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(FIC) Small World for The Community by Misterwalnut

For: their_white_day
By: misterwalnut
Title: Small World
Pairing: Power Trio (Tezuka/Fuji/Echizen)
Rating: R (PG-13 for most parts)
Summary: Fuji is attending the same university as Echizen, and Tezuka realizes it's a small world after all. Post-Seigaku.
Warnings: A dreadful mix of humour, mild angst, unrequited sexual tension, and minor OCs.
Disclaimer: It really isn’t mine.
A/N: All the emails are between Fuji (Syuusuke) and Yuuta, and the fic is mostly written in Tezuka’s Perspective, although POV changes are more frequent near the end.

"It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it."
-Steven Wright

---

From: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
To: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
February 10, 2007, 7: 30 p.m.
Subject: Hidenki assigned me a new roommate.

Dear Yuuta-kun,

The next three weeks will prove to be quite interesting, I imagine, with the arrival of my new roommate. Hidenki informed me that he will be arriving sometime around tomorrow, but refused to release any personal information to me. Driven by my relentless curiosity, I decided to sneak a peek at the dorm supervisor's documents earlier this morning. If I had discovered a name other than Tezuka Kunimitsu, I'd probably start counting the days until my new companion files a request for dorm change. However, for the first time since I wiped that smug smirk off Echibrat's face, I think luck is finally back on my side.

If I aimed to win the 'Understatement of the Century' award, then I'll admit that I'm nervous about seeing Tezuka again. I'm afraid I might bombard him with questions the second I lay eyes on him. How many years has it been since he received that scholarship to America? What's he doing here, then? Does he still remember me? Does he still remember that unfailingly-obnoxious brat, Echizen? Will he be any less stern than the last time I saw him? Does his wardrobe still consist of tacky, tasteless clothes? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he gay? Does he realize that I am?

I'm aware of how excited I must sound right now, and even more so of the fact that you're rolling your eyes and begging me to change the subject. Before I conclude this email, though, I'd like to thank you for sending that plate of homemade wasabi sushi. C'est délicieux, Yuuta-kun! It was about time you sent me a care package, and I look forward to tasting more dishes from your personal list of recipes in the future.

Fuji Syuusuke

---

From: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
To: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
February 10, 2007, 11:30 p.m.
Subject: RE: Hidenki assigned me a new roommate.

Dear Annoying Aniki,

Upon reading the word 'roommate', I immediately let out a silent prayer for the newest victim. I can't believe Hidenki-sensei still hasn't gotten the clue yet - didn't he learn anything from those ex-roommates of yours? Maybe, as a deed to save lives, I should pay Hidenki and your new roommate a visit to warn them about Fuji Syuusuke's atrocious living habits (trust me, I've had first-hand experience).

Now, about your new roommate...TEZUKA KUNIMITSU? Oh. My. God. I'm doubling over in a mixture of laughter, disbelief, and worry. I better hear every single detail of every nightmare you inflict upon this poor man. On second thought, I don't really have that much sympathy for him. I remember how depressed you were when he announced that he was leaving for America. You probably thought your mask was convincing enough to fool your friends, but Yumiko and I could see the misery on your face. It was as plain as day.

When you see him, tell him that the second he hurts you (physically, emotionally, or spiritually), I'll make his life a living hell. And if you're thinking about getting into his pants or carrying out whatever sadistic plans you have up your sleeve, please don't. I think the only thing worse than living in your shadow is hearing you rant about your undying love for former high school captains.

Fuji Yuuta

PS. I'm glad you like the sushi, but don't expect me to send more food!

PPS. Is that French?

---

It happened during the evening.

Fuji was in the middle of a particularly relaxing shower when he heard faint knocks on the door. Turning off the water tap, he reached for his towel while mentally scolding himself for losing track of time. He was supposed to meet - or, in this case, had already met - his new roommate, and should've known by now that Tezuka is never late.

Before he could get properly dressed, however, the door swung open and in came Tezuka wearing a solemn expression on his face, which visibly contrasted against Hidenki's cheeky grin. Tezuka shifted his eyes, searching the room for a resident. Upon seeing a man with honey-coloured hair and dull blue eyes, a number of things coursed through his head. Fuji Syuusuke. Fuji Syuusuke from his childhood. Fuji Syuusuke, the Seigaku Prodigy. Fuji Syuusuke, the Seigaku Prodigy sporting nothing but a cream towel around his slim waists.

In a poorly-disguised attempt to cover up the fact that he was staring, Tezuka decided to get the conversation flowing. "Good to see you again, Fuji."

"Same goes for you," Fuji smiled enigmatically, and Tezuka wondered if the latter had changed at all since the last time they conversed.

"You two know each other?" Hidenki asked, his grin widening in relief as he realized this might be the last time he would have to introduce a new roommate to Fuji.

"We attended the same high school together," Tezuka explained.

A look of realization came across Hidenki's face. "Oh!" He exclaimed. "Wait, does that mean you know that Echizen kid too?"

Tezuka blinked, and turned to Fuji. "Echizen's here?" He asked in disbelief.

"Unfortunately, yes. And he's still as bratty as ever," Fuji smirked and rolled his eyes in good humour, but Tezuka saw a flicker of undescribable emotion in his dull eyes.

In that instant, Tezuka realized that Fuji's eyes had been wide-open the entire time he was present, and they weren't emitting auras promising a painful doom. The smile on his face wasn't as plastic as it used to be, either. Fuji seemed genuine. "You've changed," He stated vaguely, although it came out more like a question.

"Three years apart tends to create that illusion," Fuji replied politely, and his smile fading slightly.

Not knowing what else to say, Tezuka simply nodded and turned to Hidenki, silently asking him to leave.

For a man who couldn't figure out the difference between an accident and a 'disaster with Fuji's name written all over it', Hidenki caught on quickly. "Well, I better go," He announced, and smiled at Tezuka. "I live in the dorm at the end of the hall. Just knock if you need anything."

Tezuka gave a curt smile, but frowned when he saw Fuji studying him from the corner of his eye.

"Do you need help with that?" Fuji asked.

Tezuka shot the boy a confused look before acknowledging the presence of his luggage. Oh. "I can handle it," He replied, silently praying that the baggage mass wouldn't prove him wrong. He retreated into the hallway to bring in his bags, appreciating a diversion from all that awkward tension.

Tezuka re-entered the room with a gym bag slung on one shoulder, when a sudden realization hit him in the face.

"Where am I going to sleep?" He asked pointedly, hinting at the only king-sized bed in the room.

"It appears today's your lucky day, Tezuka," Fuji chuckled. "Hidenki won't be arriving with your bed until tomorrow."

"Ah," Tezuka nodded. "We'll be sharing a bed, then."

Fuji cocked an eyebrow, "Should I be worried about a certain hormone-driven sex maniac, ready to ravish his obsession in the middle of the night?"

"No worries," Tezuka replied smoothly. "I highly doubt the chihuahua will come within a 10-mile radius of this room."

A pause.

Fuji smirked, and said, "Are you referring to monkeys in general, or just Echizen?"
Tezuka frowned at the implications. "You're dating Echizen?" An unsettling feeling established at the pit of his stomach, and he waved it off as a simple curiosity.

"No," A scoff, accompanied by an eye roll. "Just the occasional lust-driven sex, that's all."
Tezuka stared at Fuji with what he hoped to be a neutral expression. For some reason, he was feeling strangely irate.

Upon seeing Tezuka's disapproving glare, Fuji chuckled. "It's just sex, Tezuka," He repeated.

"I understand, but-"

"Don't tell me you never had casual sex before," Fuji said exasperatedly, as if not doing so was the most atrocious taboo in the world.

"I prefer to create relationships that actually mean something, instead of sleeping around with random strangers," Tezuka said with more venom than he'd intended.

Fuji closed his eyes, and Tezuka found himself missing the dull intensity of those blue orbs already. "But Echizen isn't a stranger to either of us", Fuji said, his tone detached and impersonal. A brief moment of silence passed between them. "Do you have a girlfriend, then? Someone you plan to marry?"

"My personal life isn't up for discussion," Tezuka replied with the same stern tone he'd used back in his days as team captain, although it seemed strangely unfitting.

Instead of putting on a smiling mask like Tezuka expected him to, Fuji just nodded neutrally, as if an eerie calm had washed over him. He turned on the television, plopped down on the couch, and started watching a game of tennis.

Unsure of whether he should apologize or hold his head high having said the last word, Tezuka flipped open his suitcase and began unpacking. He started with his tennis equipment, which he valued more than anything else in the bag. As soon as he laid his clothes out on the bed, however, a soft gasp interrupted him.

"What in Wasabi's name have you packed to wear?" Fuji asked, smiling as he eyed Tezuka's clothes with disgust. "Before you showed up, I was actually hoping you spent enough time in America to attain some decent taste in clothes."

Tezuka stared at the green T-shirt in his hand defensively. "It isn't that repulsive, I-" Suddenly, he stopped, and looked at Fuji. "Wait a second. Hidenki told you I was going to be your roommate?"

A fleeting look of surprise crossed Fuji's face, and he grinned sheepishly. "Actually, no. I found out for myself."

"Ah," Tezuka replied, curious but too tired to ask. He came to Nanzan University all the way from America, and the jet lag was starting to catch up.

"A little sleepy, aren't we?" Fuji asked, clearly amused.

"Ah," Tezuka answered, feeling his eyelids droop with each passing second.

"Looks like someone never outgrew their eloquent form of speech," Fuji commented smugly.

"Looks like someone's been hanging around Echizen a little too often," Tezuka retorted, feeling a little more alert.

"Which reminds me," Fuji said, changing the topic. "Care for a casual tennis match sometime?"

Tezuka's hazel eyes locked with Fuji's twinkling blue orbs immediately, pleasantly surprised that the former Seigaku prodigy still held onto his childhood hobby. He nodded to accept Fuji's offer.

Fuji smiled casually, and leaned against the bedpost for Tezuka to finish unpacking. "I think I'll go to sleep," He announced, and climbed onto the bed.

"I'll take a shower, then." Tezuka grabbed his towel and his toothbrush, and headed towards the bathroom.

---

Falling petals. Clear sky. Sleeping figure lying on the ground. A warm aura emitted from the figure. The figure stood up. Rain. Thunderstorms. The figure was circling Tezuka in the same fashion a predator circled its prey. Tezuka glared at the figure fiercely, unwilling to back down. Said figure started dancing around Tezuka. It was a beautiful, graceful dance. Tezuka was confused. Where the hell was he?

Sunny skies. Clouds. Birds chirping. The figure sat down in front of Tezuka, and held a tennis ball in its hand.

The figure had blue eyes.


Tezuka woke with a small jolt. It wasn't a nightmare, just a bizarre, detached dream. He tried to recollect the visuals from his dream, but all he could remember was a tennis ball and a figure.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Tezuka tried to fall back to sleep. It was still the middle of the night, if the pitch-dark room was any indication. Suddenly, he felt something stirring beside him. Fuji. Tezuka turned to see what the sudden movement was about, and his eyes widened at the display in front of him.

Fuji was squirming. His eyes were clenched shut, and his soft, honey-brown hair was matted to his forehead. He was pressing into the bed, and he was breathing in small gasps.
It was nightmare, Tezuka diagnosed, but was unsure of whether to wake him up or just offer a comforting hand to squeeze. Then, a loud moan emitted from the squirming figure on the bed.

Tezuka blinked. It wasn't a nightmare.

He tried to look away, knowing it was a private moment and not his to watch, but his eyes were locked on Fuji's pale, rosy cheeks, and his soft, slightly-cracked lips that were forming small 'o's. Clenching his eyes shut, Tezuka gritted his teeth and willed himself not to get hard. He flipped to the side so his back was facing Fuji, and covered his ear with a pillow to try and muffle out the sound of Fuji's gasps. Suddenly, fragments of his conversation with Fuji that evening came back to him, and he remembered Fuji's comment about Echizen. Tezuka stared down at his hands, which had involuntarily clenched into fists.

"Nngh..." A moan came from the other side.

Tezuka sat up immediately, crawled to where Fuji lay on the bed, and started shaking the sleeping boy. "Wake up," He said a little too urgently. "Fuji, wake up!"

With a start, Fuji's eyes snapped open. Tezuka knew it was terribly cliché, but he felt as if the whole room suddenly lit up in that instant. Fuji was looking at him with glazed, post-coital eyes, and Tezuka just stared, unable to shift his eyes away.

Then, the illusion was broken. Fuji snapped back to reality, and Tezuka found himself slightly disappointed. Fuji scrambled out of the bed, taking his sheets with him, and rushed into the bathroom. Tezuka slid to the side of his bed, and plucked his glasses off the end table.

"Fuji," Tezuka called out, a little worried as to what Fuji might be doing. There was no answer. He pressed his ear to the door, and heard muted gasps from inside the bathroom. Still up for round two with Echizen? He thought in annoyance. But he couldn't pull his ear away from the door, and instinctively, slid his hand down his own boxers to relieve himself.

He thought about tennis, about winning matches, about defeating Atobe, about Seigaku, and a number of other things. His mind briefly wandered to Nina, a girl he had met in Germany, but decided there were more negative memories concerning her than sexual ones. He heard another gasp from inside the bathroom, and let out a small gasp himself. He imagined what would happen if he pushed open the door, and saw Fuji on the floor, fucking himself with those lithe fingers.

In that instant, he came.

---

The aftermath wasn't exceedingly embarrassing, or humiliating, or anything Tezuka had expected. Apparently, they had both silently agreed to disregard everything that happened. He had heard Fuji announce from inside the washroom that he was just going to shower. Tezuka replied with a curt "Okay," and stole a quick glance at the digital clock on his bedside. 5:50 a.m., it read.

Tezuka felt too uncomfortable in his sticky shorts to lie down and go back to sleep, so he decided to watch some tennis while Fuji occupied the shower. He had felt more tension the previous evening with Fuji than he had in a long time, and the sudden change wasn't boding well for him. As expected, a game of tennis was just the thing to cheer him up.
A few minutes later, Fuji emerged from the shower wearing nothing but a towel, and Tezuka resolutely told himself not to look, lest he got hard again.

He was about to retrieve some clothes from his suitcase, when Fuji stopped him. "I can't allow you to wear that," He stated firmly, and gestured towards the closet. "Pick out something from my wardrobe. I'm sure I have something in your size."

Tezuka nodded, but grabbed a pair of boxers from his suitcase anyway. He sorted through Fuji's closet - which he reluctantly admitted was quite stylish - and selected a white T-shirt and a pair of faded jeans. He saw Fuji nodding approvingly out of the corner of his eye, and felt a little pleased despite himself.

Carrying his clothes into the washroom, he gave Fuji a nod. "I won't be long," Tezuka assured, and closed the door.

---

From: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
To: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
February 11, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Subject: Tezuka wears GAP.

Dear Yuuta-kun,

I officially met my new roommate last night, and - despite how theatrical this sounds - it was quite the meeting. Fortunately, I hadn't unleashed an endless string of questions like I'd feared, but the tension was definitely thick enough to be sliced. He's even more gorgeous and well-built than I remember, although his choice of clothing - like I predicted - is truly atrocious.

We had a witty banter about my sex life, but he blew a fuse when I mentioned my little arrangement with Echizen. Honestly, hasn't anyone heard of 'acquaintances with benefits'? He then proceeded to shun my existence as he unpacked his bags. I kept my mouth shut for the most part, but when he laid that hideous green shirt on the bed - for Wasabi's sake, I couldn't ignore it - I had to let him know wearing that thing in public was the equivalent of committing social suicide.

Anyway, the rest of the evening was pretty uneventful. We conversed, and went to sleep. Platonically. (To some extent.)

I dreamt of Tezuka's hands, and my body decided it would be a good idea to start jerking off in the middle of the night. Apparently I woke Tezuka up, and he was quite frantic when he shook me back to reality. After that, it was all a blur - me rushing into the washroom to finish what I had started, and for some reason, I think Tezuka was leaning against the door to listen.

We're going to play a casual tennis match this afternoon, and I'm having trouble deciding whether to play hard or disappoint him. In any case, I look forward to sharing the details of my love life with you, Yuuta-kun. Maybe I should scribbe "Mr. Tezuka Syuusuke" on a note, draw hearts around it, spray it with some perfume and send it to you via snail-mail.

Fuji Syuusuke

---

From: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
To: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
February 11, 2007, 11:00 a.m.
Subject: RE: Tezuka Wears GAP.

Dear Sadistic Syuusuke,

...I have no words.

Fuji Yuuta

---

"Rise and shine, Tezuka!" A voice announced cheerfully as a sudden stream of sunlight shone onto Tezuka's face. He squinted his eyes to see Fuji opening the blinds.

Groaning, he fell back onto the bed and pulled the covers over his face. God, he just wanted to sleep right now.

"Tezuka, it's eleven thirty."

"Ah."

"Tezuka, you skipped classes this morning."

"I don't have any."

"Te-zu-ka," Fuji growled.

"Sure am," He replied sleepily.

"Tezuka, as much I love seeing you hide beneath the covers to engage in voluptuous activities, I-"

"All right," Tezuka moaned. "I'm up."

Fuji smirked, and sat at the end of the bed. "How was your nap?"

"Nonexistent," Came the drowsy reply.

"Hmm. I suppose I should apologize for keeping you up all night," Fuji murmured.

Tezuka turned his head and saw Fuji smiling lazily at him. He had an affectionate look in his eyes, and Tezuka felt a faint blush creep up his neck. "That's not necessary," He assured, and reached for his glasses. "Wait," He began. "Where's Hidenki with my bed?"

"Oh," Fuji's grin widened visibly, and his dull eyes were shining with mirth. Definitely not a good sign, Tezuka thought weakly. "When I asked for it this morning, he told me there was already another futon bed stocked in the back of the closet."

Tezuka seriously hoped he wasn't gaping at Fuji incredulously. However, judging by the look on Fuji's face that indicated he was likely to burst out laughing any given minute, Tezuka very, very highly doubted it.

---

From: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
To: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
February 11, 2007, 11:35 a.m.
Subject: There IS such a thing as too much information.

Dear Bothersome Brother,

Never mind, I take it back. I do have some words. To begin with, congratulations for not jumping him and/or bombarding him with questions the second you saw him. That must've taken quite a bit of self-restraint. It's a shame to hear about his choices in clothing, although I predict he'll become just as gay as you are within a week or so.

It's been three years since you saw him. I don't know what's more disturbing, the fact that you started it off with a discussion about your sex life or the fact that it involves Echizen. I am blissfully ignorant of who or what you have sex with, and hope to remain so.

Fuji Yuuta

PS. Play a serious match with him. I have a list of people who still hold grudges against you for mocking them on-and-off the courts.

PPS. Wonderful. Now I have to change my address.

---

Nanzan University was a beautiful, clean environment to study in. Tezuka had almost no difficulties adjusting to living there. What he did have problems getting used to, however, was the way females would look at him. It was only Lunchtime, and he already had the privilege of rejecting five date requests, along with two offers to give him a tour of the academy.

It was strange, though, because although the girls also lusted after Fuji, it was more of an admiration of sorts; the males seemed to handle open affections in Fuji's case - leering, movie requests, random bouts of worship, etc, etc.

He received a lot of attention in America as well, but that was due to respect. Here in Nanzan, everyone just seemed...lust-driven. Tezuka glanced around the cafeteria, and tried to reserve his judgement for his peers until he got used to the place.

"Oi, Fuji-senpai! Who's that latching onto your arm?"

The voice was familiar, and Tezuka whipped his head around to see who had addressed his companion, although he already had a faint idea.

"B-Buchou?" Echizen stopped in his stroll, blinked once, twice, and another time for good measure.

"Nice to see you again, Echizen," Tezuka said professionally. His voice was firm, steady, and one that was expected of a former captain. Perfect, he thought with relief. I can still pull this off.

"You too," Echizen replied, and an expression all-too-familiar etched on his face.

Ah, the trademark Echizen smirk, Tezuka regarded with amusement. Fuji was right; he hadn't changed one bit.

"Well, I suppose I should introduce you two," Fuji smiled playfully. "Echibrat, Tezuka. Tezuka, Echibrat."

Echizen rolled his eyes. "And let's not forget the idiot squid who hasn't grown one inch since Seigaku," He smirked.

"If I recall correctly, I wasn't the one who was asked to get off the rollercoaster due to my height," Fuji winked, clearly making a jab at Echizen's disappointing growth spurt (which earned him a glare from said boy).

Tezuka found himself amused, irritated, and confused at the same time. Since when had Fuji and Echizen developed this...fond connection? He felt like he was back at Seigaku again, around the time when he had returned from Germany. It was like walking into the middle of a life that didn't belong to him.

"When are we going to have the match, Fuji?" Tezuka asked, trying to replace this uncharacteristic melancholy with something to look forward to.

"Buchou, you still play?" Echizen asked. Tezuka nodded, and suddenly realized that he wanted to test his skills against Echizen as well.

"The courts are empty," Fuji observed, and turned to Tezuka with a smile. "Would you like to have a go at it now?"

Tezuka smiled slightly. "Bring it on," He challenged gamely, hoping Fuji would play seriously.

---

After going back the dorm to pick up his tennis equipment, Tezuka was on opposite sides of the court with Fuji. Echizen was keeping score.

"I have to warn you beforehand," Echizen called out to Tezuka before they started the match. "He's improved since our Seigaku days."

Tezuka nodded his thanks, even though he didn't care in the slightest. He was so close to having his match with Fuji, he almost salivated at the thought.

"Your serve, Tezuka," Echizen called from the sides.

Gripping his racquet, Tezuka threw the ball in the air and served.

---

From: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
To: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
February 11, 2007, 5:30 p.m.
Subject: (none)

Dear Yuuta,

I'm vaguely aware of the fact that I screwed up yet again - no surprise there, I know. I think my stomach twists into a ball of disappointment every time I replay Tezuka's disapproving glare in my head. Wait, no; never mind. I think I'm just blowing this out of proportion. Never mind, Yuuta. Don't worry.

Anyway, you're probably wondering what happened. DON'T WORRY - it's nothing overly devastating that I can't handle. Basically, Tezuka met Echizen, and we had our tennis match. It was going pretty well at first. Then I started playing half-assed, and it spiraled downhill from there.

Most of the audience thought my loss was genuine and gained a heap of respect for Tezuka, but he was - for lack of a better word - infinitely pissed at what I did. Either he wants to earn the respect of our peers the "honourable" way, or I've disappointed him. It's fine, though. Don't worry about it.

Fuji Syuusuke

---

From: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
To: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
February 11, 2007, 6:30 p.m.
Subject: RE: (none)

Dear Schmalzy Syuusuke (I ran out of adjectives, don't ask),

OKAY. I know something's wrong when you forget to add the "-kun" suffix to my name. You know how much it pains Yumiko and I to watch you shrivel up in a flaming ball of misery, even if you are completely annoying most of the time.

God, every time you say "Don't Worry", I cringe and worry a little more. To be honest, I would be a bit disappointed too if someone does that to me during a match, but Tezuka's being a bastard for blaming you. Please don't - just...um. Don't be upset, okay? You can take it out on Echibrat if you want. Play a set with him and beat him to a pulp! Wait, no, retarded idea. Never mind. You're a good person, Syuusuke, and the best brother anyone could ask for. I know what I put you through during middle school, and...I want you to know that I really do love you.

OHGODS. Now you've managed to convert me to becoming a first-class Syuusuke-Worshipper. Lovely development. I don't think I'll ever be able to show my face in public again.

Fuji Yuuta

PS. We're sending over some wasabi sushi and a pack of non-spicy ones as well.

---

Tezuka was lounging on the couch, watching a cooking show - for once, tennis did little to calm his nerves - when somebody suddenly knocked on the door.

"Buchou, it's me," Echizen called from outside. Tezuka raised his head, and switched off the television. He opened the door and let Echizen in.

"Yes?" Tezuka asked, studying him. Echizen was still short, but there was something in his bold, catlike eyes which held maturity beyond his years. Or maybe my mind's just becoming utterly convulted, He thought bitterly. No thanks to Fuji Syuusuke.

Echizen shrugged, "Just wondering if you wanted to talk."

"I don't," Tezuka grunted, and shot Echizen an apologetic look.

"Che," Echizen scoffed carelessly. "Look, I know tennis isn't exactly the first thing on your mind right now, but I'd like to play a match with you. Sometime. If that's okay."

Tezuka was silent. Echizen was staring at him with the determined intensity Fuji had always lacked. Echizen wasn't going to play half-assed against him. He had always sought after impulse, because impulse represented honesty; not enigmatic complexities.

Nodding slowly, Tezuka got up and turned to find his tennis bag, when Echizen laid a hand on his shoulder.

Tezuka whipped his head around, and felt warm lips smash against his own.

---

Echizen raced out of the room in an instant, and slammed the door behind him. He leaned against the hallway wall, panting heavily. "What the fuck?" He cursed aloud to no-one in particular, and glanced at his hands. The same ones that had made contact with Tezuka...the unattainable figure that, after all these years, he could finally reach.

He half-expected Tezuka to follow him out the room and demand what was going on, but he was probably re-evaluating the events right now. Echizen could still feel the ghost of Tezuka's lips on his own, and he nearly moaned.

Running a hand through his hair, he walked towards the exit, and prepared to go for a run in the park or something; anything to clear his head.

---

Tezuka was reading a sports magazine on the couch, contently ignoring his problems, when someone else knocked on the door. It couldn't have been Fuji; he would never knock before he entered, Tezuka mused good-humouredly. It couldn't have been Echizen either, since he doubted the boy wanted to have a discussion after the way he ran out of the room.

He walked over to the door and pulled it open.

"Hey, Tezuka," Hidenki greeted. Tezuka gave a nod in acknowledgement, and startled when he saw the package in Hidenki's hands.
"These are for Fuji," Hidenki explained, and handed the box of food to Tezuka.

"Thanks," Tezuka replied absentmindedly, and Hidenki left when it was clear he had no other reason to linger around.

Tezuka placed the box on top of the coffee table, and inspected it from a distance. There was a simple note attached, which read, "To: Stubborn Syuusuke; From: Fuji Yuuta". Tezuka smiled a bit, despite himself. He remembered how Yuuta had always been a touchy subject for Fuji back in their Seigaku days, and he was glad they finally worked it out.

Suddenly, the door opened, and in came Fuji with a shopping bag in one hand. Tezuka looked up, but froze when their eyes locked. He had been preparing for this conversation all afternoon, but somehow, the words wouldn't force out of his mouth. The only thing he could thank for was Fuji's obvious state of confusion as well, since the other boy had made no move to start a conversation.

A few minutes passed, although it could easily pass for an eternity due to all the awkward tension being volleyed back and forth between the pair. Finally, Tezuka spoke.
"Yuuta sent some sushi for you," He said impersonally, and gestured towards the box on the coffee table.

"Ah," came the monocyclic vocabulary.

Tezuka frowned. He was used to Fuji's charismatic word play, and something as eloquent as a simple grunt was like a slap in the face.

"Look, Fuji-" He began.

"Tezuka," Fuji interrupted, and sat down on the couch beside him, unwrapping the package of sushi. "Yuuta packed a few non-spicy ones as well. Care to try some?"

Tezuka blinked, unsure of what to make of this offer. A low growl rumbled in the pit of his stomach, and he got his answer. "Thanks," He murmured, accepting the dish of sushi.
They ate in silence, eyes trained on the television. The cooking show had ended, and the credits were playing.

"So," Fuji began. "How's the weather?"

Tezuka took a peek out the window. "Cloudy," He replied, playing along for a second before dropping it. "Where were you this afternoon?"

"In class," Fuji answered with a smile. "People attend University for a reason, Tezuka."

Tezuka willed himself not to smile back. "Echizen visited this afternoon," He blurted out.

Fuji stuffed the last sushi in his mouth. "Mmf?" Chew, swallow, and digest. "What for?"

"He asked for a tennis match."

Tezuka could see Fuji's jaws tensing.

"And I assume he got one?" Fuji said, an accusing tone seeping into his voice.

"I don't see any reason why he shouldn't, assuming he's actually willing to play a serious match," Tezuka snapped, and an uncomfortable silence fell.

"Why did you come here?" Fuji asked after minute of silence. There was no bitterness in his voice; just curiosity.

"Transfer student," Tezuka said simply. "For some strange reason, the dean decided it would be best for a Japanese student to learn about Japanese cultures."

Fuji smirked at this, and Tezuka felt himself relax slightly. "Are you staying permanently?" Tezuka tried to convince himself that there wasn't a pinch of hopefulness in Fuji's voice.

"Just for three weeks," He murmured in a quieter voice. Disappointment coloured Fuji's face, and he added, "But it'll be three weeks worth remembering, I'm sure."

"It's a shame, though," Fuji smiled and clucked his teeth. "Hidenki looked absolutely delighted when he assumed this might be the last time he'll have to introduce a new roommate to me."

Tezuka raised an eyebrow. "How many roommates have you been through?"

"Four or five. I lost track."

"From what I can make of your living habits, I can't say I'm surprised," Tezuka said good-humouredly.

Fuji smirked, and pointed to the digital clock. "Come on," He said. "Let's share the rest of our dinner with Echizen and the others."

"The others?" Tezuka asked, standing up and placing the dishes of sushi back in the box.

"Just a few people we occasionally play tennis with."

"Oh? Are they any good?"

"They're pretty skilled, but I wouldn't go as far as assuming they might actually be a challenge for you."

Tezuka handed Fuji the re-packaged box of sushi, and told himself it was the weather that made him smile.

---

Echizen "and the others" were sitting around a table in the dining hall, and Tezuka saw a faint blush creep along Echizen's neck as their eyes met. He sat down on one end of the table beside Echizen, and Fuji slid gracefully onto a seat on the opposite side. Tezuka found his eyes tracing Fuji's every movement. When Fuji turned to look at him, he immediately diverted his eyes to the sushi and tried to ignore Fuji's knowing smirk.

"Who's this, Fuji?" Asked a man with raven-black hair who gave Tezuka an approving one-over.

"Tezuka Kunimitsu," Fuji answered. "A lost cause if you find him attractive."

Tezuka shot Fuji a glare, and he winked back.

The man chuckled. "Oh? Are you spoken for?" He directed his attention at Tezuka.

He was about to answer no, when Fuji decided to interrupt yet again.

"Actually, he's fixated on this ridiculous notion of being straight," Fuji smiled a little wistfully. "No amount of charisma can change that."

"Quite a shame, too," The boy smirked and rolled his eyes.

Tezuka tried to focus on the conversation passing around the table while keeping a steady look on his face.

Fuji and the raven-haired boy were conversing in low, charming voices, and Tezuka felt the irate feeling returning to his stomach. He glanced over at Echizen, who, apparently, had been studying him and was now flushed a light shade of pink.

"Are we going to eat now?" Echizen said in an annoyed voice which sounded awfully close to a whine.

"Momentarily," Fuji replied, and unpacked the box of sushi. A few exclamations of 'All right!' and 'Yeah!' chorused through the table, as the others realized they wouldn't have to order takeout tonight.

The raven-haired boy suddenly leaned closer to Fuji, and mouthed 'Feed Me' in his ear.

Tezuka, whom already had his share of the sushi, suddenly felt sick. He excused himself from the table for a breath of fresh air.

---

Echizen was starving when Fuji and Tezuka showed up. He was about to scold them for taking so damn long, but since Fuji brought some sushi from home, he decided to disregard their unpunctual appearance. Everyone was chatting amiably among each other, when Tezuka excused himself from the table. Echizen considered going after him, but that would raise all sorts of questions he wasn't prepared to answer.

However, when he raised his head from the plate of sushi, Fuji was looking at him with that expression. It would seem neutral and emotionless to the mindset of an outsider, but Echizen knew the difference between impersonal and intimidating. Returning Fuji's condescending glare with a defiant smirk, he snatched another sushi from the plate and placed it in his mouth.

---

Fuji was determined not to burst out laughing when Echizen's face went beet-red. Obviously, someone had neglected to read the 'Wasabi' label on the plate.

---

Tezuka had originally planned to take an evening stroll around campus by himself, but as a sudden wave of drowsiness washed over him, he succumbed to his sleep-deprived body and decided to head back into his room. As he passed the entrance to the cafeteria, he knew it was unnecessary to announce his departure; he certainly wasn't a child, and had no justified reason as to why he should describe his whereabouts to Fuji. Although in the back of his mind, he suspected he just wanted to see him again.

Musings about Fuji eventually led to thoughts about Echizen, and whatever the hell was going on between them. It obviously wasn't anything romantic, if Fuji's blatant denial and Echizen's attraction for former tennis captains was any indication, but it didn't seem completely platonic either. It was only a day or two since he transferred to Nanzan, and already, he was getting wound-up tighter than a spring.

The dormitories never seemed empty; there was always some form of noise coming from inside each room, whether it be chatter, music, or - and Tezuka furrowed his brows at this lack of privacy - sex. As he walked up to the room he and Fuji shared, he realized it must have been the only soundless one at the moment. Everyone else was asleep with the music on, socializing, or indulging in animal-driven desires. Turning the knob, Tezuka walked into the room.

And froze.

He could hear the sound of the shower running. Echizen was seated on the couch, tired eyes boring into the television. He raised his head and smiled. "Welcome back, Buchou," He greeted, and gestured towards the spot next to him on the sofa. "Have a seat."

Tezuka raised an eyebrow at the invitation when it was clearly his (and Fuji's) couch, but sat down anyway. He assumed it was Fuji in the shower; part of him wondered why Echizen was here while Fuji showered, and the other part was just grateful they weren't showering together.

"Do you still keep in touch with Oishi?" Echizen asked, turning the volume on the television down a bit.

"No," Tezuka muttered a bit guiltily. He had decided to cut off all contact with his former life as soon as he reached America, figuring it would be easier to move on if he'd done so. "How did you end up in the same University as Fuji?"

"The million-dollar question that's been on your mind, hmm?" Echizen smirked, and shrugged as his face lost all hints of playfulness. "Iunno. Everyone kind of just...went on their path, and since Fuji was the only one attending a University in Japan, I..." he trailed off.

Tezuka's stomach twisted. It was ironic how independent and self-assured Echizen was when he had an authoritative figure to look up to, but once it was gone, he clung to anything as close as he can reach. Fuji was the obvious choice, but Tezuka doubted he would be a proper role model. "What happened to Momo?" Tezuka asked tentatively. Fuji had avoided discussing the lives of their old friends as much as he was capable of, but Tezuka wanted answers.

Echizen was a little startled, and he lowered his eyes. Tezuka could feel the atmosphere in the room darkening. "The idiot got some girl pregnant, and now he's working to raise the family," He muttered, and scoffed disdainfully. "Che, he could've just asked the girl to get an abortion. Instead, he kept going on and on about responsibilities and shit, and now his life is as good as over."

Tezuka was glad Momo made a responsible decision, and couldn't understand why Echizen objected to it. "Echizen, he-"

"That's usually a sign of good character - not something I expect you to be familiar with, Echizen." A voice spat from the behind them, and Tezuka knew before whipping his head around who had spoke words with such venom.

Fuji was - surprise, surprise - dressed in nothing but a towel, and Tezuka felt his eyes wander helplessly over every curve and muscle on Fuji's pale torso. Wonderful, he thought bitterly. Another reason why I should be thankful that Fuji's still playing tennis. He snapped out of his little reverie, and focused on the situation at hand. Which apparently was, judging from the dirty looks Echizen was shooting Fuji, a glare-to-the-death match.

"Good character? He should have considered the consequences before he got drunk and invited her up to his room," Echizen bit out, frustration etched on his face.
Fuji closed his eyes and sighed. A moment of silence passed between the trio, before Echizen stood up. "I'm going to bed," He announced.

The words 'Good night' almost slipped out of Fuji's mouth, but he settled for a nod of pity instead. Let Echizen wallow in his own guilt tonight. However, instead of seeing Echizen retreat out of the room like he should, something entirely different occurred. Echizen turned to Tezuka, stood on his tip-toes, and placed a sloppy kiss on Tezuka's cheek. "G'night," He smirked.

Tezuka froze.

Fuji froze.

Echizen strolled out of the room, humming an off-key Seigaku fight song as he walked out the door.

---

From: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
To: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
February 12, 2007, 11:00 a.m.
Subject: Fuji - 0, Echizen - 1.

Dear Yuuta-kun,

Well, I daresay these past few days have triggered more highs and lows on my emotion-ometer than can be considered healthy. Tezuka never brought the tennis match up, and I'm positive he's gotten used to my falling below potential by now. In the meantime, I suspect something devious occurred between him and the brat - something I would rather not know about, anyway - that they're keeping from me.

The sushi was delicious. If you're willing to send comfort food (along with some extremely affectionate words that would serve as excellent blackmail material) every time I panic over a devastating event, then I don't think I mind the mood swings as much.

Yesterday night, the brat snapped when Tezuka inquired about Momo's whereabouts. I still don't think Echizen's willing to accept the fact that he was the reason Momo to get drunk in the first place, but I didn't bring it up. I'd rather not pour oil into the fire, thanks.

Anyhow, at the end of the evening (and I'm not sure if I was sober when this occurred), Echizen pursed his labia oris together and placed them on Tezuka's cheek. The contact may be defined as a sloppy peck-on-the-cheek, but it's certainly easier to believe I was utterly drunk at the time instead of trying to explain why my stomach suddenly twisted into knots.

More updates as they come.

Fuji Syuusuke

PS. Running out of adjectives, are we? Maybe you should switch to another language.

---

From: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
To: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
February 12, 2007, 12:00 a.m.
Subject: RE: Fuji - 0, Echizen - 1.

Dear Fussy Frère (see? I can speak French too),

I swear, I'm having more and more difficulty replying to your emails every time. Hmm. I think I speak for everyone when I admit to preferring an emotional-Syuusuke over the one-who-wouldn't-wipe-that-goddamn-smile-off-his-face, so don't worry about these new tenuous feelings. Tezuka, despite his bastardly act of leaving for America and never answering any of your emails or phone calls, is a pretty tactful; it was a wise decision not to bring it up. The threats I stated earlier are still in effect, though. Any harm done to you will result in a painful life.

Oh. My. God. Aniki, the only thing preventing me from flinging myself to the ground and begging you to delete that previous email is my heavy doubt on your willingness to pass up a chance to blackmail me. Sadistic bastard, indeed.

And-
What-
Dear Go-
Echizen. Kissed. Tezuka?

For the first time in my life, I think I agree with your theory. You should be banned from drinking.

Fuji Yuuta

---

Fuji woke up early in the morning, even before the sun had risen. He glanced over at Tezuka, who was lying on a futon, entranced in a dreamy sleep. There were dark circles under his eyes, but he looked younger somehow. Sighing at his restlessness, Fuji decided to get dressed and let Tezuka have the quiet sleep he deserved.

Fuji strolled through the hallways until he found Echizen's dorm. Knowing fully well that it would be rather disruptive to knock on one's door at around 5:30 in the morning, he did it anyway. A few minutes later, an annoyed-looking Echizen came to answer the door, and almost slammed it in his face.

"Good morning, Echizen!" Fuji smiled brightly, immensely cheered up by the look on Echibrat's face.

"What do you want?" Echizen bared his teeth and glared.

"Oh, I just wanted to inform you that your glare would probably look far more intimidating if there weren't crusty drool hanging on the side of your mouth," Fuji grinned, looking immensely pleased with himself.

Echizen's mouth thinned into a line, but it looked like he was trying not to smile. "Idiot," He muttered under his breath, and opened the door for Fuji to pass. "Be quiet, okay? My roommate's still sleeping."

Fuji nodded, and walked into the room. Echizen's dorm was slightly bigger than his own, but the furniture was arranged in such a random fashion that it gave a cluttered feel. He sat down on the bed and wondered how he was going to bring the subject up.

"What's going on between you and Tezuka?" Fuji blurted out.

Echizen blinked. "As subtle as a train wreck, aren't we?" He smirked.

"We could either have this conversation like civil beings," Fuji said, "Or I could skip right to the screaming part and wake your little friend there."

The smirk morphed into a sneer. "You think I'll spill my heart out to you just because you threatened me?" Really, this whole ordeal was ridiculous. Why can't Fuji just go back to his dor-

"Not at all. I'm just suggesting that you should start taking responsibility for your actions," Fuji spoke slowly and calmly, as if speaking to a child. Suddenly, Echizen felt very much like one.

"And what do I have to be responsible for?" Echizen tried to use the same deliberate tone Fuji had, but the effect was lost. "Give it a rest, Fuji. You didn't own Buchou three years ago, and you don't own him now."

Fuji stood up abruptly, and turned to leave the room. He slammed the door behind him, as if he even cared a fraction about disrupting his roommate's sleep cycle. Echizen scoffed.

It was still early in the morning, so he decided to go back to sleep. But no matter how hard he tried, there was a certain chilling presence on his bed - precisely at the spot where Fuji had sat - that unnerved him too much to fall back asleep. So Echizen just lay there, blinking at the ceiling, before realizing how ridiculous this tug-of-war with Fuji was. It was time to end this silly feud, and he knew exactly what to propose as a tie-breaker.

---

He had the dream again. It was impersonal and detached and far too confusing for him to decipher, but the images clung to Tezuka's mind like a leech.

The Figure knelt down in front of him, and dropped the tennis ball to the ground.

The figure pulled a tennis racquet out of nowhere, and Tezuka could see a white-teethed grin flash on its face before the tennis racquet striked down on his arm.



Breathing slightly jagged, Tezuka sat up in bed. It wasn't dark outside, but there weren't any streaks of sunlight pouring into the room either. A glance at the clock indicated that it was 7:00. He looked over to his left, and found Fuji's king-sized bed neatly made.

Slightly confused, he got up and walked into the washroom. Turning on the sink tap, he splashed some water onto his pale complexion. There were bags under his eyes, indicating his evident lack of sleep - all thanks to Fuji, no doubt. Where was the blue-eyed enigma, anyway?

Then, he heard the faint sound of a door being gently closed. Footsteps came into the room. "Fuji?" He called out.

It certainly had been. Fuji froze, and felt like he was caught sneaking out or something. He had attempted to crawl back into bed without waking his roommate up, but that plan was out of the question thanks to Tezuka's evident display of consciousness.

"Where were you?" Tezuka asked, a tiny trace of worry in his voice.

"Nowhere," Fuji lied quickly, and immediately regretted doing so. He should have at least made up some witty repartee or something. "Just went to have a chat with Echizen."

Admitting the truth is decidedly better than seeing that look on Tezuka's face, Fuji thought.

Tezuka nodded, but didn't push the subject. "I had a nigh- strange dream," He confessed.

"Oh?" Fuji asked, and plopped down on the couch beside him. The couch seems to be the most favourable spot in the room, Tezuka observed absently. "Tell me about it."

"It's too strange to be deciphered."

"Not necessarily. What was it like?"

"Detached. Spontaneous. Slightly unpredictable, I suppose."

"Sounds like the makings of a nightmare."

"Ah."

Momentarily silence.

"I think the brat has a crush on you."

Tezuka fought an indignant blush creeping up on his neck, and Fuji's expression seemed to grow more unsettling by the second. "I doubt it," Tezuka replied, grateful for his steady voice.

"So you have another explanation for his sudden romantic interest in you?"

"I-" A pause. Tezuka really didn't know why Echizen kissed him. He judged people by their actions, not their motivations.

"Exactly," Fuji said quietly, his voice suddenly thick with emotion. "I briefly considered playing matchmaker for him, since you obviously aren't capable of picking up romantic hints-"

"That's because there aren't any romantic hints to pick up on the first place."

"I'm pretty sure kissing is a romantic gesture."

"W-what? He told you about that?" It was irritating to have this conversation with Fuji. He felt like something was slipping through his fingers, but couldn't exactly grasp on what it was.

Fuji blinked, and his dull eyes suddenly seemed tired. "I was referring to that peck on the cheek last night, but obviously, there's more to the story."

Fuji stood up and walked out the door in one swift motion, leaving Tezuka with his thoughts.

---

Echizen and the others were waiting at usual table. Echizen shot him a questioning look to ask for Tezuka's whereabouts, but Fuji didn't respond. Echibrat was the last person on earth (save for Tezuka himself) he wanted to converse with at the moment.

He sat himself down beside Ryuuk, the raven-haired man who had been ogling Tezuka yesterday. A slow smile stretched on his face as he thought about how incredulous Tezuka had looked when he lied about him being was straight. It was almost amusing, now that he thought about it, if he was in the mood to be amused.

People were chatting, as usual, but Echizen's catlike eyes were fixed on Fuji.

"Can I speak to you in private?" Echizen asked, and almost everyone at the table turned to look at the pair.

Fuji raised an eyebrow but nodded anyway. He got up and followed Echizen to the hallway, mentally prepping himself for another exasperating conversation with a brat.

"You don't own Tezuka," Said brat stated bluntly, once they reached the entrance to the halls.

"Nor do I claim to," Fuji agreed neutrally.

"Then let's play a tennis match to settle this," Echizen offered.

Fuji blinked slowly. "You plan to resolve this nonexistent issue over a tennis match?" The disbelieving tone in Fuji's voice did little to hide his disapproval.

"Or we could banter back and forth until his three weeks in Japan are up," He shrugged passively. "We don't actually have a lifetime to work with, here."

Fuji chuckled warily at the whole absurdity of the situation; here he was, arguing with Echizen about who 'gets' Tezuka, when they weren't even certain Tezuka wanted either of them. It seemed like they were on a soap opera of some sorts, where everything was taken over-the-top seriously.

Suddenly, Fuji felt like just playing along for entertainment value - he wanted to see how far they could go with this, until one of them won or Tezuka got fed-up. He didn't necessarily like the idea of gambling an entire friendship on a tennis match, but he wasn't about to turn down a test of skills with Echibrat. Yes, this was just a game of tennis, and Tezuka would be the prize - that is, if he doesn't turn around and fly back to America the minute he finds out.

---

Tezuka looked at his schedule. History class would start in twenty minutes or so, and he couldn't put off going to class forever. He was headed for the third floor when he saw a familiar face in the hallways. The raven-haired boy from yesterday was wandering around aimlessly, but waved when he caught side of Tezuka.

Tezuka wasn't particularly fond of the flirty man who had been all over Fuji, but he wasn't rude. Returning the man's wave with a nod of acknowledgement, he stopped walking and waited for him to catch up.

"I never properly introduced myself yesterday," He flashed a white-teethed grin and his eyebrows were neatly groomed. "I guess Fuji forgot to mention me."

Tezuka's resentment towards him was growing larger by the second.

"I'm Hidenki Ryuukai," The man held out his hand. "You can just call me Ryuuk."

"Tezuka Kunimitsu," He offered his own and shook hands. "So you're related to the dorm supervisor Hidenki, then?"

"A common misconception, but we just share the last name," He smiled charmingly.

Tezuka decided he was even less worthy of liking. It was ridiculous, he thought, to antagonize someone he didn't even know yet. He nodded politely. "If you don't mind, I have history in a few minutes."

Ryuuk smiled back, although he looked a little disappointed. "All right. I'll look for Fuji to keep me company, then."

Tezuka halted. He wasn't sure whether Ryuuk had said that deliberately, so he turned around. A confident smile was plastered on Ryuuk's face.

Not willing to take the bait, Tezuka kept his face neutral. "I'll be going, then," He dismissed, and tried to pry the images of Fuji feeding Ryuuk sushi out of his head.

---

From: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
To: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
February 12, 2007, 3:00 p.m.
Subject: A Brief Email!

Dear Yuuta-kun,

This is just a brief email. I'll explain everything in full detail tonight.
Guess what? Echizen asked me to play him a game of tennis for Tezuka's affection. Winner takes all. I suppose it would be fitting if I made some witticisms about how outrageous this entire situation is, but I'd actually like to see the look on Echizen's face when he loses. Or maybe I'll let him win. Or maybe he'll actually defeat me. Who knows?

Fuji Syuusuke

---

"Tezuka!" A voice called from the hallway.

The man turned around to see who was addressing him. It was Ryuuk.

"Ryuuk, unless it's urgent, I have a history class to attend," He replied sternly.

"I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to miss this," Ryuuk grinned, and started leading him towards the exits of the building. "Come on!"

Tezuka was slightly reluctant to abandon his duties, but the excitement in Ryuuk's voice made it obvious that he would regret missing whatever was going on.

When they stepped outside onto the tennis courts, Tezuka was suddenly extremely thankful of Ryuuk's persistent tendencies. There they were, on opposite sides of the net, stood Fuji and Echizen.

Fuji turned his head and broke into a grin. "Tezuka! You're score-keeping!" He yelled from afar, and Tezuka nodded. He watched as both players shook hands and retreated to their respective serving areas, and hesitated for a second.

Tezuka glanced up at the sky. When he was convinced that were would be no signs of rain, he began the match.

---

The game itself was thrilling to watch. Both players were sweating from head-to-toe. Anyone with an ounce of tennis knowledge could tell that Echizen had already run out of tricks up his sleeve, and was actually improvising as the match carried on. Fuji was just as improvisatory, but he was more interested in provoking his opponent and making Echizen break his own limits instead of putting on a show. It was no wonder the crowd cheered more loudly for Echizen; the audience was interested in an intense match of skill, rather than Fuji's secret pleasure of controlling and predicting his opponent's every move.

They were in the tiebreaker round when Tezuka noticed something strange. Fuji was slightly exaggerating his counters and making unnecessary movements such as taking an extra step away from the ball or raising his racquet a little too high. Was it intentional or just lack of grace from the intensity of the match?

When he turned to watch Echizen, it became slightly clearer. Echizen was catching on faster than he had been before; Fuji had just bared the footwork of his counters for his opponent to see, and Echizen was eager to break his counters by practicing the foot movement himself. Tezuka winced. If Fuji's sudden lack of elegance was unintentional, Fuji may lose the match. If it was deliberate, then...he couldn't figure out why Fuji would play seriously up until 26-26 of the tiebreaker round.

He watched various emotions flash across Fuji's face. He was beautifully flushed, and his breath was coming out in gasps and pants. His cerulean eyes - the ones Tezuka had always considered subtle and dull - were bright with a determination he had never seen before. Tezuka found himself both awed by the intensity in those orbs, and irritated at not being the one playing against Fuji right now. He closed his eyes, and visualized himself in Echizen's place; battling for the last point, ignoring the existence of the audience, and just playing with all they've got.

Suddenly, the crowd started cheering. Heart speeding up, Tezuka realized he should've been paying more attention to the match. But it was no mystery who had won.

---

"Game and Match, won by Echizen: 7-6!"

Echizen dropped his racquet to the ground and tried to steady himself. His heart was beating so rapidly, he felt like it would jump out of his torso. H-He heard the words. Won by Echizen, 7-6. He won! He won!

He turned his face to watch Fuji, but he wasn't looking his way. Instead, Fuji's eyes were fixed on Tezuka, who was slowly walking up to him; he stopped at about a few centimeters away from Fuji, and –

Echizen's eyes widened. The whole court seemed to fall in silence.

Tezuka leaned down, and kissed Fuji.

---

From: Fuji Yuuta <fujiyuuta@strudolph.com>
To: Fuji Syuusuke <fujisyuusuke@nanzanuniversity.com>
March 02, 2007, 11:30 a.m.
Subject: Good News, Syuusuke!

Dear Aggravating Aniki,

YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS. Yesterday afternoon, An - yes, Tachibana's sister - asked me on a date! Now I have the opportunity to be out and about, romancing the most beautiful girl in Fudomine instead of sitting here and listening to the details of your steamy love life. In fact, you and Tezuka are probably grinning like hormonally-charged apes, massaging each-other's backs while you're reading this email. Ugh, there's one image I'd rather not imprint into my mind.

You and Echibrat are finally getting along now, you say? I'm terribly sorry, but I think he's still miffed about losing Tezuka to you - even when he won the match. Why'd you let him win, anyway? (Of course, I'm giving you the benefit of doubt and assuming you actually let him win.) He knocked on my door today and gave me a rather exhaustive lecture of why I should protest against your sexual orientation, but I wouldn't buy it. Dammit, see what happens when you cease threatening to blackmail me? I grow soft and lose opportunities to berate you.

In the meantime, I'm stuck in a rather unpleasant situation myself. I have already accepted An's offer to the movies, but for some ludicrous reason, Mizuki seems to think I'm secretly obsessed with him and am only dating An to make him jealous. I know I've disapproved of your unexplainable hatred for Mizuki in the past, but now...? Feel free to unleash whatever sadistic villainy you wish on him. (Although it will only encourage him, since his twisted mind will probably assume something utterly ridiculous like, "Yuuta-kun's SO obsessed, he told his aniki about it!")

Umm. Saeki was looking over my shoulder as I typed this, and he wanted to say 'hi' before clutching his stomach and falling onto the ground in laughter. I think I'm thoroughly embarrassed now, so I'll just end the email.

Good luck with everything, even though you haven't done a thing to deserve it.

Fuji Yuuta

PS. I sent some all-wasabi sushi this time. Do you think Tezuka will mind?

---

Ending a/n: Okay, a few things I'd like to go over:
French words: C'est délicieux = It's Delicious, and Frère = Brother
OCs: Hidenki (first name unknown), Hidenki Ryuuk

Also, as you can see, there's a large difference in the dates between the last email and the second-last email. This is intentional. Tezuka chose to stay in Japan rather than head back to America, and I'm leaving the "missing part" between the last scene and the last email for a possible sequel of sorts. I think.
Tags: fic, rated: r, tezuka/fuji/ryoma
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