title: Distant Stars
fandom: Prince of Tennis
characters/pairings: Yukimura/Sanada, Tezuka, Yanagi, Rikkai Dai, Fuji
rating: G/Teen
warnings: sexual situation
summary: Through the years, things change, things stay the same...
notes: for chou chou, for top cagnotte. The request was:
SanaYuki in high school. About how they changed from three (Sanada, Yukimura, and Yanagi) to two (not necessarily death but just different perception of each other) as they grow closer. I would love it if you bring in the significance of the change in their name calling (ie: Seiichi and Genichirou), and family/Rikkai interaction. It can stay shounen ai, but it would make me a happy, happy girl if you include some porn in it. XD;
actually starting a little bit before that, because of a previous bunny that had residence inside my brain...
also, based on the Nationals in the manga, where both Sanada and Yukimura knew of Tezuka's true strength when no one on Seigaku did, i'm assuming that Sanada and Yukimura used to play tennis with Tezuka before junior high school. since Yanagi moved right before school began, i'm also assuming that he met Sanada and Yukimura at Rikkai Dai, but i could be wrong.
as always, pretending they are in high school during the series...

The cicadas were loud, as if they were screaming out Yukimura's impatience for him. It wasn't like Tezuka to be late, even by a few minutes. Sanada bounced a ball on the rim of his racquet, keeping his eyes straight ahead. Yukimura was sitting on the bench, watching the lane leading up to the courts.

Sanada longed to ask Yukimura if he wanted to just go ahead and start playing without Tezuka, but even after he had decided on the perfect phrasing, he still couldn't go through with saying it.

"Ah," Yukimura said, and he stood up.

His head down, Tezuka came up the lane, and nodded to them.

"La~te," Yukimura teased. "Always, always late, Tezuka-kun. Sanada-kun and I were going to go ahead and play without you."

"Sorry," Tezuka said briefly, but as always, when he apologized, he failed to sound sorry.

"Hm. Have you finally decided on a school, then? I think there's a deadline on Rikkai Dai's scholarship offer, you know." Yukimura narrowed his eyes, but he was still smiling gently. Sanada and Tezuka knew him too well, though, at this point, to be fooled by that gentle smile.

Tezuka sighed, and looked away. "My father has decided that Seigaku will be the best place for me."

"What?" Yukimura sounded disgusted, like Tezuka had just said that he was going to go to a technical school for auto repair. "Seigaku? But they haven't even qualified for the Kantou tournament in years!"

Even if Yukimura pouted, Tezuka said nothing, and did nothing.

Rolling his eyes, Yukimura picked up his bag. "Fine, fine. Actually..." he smiled as he glided past Tezuka on the way to the court. He and Tezuka were looking into each other's eyes. Sanada felt cold in his belly, and too far away. "You know, I think I prefer having you as a rival, anyway."

Tezuka didn't say anything, but he defiantly looked Yukimura in the eye. Yukimura continued on to the court, laughing to himself.

Tezuka followed him, and Sanada brought up the tail. Sanada watched them move. Both Yukimura and Tezuka seemed to be charmed by an extra layer of greatness, something intangible about either of them that separated them from other great players, even. Sanada was a bit jealous, but more than that, he was grateful that he could stay by Yukimura's side.

"Sanada-kun," Yukimura asked, and Sanada was probably the only one here who could hear the edge to Yukimura's voice. "Who is that?"

Sanada looked across the courts. Another first year was playing at the far court. He was playing against a third year, someone who expected to be a regular, but who would probably not be.

"Yanagi. Yanagi Renji. He and his partner, Inui Saduharu, were unbeatable in doubles in their league. Yanagi must have been the stronger of the two." On first glance, Sanada would characterize Yanagi's tennis as cautious. Not overly so; he wasn't missing any chances. But there was something about his posture... He seemed to be constantly evaluating his opponent, as if he were playing a teaching game.

"Ah." Yukimura stood up, and twirled his racquet around his finger. "I think I'll go over and see if he wants to play when he's done with that third year."

Sanada watched him go, narrowing his eyes to watch Yanagi more closely.

"So this is high school tennis," Yukimura commented, bored. At least he played singles three. Otherwise, he wouldn't have gotten to play. Sanada played doubles two with Yanagi. Of course, they'd won in straight matches. "I'm not surprised, unfortunately."

Sanada smiled softly, and handed Yukimura a bottle of water, which Yukimura took without looking up. Yanagi was watching them, though it was hard to tell, the way he habitually hid his eyes.

"How long have you two known each other?" he asked, in a tone that implied that he didn't care about the answer.

"Ah?" Yukimura looked up at Sanada, as if unaware that Sanada was there. "Us? Oh, about... six years now? We met in grade school, didn't we, Sanada-kun?"

"We did," Sanada replied seriously.

"I see," Yanagi nodded, and he appeared to be concentrating.

"You won't be able to beat us like that," Yukimura warned, laughing.

"Like what?" Yanagi asked, toneless.

"Always thinking things out. It has to be instinct. It has to be... who you are." Yukimura winked at Yanagi, almost reveling in his superior play.

"I'll take that into consideration," Yanagi replied, "but I have my own way of things. I think there's no chance of winning at all unless it is by your own way."

"Of course not," Sanada interjected. "All victory must be won first within."

"Sanada-kun is a swordsman," Yukimura lazily informed Yanagi, winking at him. "Philosophy is part of his training. But he's not wrong. I'd be interested to see if your style of play will ever rise up to meet ours."

"That's a challenge," Yanagi raised an eyebrow, and looked Yukimura sincerely in the eye. Sanada shifted forward, but he couldn't come between them. "Well, I didn't choose Rikkai Dai so I could slack off."

Yukimura rewarded him with a smile.

The library was louder than it should have been. He tapped his pencil against his books, and glared in the direction of the gaggle of girls who were flocked around the librarian's desk, currently manned by a popular pair of third years. Sanada pulled his cap down further over his eyes.

"You haven't differentiated this properly. Here, see?" Yanagi subtly pointed to where Sanada's mistake was.

He blinked. "Ah, thank you."

Yanagi put his chin on his hand. "Why aren't you eating lunch with Yukimura?"

"I'm doing homework," Sanada stated, clearly thinking that the question was a foolish one.

"But that's not due until Friday," Yanagi pointed out.

"Never the less," Sanada calmly stated.

Yanagi smiled. "It gets noisy in his classroom, doesn't it?"

Sanada felt no reason to respond.

"I hope Nationals will be more exciting than this," Yukimura sighed discontentedly. "We haven't had a real challenge yet, have we?"

Sanada mopped the sweat from his brow. Yukimura was playing singles two, so he didn't get a chance to play against Rokkaku. It was anything but an easy win for him, at singles three, but he was glad for the chance to play singles. He liked knowing that Yukimura was watching him the whole time.

"What are you doing, Renji?" Yukimura smiled, and leaned over his knees to look at Yanagi's notebook.

Yanagi just smiled softly. "Just making a few quick notes."

"I didn't think you depended on these things," Yukimura said, poking the notebook distrustfully. Obviously, he didn't put much stock in Yanagi's data.

"It's not for analysis purposes," Yanagi explained. "I just don't want to forget important details. It was a good match," he said, and he looked at Sanada appreciatively.

Sanada blinked. "Those are notes from my match?"

"Of course," Yanagi nodded.

"Notes on... me?" Sanada frowned, dubious.

"Well, yes. You were certainly much more interesting than your opponent. And more relevant to me," Yanagi smiled mysteriously, and went back to his notes.

"Mm. But I don't think notes will help you against Sanada," Yukimura teased, swinging his knees back and forth to bump Yanagi on the shoulder. "Notes really can't help you to combat natural grace and strength, can they?"

Sanada's cheeks burned. Yanagi seemed amused. "So, then, Seiichi, tell me the secret. How do you keep beating Sanada?"

"How do I?" Yukimura was thoroughly amused now. He leaned over, and looked Sanada's blushing face over speculatively. "I don't think my methods would suit you very much, Renji. I think I win by... distraction."

Yanagi chuckled at Sanada's puzzled face. "Well, I concede, then, that's really something that only you can do."

Yukimura looked terribly smug. Sanada was horribly confused.

When had they started using each other's given names?

Half the school came out to cheer them on, and they were causing enough ruckus for two schools. Sanada considered briefly raising his cap to the crowd, but that seemed ostentatious. Besides, everyone was watching Yukimura.

The three of them stood in a knot, separated from the rest of the regulars. The three first years, harbingers of a brighter destiny to Rikka Dai. Could the Rikkai Dai tennis team become even more splendid and glorious than it already was? That rested entirely on their shoulders.

Renji was looking at the medallion, grinning. It was a sparkling gold, so bright that, in the sunshine, it was nearly blinding. Yukimura was waving to the crowd, blowing kisses to a few packs of girls, sending them into fits of hysteria.

The Captain walked over to them, beaming proudly. "We're going as a team to celebrate. The college team will join us."

The nodded, and went to stand with the team, to bow to their school together. As they broke up, Yukimura grabbed Sanada and Renji's elbows. "Hey. Let's celebrate together, mm?"

Sanada looked back at the team. Renji was grinning. "Ah, Seiichi, don't you want to enjoy the camaraderie of teamwork?"

"Of course I do," Yukimura winked. "That's why I think we should celebrate this together. Our first of three; we're going for a complete set, right?"

Sanada nodded seriously. "Of course."

"Do you two ever stop competing?" Renji asked speculatively.

"You can't win if you aren't trying to," Yukimura winked, and led the way.

It was a given that, after their last final, they would be going out together. The Three Emperors, they had been dubbed. Yanagi was already done, and standing outside the front gate of school, waiting while idly reading a book. Sanada stood outside Yukimura's classroom, looking out of the school, but very aware of the occupants of the classroom.

Yukimura was having trouble getting out of class, because his teacher kept inventing reasons to talk to him. He was being polite... more so than Sanada felt was necessary, but he was clearly getting ready to leave. Finally, he waved goodbye to her, and stepped out of the classroom. He walked on to the exit without looking up, but there was no doubt in Sanada's mind that Yukimura knew that Sanada would be at his side.

They met up with Yanagi, who held Yukimura up while he stuffed his book back in his bag, and they headed, by silent accord, in the direction of Sanada's house.

Yukimura sighed. "This summer is going to be boring. My mother's taking my sister and I to Europe. Should be able to play tennis, but..." He looked significantly over his shoulder at Yanagi and Sanada.

"Don't worry," Yanagi lazily replied. "We'll miss you everyday. I'll schedule time for us to miss you together. Do you think we should miss you over lunch, or maybe in the morning would be better?"

Yukimura chuckled softly. He looked at Sanada significantly. "Scheduling time? That's all right. Sanada-kun will miss me enough for both of you, right?"

Sanada lifted his chin. "We should go play some tennis now, since time is limited."

"Sanada-kun has a one track mind," Yukimura winked, and headed for the courts.

Sanada stopped to see what the noise was. A curly-haired first year was making a lot of boasts, and pointing his racquet at people. Sanada narrowed his eyes, and watched him. He seemed... short.

"What's all this, then?" Yukimura drawled, tapping his pencil on the clipboard.

"Kirihara Akaya. He's on scholarship. Supposed to be quick, has a good serve." Yanagi yawned, stretching out.

"Mm?" Yukimura made a face. "Scholarship, hm? That doesn't really mean anything if he can't win. It's all well and good to be proud; but there's no point boasting here. Sanada-kun. Teach him about being Rikkai Dai."

"Yes, Vice Captain," Sanada nodded, and headed off to the first year.

"You're cruel, Seiichi," Yanagi remarked coolly.

"Am I?" Yukimura replied, amused.

Yukimura stretched out on the bench, and put his head on Sanada's knee. Sanada went stiff, and kept his eyes on the court.

"I'm bored," Yukimura sighed.

"That's because you haven't played in a match yet this year," Yanagi remarked, wiping his neck.

"I hate singles one," Yukimura complained. "Next match, I'm going to play doubles. What do you think, Sanada-kun? Would you play doubles with me?" He reached up, and touched Sanada's cheek.

Sanada became very, very hot.

"I would fear for any team who had to face the two of you together on the court," Yanagi remarked offhandedly.

"We would be... invincible..." Yukimura dreamily sighed, caressing his knuckles over Sanada's cheek.

Sanada wanted very badly to fidget, but Yukimura was resting on his leg still, so he couldn't move.

Sanada pushed up on the barbell. He exhaled, inhaled... Yukimura stuck his head between the barbell and Sanada's face, his wavy hair cascading down, and just brushing Sanada's cheeks.

Sanada's eyes widened, and he locked his arms in place.

"Yukimura, what are you doing?"

"Sanada! That's the first time you've referred to me without an honorific, or a title. Nice work. I need to talk to you." He stepped back, and spotted Sanada as he placed the barbell back in place. He sat up, and heaved. Yukimura handed him a water bottle. Wary, Sanada took it, and downed half of it in one gulp.

"What can I do for you? ...Yukimura?"

"I want you to become my Vice Captain," Yukimura stated directly.

"Me?" Sanada stared. "That's... shouldn't it be Renji?"

"Are you telling me who to pick as my Vice Captain?" Yukimura asked coldly.

"Of course not," Sanada answered quickly. "But..."

"I'm asking you. What's your answer?"

Sanada blinked, and stared down at the carpet of the weight room. "I... don't have great rapport with the team. And our training menus are designed by Renji."

Yukimura tilted his head to the side. "That's not an answer to my question."

Sanada took a deep breath. "Well. No. But." He took another sip of water, and sighed. "Of course, you know that I will do anything that you require of me."

Yukimura smiled, but he was still watching Sanada. "Do you want to be my Vice Captain, Sanada?"

Sanada looked into Yukimura's eyes. "Of course."

Yukimura smiled.

"Our crop of first years are highly disappointing, wouldn't you say, Sanada?" Yukimura remarked to anyone who was listening.

"Don't worry, Captain! You have a sensational second year to pass the torch onto, anyway," Kirihara boasted.

"It doesn't really matter how strong any one, or even eight, members are. We are Rikkai Dai. They should not have that name if they can't live up to it," Niou replied caustically.

Yukimura walked around, his hands on his hips. He looked over his shoulder at Sanada. "Do something about it, Sanada. Run them through some exercises. Laps for anyone who can't keep up. I want to see some improvement. It's about time that..."

He crumpled, and he would have fallen, but Sanada caught him, just in time. "Yukimura!"

"Sanada," Yukimura hissed, "I can't... can't move my legs..."

Sanada's eyes widened. He lifted Yukimura up into his arms, and looked over to Yanagi. "Renji, take over practice." He carried Yukimura to the nurse's office, holding him tight. Yukimura's fingers were clenched in Sanada's shirt, and he didn't let go, not when they got to the nurse's office, not when the nurse ran off to call an ambulance. Sanada kept his arms tightly around Yukimura.

"Genichirou," Yukimura whispered. "I'm scared."

Sanada tightened his arms around Yukimura. "I'm here, Seiichi. Just hold onto me."

Yukimura sat in the window to his hospital room, watching the world in motion beneath him, his mouth curled into a forced smile that held no happiness.

Yanagi watched him from the door for a minute before clearing his throat. Yukimura must have seen him walking into the hospital. Was he waiting for someone specific, or was he just watching? Yanagi had his theories, but it wasn't the sort of thing that could be tested by the scientific method.

"Seiichi. I hope I'm not interrupting?" he asked quietly.

"Interrupting what?" Yukimura replied, dully. "Where's Sanada?"

"He was detained. He needed to discipline Akaya," Yanagi explained.

Yukimura's fake smile disappeared, and he closed his eyes, resting his forehead on the glass.

"He'll come, later. In the meantime, I brought you some letters, comics, and books, to help keep you..." Yanagi pulled the stack of letters and books from his bag, but he was cut off before he could even hold them out for Yukimura to see.

"I'm not feeling up to guests right now. Sanada will let you know when it is a good time to visit. Don't come again without Sanada, Renji, all right?" He rubbed the back of his hand over his eyes.

Yanagi paused to consider, and then he set the offerings on the table, next to a large bouquet of flowers. He bowed briefly to Yukimura.

"Whatever you like, Seiichi. We're all praying for you."

Sanada shivered, his hands running down Yukimura's perfect skin. He couldn't think of this as wrong. First of all, it was what Yukimura wanted. And secondly...

He lowered his mouth to Yukimura's stomach. The noises that Yukimura was making were making it impossible for Sanada to think. Yukimura was naked here, on this thin hospital bed, his hands in Sanada's hair.

He couldn't stop to think. If he hesitated long enough to stare in awe at Yukimura's beauty, Yukimura would groan and urge him on. There's not much time, Genichirou! he would gasp as he tugged on Sanada's shoulders. It has to be now, please, now! Yukimura ordered, breathless.

They were in a hospital. They couldn't lock the door.

Yukimura had full sensation, throughout his body, for now.

Sanada did everything he could to please Yukimura.

It had gotten to the point where Niou could joke about how they were starting to miss the days when Sanada was in charge. Of course, Sanada didn't think it was at all funny, but he held his tongue, and settled for just glaring at Niou.

Yanagi, a half step behind his Captain and Vice Captain, as always, merely nodded in the direction of the east court. "Look. Seigaku's match is still going on."

"Ah!" Yukimura stopped, and changed direction. He walked confidently past the bleachers, right up behind Seigaku's bench, and he leaned down, resting his elbows on the Seigaku's Captain's shoulders.

Tezuka raised an eyebrow at Yukimura, but waited for Yukimura to explain himself.

"My, my. Looks close. Are you satisfied with your team like this, Tezuka-kun?" He smiled brightly at Tezuka, turning a bit as if to purposely show the back of his head to Seigaku's prodigy, sitting next to Tezuka. Like the rest of the Seigaku, Fuji Syuusuke appeared to be put out by Yukimura's appearance here. "Of course, the way things are going now, it seems likely that we'll meet you in the championship round. I like the idea of that. I always did want you as a rival."

"There is a proverb about the wisdom of wishes, Yukimura," Tezuka replied, nonplussed.

Yukimura laughed. "Well, I can't really feel as if Rikkai Dai has measured Seigaku's strength the way things are now. With both of us out for the last match... Ah, but," he let one of his hands rest in the middle of Tezuka's chest. "I won't personally feel satisfied unless I can face you on the court myself. It's vexing, though. Even with singles matches interspersed with doubles matches, there's no guarantee that singles one will get to play. Especially if my team performs according to expectations." His hand moved back and forth over Tezuka's chest, caressing. "It's been a while since I played singles three, but if I could be sure that I would face you, it might be worth it. What do you think, Tezuka-kun? It looks as if you aren't averse to unconventional match orders, mm?"

Tezuka subtly pushed Yukimura's hand away. "I see only the match before me now."

Yukimura straightened up, and laughed. "That's so like you. Well. I'll leave you to what is before you, then. Forgive me if I look forward to bringing my fantasies to life."

A slight spring to his step, Yukimura resumed his position at the lead of Rikkai Dai, Sanada at his shoulder, Yanagi a half-step behind.

Grinning, Yanagi remarked casually, "I have said it before, Seiichi, but you are a cruel man."

"Am I?" Yukimura grinned at Yanagi over his shoulder. His fingers were brushing against Sanada's as they walked. "Well. No matter. We do not lose at Rikkai Dai. Do you think Sanada is sufficiently punished for his error, Renji?"

Sanada lifted his chin, his cheeks a bit red, and he opened his hand, catching Yukimura's for a moment, squeezing, before letting him go.

"I have very little doubt what the outcome of Genichirou's remaining matches will be," Yanagi assured Yukimura with amusement.

"Good," Yukimura grinned at Sanada. "Because I'd hate to have to punish him further."

"So you say," Yanagi murmured.

The Three Emperors of Rikkai Dai strode onto their court, ready to crush their next opponent.