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The Power of Gossip - Chapter 12

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:  Am I mean enough to have two cliffhangers in a row?  Why, yes.  Yes I am.

Chapter One - One White Lie
Chapter Two - This Is How Rumours Get Started
Chapter Three - Dropping Pennies
Chapter Four - Resisting the Forces of Chance
Chapter Five - Over-thinking Things
Chapter Six - Discussing Rumours
Chapter Seven - Reading Between the Lines
Chapter Eight - Outside the Comfort Zone
Chapter Nine - Realising the Obvious

Chapter Ten - Resisting Temptation
Chapter Eleven - Avoiding the Issue

The Power of Gossip
Chapter 12 – Loving Tennis
By Sinnatious
“We need to talk?” Tezuka repeated carefully.
“What about?” Echizen didn’t know, did he? He couldn’t. Tezuka had been so careful
“You’ve been avoiding me.” The words were accusatory, and the glare accompanying them was sharp.
“I haven’t,” Tezuka denied. 
“You have. All week.” The tone brokered no argument.
“I haven’t. Really.”
Echizen glared. “You hate Thai food.”
When had the other pro learned that? It was time to bail out. “I merely didn’t want to give that rumour any more fodder until it went away,” he explained. It was partially the truth, anyway. 
“Not true. You weren’t avoiding me that much to begin with. You only started really avoiding me the past few days. You won’t even look at me. I want to know why.”
Tezuka didn’t have anything to say to that.
“Did Fuji say something?”
Fuji was always saying something. Tezuka still didn’t respond. 
The glare intensified. Fuji’s sharp blue eyes were bad, but when Echizen focused his full stare on you, his eyes were practically golden, and could almost paralyse you with just a glance.
“The game. I want it now.”
“What?” Tezuka was suddenly confused.
Echizen ignored him, though, storming over to the closet to fetch his tennis racket. “You promised me a game, didn’t you? Whenever I wanted. Well, I want it now.”
“But-” His protests were silenced when Echizen handed him his tennis racket. He HAD promised, and Tezuka didn’t like going back on his word. 
Still, a game, now? He didn’t really feel up to it. On the other hand, what did it matter? It wasn’t like it was a tournament game or anything. And he had promised. “Where?”
“The tennis court out the back.”
“The lights there aren’t very good.”
“Since when have you or I ever needed to see the ball, Buchou?”
The younger pro had a point. “Very well then.”
They didn’t speak as they changed into clothes more appropriate for playing tennis and headed down to the court, though the anger surrounding Echizen was practically palatable. Tezuka hadn’t really expected the nineteen-year-old to even notice his efforts at scarcity, much less react so badly to them.
The court was, fortunately, already set up – obviously at some point the hotel staff had realised that they were hosting quite a number of tennis freaks in their establishment and had decided to just have the court ready for play at all times. They spent a few minutes warming up before meeting at the net. Tezuka called rough, the racquet fell on smooth, and Echizen took first serve.
The first shot was an ace – a blisteringly powerful twist serve that Tezuka was unprepared for. A quick glance revealed an intense expression on his opponent’s face. Echizen must have been really, really mad to let loose a serve like that straight up. Normally Tezuka could expect to see that sort of power somewhere in the second set. 
Even prepared, he barely caught the second one, and Echizen slammed it away on the return.
They actually managed a rally for the third, but Tezuka only managed to steal one point from his opponent before the game finished. He responded in kind with his own serve and Echizen met the challenge. 
Echizen eventually broke serve in the fourth game, and managed to take the first set. Tezuka took the second set in the same manner. They rallied long and hard, not even stopping to take breaks between court changes save for a quick towelling and a gulp of water. Tezuka’s coach would have likely lectured him, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Just the tennis. It was as though the world had ceased to exist beyond the court. 
For a while, he’d forgotten what it was like, being so plagued by worry and confusing feelings. As complex as the game could become, tennis was so simple. He liked playing tennis more than anything else. Even the distant part of his mind that had him lingering on risqué fantasies involving his opponent had been silenced as he focused entirely on the game, body at times moving before he even had the chance to register what he was doing. 
The tennis was intense, invigorating…. honest. Tennis with Echizen always was. Sometimes it felt like those games were the only times he was truly alive, as though what he’d thought had been living up until the moments they were playing were just a shallow dream. It was raw, emotional tennis, and every time they played seriously it pushed him to a new height. 
Tezuka almost laughed in the middle of one rally. It was love.
“Oi, buchou! Buchou!”
Tezuka paused mid-serve, glancing across the court. Echizen was standing at the net, racket propped against his shoulder. He was grinning. Tennis was about the only time Echizen ever sported a genuine smile. It made him look positively radiant. “What?”
“Buchou, that last point was match point. You won.” 
It felt like an odd turnaround somehow, as though they’d had this conversation before with their roles reversed. “Oh.” That was sort of surprising. He hadn’t been really expecting to win, anticipating his own distraction combined with Echizen’s irritation to make the match unusually difficult. 
“Che, as expected of buchou.” His opponent looked mildly peeved about losing, but seemed to have forgiven him for his earlier transgressions. “I’ll definitely beat you next time.”
“I look forward to the challenge,” Tezuka responded, grasping his hand and shaking it across the net. The world seemed to come back into focus, as suddenly he was hyper-aware of the distant buzz of the ineffectual court lights and the chilly evening air ghosting across his sweaty skin. 
The mood had eased considerably as they headed back into the hotel, moving as quietly as possible. They’d obviously been playing for quite some time – it was near midnight, and Tezuka hoped they hadn’t woken anyone up playing so late, though it was sort of surprising that they’d managed to have the match without earning spectators. Although the court was on the opposite side of the hotel to their rooms, so they probably got lucky this time.
Once safely ensconced in their hotel room, they each took a quick shower to help cool down and remove the sweat and grime accumulated from the impromptu game. Tezuka had barely finished getting changed when Echizen had wandered out of the bathroom clad in his pyjamas, hair dripping wet. Tezuka’s breath caught in his throat again, but he relaxed his muscles and calmed himself. Avoiding Echizen was fine for his own benefit, but if it was going to hurt the other pro’s feelings, he’d have to find a way to handle his own personal discomfort.
“Thanks for the game,” he said, more as a courtesy than anything. Though really, the game had been him fulfilling his end of a bargain.  
“Hn. Well, at least you’re talking to me again,” Echizen said dismissively. “What was the issue in the first place? And don’t tell me lies about that rumour.”
 “I didn’t really lie. It was sort of about that rumour,” Tezuka admitted, drying his hair with a towel. Echizen huffed impatiently, snatching it away to dry his own dripping hair. 
“You’re serious? You really think avoiding me is going to make it go away?”
“I don’t know what I was thinking anymore,” he confessed.
“You worry too much about what other people think.”
“I do not,” he retorted automatically, even though he knew it was a lie. Between his coach and his parents, keeping up a good public image was an ingrained habit by now. Echizen just gave him a pointed look, proving the other pro could easily pick the denial for what it was. Fair enough. His concern over other people’s opinions had been largely what had caused his anguish in the first place. When he thought about it, the main reason it had taken him so long to become aware of his feelings for Echizen was because he’d been constantly trying to categorise their relationship by what other people expected it to be. 
“Is it that obvious?” he relented.
“It is to me,” Echizen remarked, almost dismissively. 
Instead of the thought being heart-warming, though, it was mildly terrifying that the teen could see through him like that. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to meet people’s expectations so long as you can remain true to yourself,” Tezuka argued.
“Yeah, but we’re adults. You don’t have to apologise for bad behaviour anymore,” Echizen pointed out. “You shouldn’t care that much about what other people think and say, especially if it’s the press.”
“I know that. That’s not what I meant.”
His roommate gave him a half-hearted glare. “Then what did you mean?”
Tezuka wasn’t really sure himself, anymore, only sensing that the conversation was treading into dangerous territory. How could he explain that a lifetime of ingrained values and habit had intruded on his thinking to the point where it had taken him years to figure out his feelings in regards to the other male – to the extent that it had still taken him time to catch on even when the evidence was thrown in his face?  “It’s natural to seek the approval of those around you so long as it doesn’t interfere with your personal priorities. Most people do it unconsciously. You cannot please everyone, though, so in the end, you’re most likely to accommodate whoever you seek the approval of the most, and whichever course of action is most in line with your own wishes,” he explained vaguely, trying to dodge the question. 
Voice partially muffled by the towel, his roommate replied, “So, you’ve been avoiding me because of the press, because you’re that worried that the scandal will ruin your career and everyone’s good opinion of you?”
“No. I mean, yes, I did… it’s complicated,” he finished lamely.
“So then you’ve essentially been avoiding me for no good reason!”
“No!” Tezuka denied, slightly panicked. “I… I just worried, and wasn’t certain how to react, that’s all. It was stupid, I know. Sorry.”
“Che, damn right it was stupid.” Flinging the towel away after drying his hair, Echizen flopped onto the bed next to him. “It’s just gossip, anyway.”
“Right, gossip.” He was quickly becoming distracted by the heat radiating off the freshly showered body sitting far too close next to him. Thus the following words left Tezuka’s mouth before he had the chance to register thinking them. “But what if it were real?”
Echizen cocked his head thoughtfully at that, giving him a little smile. “Heh, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it, buchou?”
It was almost as though those words were a switch that removed the last of his self-control. Body moving as though on automatic, he reached out, grasping Echizen by the shoulders and turning him to face him. The nineteen year-old stared at him quizzically, eyes widening marginally as Tezuka brought their faces close and pressed their lips together.
It started out a chaste kiss. Echizen had frozen beneath his fingers, and somewhere amidst the chaos of his whirling thoughts Tezuka wondered if the shock had rendered the other pro immobile, and was waiting nervously to be shoved away, or possibly punched. After a moment, however, he felt Echizen tentatively respond.
Tezuka could have died happy, right then. Was it possible? Was it true that Echizen felt the same way? Dare he believe?
Emboldened, he drove the kiss deeper, arms at some point wrapping around the young pro without his noticing. His glasses were knocked askew when they bumped into Echizen’s cheek, but neither of them noticed. A distant part of him vaguely became aware of a hand entwining itself in his hair, another resting against his chest. Rational thought had all but abandoned him at that point, as he found himself able to focus only on the electric sensation of Echizen’s touch and the hotness of his mouth.
Eventually, they broke for breath with a gasp. Tezuka stared, panting, into his roommate’s half-lidded eyes. They looked golden in the dim light, and vaguely reminded him of a satisfied cat.
“Tezuka,” Echizen breathed, face slightly flushed. With a jolt, he realised it was the first time he’d ever heard his actual name spill from the other pro’s lips.
“Call me Kunimitsu,” he implored, pulling Echizen into another kiss and pushing him back against the bed.
“Only if you call me Ryoma,” came the response when they next broke apart. 
“Ryoma,” he tried, testing the word out on his tongue. Echizen – no, Ryoma, he corrected himself – grinned and this time pulled him down to smother his mouth in another lip lock. Tezuka absently noted that he really should have taken off his glasses at some point, because they were sitting at an odd angle anyway and digging painfully into his face. He didn’t dare pause, though, some irrational part of him afraid that if he hesitated for even an instant, he’d wake up and this dream would all melt away. The more rational part of him was insisting that this was all happening too fast, too soon, and that they really should stop, talk, discuss, or at the very least exchange some sort of confession so that this didn’t turn into some sort of misunderstanding or one-night stand, but his rational side had been the somewhat weaker of the two of late.
When they next broke apart to breathe, bodies pressed together on the bed, Tezuka didn’t pause, just diverted his attention elsewhere, trailing kisses down Ryoma’s face to his collarbone. He could feel a hand wandering up and down his back as his own made clumsy work of the buttons on the nineteen-year-old’s shirt.
 “Are you sure this is alright?” Ryoma gasped, hands clenching at the fabric of the front of his shirt.
“How could it be wrong? Everyone else seems to think its fate,” Tezuka murmured against his neck.
It was meant as a wry joke, but suddenly, the teen froze. Sensing the change, Tezuka halted his ministrations, growing confused as Ryoma pulled away. 
The younger pro looked troubled. "That’s how it is, isn’t it?"
Suddenly, Ryoma stood and hurried to the closet, shoving on a pair of shoes and grabbing a jacket. “Sorry, buchou.” And with no further fanfare, his roommate disappeared through the door before Tezuka had even gathered wits enough to stand. 

What on earth?


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2007 11:39 am (UTC)
Ack! No! Stupid Tezuka D:
You are so very cruel to your readers *sob* I can't wait for the next chapter xD I read the previous ones almost in one sitting on Monday, it's so good *wibble*

Allow me to nitpick, though :3

He’d was quickly becoming distracted

Fuji’s sharp blue eyes were bad, when Echizen focused his full stare on you <- it feels like there's a word or two missing
Oct. 10th, 2007 12:51 pm (UTC)
Ah, thank you! I completely missed those. I really should stop trying to proof-read while doing three other things at the same time. I cannot multi-task the way I used to. T_T
Oct. 10th, 2007 12:33 pm (UTC)


I'm going to be late to work so I can't leave you a better comment until I get home later tonight. But OMFG LOVE.

I need to know what happens. This is going to bug me until you update again. xD
Oct. 10th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
I gasped then squealed when I saw this update on my flist. Really, I did.

You do know that I'll be thinking about this until your next update, ne?

Because... ack! TEZUKA!!! *rolls around*

Finally, there's some action and Tezuka just had to be so wise and ruin it. *bops Tezuka's head* Frustrating, really.

I'll be waiting for the next chappie. ~(*_*~)
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
My my, this one was intense. And TEZUKA ! I ought to hit him with his own racquet. I really have to go now. I took too much time reading your chapter. Will give you another review later today... well, you are sleeping anyway. ^^
Oct. 10th, 2007 08:33 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD ! I had to read it once again. And I was shocked to say the least. Finally some action too. *wink* But Tezuka really is too much of a dork… but we all love him nonetheless. We can say that Tezuka at least made the first move. Kind of. And he spoke without thinking which became the catalyst of their first kiss. And he is the one that went to kiss Ryoma too. Oh, the kiss ! THE KISS ! The way you described it was just so beautiful. The first time I read it, I was in a bit of a hurry, but the second time, I took my sweet sweet time to read the words and going through my heart. It was beautiful ! Sniff… Tezuka why did you have to ruin such wonderful moment. If you didn’t open your mouth, you would be using Fuji’s gift right now and you would be very satisfied ! ^^

Here is a little dabble. I think that each time, my comments are reducing because it seems that I never have time. Sigh. I’m having two big exam next week (Monday and Tuesday) and I have to give in a big assignment on Tuesday as well. I haven’t even started on my assignment, but at least, I have all that I need. I just have to put everything in my own words and stuff. And I need sleep… the weather here is gloomy.
Oct. 10th, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)
They didn’t speak as they changed into clothes more appropriate for playing tennis...

Ryoma’s back were facing Tezuka’s in their room. Neither went to the bathroom to change since they weren’t that modest. They were in the same team since junior high school and it bothered neither to change. But now that Tezuka were aware of his sexual orientation. He could not resist the temptation of looking. He did try to have some control, but he was too absorbed in thinking not to look that he did look in the end. It was like thinking of a word when you told yourself not to think of that word. Tezuka didn’t directly look, but it was rather a peak in Ryoma’s direction as the younger pro took off his night shirt. Tezuka felt aroused at the strip tease that the other were doing without even realising. Ryoma’s hand were at each side and slowly took off. Tezuka closed his eyes for a second as he took off his own shirt in a swift movement. He didn’t realise that while he was doing that, Ryoma was having a reaction as well. Since his eyes were closed and his head in the other direction, Tezuka could not see that Ryoma took a peak over his shoulder. Ryoma blushed a bit and returned to changing his shorts. While he took off his pyjama pants, which were coincidently lavender (Tezuka’s favourite color), he tried to think of other things than Tezuka taking his own pants off. Instead, Ryoma thought of their soon to be superb tennis game. And his erection suddenly became even more pronounced because it was a game with buchou. It always made his heart beat faster each time he thought of playing against buchou. Before he could touch himself and bring an embarrassed sound (more a moaning of envy and wishing that it was Tezuka’s hand and not his own), he quickly took his tennis short and put them on. Tezuka was having a hard time himself as he did have more self control. He succeeded in not looking as Ryoma were changing his pants. He himself could not bring his shacking hand to stop and tried to quickly pull his pants down. In doing so, he took his boxers down with his pants. Tezuka rapidly turned his hand to make sure that Ryoma did not see that embarrassing moment and pulled his boxers up and covering his slight erection. He grabbed his shorts and pulled them over his boxers with all the dignity that left, which wasn’t a lot at the moment. He too was thinking of the upcoming game against Ryoma. He could not remember how many times he played against the younger prodigy, but each game was extraordinary, and it made him want to fly. Higher… always higher. They bring each other to their limit, which meant that it was only the beginning of discovering each other’s ability. He remembers their first game by the train station. He remembers Ryoma looking at him with those golden eyes, determination to one day beat him. But most importantly, he remembers the way his heart moved after he said to Ryoma “become the pillar of Seigaku”. Ryoma were waiting at the door of their shared room with his red racket in hand. Tezuka took his from beside his nightstand and they took off to the courts.

...and headed down to the court, though the anger surrounding Echizen was practically palatable.

So ? What did you think ? I hope that you liked it because that’s all I can come up with right now. I have to finish my own fics. I gave myself until Monday and then hop… to my beta ! I’m going to study now and I guess that I will finish (or try to) later in the day…

Oct. 11th, 2007 09:39 am (UTC)
Hee hee hee, I can always trust Mimineko to fill in the gaps. :) (Especially when you're probably supposed to be studying). Oh, the fun. ♥

Good luck with both your fic and your study!
Oct. 11th, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
Only for you dear !
I hope that you are typing the next chapters because there will be a lot of people outside your window begging you to put the next chapter up. I loved this chapter so much (because finally some action and tennis (because tennis with Ryoma and Tezuka are just like well... making out... their tennis is just foreplay)). Damn... I'm suppose to listen to this teacher talk because we will have an exam soon, but he really is talking nonesense. Sigh !
Oct. 11th, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)
I'm in some kind of panic during my classes ! ^^ Poor prof, he needs to make his classes more interesting... I see a lot of people going on internet or playing solitaire. ^^
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
You updated YAY >__> ...... >.< damn it, you finally get down to kissing him and all that and you had to go and open your mouth... WWWHHHYYY ???????!!!!!! You never really talk, much less tell jokes, WHY did you have to go and try it this time >.
Oct. 10th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
You meanie!
I thought it was cruel the way you ended last chapter but this is too much. Here I as thinking 'now the sexual tension will be resolved' but I was utterly wrong, they are still so clueless! (mada mada dane, Tezuka! XD)
however, I also prefer it this way, (I'm more of a sadist than I thought I was) because I really want Tezuka to confess and explain everything properly!!
I'm looking forward to your next post!
Oct. 11th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
Hello yummy beautiful action. =D

And yummy beautiful tennis. It always mskes everything beautiful, doesn't it?

Oh Ryoma. Oh Tezuka.

What are those stupid, stupid, but insanely loved boys thinking now? =DDD

I love you.

I admire the way you can just keep on churning these out. Beautiful, lengthy, fulfilling, glorious, delicious, glee-worthy, perfect chapters every Wednesday and Saturday. WITHOUT FAIL.

I love you. Too bad I'm engaged.

I wish it wasn't almost over. This has been the most exhilarating experience.

Improve, damnit, because once you do, no one will be able to stop you--just look at all your fans now! =DDD

Thank you for all this. And for letting me have time to ramble. :x

Oct. 11th, 2007 09:44 am (UTC)
That was a lovely ramble. Though I wouldn't call the chapters perfect - even at the most base level, I've had both Kaori and Calann pick up grievous errors - lucky me, they were the quickest off the mark so I could fix things up right away! But I do intend to improve. I try to bring at least one new thing away from every fic I write to apply to future pieces. Doesn't always happen, but as they say, practice makes perfect. ;)

Congratulations on the engagement, too. ♥
Oct. 11th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Ack! Cliffhanger! Ack!

Man, oh man, I was never so excited to see the next installment than I was today. And I quick read it during my lunch break, even better!

I love the use of tennis used to break down the wall that had formed between them. I love that Ryoma knew how to break down that wall with tennis. I love Tezuka putting his foot in his mouth without knowing or meaning to, and Ryoma taking it the wrong way. I love everything about this fic.

The question now is, what am I going to do when you are finished with it? Weep, probably. I just don't want to see this end.

Thank you for sharing!!!!!!
Oct. 11th, 2007 09:31 am (UTC)

OH. MY. GOD. OHMYGODOHMYGOD. YOU. YOU. SIIIIIIIIIIN WHY DO YOU HAVE TO LEAVE US WITH THESE CLIFFIES, WHY? Poor buchou, really, to be left like that - I can so picture his 'uh?' face in my mind >D

I feel like I'm repeating myself every time I comment to this fic, because my main thought after reading each chapter is 'this is so lovely', or something along those lines. This chapter, though, is particularly lovely; I loved (hahah, yay for repeating myself) the way tennis got everything away from Tezuka's mind.

And, of course, I loved the kiss. The kisses. Ooooh...

More? =D
Oct. 11th, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
Heh, I don't mind repetition as it lets me know that people are reading. :) I just wish I could think of something worthwhile to say to every comment. Seems a bit droll of me to just say 'thanks' in response. They are all cherished, though, and used as fuel to help me keep that regular update schedule.

Only two more chapters! At least that means that there can't be more than one more cliffie, right? ;)
Oct. 11th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
In the end he did hurt him, twice in one chaptr T____________________T

Buchou better find Ryoma soon and confess PROPERLY. The poor kittie =(

I'm clutching my seat, half excited and half scared to read what comes next :P
You rock, dear!
Oct. 11th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
This- have read this so many times tried to comment. With something. Something.

But I can't. Because. skdjgkdfkhljsmfgj. ;_____;

At least. Something? I'LL STALK YOU OUT ON SATURDAY. Because-

Oct. 11th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
TEZUKA NO BAKA! *kicks his head*
Hum. I though waiting a few days to comment would mellow me, but it didn't work that well.

Well, I was 'aww'ing and already sending wedding invitations (so what if gay union is not possible in Japan?), when Tezuka had to prove he was an idiot. Again. (Cause the realization of his attraction to Ryoma was the slowest epiphany in the entire history of yaoi.)
Oh well, at least Ryoma proves that he has expectations too - granted, him? Duh! I can't wait to see Tezuka working hard to get him!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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