Title: Cognitive Dissonance
Summary: Who knew that thinking up a return gift for White Day would be this stressful? Tezuka certainly didn't.
Warnings: Sexual references. Possibly lame attempts at humour. Otherwise, that's about it.
Disclaimer: Don't own it, wish I did. *sighs*
A/N: [Thanks to my beta, S <3.] This has to be just about the longest fic I've ever written in my entire life, lol. BUT ANYWAY. I tried to incorporate all of your kinks and prompts into this, and I really hope I didn't fail too much at it -_-''. It was a lot of fun for me to write it, and I truly hope that you'll enjoy it, even if only a bit!
"While we did mention it in passing as a joke," Fuji’s drawl came as soon as Tezuka opened his front door, "we didn’t think you’d actually skip school on Valentine’s Day, Tezuka."
There wasn’t really much he could say to that. Instead, he settled for glaring at the tensai with as much dignity as a flu-ridden patient could muster—which wasn’t a lot, considering his current stuffed-up state.
"Come in," he said stiffly, stepping to the side. Fuji chuckled as he complied, carefully making his way in without damaging the bags he held in his hands. It was only after he set them down that Tezuka realized he had been carrying six gift bags, and that most of them were filled to the brim with red boxes and white wrapping paper.
Closing the door, he stepped back, watching as the other boy finished unlacing his shoes and stepped out of them, placing them to the side. While he didn't mind the fact that Fuji had just shown up at his house unannounced – this was something he had started doing near the end of their second year of middle school, and Tezuka had almost come to expect these twice-a-week visits from him - he couldn't help but suspect that something was terribly amiss. If only he could place his finger on what it was...
On impulse, the taller boy spun on his heel and headed for the kitchen, the closest room that he knew would have a clock. A frown found its way onto his face as Tezuka noted the time, one that deepened as he slowly made his way to his room; that was the place the tensai would always make a beeline for whenever he dropped by his house. If Fuji was here…that meant...
"Aren't you supposed to be in practice?" Tezuka's voice was dripping with disapproval as he entered his room.
Fuji looked up at him from his perch on the taller boy's bed and tilted his head, the bags he had been carrying by his feet. "Practice?" His voice was deceptively innocent. "Practice was cancelled today when our Buchou himself didn't turn up."
He put a hand to his forehead, feeling the beginnings of a headache. "Whose idea was it, exactly?"
Fuji smiled at him. "Mine. I told them to take the day off and spend the rest of it however they wanted to."
He mentally groaned. He should've known. "And no one commented?"
"Not really, since I said that you told me to pass on that message."
"I never said that," His voice was tart.
Fuji just continued smiling beatifically at him. "But no one complained."
Tezuka wasn't sure whether to strangle the boy or just glower at him. In the end, he opted for the latter; the former took too much effort, and he was already tired. And his back ached. And his head hurt. When he returned, he was going to make them run laps. Many, many laps. And the boy sitting in front of him, who had used his name in vain? Tezuka was going to make him run twice what the others would.
"What’s with the bags?" he asked, switching the subject after making a mental note to reprimand the team for even listening to the tensai. Fuji chuckled, and reached down to fiddle with the gift bags.
"It is Valentine’s Day, Tezuka." When he straightened, he was holding two bags, one in each hand. Both bags were filled to the brim with – Tezuka could see now – boxes of various shapes and sizes and colours, all of which no doubt contained chocolate. He leaned forward and handed them to the taller boy, who absently took them. "These are yours."
There was a pause as Tezuka stared at the contents of the bags. This year's batch was considerably larger than last year's. "That's…a lot of chocolate." He finally said.
"It is," Fuji agreed, shifting slightly on the bed. "But it's not as much as what I got."
Tezuka blinked, and shifted his gaze to the remaining four bags. Three of them were the same size as the two he held in his grasp, while the last one looked about half the size of the rest. He felt a stab of annoyance shoot through him the moment he realized that four was more than two, and that he had indeed gotten less chocolate than his team-mate. Immediately after, he mentally smacked himself. Fuji was a guy, and a pretty one at that – it was only natural that he would also receive chocolates.
Then he mentally whacked himself again. He did not just think of Fuji as pretty. Never mind that that statement was the truth, and never mind that more than half the female population at Seigaku shared the same sentiment – he had no right to think like that. It wasn't as if he li –
"Tezuka?" He nearly jumped when Fuji's voice sounded, breaking into his thoughts and scattering them. "Are you okay?"
"Ah?" He fought to regain his composure as he glanced at Fuji, who was now standing in front of him with his hands behind his back. The tensai looked slightly concerned. "Sorry. Did you…?"
An eyebrow went up. "I was just saying that I have to leave early today, so I won't be able to stay for dinner."
"Oh." A part of him was inexplicably disappointed at this revelation; it would be the first time Fuji left without eating dinner with his family since the first time he showed up at his house unannounced. "Kaa-san will be disappointed."
Fuji looked rueful. "Give her my apologies. Nee-san's going to be late home from work, so I'll have to cook tonight."
Tezuka nodded, even as an image of Fuji in a flowery blue apron winking suggestively at him popped unwarranted into his mind. "I will." His cheeks warmed, even as he mentally kicked himself, and hastily bent down to place his bags by his feet.
"All right." Fuji nodded his thanks, oblivious to Tezuka's inner mind theatre. "And…" His hesitation made Tezuka look up. "One more thing."
With that, he took deep breath, smiled at him, and pulled his hands from behind his back, thrusting them out at the taller boy, who involuntarily took a step back, blinking as he tried to see what Fuji held.
He blinked again as he recognized the smaller bag in his hand, the one which had been sitting amongst Fuji's bags of sweets. Compared to the two bags he had received only moments ago, this one was considerably more…elegant than the rest. It was a simple red bag with a white ribbon looped around the handles, tied into a bow and holding the bag shut so that the contents were not viewable unless the ribbon were first removed.
"I know that those are yours, from your admirers," Fuji said, pointing at the bags lying against his feet, looking dangerously close to tipping over. "Well…this is mine."
Tezuka was quiet. "I don't want your chocolates."
The expression on Fuji's face was one of disbelief as his eyes found Tezuka's, and his throat went dry the moment he saw the look in them.
"You…don't." It was more a statement than a question, and Tezuka abruptly felt as if he had done something very, very terrible. He couldn't understand why, but he felt the sudden need to explain himself to the tensai.
"No. I have enough here," He nudged the two bags by his feet. One of them fell over, spilling its contents on the ground. He knelt to pick them up before straightening again. "Besides, I'm sure someone gave that to you."
A confused look crossed his face, one laced with some other emotion that Tezuka could not decipher. "What?"
"That is to say," he tried again, "that some girl gave them to you with the hopes that you'll eat them, not give them away to someone else. So if I were to take them, it…wouldn't be right."
A very brief silence. Then, Fuji’s eyes closed, and his face relaxed into a smile.
"That’s not what I meant," he said, pressing the bag into Tezuka’s hands. "I meant that this is from me. I got them for you. They’re not from anyone else. Why would I give you the chocolates others gave me anyway? I happen to like chocolate."
A faint roaring sounded in his ears before Fuji finished. "You – this – me?" He forced out incoherently, his stomach feeling strangely...quivery. Maybe he needed medicine for it. It had been several hours since he last took the medicine the doctor had prescribed him anyway. Although this was the first time his stomach felt this…bizarre. He wondered why.
"Yes." Fuji’s smile widened, even as he gathered his belongings together. "Happy Valentine's Day, Tezuka. Get well soon, neh?"
He didn't know what to say. He didn't know why he didn't know what to say. Maybe it had to do with the fact that this was the first time he had ever received chocolates from a guy – well, wait; that wasn't true, if one counted that one boy back in their second year. He vaguely remembered something about the guy transferring out, and if he recalled correctly it was sometime after Fuji found out that he had been harassing Tezuka…
Whatever it was, it was the first time Fuji had ever given him something on Valentine's Day and…well…what was he supposed to do? And why was his heart pounding so violently? He probably needed to sit down. Maybe it was his illness, wreaking havoc with first his stomach, then his heart.
He watched dumbly as Fuji stood and made his way towards to door, watched as he paused in the doorway. Without turning around, he said, "I'll be seeing you tomorrow, then."
"Y-yeah," he said, forcing out the word over his tongue. "And – ah, thanks fo –"
Fuji turned his face enough so that Tezuka could see his profile. A mischievous smile played on his face. "No need; I'll just be expecting something in return in a month's time."
With a cheerful parting wave, he left, and several seconds later Tezuka heard the sound of his front door shutting with a barely audible click.
A thump, and the tall boy suddenly found himself on the floor, his hands still holding the gift bag. His eye twitched. That was why he gave him a Valentine's Day gift? Because he wanted something in return on White Day?
He exhaled noiselessly, rising to his feet. A third of him was annoyed at this revelation. Another third was strangely disappointed. And the last…
…Well, what the hell was he going to give to Fuji in a month's time?
That thought never strayed far from his mind in the next few weeks to come, and as the fourteenth of March drew closer and closer, he found himself slowly starting to panic.
It occurred to him one night as he was doing his homework that the following day was the first of March. When it registered that he had about two weeks left before the deadline, he sighed, putting his pencil down and burying his face in his hands. He also couldn't shake off the feeling that he was missing something important about tomorrow as well, but dismissed the thought when his mind drew a blank. He had a more pressing issue at hand, anyway…
The day after Valentine's Day he had recovered enough to return to school, and when he saw Fuji for the first time that day at practice neither of them mentioned a word about the gift. Tezuka found his gaze drawn to Fuji every once in awhile though, to the point that Momoshiro commented a bit too loudly that their Buchou was probably love-struck with the tensai, who also heard it and turned to blow a kiss playfully at Tezuka. That prompted him to assign both Fuji and Momoshiro fifty laps for their cheek during practice, and also reminded him about the lack of practice the day before. Which, of course, meant additional laps for the tensai and fifty laps for everyone else, much to the Regulars' dismay.
Momoshiro's comment bothered him for the rest of the day though, and even now the thought of it troubled him. He, Tezuka Kunimitsu, love-struck? Definitely not. He just needed to return a something to Fuji. And he was running out of time.
He raised his head, his eyes falling on the clock that hung above the desk. As he watched the second hand move, he could not help but let his mind wander to the events of Valentine's Day. He had opened the gift bag after dinner that day, and his eyes had widened at its contents, for Fuji's gift had been a box of imported German chocolates – his absolute favourite type of confectionery. On top of that, the chocolates were extremely rare as well as pricey for a single box. How Fuji had known of them being his favourite, much less found them, he did not know – but he sure as hell didn't know what an appropriate return gift would be.
Desperately, he wracked his brain, letting his mind wander farther. Fuji liked chocolate; he remembered him saying that much. It was no secret as well that he adored cacti and spicy food. He wasn't sure that spicy cactus-shaped chocolate existed though. Or cactus-shaped chocolate. Or spicy chocolate. If anything, he'd have to make them himself – but god forbid he ever step near the stove. The last time he had tried cooking he'd nearly caused a fire, and his mother had banned him from the kitchen as a result.
So that idea was out of the question. But then…what? What should he give Fuji? What would he want? Why was this so hard?
Tezuka sighed again. It would have been so much easier if Fuji were a girl; they were much easier to return gifts to. A ribbon, a box of sweets…something small in exchange for their chocolates.
But the problem lay in the fact that Fuji's gift was anything but small. And that Fuji was anything but a girl.
Immediately, the image of Fuji in a blue dress smiling at him filled his mind, all gentle and proper and girly and pretty –
He let out a little moan. He really needed to stop thinking about such things. Especially about his friend. What would Fuji say if he knew what he was thinking about?
And then he froze as a tightening down there caught his attention. Twitching, he rose and stalked to the bathroom. He wasn't sure why he was thinking about his friend – yes, friend – in a more-than-friendly way, nor why he was reacting to the thoughts in such a…manner, but he was sure that he needed a nice, long, cold shower to get his mind away from such thoughts.
After all, he wasn't love struck, and especially not with Fuji.
Tezuka yawned as he dragged himself to his locker, rubbing his eyes tiredly. Last night's shower had helped somewhat, but his dreams were plagued with scenes of Fuji and for some odd reason, an undressed Fuji. He gave up on sleep after about the fifth time he woke up, and stayed up the rest of the night brainstorming on Fuji's return gift. When he left for school he was no closer to an answer than he had been before he went to bed, and he was starting to wonder if he was even going to be able to return Fuji something.
As he opened his locker and switched shoes, a movement beside him caught his eye, and he turned in time to see a blur slip by the side of the lockers with something in its hand.
Curious, he closed his locker silently, and padded around the side to look – and nearly came face-to-face with a girl standing in front of…Fuji's locker?
Hastily, he ducked back, his heart pounding madly. The girl apparently hadn't seen him, her gaze transfixed on the locker that belonged to the tensai. Tezuka felt a frown tugging at the corners of his mouth. What was she doing there? Why was she at Fuji's locker? What was that package she was carrying in her hands? And what the hell was wrong with him, caring so much about what was in it?
Despite his inner-self berating him for being an utter idiot, he watched her next movements intently, feeling horribly like a voyeur.
He saw her glance furtively around, pulling his head back as she turned her head in his direction, and cautiously looked back in time to see her shut the locker before scampering off in the opposite direction from him. When he was absolutely certain that she was gone and was not coming back anytime soon, he slipped out with every intention to leave to his class…and found himself rooted in front of Fuji's locker.
He really shouldn't be doing this, he admonished himself, as he reached for the handle. Really. It was none of his business what someone put in his friend's locker. It was probably a confession letter – although judging from the size of the package the girl held, that would have to be one huge letter.
But what if it was a bomb, homemade and small and designed to blow up in a person's face the moment the timer ran out? Therefore, he reasoned, he would be doing Fuji a favour by checking whatever it was the girl had just placed in his locker before he came across it. Bombs were dangerous, after all. He could get hurt. Or killed. And that just wouldn't do.
Having sufficiently justified his actions, he took a deep breath, his heart still beating wildly, and reached for the locker again.
He nearly yelped in shock the moment he heard the familiar voice, and he spun, pulling his hand back so fast that he nearly backhanded his own face. His cheeks burned, and he was sure that he looked every bit as red as the hair of the culprit who had just called out his name.
"Eiji," he acknowledged nervously, fervently hoping that the bouncy redhead wouldn't notice his flushed face, or ask him what exactly he was doing in front of Fuji's locker. He wasn't sure how to answer him in the event of the question; somehow, Tezuka didn't think that the it-might-be-a-bomb theory was reason enough.
To his surprise, however, Eiji merely laughed. "Are you here to put something in his locker too?"
Now Tezuka was confused. "Who?"
"Fuji-ko!" Eiji grinned at him. "I wouldn't be surprised if we're not the first to do so."
"Why?" Tezuka was really confused now. "What's the occasion?"
Eiji blinked a few times. "Buchou." He said slowly. "It's the first of March today. If it were a leap year it would have been the twenty-ninth of February."
"I know that. I don't see how it relates to Fuji though, or why I would be giving him something." Something didn’t seem right here. February twenty-ninth...
The redhead stared at him. "Nyah, don't you get presents on your birthday?"
"Well…Yes, but…" he trailed off, Eiji’s statement dawning on him, and half-horrified, he yanked open Fuji's locker. No bombs, no love letters – just little trinkets and wrapped gifts arranged in various free spots around his shoes. Happy Birthday, Fuji! was written on most of the cards attached to the presents.
Now he knew what it was that he simply could not remember last night.
Eiji was speaking again. "…would have taken him to the zoo but I'm going to be busy later this afternoon –"
"Zoo?" he interrupted, his brain in a state of panic. What kind of a friend was he for forgetting Fuji's birthday?
The shorter boy nodded vigorously, scratching his cheek. "Yeah. Fuji's never been there before, apparently. He's been bugging me to go there with him the past few days, but I haven't been able to."
"Haven't been able to what?" A musical voice cut in. Both boys turned to face the smiling face of the tensai, and Tezuka felt guilt swamp him.
"Fuji!" Eiji exclaimed ecstatically, throwing his arms around him. "Happy Birthday!!" He let go of the bemused tensai, and pulled something out from his pocket, handing it to Fuji before continuing rapidly, "I'd love to stay and talk, but I've got to do something before class starts, so I'll see you both later!"
And with a parting grin, the redhead took off running, disappearing around a corner and leaving Tezuka alone with Fuji.
There was a silence as they both stood there, one which became more awkward with each passing second.
"Ah…Happy Birthday, Fuji," Tezuka finally said.
"Thanks." He inclined his head.
Another silence. Fuji opened his mouth to say something the exact moment Tezuka did, and both stopped.
"You first," he gestured.
"No, you." Fuji shook his head.
"Really, no." Tezuka repeated. Fuji rolled his eyes, though the smile never left his face.
"I was going to ask if I could get to my locker, since you're standing in front of it."
"Oh." Tezuka felt his cheeks warming again. "Sorry." He stepped aside, but Fuji didn't move. Instead, he looked at Tezuka.
"Your turn," he said. "What were you about to say?"
"Um." Boy, he was really articulate today. "Happy Birthday."
Fuji arched an eyebrow at him. "You already said that, but thanks, again."
Tezuka gritted his teeth. Only one way to say it. "I…don't have a gift for you."
The shorter boy didn't even bat an eyelash. "Okay." His voice, however, seemed more quiet than usual.
"But…" Tezuka took a deep breath. "I was thinking…we could go to the zoo after school, if you want. Consider it your present instead."
Fuji's eyes flew open, and surprise lay within those blue, blue orbs of his. "The zoo?"
The taller boy nodded. "I heard that you've never been to it before?"
He tilted his head. "Was that what you and Eiji were talking about before I showed up?"
The tensai closed his eyes again, his face looking strangely delighted. "All right. After school today then."
Tezuka nodded, feeling his insides act up again. "I'll meet you here right at three then?" It wasn't the first time he was going to the zoo, but he felt peculiarly excited. Definitely a sign that he should get out more often.
"Sure." Fuji stepped in and reached for his locker handle. "I won't be late."
True to his word, Fuji was by his locker at three pm sharp, and they both set out first to Tezuka's home to drop off their bags, before heading to the zoo.
He really hadn't expected much out of it, but to his surprise, the entire event was a lot more fun than he thought it would be. Fuji was like a little kid, dragging Tezuka first to see the caged animals, then to the petting zoo. They were nearly denied entrance under the reason that they were too old, but the gate attendant had acquiesced after Fuji had laid a hand on her arm and smiled gently at her. Tezuka couldn't help but feel something like annoyance prick him the moment he did that. He was sure it had to do with the lady not believing him when he told her that he was really fifteen, and not twenty.
As it was, he watched from the side as Fuji marvelled at the rabbit he was petting, happiness written all over his face as plain as day. He couldn't help but stare – and not at the rabbit, even though it was the fattest and fluffiest creature he had ever seen.
"Fuji," he suddenly said, his eyes never leaving the shorter boy. "Why have you never been here before?"
Fuji looked up at him from his position beside the rabbit. "I never got the chance to," he replied. "My parents were rarely at home when I was younger, and nee-san never had the time to bring us places. Yuuta also didn't like animals, so he refused to ever accompany me here."
"You could have come here by yourself," he pointed out.
"It's more fun to come here with someone," Fuji countered.
"Oh." Maybe that explained why his first ever trip to the zoo was an unpleasant one. It had been a solo trip, and ever since then he had never stepped a foot inside the zoo. Until now, that was. "Are you enjoying yourself?"
The tensai smiled happily at him, and it was all he could do to keep from flushing idiotically. "Yes."
The two boys continued making their way through the zoo, until they passed by the souvenir store that lay strategically beside the exit gate. His mind still running through possibilities of what he could give Fuji on White Day, he nearly missed the fact that Fuji was no longer walking beside him, and he stopped, turning and backtracking. The shorter boy stood beside the entrance to the store, his eye on the largest stuffed toy Tezuka had ever seen in his life.
"Look at that," Fuji grinned, pointing. "It's cute."
Tezuka gave him a surprised look. "You like plushies?" He would never have thought that of the calm tensai.
The glare Fuji shot him was defensive. "I like cute things in general."
"Including cacti, it seems," Tezuka murmured. Fuji's look became a glare.
"What about my cacti?"
"Er." He hadn't realized that he had spoken aloud until Fuji's retort. "Nothing?"
Fuji narrowed his eyes at him. "At least they're cuter than fish."
"You like fishing, don't you?"
"Well," Tezuka said bewilderedly. "Yes. But it's not like I keep the fish after I catch them."
The look on Fuji's face was one of utter puzzlement. Then it occurred to Tezuka.
"Fuji," he said slowly. "You've never gone fishing before either, have you?"
No response. Instead, a flush slowly crawled up Fuji's cheeks, making him look strangely…cute. Instantly, his inner mind theatre showed him a flushing Fuji, his lips parted in a silent moan, his back arching against him as Tezuka –
What the hell.
He did not just –
Nonononono. It was wrong and not right and not something he should ever entertain about his friend. Ever.
The tightening around his pants argued otherwise though.
"Tezuka?" The sound of Fuji's concerned voice nearly made him jump. "What's wrong?"
Mortification washed through him. If Fuji were to see that he…
Only one thing to do. He needed to get out of here. Fast.
"Cacti," he blurted out. Fuji looked slightly taken aback.
"Um." Tezuka wished he could just bury his face in the ground. "Washroom. I'll be right back."
With that, he fled towards the public restrooms that he remembered passing on the way towards the store. Dashing into a stall and nearly knocking over a young boy who was leaving in the process, he turned the lock and slumped against the door, staring somewhat angrily at the wall.
Where the hell had that come from?
He wasn't attracted to Fuji sexually. He was sure of it. No, if there was anyone he was mildly attracted to it would be that girl in his class who sat several rows in front of him who he had never ever talked to but who, come to think of it, looked like Fuji from the back, what with her hairstyle and all –
He groaned as his thoughts did an about-turn back to Fuji once again. This was really…bad, as was the straining in his pants. Disgustedly, he stared at the wall, wondering how it was that things got so far out of hand.
Oh, right. Fishing. Cacti. Cute things. Souvenir shop.
That thought depressed him further, as it only served to remind him that he still owed Fuji a White Day gift. And that he still hadn't decided on something. Though at least he knew now that Fuji liked cute things…
And that was when the idea hit him full force.
The only problem now was time.
The rest of the evening passed by uneventfully after he calmed down enough to walk out of the restroom in a dignified manner; fortunately for him, Fuji had not asked him why he had fled in the middle of the conversation. After walking the happy tensai back to his place, Tezuka nearly ran back to his own house, his mind awhirl with the idea. Rushing to his room, he closed the door, locking it behind him. He crossed the room in three strides, and, kneeling beside his school bag, began digging through it for the exact thing he was looking for.
When he found it, he pulled it out, flipping his school planner open and counting the days left before White Day. Thirteen days. Mentally, he divided them up. Three days to get the supplies, plan out his present, and learn the basics. That gave him about ten days to actually make the gift – assuming he worked on it and did not get sidetracked by homework or any stray thoughts involving Fuji that he really should never even think about.
Hoping that would be sufficient time for him to get everything done, he sat down in front of his desk. Picking up a pencil, he brought the tip of it to a blank sheet of paper, and began his planning.
It was harder than he thought, he realized frustratedly, staring at the mess in front of him. Who knew? It looked so simple whenever his mother did it.
Sighing, he tossed his handiwork into the waste bin beside his desk before morosely throwing himself onto his bed. Seven days to the fourteenth of March, and this was the second one he had discarded already.
Reluctantly, he dragged himself upright and out of bed, and reached for his materials again. What was that saying – third time's the charm? He hoped it held true, because if not, Fuji wasn't getting anything for White Day.
March fourteenth came way sooner than he expected, and as he sat gazing rather dully at his handiwork, he couldn't help but wince slightly. It…had not turned out quite like he had expected it to, but there was really nothing he could do about it now, not with a few hours left before school. It would just have to do. After all, wasn't it the thought that counted?
And if Fuji didn't like it, then, well…
Firmly, he pushed that thought away, instead glancing at the clock. Less than three hours before he had to get ready for school. That would allow him about two hours of sleep, maximum. At least it was better than none. The damned thing had kept him up all night as he had frantically worked to finish it.
Utterly exhausted, he slumped against his bed, his head falling backwards to rest against the side of his mattress (where Fuji had sat when he had come over precisely one month ago), and fell, thankfully, into a dreamless sleep.
The door to Fuji's classroom stood in front of him, and he faltered with his hand hovering several inches away from the handle. Tezuka wasn't sure why he was hesitating; it was just a simple matter of walking in, handing Fuji his gift, and leaving right after, correct? He had already given return gifts to those who had given him chocolates on Valentine's Day – a simple yellow ribbon and an apology – and Fuji was the last person he had to give a White Day gift to.
The bag the gift was in felt unnaturally heavy in his hands. Maybe this was a bad idea after all. Maybe Fuji hadn't actually meant anything by giving him the expensive chocolates and telling him that he was expecting something in return. Maybe –
"Tezuka," A voice behind him, slightly amused. "I didn't know you found sliding doors that interesting."
His heart skipped a beat and then started pounding furiously, and Tezuka inwardly groaned. This lack of sleep was definitely not healthy for him.
"Fuji," he greeted as evenly as possible, letting his hand fall to the side and turning to face the tensai. Before he could lose his nerves (why was he so nervous all of a sudden anyway?), he shoved the bag he held in his hands at Fuji, catching a surprised look on the tensai's face before he turned his gaze to the side.
"Your White Day gift," he said with some difficulty. "For the chocolates you gave me."
There was a silence that followed his words, but he dared not look at Fuji.
"I…" He heard Fuji take a deep breath before exhaling quickly. "You didn't have to. I was only joking when I said that I wanted a return gift."
His eye twitched. He'd be damned if he didn't make Fuji take it. Not after he spent days slaving over it and getting hurt and making up excuses to fend off his mother as to why he was making it and –
"Just take it," Tezuka gritted his teeth. "I don't care what you do with it after." Okay, so maybe that wasn't anywhere near the truth, but at least he wouldn't have to see it again after today.
Minutes trickled by, and it was at that moment that Tezuka realized that they were the only two people in the hallway. No one else. Which was a very good thing, considering that the situation was getting more awkward by the second. Anyone who walked by and saw the two of them could get the wrong idea. They might think it was a confession scene of some sort.
Although it wasn't true because neither of them were saying anything and he definitely did not like Fuji that way. They were both guys – although Fuji looked more like a girl, but biologically he was definitely a guy, although who was he to make such a claim without actual proof? And the only way to get that proof was if Fuji stood in front of him naked –
He mentally screamed. What the hell was wrong with him?
Tezuka was so caught up in his thoughts that he nearly gasped aloud when Fuji's fingers brushed his back of his hand as he took the bag. His head jerked back, but thankfully, Fuji was gazing at the bag curiously.
"Can I open it?" he asked, lifting his head to stare at Tezuka. His gaze was intent, and Tezuka nearly squirmed.
Not trusting his own voice, he nodded.
Smoothly, Fuji pulled apart the strings that held the bag close, and with one hand reached inside the bag. A funny look passed across his face as he paused, and when he withdrew his hand, he held a white plushie, one that was about seven inches tall and soft and…
"Is this a stuffed cactus?" Fuji's voice was incredulous.
Tezuka cringed. "It's supposed to be, yes."
There was a profound silence. "It…doesn't really look like one," he finally said, squinting his eyes. Tezuka felt slightly insulted.
"I didn't know how to make one," he replied grumpily.
Fuji nearly dropped the toy. "You made this?"
Tezuka twitched, saying nothing.
Fuji kept turning the gift over and over his hands.
"I'm touched," he finally said.
"I'm glad." Tezuka really was.
"And it's white," he continued, his voice oddly delighted.
"As opposed to?" he muttered. Fuji heard him, however, and shifted his gaze to him.
"It's not yellow."
"I wasn't aware that yellow cacti existed." Fuji was the expert in cacti, not him. "But if it bothers you…" He reached for it, then froze as he caught the dangerous gleam in Fuji's now open eyes.
"Don’t even think about taking it back." he warned, his eyes promising death and destruction if he were to continue what he was doing.
Tezuka wasn't the type who got cowed easily, but he decided that backing off was probably a good idea. "Fine." His voice sounded almost petulant. "I hope you like your white cactus."
Fuji's face eased into a smile. "More than you can ever imagine," he assured, his hands curling possessively around the cactus-plushie.
The taller boy nodded. "See you, then."
With that, he turned and walked away, his heart thudding in his throat. For some strange reason, he felt slightly dejected. Was he expecting more of a reaction out of Fuji? Was that why he felt somewhat unhappy?
He stopped at the sound of Fuji's voice.
"Let's go fishing this weekend."
That surprised him, and he turned around. "I thought you didn't know how to fish."
Fuji smiled at him. "You can teach me. I'll repay you."
An eyebrow went up. "No to what? Me paying you? You teaching me?"
Fuji's other eyebrow went up. "Are you afraid I'll catch more fish than you on my first fishing trip ever?" His tone was overly sweet. Oh, he knew a challenge when he heard one.
"No," he retorted. "It's just that I'm going to be busy this weekend."
"Next weekend, then?"
"Sure." And off went his heart rate again. He sighed inwardly. Why?
"Should I bring anything?"
"I'll let you know by the end of this week," he replied.
Fuji nodded, his smile thoughtful, almost as if he were plotting something. "Sounds good. I'll be looking forward to it then."
Fuji wasn't the only one anticipating the trip, for Tezuka could not stop thinking about it. He was excited, having not gone fishing in almost a year, and even more so that Fuji was going to be there.
He was also unexcited about the fact that Fuji was going to be there. With the way his thoughts on the tensai had been turning the past month or so…he was worried how he might react being in such close quarters for the whole weekend.
Actually, he was just worried in general about the way he had been thinking about the tensai in general. The two of them had been close friends for over a year now, and it was only within the last month (since Valentine's Day, actually) that he had been viewing the tensai (or at least, in his mind) as more than a friend. Even his dreams were filled with scenes of Fuji.
He buried his face in his hands resignedly. More than just a friend. Who the hell had thoughts like that about their best friend anyway? And a guy, no less. It was almost as if…as if he was madly in love with him. Love-struck, like Momoshiro had said. But that was all it was, of course. A joke. He did not love him.
Absolutely and definitely not.
He didn't even like him that way.
…Okay, well, maybe a bit, but the odds of Fuji liking him back were –
What the hell.
What the hell.
Tezuka groaned aloud, his hands fisting into his hair. Maybe this whole fishing trip was a bad idea. They were going to be alone. For a weekend. No one else, just the two of them. Fishing. Sleeping in the same tent. Less than several inches apart from each other.
He groaned again, this time long-sufferingly.
Fuji may be Seigaku's resident tensai, but when it came to fishing, Tezuka realized, he was simply no good.
"Maybe they just don't exist in these waters." Fuji said, glaring at the bell that had hung motionless on the rod for the past two hours.
That statement obviously wasn't true, though, not since Tezuka's wire net was already filled with five fish. He decided that saying nothing was probably the best thing for him to do.
Besides, he really didn't trust himself to say anything at the current moment. Not ever since he slowly realized that maybe – just maybe – Fuji was becoming more than a mere friend in his mind.
It was also distracting that Fuji sat barely six inches away from him. Extremely distracting. He just wanted to reach over and –
"You're quieter than usual." His thoughts dispersed the moment Fuji spoke. He floundered to answer the tensai.
"Just thinking," he finally said.
Fuji smiled. "Want to know what I'm thinking about?"
"What it'd be like to kiss someone."
No matter how hard he tried, Tezuka could not block the images that appeared in his mind immediately following that statement.
"That's…nice?" he forced out. Great. Now he couldn't stop thinking about that question. And the images were becoming R-rated very, very quickly.
"Isn't it?" Fuji's voice was extremely sly. Tezuka looked at the tensai, who was watching him very intently, very carefully. "Have you ever kissed someone before?"
Warning bells went off in his head. "No." He wasn't sure why he had just told Fuji that either.
"Good." He smiled. "Me neither."
Then leaned forward and pressed his lips to Tezuka's.
And Tezuka nearly fell into the lake in shock.
Acting purely on instinct, he jerked back, his eyes wide behind his glasses. Fuji merely had a faint smile on his face.
"What the hell are you doing?" he spluttered. He could not believe that Fuji had just – just –
"You're taking too long," Fuji calmly replied. "I thought the chocolates were obvious enough, but I guess I was wrong."
"What?" None of this made sense. His heart was beating ten times faster than usual, and his lips still tingled from where Fuji had kissed him.
The look Fuji shot him was one of pure incredulity. Then, he shook his head and chuckled. "It's not that hard, Tezuka. You can figure it out."
With that, he rose to his feet – but was stopped when Tezuka grabbed his wrist.
"Wait," he fought to clear the haze that was completely surrounding his mind. "Why did you just kiss me?" He had just– that was his– what in the–
"Why did you make me a gift for White Day?" Fuji countered.
"Because you wanted something?" he shot back.
"You could have bought the gift, of even ignored my statement." The tensai gazed at him. "But you didn't."
"That's because you got me something for Valentine's Day."
"And why do you think I would bother with something like that?"
Tezuka opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. His mind reeled. It couldn't–
"Tezuka," Fuji's voice sounded slightly pained, "do I really have to say it?"
And then suddenly, everything clicked. Why he had received chocolate on Valentine's Day. Why Fuji always came to his house and always to his bedroom. Why the boy who had harassed him back in their second year had transferred out inexplicably and seemingly without reason. Why Tezuka always reacted so strongly to thoughts of Fuji. The events were all connected in some way or another. It all had a meaning. It all made sense.
"No," he said slowly, rising to his feet and releasing Fuji. "You don't."
"Good," he said.
"Good," Tezuka echoed.
And then everything exploded all at once.
Tezuka reached for Fuji who reached for Tezuka who caught Fuji's hands and pulled him in, catching the boy off balance so that he fell into his chest, nearly knocking them both over. Annoyed, Fuji opened his mouth to say something scathing, but Tezuka decided that he didn't want to hear it, and instead silenced him effectively as he crashed his lips down on upon Fuji's. A throaty sound escaped the shorter boy as Tezuka's tongue probed the inside of his mouth, and he fought to free his hands, finally managing to get one free. That hand slipped down, finding the belt on Tezuka's pants and tugging insistently on it.
And then suddenly they were both on the ground, kissing and touching and fumbling and stroking and feeling –
Completely forgotten, the bell on Fuji's rod started to ring. Neither boy heard it.
"Fuji-ko!" Eiji came bounding up to where the tensai sat beside Tezuka. "How was your fishing trip this past weekend?"
Fuji shot him a smile. "Pretty good. It was a lot of fun. We caught about the same amount of fish in the end."
A splutter from beside him. "You –"
Eiji grinned at him, giving him the thumbs-up sign. "Good job! Tezuka must have been a really good teacher, if that's the case."
"Ah," Fuji agreed, shooting Tezuka an amused look. "A very good teacher."
Tezuka went very silent at that.
"Anyway," Eiji glanced at his watch, oblivious to the hidden meaning in Fuji's last sentence. "I've got to meet Inui for tutoring in about five minutes. See you after lunch!"
The taller boy shot him an accusatory look the moment Eiji was out of earshot. "I caught more fish than you this weekend."
The tensai patted his face. "So you did. But I caught the biggest fish that was there."
"You caught nothing." Tezuka's voice was dry.
Fuji merely smiled at him, and laced his fingers with Tezuka's.