Title: Six (moments of) yen
Summary: When things change, something is left unfinished.
Warnings: Doesn't quite follow manga or anime canon. (It's not non-canon either, per se.)
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis or any of its characters.
A/N: The title really has some v. deep meanings that shall not be explained here. :P I just hope I somewhat managed to please misanagi. ^_^
During a few weeks of his third year in Seishun Gakuen, Fuji does not sleep very well. He doesn't know why, but it puts him off, if just a little. Waking up, his eyes are gritty and achy. (Now he understands why Yuuta used to behave the way he did in the mornings when he still lived at home, especially the way he used to grouch when Fuji smiled, laughed, joked, opened his mouth or showed his face. Fuji is probably a pest to be around in the morning. Really, oops.)
Fuji stays in front of the bathroom mirror for a while longer than usual and wonders if he is catching a cold, then realizes how pathetic he is being. He slips into his school uniform and goes down for breakfast.
His mother has made pancakes with raspberry jam. He thinks that Yuuta would have eaten a lot, too much, if he had been home. Yuuta has a sweet tooth, and little forethought. But perhaps he has changed now. Hard to know. Fuji doesn't even know what St. Rudolph students get for breakfast. He has to ask Inui about it. (It would be fun to be able to make a morning call and ask Yuuta how the toasts had been, or reprimand him not to eat too much omelette, and there he goes again. One of these days, he will leave Yuuta alone.)
When Fuji grabs his bag and steps into his shoes, Yumiko tells him a few sisterly things and, sort of just by the way, to look out for oddities.
Oddities like that time, a few days ago, when even Tezuka’s patience had worn thin for one reason or another (well, now Fuji knows why) and they had played a light practice game. Of course, even practice games, when between the two, of them had caused people to secretly slow down whatever they were supposed to be doing and watch.
Fuji wasn’t sure when it had gone wrong, but he had made sure to lose. No surprise there.
The moment Fuji had lost the last serve and the one game they had played was over, Tezuka barked "Twenty laps!"
Half of the club members reacted out of habit.
Fuji would normally find that rather amusing, but now he had run the laps he was ordered to and mulled whatever he might have done wrong.
Two days later, Tezuka had left for Kyushu.
About oddities. When they meet on their way to school, Fuji warns Eiji to beware of green lizards with a tail, and black cats crossing the street. Eiji doesn’t even notice, because he has caught sight of Oishi stepping off the bus and is waving and shouting. Fuji thinks that Oishi is looking a bit wary, as if he isn’t sure whether the creature heading towards him is dangerous or not. Then, Oishi embraces the chaos. The moment of hesitation only lasted about a quarter of a second. Oishi has come a long way since the first year.
Fuji is momentarily forgotten, it seems. He picks up the school identification card that Eiji had dropped, and wanders to greet Oishi as well. When he gets there, Eiji is talking about lizards.
Eiji pays more attention to things than most people believe, Fuji is reminded. He smiles to Oishi and repeats the warning.
(To Taka-san he reprimands, only write with mechanical pencils today. Inui should definitely stay away from cats. Echizen, well, Fuji doesn’t run into Echizen that morning, so he writes him a note instead.)
Fuji doesn't know why, himself. But perhaps it gives him an excuse. Not. But who cares?
(Tezuka is on the bus to the Rehabilitation Centre when the pocket of his windbreaker starts to vibrate. He pulls out the cell phone, looks at the number on the screen and hesitates a moment before answering. "Fuji."
He listens for about five seconds. He hangs up.)
He snaps back to reality and mentally calculates that it is the third time Eiji has called his name, so Fuji turns his head towards his friend and says that he is fine, really, no, nothing is on his mind. He starts stretching again, and thinks that Tezuka is being cold, and too much like Tezuka. It makes Fuji feel bad.
"I’m fine," Fuji repeats.
Eiji stops. "You look--" he hesitates, then shrugs apologetically. "Not good."
Thanks. Hm, people don’t say that to him very often. How do you reply to that?
Inui, right beside them, nods. "Your reflexes" he taps a pencil against his open notebook, "are almost three percent slower than usual. Are you getting enough sleep?"
Fuji waves goodbye to Eiji and Momoshiro, gives Echizen a personalized wiggle of his fingers and wink (to keep the boy on edge after that letter Fuji slipped him via Sakuno, earlier) and walks in the opposite direction of his friends, away from McDonalds, following the sidewalk from school.
All in all, the whole day has been an oddity in itself (and best described as bad), but no one notices but Fuji himself. (No matter how hard he has tried to spread the message.) He doesn't quite like it, not this time.
The thing is, a few weeks later it changes back to normal, only to soon become another abnormality. A better one.
Tezuka is the first clear thing that Fuji has seen in a while. It is such a cliché, but Fuji’s mind feels easier, like it is not made of grey cotton anymore. Smiling comes more naturally.
"Welcome back," Fuji says when they are alone for the first time since the arrival. Outside the school gates, when good mornings are usually in order. Tezuka looks at him oddly; it is so obvious what he is thinking, that Fuji is as eccentric as ever and he has been and a whole week has passed now since Tezuka came back from Kyushu.
Fuji has never felt need. There had just been this hole in wake of the unexpectedness. When Tezuka leaves, Fuji wants to be prepared for it. (He thinks about their upcoming graduation and this one game he has to play before that. And what will happen after. After.)
"Good morning," Tezuka replies after a while and steps onto the school grounds, walking directly towards the club house.
Fuji thinks it might be an invitation to some "well-we're-early-anyway" practicing. He smiles broader and shrugs with the shoulder that isn’t held down by his tennis bag. (There is nothing to worry about.)