Title: You are Not a Unique Snowflake
Summary: "I think winter is my favourite season," Fuji says.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I wish.
A/N: So, it probably won't be what you're expecting, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless!
"I think winter is my favourite season," Fuji says, watching the snow settle on the ground.
"You said that when the leaves started falling, too."
Fuji turns away from the window, but not before wiping away the cloudy smear representing his breath.
"I also said it when the heat of the sun hit its peak, and months before that when the flowers started blossoming on the trees."
"So you don't have a favourite." Tezuka is not heavily invested in the conversation, and is more than happy to end it on that simple conclusion.
"You're wrong, Tezuka; they're all my favourite."
Fuji always has to have the last word.
"Why don't you ever go camping in the winter, Tezuka?"
Though his fingers are gloved and they are still inside the building, Fuji can feel a chill in his fingertips. He throws open the window and lets out a shuddering breath to see the way it meets the cold air, to watch and predict what shape it will take.
Fuji glances round, cocks his head. Tezuka is a person of so few words, misunderstanding them is easy.
"My mouth?" He asks. "My question was offensive?"
His lips twitch but he refuses to break the usual smile for a more genuine one; Tezuka knows the difference. He watches as Tezuka rises from his seat and moves to close the window himself.
"It's far too cold for that," he says.
"It's far too simple an explanation," Fuji says, kicks at the snow beneath his feet and stuffs his hands deeper into his pockets. The snow has sent the bus times all off course.
"I go camping for enjoyment," Tezuka says, tosses his head to encourage the snowflakes out of his hair. "Shivering in the cold is not enjoyable."
"I'd be surprised if you'd notice," Fuji says lightly. There is this gift he has, of saying cutting things in a truly naive manner. It is why so many people he dislikes will still smile in his direction as they pass one another in the halls. He sugar-coats, but insists people will only hear what they wish to hear.
I think you're just afraid, is what Tezuka hears.
It isn't about what they pretend it's about. But then, nothing ever is.
Fuji can't get a good enough grip on his schoolbag with the camping backpack spanning a width larger than his own shoulders, and so he neglects to bring it to school. No teacher will accept his excuse as valid, but luckily none of them will notice his lack of books or equipment in order to ask.
In class he is nothing more than a name on the register, and a body taking up a seat.
He shuffles through the halls, apologizing to each person who is hit by the sleeping roll, or who experiences a dig in the side from the flashlight packed inside his bag. He is already late for practice. Of course, this is not a premeditated plan. Nor is it to be considered a good enough reason to just skip practice altogether.
"Fuji," Tezuka says, and if the backpack hadn't been so bulky it was obscuring Fuji's figure, Tezuka still probably would not have reached out after him to stop him physically.
"Tezuka?" Fuji asks, turning so fast he feels like he might topple over, but giving onlookers the impression of an ice skater, from a distance.
"You aren't skipping practice."
"Why would you think that I was?"
Tezuka just stares him down dead, eyes not even lifting the extra few inches from Fuji's eyes to the top of the backpack in indication.
"I think that would be too obvious," Fuji says, dismissing the idea with his hands. "That doesn't sound like me at all."
"We aren't practising outside, Tezuka?" Fuji asks as the others warm up and hit each other lazy rallies. His eyes slide towards the windows, floor to ceiling high.
Tezuka's gaze follows.
"You can, if you wish to," he says simply.
The laps for being late remain unspoken.
Fuji wears the backpack for a solid week, acts no differently than usual, and smiles brighter than before at those he accidentally walks into in the halls, though even Inui cannot say for sure if it is an apologetic smile, or an amused one.
One day, Fuji does not turn up to school.
"One of the teachers noticed he didn't have his text book yesterday," Kikumaru says, wrinkling his nose up as he thinks. "But he didn't get into trouble or anything."
What is important to Kikumaru has no bearing on what is important to Fuji. Any seemingly insignificant event can act as stimulus.
Tezuka pinches the bridge of his nose so that he will not sigh.
Fuji's knees knock together. His feet are underneath half a foot of snow, well out of sight. He thinks back to when he was hiking and wishing steadfastly that he would find a decent spot to set up camp and be able to stop, and now he wishes he hadn't given in so soon and was still moving around amidst the cold.
The snowflakes settle around him and stick to every fibre and every hair they can, as though to keep him company. Some company. Each one an icy kiss that ripples through him as though reprimanding him for skipping out on practice, on school, on everything.
This is a test.
Fuji knows he will have to remove his gloves, his scarf, possibly a layer of wet and clammy clothing in order for the fire to have any effect once it has come into full force.
He decides it's worth the risk.
The lake nearby looks frozen over but it is easy to see that the slightest pressing of weight onto the surface will shatter the ice. Fuji pictures tentative winged insects touching tiny feet to the surface and creating utter chaos that ripples outward, beyond the creature's ability to comprehend.
Fuji hugs his legs and pulls tighter into himself.
He thinks that if he can remember how to put together the rod, he can crush a corner of the ice, stamp it out with his foot, and go fishing. But it isn't necessary; there is food in his backpack.
He can't feel his nose. He can't tell exactly what it felt like before, but now that it has gone numb in the cold he definitely knows he cannot feel it.
He can't feel his feet. He can't feel his elbows, or the tips of his ears.
Fuji imagines this is what a snowman would feel like. Then he amends his thought and decides that if he were to become a snowman encased in snow, the thick, solid layer would quite possibly keep him warmer than he is now.
He then tries to decide where on the scale Tezuka sits.
Tezuka now sits next to him, literally.
For a moment, Fuji thinks he is having hallucinations. Surely intense cold is a way to trick your mind into hallucinating.
"You will go to extremes to make your point," Tezuka says.
And, "I hope I lived up to expectations."
And, "Are you scared now?"
Fuji's lips are so cold he cannot form a reply. Though it isn't like this matters because it had never been his reply that they were both waiting on.