Title: Thank You For
Series: Prince of Tennis
Disclaimer: If they were mine I'd own more than this pillow I'm hugging.
Summary: They're graduating... and Echizen has some unfinished business with Tezuka.
Notes: Originally written as a dedific to amsdia... now I'm doubling the use and making it a response to a challenge. I think I wrote it in half an hour.
He wasn't supposed to be there. It was an exclusive affair, and the event for the public had been held earlier in the week. But Echizen Ryoma had a mission to complete, and he was going to carry it out either till the goal was reached or he got caught. Whichever came first.
Thumping and random chords reached Echizen's ears, and he winced as the singer went completely off-key. Whoever voted for a live band that night ought to be shot, he thought morosely as he crept around the building. For once, he was thankful that he was short - a taller person would have been spotted out the French windows.
The person in question was standing to one side of the room with a few other familiar figures, talking among themselves. Echizen smiled slightly and shifted his bag on his shoulder. Now to approach his target without being seen by any of the teachers... or the person himself.
Mission accomplished, he congratulated himself silently, and adjusted the brim of his cap. He opened his mouth to call out the name of the person whose back was facing him... and closed it abruptly upon feeling a hand on his shoulder.
"What are you doing here? This place is off-limits to the rest of the school!" A teacher. Not good. Echizen wriggled slightly and protested softly - he didn't want the other to hear...
Too late. Echizen looked up into the face of one Tezuka Kunimitsu. "Aa... buchou."
"He was loitering around here, Tezuka-kun. When the principal already stated clearly that only the graduating class was allowed," the teacher emphasised. Echizen glared at him and cursed his height. If he had been taller, maybe he could have passed as a third-year.
Tezuka shook his head. "I'll deal with him. Thank you, sensei." The teacher nodded at Tezuka [being the top student and the student council president had its advantages, apparently], let go of Echizen and left. Tezuka turned his gaze on Echizen. "What are you doing here?"
Mustering up a smirk, Echizen held up his tennis bag. "A last match, buchou. Before you go."
"Echizen?" Oishi and Kikumaru had appeared, too. "What are you doing here?" They looked at the ex-captain of the tennis club for an explanation, but none was forthcoming.
"Apparently, Echizen sneaked in to ask Tezuka to play a match with him," Inui contributed. Echizen looked at him and wondered where he had produced the notebook from - the suit he was wearing certainly didn't look like it had large notebook-sized pockets. Taking a better look at everyone, Echizen realised that all the people there were wearing suits and floaty gowns. No wonder he had been seen. A white baseball cap and a red-collared polo tee were completely out of place in that sort of atmosphere.
"Well? Are you going to play?" Fuji had materialised seemingly out of the woodwork. "I could referee," he offered.
"Yay! A match!" Kikumaru crowed, then frowned. "But Tezuka can't play in this, he'll rip his coat."
Tezuka didn't say anything, just headed out of the hall. The third-year regulars [including Kawamura] and Echizen followed, the latter belatedly realising that he had barged in without even a second thought as to what Tezuka could possibly be wearing. After all, this was the graduation ball. Not even Tezuka would wear sports gear to something like that.
In fact, he wouldn't wear something like that because he was Tezuka.
However, he was Tezuka. Tennis club buchou, student council president, all that jazz and owner of the world's best poker face. He headed for the shoeboxes near the entrance of the school and opened his.
In it was a pair of tennis shoes.
Six pairs of eyes stared as Tezuka changed shoes and took off his jacket and tie.
"I trust you brought extra rackets?" His expression didn't change as Echizen nodded dumbly. "Good. The courts should still be lit."
Fuji chuckled as the third-years watched the pair walk toward the courts. "Tezuka thinks of everything, doesn't he?"
"Yeah..." Kikumaru stared as the game began. "Oh! Fuji! You're supposed to referee!"
"That's true." They walked towards the courts.
Echizen was the first to speak as they entered court A.
Tezuka just turned to look.
"Thank you." For playing this with me. For training me. For believing that I can be the pillar of Seigaku. There wasn't any explanation after that, just the sweet sound of tennis, breathing and Fuji's voice shouting out the score.
And that was enough.