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The Power of Gossip - Chapter 6

 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:  This fic is looking to be somewhere between 13-15 chapters in length.  Just thought I'd let people know, so that they don't start getting impatient.  :)

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

The Power of Gossip
Chapter 6 – Discussing Rumours
By Sinnatious
The second day of their holiday started off much the same as the first – Tezuka woke up late with Echizen latched onto his side. Since they hadn’t made any concrete plans with the others yet, though, he carefully extricated himself from the bed without waking his companion, figuring that the younger pro should be allowed to sleep in on his holiday if he so wished it. It was a good thing he did, too, because no sooner than he’d emerged from his shower than Fuji and Inui barged into their room with Momoshiro in tow.
“Good morning,” he greeted cordially, let that sink in for a moment, then asked, “How did you get into the room?”
Fuji held up the card key. “We got a spare.”
That explained why Oishi didn’t have a second card key for them when he’d handed them out originally. Tezuka couldn’t shake the suspicion that his friends had come barging in like that in hopes of finding their friends in the exact position they’d been in fifteen minutes before – especially if the camera in Fuji’s hand was any indication. He held out his hand for the card key expectantly, commenting, “It’s rude not to knock.”
The blue-eyed genius handed the card over with a calm smile, but Tezuka couldn’t feel reassured. Somehow, he expected that the Fuji-Inui combination were perfectly capable of getting into their room whenever they liked, card key or not. 
“Ah, sorry Tezuka, I wanted to come get Echizen to go out, but I forgot what room number you guys were,” Momo apologised, “So I asked Inui and Fuji overheard and brought us up here…”
“No matter. Echizen is still sleeping. You’re welcome to try and wake him up.”
Groaning, Momo went to try and rouse the teen. 
“Did you two sleep well?” Fuji asked. Tezuka ignored him.
“I’ve found that the pillows provided by this hotel are not conducive to good posture, despite being very comfortable. For people sleeping on their backs, foam would be much better choice, and would prevent the development of a sore neck.”
“Inui, you’re not at university right now.”
“But I thought Tezuka, being a professional athlete, would be concerned about such matters.”
“I shall certainly keep your advice in mind, Inui,” he assured the data-gatherer.
They went down to breakfast where Eiji and Oishi were just finishing eating while Momo valiantly tried to coax Echizen out of bed. He must have succeeded at some point, because when he returned to the hotel room, it was deserted.
The others had all dispersed to go sightseeing or play tennis, but Tezuka, feeling uncharacteristically lazy, opted to have some alone time and catch up some reading in the hotel room. For lunch, he wandered out onto the street, and eventually selected a coffee shop that had a good array of sandwiches to eat at. 
No sooner than he’d sat down, though, an excitable woman came running over to him. “Tezuka! Tezuka! Hi!” She called out, waving enthusiastically. 
He cringed slightly, hoping her hollering didn’t alert any nearby fans to his presence – his relaxing day would be completely ruined if he had to be dogged by another Yukina. Fortunately, she arrived at his table pretty quickly, though out of breath. “Ah, what a surprise! Are you in town for the tournament next week? I didn’t see you on the roster.”
Thankfully, it wasn’t a fan. It was Inoue’s partner – the lady that was always taking pictures. He was having trouble remembering her name. “Ah, yes, hello. I’m just in town to watch the tournament, though, I’m not participating.”
“Of course! Kikumaru and Oishi are playing doubles in this one, aren’t they?” she said cheerily, pulling out a seat and sitting down without asking. She waved a waiter over and ordered a coffee and sandwich. “Wow, it’s nice that you’ve all stayed friends for so long. Inoue was always going on about how close-knit Seigaku’s star team was.”
"Where is Inoue?" Tezuka asked, glancing around in hopes of spotting the familiar journalist.

She just laughed.  "Oh, we haven't worked together for years!  He's the chief editor at Pro Tennis Monthly now, but I received an offer to do the sports photography for the national newspaper.  And I used to think taking photos of tennis matches was hard!  It's almost impossible to get a clear shot in soccer!"

"Ah.  Congratulations to you both.  I was unaware."  He'd given Inoue an exclusive interview about a year ago, mostly as a favour since the journalist had been following his and Ryoma's careers for so long, but it hadn't occurred to him at the time that the dynamic duo had been broken up.  It wasn't particularly surprising, as he recalled the photographer had never exactly been a tennis enthusiast, but after seeing the pair of them turn up to all of their middle school and high school tournaments, it was hard to imagine them separate.
Their orders arrived, and Tezuka concentrated on his food and trying to remember her name while she chatted amicably about the upcoming tournament. About halfway through lunch, though, she gave him a sly wink and said, “Oh, and I just heard about you and Ryoma, so congratulations are due!”
Oh no, not this again. Wait… “How did you find out about that?”
“You know how the rumour mill works. Inoue mentioned it to me in confidence – I think he heard from your old high school coach?” Inui hadn’t called her as well, had he? Didn’t his friends have any tact at all? “It’s all very romantic, though! Straight out of a movie! Though I was heart-broken, of course.” She grinned to show she was joking. 
"It isn't true, though," he tried to explain.  "It was just... a joke."  It was easier to explain it like that than go through the trouble of detailing the circumstances and context.

She laughed.  "If you say so, Tezuka.  But you know, even if it’s kept in confidence now, there's probably going to be stories in the magazines soon, if there aren’t already.  I'm rather excited about it myself," she bubbled.
Shiba, that was it. Exasperated, Tezuka replied, "But the scandal... my career..." Even though he’d worried about it initially, he’d never honestly thought he might have to try and convince reporters that it was an odd misunderstanding. It was already hard enough to convince his closest friends!

Blinking, she put a finger to her lips in thought.  "I honestly don't think you have to worry about that.  There's always a couple of old folk who'll be upset about it and treat you coldly, but they're a really tiny minority these days.  If anything, it's bound to help your career!  It makes you more exotic, you know. It's a healthy sort of controversy - people will want to follow your career more because of it.  Not that either you or Ryoma need any help getting sponsorship or being invited to tournaments, but it can't hurt, right?!"

"We're going to be followed by paparazzi, now?" he asked, brow creasing in worry.

"Oh, don’t look so worried, Tezuka! You'll find that once your secret has been exposed, they tend to lose interest.  It becomes old news.  And the paparazzi aren't that bad.  At least, not until you reach biggest name in Hollywood sort of status. You two might have had some trouble if you were in Japan, but while you’re overseas you’re not that likely to get mobbed."
That was all mildly reassuring… but this was all a giant misunderstanding that was starting to spiral out of control. How long until he had calls from family members, demanding to know about his secret affair? This was horrible! “But you know… Echizen and I really aren’t… why won’t anyone believe me?”
Shiba either didn’t hear him, or his words just didn’t register. After a few minutes of her trying to grill him for details on the perceived ‘relationship’, he excused himself and fled back to the hotel, where he spent a good twenty minutes stressing about the situation. Eventually, he grabbed his tennis racket and headed onto the courts, hoping that a work out would clear his head. He stayed out there for the entire afternoon, just doing repetitive strokes until it started to get dark. No solutions to his dilemma had presented themselves at the end of the training session, but at least he felt a little better. 
A few minutes after he’d cleaned up and had a shower, Echizen wandered into the room. “Hey buchou.”
“Hey.” The young pro was fiddling with his phone, but suddenly threw it aside carelessly and flopped onto the bed with a groan. "Your manager again?"

"I told her not to contact me for two weeks," he grumbled. "I'm on HOLIDAYS."

"Have you thought about getting someone new?"

The pause was indicative of a yes, but a moment later the youth replied, "I don't really know who else to get, though. Better the devil you know, right?" He scrunched up his face slightly.

"Have you thought about Inui?"

That caused the teen to sit up. "Inui? Isn't he doing physiotherapy?"

"He has almost completed his studies in it, but mentioned to me that he was thinking of a career change."

Echizen snorted. "Changing your career before you even start it?"

"Many people go to University only to discover what they most want to do later. You could at least try asking. He already creates half of your training schedule as it is, and his background in sports medicine would be useful as well. He could even double as a coach. Plus you already know him and he's already used to your personality, and with his organizational abilities you have to admit that he'd be very good at it."

Tezuka deftly caught the pillow thrown his way. "What was that about my personality?"

"It was only a suggestion. It just seems as though your current manager isn't working out, and Inui was one of several alternatives I could think of."

"Hmmm." Lying back on the bed again, the youth didn't say anything else on the matter, though his expression was thoughtful.
“So what did you do today?” he asked.
“Eh, Momo dragged me to some arcades this morning – I don’t know why, they weren’t very good ones – then we found some courts and played tennis for most of the afternoon. Heh, he’s gotten sloppy, though. Couldn’t even win a point against my right hand.”
“You’re a professional,” Tezuka pointed out.
“Hn,” was the non-committal reply. “What about you, buchou?”

“Nothing much, just some light training and reading. Oh, by the way, I saw Shiba today.”
“Shiba? Who’s that?”
“You know… the photographer who used to work with Inoue.”
Blank stare.
“From Pro Tennis Monthly,” he prompted.
Still no recognition.
“The red-headed woman that used to cheer and fight with the other girls at our middle school tennis tournaments?” Tezuka tried.
“OH, that lady.”
“Yes, that lady. Anyhow, she tried to ask me about our ‘secret relationship’.”
“How did she find out about something like that?”
“Apparently someone’s been spreading the news around.”
“Hn, probably Inui,” Ryoma commented, sitting up. 
“Or those other fangirls you lied to,” Tezuka pointed out.
“Nah, definitely Inui.”
No one could claim the other pro wasn’t perceptive. “She seems to think it’s almost common knowledge by now. She said to expect rumours in the magazines.”
“The damn press always do work fast. It’s not like it even has anything to do with tennis, either.” Echizen flopped back onto his back with a drawn out yawn.
"You don't seem bothered by it at all," Tezuka observed, somewhat surprised by the laid back reaction.

"The question is, why are YOU so bothered by it, buchou? It was your idea, after all."
“Because it’s not true!”
“So what if it was? Would it be okay then?” Echizen challenged.
“What?” Tezuka was briefly thrown off balance by the question. “That is irrelevant. I don’t like lying. And it’s practically a scandal!”
“So? It’s not like either of us have girlfriends that we’re supposedly cheating on or anything. At least, I don’t think so. Do you have a girlfriend, buchou?”
“No! That was why this whole thing happened in the first place!” He knew he was losing his cool, but Tezuka didn’t like the sensation of not being in control of a situation.
“Oh, okay then. Well then, no harm done, right? There’s nobody who’ll take it the wrong way and get upset. The tabloids will just forget about it as soon as the next big thing happens. They always do.”

Tezuka sat down with a sigh.  "In that case, I'm relieved it was you there.  I can't imagine how some of the others might have reacted."

"Heh, that would have been funny.  But I can't see it.  Would anyone believe that you'd go out with someone like Eiji or Inui?"

"They're quite ready to believe that I'd go out with you."  And that was the clincher.  That was what troubled him the most out of this whole affair, even more so than the potential storm of gossip.  What was it about Echizen?  Sure, they were rivals on the tennis court, and their personalities matched in certain aspects…. But what on earth made this situation so believable to everyone?
The phone trilled again with a different ring tone. Echizen threw it to the other side of the room. “Dammit! Now she’s getting my father on my case too? C’mon, buchou, let’s head downstairs. The others ought to be ready for dinner by now.”
“I’ll follow in a minute,” he promised, mostly just so that the two of them wouldn’t arrive together, further spurring on the out-of-control situation. 
The question lingered uncomfortably at the back of his mind, though, even as Echizen shrugged and wandered out of the room. Why was it so believable? What had they done that could be misconstrued other than that one-off lie? What was he missing?

A trilling ring tone again pierced the silence.  Sighing, Tezuka picked the discarded mobile phone up and turned it off without answering.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 19th, 2007 10:31 am (UTC)
The butler Inui did it *nods wisely*

Oh Tezuka, just stop thinking about *why* Echizen, and start thinking about Echizen! Who, by the way, is great - hey, buchou, if you are so upset about the lie why don't we make it a reality so it stops being a lie? Now kiss me. (free translation) I love your Echizen more and more with each passing chapter... <3~
Sep. 20th, 2007 05:13 am (UTC)
And I like your translations of what Echizen is really saying more and more with each passing chapter. ;)
Sep. 19th, 2007 10:42 am (UTC)
Yay! You updated!
This is getting juicy... Shiba of all people, nice twist you added :D

Tezuka *shakes head*
When will you get some sense knocked into you?
I'm starting to think only Ryoma assaulting him will make him understand XD
Sep. 19th, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC)
Another chapter >__
Sep. 19th, 2007 02:08 pm (UTC)
Tezuka woke up late with Echizen latched onto his side.

One big gigantic "Awwwwwww" from me at this part. *____________________________* And you know, it's only the first sentence. Guh.

I um. Still like your Fuji? I think? But I am so completely and totally enamored by Ryoma. jhgadfh. So adorably uncaring with anything unless it relates to tennis. Hee. I can't help but think his manager has heard of the news already.

Paranoid Tezuka, what I find so endearing with his situation is that he's stressing over it so much and not understanding what we all know and live. Ah, the irony.

I also love how you make them talk to each other and they don't seem out of character or awkward at all. I can't even remember specifically what they're talking about, just that they are, and it flows, and it's them and jskhdgaljdfkh ♥!
Sep. 20th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
Excellent. Got you from the first line!

Writing Tezuka and Echizen's conversations is actually the easiest (and naturally the most enjoyable) part.

Hopefully I shall manage to tread the line between your hating and loving Fuji. I guess next chapter will decide your opinion? Hopefully you will still keep reading regardless. :) Your comments are always fun.
Sep. 19th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
Leaving chapters in the middle of my night again, ne ? Woke up a bit late today 'cause I don't have classes today. Few ! A day of rest... finally ! But I really didn't expect you to update this fast. I thought that you would be updating next week or so. But that's not a complain at all. Nope, not at all. Just happy ! As always, you give me a nice morning ! Through it's almost noon now. XD

It's really such a shame that Fuji didn't have a picture of Ryoma latched onto Tezuka in bed. Such a shame ! Fuji would probably be even richer than Atobe if he sell that picture. Just imagine all the fangirl in Pot that would buy it and don't forget all the fangirl outsitde of Pot (our reality). The length we would go to get a picture of that ! *___________* Through Fuji didn't make that big of an appearence, it was still very clear that he will have his way (with Inui) and have a picture of Tezuka and Ryoma.

Your suggestion of Inui as a coach/manager was good, but I don't think Ryoma would accept. Just imagine the horror of juice. Beside, Tezuka is dugging his own grave. If Ryoma gets Inui as his coach/manager and Ryoma dating Tezuka, then Tezuka will probably have Inui as a 'coach' as well and be one of the victim to Inui's concoctions. Bleh !

I really loved how Ryoma would be so uncaring to anything but tennis of course. And him forgetting Shiba ! LOL ! That was just so him ! You portrayed Ryoma and Tezuka perfectly. And the way Ryoma said “So what if it was? Would it be okay then?” Echizen challenged. Oh, that was precious. I bet that Ryoma would want a picture with Tezuka's face like that ! I could just imagine Ryoma hinting something like that. Ryoma, you sneaky little brat. Ah, such an ignorant buchou ! He really does think too much. I guess that they complement each other since Ryoma doesn't think that much ! A perfect pillar pair ! ^.^

Will be going to lunch now. I really had fun chatting with you. Hope we can do it again !
Sep. 20th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
Everyone seems surprised that I updated, but when I looked at the calendar I've actually been doing it like clockwork every Wednesday and Saturday. WERID. I have become a creature of habit.

As usual, I can't delve into discussion on most of your comments without giving future chapters away. :) Nuts! But yes, chatting was great fun. We shall certainly have to do it again sometime.
Sep. 20th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
Gomen, I didn't reply when you left this morning... well night for you. The professor was talking about important stuff that would probably be on the exam. He did hint pretty much that it was important to remember ! ^^

Well, if you are going to update Saturday, then I look forward to it. But be careful, it can be a lot of pressure when you have a deadline ! It's like going back to school again and having an assignment to give, through this is an assignment that you enjoy very much. Wish I can have assignment that I wouldn't mind doing more at Uni ! *sigh*

Well, going back to study. I'm going out with some friends tonight ! Hope I don't have a headache tomorrow morning. And I'm suppose to be the one driving too ! ^^
We really do have a lot of fun chatting ! ♥
Sep. 19th, 2007 05:48 pm (UTC)
*♥ story and author*
such an enjoybale read!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )