Title: Empty Places
Summary: Tezuka and Fuji meet again, years later.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Konomi Takeshi, definitely not me.
A/N: Apologies for not being able to fit in more of your likes, I hope it's acceptable anyway.
The party was dull.
Tezuka wasn't particularly surprised. He wasn't fond of parties in the first place, and this one was far too crowded. It was an engagement party for one of his coworkers, and while Tezuka would normally have declined the invitation, and had in fact declined others, this time he'd accepted.
He still wasn't sure why, and was beginning to regret his choice. The party was loud and, by that time, most of the guests were drunk. It was more fitting for a college party than for working adults of their ages. Tezuka held one drink and hardly touched it, not having any desire to make a fool of himself. He'd slip out the soonest chance he got.
A few minutes later, he was actually heading for the door when a hand on his arm stopped him. Turning, Tezuka prepared to make his excuses to the host, or to whichever co-worked had seen him leaving, and continue on his way. He stopped when he caught sight of the one who'd touched him.
"I thought you looked familiar," a soft voice said, and Tezuka's eyes narrowed slightly. This man looked familiar, sounded familiar, and seemed to know him, but Tezuka couldn't quite place him.
The man looked at Tezuka's face and smiled. It was a bit rueful, Tezuka thought. "What, you don't remember me? I should have expected that, it's been years. But you really do look similar, Tezuka." He laughed quietly, and let go of Tezuka's arm, apparently reassured that Tezuka wouldn't slip away. "Fuji Syuusuke. From Seigaku. Do you remember now?"
It all clicked into place, and Tezuka realized why he hadn't instantly recognized Fuji. It was true it had been years, but Tezuka was certain if he'd run into Fuji on the streets of Tokyo he'd have known him without trouble. He looked very similar - older, certainly, but still smaller than him and rather too pretty for a man. The smile was the same, as well. The fact that they had met here, in a foreign city across the ocean, had confused him. Fuji belonged to a certain place and time in his mind, both of which were far from him now. Why would Fuji be here?
It was a good question. "Yes. I remember now. Fuji, it's been a long time. I'm surprised to see you. Why are you here?"
"So direct." Fuji's smile changed a little, and Tezuka remembered how often he'd seen it when they were younger, and how little it really meant, though it charmed nearly everyone. Even him, though he'd known better than to be too obvious about that. "I'm a friend of the future bride. We worked together on an assignment not too long ago, and she invited me here."
Tezuka nodded. While he was acquainted with a decent portion of his coworker's guests, his fiancé’s were a different set entirely. "You worked together?" He realized he had no idea what Fuji did now, or what he had done in the years since they'd been in school together.
"We did," Fuji said, sounding amused. "It's been so long, Tezuka, won't you stay awhile and catch up with me? It's good to see you again, and the night is still young. You haven't even finished your drink." Fuji glanced meaningfully at the mostly full glass in Tezuka's hand. "Here, let's go somewhere quieter."
Fuji laid his hand on Tezuka's arm again, leading him to a quiet alcove that was currently unoccupied. They sat, and they talked. Fuji answered Tezuka's brief questions, telling him what he was doing now (photography, unsurprisingly), how his family was doing (well, and Yuuta was still adorable), and what their old friends were up to (how Fuji knew when he hadn't returned to Japan in years was a mystery). He embellished his answers with stories and anecdotes, not even seeming to notice Tezuka's still poor conversational skills, but covering for them easily. Tezuka had some slight trouble reconciling this bright, enjoyable conversationalist with the boy he'd known in school, but not as much as he would have expected. Fuji had changed little, except to become more himself. He still showed a flash of his wicked sense of humor now and then, which surprisingly put Tezuka more at ease.
Tezuka found himself telling Fuji how his life was now; it was strange to think how much had changed. Tennis was no longer his all-consuming passion. While he played now and then, his arm wasn't in the best condition and he couldn't play to his full ability. He'd set it aside to focus on other things, and it seemed that Fuji had done the same.
It was only much later, when the party had quieted down a bit, that Tezuka realized two things. One was that he had enjoyed Fuji's company more than he'd enjoyed talking to anyone in a very long time. The other was that he was more than a little drunk. Fuji had been continually getting himself drinks, and would get one for Tezuka at the same time, which Tezuka felt bound to drink at least some of, since Fuji had gone to the trouble.
Fuji was also sitting rather close to him, but it didn't occur to Tezuka to be worried about that.
"It's late, we should probably go." Fuji seemed to have the thought at about the same time Tezuka did, and smiled at him. "Tezuka, do you live nearby?"
Tezuka nodded. His apartment was only a few blocks away, one of the reasons he'd actually attended this party instead of ignoring it.
"Ah, lucky. Can I stay at your place tonight?" Fuji didn't seem at all embarrassed to be asking. "It's going to be difficult to get home at this time of night. I promise I won't be a burden."
Tezuka considered it for a moment, but he didn't really think that Fuji would be any trouble. "That's fine." He stood, holding out a hand to help Fuji up without thinking about it. "Let's go. It's not far."
It was cold out, but the air helped to sober Tezuka up slightly, and the walk itself wasn't bad. Fuji was silent for most of it, though he was still smiling and walking close to Tezuka. For warmth, Tezuka told himself. He didn't mind, really, but felt the need to rationalize it.
They reached his apartment building before long, and in the elevator up to his floor, Tezuka tried not to pay anymore attention to how close Fuji was standing. It could easily be explained away as a need for warmth, or possibly balance considering both of their slightly intoxicated states, and that's what Tezuka chose to think, though he knew somewhere in the back of his mind that that wasn't true. He couldn't help being extremely aware of Fuji's proximity.
When they entered his apartment, Fuji took a moment to look around at the furnishings and the layout, apparently unsurprised by the somewhat Spartan nature of it. "Your apartment is nice, Tezuka. I like it."
Tezuka hung his coat in the closet and went to stand next to Fuji, leveling his gaze on the smaller man. "The couch is here. It should be comfortable."
Fuji turned toward him, smiling again, sounding like he wanted to laugh. "Please, Tezuka. I didn't come here intending to sleep on your couch, and you know that. There's no reason to pretend either of us is stupid." He stepped closer and laid a hand on Tezuka's chest lightly, almost insubstantially. "Or do you want to play more games? I do enjoy it, but sometimes it gets a little... tiresome."
Tezuka reached up and caught Fuji's wrist, but didn't push him away. After a moment, he let himself cover Fuji's soft, cold hand with his own. "I didn't bring you here for that." Though now he could admit to himself that he'd been thinking about it since he saw Fuji again.
"Yes, you did. Or at least I brought you here for that." Fuji's smile grew slightly brittle, and he caught Tezuka's eyes with his own. "Don't worry. I'll leave in the morning, and we'll never have to mention it again. All I want is one night."
Tezuka wasn't sure if that was all he wanted, but he said nothing. Fuji's gaze was as piercing as it had been years ago. If nothing else, Tezuka had always appreciated his beauty and grace on the courts. Now he could see Fuji with adult eyes, eyes that told him he wanted this.
Tezuka leaned down and kissed Fuji, perhaps more roughly than he originally intended, but Fuji made no noise of protest. His lips were sweet, slightly chapped from the cold wind outside but still soft.
He didn't stay on the couch that night.
It had been a week since that night, and Fuji had not seen Tezuka since. He had held to the letter of his promise, slipping out in the morning before Tezuka woke.
He knew very well that he had not held to the spirit, however. Nor did he intend to. Perhaps if the night had gone differently, but now he couldn't forget. Besides, it would've been very difficult.
When he ran into Tezuka in the elevator of his apartment building, all he did was smile and say hello. It had been bound to happen eventually, after all. Tezuka stared at him with an expression that Fuji clearly read as shock, and he enjoyed it deeply for the moment it was there, before Tezuka's stoic mask slipped back on.
"Fuji, what are you doing here?" Tezuka managed to keep most of his surprise from his voice, but Fuji couldn't entirely keep the amusement from his own, nor did he try.
"I live here, Tezuka," he said, smiling, then falling silent as if that was completely normal. He took pleasure in the awkward silence between them. Fuji had always liked odd things, and letting Tezuka search for an appropriate question was a brand of cruelty that he couldn't resist.
He wouldn't let it last forever, though. He wasn't that cruel. "I live two floors above you. I'm surprised we haven't run into each other before."
Tezuka shook his head slightly. "What are you doing here, Fuji?"
"I said I liked your apartment, didn't I?" Fuji turned toward Tezuka slightly and kept smiling, looking at him for the first time since that night, letting his gaze rest for a moment too long before he laughed. "I moved in two weeks ago, actually. It's complete coincidence that we live in the same building." And it had been. Coincidence, or possibly fate.
Fuji wasn't sure if he believed in fate, but anything could have made him, it would have been something like this.
Tezuka only looked at him, eyes steady and slightly disapproving. Fuji could imagine what he was thinking. Clearly, Fuji had lied when he'd said his apartment was too far, or maybe he was lying now. Fuji didn't really care which Tezuka ended up believing.
"Ah, we've arrived." Fuji smiled at Tezuka again, waving as he exited the elevator. "I'll see you around, Tezuka." He didn't look back, though he wanted to. He knew he'd see Tezuka again.
Three weeks after that, Fuji was extremely frustrated.
He'd run into Tezuka plenty of times in the past few days. In the elevator, on the streets, in the lobby or the laundry room. Every time, he made conversation. After the first few times, he flirted a little, too. Tezuka ignored it all.
Despite what Tezuka might have thought after what they'd done, Fuji was not in the habit of sleeping with people on a whim. When he had seen Tezuka again, he'd acted on impulse at first, it was true. But he'd had that whole night to think about it. Alcohol or not, when he'd asked to go home with Tezuka he had known exactly what he was doing, and all that it implied.
Fuji had hoped that there was a chance for something more, but now he was realizing he'd gone about it in entirely the wrong way.
Closing the door of his apartment behind him, he threw his coat on a chair and sat down on the couch, letting the empty silence echo around him. Before this, he'd never cared about being alone, but now it was wearing on him. He knew what he wanted, but had no way of getting it.
Tezuka had changed little from their school days. He was still responsible (maybe overly so), still stoic, still able to command Fuji's attention without even seeming to try. It was frustrating that Fuji couldn't seem to do the same.
He reached into his pocket and took out a small, folded piece of paper. He only looked at it for a moment, doing nothing else. It was the phone number of a man he'd worked with not too long ago, a journalist. They'd run into each other again recently, and he had given Fuji his number. His interest had been clear, but Fuji hadn't returned it then, nor did he now. Not really.
He knew he had to do something, though. If Tezuka wouldn't look at him, there was no reason others wouldn't. Tezuka was not the only man in the world, after all. He should know that.
Making his decision, Fuji took out his phone and dialed.
It was the fourth time Tezuka had seen them together.
Not that he was deliberately keeping track. Tezuka didn't know who the other man was who Fuji was spending so much time with these days, but he wasn't entirely sure he liked him. He didn't know why Fuji would choose someone like this, sloppily dressed and often unshaven. Did he even have a proper job?
Fuji had always had odd tastes, but this was more than odd. Tezuka had seen them this morning, apparently meeting for breakfast. It eased his mind a little to realize that they didn't seem to have spent the night together, and that was when it occurred to him that he was jealous.
Tezuka was not a stupid man, but he would admit that he was not always entirely in touch with his emotions. It was only now that he could admit to himself that he had enjoyed Fuji's flirtations over the past month, and he missed them now that they were gone.
He had originally regretted spending that night together. Fuji had been a friend of his, once. Not his best friend, but still a childhood friend, and sex seemed to cheapen that somehow. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Tezuka had wanted Fuji to remain a memory of a boy, a teammate. Instead he had walked back into Tezuka's life and proved that he was much more than the young prodigy he had once been.
It had taken Tezuka some time to reconcile the Fuji he knew now with the Fuji he'd known then, but when he finally did, he realized that he hadn't really lost anything. Sleeping with Fuji hadn't destroyed those childhood memories. If anything, they were more precious now.
He still hadn't thought he wanted to pursue a relationship, though. Not until the opportunity had, apparently, been taken away from him.
Tezuka didn't believe that, though. He could be deceiving himself again, that was true, but while Fuji might be the type to give up when he got bored or frustrated, Tezuka wasn't. When he wanted something, he worked until he got it. In Tezuka's mind, Fuji was already his.
That was why he was here now, knocking on Fuji's apartment door.
Fuji opened it, looking questioningly at Tezuka, seemingly surprised to see him. "Tezuka, what brings you here? Not that it isn't nice to see you, of course." He stepped back from the doorway, gesturing for Tezuka to enter.
"I wanted to speak with you," Tezuka said, walking inside and shutting the door behind him. There was no room for hesitation. He reached out, caught Fuji's wrist and pulled him a few steps closer. Fuji made no move to pull away, though he could have easily.
"Is he your boyfriend?" Tezuka's voice was quiet but intense, and Fuji met his eyes. He leaned in close, close enough so Tezuka could feel his warmth.
"And what if he is?" Fuji answered, smiling. The smile alone eased the small worry that had been left in Tezuka's mind. Would Fuji still flirt if he were seeing someone else? Maybe, but Tezuka didn't think he would be serious about it.
"I would say that you could do much better." Tezuka stepped forward, forcing Fuji to step back, and maneuvered them both so Fuji's back was to the wall. He placed a hand on either side of Fuji's shoulders, effectively trapping him. Fuji only looked amused.
"Do you have someone in mind for me, Tezuka?" he asked, for all the world looking as if they were having a casual conversation, right until he brushed his fingers along the line of Tezuka's jaw.
Tezuka didn't blink at Fuji's light touch. Considering how often he'd thought of Fuji's soft skin, he could do nothing but welcome it and take it as an invitation. Pressing Fuji gently back against the wall, he closed the distance between them. Fuji's lips were as sweet as they had been the first time.
After some moments, Tezuka pulled back, giving Fuji room to breathe. He didn't particularly want to, but it was necessary for both of them. It didn't matter much, anyway. He had no intention of letting Fuji slip away again.
Fuji looked at him and laughed quietly, smiling a smile that Tezuka knew was genuine, though his cheeks were still a bit flushed. "I'll take that as a yes." Then he pulled Tezuka close again.