title: Games People Play
fandom: Prince of Tennis
characters/pairings: Fuji/Tezuka, Fuji/Atobe, then Fuji/Tezuka again, Oishi/Eiji, Yumiko, Yuuta/OFC, some Yuuta/Mizuki, Inui, Taka, Yuushi/Gakuto, Saeki/Ann, Yukimura/Sanada, Momoshiro, Kaidou, Echizen
rating: M
warnings: me pretending to know things about actual tennis, vicious flirting, sex (many kinds), one rough non-con scene, emotional pain
summary: Misunderstanding, hurt emotions, pain, sex, love... all tools in the game.
notes: takes place post-series, much post series... there is Atobe/Fuji. And Fuji/Tezuka. ultimately, and initially, fuji/tezzie, but there will be a great deal of fuji/atobe in the meanwhile.

It started to rain just as he left the rehabilitation center. People around him started to flutter, whipping out umbrellas and hurrying to their destinations. He let the rain fall on him, and he walked sedately to the closest coffee house.

It was crowded with people who were escaping the wetness. He waited patiently in line, and then carried his cup around, looking for a seat. Someone would eventually stand up. This was a certainty. He was patient.

"Fancy meeting you here. Dare I hope your better half is with you?"

He turned, and greeted Atobe passively with a small nod. "Syuusuke is at home." He started to turn away, but Atobe clucked his tongue.

"Tezuka, don't be an ass. Sit down." Atobe picked up his newspaper, clearing some room for Tezuka's coffee.

If something could not be avoided, it had to be bourn. Tezuka set down his cup, and brushed some crumbs off of his chair. "I'd say it's a bit odd to see a corporate executive in a crowded coffee house in the middle of the day."

Atobe shrugged, smiling. "No more odd than seeing a tennis star with a gimpy arm. How is it, by the way? "

"I'm fine," Tezuka replied blankly. People asked him about his arm all the time. His answer was always the same. It was what it was. There was nothing more to it.

"Hm," Atobe sniffed. "And how is Syuusuke? I trust you are taking good care of him."

"Of course," Tezuka coolly answered, watching Atobe closely as he lifted his cup. "I read that you were getting married."

"Perhaps," Atobe sniffed. "The papers were a bit premature. I saw Syuusuke's latest show. I'm jealous."

"Oh? Miss being in the spotlight?" Tezuka asked without masking his boredom.

"I miss being in his viewfinder," Atobe smirked. "And now he's doing his best work to date. Unfair."

Tezuka sat up a bit straighter, but had nothing to say. He wasn't able to judge Fuji's photography. It looked good to him, but it had always looked good to him. Fuji would patiently explain technical and aesthetic considerations to him, but he didn't always understand. He just knew that Fuji's photos seemed to breathe. When he told Fuji that, he earned himself a smile that he would never forget.

"So," Atobe leaned forward, grinning. "Who's winning?"

Tezuka raised an eyebrow at Atobe.

Atobe chuckled. "The game. It's always a game with him. So who is winning?"

Tezuka sipped his coffee. "Doesn't Syuusuke always win?"

"Ah," Atobe leaned back, and looked away. Tezuka supposed that Atobe was beautiful, but he couldn't see past the jealousy that this was someone who had put his hands on Fuji. "Well, that's true. I suppose I should pity you, then, but you really are one lucky son of a bitch."

Tezuka didn't appreciate Atobe referring to his mother in that fashion, but no comment at all was probably the best way to express that.

Atobe stood up, and wiped his coat off before putting it on. "Just don't forget. There's no room for error in this game. Your competition is biting at your ankles, Tezuka. Everyone is eagerly awaiting your fall."

Tezuka looked away from Atobe. "If you say so."

Atobe shook his head. "I met Syuusuke in this coffee house five years ago, give or take. We sat over there and argued about tennis and politics and class responsibilities. I told him I could beat him at handball just so I would have a chance to meet him again." He smiled, and shook his head. "Everything ends, Tezuka."

Tezuka set his cup down, and looked vaguely in the direction of Atobe's reminiscences. "Indeed. Though, even amid the chaos, there are always constants."

"So confident," Atobe murmured under his breath. "Well, be good to him. He picked you, after all."

Tezuka watched Atobe leave, and he nursed his coffee until the rain came to a stop. He sat and watched the sun come out again, and make everything glitter brightly.

When he got home, Fuji was on his stomach on the floor, dozens of glossy black and white photographs surrounding him. He looked over his shoulder at Tezuka, and grinned. "Afternoon. How'd therapy go?"

Tezuka didn't bother with banalities with his beloved. He stretched his arm out in front of him and demonstrated his limited flexibility for Fuji.

Whatever criteria Fuji was using to judge, he deemed Tezuka's progress suitable, and he gave his attention back to the photographs. Tezuka kneeled down next to Fuji, and slipping his hand under the shirt that had, at one time, belonged to him.

"I ran into Atobe at a coffee house today," he commented softly.

"Oh?" There was a tiny bit of tension in Fuji's back and voice, but Tezuka understood it.

He leaned down, and kissed the back of Fuji's neck, pushing his hair away with his nose. "He wanted to know who was winning, you or I."

"What did you tell him?" Fuji asked, distractedly amused.

"You always win, my beloved." This was a fact, as far as Tezuka was concerned. It was a fact he was completely comfortable with, so he had no need to shrink from it.

"Is that what you said?" Fuji propped himself up on one elbow so he could look at Tezuka. His gaze was sharply measuring. "You mean you never figured it out?"

Tezuka waited patiently for Fuji to inform him of his error.

"I realized it a long time ago. During that last match, actually. Do you remember? We crossed each other, changing courts, and I told you we would have to celebrate? Do you mean you never knew?" Fuji was grinning, but his eyes were watching Tezuka carefully.

Tezuka leaned down to kiss Fuji fleetingly. "I remember. But I don't know what you mean."

Fuji sat up, and put his hands on Tezuka's neck, caressing Tezuka's jugular as he smiled. "When it's you and I... there is no 'winner' or 'loser,' because it's not a game. When it's you and I, it's life."

ProloguePart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart Eight • Epilogue