Title: The World Begins With Tennis
Summary: TezRyo Prince of Tennis/The World Ends With You crossover.
Rating: M for violence and yaoi.
Author’s Note: So. End of the week again! :D Also, I have bullied LJ into working, but it is still being a little weird. Let me know if something is bizarre with the post.
The rain clouds had cleared. Ryoma blinked at the watery sunlight and stood. Blades of damp grass clung to his legs.
It was finally the last day.
“Good morning,” Yanagi greeted congenially. “…Are you ready?”
As ready as he’d ever be. He just wanted out of this Game already. He wanted to get out and be able to talk to Tezuka and get Karupin back and eat something other than ramen and maybe actually wake up in a bed for once too.
It was odd, though. He should have been missing his friends and his family. But it was Tezuka that Ryoma was missing the most.
Forget odd - it was ludicrous. He should really be angry with the senior or something, because he’d spent an entire week pretending they were strangers and he even hid the fact that he knew how they both died. But it was difficult to hold on to those feelings of resentment. Every time they bubbled forth all he could think about was Tezuka healing him, or Tezuka holding his hand in the river, or the warmth of the pact, or the pain of seeing his captain in the RG and not being able to call out to him, or Tezuka skipping school to come to the ramen place because he was worried. He rubbed at his chest where the bullet had entered. It felt tight again.
Two phones beeped simultaneously. Ryoma blinked, breaking away from his thoughts.
He frantically fumbled for his phone, flipping it open. There it was – the little received mail notification icon.
"Defeat the Game Master on the roof of Seigaku. Time limit, five hours."
After the past few days he’d almost forgotten how annoying those red numbers on his palm were. Ryoma stared at them numbly.
It took a minute for the mission to actually sink in.
He had to fight Arai?!
For a Wall Reaper, he was being awfully confident in issuing that sort of mission. Kirihara wanted a fight, so of course he'd issued that edict, but Arai didn't seem as strong as Kirihara. Even if Yanagi were completely useless as a partner they probably still could take him out. There was grandstanding and acting tough, but this was just stupid.
Unless Arai had something planned. He hadn’t issued missions at all for the past few days, and as far as he could tell no one had seen him at all. Ryoma had even started to suspect that the Taboo Noise got him. But now it looked like his original fear about the Game Master’s plans might be true after all.
There was no choice, though. It was the mission. If Arai wanted to take that risk, then they’d have to as well.
“Do you think it’ll be a problem?” Yanagi asked as he closed his phone and slipped it back into his pocket.
“Depends. We’re probably stronger than he is, but it’s a bit weird.” He cast a glance at the Rikkai player. “You ready?”
“I have been looking forward to this day all week, in fact. My current estimate… 90 percent chance of success.”
“Che. Don’t be stupid. It’s a hundred percent,” Ryoma scoffed.
“At that show of confidence, I’ll readjust my predictions to 95 percent.”
No Wall Reapers stopped them on their way to Seigaku. Ryoma kept an eye out for any other Players, but wasn’t surprised when he didn’t find any. The Taboo Noise would have taken out any that the Harriers missed.
The school loomed ominously in front of them. As they were walking through the gates Ryoma did briefly consider that maybe he should be making more preparations for the endgame, but dismissed the notion. With how often the rules of this game seemed to change, making plans any sooner than ten seconds before executing them was a waste of time.
It was eerie walking through Seigaku's halls, climbing the staircases, making their way through the throngs of students who couldn't see them. It was only two weeks ago that Ryoma had been in classes like the rest of them, sleeping through English and doing his homework at the last minute. It seemed a lifetime ago. It was so... mundane, even though it was familiar. It was hard to even imagine himself doing it anymore.
It was dangerous sort of thinking, right before a battle. Ryoma clenched his teeth as they climbed the last staircase to the roof.
There was the door leading out onto the rooftop. Technically students weren’t allowed up there, but considering that the roof was fenced in, it was rule that was rather poorly enforced. Even Tezuka hadn’t called him on it when he’d found him up there a couple of times. Absently, Ryoma wondered if Tezuka was in class downstairs with the rest of the students, unaware of the battle for existence that was about to occur above their heads.
He paused as he rested his hand on the doorknob.
“Hey, you know… I didn’t really trust you at the start.”
Yanagi was quiet for a second, then answered, “I know.”
“It’s just… before we go out there… Itrustyounow,” he mumbled in a rush. “You’ve been a good partner. I might not have made it, otherwise.”
“My position is much the same.”
Ryoma felt relieved, now that he’d said it. He didn’t bother with any other form of pep speech – neither of them needed it. A twist of the doorknob, and they stepped out onto a wide expanse of sunbathed concrete.
The wind whipped across the rooftop, creating a chilling contrast to the warm kiss of sunlight. It was quiet up on the roof, with the distant chatter of students barely audible and the roar of traffic muted.
Arai stood on the far corner of the roof, hand clutching the fence as he stared out over the school grounds, looking every part the delinquent skipping classes.
He jerked around at the greeting, nearly stumbling in his haste to re-orientate himself. The second-year looked visibly surprised to see them there. "You- What are you doing here?"
"We're here for the mission, of course," Yanagi replied.
"Mission? I didn't issue a mission!" He narrowed his eyes.
"We've got one right here," Ryoma drawled, flipping his phone open. "‘Defeat the Game Master on the roof of Seigaku’."
Arai visibly recoiled, seemed to get his grounding again, and took up a fighting stance. "Oh, so that's how they're going to play it, is it?" His eyes darted around. "I knew it! I knew it was going to turn out like this all along! Ever since the new brass came in, this Game has been broken – the UG is getting messed up! But I'm ready! I’m not going down like the rest of them!" He swept out his arm, and all around him Taboo Noise materialised.
“You were the one making the Taboo Noise?” Ryoma choked out in disbelief.
"That's right! And you all learnt, didn’t you?! Don’t be so cocky just because I’m a Wall Reaper! I’ve been playing this Game longer than all these ring-ins! I know how it all works, how the UG is supposed to run!” He punched his palm with his fist a couple of times for emphasis. “It’s about time you get a lesson in humility!”
Arai was oversensitive about such matters, but he also had a small army of Taboo Noise at his disposal, so Ryoma didn’t feel like arguing. Arai was the sort of guy who understood action better than words, anyway.
The air warped around them, Yanagi vanished from his sight but not the rest of his senses, and the fight was on.
Arai seemed intent on staying back at least. Two Taboo Noise came for him at once, and Ryoma nimbly darted away, leaving a trail of fire in his wake before switching to his katana pin. The transparent blade that was clutched between his fingers enveloped his whole hand now, and he slashed repetitively at the black wolf Noise snapping at his feet - forehands and backhands and smashes one after another. The Noise evaporated, but seconds later a small herd of black Frog Noise took its place.
There was a jarring in his senses, and the pact seemed to waver for just an instant. Ryoma touched the healing pin. “Thanks,” Yanagi’s voice floated through the air. It was easier to heal mid-battle than after, sometimes.
“Mada mada dane,” he muttered, using psychokinesis to throw another wolf onto the pile of frog Noise. With the time bought, he focused, and a blast of meteors wiped them all out in one strike.
All of a sudden, a flash of colour entered the battle. Ryoma blinked, stepping back and barely avoiding a tan fist. “Cocky brat, showing off at a time like this?”
So, Arai was in on the fray now too. He hit the Reaper with a long stream of lightning. Arai swore, and threw a Noise at him using psychokinesis. Ryoma ducked, slashing at it as it went past, then ran for the Game Master, pins in hand, but had to abort the attack when a Taboo rhino lumbered into view, swinging its massive head around and knocking Ryoma clear off his feet.
He landed on the ground with a jarring thud, but rolled back to his feet, slashing blindly into space while he reorientated his senses. Another frog Noise dissipated into nothingness. Arai swung some more punches at him, which Ryoma somehow managed to dodge. The Wall Reaper didn’t even have any other psychs to attack with?
A burst of fire was enough to get Arai to back off, nursing a burnt arm with a fierce scowl. Ryoma used the opportunity to drag down a crow Noise with psychokinesis and finish it off. Slowly, the army of Taboo Noise were whittled down, and it was just Arai left.
Ryoma advanced on the Wall Reaper, pins at the ready. Arai held out his hand. “Hey, no, wait, they’re your enemies t-”
Suddenly, the Wall Reaper paused, an odd look on his face, and stumbled back. “No way…”
“Arai-senpai?” Ryoma asked, lowering his hand.
He was getting insubstantial. Alarmed, Ryoma ran forward. “Arai-senpai!”
Arai was there, and then he wasn’t. Gone. Erased.
Yanagi appeared next to him. “That was close.” Ryoma couldn’t stop staring into empty space; paralysed by shock.
It had been easier with Kirihara, because Ryoma hadn’t remembered him at the time. And even then, Rikkai’s up-and-coming ace was clearly off the deep end and fighting to kill. It hadn’t been like that at all with Arai.
It was the Game. It was all because of the stupid Game.
There was a flash of light, and he was back in that eerie room filled with mirrors.
“Congratulations on making it through the week. In this case, twice.”
Ryoma clenched his fists, staring at the ground. Sanada again. “You’ve had your fun. Give Karupin back and send us back to the RG.”
“There are some problems with that.”
Golden eyes snapped up to glare at the Conductor. “What? I completed the game. Twice.”
“And I’m sorry to inform you that due to certain events, this Game has been declared void. The Game Master went rogue and ceased to issue missions, and then even committed the gravest of infractions by creating Taboo Noise.”
Ryoma felt like he was choking. It wasn’t… he couldn’t…
"I did not get the impression that making Taboo Noise is a simple thing to do," Yanagi observed. "That a mere Wall Reaper did it... surely he had outside help."
"He was the source," Sanada answered curtly, "That is most important. But even though the Game is void, we are grateful for your assistance in eliminating him, and so the Composer has generously decided-”
“A moment,” Yanagi interrupted. “Before you continue with that, I have a request.”
“And that is?” Sanada asked.
“I would like you to make me a Reaper.”
Ryoma whirled on his partner. “What?”
Yanagi’s expression didn’t even falter. “This was my intention all along, wasn’t it? I’m only sorry it took me this long.”
“What about your life? Didn’t you want to go back to the RG and find out how you died?” Ryoma demanded. He couldn’t believe that after all they’d been through that week Yanagi would so quickly give up and choose to become a Reaper. They hadn’t even heard what the Composer’s offer was yet!
“In regards to that matter, I believe I already have a fairly good idea. You see, so many of my friends are making names for themselves in the UG… it seems only reasonable that I join them, doesn’t it?”
“Are you saying that you committed suicide?”
“Oh, I had some assistance in that quarter, right, Conductor?”
How… He didn’t have his memories! “How…”
“I lost all of my data at the start of the game. That meant losing all of my memories,” Yanagi reasoned calmly. “But upon gathering information throughout the course of the Game, certain probabilities made themselves known to me.”
Sanada smiled grimly. “As the Composer predicted.”
Unbelievable. It felt like the rug had just been pulled out from under him. All this time… Yanagi had been quietly gathering information, making conclusions… and he’d arrived at this?
Ryoma was angry. It wasn’t often he became angry, but he couldn’t believe this. It had been hard for him to trust Yanagi, especially when the ranks of his enemies seemed to mostly be filled with Rikkai tennis players. His only solace had been that they were in the same boat.
Except that they’d never been in the same boat. That was the key difference. Yanagi wanted to be there.
“Niou, Yagyuu!” Sanada barked.
The pair of Harriers slunk out of… somewhere; Ryoma couldn’t see where they might have hidden in the room. “You called, Conductor?” Yagyuu asked with a sly smile.
“Renji is joining the ranks. Please take care of it,” he instructed.
Niou’s smirk was a perfect mirror of Yagyuu’s. “About time.”
It had been a ploy from the very beginning. The only thing that hadn’t gone according to plan was Yanagi teaming up with him.
Ryoma flinched as he felt the pact break. It felt like a receding tide, sluggishly dragging the breath from his lungs. Yanagi’s face twitched briefly, but that was the only outward indication of him feeling the severing of the connection. “My thanks, Echizen. You were a very useful partner. Best of luck to you.”
The three Rikkai players left the room. Sanada turned back to him. “Now… there’s the matter of what we’re going to do with you.”
Day Seven, End.
Footsteps clattered on a concrete path, mindless chatter filling the air as people walked past. Traffic rumbled on the street nearby, drowning out the twitter of birdsong and rustling of the wind.
Ryoma stood up, dusted the dirt from knees, and stared dully at the bus stop timetable.
'You have 7 days.'
He was starting to suspect that Sanada wanted him erased no matter what.