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PoTWEWY - Day Three

Title: The World Begins With Tennis


 TezRyo Prince of Tennis/The World Ends With You crossover.

Rating: M for violence and yaoi.

Author’s Note:  Bleargh, real life is being a drag at the moment, let's all wallow in lovely lovely fandom!  So, anybody wondering about the new Game Master yet?  (Actually, I'll still sort of chuffed that anybody is reading this.  The number of ESPers lurking in the flist has been a pleasant surprise.)


Day Three 
Tezuka spent most of Monday rolling the Player Pin between his fingers, contemplating what it all meant. It was Tuesday morning now, and once again he was missing morning practice. It wasn’t a good example for the rest of the team, but the official season was over anyway. His presence wouldn’t be missed.
He was still uncertain as he headed to school. He wasn’t sure what he was suspecting, but he was paranoid about holding that pin too tightly. 
Seigaku loomed in front of him. He hesitated at the gates. He’d been struck by the weirdest sensation when passing by that very spot the day before, almost as though he was being watched. 
Pressing his lips together in a firm line, Tezuka squeezed the pin.
Then blinked. It almost felt like space was warping around him. He couldn't scan thoughts anymore - though a part of him was relieved for that, as being able to read what his former team mates were thinking had been significantly unsettling.  What was more unsettling was what he could see.

Ghostly wings on the back of that person across the street, for one.  Random shadows flitting across the street - he guessed they must be dormant noise.
Then there were the Players. He could see six, just in the nearby vicinity – three sets of two. They were strangely insubstantial, though some of them seemed to almost glow, while others were so dim that he had to squint to make them out.
In the distance, a peculiar brightness caught his eye. Tezuka turned. There, two blocks away… a white cap. Echizen?
His eyes were watering and his head pounded. With a gasp, Tezuka released his hold on the Player Pin. The Players vanished from his sight.
Echizen! Tezuka gripped the pin again, but they were gone. His eyes were feeling strange. Reluctantly, he slipped the pin back into his pocket. It was a surprise that it even worked at all.
It was just an instant and from a distance, but he was sure that he’d seen Echizen. But that didn’t make any sense. Why would Echizen be playing the Game again?
The bell trilled, and the tardy students were running through the Gates. Tezuka followed them, body moving on automatic. He greeted his classmates politely, but it felt like they were all very far away. His mind was on much more important matters.
Was Echizen really a Player? The question plagued him all through morning classes. They seemed boring and insignificant all of a sudden. He supposed that having a second chance at life changed his perspective some.
Arai was a Wall Reaper, Tezuka recalled.  He might have information. To that end, he sought out the junior at lunchtime, cornering him where he was staring morosely out a window in deserted corner of the cafeteria. He hadn’t been at the Tournament on Sunday, nor practice the day before.
The second-year jerked, clearly startled. "Tezuka-buchou!  You made it through!  That's great." He sounded visibly relieved, then frowned, hedging, “Um, I mean, in the Tournament… sorry I couldn’t come.”
“I’m here to talk about the Game.”
“Yeah, it was something, or so the guys told me. Look, I’m really sorry but-”
“Not that game,” Tezuka interrupted. “The one in the UG.”
Arai looked spooked. "Hey... you remember?"

Tezuka nodded seriously.  "Is that not supposed to happen?" Sanada hadn’t given him a clear answer, but Arai might be more forthcoming.

He shrugged, shifting from foot to foot, trying to look tough and, in Tezuka's opinion, failing.  “I… I don’t think so. Though, there’s a new Composer and Conductor, maybe that makes it different…”
“They’re new?”
“Yeah. Came in only a couple of weeks ago. I think that was their first Game. Or sort of. You know… they were already Reapers, of course, so it wasn’t their first game…”
“How does a Reaper become Conductor or Composer?” Tezuka asked.
“The Conductor is chosen, but to become Composer they’ve got to take out the previous one. It had been the same Composer for years though, because they were so strong, but then they came in and… just like that, we had a new Conductor and Composer. I mean, Conductors change every now and again, but Composers are on a whole other level of power, you know?! They hardly ever change, because most people ascend before they get to that sort of power – no one ever gets strong enough to challenge ‘em.”
Tezuka carefully filed that information away for future reference. “So in the Game… things have been unusual?”
"Yeah, in a big way. Look, I've been a Reaper for a couple of years... but I really don't have a lot of power, you know?  That's why I was a Wall Reaper.  But now all of a sudden I'm GM!"  He ruffled his hair with both hands.
“You’re Game Master?" Tezuka asked. It was all he could do to keep the incredulity out of his voice.

Arai scowled.  "Yeah.  It's just... things have been messed up since the Composer and Conductor changed.  There's a lot more Noise, and it seems like I don't recognise most of the Support Reapers or Harriers anymore, and now we’re running the game two weeks in a row..."  He slammed his fist into his palm.  "So I've got to prove myself as Game Master!"
 Tezuka didn’t want to comment, but the whole affair smelt very bad to him indeed. Sanada had lied to him about Echizen ascending for starters, and now Arai, who wasn’t even a Harrier, was Game Master? Not to mention the high percentage of Rikkai players who were Reapers… "It sounds difficult. How do you maintain your life in both the UG and RG?”
“Eh? Oh well… you know, most Reapers can switch between the RG and UG at will.” 
Tezuka nodded. Arai was a giveaway – dead for two years, yet still attending tennis practice regularly.
“Yeah. So we only need to go into the UG when there’s a Game. Even a lot of that can be done from the RG, like guarding walls… but higher-ranking Reapers usually just stick around in the UG.”
“Any particular reason?” Tezuka asked.
Arai hesitated, looking uncomfortable. “It’s… you lose a lot of your powers in the RG. Harriers don’t usually like that, unless they’ve got a good reason to stick around the RG. And if you die in the RG that’s it, you just become Noise, there’s no ascension or second chance. And it’s… it’s risky for the Composer and Conductor to leave the UG for long periods of time, too.”
It sounded like there was more to that, but the cafeteria was starting to fill up, and their privacy wouldn’t last much longer. "One last question... do you know why Echizen is still playing?"

Arai blinked.  "Hey... that brat is playing again?"

"You didn't know?"

Arai shook his head, then bit his thumb.  "Damn, that complicates things." After a moment, he said, "Look, Tezuka-buchou... with Game Master duties, I can't be spending too much time in the RG.  I won't be at practice for the rest of the week." He was looking rather stressed all of sudden. He didn’t look like he’d been sleeping as it was.

Tezuka almost wanted to order him there - if he was at practice, he couldn't be making trouble for Echizen.  But he wasn't about to start messing with supernatural forces that already seemed to be in a precarious balance.  So instead he stated, "You'll be running laps to make up for it later."

Arai groaned, but didn't complain. He headed towards the cafeteria exit, exchanged a brief word with Fuji who was just entering, and then went outside, kicking at the ground angrily.

Tezuka could understand – he too was troubled.  Part of it was anxiety for Echizen - what happened there, anyway?  They’d both finished the game. Sanada… He was disappointed. He expected better sportsmanship from Rikkai’s vice-captain, but then, Rikkai had proven that their sportsmanship was rather lacking in the past. If they weren’t winning the game, they’d change the rules.

For that matter, he was still having difficulty accepting that Sanada was the Conductor.  It didn't sit right – they knew the boundaries of the Game, and Rikkai was nowhere near being within that boundary.  Why would the masters of Seishun's UG be located so far away? And why would they spend so much time in RG if it were really so risky?
“Something on your mind, Tezuka?” Fuji asked merrily, sliding into the seat neat to his.
Tezuka nearly bit his tongue. “Nothing in particular.”
Ryoma rocked back on his heels as the Noise vanished into thin air. Yanagi smiled, and Ryoma hid a shiver. Yanagi didn’t really smile very often, but when he did it was downright sinister. “That’s the mission then.”
It was always a relief to see the red numbers disappear from his hand. “It wasn’t very hard, though. There was nothing special about any of those Noise,” Ryoma pointed out. It wasn’t a third day sort of mission at all. 
“Hey, you should be grateful the mission was so easy!” A voice called out.
Ryoma turned around. “Arai-senpai?”
That briefly startled the Wall Reaper. “What, hey – you remember me now?”
“Oh, um… Yeah, well, say hello to your new Game Master!”
Yanagi took immediate interest. “You’re the Game Master?”
“I thought you were just a Wall Reaper,” Ryoma remarked blandly.
"I was, but this is my big chance for a promotion!  With this chance, I'm going to show that Conductor and Composer what I'm made of, so I can't go easy on you!  Got that, brat?!  Don't go thinking you're big stuff just because this is your second time through!" Arai slammed his fist into his palm threateningly.

It was all hot air.  Ryoma doubted he would have believed it even if he didn't have his memories back.
“Oh? Echizen, this is your second time playing? That explains a number of logical fallacies I was encountering in my hypotheses.”
“I died a week ago,” he muttered. “Finished the first time, but they’re making me play again due to some fine print.” He was sort of annoyed at Arai for letting that slip. Yanagi was probably going to pump him for even more information now.
“There are more rules we aren’t aware of, then.” Yanagi sounded thoughtful. For a second, Ryoma was almost grateful he was on his side. Yanagi struck him as the sort of person who would be good at dealing with things like that. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to fully trust his new partner yet. Even if he knew that trusting his partner would be important in making it through the week, after Kirihara’s and Sanada’s recent stunts he’d developed a bit of a prejudice against Rikkai players.
More of one, anyway.
The data tennis stuff didn’t help either.
"So it's every week, then?" Yanagi asked.

"Of course not!" Arai spat; annoyed at being ignored.  "Hardly ever happens!  Reapers have stuff to take care of in the RG too, you know, and if we held it every week there wouldn't be enough players each round to make it worthwhile! And the Noise don’t repopulate that quickly!"
“That is in line with my current observations,” Yanagi agreed. “I merely wanted confirmation.”
“Um, right. So. This is your warning! The Game’s going to get a lot harder from here on in! That’s a promise!”
For a second, Ryoma almost believed him. But it was Arai – tough talk was his speciality. He was a lot more worried about the serene expression on his partner’s face.
Day Three, End.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 26th, 2008 01:55 pm (UTC)
I sort of like Arai being in there, it's like you don't forget the minor characters. XDDD Little bits like that, you know.
Aug. 26th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
Uh, sorry, I forgot to log in. ^^;;;
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:09 am (UTC)
Thanks. Minor characters need some attention too sometimes, despite how tempting it is to have it all Tezryo, all the time. :D
Aug. 26th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Hehehe...Arai, the GM...something fishy is going on and does Fuji and Arai really talk that much to each other...I was holding my breath when Tezuka started scanning and he only get a glimpse of Ryoma's hat *che*...that's right Ryoma "don't get careless".
Aug. 26th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, Tezuka's an anomaly. Just like usual then, hey? I'm glad he still has his memories of the Game. All the semi-angsting around is so sweet. XD

Arai! He's such a softie trying to look tough. It's kinda cute, haha.

Looking forward to day 4!
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
Is Fuji the Composer?

or at least, a reaper? >>

also, yaaaay buchou being...buchou-y. 8DDD and asking after ryouma. <333 and being un-buchou-y and skipping practice~ 8D
Aug. 27th, 2008 05:31 am (UTC)

And poor Buchou, in the real world, he's pretty much hallucinating *cough*fantasising*cough* about Echizen. =D

But it figures, no matter what, Tezuka will still assign laps. *shakes head with a grin*

Ryoma's paranoia with data = hilarious.
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
It is a Ryoma mirage~! :D That's what Tezuka would see if he was lost in a desert.

<3 data tennis.
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:26 am (UTC)
Waaah Tezuka is being too careless with his tennis... but that's understandable since he's worried about Echizen to concentrate on morning practice... but wouldn't the Regulars be worried about that? But then again maybe they'll take it as Tezuka grieving in his own way about Ryoma's death... Waaaah Arai is GM, for some reason I can imagine him being all "Sho"-like...
This story is Zetta Awesome, I F this! XD YAY!
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
Thank you for the very disturbing image of a Eiji Ouji cross Sho Minamoto. O____o
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:30 am (UTC)
Haha, well hm... I wonder how he would look like! XDXDXD
Oooooh or maybe, Eiji Ouji can be all "I'll be blogging this!" ala Inui style when he collects data! HAHAHAHAH!
Sep. 2nd, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
Sinn - this is too epic for my brain. Especially when I'm sick. D=

Oh Arai~

Sep. 24th, 2008 06:25 am (UTC)
I have a bad feeling about the Composer. Really hoping it won't be Fuji, because I've come to like him so much in your other fics. *__*
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )