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Monarch Butterfly

[Prince of Tennis] Many Happy Returns: Creature Comforts (2009)

Posted on 2013.02.18 at 02:18
Current Mood: tiredtired
Tags: , , , , ,
Many happy returns!

PG-13. Romance/Character Study. 2,397 words. First one in a series of birthday ficlets written for Fuji Syuusuke's birthday. This series is set in divergent future where Tezuka did not go pro immediately after junior high. Please note that this series also disregards the events in Shin Prince of Tennis series.

Creature Comforts

[February 28, 2009]

After years of acquaintance, Tezuka knew without looking where Oishi would be: four paces away, one step to the left.

“What is it?” Tezuka asked without stopping, neatly packing away his textbook and notes in his bag. He knew Oishi would wait for him to look up before answering. It was a personal quirk of Oishi’s – he hated talking to someone who wasn’t looking at him.

“Tomorrow, for Fuji’s party? Can you tell him I’ll be late? I have to drop by the lab first.” Another upside of having known each other for so long was that Oishi also knew exactly what Tezuka would ask, if he had to bother asking. “I’d call him myself, but my cell phone battery’s dead. And I’m headed to the lab right after this.”

Ever since Oishi joined Prof. Arakawa’s research team, he seemed to spend all his free time in the laboratory. Tezuka remembered Oishi’s newest girlfriend complain about that when she – the plucky woman – actually called Tezuka to verify Oishi wasn’t spending his time elsewhere. She never tried that tact again, so either she was a fast learner, or her survival instincts rated above average. Tezuka didn’t want to imagine what would have happened had she called Kikumaru or Fuji. Or better yet, Inui.

(When Kikumaru’s fourth girlfriend during high school cheated on him with the baseball team’s captain, Inui, Oishi, and Fuji kept up a net of watchful noninterference around her until the faithless girlfriend broke down and begged Kikumaru’s forgiveness in tears. Ironically, they broke up two weeks after, because the girlfriend found out Kikumaru had gone on a date with her shy best friend on the same day Inui saw her with the baseball team’s captain. The incident left Oishi chagrined, Fuji amused, and Inui unflappable. For his part, Kikumaru, sheepish but pleased, said it was the thought that counted.)

“I’ll let Fuji know.” Tezuka stood, shouldering the bag. “Do you want to borrow my phone?”

Oishi looked like the idea had never occurred to him. “Oh, no, I couldn’t. What about you?”

“I’m heading back. My last class was canceled for today.”

“Are you sure you’ll be okay without it?” Unlike Tezuka, who only ever used the cell phone to answer the occasional phone calls from his family and friends, Oishi relied on his phone to coordinate anything from the student organization meetings (Oishi was the student council secretary this year, to nobody’s surprise but Oishi’s), lab meetings, and his weekly study groups. Fuji had once remarked Oishi was perhaps better suited for business management than medicine. Privately, Tezuka agreed.

“Yes. You can return it to me tomorrow.”

“I’ll give it back first thing in the morning. I can drop by your place on my way to lab.”

“That’s fine.” Without further ado, Tezuka handed over his phone. “You don’t have to call Fuji. He won’t answer today. I’ll tell him when I get home.”

There was a nostalgic look in Oishi’s face, and if Oishi weren’t in a hurry, Tezuka would have been in for at least half an hour of reminiscence. “Fuji used to know your routine by heart, too. Back when we were in junior high? It’s funny how some things don’t change.” He accepted the phone with polite thanks, and stepped back to allow Tezuka pass. His habit of letting Tezuka go first had not changed since junior high school, either.

“We were all surprised when you two became roommates. You guys didn’t seem the type to just...move in together.” Was that what they had done? Tezuka supposed the effect was the same; at the time, when they entered university, it seemed like the reasonable course of action to split the rent, since neither of them cared for staying at the dormitory. Three strides brought them out the door, and Oishi turned to smile at him. “But I guess you two have known each other so long. I’ll see you tomorrow, Tezuka. Thanks for letting me use your phone.”

On his way home, Tezuka recalled a less polite version of much the same sentiments from Kikumaru from three years ago. Unlike Oishi, Kikumaru had told them (mostly to Fuji) how impressive it was, moving in with the not-so-secret boyfriend of four years, hell it was practically a wedding, so should he bring a cake? and after a few more minutes of the like, Kikumaru finished with (in his exact words): “Only the two of you would ever find being around the two of you comfortable, so you’re perfect for each other, right?”

Kikumaru, Tezuka decided, was as clueless as they came.


During their freshmen year in college, less than three months into the semester, Fuji Yuuta had a huge fight with his father over the subject of his future career. It ended with Yuuta leaving home with no actual plan for the next step, and Fuji of course had to bring his baby brother to crash in their living room for two weeks, until the equally stubborn pair of father and son worked out their differences. Then, in the middle of their sophomore year, Fuji applied (more than fashionably late) for the study abroad program out of the blue and moved to Paris for four months.

How’s Japan? Fuji’s first e-mail from France asked.

The same. Do you like France better? Tezuka replied.

France is different. Handsome, well-dressed men, for one, was the flippant reply.

That had been it for their correspondences for the next three months. Then, Kikumaru forwarded him a picture of Fuji and a green-eyed, strikingly handsome blond smiling together. A day later, Tezuka called Fuji for the first time since Fuji moved to Paris.

“Do you like France better now?” Tezuka asked as soon as Fuji picked up.

After a short silence, Fuji replied, “It’s different.”

There was an expectant silence on both ends. Then:

“I’m sorry, Tezuka. I was about to go out, and isn’t it past your bedtime? I don’t want to hold you up.” Fuji’s voice was cheerfully neutral.

“You don’t have to apologize, Fuji,” Tezuka said calmly, and thought he heard a soft sigh over the line. “Not to me, at any rate. You won’t be going out tonight.”

After what Tezuka was reasonable certain had been a startled silence, Fuji’s voice came again, still pleasant and utterly cold. “Won’t I? Why is that?”

“Because you belong in Japan,” Tezuka said, unequivocal and unhurried.

There was a short intake of breath over the line, then: “I do like France.”

Tezuka thought about Fuji back in the first year in junior high school, when the two of them were about the same height. Fuji during their third year, dirty and sweaty and magnificent, in the National Tournament semifinal against Shiraishi. Fuji, laughing under the colored autumn leaves arched over Tezuka’s favorite mountain hiking trail. Fuji under the snow-covered boughs, under bushes brightly lit with spring blossoms. Fuji, so uncompromisingly and unstintingly himself – and, Tezuka realized, he would never wish Fuji to be otherwise. “Then I’ll see you there during the spring break.”

Fuji’s soft laugh had been a mixture of mild surprise, amusement, and something else he couldn’t name. “You’re planning to visit here? Quite a trip for one visit, isn’t it?”

“Not really. You’ll be coming back with me.”

“Ah, I see,” Fuji breathed, voice soft. “And if I wanted to stay here? Would I still belong in Japan then?”

It was Tezuka’s turn to take a carefully measured breath in, and then out, just as controlled. “Always.” A pause. “Do you want to stay in France?”

A longer pause. “No. I miss home food.”

“I’ll see you during spring break, then.”

Tezuka had wondered if he should hang up now; the time on his clock was rapidly approaching one in the morning. Then, Fuji spoke again, voice just a touch hesitant. “Can you stay for a little while, Tezuka?”

“Yes,” Tezuka said promptly. Another surprised silence later, Fuji laughed quietly, voice warm and affectionate.

“It’s the least you can do to make up to me. You just spoiled my chance at free dinner, you know. Alain will be upset.”

“Then you should apologize to him.” That had come out more pointed than Tezuka intended, but he said nothing more to soften it. The rueful chuckle from Fuji told him Fuji understood him perfectly all the same.

“I guess I should.” Fuji’s voice, when it came again, was soft with something that never failed to throw him profoundly off balance. “Should I apologize to you, too?” Then, in a lighter tone Fuji added, “For keeping you up, I mean.”

“No. Should I?” Tezuka didn’t even bother to pretend he was asking if he should apologize for Fuji’s missed date. Besides, he knew Fuji would know what he meant. Fuji always knew.

The sound that escaped Fuji was a half-laugh, half-sigh. “No.”

And that was it. For the next two hours, Fuji told him about his semester in Paris, and Tezuka answered his questions about how their friends were doing back in Japan. His sleep untroubled after Fuji’s softly spoken “Good night,” the same one he hadn’t heard in six months, and the next morning found Tezuka tired but content.

Early spring, Fuji returned, much to the rejoicing of their old tennis club teammates, and resumed attending university in Tokyo and living with Tezuka as if he’d never left. The only difference was that both Fuji’s room and Tezuka’s room started gaining significantly more of each other’s personal possessions afterwards. But that was a story for another time.


The elevator pinged. Tezuka walked through the familiar corridor to his apartment door. When he opened the door, however, he blinked. In the entire expanse from the foyer, the living room, and the kitchen, as far as eyes could see, there were 8 x 12 photographs, some color and some monochrome, drying on the floor.

“Fuji?” Tezuka called, and a minute later, Fuji emerged from the bathroom with two more freshly developed photographs in hand, and Tezuka nearly sighed. “When will you be done with these?” he asked instead, and Fuji beamed at him.

“Welcome home! Sorry for the mess. I’ll be done before dinner, so would you mind not stepping on them until then? Oh, and be careful when you use the bathroom – I left my chemicals in there.” The bathroom occasionally doubled as a darkroom for Fuji, thanks to being the only room in the entire suite without a window. Fuji loved having windows everywhere and the blinds were never closed unless Fuji had to work from home, like today. Currently the smell of film developing solutions permeated the air, but Tezuka had long since become accustomed to them.

“Oishi will be late tomorrow. Half an hour at most, or he will call.” Oishi hadn’t said so in so many words, but Tezuka knew Oishi. Half the time, he could tell exactly what Oishi would do almost before Oishi himself did. Oishi was comfortable that way.

“Oh, that’s too bad. Maybe I can delay the cake until he comes. Hmm.” With a thoughtful hum Fuji placed the new photographs in virtually nonexistent spaces in between the disarray of photographs. “You didn’t pick up when I called to tell you we’re out of wasabi. We’ll need it for tomorrow.”

“Oishi has my phone. He doesn’t get good reception in his lab,” Tezuka said shortly, secretly relieved he could expect the dinner tonight to be less spicy than usual. “I can pick up extra wasabi after dinner. Do you need anything else?”

“I think I have all the other ingredients. I might need help with the cooking,” Fuji confessed with an apologetic smile, and Tezuka felt a corner of his mouth tug up briefly. Fuji wasn’t a bad cook, not exactly, since with a recipe and a picture, he could reproduce virtually any dish known to men down to the last garnish. It was when he ventured out to create something on his own that resulted in unidentifiable...stuff, which was hardly ever fit for human consumption. And Fuji had really, really wanted to try making a chocolate wasabi ganache cake, and had been looking forward to trying out the recipe he’d written himself.

Personally, Tezuka thought it went against reasoning that Fuji wanted to cook for his own birthday, but Fuji had looked so happy planning for this all week, he simply hadn’t had the heart to tell him to have the party catered.

“Don’t make too much. Everyone invited is bringing something,” Tezuka reminded him, but Fuji only smiled happily.

“I know. Taka-san will probably bring enough to feed the whole party. I really should talk to him about that.”

“Habit,” Tezuka said shortly. Throughout junior high and high school, the Seigaku tennis club had celebrated team victories at Kawamura Sushi. Of course, at the time they were growing and ate enough for fifty people.

Fuji chuckled. “I suppose.”

Without warning Fuji reached over, nearly pinning him against their well-pruned Benjamin’s fig, and Tezuka had to catch Fuji at an awkward angle to avoid crushing the delicate branches. The next moment, he nearly knocked over the precariously balanced glass sculpture next to the umbrella stand, because Fuji chose the moment to kiss him breathless. Fuji made an annoyed huff, but didn’t protest when Tezuka half picked him up and placed him half a step back, out of the range for any mishaps with the little tree (Tezuka had spent a lot of time making sure it remained perfectly sized for their small foyer). As soon as Tezuka toed off his shoes and stepped on the mat, Fuji kissed him again, but Tezuka knew better than to step on any of the photographs even with the distraction. If he did, he knew excessive amount of Tabasco sauce would mysteriously find its way into his miso soup during dinner.

Tezuka knew Fuji, and more importantly, knew himself. No one in their right mind would have called either of them comfortable after knowing them. They would never in a million years consider each other comfortable. But that wasn’t the point with them. Not at all.

Being with Fuji was worthwhile, and that, he thought as they navigated past the maze of photographs to the bedroom (his own; Fuji’s was likely in the same state as the living room and the kitchen), was the most important thing of all.


Crossposted at http://shiraume-fic.dreamwidth.org/25216.html.


snow_meow at 2013-02-19 07:34 (UTC) (Link)
Such a sweet fic of the perfect couple.
sakuran_p at 2013-02-20 21:58 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you very much!! :D
petapepy at 2013-03-03 10:54 (UTC) (Link)
The phone conversation between Tezuka and Fuji was very much like them. Cryptic. Love the piece.
sakuran_p at 2013-03-06 04:45 (UTC) (Link)
XD It's a little-known (?) fact that I have this kink for Tezuka-Fuji fights. I love them as a couple precisely because they aren't the type to give an inch to each other unless they fully acknowledge the need. And the rightness.

Thanks, Peta! ♥
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