Psidai AU: And the Children Shall Lead (2/2)
Title: And the Children Shall Lead (2/2) Series: Psidai AU Fandom: Prince of Tennis Rating: PG for language Word Count: 2520 Pairings: Atobe/Tezuka/Fuji, a little of SanaYuki and ShishiTori Warnings: OOC-ness, bit of Rikkai-bashing
Timeline: Takes place during the nationals in Atobe, Sanada, & Tezuka's 3rd year of high school.
Notes: This fic can be a standalone, but it's better to have read Part 1 first.
And the Children Shall Lead Part 2
Sanada stood waiting impatiently as his opponent for Singles 1 stepped into the court. By long experience, he crossed his arms as he waited for the inevitable performance that the Hyotei diva always performed before his matches.
Watching Atobe raise his hand high into the air to direct the cheers coming from all 300 members of Hyotei high school’s tennis club, Sanada idly wondered if Atobe actually trained his people like tame dogs or if Hyotei naturally bred them that way.
“Katsuno wa Hyotei! Katsuno wa Hyotei!”
It was embarrassing, really. Even more so because simpleminded people like Kirihara all tended to be taken in by this… fluff… over substance.
“Shousha wa Atobe! Shousha wa Atobe!”
And perhaps the worst thing was he had to go through it every… single… time.
“Katsunowa Hyotei! Shousha wa Atobe!”
Finally, the obligatory snap of Atobe’s fingers, followed by blessed silence. Sanada looked up from where he was idling in boredom, waiting for Atobe’s trademark “ore da!” before they could finally get on with the actual tennis.
But it never came. Instead, a low but steadily growing rumbling began to catch everyone’s attention. Reflexively, Sanada looked toward the Hyotei stands for the walking earthquake that was Shishido, but he saw the same puzzled expression there as on the rest of the audience. However, his stare did turn out to be in the right direction, when the cause of the disruption finally came to light.
Hundreds of elementary school age children stampeded into the audience stands, all wearing the familiar Hyotei uniforms and completely overrunning the tennis club members who had been cheering just moments before. Their shrill voices could be heard clearly over the gasps around the arena.
Even the Hyotei Regulars whirled around in unison at the flood of children that swarmed forward on the stands, leaving behind a sea of fallen and twitching high school tennis club members. They stood there gaping as the cheers of the children resolved into something clear and ordered, as if an oft-rehearsed cheerleading squad.
“Go! Go! Keigo-sama!” squealed hundreds of little girls, waving little banners and pom-poms in their hands.
“Fight-o! Keigo-sama!” screamed just as many little boys as the shook their fists into the air.
Sanada shook of his shock to glare at the utterly unsurprised and smugly smiling Atobe.
“Elementary school children, Atobe?” he growled out, “you’ve hit a new low.”
Atobe barely spared him a dismissing glance. “You’re so tasteless, Sanada. These children are merely here to bask in the brilliance that is ore-sama.”
He drew his hand threw his hair and tossed his head at the stands. The collective squealing of his new fan club nearly deafened everyone else.
“You’re brilliant, Keigo-sama!” “You’re the inspiration of Hyotei!”
“You taught them to say those things, didn’t you?” Sanada accused.
Sanada sighed. “Can we get on with the game now?” he gritted out from clenched teeth. He supposed that whacking his opponent over the head with his racquet would be definitely setting an inappropriate example for the children.
“Of course,” Atobe drawled, with one last wink toward his young fans.
Up higher in the stands and away from the path of trampled teens, the Seigaku team stared around at the tableau in awe.
“Sugoi!” Eiji muttered as he tried to count the sea of children. “I didn’t know Atobe was this popular even with the Hyotei elementary kids!”
“Aa,” agreed Inui as he scribbled madly away in his notebook. “Though with the 300 cheerleaders of the Hyotei tennis club, Atobe hardly needs any more supporters to cheer for his matches. Therefore, this seems to be a psychological tactic on his part to unnerve Sanada.”
“Psychological tactic?” Oishi echoed in confusion. “How does that work? Sanada is a much too focused player to be distracted by people in the stands.”
“Perhaps even he will have trouble with their shrill voices?” Fuji offered as he cringed under another overly loud squeal. The shrill high voices brought to mind rather uncomfortable memories of his own elementary school stalker.
“I don’t have enough data to be sure,” Inui murmured as he kept writing. “However, my preliminary estimate would be that the presence of these children cheerleaders should increase Atobe’s confidence and overall effectiveness on the court by 20%.”
“He needs more confidence?!” Momo pointed out in disbelief.
“30-love!” announced the referee as Atobe won the second point in the game.
“Ganbare! Keigo-sama! Win! Win!”
“Fight-o! Keigo-sama! Crush that guy in the bad-looking hat!”
“Yeah! Crush him, Keigo-sama! Show him you’re the best!”
Sanada’s eyebrow twitched as the screams became more and more personal.
“Eh…” Echizen muttered. “It looks like Sanada is being affected by them after all.”
“Heh, it’s hard to bear, being put down by a bunch of cute little children,” Fuji offered, “and their voices are rather hard to ignore.” He rather thought it was just like Hyotei to be raising a bunch of innocent-looking little monsters like that.
“40-15!” called the referee when Sanada was finally able to win his first point in the game.
“Ganbare! Keigo-sama! Show that meanie that you’re the best!”
“Keigo-sama! Crush that bully!”
Sanada was twitching harder now. ‘Bully?! Meanie?! When did I become the villain here?’
Back up in the stands, Inui adjusted his glasses and scratched out something in his notebook. “Revised estimate,” he droned, “the children should increase Atobe’s overall effectiveness by 30%.”
A gasp rose up from the gathered children as Atobe suddenly leaped to reach the shot that Sanada sent toward the opposite corner. He barely made it, and was able to return it as a court ball even as he slid along the ground from the momentum of his leap.
“Game, Hyotei, 1-0!” called the referee.
A sharp squeal echoed around the arena when Atobe picked himself up from the ground, a small smudge marring his cheek.
“Keigo-sama! Your beautiful face!!”
“Are you all right, Keigo-sama! Don’t be hurt!”
While the girls were cooing and squealing over the Hyotei buchou, the boys directed their yells at Sanada.
“How dare you do that to Keigo-sama!”
“You hurt Keigo-sama, you heartless meanie!”
“Evil bully! I’ll never forgive you for injuring Keigo-sama!”
Sanada glared at the audience to no effect, so he turned his glare on Atobe again. “You taught them that too, didn’t you,” he hissed at his opponent.
Atobe smirked. “Not quite,” he demurred. “But ore-sama’s inspiration of their creativity is unparalleled!”
Back up in the stands, the Rikkai team and their supporters were regarding the Hyotei children with unease. Many of the cheerleaders were looking at each other awkwardly, wondering just how they were supposed to cheer for their fukubuchou over the accusations of so many little children without looking being cast into the same mold.
“What the hell is this?” muttered Jakkaru. “Where the hell did they get evil and bully from out of a simple match?”
“Vicious little tykes,” Marui agreed. “Hyotei must breed them young.”
“Hm, it seems to be a win-win scenario for Atobe,” Yanagi added. “If he wins, then Rikkai loses the match. If he loses, then Sanada is in danger of getting maimed or killed by hundreds of vicious little children, thus costing us our chances at the finals.”
“How shrewd,” Yukimura chuckled, not seeming worried at all that his fukubuchou and pseudo-significant other was being humiliated on the courts, “It’s just like Atobe to do that.”
Meanwhile, the children had not stopped throwing their insults at Sanada even as the match continued.
Atobe dropped the ball he was preparing to serve at that last yell. He whirled around to face his audience with wide eyes.
“Ore-sama didn’t teach you that!”
From among the masses of children, one boyish voice piped up, sounding rather proud. “I learned that from Shishido-senpai!”
“Shishido!” Atobe now whirled to face his own team, his gaze indignant.
At the same time, Ohtori turned to his senpai with a scandalized “Shishido-san! How could you? Corrupting those innocent young minds!”
Shishido hunched down lower in his seat and tried to look invisible. However, lacking Hiyoshi’s powers in that respect, he did not succeed.
“Come on, Choutarou,” he mumbled, “if I haven’t corrupted you yet, I’m sure they’ll be fine too.”
Ohtori blinked. “Oh, I guess so, Shishido-san,” he demurred with a happy smile.
Mukahi and Oshitari stared at each other in disbelief at the utter blindness of their teammates. Oshitari rolled his eyes and Mukahi broke out in chortles, but neither said anything to the two clueless wonders, since they both knew well enough that it wouldn’t do any good.
Meanwhile, over at the Seigaku part of the stands, Inui made yet another correction in his notebook as the threats and accusations the children hurled at Sanada became more and more creative.
“Revised estimate,” he mumbled. “His effectives increased by 40%.”
“Anou… Inui, I think you can stop now,” Oishi told his madly scribbling teammate as he sweatdropped.
It was very apparent just how much of Sanada’s play had been affected by the audience and their unorthodox cheers when Atobe eventually won the match at 6-4, giving Hyotei the win and the slot at the finals.
Sanada was quiet after the match all the way as the Rikkai team headed out of the arena. It wasn’t the quiet of contemplation or an embarrassed silence. It was the quiet that came from someone exerting every ounce of his self-discipline to keep from committing murder. His team, sensing this and possessed of at least a modicum of self-preservation, remained quiet as well as they waited for him to speak first.
Well, all except for Yukimura, who was never unfazed by any of Sanada’s moods. “Saa. It’s all right, Genichiriou. They’re only one school’s opinion of you.”
Sanada paused in his steps and sighed deeply, visibly reigning in his temper. However, whatever he was about to reply was suddenly cut off by a distant… rumbling?
Yanagi with his topological clairvoyance was the first to sense what was coming their way. “Anou,” he began, sure in his easy relationship with his buchou and fukubuchou to break into this nerve-wracking moment, “I just remembered. I need to see Sadaharu about something before Seigku leaves. Excuse me.” He nearly ran in the first direction that came to mind.
“Ara?” Kirihara blinked. “What does Yanagi-senpai still need from Seigaku now?”
Jakkaru, who was the only one who just happened to be facing the right direction from where the rumbling came from, jerked to attention when he realized just what was going on. A quick look around told him that Marui wasn’t present, probably off looking for food somewhere, and that Yukimura was inexplicably nowhere to be seen.
Without further ado, he reached out and snagged Kirihara by the collar, and with a shout of “RUN!” turned and ran.
“Nani?” Yagyuu and Niou stared at one another, before turning in unison toward the direction that Jakkaru had been looking in.
They barely had time to register the mob of small children swarming their way before they were trampled under the hundreds of tiny feet, along with the rest of the Rikkai tennis club non-Regulars, in an odd replay of what the Hyotei cheerers had suffered earlier in the game. However, they were only incidental casualties of the children’s charge, as Sanada soon found out when the children made a beeline for him.
“There he is!”
“The bad man who hurt our Keigo-sama!”
From a small distance away, Yanagi watched his fukubuchou get buried under a pile of small bodies and breathed a sigh of relief at not being caught in that tide.
“They’re like fire ants, aren’t they?” Inui asked rhetorically as he joined his childhood friend.
“Aa. A teeming mass of hungry fire ants looking for prey,” Yanagi agreed. “I feel sorry for Genichirou. Even if his dignity eventually recovers, I can only hope they don’t maim him.
“He’ll only have to endure it for a little longer,” Inui said unhelpfully. “Atobe should be passing by this way soon.”
Sure enough, the Hyotei team, followed by the rest of their tennis club, soon passed by the scene of the carnage, immediately catching the children’s attention as they swarmed away from Sanada toward their Keigo-sama. Atobe barely even looked toward Sanada’s fallen form as he walked away, followed by the mass of grade school followers. The Hyotei Regulars trailed after the mob of children, looking rather disturbed and exasperated at the same time. The rest of the tennis club followed after the Regulars.
After making sure the coast was clear, Inui and Yanagi slowly walked up to where Sanada lay on the ground. Sanada’s uniform was rumpled, but at least not torn. His hat was nowhere to be seen, and one of his shoes had fallen off. There were also various little bite marks all over his arms and calves. He was clearly in bad shape, more so for his trampled dignity.
“That must have hurt,” Inui observed.
“He’s going to have some trouble explaining all those bite marks to Seiichi,” Yanagi predicted.
That was when Tezuka happened to walk by. He paused for a moment to look down at Sanada’s fallen form. Their eyes met.
‘Full circle, Sanada.’
Ignoring Sanada’s furious glare, Tezuka only paused for a moment before walking onward toward the Hyotei mob. Somehow, he blithely made it past the army of second-years and elementary children. Atobe stopped and smirked when Tezuka walked up to him.
“Are they going to be here for your match against Seigaku too?” Tezuka asked first, indicating the swarm of children.
“That depends,” Atobe drawled. “Am I playing you?”
“Aa. Singles 1.”
“Then yes, they are.”
Tezuka’s only reply to that was a narrowed gaze.
“Oi, mister!” piped up a little girl from the crowd as she tugged at Tezuka’s sleeve. “Are you Keigo-sama’s boyfriend?”
Tezuka stared down at her. But before he could reply, Fuji was suddenly at his side.
“No he isn’t,” the tensai answered for Tezuka, his eyes open.
“Why not?” a little boy demanded of Tezuka. “Isn’t he good enough for you?”
Fuji was about to answer for him again when Tezuka told him, “enough, Fuji,” in no uncertain terms. Then he turned his steady gaze onto the little boy, and a staring contest promptly ensued. It was no surprised that the child lost, and with a somewhat forced wail, he ran into the back of the crowd to hide behind a much-exasperated Shishido.
Tezuka gave the crowd of much more subdued children one last look before turning back to Atobe again.
“Well?” the Hyotei dive drawled, and it wasn’t clear which issue he was referring to – that of the children being present at the finals, or Tezuka being his boyfriend.
“I’ll see you at the finals,” was all Tezuka said finally as he whirled and walked away, a still-fuming Fuji trailing behind him.
Inui and Yanagi looked at one another.
“The finals will be interesting,” Yanagi observed.
They had no idea how right they were.
~* Owari *~
Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis and all associated characters belong to Konomi-sensei. I’m not making anything off of this.