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The Power of Gossip, Chapter Three

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:  Right.  That's the groundwork done.  Next chapter we should start getting somewhere.

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

The Power of Gossip
Chapter 3 – Dropping Pennies
By Sinnatious
The next week and a half spent at his parent’s house was rather peaceful. Tezuka briefly caught up with Atobe, but cut his rendezvous with Fuji short when the genius spent the entire time making thinly veiled suggestive comments about him and Echizen. The experience was enough to put him off answering whenever Inui called his phone, so he focused on training instead. He had a two-week holiday coming up after all, and he couldn’t afford to slack because of it.
About four days before they were supposed to leave for America, he received a call from Oishi. It was mildly surprising, as he expected his friend to be busy training with his doubles partner in preparation for the tournament. 
“Ah, Tezuka, good, you weren’t answering your phone earlier and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get you in time,” Oishi’s familiar voice echoed from the phone. “Sorry if this is a bit rushed, but I remembered that I still haven’t given you the tickets for the trip next week!”
“You can’t just give it to me at the airport?” he asked. 
“Well, I could, but I’m trying to give everyone their tickets individually in case. What if the person with the tickets was held up or something? Then everyone would miss their flight! And, um… how would you like to meet up for coffee? Like old times, at the regular place? Tomorrow afternoon good for you?”
“Yes, that’s fine,” he said, “But Oishi… is everything alright? You could have just left the tickets with my mother. You still live nearby, don’t you?”
“Oh yeah, I could have… well, actually, I’m just feeling a little nervous is all,” he admitted. “Eiji’s really excited about our first big tournament, but… well, one of my best friends is a seasoned pro, I was hoping that I could take advantage of any advice you might have to offer.”
“Of course,” he assured him. “Three o’clock, then?”
“I’d really appreciate it.” His gratefulness was obvious even through the phone. Tezuka resisted the urge to smile. Oishi could be so earnest sometimes. “Oh! I almost forgot! Could you tell Echizen to come, too? His is the only other ticket I’ve got left to deliver, and I can’t seem to get in touch with him at all. He never answers the phone! Or maybe you’d rather just take care of his ticket too…?”
He honestly hadn’t expected Oishi of all people to still be teasing him about that whole affair – it had been nearly two weeks ago now, enough was enough. A little more curtly than he intended, he replied, “No, I’ll call him and let him know to come, provided there are no conflicts in his schedule.”
“Right! Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow then!”
Letting out a long sigh he ended the call, dallied for a moment, then dialled the number for Echizen’s mobile. Since so much of their tournament schedule collided, they frequently scheduled practice together, so the number was stuck in his memory by now. Tezuka knew his coach, who doubled as his manager, didn’t approve of his charge practicing and socialising with his biggest rival, but there simply wasn’t anybody else on the same level he cared to train with. And it was nice being able to speak in his first language while training. The only concession Tezuka made was an agreement not to play anything beyond a one-set match during the season – which he’d apparently be breaking with his promise anyway. Either way, Echizen didn’t usually complain about it, even if he frequently tried to cajole his former captain into matches at every available opportunity. The teen didn’t really have a proper coach, unless you counted his father, so the elder player suspected those one-set matches were the closest to proper training the other pro ever got. 
Tezuka didn’t understand what Oishi’s problem was – when he called Echizen picked up straight away. “Buchou?”
“Echizen,” he greeted. “Oishi has our tickets for the flight. Are you free at 3 o’clock tomorrow?”
There were muffled voices in the background, and the tennis player thought he could hear a woman’s voice complaining. 
“I don’t care!” Echizen could be heard saying, as though he were holding the phone away from his ear. “No, I’m not going to that one! Cancel it! I’ve got other plans!”   After a moment, his voice became clear again. “You still there? Yeah, three is fine.”
“If you have other commitments…” Tezuka began.
“No,” Echizen cut him off. “My manager thinks I have other commitments. I want a break. I’ll be there. Where are we meeting?”
“The coffee shop two blocks down from that McDonalds you and Momoshiro used to frequent. Do you need the address?”
“No, I know it. You and Oishi used to go there a lot, right?”
“That’s the one,” he confirmed, mildly surprised that Ryoma had been that observant, much less able to remember such a trivial detail.
“Okay then.” There was more muffled shouting in the background. “Ahh, she’s complaining again. I’ve got to go. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye.” The connection ended, and Tezuka placed his phone back on the charger. There were still a few hours of light left. He’d get in some more training now, seeing as it looked like he wasn’t going to be getting much done tomorrow afternoon.
He was first to turn up at the coffee shop the next day, surprisingly enough. Oishi had a habit of being early for everything, likely directly related to his relentless worrying about being late. More surprising was that the perpetually tardy Echizen was the next to arrive.
“Hey,” the young pro said by way of greeting.
“Glad you could make it. Oishi isn’t here yet, but we can wait inside,” Tezuka responded. He was pleased Echizen could come – as much as he valued Oishi as a friend, the teen’s bluntness was the perfect foil to the chronic worrier’s diplomacy. Oishi rarely ever had the chance to dither about with his words whenever the young man was present.
They took a booth by the window, Echizen briefly frowning at the menu – no doubt from the lack of Ponta – before asking for a hot chocolate. Tezuka refrained from ordering, preferring to be polite and wait until Oishi arrived.
“How has your work been?”
“Boring. I’d much rather be training. At this rate you will win the next match, buchou.”
“You don’t need to keep calling me that, Echizen. I’m not your captain anymore.”
Echizen just shrugged, and Tezuka knew that it wasn’t going to stop the other pro. He’d been telling the nineteen-year-old to just use his name – after all, they were equals now – for the past four years, but the habit persisted despite Tezuka reminding his rival about it on a regular basis.
Oishi walked past just then, and Tezuka raised his hand to let the other man know where they were. Sporting a relieved grin, his friend hurried over, spewing apologies as soon as he sat down. “I’m so sorry I’m late! I even left early but I got caught in traffic and there was this nice old lady at the newsstand that kept talking-”
“It’s fine, Oishi,” Tezuka assured him.
“Ah, Echizen, glad you could come. Oh, that’s right, I have your tickets right here.” He fished through his pockets before handing the thin envelopes to them. Another waitress came over then to take their order. She looked new, but then, the staff was bound to have changed some in the six months since they’d last been to this store.
“I’ll have a coffee, please,” Oishi ordered after a moment of hemming and hawing.
“A green tea for me,” Tezuka added.
“Echizen, are you getting anything?”
“I already ordered.”
At the name ‘Echizen’, though, the waitress paused and stared at them for a long moment, before blushing deeply and lips curving into a shy smile. “Echizen? As in Echizen Ryoma?”
“No, that’s ‘Ryoga’,” came the deadpan response. “I have no idea who this ‘Ryoma’ person is.”
“Echizen,” Tezuka admonished.
“Oh, um, I’m a big fan,” she started. Not again. They’d had unnaturally bad luck of late. “I really wanted to go to the tournament in Kyoto, but I had to work. I watched the match on TV though. It was fantastic.”
“Che, I could only play that well because of this guy,” Echizen commented, jerking his thumb vaguely across the table, the slight smirk assuring the elder that the other pro was determined that he wasn’t going to suffer alone.
The waitress glanced at him again, before recognition dawned. “Oh, Tezuka Kunimitsu as well? What a surprise!”
“Maybe I should get glasses, that way they won’t recognise me too,” the teen mumbled.
Tezuka frowned disapprovingly. “You don’t need glasses.”
“You could wear sunglasses,” Oishi suggested.
“Che. Then I’d just look suspicious.”
“Um, wow, this is such a shock,” she said, blushing bright red and fraying the edges of her notebook with nervous fingers. “If you don’t mind… that is… both of you here…”
Echizen was clearly becoming exasperated with the girl’s nervous murmuring. “We’re on a date!” he announced.
“Echizen!” Tezuka admonished, aghast.
The waitress was practically the colour of a ripe tomato now. “Oh! Um… what… that is, I… I’ll hurry up with your orders and give you your privacy then! So sorry!” She practically fled the table, but almost immediately hooked up with another waitress. The two of them stood by the cash register talking animatedly, and kept looking over at their table with stars in their eyes. 
“Heh, it really does work like a charm.”
“You really shouldn’t have done that.”
“Why not? It worked, didn’t it? I used to tell them that I was going to meet my girlfriend, but all they ever did was ask annoying questions or start crying. Well, the really annoying ones, anyway. This way they leave us alone straight away. You’re a genius, buchou.”
The younger pro crossed his arms and sulked. “Fine, I won’t do it again.”
“Echizen is right, though. There were no hurt feelings,” Oishi offered.
"True. They almost seem... happy, about it," Tezuka stressed.  "You'd think that they'd be more upset rather than less, seeing as it implies that none of them would ever have a chance of their feelings being returned."

"I think it is primarily BECAUSE of that they're happy, Tezuka," Oishi counselled.  "They'd probably much rather see you with Echizen than think that they were beaten out by another girl.  Well, there's that, and you two DO make a good couple.  The fans typically like to see their heroes happy.  And the excitement of the controversy is the icing on the cake."
"Girls are WEIRD, buchou," Echizen muttered.
"I find myself agreeing," he replied dazedly, then addressed Oishi once again.  "But Echizen and I aren't really going out, after all. It’s going to get out of hand, you know."

To his horror, his oldest friend just smiled knowingly at him.  "Really, you don't have to keep hiding these things from us, Tezuka.  We know you're human."
If it were anyone but Oishi, he’d be convinced that they were still messing with him. But Oishi wasn’t the sort of person to drag out a joke to that degree, especially not in private. As it was, he’d thought it unusual that his friend had even alluded to the joke over the phone. That could mean only one thing: that his oldest friend really, truly did believe that he and Echizen were dating.
If Oishi thought it was true… did that mean that all of the rest of his friends hadn’t just been teasing him, but honestly believed it too? Inui had been spouting data, he realised belatedly. Inui never randomly quoted false data.
It felt like a bucket of ice cold water had just been dumped over his head. As though sensing the problem, Echizen cut in. "He's telling the truth. It really was just a one-off ploy to shake persistent fans. Well, twice-off now, I guess.”

"You two get so easily embarrassed.  Relax, I'll make sure Eiji and Momo don't tease you too much when we all meet up at the airport on the weekend. We’ve all been very curious, but we’ll give you your privacy, I promise."

Ryoma and Tezuka exchanged a helpless look.  Echizen then just shrugged, obviously giving up.

To the elder, however, it was baffling.  If it hadn’t just been a joke… Why then were all of his former team mates so eager to believe that he and Echizen were an item?  He'd originally been worried that his claim was so outrageous that it would be seen through instantly, yet everyone simply accepted it as though it were something they'd always seen coming.  Why?  Neither he nor Echizen - to the best of his knowledge - had given any indication in the past that they were even gay, much less attracted to each other. 
This was a big problem. His one moment of panic in Kyoto a week and a half ago… if they all really, truly believed it like Oishi did, how was he going to convince his friends that it really had just been a fib? Echizen’s uncaring nonchalance over the issue didn’t help their credibility any, either. Then again, the other pro never cared about rumours, and was probably used to being teased by Momo and Eiji all the time anyway. It was hardly fair to fault the other pro for not reacting.
He was feeling a bit daft now, really, for not trying harder to clear the issue up in the first place. The whole idea seemed so ludicrous to him that the mere notion that his friends might have actually misunderstood the whole exchange hadn’t even crossed his mind. His former team mates were, ridiculous as the notion was, apparently convinced that his fib had been real, and he didn't know how to convince them otherwise – especially since it had taken him this long to even realise that their congratulations and leading comments weren’t just jokes at his expense. It wasn't the sort of situation he'd ever been in before - of course, he typically didn't go around telling his fans lies, especially outrageous ones like that, so having to convince people that they WERE lies wasn't exactly something he had any experience in. What was he supposed to do?
As the conversation diverged into a discussion about the sort of lifestyle Oishi could expect in pro tennis, Tezuka forced himself to calm down. There wasn’t anything he could say to convince his friends, apparently, but they’d see it for themselves soon enough. They were going overseas for two weeks together – they’d all see first-hand that there really wasn’t anything going on between him and Echizen, and the issue would be forgotten.
Of course, when talking about the former Seigaku Regulars, things never did work out that easily. 


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 8th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
Oh how brilliant. This is like the boy who cried wolf, except in reverse. Oh Tezuka. (;

And this: Tezuka didn’t understand what Oishi’s problem was – when he called Echizen picked up straight away. “Buchou?” Oh, how wonderfully this sums up their relationship. I really like how you've made him so disobedient to his manager. The snarky little thing.

And I see what you meant when you said you needed to work on your fangirls, they're popping up everywhere. Ryoma's reaction to them is so very amusing, and Tezuka's inner conflict with the whole situation is so very Tezuka. ♥ Will faithfully await the next chapter. :)
Sep. 9th, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
Ha ha, yes - thwarted by his own reputation!

No more fangirls after this, promise. They've fufilled their purpose. Thankfully. They're damn hard to write.

But damn, you're fast on the commenting! :) You must have stellar timing! I'd barely posted the chapter before you managed to comment! Fast reader/typer? I am impressed by your ninja LJ skills.
Sep. 9th, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)
I can imagine. I can't see myself even trying, since I'll start experiencing fits of pain at the thought of MaruSuing. |D;

Whoa, didn't realize I read that quickly. |D; Luckily, I have your entries tagged with TezuRyo tagged, therefore get your fic in my inbox quickly so I can read. >:D

Hee, be awed by my ninja prowess. >D

Sep. 8th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
Like I said, buchou is way too naive. And he is thinking way too much as well. Just go with the flow and kiss Ryoma.

So you decided to write short chapters and quicker review ? Actually, this chapter isn't that short.

I loved the part where Tezuka knows Ryoma's number by heart. Tezuka really should observe his own actions. He is clearly in love with Ryoma. I guess that love is blind, he can't even see his own 'declaration' of love. ^^

And Ryoma calling Tezuka 'buchou' ? I can never tire myself from reading Tezuka's exasperation at being called buchou by Ryoma.

Their little vacation is going to be so fun. Especially with Fuji in the mix. And you mentioned Atobe in the beginning. Is he going to make a bigger appearence ? And is he infatuated with one of our pillars ? You just mentioned that Tezuka met with Atobe. There was no details about their meetings at all. I want to know what happened. And why isn't the 'rumor' about Tezuka and Ryoma in the magasines yet ? It's bound to happen sooner or later, preferably sooner because we'll have much more fun. *_______*

Mimikitty -HUGS-
Really happy to wake up and find this chapter.
Sep. 8th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
True to word the new chapter is out already :D
Thank you!

Buchou is so blissfully naive, it's adorable ^^
I wonder how Ryoma feel about the situation... does he see it as usual teasing or is he as oblivious as Tezuka?

Can't wait for more! XD)
Sep. 8th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC)
See, it's better with LJ for comments because I can comment again and again ! ^^

Ryoma ? Hmmmm... I think that he knows when there is an opportunity. Ryoma always had hero-shipped Tezuka and maybe he knows that he has a crush on his buchou. I mean, Ryoma did live with his father for an extensive time of his childhood. He knows what hormones is. And is just grabing onto Tezuka's "mistake". =^-^=
Sep. 9th, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)
I will say straight out that Atobe will play virtually no role - just to get that disappointment out of the way. Ha ha, it would be way too easy if Tezuka just kissed Ryoma out of the blue like that! Oh no, you get SUSPENSE. Could have finished this fic in four chapters otherwise, and where's the fun in that?! :)

This chapter will probably be about standard for length - and believe it or not, it's pretty close to the same length of the previous chapter. Probably just felt longer because it covered a greater length of time.

Yes, LJ is indeed better for chatting. You can do crazy-ass emoticons for one! Did you know FF.net doesn't accept % symbols?! Writing Inui just got 100% harder.

Oh, and whatever Echizen is thinking shall remain a mystery. ;)
Sep. 9th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
No Atobe ? But he is such a fun character to play with.

"Ore-sama is the main character. Therefore ore-sama should play the main role. Be awed by ore-sama poweress, na Kabaji ?"

See ? Even Kabaji agrees. XD But I do agree that the suspense is good. The plot is better through. ^^ How many chapter do you think it will have ?

LJ is fun, huh ? Inui and his pal Renji prefer LJ for their datas. And Fuji prefers LJ as well for his sadistic plans. But I don't think his darling little brother like is much because his usually the target of his overloving big brother. ^.^ And Ryoma ? His bratty attitude says it all. We all know that Tezuka is the only one that knows Ryoma better than anyone else. :)
Sep. 9th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
i have so much joy reading this chapter with a naive/oblivious Tezuka. I can't wait to read the next chapter.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )