tofsla_fic: (Default)
homsan toft ([personal profile] tofsla_fic) wrote2014-02-21 09:45 am

Further (Rikkai)

Prince of Tennis, Yukimura - Rikkai (ensemble), G
900 words
Preparing to face Seigaku again. Written around the release of 339.


"They are, I think, nothing much," Renji says. "But good enough."

It wouldn't do to try this against opponents who were too weak. They need to test Kirihara, push him; and they need to trick everyone. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

It is important that they get this right.

"It'll work," Niou says. His smile is slow and lazy, a wicked smirk, sure of himself.

Two votes for; none against, so far. Niou's judgement is good, too, Yukimura knows. He reads people far too easily. Frighteningly easily, perhaps, if you aren't his friend. Or ally. But Yukimura fancies he merits the term friend in Niou's mind, when he isn't just captain.

There are things they recognise and value in each other, after all.

"Who--" he begins, and something even more wicked sparks in Niou's eyes.

"Yagyuu, for one."

Yukimura could ask if Niou is really sure their proud gentleman would agree, but frankly - if Niou says Yagyuu will be willing, he isn't wrong.

"Marui and Jackal should play doubles two," Yanagi adds calmly. "They trust each other enough to work something out and make it look convincing."

It is interesting, really, how - at least when it comes to tennis - the members of his team can speak for each other. Perhaps their play has become somewhat sloppy, but he is glad to see the trust between them intact.

How many other teams would dare try this?

Yukimura's smile is brilliant, sharp. Niou matches it.

"This'll be beautiful."


*


When Yagyuu plays, Yukimura sees Niou trying not to laugh, though it's well hidden; and when Yagyuu leaves the court, he's the only one apart from Yagyuu himself to hear Niou's murmured, "You know, you kind of fail at failing."

"I'll take that as a compliment, Niou-kun," Yagyuu says, flatly, and puts on a frustrated expression when Kirihara glances his way.


*

Marui and Jackal are good. No-one else noticed something off with Yagyuu, and no-one seems to notice here, either; not their opponents, not the crowd, definitely not Kirihara. Yukimura wondered if he would. Sanada told him Kirihara was the first person to notice the switch, after all. But he just looks irritated today. On edge.

This is not a tactic one would expect of Rikkai, of course. Which only makes the whole thing better, in a way.

It's beautiful, the way Marui just barely fails to flip the ball over the net; the way Jackal is a fraction away from the right place at the right time. The sort of failure which requires a special level of skill and precision. Marui is a showman, even in defeat, and their loss is extremely well choreographed.


*


They watch Kirihara play, the whole team carefully neutral, intensely focused underneath it. Despite Yanagi's quiet optimism, Niou's smug certainty, they are gambling here.

Kirihara's victory is... not what Yukimura expected, perhaps, but he finds himself deeply satisfied. They have pushed their youngest member beyond his limits, in one way or another.

The shock of realisation on their opponents' faces is satisfying, but only a bonus. If all they had wanted had been for Rikkai to win, they certainly would not have needed a trap of this sort.

"Sanada," he says, clear and loud, "finish them."


*


"That wasn't fair," Kirihara says. He's scowling.

"Life," Renji retorts smoothly, "is rarely fair."

Kirihara's scowl deepens, and he looks as though he's about to say something even angrier when Niou's hand lands on his head, tugging at already-messy curls.

"Lighten up, brat. You won, didn't you?"

"Hey," Kirihara growls, "that's not the--"

"Akaya," Yukimura cuts in, a light reprimand which has all the force Sanada's shouting ever could and then some. "It needed to be done."

Kirihara opens his mouth again, meets Yukimura's eyes, subsides a bit. He doesn't really seem to have an answer.

"You'll become strong enough," Yukimura tells him, makes it a command, though in reality Kirihara is already most of the way there.

"Yeah."

"That's the way," Niou says, a hint of laughter behind the words, though not in a cruel way - for once. "Go get them, yeah?"

"I believe he has already done that," Yagyuu murmurs, and Niou's amusement only deepens, though his expression when he looks at Yagyuu is--

Yukimura glances away with a sense of seeing something he wasn't quite meant to, although he doubts either Niou or Yagyuu actually realise when they do things like that. He doubts many other people notice, either.


*


"A success, then," Sanada says.

"Mm," Yukimura agrees. "Did you really doubt it would be?"

Sanada doesn't quite meet his eyes.

Well, there were moments when-- but he isn't going to say so. His doubts didn't last long.

"Only briefly,” Sanada admits. “It doesn't matter."

"Maybe not."

It does.

They needed to make Kirihara as strong as he had the potential to become; they need to beat Seigaku, and they need to maintain Rikkai's reputation and standards. They need trust, too. On the whole, they have it.

Would Seigaku dare do something like this? He can’t say for sure, of course, but he doubts it. Not that it’d be Tezuka’s style, anyway.


*


Everything is in place, finally, Yukimura thinks.

Seigaku are… well, they’ve done well for themselves, he has to concede. In the face of logic, at times.

But even if Seigaku are good, Rikkai are better.

They have a point to prove.