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The Power of Gossip - Chapter 7

Titlele: 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:  Halfway point, huzzah!

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

The Power of Gossip
Chapter 7 – Reading Between Lines
By Sinnatious
After the third night, Tezuka had come to the conclusion that Echizen had the unfortunate habit of latching on to things while he slept. It didn’t really help their already awkward position any to be waking up like this.
Not that it really mattered. It wasn’t like the others could see them. It made Tezuka uncomfortable though, so he regretfully left the warm bed and had a long shower. Echizen was actually awake and sitting up when he finished in the bathroom, though hadn’t managed to move past the bed yet.
“You’re up early,” he observed.
“Practicing with the Golden Pair today,” came the sleepy reply.
Of course. Tennis was the only thing capable of getting Echizen up at a reasonable hour of the morning. 
“Bathroom’s free. I’m heading down the lobby.”
Inui and the Golden Pair were already in breakfast room when he arrived downstairs, taking advantage of the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast. Nodding a brief greeting as he entered, he gathered some food for himself and joined them at their table. 
“Sleep well, Tezuka?” Oishi asked cheerily.
“Yes, thank you.” It was a shame that it wasn’t really possible to get a Japanese breakfast here, the tennis pro thought to himself absently. He’d been spoilt by his mother’s cooking over the past few weeks, and it was always hard to adjust back to a travelling diet afterwards. 
“Where’s Ochibi?” Eiji asked.
“Still in our room, I expect. He was getting ready to come down when I left.”
“Ah, yes, he agreed to help us train today,” Oishi said. “We were just going to use the hotel tennis courts, though. Did you want to play too, Tezuka?”
“There’s only one court, so I’ll just watch today,” he replied.
“Oh, but we don’t want to get in the way of your own training… and it would be nice to play again…”
“I’ll play you later in the week,” he promised. “I was just going to do some image training today. Echizen needs the workout more than I do, I expect.”
“Hmm, yes, that will certainly have to change. The previous schedule accommodated much more random bouts of intense training, which is not nearly as beneficial as a regular and consistent routine,” Inui muttered under his breath, crouched over his notebook as he absently ate his cereal. 
“We’re going to head out onto the courts to warm up,” Oishi announced, standing. “Let Echizen know where we are when he comes down, would you? And you’re more than welcome to come participate. The more the merrier.”
“Very well.”
“Let’s go, Oishi, nya!” Eiji declared, dragging his partner away.
“The previous schedule?” Tezuka asked curiously, turning back to Inui.
The data gatherer adjusted his glasses. “Last night when everyone was coming back from dinner, Echizen asked me if I would like to become his manager. I was quite surprised, honestly,” Inui confided in him. “It was not a possibility I had considered.”
"What did you say?" Tezuka asked, mildly shocked that the other pro had acted on his suggestion already.

"There are many details that need to be worked out, of course, but I gave him a tentative yes. I have found his current manager's scheduling skills to be unsatisfactory in assisting with the maintenance of Echizen's performance, and her management of travel bookings and monetary matters is in sore need of optimisation. Simple matters such as booking flights further in advance and ensuring that the hotels are close to the tennis courts can save up to 40 percent on travelling costs. I was actually going to suggest myself that Echizen find himself another manager, but since he has offered the position to me and I was seeking a potential career change, this seems like the best option all around."

"I'm glad to hear that." Tezuka had thought that it was something of an ideal job for Inui, since he still maintained his passion for tennis but didn't think becoming a pro himself was plausible. And he was perfect for the job. “What about your remaining studies, though?”
“I can easily do the last two units externally.”
“So you’re going to start right away?”

"Not immediately – Echizen has yet to inform his current manager of his decision. And of course, there is little point in discussing anything regarding the appointment until this fortnight is over - it is important that the two of you get to enjoy this rare holiday and relax, after all." The previous charitable thoughts Tezuka had been having vanished at the emphasis on 'the two of you'. Surely with his obsessive data gathering Inui should be aware of the truth by now? How much longer would it take for his friends to figure it out?
The thought occupied Tezuka even after Echizen came down for breakfast and everyone headed out to the hotel’s tennis court – bar Momoshiro, Kaido and Kawamura, who’d decided to go on a mission to compare the local sushi restaurants to Kawamura Sushi. His friends’ reactions really were a mystery, one that had been occupying him for days now. True, he and Echizen hung out fairly often while on the pro circuit, but that didn’t usually extend beyond the odd training session or lunch. The younger pro had a tendency to stick to his side at events, or book the seat next to his when watching matches, but that made perfect sense as they both knew each other and were among the few high-level pros that spoke fluent Japanese. Even then, on those occasions they rarely talked about anything other than tennis. Any way he looked at it, their relationship couldn’t be construed as anything other than that of camaraderie or old friends, even though Tezuka wasn’t quite certain what to call their odd rivalry himself. In fact, even thinking about it was a little distressing. It wasn’t something he normally dwelled upon, and when he did the inability to pigeon-hole his and Echizen’s relationship into something as simple as friendship or professional rivalry was mildly irritating. Still, it definitely wasn’t romantic. Of that, at least, Tezuka was sure. They hardly went around holding hands or eating at fancy restaurants or anything like that.
Where was it coming from, then? Before he’d turned pro, then? No, that was even less likely. He and Echizen had hardly ever associated outside of club activities during his school days. So where, then, had his friends acquired these ‘ideas’ about this non-existent relationship?
It was tempting to ask Inui about it, as the data-gatherer would no doubt have plenty to say about it, but he dismissed the matter for the time being. He could always ask later, after all, especially if he was going to become Echizen’s manager. It appeared that in addition to Oishi and Eiji, they’d be seeing a lot more of Inui now too. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Tezuka vaguely wondered if perhaps he’d shot himself in the foot by making that suggestion.
Sometime while he’d been deep in thought, Fuji had arrived. They were sitting by the edge of the court where Echizen was currently playing both Oishi and Eiji, and Inui was several paces away dutifully taking notes to help out the doubles pair close any potential gaps in their game before the tournament started. The Golden Pair were certainly giving Echizen a hard time, which was impressive even if the current number one had to cover twice the distance they did, but Echizen was still hopeless at doubles, so it was the only real way to play.
“Ne, Tezuka, Echizen is quite fit, isn’t he?” Fuji remarked quite suddenly from where he stood next to him. 
“Of course.  Any pro athlete must be in a peak physical condition at all times.” 
“Saaa, it must be useful… to have that sort of stamina.”
Tezuka didn’t quite see where Fuji was going with this. “Indeed. Especially when you play a five set match that goes into a tie break.”
Fuji just smiled at him. Well, Fuji was nearly always smiling, but his grin just became a little wider.
They watched a few more rallies, before Fuji commented again, “Echizen makes awfully cute grunts, don’t you think? It certainly stirs up the imagination.”
Tezuka choked. Fuji had been making thinly disguised comments a couple of days before, but was he really implying…
“He really is quite attractive. Especially when he stretches for the ball like that. He must be very flexible.”
“Fuji.” The tennis pro was certain he must be bright red.
“He certainly doesn’t let his height disadvantage stop him.”
Relieved that the conversation seemed to be steering back towards tennis, Tezuka just nodded agreement. “Though he isn’t that much shorter.”
“Just the right height, wouldn’t you say, Tezuka?”
Then again, it was Fuji – you could never be certain when you were safe. “Fuji.”
Ignoring him, the blue-eyed man continued, “And those shorts really do make his legs look longer, don’t they?”
“Fuji. That’s totally inappropriate.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise that you two weren’t that comfortable, yet. It’s just that I can’t imagine two such healthy young men such as yourselves being able to keep your hands-”
 “And that’s the end of the match.” Inui suddenly announced, snapping his notebook shut abruptly.
Tezuka wanted to ask who won, but was embarrassed to admit that Fuji’s lewd comments had distracted him from keeping score. He also didn’t want to admit that he’d completely forgotten to watch how the Golden Pair had performed towards the end. Fortunately, he was spared from having to ask when Oishi shook Ryoma’s hand at the court exit. “Still can’t win against you,” the gentle man said with a light laugh.
“Che, it was a fun game,” Echizen said, between his heavy breaths. The fact that the Golden Pair had managed to drive him to that state alone was testament to their ability. They’d do well in professional tennis.
“Heh, we’ll beat you by the end of the week, Ochibi,” a puffed Eiji declared.
Echizen just smirked, but the unspoken challenge remained in the air, clearly stating that the doubles players were welcome to try.
“My, Echizen’s panting hard,” Fuji practically whispered next to his ear, not quite loud enough for anyone but him to hear. 
“What?” the genius asked innocently.
Everyone looked over at his admonishment, and Tezuka found himself unable to chastise his friend properly without having to explain the reasons why. “Never mind.” The blue-eyed genius cocked his head, though, looking vaguely contemplative.
Echizen was panting hard, though, and now that Fuji had planted the suggestion in his head it was making Tezuka feel distinctly uncomfortable. It was odd, thinking of his rival in such a manner. He handed the teen his water bottle, in hopes that it would help.
“Thanks buchou,” the sharp-eyed youth said breathily, which did nothing to dispel the images that were now plaguing his mind. Instead of drinking, though, Echizen closed his eyes and promptly dumped half of the water over his head, causing small rivulets of clear liquid to trickle down his neck and chin and soak his shirt that then in turn clung to his body, outlining the pro’s supple form. Tezuka found himself swallowing and forcefully tearing his eyes aware, not wanting his roommate to catch him staring. 
What was wrong with him? Curse Fuji, for forcing him to think of his former protégé in such a way. 
He’d never thought that he was gay, but it appeared from the effect the sight was having on him, he might have to re-examine that stance, too.
No, it was just Fuji playing tricks on him. He shook his head briefly as though to dispel the images within.
“Ah, I’m tired,” Oishi exclaimed. “That was a really good workout.”
“What are you going to do now?” Fuji asked.
“Oishi, we should go look at those tapes Inui gave us!” Eiji suggested. Even though his words were enthusiastic, he was practically being held up by his doubles partner. It appeared that even after all these years, stamina was still the acrobat’s weakest point. 
“Good idea, Eiji. Would everyone like to come?” he asked politely. “Inui brought us some tapes of some of the people we can expect to go up against, and some more opinions wouldn’t go astray.”
“I’ll certainly come. Fuji?” Inui asked.
“Saa, I’m going to go take some more photographs. There’s some interesting topography around here.”
“Tezuka? Echizen?”
“I’ll come up later,” Tezuka promised. “I want to do some drills first.”
“Hmm, I’ll stick around and practice with buchou,” the teen commented, tugging on his cap. 
"You want your game now?" Tezuka asked in sudden recollection. Fuji perked up at that, for some reason.  "I think your Ponta will have to wait until we get back to Japan.  I haven't seen the grape kind here."  For all the trouble it had caused, he DID still owe Echizen for going along with his initial lie and getting his cousin's friend off his back.

The sharp-eyed teen just smirked.  "No, I think I might hold it in reserve for now."
He might have guessed.  His fellow pro always called him up to train at completely random times, and heaven forbid he ask for a game when it suited the other party.  It would be fun explaining to his coach why exactly he'd be breaking on his 'no full-length unofficial games with Echizen' agreement during the season.  "You'll at least not ask for it during a tournament, right?"

His companion didn't respond, but he was relatively certain the other pro wouldn't pull that card on him, at least.  Echizen might not believe in waiting for official matches the same way he did, but the teen had much more decorum than when he'd been in school.  It probably had something to do with defeating his father at last.

That had certainly been an odd time.  He'd just graduated from high school, and was making preparations for entering the pro circuit when Echizen had just turned up on his doorstep, looking like the world had ended.  He'd spent two nights sleeping in their guest room before wandering off without ever explaining himself beyond his initial proclamation.  A week later he'd turned up again, demanding a match.  Given the situation, Tezuka had agreed, though found it odd given that Echizen had already defeated him plenty of times.  To his own surprise, though, he won after a long tie-break.  Then the teen had given him a funny sort of smile and left the court without saying a word – not even a self-depreciating ‘mada mada da ne’.  A year later, Echizen forwent his last year of high school to enter the pro circuit as well.  He won their first scheduled match together, and seemed unhappy.  Tezuka improved and won the next one, and Echizen had actually smiled - a real, genuine smile - at him.  They'd been rivals – or something like it - ever since.

In retrospect, maybe that had been Echizen's problem with his father.  Nanjiro Echizen wasn't capable of being a rival, since he hadn't improved in so long.  Once he'd been defeated, there were no more goals for his son to overcome.  He, on the other hand, could keep pace with Ryoma.  And so long as there was always one person who Echizen didn't know he could beat, one promise of a challenge, his interest remained.


"Yes?" he asked, not wanting to admit that he'd been so wrapped up in his reminiscence that he hadn't been paying attention. At least reminiscing was safer than staring at the drops of water trickling down the other pro’s neck.

"Why does Fuji keep winking at me?"



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:06 am (UTC)
YAAAAAAAY UPDATE! *goes off to read*
Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:26 am (UTC)
Again your first sentence kills me.

After the third night, Tezuka had come to the conclusion that Echizen had the unfortunate habit of latching on to things while he slept.


<-has the most dorkiest expression on because of sleepy!Ryoma. jkdshgkadfhglakdf;khadfj



They hardly went around holding hands or eating at fancy restaurants or anything like that. I'M SURE THOUGH, IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, THIS IS WHAT TEZUKA SECRETLY WANTS. *g*

As for Fuji. Hmm. Honestly, I think you're trying too hard to make him Fuji. I caught onto his double meaning right away, but I'm pretty sure you intentionally did that. And I'm not one to talk so uh. |D; He's not irritating me though. So that's a plus. And I'm kinda jksdhgdkafh over Tezuka's reactions. FINALLY. SOMEONE MAKING HIM THINK INAPPROPRIATE THOUGHTS.

"his former protégé" *wibbles*







Sep. 24th, 2007 10:05 am (UTC)
LOL! Fuji is actually pretty hard to write, I'm discovering. And of course we catch on to his double meaning immediately, because all of us TezRyo fans have dirty, dirty minds. ;)

Your comments just WIN. You get me excited about stuff I wrote! I must be careful. CAPSLOCK IS CONTAGIOUS. :)
Sep. 22nd, 2007 08:49 am (UTC)
INUI. AND FUJI. I love them to bits and pieces.

Saaa, it must be useful… to have that sort of stamina.”

Tezuka didn’t quite see where Fuji was going with this. “Indeed. Especially when you play a five set match that goes into a tie break.”
--> oh. OH~ I just loved this little exchange between them.

And Tezuka's still hung up over WHY their friends actually believed so easily. He's still hung up. OMG ♥
Sep. 24th, 2007 10:14 am (UTC)

(Then berates self for spending a comment just to giggle). ;)
Sep. 22nd, 2007 10:16 am (UTC)
*flails* this fic is so awesome.

Fuji. ♥ Fuuuuuuji.
Sep. 22nd, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
Fuji.... Fuji... *______*

I think I might start liking fandom Fuji if he's kept being written like this.. :""D

And Ryoma..oh Ryoma..Tezuka could learn alot from him ^^
Sep. 22nd, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)

After the third night, Tezuka had come to the conclusion that Echizen had the unfortunate habit of latching on to things while he slept.

I was swooning after that ! I was completely taken by that sentence alone. And the entire thing just gets to me so much. Echizen will only latch on to Tezuka and Karupin... no one else for sure ! ^^

And INUI... INUI... INUI... I'm falling in love with your data master. Oh it was precious how you wrote him and his observation. I want him to be Ryoma's manager... Can you believe how Tezuka will regret suggesting that in the future ? Oh, I want Inui to become both their manager... Come think of it, Inui will love his job so much that he will be trainer to both Ryoma and Tezuka... and not only that, he will become the Golden pair's trainer as well... since they don't have a manager currently.

Ryoma beating the Golden pair ? That's really telling how powerful he is. Bet he enjoyed that match very much. But not as good as a match with his beloved buchou. *wink* And oh Tezuka thinking about his sexual orientation. That my dear, has to be one of the highlight of this chapter. One of them because there are soooooooooo many highlights in this chapter.

And Fuji ? I'm not sure. He is sadistic, but there something off (or odd) about him. I have an itching feeling that there is something behind those words, and I'm not talking about him hinting about Tezuka and Ryoma. There is something more beneath that surface... I'm sure !

Had a party last night and came home at 4 in the morning. I totally forgot that you would update today and I was so surprised this morning. Why didn't I open my computer last night ??? *sigh* You just cheered my day... I had a small fight with my father... I admit that I was wrong, but did he have to give me THAT look ? The disapointement look... because I was careless for something. *sigh*
Sep. 24th, 2007 10:12 am (UTC)
Sorry to hear about your lousy day, glad if an update managed to cheer it up a little!

Inui's fun to write. Fuji is difficult. Apparently it shows. :)

Man, I'm apparently setting standards for my opening sentences now. Hope I don't top myself too soon!

Next update will probably be on Wednesday. May it once again distract you from classes. ;)
Sep. 24th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
Totally tired this morning and traffic was impossible. But saw your reply and I am currently chatting with you so the smile is back on my face !

Inui is always fun with all the probability. But it's the % that is not showing on ff.net, no ? That's no fun ! And Fuji is very difficult. It always seem out of our control. Ahhh, tensai !

So don't worry, God won't let you fall into the realem of disaster until you finish your fics. He love his pillars too much ! ^^

See you on Wednesday... well, you are going to update in the middle of my night again ! *sigh*
Sep. 23rd, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
still enjoying very much. *hugs Fuji*
Sep. 23rd, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
I can't believe I almost missed thi, you updated, YAY >_
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )