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PoTWEWY - Day Four

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:  A rendezvous in the ramen shop.


Day Four
Tezuka carefully walked the familiar streets. He was supposed to be in school but this was more important. Despite his recent trend of truancy, chances were everyone would just assume he was sick, or belatedly grieving for Echizen. It was sort of hard to grieve for someone who might still come back, but they didn’t know that.
He couldn't activate the Player Pin for long without getting an intense headache.  Something about frequencies, he guessed – it was probably the strain of looking into frequencies that were supposed to be closed to him. However it was enough to know that the Players were up and about. It was the fourth day, so their ranks had thinned considerably – he’d passed by Niou and Yagyuu on the way, and very carefully avoided eye contact – but the missions should still be giving them plenty of time. Which meant that this was his best opportunity to find Echizen.
Tezuka wavered outside of the ramen restaurant.  He clutched the Player Pin, just for an instant, and the emblem flickered briefly in front of his eyes.  He'd already known it was there, of course - they'd come to eat there a few times during that hellish week.  Even if you were dead apparently you still got hungry, and there was a noticeable improvement in their ability to use psychs after eating, so they'd made a point of it whenever mission time allowed.
In any case, he had a better chance of finding Echizen here than he did by randomly clutching the Player Pin for a few seconds at a time.  They’d be able to talk, too, and maybe he could finally figure out what went wrong.
He’d been prepared to stake the place out for most of the day but it appeared that his recent bad luck was due for a change. When he entered a familiar white cap was visible in a booth in the corner of the restaurant.
It was hard to breathe as he approached the table. “…Echizen.”
Echizen jerked. Tezuka was greeted with wide, surprised golden eyes. "Buchou?"

The senior was relieved.  "You have your memory back."

The first-year slouched in his seat and looked away. “Yeah.”
It was only then that Tezuka noticed who he was sitting with. “Yanagi Renji?”
“Oh? It appears that I am even more well-known than my initial estimates.”
He was wearing a Player Pin. “I haven’t heard any reports of your death,” Tezuka said with a frown.
“…That’s useful to know. I suppose no one has yet found my body,” he replied calmly.
“You think you were murdered?” Echizen asked gruffly.
“I can come up with several reasons as to why my death might be undiscovered – it could be something as innocuous as a camping accident.”
“There’s nowhere that could happen in Seishun,” Echizen remarked dully.
“Then I can rule out that possibility. Every piece of information is a clue.”
The freshman looked thoughtful at that, then turned to him. “Buchou, are you going to sit down, or do you want to draw everyone’s attention to us?”
“Ah, excuse me.” He slid into the seat next to Ryoma. Tezuka was flustered, and he didn’t like the sensation. Over the past week and a half it felt like the entire world had been turned on its head several times over. He’d been forced to contemplate things he’d never even considered, and then to adapt to circumstances so unreal sometimes he was still convinced it was a dream. Yet somehow it was a conversation in a ramen restaurant that left him the most off-balance.
“An introduction?” Yanagi prompted.
“Entry fee,” Echizen mumbled under his breath. 
Tezuka understood immediately, and his guilt spiked at the reminder. “Tezuka Kunimitsu.”
“A pleasure to meet you. I find it curious that you don’t seem at all surprised to come across friends who are supposed to be dead.”
“Buchou knows about the game,” Echizen said carefully, giving him a significant look. Tezuka read between the lines. Echizen didn’t want to give away too much information.
“I see.” Yanagi stood. “If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’d like to freshen up in the bathroom.”
Tezuka blinked at the extraordinary display of tact. “Take your time,” Echizen muttered.
As soon as he was out of earshot, Tezuka asked, “He’s your partner?”
“Yeah. I didn’t have the chance to be choosy.” Tezuka could imagine that. The first hour of the game was the most dangerous, as Players rushed to form pacts so that they could stave off the Noise.
“Echizen… what happened?”
“Sanada pulled a fast one. After you were sent back the RG, said that only one person got to come back to life. Said that I could either become a Reaper, or play the Game again.”
“And you chose to play again?” Honestly, as deplorable as he found it, Tezuka had difficult faulting anybody that chose to become a Reaper. The Game was a harsh test, and the odds of at least some kind of survival were much higher as Reaper.
Echizen shrugged. “I made a promise, didn’t I?”
“Oh.” Tezuka didn’t quite know how to react to that. Somehow, he’d separated the Echizen without memories and the Echizen with memories in his mind.
“I’m just going to be late, is all,” he grumbled.
They sat there in silence for a long moment. Tezuka shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat. “The Game so far?”
“It’s fine. I at least know what’s going on now.”
"I'm sorry," Tezuka said.
Golden eyes turned to him. “What for?”
Tezuka found himself unable to answer. Didn’t Echizen know that his memories had been Tezuka’s entry fee?
Was he relieved by that, or disappointed?
They fell back into silence. Yanagi was taking his time. 
After a long pause Echizen finally admitted, "The Noise are getting stronger. But the first three missions were easy."
“And today’s mission?”
Silence again. Echizen was looking everywhere but him. 
"There's no mission," he eventually replied, so quietly that at first Tezuka wasn't sure that he'd heard right.

"No mission?"

Echizen shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  "We’ve been awake for three hours already."

That was strange. Very strange. Normally the mission came within minutes of waking. "Have you met the Game Master yet?"
“Yeah. Arai. Can you believe?”
“I was surprised too.” The puzzle was starting to slowly fit together in Tezuka’s head, but he didn’t have all the pieces yet. “Is it really okay? With Yanagi?”
"He's not as useful," The freshman complained.  "He can hardly use any pins whatsoever.  I have to do most of the work."
“That’s not what I meant.”
Echizen fidgeted for a moment before admitting, “I don’t know. But we both want to get through it alive, so I guess it’ll be okay.” The words sounded as though they were forced out. “I mean, we’ve made it this far. And Niou and Yagyuu have left us alone, even if the other Harriers haven’t.”
Tezuka hadn’t considered that angle. His concern eased some. In this case, a Rikkai player as a partner might actually be a boon.
“Buchou… why are you here?”
“I was worried.”
Echizen flushed a little at that, before elaborating, “I meant, how did you know?”
Tezuka never had the chance to answer, as Yanagi chose that moment to make his return from the restroom. “Sorry to interrupt - Echizen, by my estimate if we want to avoid the Harriers, we should be leaving now.”
Echizen sighed, hurriedly finishing off the rest of his ramen. “You know when they’re coming?” Tezuka asked.
“He’s already worked out their preferred patterns of movement,” the freshman reported in a suffering tone.
“While I’m quite sure we can handle anything the Reapers throw at us, Echizen has indicated a preference for caution. I’m merely doing my part to help out.”
Tezuka nodded. “Of course.” Perhaps things would be fine with Yanagi after all.
Echizen stood. “I’m going. Sorry I couldn’t make the Tournament, Buchou.”
“It was nice meeting you, Tezuka. I only regret that I did not get the opportunity to speak with you further,” Yanagi added.
Tezuka bowed slightly. "Echizen..."

He glanced back over his shoulder.  "What?"

"...Don't get careless.  You cannot lose."

Ryoma gave him a lopsided smirk.  "Don't worry, Buchou.  I'll definitely win."
The streets were a lot emptier in the middle of the day as people were working and students were at school. On one hand, it made it easier to spot Noise traps and Harriers, but it also made the Players more visible to their enemies as well. Ryoma guessed that his status as a ‘veteran’ player made them an interesting target for anyone who wasn’t Rikkai.
Ryoma scuffed his feet on the ground as they walked.  He wanted to stay longer to talk to Tezuka – he didn’t even have the opportunity to chew him out for hiding that stuff in the first week! - but Rikkai’s data master had noticed that the Harriers would regularly swing past the stores with emblems, and if they saw Players inside they would lay in wait at the exit.  On the second day they'd witnessed the grizzly aftermath of one such confrontation - a Player taken out by a trap, and her partner desperately trying to outrun the Noise.  She didn't last very long.  Ryoma was pretty good at picking up on Noise traps, but having the data master figure out the safest routes to avoid detection was the more reliable option.
"Turn left here - the golden pair will be coming along this road soon," Yanagi advised.

"Do you have to give them nicknames?" Ryoma grumbled.  Yanagi had no idea - he'd just named the pair of Harriers after the excessive gold jewellery they wore - but the freshman was starting to feel like he was being hunted by his senpai.

"Yes," was the blunt response.

Whatever.  The whole lack of a mission thing was making him nervous.  He checked his phone again, just in case they'd missed the mission mail, but it wasn't like there was a timer on his hand.  It was just paranoia.  Karupin was relying on him.  What was Arai doing?!

"Left again at the next intersection."

Ryoma barely turned the corner before his senses started going haywire.  "Watch out!"  The air warped around them, and Yanagi vanished from sight.

It was a Noise - but not like any Noise they'd seen before.  Sure, they'd fought some wolf-like Noise in the past, but these were larger and completely black.  That was off-putting.  If anything, Noise tended to look on a whole as though they'd been splashed with brightly coloured paint.
Dark eyes surveyed them for a moment, then it charged.
It was fast.  Ryoma barely leapt to the side in time, slashing out with a strike.  Alarmingly it didn't seem to bother the Noise that much. It ran forward again with a growl.  Ryoma hit it with blasts of lightning.   It didn't stop, barrelling towards him at top speed.  Panicking, he threw himself to the side at the last moment. Teeth scraped the edges of shoes.

"These Noise are uncommonly strong," Yanagi's voice floated through the air.  For the first time, it sounded strained.

Ryoma stepped backwards quickly, barely avoiding the snap of gleaming white teeth framed in a midnight black jaw.  With a practiced flick of his wrist he switched back to his katana pin, slicing at the Noise's throat. That did some damage – it yelped, tumbling to the ground in a fail of limbs - but it clambered back to its feet after only a moment with an unearthly growl. How much damage could it take?!
Frantic for something that would work, Ryoma grabbed the meteor pin, taking a risk and closing his eyes.  Concentrate... concentrate

The Noise crouched and sprung forward, dashing towards him at breakneck speed.  Adrenaline surged through his veins.  It felt like time was slowing down and everything was coming into sharp focus.  Flaming rocks materialised in the air.  The Noise continued heedless of the danger, growling and snarling, legs blurring as they pounded the ground, propelling it towards him. 
Ryoma opened his eyes. They glowed golden.
The meteors were small, but pulled down by gravity and coming at high speed it only took a couple of strikes to finish the Noise off. 
Ryoma's legs were shaking when he released the pin, and his senses buzzed strangely.  How on earth did Tezuka use that psych all the time?  His concentration must have been phenomenal.

It was though his strength left him.  He dropped to his knees, huffing, as the Noise evaporated into the air.  Yanagi reappeared next to him a moment later, perfect bowl haircut messed up and a set of bleeding teeth marks in his arm.  "You did it.”
“Yeah.” It seemed like he couldn’t get enough oxygen into his lungs.
The data master gestured to his arm. “If you could..."

Ryoma tiredly fished for a healing pin and tried to calm his jittery nerves.  "Sure." He wasn't great with the psych, but after a couple of goes the wound faded. 

"Thank you."  Yanagi rubbed his arm experimentally a couple of times, then stared at where the Noise had vanished.  "That wasn't the work of Harriers, was it?"

"I don't know what it was," Ryoma admitted. 

"You didn't see anything like it in your first week?"

He shook his head.  The Noise just attacked out of the blue.  It didn't make any sense - there were no Reapers around to summon it, and they had a pact.  Noise shouldn't be attacking them without provocation.

"It appeared to be able to absorb a lot more damage," Yanagi mused.  "For 75 percent of the Noise, one or two direct hits are enough."

Ryoma nodded to show he was listening.  He was starting to feel more than just a little uneasy.  First no mission, then a weird Noise turns up out of nowhere?

Yanagi made a sound of frustration in his throat.  "The variables keep changing."

The freshman stood up, dusting the dirt from his knees.  "We'll just deal with it."

That answer seemed to placate Yanagi.  "You're certainly powerful if you can say that with confidence.  It appears I was quite lucky when I was choosing my partner."

Ryoma crossed his arms.  "Luck had nothing to do with it.  You spied on as many Players as you could and chose the one that was trying to fight back."

Yanagi smiled slightly.  With his closed eyes, his smiles always reminded him of Fuji, and thinking about Fuji always gave Ryoma a headache.  "True, you caught me there."

"Glad to see you're so unworried.  There's no second chance if we're erased, you know," he grumbled.

"Oh, I'm quite aware," Yanagi assured him.  "Don't worry, I'm just as committed to survival as you are.  There are too many things I'd like to know.  How I died, just for starters."

That made two of them. He just hoped they could survive long enough to find out.
Day Four, End.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:34 am (UTC)
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:52 am (UTC)
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)
Oooh, could you perhaps put on some fashion in it as well??? Haha, wah I completely forgot about the fashion thing... I wonder how Echizen will look if he wore the Lapin Angelique ones.. eeeek! XDXDXD Oooooh Tezuka's gonna become a stalker hahah! With the way he's going, cutting class and all that... :))
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
I did DEARLY want to write Ryoma and Tezuka wrangling with fashion (Lapin Angelique and cross-dressing potential! <3), but I don't think the trends are so volatile outside of Shibuya. :P But hey, spin-off!
Aug. 27th, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC)
OMG Yes yes yes! All the possibilities! XD
But yeah I guess if ever, their fashion would be all Tennis gears, Fila caps, grip tapes... Awwww XD
I forgot that they weren't in Shibuya! But then the possibility of a Kawamura Sushi Restaurant involved would be cool! XD
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
Uwaaah! It's getting so intense. :D I'm a little confused when, in the ramen restaurant, why Ryoma said "Entry fee," though.
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
I think he meant that Renji didn't recognize Tezuka because he gave up his memories as an entry fee, which made Tezuka feel guilty about the last week's adventure. XD;
Aug. 28th, 2008 02:26 am (UTC)
Oh, ok, thanks!
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
I'm not quite sure how this works...does Tezuka look like he's just sitting and talking to himself at the ramen shop to the other RGers? Or did he...phase...into another frequency/the UG?

Awwww, blushing Ryoma! Too cute~ Renji's bathroom break makes me nervous for some reason, especially coupled with the crazy dog thing and no mission. D: Good luck! And haha, golden pair. XD No capitals, of course.
Aug. 27th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
Heee, I think since there's a symbol, people in the RG can see them! x3 I mean, they were able to play in that under-18s tournament without people going, "O______O THAT RACQUET'S MOVING BY ITSELF!" so. >w<

Also, it doesn't say Tezuka uses his player pin other than when he tries to see the emblem. >w< So, Tezuka's still in the RG. o3o
Aug. 27th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
But then...how come, let's say, someone like Momo-sempai didn't show up and go all WTF ECHIZEN? Or any other bystander who happened to know Ryoma was dead. :/ *headdesk*
Aug. 27th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
Maybe Momo was at school while Tezuka was ditching? 8D ;;
Aug. 28th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
omg that picture is so awesome.
Aug. 28th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Didn't you come up with it? xD
Aug. 28th, 2008 11:35 am (UTC)
thy more or less has it - the emblem tunes the Players into RG frequencies when they enter the store. I've often wanted to know what would happen in the scenario you suggested though, but I suppose that the laws of probability would make it unlikely - after all, unless you're going to a place you go regularly, how often do you see people you know? (With the exception of small towns, obviously.) Especially if, as she pointed out, Momo was supposed to be in school. :D

...Still, yeah, TWEWY is full of little holes like that. Maybe cognitive dissonance kicks in and nobody recognises them? :D
Aug. 28th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Aug. 27th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
Gosh...for a second there I thought that Tezuka would jump out of no where and protect Ryoma *heart thumping*...it's getting so exciting and nerve wrecking...hahaha, Tezuka being a stalker *grin*.
Aug. 28th, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
Our dearest desires. XD

God, I've become formulaic, haven't I? Ryoma gets in trouble, Tezuka saves the day. o___o *slaps self on wrist*.
Aug. 27th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)

and aww, Ryouma and Yanagi bonding! 8DD

also, was he camping in the boys' locker room? x3 -SHOT-
Aug. 28th, 2008 11:50 am (UTC)
Aug. 28th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
Aug. 28th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
Lol. OH BUCHOU~ Don't be careless. And Ryoma never fails to amuse me when he says that he'll never lose. *________* Sin, you make me happy.

I get my computers back tonight~ <3 But for now, I'm skipping a lecture to play on the university computers. Lalala~

Aug. 28th, 2008 11:52 am (UTC)
*flails back* And your comments make ME happy. <3 I hope you and computer need never be parted again. Also, I approve of skipping lectures to read fanfic.
Aug. 28th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
I think I'd rather read the fic while in the room.
Sep. 2nd, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)

*flails* Sinnnnn~ *Must read more - so much excitement*
Sep. 24th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
This is getting to be heart-stopping.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )