“Well.” Oishi drew in a breath and smiled gamely at the Seigaku regulars. They’d gathered around for the announcement and were wearing their usual range of expressions: Tezuka, impassive as ever; Eiji, grinning in anticipation; Fuji, smiling inscrutably, although anyone looking closely would have seen that was because he had a hand on Tezuka’s backside. Ryoma just looked indifferent; he was probably thinking about his cat or tennis or both. “I’m planning to put together a scrapbook for the Seigaku tennis club!”
If there had been crickets around so early in the day, their chirping would easily have been heard by anyone in the vicinity, the silence in the locker room was so absolute.
Oishi forged on, perhaps because he was accustomed to a lack of reaction to his plans. “I, ah, I know the school has a yearbook already, but the sports teams are given only two pages in there, and, well, that’s just not enough to show everyone the way they really are, so I thought we could make our own…” he trailed off.
Momo spoke up first. “That’s a good idea, Oishi-senpai, it really is!” He grinned and pumped his fist in the air. “Seigaku, fight-o!”
“Maybe that could be on the front of the book!” Eiji suggested enthusiastically.
“Che,” said Ryoma, but didn’t sound overly displeased.
“I could take the pictures for it, if you’d like me to,” said Fuji. Tezuka glanced at him but said nothing, even though Fuji was now toying with his waistband.
“Definitely!” said Oishi, brightening. “We could have a whole photo shoot after practice tomorrow, if you’re free, that is.”
“Of course I am,” said Fuji, blithely slipping his hand down the back of Tezuka’s pants.
Tezuka cleared his throat. “Practice is done,” he said shortly. “Regulars are dismissed for the day. Thank you for the idea, Oishi.”
“Don’t do that again,” said Tezuka, once he and Fuji were alone.
“What, this?” Fuji asked, and did something that made Tezuka shiver and close his eyes.
He opened them again to give Fuji a stern look. “Twenty laps.”
Fuji agreed, without any complaint, that he probably deserved them. Tezuka ran the laps along with him, and didn’t even mention this time that holding hands defeated the intended purpose.
“Fuji.” Tezuka didn’t have to look away from Oishi and Kawamura’s match to find that Fuji was photographing him from close range, leaning down in order to get a more imaginative angle for his shot.
“Hm?” Fuji hit the shutter button and the camera clicked and whirred.
“Fuji-senpai, the photo shoots are supposed to be after practice!” said Momo.
“Don’t worry, I’m just practicing,” said Fuji, apparently unconcerned.
“Don’t bother Fuji while he’s taking pictures of Tezuka-buchou, Momo,” Eiji advised, bounding past them to the court where he was to play with Ryoma.
Momo stared after him. “Huh? Why…”
Fuji reached out and brushed a lock of hair away from Tezuka’s face, tucking it carefully behind Tezuka’s ear. “You have such nice ears, Tezuka,” he said, keeping his fingers there for longer than necessary. “Or maybe delicious is a better word? I always want to nibble on them.”
Tezuka let out a barely-audible sigh that was part resigned, part something else that most people didn’t get to hear from him very often.
Momo left in a hurry after that. Eiji gave some good advice sometimes, though it usually came too late.
“So,” said Fuji. “Who wants to go first?”
His expression wasn’t a terribly reassuring one. Ryoma shook his head and sipped his Ponta, while Momo and Kaidoh both took a step back so that they weren’t volunteered for the job. “Tezuka, maybe you should go first,” Oishi suggested, with an apologetic look in Tezuka’s direction. He thought that Tezuka could handle Fuji.
Tezuka knew, however, that no one ‘handled’ Fuji. “All right,” he said anyway.
“Let’s see, where is the light best…” Fuji took Tezuka by the arm and led him over to the window, sitting him on the bench next to his tennis equipment. Fuji took a step back to examine the shot and then came forward again, adjusting Tezuka’s head with a gentle touch on Tezuka’s cheek. He stepped back again, hummed something under his breath, and then went back. He leaned down so that his and Tezuka’s faces were level and Tezuka looked at him, a look exchanged between them that was somehow too private for a public space.
Some of the regulars shifted, having thought they were safe with everyone in the room and suddenly realizing that might not be the case.
“A closeup would highlight some of your best points,” Fuji mused.
“But not all of them?” Tezuka asked, possibly even teasing.
“No, not nearly all of them.” Fuji ran his finger lightly over Tezuka’s cheekbone as though removing dust from a fine porcelain doll. Tezuka blinked, but did nothing to stop him. Fuji was so close that he was nearly straddling Tezuka’s legs, and then he moved even closer so that there was no more than half an inch between their faces. “But then, I don’t think most photographs could do that.”
“Fuji,” Oishi interrupted quickly. “Maybe… maybe the photo shoots should be...independent, just one-on-one. So that, ah, not all of us are watching and… well, ruining your concentration.”
“Oh, I can concentrate all right with an audience.” The corners of Fuji’s mouth lifted in a small, satisfied smile. “Sometimes even better.”
Tezuka said nothing out loud, but the look on his face said volumes.
“He just wants you to stop making out with buchou in front of us,” Ryoma informed Fuji from his corner, looking bored.
“What?” squawked Horio, who hadn’t really realized what was going on.
“Echizen!” said Oishi, appalled. “That wasn’t what I- I didn’t mean-”
“No?” Fuji inquired. “Then you wouldn’t mind?”
Oishi blinked, looking, if possible, even more horrified than before, while Fuji smiled and Eiji giggled. “Ah…”
“Can I leave now?” Ryoma asked.
“Yes,” said Tezuka, interceding and exercising his captainly authority. “All of you may go.”
He didn’t say ‘except for Fuji,’ but everyone got the hint anyway, and they filed out (Ryoma was the first through the door, with Momo close behind, telling him to wait up). Fuji stayed, laughing silently until Tezuka leaned over and turned the laughter into something almost, but not quite, entirely different.
They didn’t actually get very many pictures taken, but the photo session was productive anyway, or so Fuji commented later when he was lying on Tezuka and wearing Tezuka’s jersey instead of his own. Tezuka agreed, but silently.
The lack of photographs produced by the last photo session meant that Fuji invited Tezuka to his house to finish, or really, to start at all. Tezuka sat on the edge of Fuji’s bed, as formal and straight-backed as ever. Fuji sat beside him, and Tezuka relaxed by a miniscule amount. Then Fuji took Tezuka’s wrists and moved Tezuka’s hands, setting them on Tezuka’s thigh, playing with them more than anything, moving each finger individually, looking at the hands from one angle and then another. He picked up his camera and looked at them through the lens, said “hmm” under his breath, and went back to arranging them.
Tezuka didn’t ask what Fuji was doing. “These won’t be for the scrapbook,” Tezuka said instead, watching Fuji and the speculative look on Fuji’s face and Fuji’s own slim, graceful hands holding his.
Fuji’s gaze remained on Tezuka’s hands as he positioned them, running a finger lightly over Tezuka’s knuckles before sliding his hand beneath Tezuka’s palm to lift it just a little. He smiled, though, and replied, “Possibly.”
“Well, I’ll have to see how they turn out.” Fuji linked his fingers with Tezuka’s for a moment and squeezed, receiving a slight squeeze in return. “Your hands are the best models I’ve ever had, I think.”
“Hm.” Tezuka raised an eyebrow and asked dryly, “Better than my ears?”
Fuji stopped to consider that, looking up at Tezuka with a hint of playfulness in his eyes. “Not necessarily.” He lifted his hand to stroke along the outer rim of Tezuka’s left ear with a fingertip. “Your hands have a wider range of motion, though. I’ll give them that.” Then he studied Tezuka’s hands closely. “Yes, just like that.”
“No,” said Tezuka unexpectedly, and when Fuji looked up at him, startled, Tezuka caught one of Fuji’s hands in his, holding it and linking their fingers together. “Just like this,” said Tezuka.
Fuji’s smile was slow, considering, and more real than any of the smiles he ever showed in public. He didn’t reply, just picked up the camera and began taking pictures.
Oishi finished the scrapbook within a week. He showed it to Tezuka first, while the rest of the regulars held their breaths, watching Tezuka turn the pages. There were newspaper and magazine articles about the team; there were tournament rosters; there were ranking match results; and of course, there were Fuji’s photographs. One of Eiji in midair, about to gleefully latch onto Momo and Ryoma’s shoulders, one of Taka grinning embarrassedly at something, one of Inui from the side, with Inui holding his pen against the corner of his mouth while he thought something through. One of Kaidoh with a faraway look, obviously daydreaming, one of Oishi leaning against a court fence, concern making his brow wrinkle just a little, one of Ryoma and his cat, who'd sneaked to school in Ryoma's tennis bag yet again.
There were no photos of Tezuka’s and Fuji’s hands intertwined, though there was one candid shot of the two of them that had probably been taken by Eiji, with the two of them standing next to each other as they always did, Fuji looking up at Tezuka and saying something while Tezuka looked away from a match to meet his eyes.
Tezuka closed the book and nodded. “Thank you, Oishi. You’ve done a very thorough job.”
The team broke out into excited chatter and surged forward, everyone else wanting to look at the book as well while Oishi positively beamed. Tezuka handed the book over to Taka and then glanced at Fuji, who wasn’t quite smiling, but almost.
When Fuji left, Tezuka followed. “You didn’t put those ones into the scrapbook after all.”
“No, I didn’t,” said Fuji, turning back and waiting for Tezuka to catch up to him. When Tezuka did, Fuji took his hand and smiled. “I think I’d rather keep those ones for myself.”
Tezuka smiled, just enough that Fuji was the only one who could possibly see it. Then he leaned in and murmured, almost against Fuji’s ear, “So would I.”