101_kisses theme: #32, mirror; reflection
Tezuka traced different pieces of his reflection in the mirror. The lines were blurred; his glasses were resting on the edge of the sink. He couldn’t see the details, only the larger picture before him. Hair, cut shorter than it had been in junior high and high school. Shirt, short sleeved and cream with three buttons at the top, all unfastened. Eyes, vague and indistinct without his glasses.
“What are you doing?” Tezuka didn’t need to turn to know who it was. Even if they hadn’t been the only two people in the apartment, he would recognize the voice even in a crowd of hundreds. Tachibana didn’t sound critical or shocked, just interested.
“Nothing. Just...nothing.” Tezuka pulled his hand away from the glass. It was a strange habit he’d picked up. He didn’t know why. He’d never explained it before, never even thought about it. Maybe his mother knew; she’d caught him at it once. She hadn’t asked, though. He thought she understood, or accepted it at least. He picked his glasses up and slid them back onto his face.
“All right,” Tachibana agreed with a surprising lack of protest. “Here, let me get those.” A gentle hand closed the buttons beneath Tezuka’s throat. Tezuka watched him do it in the mirror. Tachibana paused on the last button, and left it as it was. “It looks better that way, don’t you think?”
“Probably,” Tezuka said, their eyes meeting in the reflection. “Less professional, I’m sure.”
“But easier to play in,” Tachibana pointed out, which was true. “You hardly want to choke to death in the middle of a game.” His hand stayed at Tezuka’s collar for a moment, and then went up to touch his cheek. “Are you all right?”
Tezuka grimaced. “You can tell.” It was a statement, not a question. When Tachibana moved to pull his hand away, Tezuka caught and held it. He lowered his eyes from the mirror, looking at Tachibana’s slightly larger hand in his own.
Tachibana nodded and gave Tezuka’s hand a light squeeze. “I can tell,” he affirmed. “But if you don’t want to tell me what it is, that’s all right.” And it really was all right. Tachibana wasn’t just saying it to be polite, and Tezuka knew it.
Tezuka let out a breath that he didn’t know he’d been holding. “Kippei, I forget sometimes...forget who I am.” He looked at the mirror again. That wasn’t exactly right, but it would have to be good enough. He couldn’t think of any other way to put it. “This helps, sometimes.”
“Not today, though?” Tachibana asked shrewdly.
“No.” Tezuka shook his head. “I look at myself and I know what I am. I’m a tennis instructor-” A famous one, it was unnecessary for him to add. “A tennis coach...a tennis player. But there’s something I’m missing.”
“Mm.” Tachibana reached out and touched his own reflection with the back of the hand Tezuka wasn’t holding. “I think I understand what you mean.”
They struck such a contrast next to each other, Tezuka in his neatly pressed shirt and slacks and well-combed hair, Tachibana with his earring, his jeans, his Freddie Mercury t-shirt, and his wild blonde hair that he’d just begun to grow out again. But Tachibana did understand. Tezuka could see it in the way he was studying himself in the glass.
“I’m a tennis player, an artist, a musician. A rebel.” He flashed Tezuka his warm yet sexy grin. “But there is something else, isn’t there?”
“There is,” said Tezuka. He brushed the long bangs away from Tachibana’s eyes. “There’s definitely something else.” A lot more something else, but most of it was something no one would ever see in a mirror.
“Do you know what I think would make it better?” Tachibana asked. His arm slipped around Tezuka’s waist, hand gentle but firm on the small of Tezuka’s back, pulling him closer. “You’re also the man I love. Not because you’re a tennis instructor, a tennis coach, or even a tennis player. Because you’re you.”
“I think you write too many romantic lyrics,” Tezuka said. He looked at himself and Tachibana reflected in the mirror, together instead of separate. He could see himself, comfortable against Kippei’s side as though it was where he belonged.
“Probably,” Tachibana said, echoing Tezuka’s earlier comment. “But it’s part of my charm, isn’t it?”
“Definitely,” Tezuka replied. He smiled.
“How much time do you have before work?” Tachibana murmured, leaning in so that his breath tickled against Tezuka’s ear.
“Forty-five minutes until I have to leave.” Tezuka was already pulling Tachibana into a kiss. Tachibana’s hands were busy undoing the buttons he’d so recently fastened.
Tezuka did not so much as glance at the mirror again, because he found that he no longer had to.