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The Power of Gossip, Chapter 4

Title: The Power of Gossip
Rating: T
SummaryIn Tezuka’s defence, it had been a moment of panic at the end of a very stressful day. Now everyone thinks he and Ryoma are dating.
Author’s Notes:  Oishi means well, he really does.

Chapter One - One White Lie
Chapter Two - This Is How Rumours Get Started
Chapter Three - Dropping Pennies



********************************
 
The Power of Gossip
 
Chapter 4 – Resisting the Forces of Chance
 
By Sinnatious
 
********************************
 
Tezuka was first to arrive at the airport that Saturday. Ryoma walked up to the clock - their designated meeting place - carrying his bags a few minutes later, cap pulled low to hide his face. Tezuka didn't have the heart to tell him that his cap probably made him more recognisable to his fans than anything else. He himself didn't have the same problems since he'd started wearing contacts on the court and glasses the rest of the time, save for a couple of enthusiasts that managed to recognise him anyway. Either way, the airport was quiet and filled primarily with business travellers, so no one paid the two semi-famous tennis players any mind.

"Echizen," he greeted cordially.

"Morning buchou. Are we the first?"

"It appears so. Ready to leave Japan again?"

"Hn, seems like we just got back."

It had only been a little over three weeks since they’d come to Kyoto - and they probably wouldn't get to return for the next four to five months either with the season getting into full swing, as they'd likely go to the American Open, French Open and Wimbledon one after the other, attending smaller tournaments in the lead ups in-between. Tezuka usually found himself too busy to feel homesick, but there were times when he truly detested the pro lifestyle. Luckily, the tennis was worth it, and with Echizen turning up to over half of the same tournaments as him, he at least had someone to talk to that could speak proper Japanese. Even if he was nearly fluent in English and German, it was comforting to talk in your natural language every now and again. He'd rather thought that Echizen wouldn't have minded as much, having spent his childhood in America, but the young pro forever complained about the lack of Japanese food and proper baths, so at least Tezuka knew he wasn't alone in his discomfort.
 
Speaking of discomfort, he noticed that the younger man was sporting dark bags under his eyes. “Are you well? You look tire-”

"Hoi hoi! Ochibi and Tezuka arrived together, nya!" Eiji hollered in their general direction as he arrived at the airport, cutting his question short. 

"Eiji!" Oishi whispered frantically. "What did I just tell you?!"

Tezuka pinched the bridge of his nose. He’d been secretly hoping – albeit foolishly - that by the time the weekend rolled around others would have given up on that ridiculous belief, but apparently it had only lodged itself more firmly in their brains over time. Echizen merely rolled his eyes. Until they could find some other means to convince their friends, ignoring it seemed like the only option. And everyone would see for themselves that there was nothing to it soon enough. He’d just have to be patient.
 
Kawamura arrived next, along with Momo and Kaido.  “Oi! Echizen! Long time no see! And what’s this with not even bothering to call when you’re in Japan?!” the towering twenty-year old demanded, slinging a mock-threatening arm around his shoulders.
 
“Sorry Momo. I was busy.”
 
“A likely story. Busy with Tezuka, right? What did you think you were doing, not telling your best friend about something like that?!”
 
“There’s nothing to tell. It’s not true.”
 
“Not true?! You were found out and now you think you can just lie about it?!”
 
“Hey, Kaido,” Echizen interrupted before the conversation could continue.
 
“Fshhuuuu.” Kaido hadn’t changed much either. He shot a glare at his former rival and made to drop his bags with everyone else’s. Tezuka inclined his head in greeting. He wasn’t expecting anything more than a nod in response, but to his surprise, the Viper made a beeline for him almost immediately. They exchanged proper greetings and well-wishes, then, while everyone else was engrossed in conversation, he muttered, “You’ll treat the brat right.”
 
Tezuka blinked, surprised at the vague hint of threat in his voice. It wasn’t a question so much as a statement. Had Kaido just warned him about impure intentions? It confirmed his suspicions that the gruff individual had a soft spot for his former kouhai, at least. He never had the chance to correct him, as the Viper wandered off almost immediately, apparently content with having said his piece. No matter. Even Kaido was convinced, apparently – no doubt the work of Inui. 
 
Fuji and Inui were the last to arrive. It was a weird moment, having the entire team together again, especially since it had been years ago now that they’d all played together. 
 
“Shall we be off, then?” Oishi asked, breaking the moment of reverent silence.
 
“Yes. Let’s go, everyone.”
 
After that, it was a swirl of chaos as everyone checked their luggage in, disappeared to get food and visit restrooms and wander the terminal. Tezuka found himself drinking coffee with Fuji who was busy filling him on his photography freelancing, only occasionally mentioning the law degree he was supposedly doing. 
 
When everyone bundled onto the plane an hour later, Tezuka found that his seatmate was Echizen, and idly wondered if his friends were still playing tricks on him or if the gods were just having a chuckle at his expense. He didn’t dislike his fellow tennis player’s company… it just wasn’t going to be particularly easy to convince his friends that there really was nothing going on when they kept getting thrown together in such a manner.  
 
Seemingly unaware of their folly, the teen said, “You can have the window seat,” with a yawn as he stowed his carry-on in the overhead locker.
 
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather I swap with Momo so the two of you can catch up during the flight?” Tezuka asked, even though he did prefer the window – it was rather disruptive having to continually get up and move from the aisle seat whenever anyone wanted to go to the toilet or fetch something from the overhead locker.
 
Echizen’s gaze wandered over to where Momoshiro and Kawamura were sitting across from them. Momoshiro was halfway through getting his teaching qualifications, and was supposedly going into physical education, which he was telling the sushi chef about in a voice loud enough that they could hear him clearly from where they sat. “Nah, we have two whole weeks.”
 
They settled in, with Fuji and Inui sitting in front of them, Momoshiro, Kawamura and Kaido to their left, and Oishi and Eiji two rows in front. After the plane had taken off, he’d retrieved a book he’d stowed in the seat pocket in front of him to read, while Echizen leafed through the free magazines, then watched the in-flight movie. Dinner came and they ate in silence, and Tezuka resumed reading afterwards, though his eyelids eventually grew heavy. Slowly, despite the insistent rumble of the jet engines, he drifted off to sleep.

Waking up with a start an indeterminable amount of time later, Tezuka almost dropped the book that had fallen into his lap. Adjusting his glasses, he glared at Fuji, who was leaning over the seat in front of him with his camera and a wide smile. The weight on his arm informed of the source of his comrade's mirth. Echizen had apparently also fallen asleep and was now slumped against his shoulder.

It was tempting to wake his companion, simply because he knew that his former team mates would simply use it as further evidence of a non-existent relationship. But at the same time, Echizen looked peaceful, and he was probably exhausted after spending most of the past two weeks doing advertisements instead of resting and training after the tournament – especially if those bags under his eyes were any indication. Tezuka was lucky that his current coach/manager - one that Atobe had hooked him up with - actually remembered that he needed breaks. Ryoma's agent, some busty blonde woman that his father had found, seemed to regard the younger player as a sort of machine, and if it wasn't for the teenager's stubborn personality and uncooperative attitude, he'd probably be worked to death doing promotions instead of playing tennis.   Tezuka personally hadn't believed that either of them needed a personal manager, but it turned out that things were a lot easier when you had someone to arrange your travel, accommodation and schedule for you. At least, things were easier for him. Ryoma really needed to find someone new - Echizen Nanjiro had obviously chosen the woman for her looks rather than her skill.

Sighing, he turned his head away and resumed reading his book, leaving the sleeping youth as he was. His friends were currently convinced either way, so he might as well let Echizen get some rest. It was a long flight, after all.
 
They arrived in Los Angeles that afternoon, despite having left Japan just before lunch, and then transferred to Dallas where the tournament was being held. It was early evening when they finally arrived at their destination.
 
They'd all checked into the same hotel, planning on spending the week before Oishi and Eiji's doubles debut on socialising.  Presumably, the Golden Pair were going to spend a good portion of that time practicing, but they'd all offered to help them train.  Neither Tezuka nor Ryoma were taking part in the week-long tournament, mostly because it wasn’t one that the top-thirty usually frequented and so seemed unsporting - not to mention boring - to breeze through the draw without any of their matches getting to the third set.  That, and Tezuka hadn't wanted to steal the limelight from his two former team mates.  He was certain that their debut would make a splash in doubles tennis, and didn't want to infringe on it as anything other than a supporter.  Echizen had agreed, though only after being prodded into saying so.

Oishi was busy handing out the key cards in the foyer – everyone was too tired to bother doing anything else other than go straight to sleep, including Echizen who had spent the majority of the flight doing just that.  "They only had one three-person room left - apparently the place got overbooked.  Inui, Kaido and Momo are in that room.  The rest of us have doubles. Me and Eiji, and Kawamura and Fuji - we're all on the same floor.  Tezuka and Echizen," he said, handing over the last key.  "You're two floors above us, sorry."

"Hoi hoi!" Eiji exclaimed with a wink, before being sharply elbowed by his doubles partner.

Momoshiro and Kaido were already glaring daggers at each other; time apparently having done nothing to ease their rivalry.  Tezuka, however, felt his stomach sinking ominously.  It wasn't that he minded rooming with the younger pro - it was more than he expected that his team mates were putting them together for the wrong reasons again.
 
Still, it was too late to kick up a fuss about it, so he wordlessly took the key card and nodded to his roommate. “Meet in the foyer at 8am?”
 
There was a jumbled chorus of agreement as everyone tiredly shuffled into the elevator. He bade goodnight to the others as they left on their own floor, carefully ignored Eiji’s winks and Fuji’s sly glances, and continued up the next two floors with his silent companion. 
 
He slid the key into the card slot by the door, and waited for the lock to click to open it, barely able to suppress his own yawn as he did so. They entered the dim room, Echizen throwing the bags haphazardly into the closet by the door as he fumbled for the light switch. Finally, he located it, flooding the dark room with light, and then suddenly wishing he hadn’t.
 
Tezuka knew that he shouldn't have let his well-meaning friend organise the rooms, especially given the current misunderstanding.  But it just hadn't been a situation that had even occurred to him.
 
There was only one bed. 
 
Well.  This was going to be awkward.

Ryoma, was apparently unbothered, and possibly even bemused by the entire fiasco.  He walked over to the double bed and flopped down on it.  “Two Pontas.  And burgers.”

"I honestly didn't expect it was going to get out of control like this."

"Che, they'll get bored and believe us eventually," the younger pro pointed out.
 
"What do you suggest we do?" Tezuka asked, having no clue what the next step should be.  Oishi had already said that the hotel was overbooked, so it was unlikely that they could ask for another room. 

Ryoma shrugged from where he was sprawled.  "It's big enough.  I don't mind sharing.  Unless you snore.  Do you snore, buchou?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

"Okay then."  And apparently, as far as Echizen was concerned, the problem was solved.  Still, Tezuka wasn't entirely comfortable with the arrangement.  He was rather fond of his personal space, and hadn't ever really shared his bed with anyone - whenever friends or relatives had stayed over in the past, there'd always been a spare futon available, and so he'd never been required to double up before.

He shook his head as though to clear it.  It wasn't really an issue - he was just making it more of one because of his friends' teasing.  Besides, for all he'd grown, Echizen was still small by most people's standards, and the bed was plenty large.  And it wasn't as though he was the only one making a sacrifice - the young pro was just as private a person as he was.  Making a fuss would just make the situation more uncomfortable.

"You can have a shower first," Tezuka offered.  Nodding, Ryoma stood with a yawn and dragged himself to the hotel bathroom, then poked his head out again almost immediately.

"Hey, buchou, there's a bath in this one!"

Curiosity piqued, he headed over to inspect it with Echizen.  Indeed, there was a deep bathtub, long enough to fit the younger man comfortably, though it would be a tighter squeeze for him.  It was a shower-tub combo, but Tezuka had stayed in enough hotels that lacked the feature to appreciate it.  "Inui must have done his research when he chose this place."

"Che, if I'd known I would have brought some salts with me."

"I have some that you can use," Tezuka suggested, aware of his companion's love of hot springs and baths.  He didn’t have the same interest that Echizen did, but kept a supply of various salts in the bottom of his bag on the off chance he was lucky enough to wind up with a hotel suite that had a bath.  "You'll have to wait a few minutes for me to retrieve them, though."

"Thanks, but I'll just be quick tonight," he dismissed with another deep yawn.

"Don't fall asleep in the tub," Tezuka warned.

"I'm not that careless, buchou."

Half an hour later found Tezuka knocking on the door regardless.  When there was no answer, he sighed and tested the handle, mildly relieved to find that his roommate had forgotten to lock it.  Sure enough, Echizen was still in the tub, head lolling to the side and eyes closed.

"Echizen," he called, trying to avert his eyes for modesty's sake.  He reached out to shake his shoulder, then when that still didn't work, filled one of the glasses by the sink with cold water and dumped it on the young pro's head, mentally apologising for the rude tactic as he did so.

That woke him up.  Echizen sputtered, blinked sleepily, and then finally seemed to recognise him.  "Buchou, what are you doing here?"

"You fell asleep in the tub."

"Ah, I got careless after all," he said with a grimace, half rising out of the water. Tezuka threw him a towel, trying to ignore the awkwardness and Echizen's apparent lack of modesty.  Really, it wasn't as though they hadn't changed in the same locker room before... but they were full-grown adults now.  Tezuka didn't quite know why that left an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach, but didn't bother analysing the sensation.  Task complete, he hurriedly exited the bathroom and closed the door firmly behind him.

"Sorry for taking so long," the teen apologised when he finally emerged clad in red boxers and a white shirt, towelling his hair dry.

"Don't worry about it.  You should be careful not to catch a cold," he responded wryly, not waiting for a reply before sweeping into the bathroom himself.

Even though he was quick, when he emerged Echizen was already fast asleep, sprawled atop the bed covers.  Sighing, he shifted the other pro under the covers, privately wondering how on earth the boy managed on his own at the American Open at age 12 when he seemed incapable of taking care of himself at age 19.

Then again, he didn't have a manager running him into the ground at age 12, either, a small voice growled in the back of his head.  He'd only met the woman a few times, but was starting to develop an unusually intense dislike for her.  If she caused his rival to retire prematurely, he'd never forgive her.

Tucking the covers in, Tezuka paused a moment, taking in the rare of sight of a completely unguarded Ryoma.  His hair was tousled and lips slightly parted as he softly breathed in a gentle rhythm.  It was so hard to believe that this was the devil he faced on the court on such a regular basis.  What was the saying?  That they looked like such angels when they were asleep?

With a sigh, Tezuka headed over to his own side of the bed, climbing in carefully so as not to disturb the other occupant.  He hadn't thought that he'd be able to sleep properly with another person in such close proximity, but the exhaustion from the long flight soon kicked in and he was unconscious within minutes.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
kaorismash
Sep. 12th, 2007 10:58 am (UTC)
I'm supposed to be studying. I'm supposed to not be on livejournal. I'm not supposed to be here reading this. Admittedly, I should not have tagged your journal for updates. And yet I'm here not studying on LJ when I sword only to go on it on weekends. :|

kjdsakgja;kldjh Not that I'm not happy. Anything to take a break from redox reactions for sure. And it's not like I've been doing anything productive so far. |D;

And oh am I glad. Just. JUST. KIKUMARU. KAIDOH. THEY'RE BOTH SO SO GORGEOUS. KAIDOH ESPECIALLY. *sparkles* I think, with the recent genius chapters, this only makes me jdshglajdkshg over him more. Just. Guh!

And how Tezuka notices the small changes in him, and how tired he's been. And how he doesn't the heart to tell him that his trademark hat is all too familiar to both him and fans and jsdhfdasklhgadfh. And then letting him sleep on him. Despite Fuji watching them. To which I'll admit that I might even like your Fuji. We'll see.

Tezuka knowing about Nanjiroh's quirks. His perverted female quirks. Oh Tezuka. ♥ And then.

I think you killed me at the bed scene. Well, originally when I was reading through it. I usually facepalm myself with one-bed-cliches, but I've never read pillar one-bed-cliche before. And oh. Oh. Not only that. BATH SALTS. RYOMA'S LOVE. I LOVE CANON SOMETIMES, AND TO ADD THIS IN AND MAKE HIM FALL ASLEEP AND HAVE TEZUKA GO IN A RETRIEVE HIM. I WANT TO KEYSMASH, BUT I THINK I'VE DONE PLENTY OF THAT ALREADY THAT IT'S PROBABLY LOST ITS EFFECT. *Woe*

But sjdhgjld my heart. It's fluttering around and I'm just so impossibly happy and the cute! *g* I want to hug you, so very very tightly. ♥

sinnatious
Sep. 12th, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, thwarting study! I feel proud. Ah, I remember redox reactions. No longer could I pretend rust was some sort of malignant Mushi that lived near oceans. Good old chemistry, crushing dreams and grades at the same time. Good luck with that.

HELL YES THERE ARE CLICHES. True, I normally face-palm at them too, but I have designed this entire fic around cliches. This fic is cliche with water and tennis added. This shall be an exercise in why cliches were popular in the first place. Hopefully. Oh, okay, I just wanted to write some TezRyo and didn't think it through too carefully. Busted.
kaorismash
Sep. 14th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC)
*gasp* You mean, rust isn't some sort of malignant Mushi that lives near the oceans? D: But ah yes, grades have plummeted ever since that curse of a subject. *shakes fist*

Secretly I love cliches. But uh, you didn't hear me say that. :| I think the reason people dislike the ideas of cliches so much is because when it is written, usually it's not written very good, or is some half-assed attempt of uh, rewriting something someone else already has done wonderfully, and wanting to replicate that, instead of trying to add a different spin, or trying to make it match the characters and situation.

This, though, I shall encourage. Because it is too cute not to. Oh. Them two sleeping on the bed has been on my mind ever since. ♥ Morning after cliche! jskddhgjlkdfh ;D
kanaga
Sep. 12th, 2007 12:11 pm (UTC)
That was lovely! Wonderful thing to read just right after the exams. Thank you for this!

You've characterized them so perfectly! I can never do Tezuka...

And Ryoma falling asleep in the bath and not knowing that he fell asleep in the bath is just soooo darling!!! <3
(Deleted comment)
pharrezychica
Sep. 12th, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC)
This keeps getting better and better, you never fail to deliver! ;)

Tezuka can be mildly frustrating in his cluessness, while being at the same time completley adorable.
And RYOMA! Your Ryoma is delightfully in-canon, bratty, uncaring and so utterly lovable.

“You’ll treat the brat right.”

Kaidoh *____________*
O love this so much!! XD

Can't wait for the update!
mimineko_chan
Sep. 12th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
You are distracting me ! I'm suppose to be studying ! Classes started already and I have a lot of readings to do. And yesterday, I wished for some TezuRyo fics, and here it is. THANK YOU ! I was so sad and frustrated. You can't believe how annoying the law faculty is. One of my teachers is sick for the entire semester and we have a new professor. But we have a book that we have to buy, but the new professor told the board that she would like us to buy another book. But the faculty wanted to save money so sold us last semester's book that are out of date. Sheesh ! So now, we have to wait for another week for the book. But the prof can't wait that long, we have to start sometime. So I'll have three weeks of reading to catch up. At least, others are in the same boat as me !

But back to your fic. You are the center of attention my dear. Like I said on ff.net, this one is longer, no ? You mentioned Atobe again... Hehe ! I knew that you could not resist. You will mention him again and again, I'm sure of that. He is iresistable (so he says). And Tezuka, so innocent and unaware of his feelings. Is he a virgin ? He is... he is. *sigh* Adorable ! Does Tezuka knows that he is homosexual ? Maybe he never felt that way so he does not know that he even has a libido. ^^ And Ryoma, so bratty and not caring for anything. And I just loved how Tezuka doesn't like 'that woman'. He will do everything to put Ryoma with his manager. But Fuji didn't play a big role here. Through I do wish I can have a picture of Ryoma falling asleep on Tezuka. And where are the fangirls ? Those annoying little things that begin this whole fiasco ?

Is Fuji going to sneak in their room to take pictures ? ^^
sinnatious
Sep. 13th, 2007 12:21 pm (UTC)
All answers in due time! Ha ha, I am proud to be disrupting so many people's study. Law, geh, I admire your fortitude in being able to concentrate on such a dry subject (or in this case, not concentrate on it, but whatever. ;P) Heh, I ought to pick your brain on Fuji - I've got him studying law in this one.

Shall... valiantly... resist Atobe's... pull. Fortunately, it is not nearly so powerful as the Tezuka Zone. Still, I shall say that you are creepily psychic.

I'm sure somewhere on the vast ocean of the internet someone has done an adorable fanart of Ryoma falling asleep on Tezuka? Honestly, though, I think I am giving myself cavaties with this fic. But, like most sweets, you just can't resist!
mimineko_chan
Sep. 13th, 2007 12:36 pm (UTC)
I'm in my classes and my professor is talking (spouting nonesense really ^^). But I just had to answer to your reply when I received this. Since I have connection with my Uni's internet with my super cool new laptop, I'm having a lot of distractions in my classes. Beside, I'm a choco-addict and like chocolate, I need my daily doze of pillar love. And this chapter was a very nice piece of candy. I have a lot of cavities... hehe, I should brush my teeth many more times.

I know that the Tezuka Zone is powerful, but do not forget that Ore-sama's poweress is irresistable... especially when he flicks his lovely 'purple' hair.
"Che, baka monkey king. Leave buchou and I alone." ^^

Answers in due time ? Are you kidding me ? Do you see my user name ? Mimineko_chan. I'm a cat ! And cats are by nature curious (we also have nine lives). And since they say that curiosity will kill cats, well, I'll die very soon if you don't hurry ! ^^ That's the greedy fangirl that is taking over. XD

Gotta go... I really have to listen to this. It's important.

Love ! ^^
seregil_1982
Sep. 12th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
i absolutely love and adore this story so far. i really enjoyed reading so far and find your plot idea very intriguing. can't wait for the next chapter because you got me hooked already! *smiles*
bella842
Sep. 12th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
This story is so cute! I'm looking forward to seeing how you develop this plot even further, so please keep on writing!
faire_estela
Sep. 14th, 2007 08:25 am (UTC)
Why, oh why, did I miss chapter 3? And now I arried really late at chapter 4. Um... do you mind if I friend or add you to an alert list? I'd rather read the following chapters as soon as they come out - this is getting better and better by every moment!

As much as I love your Echizen, it was your Kaidoh who got me in this chapter, well, both him and Momo. You treat the boy right, Momoshiro was halfway through getting his teaching qualifications, and was supposedly going into physical education, which he was telling the sushi chef about in a voice loud enough that they could hear him clearly from where they sat. You got me at that last quote - simple as it may seem, it's so Momo!

And the ending is so cute... *__*
sinnatious
Sep. 14th, 2007 10:11 am (UTC)
Of course you may friend me - though only if you allow me to friend you back! ;) I totally had to after I saw your post on the Seigaku musical. Oh the inspiration...

I think that I am definitely going to have to find an excuse to write more Kaido, yes. He's fun to write.
faire_estela
Sep. 14th, 2007 12:25 pm (UTC)
*smiles* Was it the MomoKai? =D=D

Well, you have no excuse not to add him after the latest Genius chapters.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )