title: Games People Play
fandom: Prince of Tennis
characters/pairings: Fuji/Tezuka, Fuji/Atobe, then Fuji/Tezuka again, Oishi/Eiji, Yumiko, Yuuta/OFC, some Yuuta/Mizuki, Inui, Taka, Yuushi/Gakuto, Saeki/Ann, Yukimura/Sanada, Momoshiro, Kaidou, Echizen
rating: M
warnings: me pretending to know things about actual tennis, vicious flirting, sex (many kinds), one rough non-con scene, emotional pain
summary: Misunderstanding, hurt emotions, pain, sex, love... all tools in the game.
notes: takes place post-series, much post series... there is Atobe/Fuji. And Fuji/Tezuka. ultimately, and initially, fuji/tezzie, but there will be a great deal of fuji/atobe in the meanwhile.

He didn't want to wake up right away. He couldn't remember what dreams he was being pulled from, but that wasn't the point. The fingers combing his hair felt good, as did the soft kisses to his cheek. He would just keep his eyes closed, and enjoy this.

"Syuusuke," Atobe whispered, smiling. "Open your eyes." His hand ran down Fuji's back, his fingertips circling lazily around the small of his back.

Fuji shook his head once, the very corners of his lips turning up in a grin.

"I know you are awake now. No point in playing games." Atobe kissed Syuusuke's lips, enticing him to kiss back.

Of course, Fuji knew there was always a point to any game, and this was exactly the purpose of this game. He kept his eyes closed.

Atobe sighed dramatically. "So unfair... you get to sleep in every morning. Now just open your eyes."

Fuji lifted his chin as he nuzzled the pillow. He let his hand slip across the sheet to Atobe's chest, sliding up slowly.

Chuckling deeply, Atobe took Fuji's hand, and kissed each finger slowly. "Now, now, scrumptious, it's your brother and sister and it was your idea to invite them along, so it should be you to greet them now that they are here."

Fuji's eyes snapped open. "Yuuta and Yumiko-neesan are here?"

Atobe smiled, genuinely amused. "Didn't you hear the phone ring?"

Fuji waved his hand dismissively in Atobe's face. "It's not my job to answer phones. How did they get here so early?"

"It's nearly noon," Atobe sighed. "And they took the train."

Sighing, Fuji cuddled up under the sheet. "I guess that means we should get up, hm?"

Atobe snuggled closer to Fuji. "I suppose we should."

Fuji ran his fingers through Atobe's fine, perfect hair, purposefully tangling his fingers in the strands. "Though, they probably aren't expecting us right away, are they? After all, they should be able to get into their rooms and get settled on their own."

Kissing Fuji's face slowly and thoroughly, Atobe smiled. "Just enough time for a nice shower, I'd say... if we conserved water and shared."

"It's good to be environmentally conscious," Fuji agreed.

He didn't think about whom else he might be meeting today until after the shower, when he was getting dressed.

Yuuta was talking to Yumiko rather animatedly, but to Fuji's disappointment, he quieted down as soon as he saw his brother and Atobe enter the garden. Yumiko turned and smiled widely at her brother. She winked at Atobe. "Glad we didn't keep you from what you were up at, eh?"

Atobe smirked, and strolled over to Yumiko, putting his hands on her shoulders to kiss her cheeks. "Naturally, my dear. And how are you? You look radiant, as always."

Yumiko laughed lightly. "And you are a charming devil, as always."

Fuji sat down next to his brother, and smiled brightly. He never had enough time with Yuuta. "So, did you have a good trip up?"

Yuuta glared absently at Fuji. "Neesan called me at four this morning to wake me up." There was a definite insinuation that it was all Fuji's fault.

"Well, I wanted to get out of the house before the baby woke up." Yumiko sighed and looked to Atobe as if he'd understand completely.

Atobe smirked. "A fine woman like you deserves better household help. That man you call husband should do better by you." He picked up Yumiko's hand and kissed it lightly.

Fuji rolled his eyes. "Stop sucking up to her, she's not going to run off with you."

"A pity," Atobe sighed. "A good woman like you could do even a scoundrel like me good."

Yumiko patted Atobe lightly on the thigh. "I'd suggest waiting for Syuusuke to save you, but I think you are too busy corrupting him."

"Me? Corrupt him?" Atobe smiled. "I don't think that's possible."

"Are you suggesting I'm evil?" Fuji smiled flirtatiously at Atobe.

Yuuta sighed noisily. "You two should go back to your room to have sex. We don't need you around, anyway."

"Mm, Yuuta, don't be mean," Fuji scooted his chair closer to his brother. "I can have sex with Keigo any time I want. I wanted to spend time with you this weekend."

"Your confidence is sexy, honey," Atobe murmured. "What do we want to do now?"

"As long as I can sit and do nothing, I'm fine with anything." Yumiko grinned and lounged in her chair.

"They have a very relaxing salt scrub bath here, good for skin, not that either of us need that. And their masseuses here are specially trained." Atobe leaned back, crossing his legs leisurely.

Yuuta snorted softly. "That's great. You three can be pampered if you like. I'm going to hike the trails here."

"I'll go with you," Fuji offered immediately. "I can take some landscape photographs."

Atobe grimaced slightly. "So eager to get away from me, Syuusuke? Not trying to run away from me, are you?" His gaze was a bit too penetrating to be lighthearted.

Fuji laughed brightly. "Insecure, Keigo?" He took Yuuta's hand, and stood up. "Let's go, Yuuta. The light is so good right now. Oh, we have to stop by my room for my camera..."

"Hey! Aniki!" Yuuta scowled. "Give me a minute... Hey!"

Yumiko laughed. "Let's meet at five for a drink before dinner, all right?"

Fuji waved as he dragged Yuuta off.

Atobe shook his head. "And he wonders why they have trouble getting along."

"They get along very well, actually," Yumiko corrected softly. "They just have their own way about it. Just like you and him."

"Mm, our own way, eh?" Atobe mused, still watching them go, even though they were out of sight. "I suppose we do. But I guess that's true of everyone, mm?"

Yumiko's expression slowly lost its playfulness. "What are you thinking about, you spoiled boy?"

Atobe smiled genially at her. "It doesn't really matter, I suppose. I would just prefer to have him in my sight today."

"Afraid he'll run off with the towel boy?" She was only half-teasing.

"It's not towel boys that worry me," Atobe sighed seriously.

Yumiko laughed, and stood up, kissing his cheek impulsively. "It's good to know you worry about him, regardless. It means you truly care for him."

Atobe scowled at her, somewhat annoyed. "You delight in him torturing me, don't you?"

"Is his affection torture?" Yumiko asked archly. "I'm not sure I like that implication."

Atobe smiled, and spread his hands out. "I can't be disagreeable in the company of a beautiful woman. Please, let's put this aside, and enjoy the luxuries available, mm?"

Yumiko smiled. "I like the way your mind works."

"So you don't mind all the perverse things I do to your younger brother then, hm?" Atobe winked as he offered Yumiko his arm.

Yumiko pinched Atobe's ass as she took his arm. "As long as he's happy, who am I to complain?"

Atobe smirked as he grumbled good-naturedly. "You Fujis, always going just a bit beyond what's expected."

Yuuta's patience with Fuji's photography was limited under the best of circumstances, so Fuji didn't push his luck. He did manage to get a few good shots, though, before Yuuta started glaring at him. It was early afternoon; the sun was high, pouring down light from between the canopy of green lace. The air was less dense up here, the sun wasn't oppressive, and the trail was sloped comfortably.

It was a beautiful day.

They got to a clearing near the summit. There was a view of a mighty waterfall off to the right, and Yuuta was patient as Fuji took pictures, because Fuji wisely did not ask Yuuta to pose in the picture. Yuuta even took some interest in the different cameras and films Fuji used, and asked a few questions without becoming defensive.

It was a good day.

They sat down to just enjoy the view. The grass was short here, because it was trod upon so often. Fuji brushed his fingers over the ground. He was never a great lover of nature, but these occasional forays into the great outdoors left him feeling rejuvenated.

They were quiet together, which was rare, so even if Fuji could think of anything to say, he didn't know that he would want to; for so long, it would have been impossible for them to be so at peace with each other's company.

"Are you happy with Atobe-san?"

Fuji blinked. The question seemed to have come out of nowhere. "Happy?" He considered. "I suppose I am. I have no complaints. Are you happy, Yuuta? What about that girl you are seeing... Ah, what's her name again... Sakuna? Sakura? Saki?"

Yuuta snuffed, annoyed. "Kiraya. Aniki, you knew that." He shifted, irritated, searching the grass for something he knew wasn't there. "She's fine. She wants me to move in with her, but... yanno, her apartment is pretty... pristine. I... heard from Mizuki-san the other day. He's at the University of Southern California, now. He's the assistant coach for the women's tennis team. He... invited me to visit."

Fuji nodded slowly. He thought out at least seven complete reactions before he even considered saying anything. "Do you want to visit him?"

Shrugging, Yuuta stared off into the distance, his eyes facing the sun. "I don't know. I want to. Kiraya doesn't understand. She doesn't like Mizuki. I... suppose I understand how she feels. Sometimes, though, I feel like I don't really have any connection with her at all. And when Mizuki calls, it's... it's so easy, we can just talk, and we understand each other... and I would like to see him again."

Fuji watched his brother seriously. He wondered sometimes just what had transpired between his brother and Mizuki, but he couldn't just ask, and Yuuta never offered to tell him. "If you want to go, go. Don't let Kiraya stop you."

"Sometimes, though, I wonder if... maybe... we cling to things that are past, and they... get in the way of good things that are possible now. You know what I mean, Aniki?" There was something in the way Yuuta said it, something in the way he was looking away, that made Fuji look at what he was saying more in depth.

"Mm, Yuuta, you aren't trying to tell me something, are you?" Fuji grinned cheerfully.

Yuuta was quiet for a moment, brushing the grass with his fingers like they had as children. "We saw him this morning, when we were checking in. Did you know he was going to be here?"

The absurdity of the question, doubled upon its second asking, made Fuji laugh, even though he didn't really find it funny at all. "Of course not, Yuuta. I didn't even know he was in Japan. He doesn't keep me apprised of his schedule these days." There was more than a slight hint of bitterness in his tone, and it shook him. He hadn't known that Tezuka still had that much power over him. Of course, that was just like Tezuka.

Yuuta watched Fuji carefully, until Fuji turned to smile at him brightly. "Aniki. I... You know... Just..." Yuuta sighed.

Fuji poked Yuuta in the shoulder. "Say, Yuuta, want to play some tennis?"

"A-Aniki?" Yuuta stared at Fuji.

Fuji smiled. "It's been a long time since we played tennis, hasn't it?"

"I... didn't bring a racquet." Yuuta was hedging, but he wasn't saying no.

Fuji grinned, standing up. "They have some at the clubhouse. Let's go."

They walked down to the courts, taunting each other playfully in an old rhythm that was so ingrained into them, they could never forget. There were six courts total, each one separated, and surrounded by tasteful landscaping so that one might almost think that the courts were part of nature. It was quiet here, as there weren't many people who came up to use the perfectly maintained courts.

Only one court was being used.

Fuji could have just walked by, ignored him. Yuuta tugged on his shirt to do just that. But it wasn't in Fuji's nature to walk past an opportunity.

He strolled up to the chain link fence, and wound his fingers around the links of the fence, watching Tezuka serve with a hunter's keen interest. He saw, from the corner of his eye, Tezuka's American publicist in the corner, but he pretended he didn't.

Tezuka saw Fuji right away, but he didn't stop serving. He watched Fuji from over his shoulder, and then tossed the ball gently in the air, a perfect arc nicely sliced by a strong swing.

Fuji's grin didn't waver, but the slice did surprise him.

Yuuta came to stand by Fuji's side, trying to indicate that it they should move on. Fuji nodded at Yuuta absently, but he made no move to leave.

"Do I need permission to take your picture these days, Tezuka-kun?" Fuji called out, just before Tezuka started his next serve. "I hate dealing with the entourage, you know? Such a hassle."

Tezuka turned to look at Fuji. His publicist, a woman who seemed to live to annoy Fuji, rushed forward, blathering about something or another. Fuji wasn't paying attention to her. There was fire in Tezuka's eyes. It was glorious. "I would have thought you would have been busy with your... own entourage."

"Eh?" Fuji looked at Yuuta in honest confusion. "Yuuta? Are you my entourage now?"

"Hmph!" Yuuta crossed his arms over his chest and closed his eyes. "You wish, Aniki."

"Yuuta," Tezuka nodded solemnly. Yuuta acknowledged him with a soft snort.

"So?" Fuji clutched the fence tighter. "Can I?"

"Would you want to?" Tezuka's voice was half wondering, half bitter. He turned away from Fuji. "I thought you had found more interesting subjects."

Fuji would have liked to have been able to say something to Tezuka that would have cut him, but he couldn't think of anything honest to say that would hurt. "Don't you want me to take your picture anymore, Tezuka?"

Tezuka paused, just watching Fuji. "Do as you like. You always do."

"Tch." Fuji sighed, pulling out his camera. "That's hardly true."

Tezuka scowled, and hit the net on his next serve.

"Mm, Tezuka, give me something worth photographing, hm?" Fuji smiled casually.

Tezuka glared at Fuji. "Do you want something from me?"

"Are you offering?" Fuji returned quickly. "I was under the impression you didn't want anything to do with me."

Tezuka dropped his racquet to his side, only barely maintaining his grip on it. He turned to face Fuji. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Fuji tilted his head to the side, affecting confusion. "Isn't that what it means when a person cuts off all communication with someone?"

Tezuka narrowed his eyes. "Didn't seem to bother you much." He turned his back to Fuji.

Yuuta glared, and grabbed Fuji's arm. "Let's go, Aniki. I don't feel much like playing anymore."

"Mm, Tezuka, you've chased off my opponent. How mean. You'll have to play me now." Fuji smirked.

"Aniki!" Yuuta sighed, frustrated. "You don't have time! We're meeting Neesan and Atobe at five, remember?"

Fuji shrugged. "Time enough for a quick game, right?" Fuji walked around Yuuta to the gate, and stepped inside the court. "You'll go easy on me, won't you? After all, it's been a while since I've played at your level."

"No!" The annoying publicist stepped in between Tezuka and Fuji. "Tezuka-san is training now. He doesn't need distractions." She turned her back to Fuji, facing Tezuka. "This isn't a good idea."

Tezuka wasn't looking at her. "Training's over for today. You can take the rest of the day off, Sam." He walked over to his tennis bag, and pulled out a spare racquet, holding it out for Fuji without looking up.

"Tezuka-san!" Sam protested vainly. Fuji grinned, and brushed past Sam intentionally to get the racquet.

"Thanks." Fuji felt the grip of it, just getting a feel for the racquet. "Didn't even bother to bring one this time."

"Do you still play?" Tezuka's voice was cold and he purposefully wasn't looking at Fuji as he spoke. He got out a new can of balls, and popped it open, stuffing two in his pocket. "Mind if I serve?"

Fuji shrugged. A long time ago, they never flipped for serve, or discussed it. They played each other nearly every day, when they were training, and at least once a week during the season. They just traded off. Fuji had no way of knowing whose serve it was; that was just one inconsequential detail in a whole litany of details that were far more vivid in his memory. Standing now on the court, facing Tezuka, bouncing from foot to foot in preparation of the serve...

He grinned.

Tezuka's serve was good, but Fuji had seen better. He didn't waste time humoring Tezuka. Clearly, this was an insult, and Fuji treated it as such, sending the ball back to Tezuka with alarming speed and accuracy. Tezuka watched the ball go past, knowing before it had a chance to clear the net that he wouldn't be able to reach it. He pulled out a second ball, and prepared to serve again, this time putting more strength into it.

The courts were red, framed in green, their world divided by seven white lines. Atobe liked clay courts, but this wasn't clay, just red. Fuji had courted Tezuka once, on green courts outside of Seigaku. He had used tennis as a tease to intrigue and allure, and caught Tezuka's interest. The best game of his life had been played on grass, opposite the same man, but with different eyes.

That wasn't all that was different.

Sam got tired of pleading with Tezuka to stop, and had left. Fuji knew why she was so insistent. It was as plain as day to him, each stroke of Tezuka's arm acting like a signal. He didn't understand it, though, and that was frustrating.

Tezuka was getting annoyed, too, and that was making the game far more interesting than it had any right to be, which only served to further annoy Fuji. This just wasn't right.

Fuji bounced the ball several times, preparing to serve. He hadn't tried his underhand serve in a long time, and he needed to remember the exact spin he needed. "Say, Tezuka, didn't you have surgery on your shoulder just last year?" He caught the ball, watching Tezuka sharply. "What's wrong? Didn't the surgery work?"

Tezuka's reaction was nonexistent, at least to anyone who didn't know Tezuka well. But at least some things hadn't changed. He was able to return Fuji's serve, but it was weak, and ended up going out. Fuji picked up a ball from the edges of the court, and got ready to serve again.

Just as he dropped the ball to hit it, Tezuka spoke. "I'm surprised you would know about my surgery."

The serve didn't have the necessary slice to it. Fuji narrowed his eyes, and prepared to return. "I'm not the one who walked out, Tezuka. Don't play the part of the martyr with me."

Tezuka just grunted, and returned the ball as hard as he could.

Yuuta watched them, until it was ten to five. He tried to persuade Fuji to leave, but Fuji just kept playing. It was infuriating, knowing that Tezuka was causing himself pain, but he still played, so Fuji still played.

Tezuka took a drink of water as Yuuta stormed off. He watched Yuuta go, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Aren't you afraid of incurring your lover's wrath?"

Fuji laughed, genuinely amused. "His wrath? Was that a joke? I think you're just afraid of losing to me again." Fuji winked at Tezuka, and pocketed a few balls.

Tezuka watched Fuji go to the baseline, and he sighed. "Why him? Of all the people... why him?"

Fuji laughed again, but this time, there was more of an edge to his voice. "Naturally, Tezuka, I thought to myself, who can I fuck that will really hurt Tezuka? Because I would use my body like that against you."

Tezuka stared at Fuji. "You don't need to be so crude about it."

Fuji bounced the ball testily. "It bothers you, doesn't it? The idea of him touching me... putting his mouth on me... Coming inside of me. What right do you have, anyway?" He scowled at the ball in his hand. "Didn't you make the choice to leave? I was the one left behind, if I remember correctly." He tossed the ball in the air. His serve was fast, but inaccurate, wavering with his anger. He swallowed it all down, pushing past the griping fingers of memory, and concentrated on the moment at hand.

Tezuka returned, weakly, and they started to volley back and forth. In this moment, right now, they were as intent upon each other as if they were in bed together. The fire in Tezuka's eyes excited and elevated Fuji, but he measured his talent carefully, keeping the score close.

There was something wrong with Tezuka's arm.

Fuji waited for Tezuka's serve, getting impatient. He tightened his grip on Tezuka's racquet, narrowing his eyes. He could just ask. He could tell Tezuka it was pointless to keep playing when it was obvious that Tezuka wasn't up to snuff. But Tezuka wouldn't be swayed.

"Did you ever think about me? Even once, after you left?" Fuji smirked as the ball bounced in front of Tezuka, still in position to serve. "Did you ever wonder what I was up to? Were you even happy to see me last night?"

Tezuka picked up the ball, sighing. "I was happy, last night. Until Atobe showed up. I didn't want to believe it, even though he was right in front of me."

"Ah, I see," Fuji sighed. "You don't really care about me at all, you just don't want to lose to Atobe."

"Is that what you think?" Tezuka replied testily. Fuji bit his lip to keep from smiling. Naturally, he couldn't return this serve. Tezuka's passion drove it with blazing speed. Fuji casually went to the other side of the court. "Is that what you think of my feelings?"

"It's better than nothing, I suppose." Fuji shrugged, and got ready to return the ball.

"You don't understand anything," Tezuka spat out, serving with equal fury, though this time, Fuji was ready for it.

They went game for game, until the sun set, and the lights over the courts flickered on. Sweat poured down their backs, their hair sticking to the back of their necks. Fuji flirted with Tezuka with smashes and volleys, teasingly drawing out Tezuka until he knew he must be ready to break, but Tezuka was always ready with more.

Tezuka served, and Fuji just stood up straight, tipping his head back, closing his eyes. The stars above were obscured by the lights, washed out by the artificial orange lights, but present, like tiny pin pricks in the fabric of the sky. The moon was new, hidden. Fuji smiled.

He had so missed this.

"Are you done, then?" Tezuka wasn't happy, but then, Tezuka always hated it when the rules changed mid-game. Fuji laughed silently, wiping his brow to partially cover it.

"Why do you try so hard? This isn't a real game. This isn't anything. Why can't you just admit it? Your arm is hurting. Your shoulder, your elbow... Wimbledon is coming up, Tezuka. Shouldn't you be tending to yourself?" He didn't expect answers, so he didn't wait for them. This was futile. He strolled over to where Tezuka's bag was, put back Tezuka's racquet, and then drank Tezuka's water.

Tezuka followed him slowly, standing over Fuji, watching him. "Why did you quit?"

Fuji leaned back on the bench, smiling up at Tezuka. "You can't tell me that you still haven't figured that out."

Tezuka looked away, his profile as handsome as ever. Fuji half wished to rip his eyes out, rather than fall under this spell again. "I thought about you every day, every minute of every day. I tried to figure it out a million different ways, what I had done wrong, how I had failed you. I tried to understand it... I used to dream that someday... I would... come home and... I would go to see you. You would be living in a house outside of Tokyo, a traditional house. You would be wearing traditional clothes when I saw you. You would pour tea for me, and I would... beg you to forgive me. You would tilt your head in the way that you do, and tell me come back tomorrow. And I would, and I would ask you again, and again, you would tell me come back tomorrow, until... until eventually, you would tell me that you can't forgive me because you've forgotten what I've done wrong, and... we would have started over again."

"That's ridiculous," Fuji scoffed. "You know how much I hate traditional clothes."

Tezuka smiled slightly, bending his head down as he took the water from Fuji. "But you look so good in them."

"Mm," Fuji grinned, looking away. Images of Summer Festivals of the past, cornering Tezuka in some shadowy out-of-the-way niche, wafted like the faraway scent of sakura blossoms in the wind. "You're here to heal, aren't you? We should go to the springs."

"What?" Tezuka blinked. "You mean... together?"

Fuji laughed brightly. "Of course I mean together. It's what people do here, Tezuka."

"Aren't you going to be late for dinner?" Tezuka narrowed his eyes.

Fuji shrugged. "I'm already late, and it's not like I can go all sweaty like this. We both need to clean off. Don't be such a prude." He picked up Tezuka's bag and started off to leave the court. He grinned at Tezuka over his shoulder.

Tezuka watched him for a moment, and then followed.

There were some things that just couldn't be forgotten. Fuji's hands moved over Tezuka's skin, and a million tangible memories swelled over him like the steam pouring off the water. A definite sense of rightness pushed aside things that otherwise he would be inclined to think of, and he concentrated on Tezuka's muscles, rolling his arm around in its socket, massaging the muscles loose.

He drifted closer to Tezuka, letting his other hand slide over Tezuka's chest. Tezuka's eyes were closed, his lips parted, and Fuji imagined tasting those lips again, the sensation of it so clear in his mind it was like he had leaned over and taken a bite. He pressed his chest to Tezuka's back, and brushed his lips over Tezuka's neck, pushing aside wet hair with his nose. "Doesn't seem so long ago now, does it?"

Tezuka shook in his arms, and Fuji felt heat swell his body. "Syuusuke..."

Fuji's arms tightened around Tezuka, pulling himself flush to Tezuka. Their bodies slide over each other in the water, the loose friction teasingly delightful. "Are we on such intimate terms again, Kunimitsu?"

"What about..." Tezuka was breathing deeply. "Atobe?"

Fuji blinked. "You shouldn't be thinking about Keigo now, Kunimitsu. He's not the one who is here with you." Fuji opened his mouth and pressed his lips to Tezuka's ear, sticking his tongue out to tease Tezuka.

"But..." Tezuka's confusion was melting into his arousal. "This isn't right..."

"This isn't right?" Fuji chuckled, lazily moving around Tezuka to face him. "What's not right about this?" His hands moved under the water, his palms flat against Tezuka's soaked flesh. "When has this ever been 'not right'?" Fuji drifted closer, slipping his arms around Tezuka's neck, his eyes half-closing, his lips parted and ready.

Tezuka put his hands on Fuji's hips, keeping them just far apart enough. "But. He's your lover. Are you... breaking up with him?"

"What?" Fuji was genuinely confused, and annoyed. "Why are you resisting this? Don't you want me?"

Tezuka sagged against the rocky sides of the pool. "Want you? Syuusuke... I feel like I'm able to breathe again, finally."

Fuji smiled. "That's enough, isn't it?" He surged forward, taking Tezuka's mouth, finally, at last, his tongue slipping easily into Tezuka's mouth as his body pressed against Tezuka's.

Tezuka pushed him back. "Enough? Syuusuke... I need all of you. I don't want you to ever go back to him."

Fuji scowled, and pushed himself further away. "It's not really yours to ask for, is it? How do I know you won't leave me again, mm? This is what I'm offering you, Tezuka. Isn't it good enough for you?"

Tezuka turned his face away, dropping his forehead to his clenched fist. "I don't understand. I don't understand why you quit. I don't understand what went wrong. I don't understand why you would be with him. I don't understand why this isn't working."

The sound of water echoed all around them. It suddenly felt later than it was, and uncomfortably hot. Fuji pushed his arms back and forth through the water. "Why do you think I quit, Tezuka?"

Flinching slightly from the use of his family name again, Tezuka sighed. "I don't know. You were at the top of your game. You were number one in the world. I can't... I can't imagine why you would have wanted to quit. I suppose... I can only guess that you must have gotten tired of me."

Fuji's laughter drowned out the water. He tipped his head back to laugh louder, his hair getting trapped in the steam and the water. He slipped over to the egress, and climbed out of the water. "Did it ever once occur to you, Tezuka, that it wasn't you that I was tired of, but it was tennis?" He stood shamelessly above Tezuka. "That game with you was the best game I would ever play. Why would I continue to play, and deal with all the nonsense that comes with pro tennis, when the best would always be behind me?"

Sighing softly, Tezuka closed his eyes. "I have misunderstood things terribly."

Stretching out his neck, Fuji smiled to himself. "Come on, don't loiter. Let's get dinner."

The dining room was small, servicing only the guests of the resort. There were about a dozen tables, with couples ranging in ages from the old to the young, and small families. The largest table was on a small dais at the top of the room, where Atobe, Yuuta, and Yumiko were sitting.

Fuji glanced in their direction, but went directly to a small table. Tezuka followed his lead, less confident, but when he sat down, he looked only at Fuji.

Fuji ordered their sake and food, and held up both ends of the conversation. It wasn't unusual when it was the two of them. Tezuka loved to hear Fuji speak, loved the sound of Fuji's voice, loved his turns of expression, even. He had told Fuji that many years ago, while they were still in school, in fact. Tezuka had blushed, and dipped his head down as he said it. Fuji couldn't remember if it had been raining that day, or if they were indoors or out. He liked to remember it as they were outside, walking home together, in the rain, but they might have even been in bed together. Still, Fuji remembered the exact color of Tezuka's blush. It was one the most beautiful things he had ever seen, and every time after that, when they conversed like this, with Fuji talking, and Tezuka just watching him, Fuji would remember that blush, and he wouldn't feel awkward about talking alone.

Tonight was different, though.

Fuji's hands cupped his glass of sake, and he turned it around and around as he spoke about nothing at all. Tezuka's eyes were warm, and somehow, Fuji had forgotten the exact color of them. He had plenty of pictures of Tezuka, but he hadn't spent much time in the past five years looking at him, especially after he finally accepted that Tezuka wasn't coming back.

Tezuka's eyes were just so gorgeous... Fuji lost the thread of what he was saying at least twice. It was annoying, really. He didn't like being so easily swayed, even by Tezuka.

He knew that Atobe would be annoyed. It was almost funny, like a bonus of the game. He wasn't even rewarding himself with a view of Atobe. He purposefully sat so that his back was to the head table. He expected Atobe to come see him, but, really, that just made it all the easier for him.

Atobe sat down next to him, grabbing his elbow. He grinned less than politely at Tezuka, and jerked Fuji toward him. "Syuusuke, you've been so kind to keep Tezuka-kun busy all this time, but don't you think it's time you rejoined us?"

Fuji pulled his arm away from Atobe, looking rather vexed. "Keigo, you're making a scene. Go back to your table."

Snarling, Atobe grabbed Fuji's arm again, and jerked him roughly. "This isn't funny. I expect you to stand up and move now."

"Do you?" Fuji asked icily, holding his hand up to keep Tezuka in his seat. He smiled cruelly at Atobe. "That isn't going to happen. Let go of me."

"Is this your choice, then?" Atobe spared a dark glace for Tezuka. "To go crawling back to him the moment he appears? Your family is up there, and so am I."

Fuji put his hand over Atobe's and shoved his grip away. "Go away, Keigo. You're ruining my dinner."

Atobe stood up and stomped off loudly, causing a stir amongst the resort's guests. Fuji sighed, and picked up his glass of sake, ignoring the chatter. "Such drama!"

Tezuka looked nervously from Fuji to the door that Atobe just exited through to the table at the top of the room where Yumiko and Yuuta were busily conversing together. He cleared his throat gently. "You did know that when you first... began. With him."

"I did," Fuji smiled. "But that doesn't make it fun to live with."

Tezuka looked down at his plate. "You live with him."

Fuji watched Tezuka closely. "It bothers you."

"Of course it does," Tezuka scowled.

"How much?" Fuji sipped his sake, his eyes unblinkingly watching Tezuka.

"What are you asking me?" Tezuka raised his eyes to look directly at Fuji. "Do you honestly think I would only be interested in you because of some ancient competition with Atobe? I don't care about him at all. It's you that I..."

Fuji could have pressed Tezuka to finish the sentence, but it would have been futile, and he knew what Tezuka was thinking, regardless. It was written in the nervous motions of his hands. Fuji smiled, just a bit. "It's been five years, Tezuka, and this is the first time you've tried to speak to me. Can you blame me for being... distrustful?"

There was a blank pause, and there was no thrill in having silenced Tezuka. Fuji could see the old patterns in the way Tezuka poked at his food with his chopsticks. He waited patiently for what Tezuka would have to say.

"I don't blame you for distrusting me, I suppose. You were waiting for me to call you, and I was waiting for you to call me. It can't have been helped, I suppose. But... If it is selfish to want another chance, then, I will have to be selfish."

"Mm, but I did call you, Tezuka. I called you dozens of times. And then you changed your number, and you changed your codes. I suppose that charming publicist of yours never gave you any messages, hm?" Fuji ate his food conscientiously, making sure not to look at Tezuka as he spoke.

Tezuka didn't speak for a moment. "Ah... no... I... If I had ever gotten a message, I would have returned it. I was waiting for you to call."

"I was just waiting for you," Fuji sighed, holding his face in his hand. "But then I stopped waiting."

Tezuka's mouth was open, but his chopsticks were on his plate, and he wasn't speaking.

Fuji was suddenly surrounded by his sister. She kissed him on the cheek. "Syuusuke, you naughty boy, enjoying your dinner, I hope?"

"Sorry for abandoning you," Fuji apologized, touching his sister's arms as she clung to him.

"Don't be ridiculous," Yumiko smiled. "Just gave me a chance to monopolize your charming boyfriend. Hello, Tezuka-kun."

"Hello, Kaima-san. You look well." Tezuka nodded briefly.

"Of course I do," Yumiko sniffed. "I always do. So, Syuusuke, are you almost done here?"

"Mm, not quite," Fuji patted his sister's arms, pulling away slightly. "See you later, Neesan."

"C'mon," Yuuta tugged on Yumiko's elbow. "Let's leave them alone." Yuuta was definitely not going to look at Tezuka.

Tezuka watched Fuji's siblings leave. "They don't seem very happy with me."

"Mm?" Fuji ate, cheerfully. "Why would you say that?"

"I've hurt you," Tezuka looked down at his fingers.

Fuji didn't respond at first. He looked out the window at the dark outlines of the trees and trails. "It's nice up here, isn't it? It's good to be here."

Tezuka didn't say anything for a moment, and then he reached out, and touched just the end of his fingers to Fuji's hand, tracing the lines of Syuusuke's hand. "It is."

Fuji smiled, and finished his dinner.

The knocking was constant, soft, and very irritating. Yuuta had no doubt at all who would be there. He moved as slowly as he could given that he really wanted to stop the damned knocking.

He opened the door roughly, almost pulling the abused thing off its hinges. "Aniki. It's late. Go to your own room. I was up at four this morning, you know."

"Let me sleep here tonight?" Fuji smiled brightly.

"What did you do?" Yuuta glared at Fuji.

Fuji shrugged. "What makes you think I did anything?"

"Did you sleep with him?"

Fuji wanted to laugh, but he would have disturbed the people, probably asleep, in the neighboring rooms. "Sleep with who? Yuuta, let me in."

"Why?" Yuuta narrowed his eyes, clutching the door as if Fuji would bust in. "Why can't you go to your own room?"

It was the role of a little brother, Fuji supposed, to ask complicated questions expecting simple answers. "I could. I don't want to. Let me in."

"Atobe is going to be mad at you," Yuuta pouted.

Fuji repressed the urge to sigh. "Then he will be mad at me. What can I do about that? Let me in, Yuuta."

"Fine," Yuuta sighed, stepping aside. "But you should be more considerate of his feelings."

"He's considerate enough of his feelings for the both of us," Fuji assured, tiredly.

"Have you been with Tezuka all this time?" Yuuta asked, closing the door behind Fuji.

Sighing, Fuji rolled his neck around. "No. We spent a long time with dinner. And then... I went for a walk." He'd spent a long time thinking under the stars, but he assumed that Yuuta could surmise that from what he said.

"Are you going back to him?" Yuuta was fussing over him. At another time, Fuji would be very pleased about this.

"No, Yuuta, I'm going to bed. Aren't you tired?" Fuji smiled at his younger brother, closing off all further conversation.

Yuuta sighed, and crawled into bed. "Fine, fine, don't talk to me. But you'd better stay on your side of the bed."

"You don't want to spoon?" Fuji asked, innocently.

He waited until Yuuta's breathing was even, and then he crawled into bed.

He was tired, tired of thinking. He closed his eyes, and forced himself to dream.

ProloguePart One • Part Two • Part ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart EightEpilogue BACK