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 had considered firing his driver twice before, for being overly chatty once when he had wanted to be alone with Fuji, and once for nearly getting in an accident. He liked to drive, no matter how many comments he got about his accident, but going to and from work was boring, under the best of circumstances, and it was nice to be able to do something other than think about traffic.

Today, though, he would definitely fire his driver. Thirty-five minutes from the office to home in the middle of the afternoon was completely absurd. The man should know about relevant construction delays, and adjust his route.

At least he had an excuse to not go back to the office.

Coming home in the middle of the day was always fun, though, because he had so few opportunities to surprise Fuji. Fuji was highly surprise resistant, and would hide his reaction on the few times that he was taken aback. He opened the door slowly, in case he might actually be able to catch Fuji unawares.

He placed his attaché case down next to the door, and slipped his shoes off. The first floor of their apartment had a loft ceiling, and floor to ceiling windows, which Fuji had painted an open, abstract design on so that, in the afternoon light, their otherwise somewhat cold and austere living space would be streaked with messy splashes of color. The predominant colors of the decorating were black, silver, and a deep mahogany, so the colors sometimes seemed like a child had finger-painted on a Magritte.

Stopping just before a splotch of blue, he smiled. Fuji was on his tiptoes, rearranging their bookshelf, again. He was wearing the jeans with the tears in the back of the thighs, and white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The fabric of the shirt was smooth and shimmered in the light, illuminated with a streak of blue.

Atobe smiled. Worthier, he reminded himself.

He approached Fuji quietly, but he knew that Fuji knew that he was there. The way he was not looking in Atobe's direction was just too purposeful. Still, it was just as Atobe wanted.

Slipping behind Fuji, he put his hands on his lover's hips, and gently kissed his neck. His hair was getting long again, and the tendrils were teasing his nose as he tasted Fuji's skin.

"You're home early," Fuji sighed. "Keigo..."

He wrapped his arms around Fuji's waist, and sighed against his skin. "Are you going to ask me to stop? Please, Syuusuke... Miss you." He rubbed his nose against the skin over Fuji's jugular, and rubbed a hand over the layers of fabric over Fuji's hip.

"Mm..." Fuji's eyes slipped closed, and he wavered between leaning into Atobe's embrace, and out of it. "I have to go in a few minutes... Eiji and Oishi's thing..."

Atobe refrained from scowling. "I was going to go with you, as I remember, but I suppose that's not necessary now, hm? Still." Fuji was always fashionably late, so Atobe did not take that protest as a request to cease what he was doing. He slipped a hand up Fuji's shirt, just to touch his belly.

Fuji raised his hand to brush his fingers into Atobe's hair. "You're... not trying to be difficult, are you?"

"Difficult?" Atobe asked with disdain. "Is this difficult?" He slid his hand over to pop open the button on Fuji's jeans. He turned Fuji slightly, kissing his adam's apple wetly. "Do you want me to stop, Syuusuke? Tell me to stop." He held his hand still, just at the opening to Fuji's jeans. "I'll stop if you want me to. Just say it, say no..."

Fuji turned to Atobe a bit more, holding onto Atobe's shoulders. His eyes were closed, and he said nothing intelligible.

Atobe smirked, and pressed Fuji against the bookcase, and unzipped his jeans, pushing one hand down the front, and one down the back. He kissed and licked his way across Fuji's collarbone, and back again, then up neck, his chin, pausing before his lips. He caressed Fuji's ass from the back, and just cupped him from the front. "Open your eyes."

Fuji blinked a few times sleepily, and then met Atobe's gaze.

He looked into those blue-green eyes for a moment, and then smirked, catching Fuji's mouth, parting his lips, tasting him. "Missed you," he reiterated softly against Fuji's lips.

"Your fault," Fuji dismissed, moving his hands distractedly over Atobe's shoulders.

"Of course," he grabbed another kiss, and then went down to his knees. "Let me make it up to you."

He pushed Fuji's jeans down his thighs, giving himself more room to work. He knew that Fuji never wore underwear with these jeans; they were one of Atobe's favorite pairs. He massaged Fuji's ass from the back, and took his time in the front, luxuriating in the scent, the texture, the taste of Fuji, the way Fuji's fingers would dig into his hair, fingernails on his scalp, when he sucked on that place between his cock and his balls, the way Fuji would moan if he licked his balls just right, the way Fuji would shiver when he licked the tip of his cock like it was a popsicle... He knew this well, this pleasure, knew how to give it, made sure that every touch, every taste, every breath was used to maximum effectivity... He knew the exact moment before Fuji gasped, and clutched at his jacket, the exact moment before Fuji shuddered, and came, and he drank and sucked and nursed out every last drop, because this was an elixir to him, this salty, bitter brew that he knew like no one else.

He leaned back on his haunches, and pulled up Fuji's jeans, carefully tucking him back in before zipping him up again, buttoning him up, and then he kissed Fuji's stomach under his bellybutton, kissed his bellybutton, slid his arms up Fuji's always too-loose shirt, and pulled him into his arms, and kissed him, hard, almost brutally, because when Fuji was this pliant, he always loved just a touch of roughness, the illusion of being overpowered.

Fuji blearily smiled at Atobe, and shook his head. "Complications..."

He caressed Fuji's back loosely. "Doesn't have to be."

"Mm..." Fuji put his cheek against Atobe's shoulder, and then pushed away. "Going now. Might be back late."

"Thought the 'Golden Pair' had an early flight," Atobe commented, a bit too sharply to be offhanded.

Fuji shrugged, grinning at Atobe. "Maybe they do; I've forgotten. Bye, Keigo," he waved, smiling.

Atobe narrowed his eyes. "Later, Syuusuke."

Fuji was laughing as he went out the door.

They had the private room in Kawamura sushi set aside for their use - tables of the best, freshest sushi, pots of steaming green tea, and good companionship.

Tezuka held his cup of tea in front of his mouth, defensively, his eyes darting to the door every few seconds. Oishi and Kikumaru were at the head of the table; Kikumaru was feeding Oishi, and trying to get him to eat some wasabi. The room was filled with people that Tezuka used to consider close friends, but he felt completely detached from them now. Momoshiro had a child, a rambunctious, monkey-like boy who was climbing all over his father. Tezuka had no idea Momoshiro had a child, and this boy was old enough to be climbing all around like that.

With the exception of Oishi, Tezuka had no idea what was going on with any of them, and he only had gotten in touch with Oishi this week. He sipped his tea, and watched the door for Fuji.

Kikumaru had blown off the fact that Fuji was late, but it bothered Tezuka. He wanted Fuji to be with him.

The room was loud, as a room of reasonable size got when filled with people. Tezuka hadn't actually realized how much he had been isolated himself from his home until now. He had just about nothing to say to anyone about any topic. There shouldn't have been such a huge gulf between them, but enough time had passed that they might as well have been speaking different languages; Tezuka had no idea what any of them were talking about, and besides a few perfunctory comments about Echizen, they had nothing to talk to him about, either.

He would have made a discreet exit, but he was still waiting for Fuji. Fuji had definitely said he would be here today, so he knew that Fuji would be here. Fuji was reliable.

There was a general air of joviality, which made it easier to sit back and be quiet. He ate slowly and quietly, and kept his eye on the door. Still, when Fuji did appear, looking somewhat rumpled and out of breath, Tezuka was completely surprised.

Fuji kissed Kikumaru's cheek, and patted Oishi on the head, making some excuse for his lateness. Kawamura asked about Atobe, but Fuji brushed the question aside, nabbing a piece of wasabi sushi as he made his way to Tezuka's side. He sat down, but he didn't immediately greet Tezuka, busy teasing Momoshiro's son.

He just turned to smile at Tezuka, and then started to fill his plate.

It was like he had had cotton in his ears, and everything was now clear. He became aware, not only that everyone around him was chatting, but what they were saying. They kept asking Fuji about Atobe, but occasionally, Fuji's hand would brush against his.

He and Kaidou got into a discussion about European economic policies and how they affected world politics. It was a good diversion, since Kikumaru had come over to thank Fuji for the loan of Atobe's house in Greece, which somehow seemed to necessitate teasing Fuji about what he had to do to gain Atobe's acceptance.

Tezuka's hands were balled up into fists in his lap. These were people he had grown up with, people he had learned with, people who knew them. Them. It was maddening.

Oishi sat down next to him, and smiled at him. Kikumaru jumped away from Fuji, and put his arms around Oishi. They were going to have to leave soon, and the party reached that awkward moment when it would have been convenient to just be able to stand up and tell everyone to get out. Oishi shook his hand and wished him luck at Wimbledon. Kikumaru kissed Fuji on the mouth, and Oishi laughed, and dragged him away.

They left to cheers, and Tezuka thought that it might now be over, but Kawamura told everyone that they were welcome to stay as long as they liked.

He might have sighed, because Fuji put his hand on top of Tezuka's. "Are you busy?"

Tezuka looked directly into Fuji's eyes. "Of course not."

Fuji smiled. "I was hoping to monopolize more of your time."

People were watching, but Tezuka ignored them. "It's yours, then."

Fuji stood up. "No time to waste, then. Sorry, but have to make our farewells..."

It took entirely too long for them to extract themselves from their friends, and when they got out onto the sidewalk, Tezuka took a deep breath, like he'd been underwater for too long.

Fuji smiled to himself, watching Tezuka. "Had enough of being social, Tezuka?"

He watched Fuji carefully. There really wasn't an answer to 'why were you late?' that would satisfy. Best to just leave it be. "What do you want to do?"

After just a second of thinking to himself, Fuji grabbed Tezuka's sleeve without touching his arm, and drew him along. Tezuka knew where they were headed as soon as they turned the corner, but he let Fuji drag him, anyway. Fuji would look at Tezuka over his shoulder with that sparkle in his eye that Tezuka knew, well.

It was worth it.

Fuji did little more than smile at the girl at Grand Slam's reception desk. She winked at Tezuka as Fuji dragged him past her. Tezuka wasn't sure if it was the same girl as before or not.

Once inside Fuji's office, Fuji closed the door, and leaned back against it, smiling at Tezuka. Tezuka stayed precisely where Fuji had left him, close enough that he could reach up to touch Fuji's face, but his arms remained at his sides. "Did you want to show me something?"

"Not really," Fuji cocked his head to the side. "I wanted to change my clothes... Wait here?"

Tezuka didn't have to say one thing or another, because Fuji was already moving away. He frowned slightly as he watched Fuji disappear, certain things niggling in the back of his head, but he forced himself to concentrate on the here and now. He wandered over to Fuji's desk, looking over the papers, pictures, and knick-knacks that were scattered over the surface. There was a rough calendar scrawled out on the back of a photograph, with little faces next to each appointment to express Fuji's enthusiasm for whatever it was.

Smiling gently, Tezuka turned to the bookcase of photograph albums, and pulled the black leather album that Fuji had shown him before from the top shelf. He set it down on top of the bookshelf, and opened it up, just flipping through the photographs. It was like holding Fuji's hand in his, and examining the lines that comprised his palm, these photographs, with each successive viewing, showed Tezuka more and more about the man he loved.

He was about to put the album back when he realized that there was another album perpendicularly situated behind where the black album was supposed to go. He hadn't been aware of it before, but it seemed an unlikely place for it to reside, so Tezuka pulled it out. However, there wasn't room for it quite on the top shelf lined up the proper way. He pulled it out, since the only thing he could do was to apologize to Fuji.

He opened the cover, more because he had nothing else to do, anyway.

Frozen, he stared at the picture on the first page. It was something he knew well; for years, he'd been teased about it. But...

"Mm, that's one of my all time favorites, even if I didn't take it myself," Fuji purred, suddenly behind Tezuka, putting his arms around Tezuka's waist.

Tezuka felt numb. "I don't remember it being this... graphic..."

Laughing, Fuji shook his head. "The one they published in People was perfectly discreet. But the photographer took reams of film. You can't tell me you didn't notice." Fuji's fingers drifted over to trace the lines of Tezuka's body in the photograph, the white tennis shirt and white shorts transparent as they clung to him, as the water poured over him.

Tezuka blushed hotly. "The photographer... he had these...?"

"I made him give me copies of the negatives," Fuji sighed. "And I made sure that he signed a privacy waiver so that the distribution rights of any photographs not used for the purposes of the magazine would belong to you entirely. I'm sure they are a treasured part of his private collection, however."

Sighing, Tezuka flipped the page, almost roughly. It was... perverse. He certainly didn't want to look at himself like that.

The next page, however, had a picture of Atobe, naked, lying on a fluffy white comforter, completely shameless. The next page was a less decadent but no more appropriate picture of Saeki. Tezuka closed his eyes and shut the album. "What is this? Your porn collection?"

Fuji drew away from Tezuka quietly. "Those pictures are beautiful, Tezuka. There will be new ones of you in there, soon. That's my private album."

Tezuka bit his lip. "I... Forgive me, Syuusuke, but..."

"You should really call me Fuji, Tezuka," Fuji chided, his eyes most purposefully looking away from Tezuka.

That stung, but Tezuka wasn't going to back down now. He reached up, and just barely grazed his fingers over Fuji's cheek. "Don't. I'm sorry. It's... They are beautiful pictures, I'm sure. They are just... outside my comfort zone."

A hint of a true smile toyed with Fuji's lips. "I can remember a time when I used to delight in tormenting your comfort zone."

Tezuka looked away, amused. "Morocco."

Fuji laughed out loud. "Don't even try to tell me you didn't love every second of that."

He was blushing now, fully, but Fuji was rather good at getting him to do that. "Wouldn't dream of it, Syuusuke."

Fuji reached out and touched Tezuka's arm playfully. "Ah, and there was that one club in Paris... Have you ever been back there?"

"Why would I go back without you?" Tezuka dismissed quietly. "You were the only reason I went there to begin with." He looked around Fuji, a bit shy about meeting his gaze. Fuji was wearing cargo pants with oversized pockets, and a sleeveless camouflage print shirt in blues and greens. He looked... cute. Tezuka leaned forward, and put his hands on Fuji's hips, just barely touching his lips to Fuji's.

Fuji turned away, sighing. "Stop. You'll make me feel like a slut."

He didn't draw away immediately. He put his forehead on Fuji's shoulder, and let Fuji hold his shoulders. "Why?"

He hadn't meant to ask that, and he didn't want an answer, but Fuji wasn't offering one, either. He slipped out from under Tezuka, and put the album back where it belonged, behind the others. "Let's get out of here. I spend too much time here as it is."

"Where do you feel like going?" Tezuka felt slightly hollow, but as long as Fuji permitted it, he would be by Fuji's side.

Fuji shrugged, and didn't look at Tezuka. "I don't know. We already ate. Don't feel much like 'going' anywhere..."

Tezuka considered for a moment, and then took Fuji's hand in his, and smiled softly. "Come with me?"

Fuji watched Tezuka warily, but nodded once, with a grin.

Tezuka called for a cab, because even though it was a nice day, it was a nice day to take a cab, as well. They didn't really speak in the cab, sitting on opposite sides and looking out opposite windows, though Tezuka was actually watching Fuji reflected in the glass of his window. They got to Tezuka's building, and Tezuka led the way up to his apartment.

Fuji, naturally, understood where they were going as soon as Tezuka gave the cab driver the address, but he made no additional comments. He let Tezuka show him around, drifting to the floor to ceiling windows while Tezuka went to the kitchen to prepare some tea, out of custom.

When he came back, Fuji had his hand on the glass, his fingers splayed out. Tezuka set the tray down, and went to stand next to Fuji.

"You should paint the glass," Fuji offered softly. "Take down all the window treatments, and just paint the glass. It has a nice effect."

Tezuka watched Fuji. "If you like. I got this place because I thought you might like it."

"I might..." Fuji turned away, restless. "Is this how you see this going, Tezuka? I just... move in, and we pretend the past five years never happened?"

"We can't do that," Tezuka sighed. "We both know it." He glared at whatever it was that was outside the glass. "But... I have to believe that we can still have a life together."

"Why?" Fuji questioned sharply. "Why does it matter?"

"Because I can't live without you," Tezuka replied simply.

Fuji laughed. "But... you have been, and that was your choice."

Tezuka regarded Fuji guardedly. "How do you see this going, Fuji? Can you ever imagine yourself forgiving me?"

Fuji flopped down onto the oversized microfiber couch, looking, as Tezuka had hoped, like he belonged there. "Well, that's the problem I've been wrestling with, Tezuka. Because right now, I can't see myself not forgiving you."

"This is a problem?" Tezuka asked, facing Fuji, giving him plenty of room between them.

He sighed heavily, and looked away from Tezuka. "Sometimes. Not a problem, per se, but... I... don't want to."

Tezuka weighed the words carefully. "And what can I do to change your mind?"

Fuji laughed. "Just be yourself. I can't resist you, I guess."

Slowly, Tezuka crossed the room, walking around the low table in front of the couch to sit near Fuji, but not right next to him. "You think I should suffer more."

"At least as much as I did," Fuji replied quickly and evenly.

Tezuka nodded, and poured out a cup of tea, placing it before Fuji unobtrusively. "I suffered, too, Syuusuke."

"I'm sure," Fuji replied bitterly. The naked emotion in his voice was brittle, but it gave Tezuka hope. Fuji was being completely honest. "I bet fucking that bimbo was pure torture."

Tezuka flinched, but he didn't get angry. "No more so than screwing Atobe is, I'm sure, although I only slept with Katalina twice, and that was two years ago."

"Four years ago, nearly five," Fuji corrected petulantly.

"Not close to nearly five," Tezuka countered, confidently. "That was when the story came out, but it wasn't true."

"Inui sent me an advanced copy," Fuji murmured. "They had such a lovely picture of the two of you... Even then, when you knew I would read it, you didn't feel a need to call me? Tell me... that it wasn't true?"

Tezuka cleared his throat. "I thought, at the time, that if you had any feelings for me at all, you would contact me then."

Fuji shook his head. "Stupid miscommunications. I slept with Atobe for the first time that weekend."

Tezuka looked at Fuji, stunned.

Fuji slouched, and threw an arm over his face. "It wasn't... precisely... because of that. Just. Everyone was so sympathetic, Oishi and Eiji, and Yuuta and Yumiko. I felt like my life was being waked, or something. It was... depressing. I had run into Atobe at a coffee shop a few months prior. We were playing this game of cat and mouse..." He sighed. "Things were escalating in that direction, but... I still believed... " he laughed. "I still believed that you were going to come back. Then... the article... Atobe showed up in his best sports car, and he offered to take me to the mountains for the weekend. No television, no cell phones, no newspapers, no internet, nothing. I realized... there were certain inevitabilities... but it sounded like heaven."

"He took advantage of you," Tezuka flatly replied.

"No," Fuji shook his head, his voice calm and serious. "He could have. I was willing. But he was..." His lips quirked into a grin, memory clouding his eyes, clearly. "He was romantic. He seduced me," Fuji shrugged. "I had no regrets."

Tezuka looked away. He didn't want to hear things like this. He didn't want to know these sorts of things about them. He wanted to continue to believe what he had to in order to preserve his sanity. "That's good. I... wouldn't want for you to regret it."

Fuji was watching him, but he resisted looking at Fuji. "We moved in together about five months later. It was just easier. It's... it's never been about love." Fuji shrugged, uncomfortable with his need to justify this. "It was a game. And... a comfort."

Tezuka closed his eyes tightly. "A comfort." He could understand that, even if he didn't want to, necessarily. "Katalina... was a friend. A business friend. Her tennis wasn't up to standards, but she got into tournaments on her star power. ...Affiliations like ours helped to support that power, and... it was a distraction for the press for me. I certainly didn't want to answer questions about my love life then, so it was easier for people to assume things."

"But you did sleep with her."

He chose not to interpret Fuji's tone. "Two years ago. I had my second surgery, and I was recovering. It was..." He ran his hand through his hair. "Well, to be honest, it was pure torture. I didn't know if I was going to regain the use of my arm, at least, as far as tennis was concerned. And... I was alone. Friendship, even a business friendship, it... was a comfort."

"She took advantage of you," Fuji echoed, pitch for pitch.

"Yes," Tezuka half shrugged. "She was attracted to me, and she considered it a chance to show me that it could be... good enough."

Fuji looked away. "Was it?"

"There can never be anything called 'good enough,'" Tezuka sighed. "It's meaningless unless it's you."

"Meaningless," Fuji smiled, still looking away. "Does that mean that 'it' has great significance when it's the two of us?"

"It always did to me," Tezuka replied, faintly. He reached out, and brushed the back of his hand over the bare skin of Fuji's arm.

Fuji jerked away. "Don't." He bit his lip, trying so hard to look at anything except Tezuka. "Don't, don't be so... So, what, you got this apartment because... because you remember how much I loved this neighborhood? Fuck, Tezuka... five years! People change!"

"I know," Tezuka looked away, stung. His chest hurt, and it was hard to breathe.

"Why do I still love you so much, then?" Fuji straddled Tezuka lap, and put his hands in Tezuka's hair, clinging to him, taking a harsh, biting kiss. "Why? Why do you do this to me, still?"

Tezuka wrapped his arms around Fuji. The world spun around him as he vacillated between the despair and ecstasy. He had to cling to Fuji, to hold onto him... "Never stopped loving you, Syuusuke, my heart. You think I haven't suffered, but I've done nothing but suffer since I left you... Deservedly so, surely, but, Syuusuke, don't ever doubt it... I will love you forever."

There was an eternal moment of hesitation, and then Tezuka had Fuji in his arms, kissing him, tasting him, clinging to him, Fuji's fingers in his hair again, again, this was perfect, just as it was meant to be...

Fuji was moaning under him, writhing, such delicious noises, and there was that smile, those eyes... Tezuka could get drunk on this feeling.

Hands slid up under his shirt, over his skin. Tezuka shuddered, and pressed down onto Fuji. He kissed the precious skin of Fuji's throat. If he could hold onto this, for however long, he would...

Fuji pushed up on Tezuka's hips. "We have to stop..."

"Why?" Tezuka saw no reason to stop. He didn't want to stop. But he pulled back immediately.

Fuji chuckled. "We're about to do something... I should have a conversation with Keigo first."

Tezuka sat up reluctantly, helping Fuji to sit up, as well. "You're leaving him?"

"One step at a time, Tezuka," Fuji sighed, scratching the back of his head. "I don't..."

Tezuka put his finger on Fuji's lips. "When can I see you again?"

Fuji cocked his head to the side. "When do you leave for England?"


Raising an eyebrow, Fuji smiled. "That's cutting it close, isn't it?"

Tezuka shrugged, disinterested.

Fuji ran his fingers through Tezuka's hair, rearranging back to the way he liked. "I'll come tomorrow, for breakfast."

Tezuka grabbed Fuji's arms, and pulled him in for another kiss, a long, lingering kiss. He nibbled on Fuji's bottom lip before he consented to let go of him. "Tomorrow, then? Will you... will you come to England with me?"

Licking his lips, Fuji stood up slowly, pulling away from Tezuka. "One step at a time, Tezuka. Breakfast, tomorrow."

Tezuka reached out to grab Fuji's hand. "Syuusuke... You believe me, don't you?"

Fuji just sighed, and smiled. "I know you, Tezuka."

"Do you want to be with me, still? Despite... despite what I've done?" Tezuka asked, sincerely.

Turning away, Fuji shrugged. "I'll let you know when I'm sure."

He huddled into himself, wishing for a jacket despite the heat. He wasn't surprised to see Atobe's car outside, but he ignored it at first.

He shouldn't have stopped Tezuka. That was just stupid. Of course, he was also half-kicking himself for going to Tezuka's in the first place. Giving up home turf... but then, it was irrelevant, anyway.

Atobe got out of his car, and came to stand in front of Fuji. Fuji didn't bother trying to walk around him or pretend not to see him. He stopped, and looked away. "Having me followed, Keigo?"

"Just looking after your well-being, Syuusuke," Atobe smiled pleasantly. He looked up at Tezuka's building. "Have you decided to go back to him?"

Fuji shifted from his right to left, and rolled his eyes. "Keigo... do you want to do this here? I don't mind if that's what you want."

"Give me ten days," Atobe offered.

Fuji just looked at Atobe.

Smirking, Atobe stepped closer to Fuji. "I can accept that you will go back to him, if that is what you are intent upon doing. But, just tell me this... Can you forgive him? Enough to go back to him, right now, without the slightest hesitation?"

Fuji narrowed his eyes, and crossed his arms over his chest. He couldn't help betraying his answer, so he didn't bother saying anything.

Atobe put his hands on Fuji's waist, and rubbed his nose against Fuji's. "Ten days, lover. Let me take you away... a bon voyage, as it were. Let him stew. Let him spend ten days knowing... that I have my hands on you, that you are giving me access to you and your body... He's made you wait so long. Make him wait ten days, and make him earn you back." He brushed his lips over Fuji's, slipping his arms around Fuji.

Fuji turned his head away, and craned his neck, so Atobe had more landscape to work with; he said nothing about Atobe's plan, one way or the other, but he turned the idea around in his head.

Ten days.

Tezuka was pacing the kitchen. He had cooked for breakfast, and he had set aside portable dishes in case Fuji wanted to picnic, and he was ready to scrap it all if Fuji wanted to go out.

But it was getting later and later, and he hadn't heard from Fuji yet.

So he paced.

He was just about to toss his pan of scrambled eggs when the phone rang. He answered by asking for Fuji, because he was so sure that there was no one else it should be.

Fuji chuckled. "So eager, Tezuka?"

"Did you have something in mind for breakfast?" Tezuka asked quickly.

"Mm," Fuji sighed. "I do, yes. I'm afraid... actually... I won't be able to make it."

"No?" Tezuka did nothing to mask his disappointment.

He could hear Fuji smiling. "I'm going away for a bit, actually. With Keigo."

Tezuka felt cold.

"I'll meet you in London, all right? Ten days."

"What?" Tezuka blinked.

"In ten days, you'll still want me, right?"

"I'll always want you..." Tezuka affirmed, weakly.

"Good! Then I'll see you in ten days," Fuji chuckled.

"Wait, Syuusuke..." Tezuka cleared his throat.

"Ten days, and then I'll be with you. Ok?"

That was the oddest question in the world. "Syuusuke... say my name."

There was a pause, and a soft sigh. "Kunimitsu... I waited for you."

Fuji hung up before Tezuka could reply.

He turned off the stove and tossed the eggs in the trash.

Waiting. If he was given no choice, what else could he do?

ProloguePart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five • Part Six • Part SevenPart EightEpilogue