title: Crossing Bridges
fandom: Prince of Tennis
characters/pairings: Tezuka/Fuji, Oishi
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Tezuka worries about something he shouldn't.
notes: none

As soon as their season wrapped up, and it was clear they weren't going to Nationals, the third years stopped coming to practice regularly, and the second years became the leaders of the team.

The captain continued to come, but he was leaving more and more to his vice captain, as was appropriate. After all, Tezuka was going to be the captain as soon as Ryuzaki-sensei decided to announce it. He was undefeated in official matches and in practice, and he was the de facto leader of the team, with his single-minded focus on Nationals and the blessings of Captain Yamato.

He realized it himself the first time Kikumaru called him "Captain," and he wasn't joking. He would be the captain of the team the year they won Nationals.

And... someone else would be vice captain...

He sat in class, scratching notes into his notebook, but not really paying attention. There were only two second years who had played as a regular for any length of time this year: Fuji and Oishi. Kikumaru had become a regular, and so had Inui, but they had only played in a few matches before they had been eliminated from the Kanto tournament. Since Fuji and Oishi had the most experience, it was logical to assume that one of those two would be vice captain, and between the two of them, it was clear who would be picked.

Fuji would be his vice captain.

This thought filled him with so much dread, that his face went completely white, and the girl in the desk next to him used it as an excuse to lean over and put her hand on his thigh. Tezuka disliked being touched, and he disliked it when class was disrupted, and even if he wasn't paying attention, he disliked missing class to go the nurse's office when he was fine.

The thing was, it greatly depended on the captain how much work the captain and vice captain had to do. Yamato left very little for Ryuzaki-sensei to do, and even handled all the meetings with other teams. Tezuka wanted to be a captain like Yamato, but if he did that, it would mean a lot of hours of extra work, and he would need to rely on his vice-captain as much as possible.

Paperwork, decisions, making training menus, determining the set up of ranking matches, determining strategies for matches... That was a lot of time, after school and before school, on weekends, doing extra work, often alone in the office... with his vice-captain...

Tezuka just felt sicker and sicker about it. That afternoon at practice, he lagged behind everyone in their warm ups. From the corner of his eye, he watched Fuji, and even though Fuji never once looked his way, he was sure Fuji knew he was being watched.

He played Momoshiro that afternoon, and in the next court, Fuji played Inui. As much as he could, he watched Fuji's game.

The truth was, Fuji intrigued Tezuka. The times when Fuji seriously played were rare, like finding a pearl in a shell while walking on the beach. It was something precious, to be treasured. Tezuka probably knew more about Fuji's true skill than even Inui, because sometimes they played after practice. They wouldn't really ever talk about it; some days, Fuji would just turn left instead of right as he left the club house, and Tezuka would follow when he could. They would meet at the courts a few blocks south of Seigaku, and play until sunset. Sometimes, they would talk, but if they did, it would just be about tennis, or school. Sometimes, Fuji would say something about his brother or his sister. It would be almost totally innocuous, but somehow, Tezuka was left feeling like he knew what Fuji meant to say.

He wanted to get to know Fuji better. At first, it was frustrating to play against someone who was most likely a better player, but who refused to use his full talent. But then, Tezuka was starting to think that the least interesting thing about Fuji was his tennis.

Sometimes, when Fuji was watching Tezuka, Tezuka couldn't help but think that Fuji was thinking things that would make Tezuka blush. Or maybe Tezuka just wanted Fuji to think those things when he was looking at Tezuka...

At night, when he was supposed to be asleep, but he couldn't do anything but toss and turn, Tezuka would sometimes think of Fuji, and he would do things that would make him blush in the morning when he had to clean up.

Somehow, he knew that Fuji knew that he thought things like that, and did things like that, and it embarrassed him to be alone with Fuji as a result.

The longer he had to think about it, though, the more at peace he came to be with the idea. In fact, something utterly startling occurred to him while his science teacher miscopied Boyle's Law on the board - if he was going to be spending a lot of time alone with Fuji, maybe they might actually be able to do some of the things he thought about!

The idea was so startling, he forgot to correct his teacher, and therefore, on the final, he would be the only one in class to get the question on Boyle's Law right.

His mind spun with possibilities for days, and when Ryuzaki-sensei called him to her office during class that Friday, he was actually looking forward to the announcement. When he got inside, though, Oishi was sitting nervously in front of Ryuzaki-sensei's desk.

He was a little disappointed. He'd already thought of some things that they could do after school at his house. For the team. But he would just have to wait, he supposed.

Sitting down calmly, he waited for Ryuzaki-sensei to state her business.

"Well, now that you are both here... I don't suppose it will be of any surprise to either of you that Tezuka will be the captain next year. That was decided last year. But I called you here to announce that I've decided that Oishi will be the vice-captain."

"O-Oishi!" Tezuka stuttered, utterly confused.

Oishi turned bright red. "Ah, Tezuka is right, I-I'm not good enough to be the vice captain." Oishi bowed, which looked a bit silly since he was sitting. "Forgive me, sensei, but please pick someone else."

"Mm," Ryuzaki-sensei regarded them disdainfully. "Is this true, Tezuka? Do you have a problem with Oishi being your vice captain?"

"Of course not," Tezuka replied forcefully, for Oishi's benefit. "I would be pleased to rely on Oishi, if you would."

Oishi blushed even deeper, and laughed nervously. "But are you sure it's all right? I don't want to be a hindrance."

"Put it out of your mind." Tezuka closed his eyes and folded his arms over his chest. "It's settled. Thank you, Ryuzaki-sensei."

Ryuzaki-sensei smiled, and rested her face in her hand. "And this is how it will be, of course. All right, I'll outline your responsibilities, and they will start today, so pay attention!"

Somehow, this first practice as captain was more tiring than any other since he had joined Seigaku, and he had to stay later, too, which was troubling, because Fuji turned left as he left the club house that day.

He couldn't leave, though, for another half an hour. When he got to the courts, Fuji was sitting on the bench, taking pictures of the empty tennis court.

Tezuka sat down next to Fuji, letting his bag slip from his shoulder and onto the ground. They didn't speak at first. The sun was already starting to set, so there was no point in trying to play. The silence was companionable, and there was something very comforting about just sitting with Fuji that Tezuka liked.

Fuji put the lens cap on his camera, and slipped it back into his bag. "So, Captain, were you disappointed that Oishi was chosen to be your helper?" Fuji smiled at him, and he could almost taste the bitter edge to Fuji's humor.

"Our team will be strong next year. We're going to go to Nationals." Tezuka folded his arms over his chest, and stared at the dirty white lines of the court.

"Aa, of course we are, silly." Fuji chuckled to himself. "But didn't you want it to be me, holed up with you for all that time doing paperwork?

"Weren't you looking forward to having me all to yourself like that?"

Tezuka didn't reply, but he adjusted his glasses, and he felt his face getting warm. Fuji would know what that meant.

Fuji smiled brightly. "I don't do paperwork, Tezuka. I'm sure Sumire-san knew that. But... If you want to have me all to yourself, you just have to ask." He leaned over and kissed Tezuka's cheek quickly, and then stood up, shouldered his bag, and walked off.

Tezuka watched him go. He should have told Fuji not to disrespect their coach like that. He should have told him that Oishi would be an excellent vice captain.

Somehow, though, all that he could think was that there was something different about the way Fuji said 'Captain' when he was referring to Tezuka.