Fandom: Tennis no Oujisama
Characters: Rikkai three-centric, lots of implied pairings
Summary: "They stop at an ice cream cart along the way despite the cool weather, and Sanada realizes that he has forgotten the old, carefree days he spent with Yukimura and Renji."
Disclaimer: If this were mine, Rikkai would never ever lose (and I'd make just as much money).
Notes: For temps_mort's threesomes challenge in 90 minutes. Manga based. May be a bit incoherent and weird due to my lack of sleep.
"Renji, you've put Sanada in a hard situation."
Yukimura knows that Renji wants to be anywhere but before him. He's the one who actually broke Sanada's promise, the promise to which his team had agreed, and Renji doesn't want to see his disappointed face or hear his reproving words because to his team, failing him is worse than any punishment or lecture he can give. When he speaks, voice hard and serious and low, Yukimura can almost see Renji recoil away from him.
"You couldn't control your emotions, could you?" Yukimura knows all of them so well. He knows their weaknesses and strengths, their likes and dislikes, their quirks and habits, and it's so easy to see through them and manipulate them to his own whim. "You left things unresolved, so when you saw him again, you couldn't control yourself and see things clearly." Renji doesn't speak, and Yukimura knows that it's because he's already said everything.
"Whom do you love more, me or him?" Renji doesn't answer. Yukimura knows that even Renji can't really predict his actions, and he knows that he has surprised Renji, if not struck a weak spot. He continues easily. "Him, ne?"
"No," Renji quickly replies, and Yukimura smiles. Renji himself is so easy to predict, and it's amusing, toying with him, knowing exactly what to say to elicit a specific reaction. Yukimura also knows that Renji knows, but Renji can't do anything about it.
"No? Let me ask you again, Renji. Whom do you love more, me or him?"
"I don't know," Renji finally answers, and Yukimura laughs, slow and mocking. "Talk to him, will you?" Yukimura knows that Renji didn't expect what he had just said. "You need a resolution, or you won't be able to do anything if you face him again. I don't care what you do with him on your own time, but remember, you play for my team, and I don't tolerate losses. Send Sanada in, will you?"
Yukimura knows that Renji is all too glad to leave the room, so oppressive and suffocating to him. Sanada enters a few moments later, eyes down, and Yukimura has to keep himself from laughing out loud. Sanada is much too easy to predict, and toying with him is always the funnest. Yukimura can almost feel the shame radiating off of him.
"Sanada, look at me, will you?" Sanada doesn't want to, but he raises his eyes reluctantly and meets Yukimura's gaze. Yukimura's eyes are disappointed and reproving, and Sanada wants to look away desperately but can't. No one disobeys Yukimura.
"I'm surprised that you lost," Yukimura begins. "And of all people, you have to lose to some amazing freshman. You clearly underestimated him if you didn't even use all of Fuurinkazan, and you were thinking about me, too, weren't you?"
"Yes," Sanada mumbles, and Yukimura isn't surprised. Sanada's one real weakness is Yukimura himself, and if getting together with Sanada would solve all the problems, then Yukimura would, but it's not that easy.
"I'm disappointed in Renji, Akaya, and you, but you most of all. You are my fukubuchou and the strongest after me, yet I can't trust you to win Kantou or to not break your promise. I guess the team will just have to train harder, then. Practices will be one hour longer, two hours longer for the three of you. If you can't take three games from me when I next play you, then..." Yukimura smiles a dangerous smile, and he knows that the team will train so much harder that there should be no more problems by the time he returns.
"Seiichi's even more dangerous than before."
"Of course," Sanada replies. "He wants to win. We all want to win."
Their punishment may be over, but practices are harder than ever. Yukimura is absolutely ruthless, but none of them complains because all of them want the same thing: to defend their title of national champions for the third year with minimal losses. When Akaya complains about the harshness of practice one day after falling and scraping his knee, Sanada forgets himself for a moment and slaps him, and Yukimura doesn't say anything.
Yukimura enters the locker room then, and he leans by Sanada's locker, graceful and lithe, skin glistening and eyes lingering. "Play a game with me later, will you?" Sanada nods, careful to keep his eyes straight ahead until he feels Yukimura move away. He doesn't trust himself to actually look at Yukimura.
Renji wishes Sanada good luck when he leaves, and Sanada and Yukimura walk to the street courts together. Yukimura plays harder than ever, and though Sanada has improved, he still barely manages to take three games.
When they meet at the net, Yukimura holds his face instead of shaking his hand. "Dear dear Genichirou, so so confused, aren't you?" Sanada stares at him, and Yukimura's smile is predatory. "Don't disappoint me, okay?" Sanada whispers okay back, and Yukimura laughs, delicious and delightful.
Renji asks about the game when he comes over to Sanada's house later that night to practice calligraphy, and Sanada tells him that he barely took three games. He doesn't say a thing about what Yukimura said, and though he knows that Renji probably suspects something, Renji will not ask, the same way Sanada did not ask anything about what happened between Renji and his old doubles partner when he went to resolve things like Yukimura asked.
Yukimura comes by a lot more often than before Guillian-Barré and Kantou to play tennis, and Sanada suspects that although Yukimura also plays with Renji and maybe even Akaya, he is the one Yukimura plays with most often. Sanada wants to feel triumphant about that, the fact that Yukimura chooses him the most often, but Yukimura is always so much better than him that Sanada isn't sure if he can ever beat Yukimura.
Everything settles back into a rhythm eventually. The harsh practices become just another everyday thing, and the feeling of weariness in his bones becomes almost permanent. Sanada goes to bed tired every night, thinking of Yukimura and wondering if he will ever be good enough because Yukimura is constantly becoming better, too.
When nationals arrive, Sanada doesn't think that any team can possibly beat them anymore, not with the amount of work they've done. They go straight to finals without any problems or losses, and Yukimura manages to actually smile some genuine smiles again. He fusses over Akaya and laughs with Renji, and everything almost seems normal again.
Seigaku loses in the quarterfinals, and though they are almost disappointed because they don't have a chance to meet Seigaku again and beat them, none of them feel particularly sorry for Seigaku. When their teams meet, Yukimura exchanges trivial politeness with Tezuka, and Sanada swears that he mocks them the whole time. Yukimura's smile is a lot brighter after that.
The night before finals, Yukimura takes Sanada and Renji strolling with him. They stop at an ice cream cart along the way despite the cool weather, and Sanada realizes that he has forgotten the old, carefree days he spent with Yukimura and Renji. Yukimura asks them if they think the team would want to go to a restaurant to celebrate the next night and Tokyo the day after that, and they both say yes. Yukimura manages to make the two of them call everyone on the team and tell them to bring money tomorrow, and when the three of them part ways, the warmness of the night remains and stays with Sanada until the next morning.
Finals has never been easy, but Yanagi remembers the matches of the previous two years being a lot more difficult. He and Genichirou play doubles two and don't fight too hard to win, Niou and Yagyuu play mind games again and crush their opponents in the end, and Akaya doesn't give his opponent much of a chance before he takes the match. They win so easily that Yanagi almost can't believe that they've already won without even playing singles two, but then, they are all hugging and screaming and laughing, the crowd cheering with and for them, and Yanagi stops thinking for the time being.
The happiness from winning nationals this year is so much greater than either of the previous two years. They've come back from an embarrassing defeat at Kantou, Seiichi is cured, and they (except Akaya) have managed to win nationals every single year while at Rikkai Junior High. Yanagi hasn't been this happy since playing doubles with Sadaharu in elementary.
The weight of the medal feels like it belongs for all of them, and Seiichi is a whirlwind of laughter and smiles, cooing over Akaya, teasing Genichirou, and laughing with Yanagi, holding the trophy tightly the whole time.
They stop at Rikkai first and drop off the trophy and medals, and then, they walk to the restaurant, boisterous. Niou and Akaya make fun of Marui, Jackal chases after them, Yagyuu tries hard not to laugh, and Seiichi's smile is bright as he walks with Yanagi and Genichirou, arms linked with theirs.
Seiichi tells them all to meet the next day in front of Rikkai with money, and everyone else exchanges glances among themselves before parting ways. Seiichi drags Yanagi and Genichirou to the park, and they sit on the bench in front of the pond. Yanagi remembers them sitting there together often before Seiichi's collapse the previous winter, talking about everything and nothing, Seiichi's laughs beautiful and clear and Genichirou's smiles small and swift, and it feels like the old times again.
The day in Tokyo passes like a second. Niou wreaks havoc everywhere, and Yagyuu walks after him coolly and slowly, Niou's smile bright in his face. Akaya causes mayhem as well, and though Jackal feels obligated to chase after Akaya, Marui drags him away. Seiichi puts a restraining hand on Genichirou's arm, and the three of them follow Akaya and his wild childishness.
Somehow, Akaya cons Yanagi into buying a snack for him, and Seiichi and Genichirou manage to make Yanagi pay for theirs as well. Akaya's eyes are curious and wild, and he wraps his arms around one of Yanagi's ams. Seiichi laughs at them, and Yanagi can see the hint of a smile on Genichirou's face.
Seiichi steals Genichirou's cap, and Genichirou chases after Seiichi, who runs away, smooth and elegant. Akaya drags Yanagi to a variety of shops, and Yanagi watches him with fondness, knowing that he will miss Akaya.
They all meet at eight at the predetermined meeting spot, Seiichi wearing the cap and Genichirou with a fond grumpiness. Jackal carries two bags, the larger of which no doubt belonging to Marui, and Niou has an arm slung around Yagyuu, grin wide and devious. Akaya still has one arm around Yanagi's, a little possessive and a lot happy.
The atmosphere around them is golden and warm and happy, and even when they all go their separate ways, Yanagi still feels it around him. He walks home with Akaya, whose house is on the way to his, and Akaya doesn't let go of Yanagi until he's at his gate.
Yanagi has never felt happier about moving to Kanagawa.