A/N: Wow, this was started like two years ago or something. I've been wanting to finish it for ages, and… here I go. Happy birthday to my very favorite anime character of all time. I do so love you, Tezuka Kunimitsu. Though probably not as much as Fuji does. :)

Disclaimer: All Konomi's.

Noble Heroes

Fuji was giving him these looks. These looks like he was a small child who'd burned himself on something he knew was hot—concern for his pain, but exasperation at his foolishness. It was irritating. Fuji had no right to look at him that way.

"Tezuka," came Fuji's airy voice, and next second the tensai was sitting next to him at the bar. "How's your arm?"

Tezuka's fists clenched, and he noticed Ryuzaki-sensei's smirk before she said, "I think I'll visit the little girl's room," and got up form her stool. He sighed. He respected his coach immensely, but anyone who'd leave another person alone with Fuji Syusuke when he was obviously in a mood was cruel.

He didn't do more than give Fuji a stern look, but the tensai ignored it and asked, still smiling cheerfully, "Does it hurt?"

"No," the captain answered shortly.

"Of course it does. You're not one to lie, Tezuka, and it's not very becoming, especially in your case."

Rather than point out that Fuji shouldn't have asked in the first place if he already knew the answer (telling that to someone like Fuji never worked), Tezuka went back to sipping his tea quietly. Fuji would no doubt go off on one of his tangents soon, but Tezuka wasn't going to provoke it.

Sure enough, a moment later, after Fuji popped a wasabi sushi roll into his mouth, it started. "Your actions today were unnecessary, you know."

"I don't think so," Tezuka shot back.

Fuji sighed. "Tezuka, have you ever heard the quote, 'The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one'?"

"No, I haven't."

Fuji's smile turned a bit wistful. "You died nobly today, Tezuka, but we would all prefer you'd lived humbly. Now you can't even finish the tournament with us."

"There's nothing wrong with playing my hardest if it helps the team."

"But you lost. And you knew you'd lose, you knew what Atobe was playing at. You hurt your arm and took yourself out of the tournament for no reason."

"There's more to it than just winning and losing." Tezuka looked back at the others, his stern expression softening just a bit. "I'd set a bad example if I just quit when the going got tough."

"I can see we're not going to agree," Fuji said with a sigh. "To be honest, Tezuka, I don't know if we can win this without you."

"Negativity won't get you anywhere," Tezuka said sharply. "You're all strong players, and I trust your abilities, with or without me. This doesn't mean I'm no longer the captain."

"That's true." Fuji was silent for a while, instead just peering up at Tezuka with curious blue eyes. "Your valor is quite impressive, you know. If I didn't know you as well as I do I'd think you were trying to show off for a girl."

Tezuka was caught between relief and exasperation. At least Fuji was done criticizing his actions for now, even if he'd turned instead to teasing. "I don't know any girls," he replied honestly.

"Of course you know girls, silly. Ones in your class and in the girls tennis club and the ones who come to all our matches. You mean you don't pay attention to girls."

Well, Tezuka supposed that was true. He took a sip of tea and didn't answer.

"I'm sort of glad I know you too well to think you were preening," Fuji said softly. "I'd be terribly jealous."

Tezuka tried not to let his surprise show. Fuji's voice had lost its lightheartedness, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. What was he saying? "You've got all sorts of girls chasing after you," Tezuka pointed out, a little uneasily.

Fuji chuckled. "That's not what I meant. I was jealous of Echizen, too, when all your attention was on him and making him the new pillar of support. Is it strange of me to say that I've wanted your attention since we met?"

"Yes," Tezuka said before he could help himself. "…Why?"

"Why have I wanted your attention? Because you're you, Tezuka. You don't give your attention to many things besides tennis and school. Anything outside of that is… special."

"You're special," Tezuka said without thinking. This was getting to be a problem. Fuji's eyebrow was raised at him. "Anyone would say that. Your reputation alone precedes you. You shouldn't need my approval."

"For someone so smart, you really are oblivious when it comes to people, you know. A noble hero in every way. I bet you'll go away for rehabilitation, won't you?"

"I don't know anything yet," Tezuka replied. He had no idea where this was going. "It's too recent to have a good idea of what I want to do. Why do you ask?"

"Because noble heroes always leave their wives to go off to war." Fuji leaned over, and suddenly his face was so close to Tezuka's it was making his heart beat faster. Then soft lips pressed against his cheek.

"I'm going to go get the rest of the wasabi rolls before someone else eats them," Fuji said brightly, hopping down from the stool. Tezuka was too stunned to even think to remind Fuji that no one would be eating the wasabi rolls besides the tensai anyway.