Learning to Fall. 
by Suteishichic

Chapter Seventy ~ Fuji

Warnings: Yaoi, Love, Angst, Fluff, and Lots of Sex. Some kink. You've been warned ;)

Disclaimer: Nope not mine. Still in my dreams. ;)

"You see, the entire thing was a game to them. I was a toy. They bet on me. Both of them. They bet several hundred on who could get me into bed first...as the uke." Fuji was stunned. "It gets worse. They told other people, many other people, and made side bets. The entire thing was out of control. I had no idea any of this was going on either. I was so stuck in my situation and isolated I had no idea. I didn't have enough money to buy food and they had bet hundreds and hundreds on who could fuck me first."

Fuji forgot his hands were still bound. He wanted to put his arms around him. To love the hurt away. He couldn't. But he did love him. He was overcome with how much he loved him and how angry he was that anyone ever hurt him. "Ne, Kunimitsu. I know everyone too. All the same people. You know how rumors go. You must have heard what they said about me. I never heard this about you. I've been going there for months and I never heard...."

"A lot of people do know. I thought you had heard. I thought you may have known even when you first came here. I was far too embarrassed and ashamed to see if you did so I waited to talk to you. After wanting to meet you for all those years, you could not have come here at a worse time. You really never heard this?" He looked so concerned, as if worried that Fuji would reject him. Fuji wanted to hold him but he couldn't.

"No. Ne, I never heard this. Any of this. What happened?"

"Their bet continued to grow. In people knowing about it and placing side bets and between them. They were childhood rivals so it was quite a battle I've since heard. Suzuki invited me over. I stayed with him and he tried to get me drunk. Occasionally on climbs and on trips we drink alcohol. When its freezing outside, it feels good to be warm and slightly buzzed in your tent inside listening to a blizzard rage around you. That night I didn't get drunk, but Suzuki did."

Tezuka sighed, "He apparently had really developed real feelings for me. He begged me to sleep with him. He cried when I wouldn't. I should have known something was wrong because he kept asking me to make love to him and kept saying he would be uke, it didn't matter. It was strange and I just attributed it to him being drunk. At one point he begged me no matter what I did to not sleep with or trust Kuki. He cried himself to sleep in my arms and woke up too sick with a hangover to play tennis the next day. I cared for him during the morning but had some tennis lessons to give in the afternoon and needed the money. He said he would see me that night and again told me to remember that Kuki did not have real feelings for me. To not trust him or sleep with him. He told me he loved me."

"At the time, I thought he was just jealous. It was too intense, it was too much. And I did have feelings for someone else. So, I went to tell each of them that night that I would be their friend but only their friend. What I didn't know was the last time I went to that place, Kuki decided to take action. To win by whatever means necessary. So did Suzuki, but Suzuki I found out later just wanted to win me."

"Kuki was DJing. I stayed with him and wanted to talk to him after he was finished. I was going to tell him I would be his friend only. Suzuki showed up and the two fought. Suzuki was thrown out of the place screaming at me not to trust Kuki. After he was thrown out, I went to the VIP room with Kuki to talk to him. He ordered coffee for us both. I turned down the coffee for a bottled water. Somehow, he drugged it. I don't know if he paid the waitress off or what but fourteen minutes later, the room soon started to spin and he was helping me to walk outside."

Fuji's eyes were wide. "And...."

"Here is what I remember, I remember yelling and a fight. I remember someone picking me up over their shoulder and carrying me like you would a small child. I remember being in a car and sinking into softness. I remember feeling sick and cool hands on my face. I remember a nice purring voice telling me he would take care of me. That I shouldn't be so reckless but how awed he was by my cruelty. I remember a doctor checking me over. I remember someone holding me while I slept and caring for me. I remember being very ill and someone cleaning me up after. I remember someone kissing me once and holding me again. I remember someone asking me over and over who it was that I had feelings for, but I would not tell him. He told me stories about himself while he held a cool cloth to my forehead. I woke up in a strange place, alone. In a bed fit for a king in a palace. I wasn't in my clothes but I was dressed in pajamas of silk. There was a note on the pillow next to me saying 'ring bell for service....'"

"I rang it thinking I was dreaming. A servant knocked and entered when I said to come in. My voice sounded like gravel. He told me that I was at Atobe's place."

"Atobe?!" Fuji was even more shocked.

"Yes. He said Atobe had left that morning. He had gone to the country for the rest of the week. I was welcome to join him and his friends if I chose. Otherwise he was to draw me a bath, feed me, and take me wherever I wanted to go. I was still a wreck, I had no idea what happened, and had a terrible migraine headache. I bathed, dressed in the clothes they laid out for me, and ate."

"Atobe called right as I finished eating. He explained to me about what happened, about the bet. He seemed amused and for some reason he seemed to think I knew about their bet, but not the side bets. He thought that I was playing the two of them against each other. No matter how many times I assured him that I didn't know, he insisted I did. He called me clever, sly, and cruel."

"He said he had called his doctor who checked me out the night before. I would be fine except for the major headache I probably had. Atobe accepted my thanks, laughed at my offer to repay him for the doctor and told me that he had a side bet with someone that I would allow neither one of them to be seme to me. He said he owed me one for how much money he had made and the fun he had. I was horrified. I didn't think I had sex or had done anything but he must have noticed how silent I was on the phone. He told me nothing happened, to his regret, with us, with him and I. He said I was too sick, but he did enjoy taking care of me. He would like to see me again if I could get over the person I had feelings for. Did I want to have some fun? Play some tennis? Enjoy the rest of the summer in style?"

"He offered to have his car drive me to join him and his friends. They would be spending the weekend having fun, swimming, and playing tennis. Wouldn't I just love to get away right about now? To lay low until school started? He also added laughing that the outcome of this, that I allowed neither to have me was the most hysterical thing ever. He wanted to know how much money I had made off this. He thought it was hilarious that they would both look like the idiots they were. He said he envied my control. It would only serve to strengthen my reputation of being ruthless and cold." Tezuka said the last part in nearly a whisper. It still hurt him, Fuji could clearly see it did.

"I thanked him again and told him some other time. I had lessons to give and plans that I could not get out of. I actually for a moment was tempted, but it would have just been running away. I fought to keep from being sick at what happened and had the car take me home. There were only two weeks before school and my father would return the week after. I never went back to the club until you. I taught lessons for food money. I worked out, kept to myself, and I practiced. School started and I showered in the tennis club room. I found out right after it started that you were coming to Seigaku."

"Did you ever talk to Kuki or Suzuki again?"

"I will never speak to Kuki again. He has not tried to contact me. That night as he left the club, Atobe's teammates apparently beat him up badly. He mouthed off at a match between their schools and they beat him up again. He blames me for his lost money and getting hurt. Atobe and me. I want nothing to do with him. Suzuki tried a few days later to talk to me. To apologize. He apparently did have feelings for me but he never canceled the bet. I won't have anything to do with him either. He tried to see me several times but I refused and finally he left me alone."

"I thought you would have heard all this. Most people believe what Atobe said, that I set this up to be cruel and to win money. I have no idea if Atobe believed it or if he was just saying it to make me feel better. This happened because I was in a bad situation and I made bad choices. I should have told you sooner but I really thought you knew."

"Ne, I had no idea. And then I came here and did the one thing you least needed someone you wanted to meet to do. I teased you." Fuji felt terrible again. Tezuka's self confidence must have been really low and Fuji had put all his efforts into seducing him.

"No, I didn't mind. I was surprised, but I didn't mind. I told you I wanted to meet you since I first saw you. I just, wanted to get to know you a little, first."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I didn't live up to your expectations...." Tezuka smiled and Fuji realized how silly that sounded in the position they were in at the moment. Fuji smiled and then laughed.

"That's better. I like your laugh." He kissed Fuji again but again it was a soft, almost chaste kiss. He was still worried and it clearly showed on his face. Fuji was still tied and wrapped around him. "Is there anything else you would like to know?"

"Mn. You'll tell me?"

"I'll tell you whatever you want to know."

Fuji thought for a second and arranged his questions. "Did anyone else besides your uncle ever tie you up?" Tezuka looked surprised at Fuji for having figured this out. He gave Fuji a long look. Fuji already understood. Tezuka's uncle had not only raped him, but tortured him. It was all against his will. His uncle in essence had tried to make Tezuka, beautiful, proud Tezuka submit to him. Tezuka never did. Fuji returned his look trying to make him understand now that Fuji knew what he went through. He understood. He was not judging him. Tezuka could tell him the specifics if he wanted or not, but would never have to. Fuji knew, understood, and loved him regardless.

After a moment, Tezuka shook his head no. "No. But I would try it with you."

Fuji now was surprised. "You would?"

Tezuka did not even hesitate, he must have though of this before Fuji realized, "Yes, I trust you, what else do you want to know?"

Fuji had a good one, especially after what he told him. "Who were you last the bottom with?"

He smiled now, "You." Then his smile slowly faded. "Before you?" He paused and was quiet a moment, "By choice? No one else. Only you."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Fuji was alarmed and upset now. "You should have told me."

"Syusuke, I wanted you to make love to me. I wanted you to be with me, remember? I wanted you. I trust you." Tezuka now kissed Fuji for real. He kissed him sweetly, lovingly, and closed his eyes as he kissed him. Fuji kissed him back, wanting now a little more.

The tensai was annoyed again that he could not touch him, but Fuji realized that because he could not take control or distract Tezuka, for some reason, Tezuka seemed to feel freer to talk to him. "Syusuke, you know how it is, you want things to be...normal and you worry that you will never have that with anyone. I didn't want you to hesitate or treat me different. Especially not you. I wanted to be with you, and wanted you to be with me naturally, without worrying." He touched Fuji's hair, smoothing it off his cheek where it had come to rest. "It was beautiful. You are beautiful. You were my first, by my choice." He kissed Fuji gently.

Fuji smiled at being his first. "Ne, you said I was too gentle, that I didn't say your name enough, and that you wanted the rest of me next time." Fuji was smiling and he said it in a teasing way thinking he would make Tezuka smile.

Tezuka looked at Fuji with pure longing, like he wanted Fuji right then and there. Then he held Fuji's face in his hands and kissed him. He kissed the tensai as if he was suddenly starving for him. "I want that." He said huskily and Fuji felt him getting hard again inside him, just thinking about it. Fuji had almost forgotten how locked together they still were. "I do want that. I want you."

Fuji for an irrational moment went to point out that they were in as far from the right position for that at the moment as could be, but he felt so good inside him, on his mouth, and touching him, that Fuji smiled and kissed him back more instead. "I love you." Tezuka said and kept kissing him, now starting to slowly move inside him, and Fuji moaned with how good he felt.

Fuji realized he might never understand completely why Tezuka loved him, just that he did, and Fuji loved him back. He loved him back completely. They were both so different from other people, so damaged, so unique, and yet somehow they just were so good together. Fuji loved him. He wanted to touch him. To hold him. He wanted to move more with him. Make love to him. Make him feel good. "I love you. Kunimitsu, I love you. Untie me, please."

Fuji then worried for a second that Tezuka would stop moving inside him. Or even that Fuji might have to be cut out of the complected series of knots and then they would have to pause. Then Fuji worried that Tezuka would think Fuji felt scared again. Or that this was some kind of trick by Fuji to con him into freeing him. But when Tezuka said he trusted him, he must have meant it. Even after the horrible things Fuji said to him, he still meant it. He did not even hesitate.

He reached his arms around Fuji and pulled something on one side and then the other. Fuji fell free into his arms with a sigh. Tezuka pulled a few more things and Fuji's arms were free. The ropes were still around him but they were loose. The tensai was able to wrap his numb arms around Tezuka with a moan of pleasure that came from both of them. Fuji almost laughed at how simple it was. "I made a few modifications just in case." Tezuka said as he saw Fuji amazed at how simple it seemed.

But then he felt Tezuka deep inside him again, very hard, and it was not so simple suddenly. "Ah...don't stop...sit...where you always sit...please?" Tezuka somehow backed them to his seat where he watched all those mornings. Fuji placed his feet on either side of the bench and moved on him, his arms tingling with pleasant aches as the blood flowed through them again, the little bit of pain increasing his pleasure.

Fuji wrapped his stinging arms and hands around Tezuka's neck. He kissed him hard as he rode him harder. He arched into his every thrust. Fuji moaned louder as he saw Tezuka's eyes were blank with lust, blank with being lost to Fuji, lost inside him. Fuji kissed him and bit his lip again in the same place, making Tezuka cry out in pleasure and pain. His gaze refocused and he moaned again at the sensations of being buried deep inside Fuji while Fuji moved again and again, taking him nearly all the way out of him and then all the way inside.

Tezuka leaned back, against the wall behind him, changing the angle of his thrusting, hitting that spot in Fuji that had him moaning even louder. Fuji arched back, jerking himself inside hard against that spot in him at Tezuka's next thrust, his hands gripped his shoulders, his nails cutting into his skin, and he took him all the way inside of him again. Fuji felt that swelling wave that rose up in him, he was so close, just about to crash and on the next thrust he did it again. He felt Tezuka's hands clutching his hips pulling him back and then on to him harder. "Syusuke, come!" Tezuka cried, half an order and half lost in his own pleasure.

Fuji arched back, hitting that spot inside himself even more at Tezuka's hard thrust. "Kunimitsu, I....!" Fuji went to tell him he loved him, he did, but the words got lost in a long cry that ended in nearly a scream as the wave inside him crashed, washing him senseless, mindless. Fuji came hard, very hard and felt his entire body spasm in pleasure as he slammed himself down on him and heard Tezuka cry out his name as he came hard inside him. Fuji kissed his neck, his face, his lips. He wrapped his legs and his arms around him, holding him close.

"You?" Tezuka said smiling, still breathing hard, and looking gorgeous.

"...love you. I love you. I just couldn't get it out in time." Fuji smiled and kissed him again.

"Did I hurt you?"

"Mn." Fuji smiled more as Tezuka looked at Fuji again worried, "Just enough. Just exactly enough."

Tezuka laughed deep in his throat at Fuji's response. He was slowly coming back to his senses. He loosened his grip on Fuji's hips and Fuji realized he was still digging his fingers and nails into his shoulders. He released him. "I...I'm sorry." Tezuka said looking horrified, Fuji looked at Tezuka wondering what on earth for. "I, I didn't touch you." He looked very upset.

"Yes you did, of course you did. I came rather hard actually in case you didn't hear me." Fuji looked down them to where they were covered. He pressed his chest and rubbed it against Tezuka's making a squishy noise as he did. "You touched me here." Fuji tightened himself up a second. "Believe me if I needed to I could have touched mysel...."

Fuji stopped as on his tightening Tezuka made an odd noise. It sounded like half a squeak and a half moan of pain. The tensai did it again just to be sure it came from Tezuka and laughed when it did. "This amuses you?" He said not very pleased.

"Mn. That noise, from you, yes it does." Fuji did it again harder as Tezuka tried not to make the noise. "Fun-pain."

Tezuka failed miserably at not making the noise and Fuji laughed. "Fun-pain?" He said but he was smiling now.

"Of course. What else would it be called? Here, slowly, please." They separated, each making a small noise, and then held each other close. "Better?"

"Yes, thank you." He said. Fuji was not sure for the separation or the before so he just accepted the kiss Tezuka gave him. "You're all right now?" He looked worried.

"Mn. I am. Thank you." Fuji thought for a moment about it all. "You took a very large chance. I could have shut down completely."

Tezuka shrugged elegantly. "You are worth the risk, and I do know you." Fuji was not sure if he meant he did know that Fuji would not have shut down or if he was saying the risk was necessary because he knew him. Both may have been true.

"I'm sorry for what I said, when I was upset. I didn't mean it. Any of it. I do love you."

"I know. I knew that all along." Tezuka unwrapped one of Fuji's hands and held it.

"And the sex is not terrible."

"I know." Tezuka looked down at the evidence. "Although I still should have touched you."

Fuji shrugged, "Next time. This was perfect. And I liked your rope tricks, but not the not letting me go." Tezuka shrugged as if to say it had to be done. He started removing the rope from Fuji's arms and back. Fuji had a strange urge of not wanting him to.

Fuji thought for a moment about Fuji being his first by choice and how Fuji felt earlier. "I don't remember my first time, but before, it sort of felt like a first time or what I imagined a first time must feel like." Fuji blushed a little at the confession. It was near dawn and they could clearly see each other.

Tezuka smiled. "I felt the same thing. I was worried about hurting you, wanting to make you feel good, wanting to love you, you are so tight inside, tight and loving and soft and strong and hot. You're always so hot inside." Tezuka said this as if it was something he had often wondered and marveled at.

He felt the same thing? "Oh. I am?" Tezuka nodded. "Ah. Maybe it is all the peppers?" They both laughed a little at that. "So, now what?" Fuji asked because he was not sure.

"Right now? We go home, maybe get something to eat, and get some sleep. Later we play tennis if you want, get something to eat, and maybe if I'm lucky, you'll make love to me later."

Fuji smiled at the lucky part, "Ah. And Monday? Oh." Tezuka showed Fuji that even with the ace bandages there were ligature marks. Bands on his wrist, his upper arm, more across his chest. Fuji felt them. He liked them. They were intriguing. He noticed Tezuka had made the ace bandages thicker on his wrists and upper arms so the red marks, even if they bruised, would fade from there first. "Interesting." Fuji smiled, thought of the possibilities again and laughed a little in delight.

Tezuka smiled back, he looked very pleased and turned on by Fuji's honest reaction, and then he kissed him. "Syusuke, whatever you want. What do you want? I want you. I want to be like this. I want to be with you. Is that what you want?"

"As what?"

"Terminology-wise? It matters?" Fuji nodded, concerned. "Whatever you want, Syusuke. Lover is fine but, I'd prefer boyfriend."

"Oh...open?" This was all new to Fuji. Fuji had lovers, never really a girlfriend or boyfriend. Basically because he thought no one would want him if they knew. This was new. So was Tezuka wanting to know an answer right now instead of backing away and waiting for Fuji to come around.

"Sex with other people?" Fuji shook his head no. Despite what he said earlier he didn't want to share him, at least not yet, not now. "Telling other people?" Fuji nodded, "If you'd like, although it will make things probably difficult at school, but whatever you want. Syusuke, I love you. I want to be with you. Just you. I don't want or need to sleep with other people but we always can later if you want. What do you want?"

"I want, this, you, boyfriend, not other people, not open right now. Not with school or with my brother, I don't want him to know, but I don't mind if some of our friends know." Fuji said it in a blurt so that each line was not questioned. "Is that all right?"

"Yes, it sounds perfect." Tezuka kissed him softly.

"Ne, it won't be. I won't be good at this at first. I'm not easy."

"I know, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Its all right. We'll practice. I'm not worried. Do you have any other questions for me?"

"Ah. Probably. If I have more later will you answer them as well?" Fuji liked Tezuka being this open and the thought of him being closed again was terrible.

"Of course. I'll tell you anything you want to know. Will you tell me?"

"Yes, I will try but, sometimes it might be...difficult...for me."

"Its okay. Just tell me when it is difficult so I don't have to guess." Fuji nodded and Tezuka went on. "I have a question for you. I've always wanted to know. Do you still have the rook?"

"Rook?" Fuji said all the while, the tensai knew exactly what he meant. He just didn't know how Tezuka knew this. No one else knew. Not even Yuuta.

Fuji gathered unique and rare collectibles. Quirky things that meant something only to him. A scrap of bandage with a his brother's tears and blood from when Fuji helped protect him from some older boys who were picking on him. A knotted necklace a girl he liked in second grade gave him. A button from a shirt he won a tennis match in that no longer fit. An unsigned love note someone once sent him on valentines day. A bit of a friend's grip. A petal from a flower that fell on the ground on a school trip to a garden. A rock from a hiking trip. A piece of string from a sleeping bag of a friend. A broken bit of shoelace from a tennis trainer the day he beat him. An eyelash from the first girl who kissed him. A zipper from the jacket of the first person who broke his heart. Unique, special, and rare treasures. They kept him feeling connected to the memories and his friends. He collected these silently, making sure no one ever knew. He did not like anyone to see his weaknesses.

He had on impulse when he was five years old, after winning his first chess championship, palmed a rook. He kept it. He was sure no one else ever knew he took it. It was not his first stolen treasure but it was one he always kept.

He looked at Tezuka in astonishment. He had no idea how he knew. Tezuka was looking at him concerned, with the same look on his face he had just after he slapped him. Fuji shook his head a little to clear it. "How...?"

"I'm sorry, Syusuke. I should have thought before I spoke. I didn't mean to hurt you."


"You said you only get like that when something hurts you. Although, you did breathe this time."

Oh. "Ne, I'm not hurt, just...very surprised. How did you...know?" Fuji's heart was racing.

"I told you that I've been watching you longer than you've been watching me. A friend of my father's worked for a television station that interviewed you. They recorded you taking it." Fuji must have looked stricken and alarmed. "No one saw but me. I had to fast forward and rewind the tape over and over just to see it and even then, one moment it was there, and the next it disappeared. You're very good. You were good even at five. I always wondered if you still had it." Fuji nodded slowly. Tezuka smiled. "So, what of mine do you have?"

He didn't think he could get more embarrassed but then, suddenly he was. Fuji's mouth was dry. It wasn't like he stole things all the time or anything. He felt guilty like he had though, and he could not answer.

Tezuka answered for him, "Some of my hair from when you first cut it?" Fuji nodded. "My handkerchief?" Fuji nodded. "Anything else?" Fuji nodded. "I'm just curious. What do you keep? Just things that mean something to you?"

Fuji nodded and felt like a hell of a conversationalist. He finally found his tongue. "Ne, its...stupid. A piece of the chopsticks from when you took me to dinner. A piece of the bandage from when you wrapped my wrists that night. The first time you played me, the rankings match, you stopped to take a rock out of your shoe. A piece of string that was on your jacket one day. Just...stupid things."

"Its not stupid. I think its sentimental, its nice. And it was a red string that you picked off me from right here." Tezuka pointed to over his heart. "You asked me if I was wearing my heart on my shirt and Kikumaru said a red string on your clothes means someone loves you. See? Not stupid at all. You made me remember." He kissed Fuji who was still stunned. Stunned but now marveling at him. "My heart was pounding as you removed it. You were standing very close to me and then Kikumaru said something about love. I wondered all day if he meant that if a red string meant if you love them or they love you." He smiled sheepishly again. Then he looked like he thought of something. "You must have a lot of things. Where do you keep everything?"

Now Fuji laughed. "Ne. I go through them all every year around my birthday. I have a box where I keep everything. Anything bad or that I can't remember what its from, I throw away. I try to just keep small things. A button instead of a shirt. A piece of ribbon instead of a roll. This year may take me longer though. I have a lot." From you.... Fuji silently added.

Tezuka looked troubled. "You throw things away?" Fuji went to tell him of course, if he didn't his collection would take over his room, but Tezuka went on before he could. "You don't throw things away, valuable things, such as presents ever, do you?"

Fuji understood what he was asking, what he was saying, he just could not believe it. Maybe because Tezuka just mentioned Eiji, with his superstitious ways, Fuji thought of how pleased his friend would be by the sheer serendipity of this. The pure magic of this. "It was you?" Fuji asked him astounded. "Every year for the last, six years, it was you? Why?"

Tezuka shrugged. "I saw you play. I thought about you a lot afterwards. I hadn't met you, and didn't know if I ever would. I saw something and thought of you. I knew your birthday was on leap year, it was in a tennis magazine who did a story about you. Someone said that you would only have a present once every four years. I didn't think that was fair, so I sent you a birthday present that year but I was too shy to contact you."

Tezuka blushed. Fuji could not believe it. He went on, "I did it the next year too and then just kept it up, although I wasn't really sure why. It was fun hunting for the gift, but I thought that maybe this year, you could help me pick out your birthday present. I wanted to tell you the whole time we were looking and hoped you guessed."

That first year, Fuji originally hoped the small box with the intricately colored blue marble inside was secretly from Yuuta. It was not. Yuuta gave him a book he already read, knowing he had read it.

Instead, it was exactly the kind of thing Fuji loved. A small treasure, meaning something only to the sender, who was an anonymous mystery, and then it meant something to Fuji. He did some research on it after its magical arrival and later found it was an antique and was quite valuable as well. His mysterious sender had a good eye. His sister was most intrigued by it. She did a card reading and said that the person who sent him the gift was the love of his life, but his sister said that about everything and everyone.

Fuji at that age took it to mean that a girl had sent it to him. He carefully went through his classmates and finding no answers there, he decided that maybe it was a tennis fan. He went through the ones he knew and discounted all of them. It remained a curious mystery.

As his next birthday approached, Fuji was nervous and afraid nothing would arrive. It would be a big let down. He looked forward to the possible mysterious package more than what his brother would get him, although he tried to reason with himself that it may have been a one time thing. His family celebrated his birthday at midnight on the 28th. To Fuji's relief, that day, a small package arrived. It also had no return address and looked to have come from very far away. Inside, it had a silver Tibetan lapis cross on a black silk cord and there was a secret hidden catch. It took even Fuji days to figure out how to open the small locket. It was a place to hide treasures. Inside the locket was inscribed a tiny, intricate mandala. Fuji had worn it all the time, even to sleep, until the black silk cord broke from wear and then he carefully preserved it away.

Every year something small, mysterious, intriguing, and wonderful arrived from who Fuji's sister called his secret admirer. There was never a card, never a return address, and it always arrived exactly on time. His sister would be also pleased.

"Ne. What did you send the first time?" Fuji tested him, certain he would fail. Fuji had received a lot of gifts and cards after being in several tennis magazines and interviewed for sports shows. It was possible that Fuji in his sentimentality was wrong and it would be best if he knew it now.

Tezuka smiled, "I was in Italy visiting some friends and doing some climbing with my father. In a little town there was a little antique junk type of store selling a beautiful antique marble. The outside was clear but the inside was the most incredible blue in a swirling pattern. It reminded me of you. Its stupid, I know, but I sent it to you on your birthday. I sent you something every yea...."

Fuji kissed him.

On to Chapter 71!!