A/N: I'm back with the final chapter! Sorry for the long wait, I was busy with college. But now there's no more college! Woohoo! So I present you with this chapter which has been done and redone several times. I hope you enjoy this!
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine. I don't even know what they're up to anymore.
The scent of human and werewolves from the village slowly began to fade, showing that many of them had returned to their homes now that the war had ended. Tezuka could see tension and fear disappearing from people's faces, replaced by smiles and laughter. There were still remains of grief for those they've lost, but above all there was hope for a better tomorrow. The wounds from the war wouldn't heal so quickly, the lives lost would never be forgotten, but live went on in remembrance and respect to those who had defended them. As people returned to the lives they had been forced to leave behind, the isolated place was once again quiet and Tezuka felt forgotten.
Days passed so quickly yet so slowly. Without work as distraction, Tezuka's mind was constantly worrying about Fuji's state so far away from where he was. Tezuka was a sensible man, but all logic disappeared when it came to his beloved master. The few information he could gain from people delivering goods to him were vague at the very best. They always said that Fuji was recovering, but from what kind of injury? How badly hurt was he? Was there a chance for him to help in any way?
Oishi's letter arrived too slowly for Tezuka's sanity, but it still alleviated some of his worry. He skimmed through long paragraphs depicting the busyness in the mansion as well-wishers come and go while Fuji's people were trying to reinstate order in the territory. It was still an uncertain time, and Oishi begged him to understand that he couldn't send him letters as often as he'd like to. There were many things to take care of, like their Master's health.
Master is recovering. His wounds are a little worse than predicted, but the medics are doing their best to heal him. It might still take a little longer before his health could be restored perfectly.
Worse than predicted? Tezuka wanted to ask for more information, something to ease some of his worry, but couldn't. Not when Oishi also warned him in that very note that Yumiko was staying at the mansion to care for Fuji. The cowardly act of hiding from Yumiko tortured Tezuka. He felt he should've been braver, should've been more persistent even if it might cost him his life. How could he claim to love Fuji when he couldn't bring himself out of his hiding?
But Tezuka dared not disobey Fuji's order, the only sign that Fuji still cared for his wellbeing. Would it please Fuji to see him hurt by his sister? Tezuka knew that it wasn't just a matter of familial relationships between these siblings. Two major territories were involved and he'd rather not provoke another lengthy period of fear and suffering. He must stay here until Fuji chose to be with him or forget him. But when would the decision be made?
Tezuka grew tired of counting the days, for every second seemed to stretch into a long hour. What should he do when there was nothing to serve as distraction to his worry? How long could this go on? Tezuka was getting tired of this loneliness. He felt like a fool, unable to function without knowing his beloved was happy and well. Oishi had convinced him that he wasn't being abandoned; he was merely protected. But this felt so much like abandonment. He was left out, not allowed to contact Fuji in any way. This wasn't haven, this was torture. But who was he to say anything? Who was he to protest and demand something else? The choice wasn't his to make. It was no longer his.
There was nothing else to do but wait, so wait he did. Tezuka lay down under a tree, wondering what he was missing and how far removed he was from the rest of the world. It didn't take very long before grim thoughts of hopelessness exhausted him and he gave up the reality for fantasy. The wind caressed Tezuka in his sleep in a mocking mimicry of a lover's touch. The sun reminded him of the warmth in a lover's embrace. His dream took him to the time and place where nothing else mattered but their togetherness. In that dream Fuji was here with him, smiling to him, loving him. Tezuka wanted to believe that it was real, but there was something lacking, emptiness still remained in his heart and couldn't be filled with anything but Fuji's presence near him. And as his heart ached with too much longing and love, he knew that Fuji wasn't here.
The air shifted, perhaps signaling a coming rain. Tezuka didn't care, he continued to sleep, forcing himself to stay in his dream world longer. It was the only relief he could find at the moment. It was the only place where he could find a semblance of contentment. If Fuji couldn't be with him in reality, then he could at least be with Fuji in his dreams. Yes, it was running away from truth, but he needed to take a break from the pain, from acting strong when all he wanted was to break down.
Tezuka moved around, trying to find comfort on the cool grass. Something blocked his movement, causing him to frown slightly in his sleep. He was sure there was nothing near him before he slept. What was it then? Tezuka heard a soft, calming whisper near his ear, telling him to continue sleeping, but he resisted. He struggled with sleepiness, trying to win back consciousness. Something was different, something he must wake up to. He didn't sense danger, but he was certain there was someone with him now, someone he must see... Slowly his consciousness returned, delivering him a sound of steady heartbeat, human warmth, scent of herbs and blood… Blood!
His eyes flung open and Tezuka was immediately greeted by the sight of his love smiling at him serenely. Fuji was wearing a thick black coat that hid his injured body and protected it from the lengthy trip, the dark color of his outfit making him look paler than usual. He looked exhausted and in pain, but the warmth in his eyes was shone through them. Tezuka stared at Fuji in disbelieve, partially expecting this image to disappear in a second as it usually did in his dreams. But no, this time Fuji stayed. This time Fuji smiled sweetly and caressed him. This time Fuji was really here.
"You're such a deep sleeper." Fuji said teasingly. He caressed Tezuka's cheek hesitantly, as if worried that Tezuka would pull away at any moment.
Pulling away was the last thing Tezuka wanted to do. Tezuka held Fuji's hand tightly and turned his head slightly to kiss it. He wanted to tell Fuji how happy he was, how angry he once had been, how worried he felt, how much he always would love Fuji, but no words escaped him. He kissed Fuji's hand repeatedly, hoping the simple action could convey what he couldn't speak out loud.
"I'm sorry." Fuji whispered, pulling Tezuka into his embrace. "I've let you suffer too much, too long." Tezuka shook his head, which lay on Fuji's chest, but Fuji insisted on his point. "Yes, I have. I should've made my decision sooner. I should've chosen to stay with you much earlier."
As happy as he was to hear this, Tezuka knew it wasn't right. Somehow he found strength to push Fuji away, even though it hurt him to do so. "Your sister was right. You should find yourself a wife."
This time Fuji shook his head. He held Tezuka's chin in a gentle but unyielding grip and made him look into his eyes. "I don't need a wife. I need you."
"You must have a successor. I can't provide you that." Tezuka stated matter-of-factly. Not only was he a male, but he's not a purebred either. As an alpha leader Fuji needed a purebred successor, people expected him to have successor. Tezuka understood that, he knew that's why Yumiko didn't wish for him to be around Fuji anymore. He was happy that Fuji finally chose him, but was Fuji aware of the consequences of this decision? Was he aware of what he must give up in order to be with Tezuka?
Fuji frowned lightly, showing displeasure for the first time. "I know my responsibilities, my family has educated me enough on it. But obligations aren't the only thing that mattered. I, too, have a life. I have my wants and needs to be happy and I don't believe I'll find it anywhere else but in you." He continued before Tezuka had a chance to argue. His eyes softened but he was no less serious that before. "It took too long, but I finally have the courage to choose my happiness over other things and my sister finally understood. Yuu, my nephew, will replace me to lead our territory once he's old enough. I have Oishi and other people manage things in the mansion. From now on I will stay here with you. I will try to make up for every pain I put you through."
Tezuka wanted to argue but the resolve in Fuji's eyes made him stop. They stared at each other for a moment in a battle of will. As always, Tezuka lost. He chuckled softly, warmth spreading in his heart. He had almost forgotten how it felt to be content, to be alive, to be in love. For months he had lived in loneliness and longing. Gloom was the only thing he could feel then. But right now, this moment, a simple smile was all it took to make him happy and convinced him that everything would be all right.
"Kunimitsu, will you let me stay with you?"Fuji asked, looking genuinely remorseful for his previous indecision.
Deciding that words were unnecessary, Tezuka pulled Fuji into a kiss. He had missed this, missed Fuji's warmth, Fuji's body against his, Fuji's soft lips, Fuji's kisses, Fuji's affection. He could feel Fuji's remorse and love slowly overwhelming him, filling the void in his heart perfectly. Fuji wrapped his arms around Tezuka tightly, as if to never let him go. And this time, Tezuka knew he really never would let go.
Tezuka spent the next few days dutifully tending to Fuji's wounds despite knowing that werewolves had speedy recovery. Fuji on the other hand, insisted on using the time he had to make up for whatever wrong he had done Tezuka in the past. He took his words seriously, doing his best to make Tezuka smile even in his injured state. Every moment was gratifying, cherished well after the time they spent apart from each other. They spent hours talking, making love, or just sitting next to each other, enjoying the peace they hoped would last forever.
Of course the peaceful life didn't last very long. As soon as Fuji fully recovered, letters and documents arrived every other day from Fuji's people seeking advice and approval in their attempts to manage the territory. No matter how much Fuji told them that they had done a good work, they kept asking for direction. Tezuka knew it was rare for an alpha leader to leave the task of tending his territory to betas. Ordinarily, it would be seen as an act of irresponsibility, but he knew that Fuji was anything but irresponsible.
"Maybe I should have made some time to educate them on the art of managing a territory, before I left." He told Tezuka as he finished a small mountain of paperwork Oishi had sent from the mansion, looking a little guilty and yet amused by his subordinates' fear of making a wrong decision.
Tezuka didn't really mind, though. If anything, he was happy that he hadn't rendered Fuji incapable of being a competent leader. He knew it was only a matter of time before they would only ask for Fuji's help in making the most important decisions. It was a sudden change, indeed, and Fuji could even be blamed for his sudden departure to this island. There were a lot of things to adjust to, not only for those left at the mansion, but also to Fuji and Tezuka. But Fuji had taught him to be selfish. He taught him that it was all right to want to have this happiness when it didn't hurt anyone.
A couple of months after Fuji's arrival to the island, he had his first guests; Yumiko and her son, Yuu. Fuji was gracious as he welcome their arrival but Tezuka could sense tension in the air, saw it in the discreet, suspicious looks from Yumiko's attendants. The attack toward him hadn't been forgotten. Fuji was obviously wary of his sister's intention, not quite trusting that she had given up on asking him to marry. She was a strong-willed woman, she wouldn't change her mind or her objective easily. Even Tezuka must admit that he was worried, knowing that despite being the alpha leader, Fuji still had a soft spot for the only remaining family he had.
Realizing her hosts' distrust, Yumiko told her attendants to leave to show that she meant no harm, a message not missed by Fuji and Tezuka. Only then the alpha leader let her and Yuu into the house as a show of trust. Tezuka would be lying if he said he was entirely confident of his safety, but he wouldn't dare show disrespect toward the wife of another pack's alpha leader. "I'm here to accompany Yuu on his first lesson and see you awed by his brilliance." She joked to melt the remaining tension as they sat down in the living room for a chat. There was no trace of violence in her countenance, but Tezuka knew that it wasn't beyond her to resort to bloody tricks.
"Mother!" Yuu said in mild embarrassment, redness coloring his fair cheek. "I hope I won't disappoint you, Uncle!" The child said with a bright smile, similar to that of his mother. While some of the embarrassment remained, Tezuka could see determination and confidence in the boy's smile. Yuu immediately reminded him of Fuji, though he was more honest, more open with his feeling than Fuji was. Perhaps that's why Fuji chose him to be his successor.
"You make me feel old!" Fuji said with a laugh, his remaining hostility disappearing before the innocent child.
Tezuka could see that Fuji was fond of Yuu from the way he smiled and laughed genuinely. They acted as if their last meeting wasn't years ago, as if they were always very familiar with each other from the start. Yuu was a friendly boy, making it difficult to not like him. He was even polite to Tezuka, who was clearly of a lower class. Even Yumiko, polite and kind as she might be, still kept her distance from betas and omegas. For the first time, Tezuka felt that he was finally accepted into Fuji's family. But a look at Yumiko made him change his mind once more.
"Well, let's not waste time. You have to be back before dark, don't you?"
Yumiko pushed her son's back encouragingly. "That's right. I won't come with you so you won't be disturbed. Tezuka, would you accompany me in the garden as they study?"
Fuji's smile froze and he threw a worried glance toward Tezuka. The tension returned, now with no mean to relief it. Tezuka couldn't deny that he, too, felt a little scared for his life. He knew that he had no chance against a purebred werewolf such as Yumiko if she chose to harm him. Tezuka turned his attention toward his guest. He sensed no animosity in her countenance, only awkward friendliness buried beneath elegance. He doubted that she meant to finish what she started last year. Yet he had learnt how well she could hide her thoughts.
"Of course." Tezuka replied with a bow. He then followed Yumiko, feeling Fuji's eyes on him and his concern lurking at the edge of his consciousness as he walked out of the door.
At first, they didn't exchange words at all. Yumiko wandered in the garden, occasionally bending down to examine a flower or smell its sweet scent, with Tezuka behind her. She fitted the image of this island very well, Tezuka thought. She looked very beautiful in her colorful dress and surrounded by all the flowers. Perhaps it was a trait shared by her family because Fuji also looked more at ease and beautiful when he was close to nature.
"Do you know that we grew up here?" Yumiko said with her back turned toward Tezuka as she examined a shrub of pink lilac.
"Yes." Tezuka replied, not really understanding the objective of the sudden question.
Yumiko smiled as her mind seemed to wander to the time that had long gone. "We were all born here, in this very house, in fact. My parents were unwilling to leave this place for something as tedious as giving birth." She chuckled and then turned her eyes toward the lake and the distant embankment longingly. "When I was born, my grandfather was the alpha leader of this pack. My father chose to stay away from the mansion where all the political decisions were being made and brought his new bride here. Those were wonderful years, being able to play as much as we want, as hard as we want. Yes, it was a little lonely since there were only the three of us and a butler but all these…" She gestured toward the lake, the garden, and the mountain with a broad smile, the happiest smile Tezuka had ever seen on her. "These made up for what we didn't have. Do you notice how much happier Syuusuke is, here?"
"Aa." Fuji was indeed more open, more comfortable here than when he was in the mansion. In that old building, he was guarded, always concerned about others' opinion. Even when he was in private, he was always worried about the chance of his true feeling and thoughts being discovered. Tezuka had previously assumed that the complete privacy was what brought the change but maybe it was also the effect of memory of the past.
"The year Yuuta was born, my grandfather passed away due to an illness and my father replaced him. He still insisted on living here for a while, but a couple of years later we moved back to the mansion." Yumiko paused to sigh, remembering a not-so-fond memory. "It was boring and stifling there. It still is. We were longing for the freedom we used to have. We hated the rules and courtesy we suddenly had to obey. We wanted nothing more but be allowed to be children and free. But things had changed. We couldn't go back to the way it used to be. Our lives now revolved around responsibilities and expectance. There's no going back to the way it was here. I got married, and Syuusuke was being the perfect heir, and Yuuta…"
Tears rose to Yumiko's eyes as she spoke the name. Tezuka guided her to sit down under a tree and sat down next to her. He placed his hand on hers lightly, not wanting to offend her with the physical contact. He was relieved when Yumiko threw him a little smile and wipe her tears with a silk handkerchief. "Let me get you something to drink." He offered, but Yumiko shook her head.
"No, it's all right. I'm sorry. I should've been able to control myself better. It's been many years since Yuuta's death and I still can't control myself."
"It's all right."
"I should move on. Syuusuke has. But I guess I'm too guilty to do so. Do you know I named Yuu after Yuuta? He was born a couple of months after Yuuta's death. There were so many deaths that year…"
"Yes, the war. I couldn't help them, wasn't allowed to. I was pregnant and father stubbornly refused my husband's offer to send help, saying that he could handle it and that I no longer have to be responsible for them as I have my own family. There was nothing I could do for them. I guess I still feel angry at myself, at my inability to help my family in any way. I guess… that's why I told you to leave Syuusuke. Because I want him to live up to the expectations, to fulfill his duties to his family like I did. My life has revolved around my responsibilities as well and I expected the same from him. I expected him to marry and produce an heir and completely disregarded his feelings. I was a fool. I am a fool." Yumiko then turned to Tezuka and held his hands. Her eyes shimmer with tears as she struggled to remain calm. "Life isn't just about duty. I focused too much on the suffering and took the happiness for granted. Yes, I was fulfilling my duty when I married my husband and gave birth to our children, but I also did them out of love. I've forgotten that in my moment of stupidity, focusing instead on the pain and tediousness. I could only wish I had realized it sooner before I caused you and Syuusuke so much pain." Yumiko chuckled as she remembered something. "He was miserable without you. Others might be fooled by his smiles, but not me. I was shocked, even upset, when he decided to give his position to be with you." Tezuka's heart sank when Yumiko said this, but he smile quickly placated him. "However I also sensed his relief. I know how happy he was when he finally gathered the courage to decide. It's as if he has been set free. Honestly, I've never seen Syuusuke happier. I knew then that I've made a mistake, that I've made the person I love suffer. I couldn't apologize enough to both of you for that."
"It's all right. Neither me or Syuusuke is holding a grudge against you." Tezuka said. While he admitted to fearing the woman, he didn't hate her for she had done. He doubted that Fuji could ever hate her, either. Yumiko had indeed done terrible thing toward them, but it was born out of misconception and goodwill. They couldn't blame her for that.
Yumiko smiled and stood up. She closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them again, Tezuka could see that she was back to the composed woman he knew of. "I have once disagreed with Syuusuke's love for you, but now I can see why. I know it's not enough after all the pain I caused you, but I offer you my deepest apology, Tezuka, and I hope one day you'll find it in your heart to accept me as a sister, as I have accepted you as my brother." After she said that, Yumiko bowed deeply toward Tezuka. When she straightened her back again, Tezuka could see what he thought he would never see again. He finally found his place in a new family.
That night, like many nights before, Tezuka found Fuji outside the house, gazing into the darkness across the body of water. It was quiet there, few tiny lights in the distance being the only evidence of life outside this little floating world of theirs. Tezuka wondered what Fuji could be thinking now. Yumiko had assured him that he was now accepted as Fuji's partner. Tezuka also fully believed in the sincerity of Fuji's love for him. But he also knew that Fuji was a responsible leader. Yumiko's retelling of their childhood reminded Tezuka that there are times when responsibility took precedence over feelings. He was aware of the possibility of Fuji wanting to return to the mansion to better perform his leadership.
"Come here." Fuji suddenly said, though Tezuka had made sure not to make any noise as he approached his partner. Fuji turned to him with a knowing smile, holding out a hand for Tezuka to hold. Tezuka couldn't overlook the tiny scars on Fuji's exposed arm, the remnants of the bloody battle. Fuji's body was no longer unblemished, although to Tezuka it wasn't any less perfect than before. The scars served as reminders of how close Fuji had come to death, how close they had come to eternal separation.
Tezuka accepted the request and sat next to Fuji on the cool grass. Fuji's hand felt warm and assuring in his grip, but Tezuka was a little nervous. Yumiko's arrival had brought up the issue they hadn't addressed yet, an important issue they forgot in their blissful togetherness. Tezuka sat stiffly, unsure how to put the thoughts in his mind into words.
"Yuu still has much to learn. But I believe under his mother's supervision, he will make a good leader. He's also been well-known among our friends, I think he will make a smooth transition into a leader when he's an adult. I plan to formally announce him as the new alpha leader once he turned seventeen." Fuji said with a smile, though there was seriousness in his eyes and voice as he spoke. "In the meantime, Oishi does a very good job at the mansion. He's still adjusting to the massive workload, but I think soon he will only ask for my approval for the most important decision-makings."
Tezuka frowned, though he was relieved that Fuji wasn't contemplating on leaving him. "Did you read my mind?"
Fuji gave him a mock-surprised look and answered. "What? Can't I understand my partner's thought process well?"
Fighting down a blush, Tezuka looked into the darkness again. He did shift a little closer to Fuji, seeking body heat and contact from his beloved. It would never be enough. He knew he would forever wonder if he was good enough for Fuji, if he had driven Fuji to make the wrong decision after all. Human could fall out of love. Could that happen to werewolves, too? Mentally bracing himself for pain, Tezuka asked the question that had plagued his mind since Fuji came. "Will you regret this?" Tezuka asked quietly. "Will you regret choosing me over your leadership?"
Fuji gave him an unreadable look, then somehow managed to pin him down. He sat on top of Tezuka, holding Tezuka's wrists to the ground in a gentle but strong grip. "Should I brainwash you to make you believe my choice?" He said, sounding a little exasperated yet amused at the same time. "I will never, ever regret choosing you, Kunimitsu. I love you. I've loved you since the first day we met. I will always love you until they day I die. Won't you believe me?"
Tezuka looked at the man on top of him, the affection shining in his eyes brighter than the stars above them. He felt stupid and a little guilty for not trusting Fuji. It would take a while before he'd fully believe that there was nothing to regret but Fuji had taught him to live for the moment, to cherish what he had in the present. Tezuka closed his eyes and smiled, love bursting in his chest. He pulled his hands away from Fuji's relenting grip and pulled Fuji down for a tender kiss.
They whispered vow of love over and over again, but it would never go old, it would never lose its meaning. Tezuka kissed Fuji's forehead and held him close. He was basking in contentment in the arms of his beloved, where there's no one to judge, where all that mattered were happiness and love, where he could confidently say that he had found what he always yearned for: a home, a sanctuary, a haven only for him and Fuji.
A/N: And… that's it! Not sure when I'm gonna do another TeFu. I have a half written multichapter but I don't really like it (yet). It's an AU but I still have to develop the setting *was too focused on the yaoi*. Anyway, let me know what you think of this fic! ^^ I'm actually writing an ori fic based on this setting because there are so many things I want to include here but couldn't. As usual, though, I got a major case of writer's block… Please pardon the fail that is me and review! ^^ Link to the song The Garden of Everything by Steve Conte and Maaya Sakamoto can be found at my LJ.