attention to the man in front of him, Fuji Syuusuke, the prodigy, the genius tennis player of Seigaku. Those titles were forgotten now but in their memories. It was something to brag about to your children and grandchildren, something to lament on during trying nights. It wasn't something that would ever return. Right now this was Fuji Syuusuke, an adult man, a salary man, a father of two. They were forgettable titles but they were practical, Tezuka knew this clearly. After all his own titles were so different from Fuji's.
The ring on Fuji's finger made a soft metallic sound when Fuji tried to open the locker. Tezuka raised an eyebrow but didn't try to stop him. After a few tries, Fuji gave up with a laugh, his voice heavier and rougher with age.
"I wonder if he keeps any pornography there."
"He's just a kid." Tezuka said, feeling slightly uncomfortable talking about someone whose name he didn't even know.
Fuji shrugged, graceful despite his age. It's comforting to know that some things never change although it felt a little weird to see such indifference in an adult. "We all did it." He looked at Tezuka's scandalized look and laughed. "What? Didn't you know? This was the safest place to keep your pornography in the entire school!"
For a moment Tezuka was distracted by the crinkles appearing around Fuji's eyes and mouth. He became aware of the lines around his face, the graying hair, deeper voice; and realized now just how much they had changed. This wasn't the boy he once knew. This was a man he didn't even know. He wondered whether Fuji thought the same. Tezuka was aware of the change in himself, conscious of his aging body. He had always looked more mature than his real age and now the burden of adult responsibilities adding even more years to his look. He wondered how much he had changed as a person. Everything happened so naturally, he wasn't fully aware of what was happening until he was forced to look back on the road he had taken. All he could conclude was that it was a fine journey but he couldn't shake off the anxiety stemmed from not knowing where it's leading him to.
"You kept pornography here?"
Fuji nodded, amused by his own childish antics. "I remember it clearly. Momo had a thing for girls with big boobs, Inui's into nurse-play, Oishi liked his homely girls, Eiji was obsessed with cosplays, Taka-san loved naked aprons, Kaido liked dainty girls, and Echizen…"
Fuji laughed again. "He was the most gifted with technology of us all."
Tezuka pinched the bridge of his nose, not really wanting to know what that implied. He was certain that if he had figured this out back then, they would be running laps to death. But he was no longer their captain now, they were no longer a team, this was not the past.
"I've always wanted to know the type of porn you like." Fuji mused while looking around the room. The showers caught his attention and he disappeared from view. Tezuka heard approving sounds and approached it. "Well these are new." Fuji said, gesturing towards the shower heads that didn't leak and tiles that didn't threaten to cause the players some form of injury.
They spent some time admiring the new bathroom. It made Tezuka wondered if something would be different if he didn't have a tennis player slipping on the bathroom floor every other week. It also made him wondered what his teammates had done in the bathroom in their school years. Did they really stash their porn here in the clubhouse?
"What's your type?" he muttered.
Fuji looked at him in mild surprise. "My type? My type of porn?"
Tezuka hesitated but nodded eventually. It's too late to take back his words anyway. He was glad Fuji wasn't the kind of person who was easily offended. It didn't mean he shouldn't be careful with his words though and Tezuka had always been careful with everything he said to Fuji. He was well aware of the precarious positions they had when it came to each other. A slip of tongue, a wrong move and everything would've spiraled out of control. Tezuka didn't want that.
Fuji smiled softly as he reminiscent the past. "I have my types." He said cryptically.
Tezuka wondered if Fuji's wife fit the type but that would be an inappropriate question to ask. He checked his watch, noting that it was late, and wondered whether his own wife stayed up to wait his return. He should call her soon to tell her that he's going to be a little late. "Come on. The others are waiting."
Fuji took his time looking around the clubhouse once again before they left the building. They walked side by side, cold air caressing them, making Tezuka's joints hurt slightly despite his thick clothes. The dark school building didn't look as familiar as it used to be. Tezuka could hardly believe he had spent many nights there working on reports. Right now all he wanted to do was to leave the place immediately and return to the safety and warmth of his home.
When they spotted the tennis court, Tezuka had a feeling that he was trespassing even though they had the permission to be here tonight. Was this really the place he had thought of as a second home? It was a mere building to him now, a monument for memory perhaps, but definitely not a home.
"Do you have any regret, Tezuka?" Fuji asked when they stopped to look at the courts.
"There's no point in mulling over what won't return." He answered sensibly. Tezuka thought of all the matches they lost, how they could've prevented it, and what would've been different if they had won. But no, it was just wistful thinking. There's no point in agonizing over them now, or ever. They had different lives now, ones that barely involved tennis. There were other things to think about, other things to worry about. Past wouldn't return, no matter how much one hoped and longed for it.
"I thought so."
Something in Fuji's voice made Tezuka looked at him. The moonlight shone on the man's face, softening the lines time had put there. Tezuka could almost see the boy he once knew, the boy so often stood beside him, the boy he confided to, the boy he had faith on, the boy he had admired from afar.
There was that strange urge again to close the gap between them. Tezuka was suddenly conscious of the short distance that separated them, the distance he could easily bridge by reaching Fuji's hand. Something he couldn't recognize –or perhaps didn't dare to recognize- stirred in his chest, something he thought had gone away after his graduation from Seigaku. It was an infatuation, he concluded. Fuji was a fascinating figure so it wasn't such a wonder that Tezuka was interested even now.
"I have my regrets." Fuji said with a wistful smile. It wasn't something Tezuka recognize. It's made of so many life experiences, experiences Tezuka wasn't a part of. "But above all I am grateful for everything; for studying here, being part of the team, knowing all of you. Without those I won't be who I am now."
Tezuka frowned. Something told him that Fuji wasn't telling the entire truth. Unreasonable selfishness demanded him to ask but courtesy silenced him. "I see."
They watched the court for a very long time. But unlike many years before, Tezuka could no longer read Fuji. The man had perfected his mask, it seemed. Tezuka himself was no different, carefully locking away any stray emotion he deemed inappropriate or insensible. They were adults, they had no time for such non sense. The time for that had gone. Their chance had gone away.
Eiji smiled widely as he approached them. Childishness was no longer found on his face, only wisdom and wariness they all unwillingly acquire from time. "I thought you two would be here. Aren't you cold?" He asked, pulling his jacket closer to his body. He stared at the court for a moment, nostalgia made him smile lightly. The moment didn't last very long and he turned to his friends. "Anyway, the reunion party is almost over but we want to go to bars to warm ourselves up. Are you two coming? It's rare for all of us to have time to meet up like this."
"Well, I don't think my wife will mind if I come home a little late. What about you, Tezuka?"
The question snapped Tezuka back to reality. He fisted his hands, feeling the cold metal of his wedding ring stab his skin. "I'll call my wife."
"That's great! Let's go!" Eiji exclaimed happily.
Tezuka and Fuji didn't speak as they followed Eiji to meet with their friends in the reunion party in the school building. Tezuka dared not look at Fuji, afraid that he would lose control over himself. They had good lives now, why risk them for a distant past? They were all right. They were better off like this. They were exactly the way they're supposed to be. And even if that thought was wrong, even if he was lying to himself, at least he'd have his fading memory of fateful meetings, optimism, doubts, victories, losses, and opportunities not taken.