|Everything You Want
Author: Neon Genesis PM
He is everything inside of you that you wish you could be. Niou Masaharu and Yukimura Sayoko and Rikkai through the years. For Kasey.Rated: Fiction T - English - Niou M. & Rikkaidai - Words: 3,979 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 14 - Published: 08-04-12 - id: 8392502
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Prompt was "Niou Masaharu and Yukimura Sayoko and Rikkai through the years. TOLD IN YAGYUU'S POV." Begins Yukimura & co.'s first year of junior high.
Everything You Want
"You'll want to watch out for that one." Niou jerks his chin toward the slim first-year called Yukimura, who's running a couple paces ahead of them, among the third-year regulars.
Yagyuu asks, "Pardon?"
"What with your problem with authority and all," Niou smirks. There's mockery in the expression, sure as the sun rises in the east. "He'll be captain in everything but title sooner rather than later." The smirk grows. "Not that you hadn't already figured that out yourself."
Niou has known Yagyuu for exactly three days, and already he has picked up on this.
Yagyuu decides he dislikes Niou Masaharu.
But Niou is right. Yagyuu looks at his upperclassmen, his teachers, even his relatives, and thinks, I am smarter than you. Smarter and better-disciplined and better-behaved. My successes will far outstrip yours. But because I was born later than you, society demands that I defer to you.
And defer he does. Because he is disciplined and well-behaved. "Wonderful boy," the teachers coo, "so polite, so modest. Such lovely manners. What a little gentleman!"
That's what he strives to be. A gentleman. Like his father. Years ago, Yagyuu's father had driven him to the hospital where he worked. On the way there someone rear-ended their car. The other driver got out, red-faced and screaming, but Yagyuu's father took it in stride.
He'd apologized. Said it was a terrible inconvenience for everyone involved. Proferred his insurance information, taken care of all the towing arrangements. Asked if there was any other way he could be of service.
"But it was his fault," Yagyuu had said bitterly later on. "He hit us. We'd beat him if we took this to court."
"And we will," his father had replied calmly. "But remember this well, Hiroshi: you don't beat people by getting angry or losing control of yourself. You beat them by being better. Simply better."
Yagyuu wants to beat people, to win. Always to win.
He vows to always be better.
Things happen quickly in the Rikkai tennis club. The Glorious Three emerge the way a ship does through the mists: steadily, and giving the distinct impression that you should get out of the way. They're an odd group, thrown together by virtue of being the best, not by choice.
(Though Yukimura presents himself as if he does everything by choice.)
Initially there's discordance that everyone can see - Yukimura and Sanada struggling to impose their wills on one another, the former with sharp smiles and silky words, the latter with harsh glares and curt challenges. They both need to be in charge. Both need to be the best.
Apparently Yukimura needs it more. He comes out ahead.
After that they move as one, he and Sanada and Yanagi. They form their own team within Rikkai, gathering a chosen few, Yagyuu and Niou among them. Quiet, thoughtful Yanagi makes things easier: soon he calls nearly all the first-years by their given names, and is shown the same friendship in return. Sanada, of course, is largely unapproachable.
And Yukimura… in his own way, Yukimura is even more removed than Sanada. He is by all means friendlier - he smiles and laughs and makes playful comments, kind comments. He understands the other boys, knows what to say to make them work harder, play better. Understands them too well, perhaps.
Too well to not take advantage of this ability. Too well for it not to set him distinctly apart.
"Charmingly manipulative bastard, isn't he." Niou again, appearing beside Yagyuu. They - and nearly everyone else - are listening to Yukimura convince the captain and coach, in no uncertain terms, what the lineup should be for the prefectural tournament, and which first-years to send to the Newcomer Tournament.
"I've no idea what you mean, Niou-kun." Yagyuu adjusts his glasses.
"Like hell you don't," replies Niou easily. Yagyuu begins to walk away, but Niou follows, taunting, "You must be at least a little disgruntled. This kid's younger than you, and already he's using you as a pawn in his game." Yukimura had proposed Yagyuu (and Niou, and Marui) enter the Newcomer Tournament.
Yagyuu says levelly, "Yukimura-kun is fit to lead because he is the best. That's all."
You beat people by being better. You make them follow you by being the best.
"Is that how it is." Niou tilts his head. Yagyuu does not like his expression. Not one bit. That expression says, I know what you're thinking. Know how you think. And I can use it against you anytime I choose to.
(His expression also has traces of I know something you don't know, but it always does. Just as Yagyuu typically assumes a look of polite detachment, Niou defaults to smug mockery.)
"Then it seems," Niou continues dryly, "that our resident messiah shall have the full support of his troops as he leads us to the oasis of victory."
Yagyuu smiles. If the smile were wider, it would show how his teeth are gritted. Still, his voice is even when he says, "Three wins for Rikkai."
At that, something uncharacteristically serious passes over Niou's face. He repeats lowly, "Three wins for Rikkai."
The Big Three have left their mark.
"I'd like you all to meet my younger sister, Sayoko."
Yukimura's sister is a pretty little girl, very pretty, with blessed-blue eyes and cheekbones that reach for the sky. She murmurs a greeting to the group at large, but otherwise remains intent on her brother, staring at him adoringly. Yagyuu would have thought Yukimura's own family, at least, would not be in rapture of him.
Except her gaze catches on Niou the way fabric does on a branch: suddenly, unintentionally, holding you still. She blinks. Her lips part. He lifts a brow.
She turns back toward her brother.
It's not much, but there are so few things one can needle Niou about. Yagyuu, having weathered barb after barb, cannot resist. "Yukimura-kun's sister is lovely," he says later as Yanagi and Yukimura wrap up Doubles Two. "Wouldn't you agree?"
Niou slides his eyes toward him. Smirks. "Quite lovely," he says in an irritatingly spot-on imitation of Yagyuu's manner of speaking. Reverting to his normal tones, he goes on, "Though I wouldn't mention that in front of Yukimura. He seems the protective sort." He mimics, "Wouldn't you agree?"
Yagyuu smiles and envisions stapling Niou's fingers to his face.
That fantasy goes unfulfilled even as the months pass. The Big Three secure Rikkai's National championship - the first in fifteen years - and Yukimura gets promoted to vice-captain, though as Niou predicted, he's been the true captain for ages.
The third-years retire. Yagyuu, Niou, Marui, and Jackal become regulars; Yukimura assigns a training regimen that has them slaving away all throughout the winter.
Marui whines, but Yagyuu doesn't complain. He's used to high expectations, and Yukimura does everything that he demands of his players. That matters. In elementary school Yagyuu's coach ordered laps and blew his whistle while lounging in a lawn-chair.
(One day that coach got hit right in the eye by a terrifically fast forehand that no one took credit for. The Laser Beam has been in the works for some time.)
Cementing Yagyuu's acceptance of Yukimura's leadership is the fact that Yukimura stands by his team. He ensures that the school reimburses them for all equipment they buy themselves; he charms the teachers into being just a breath more lenient on punctuality and grades during tournament season.
Yukimura himself will never condone tardiness or poor performance, but he does create an environment where his team can devote more than everything they have to tennis.
Through all this, Yagyuu has absolutely no idea where he and Niou Masaharu become friends.
It begins, he supposes, as a hostage situation: Niou sees Yagyuu's aggression, his competitiveness, his pride as clearly as others see his pleasant smile and perfect posture.
These traits shouldn't exist. When you're simply better, you are composed and even-tempered, perfectly controlled. You don't bite down hard on the inside of your cheek when you lose a point. Don't nearly snap a pencil in half when a teacher misuses a Latin verb.
Yukimura and Yanagi see these things, but don't call him on them. In fact, Yagyuu's drive delights Yukimura. But Niou taunts him about it, provokes him, tries to draw out the things that, for so long, Yagyuu has smothered.
Yagyuu wants to let him. Wants to strangle him.
Does not want people to see him as anything other than a gentleman. As anything other than better.
So he indulges Niou a little. Banters back occasionally, makes snide remarks in the same tone he uses to comment on the weather. If nothing else Niou's interesting to talk to: just as smart as, if not smarter than, Yagyuu, though he'd swallow a razor before he'd admit it.
(The rest of the team is far from stupid, of course. But Marui's as lazy as he is bright, and Yukimura, though brilliant, is consumed by tennis. Yanagi can debate literature and philosophy with the best of them, but is baffled by other, more human conversations.)
More importantly, Yagyuu respects Niou's self-control. His discipline. For all that Niou plays the disaffected youth card, for all his insouciance (studied and unstudied both), Niou is utterly in control of himself. Utterly.
A new year begins, and two people of note appear on the Rikkai tennis scene - well, one explodes onto it, really. Kirihara Akaya is a wildfire of noise and brashness, though his blaze is soon tempered by his uncompromised defeat at the hands of the Big Three.
Yukimura Sayoko's presence is far less disruptive. Now that she and her brother attend the same school, she comes to practice everyday so that he can keep an eye on her and walk her home afterwards. She sits on the bleachers and reads, or lies on the couch in the clubhouse office and naps.
(Though Yagyuu uses the term "naps" very, very loosely. She does not nap so much as knock herself out cold.)
Sayoko is, though one of many daily spectators, by far the one with the most impunity. When bored or restless, she'll get up and wander around, looking at things, attaching herself to her brother's side.
Sanada is far from impressed.
"She's a nuisance," he says tightly, "a distraction, constantly in the way, getting underfoot - "
"Hardly," Yukimura replies. His tone isn't icy, but the temperature seems to drop nonetheless. "You're not usually one to exaggerate, Sanada. Don't start now." Smiling, he adds, "And do remember that you are speaking of my little sister."
Yagyuu and Yanagi, looking on, glance at one another. Neither is willing to get in the middle of this. Not when Yukimura's smiling like that.
"Your little sister," Sanada growls, "does not belong here."
Yagyuu is inclined to agree with him. It would be one thing if she remained on the bleachers, but her wandering about the courts is something of a distraction to the club members. She's an exceptionally pretty girl, Sayoko is.
What confounds Yagyuu is that Yukimura, in all other ways so stringent about order on the courts, allows her to roam. She'd stay put if he asked her to. Would do anything that he told her to.
"It's not as if she climbs over the nets or talks to anyone but me," Yukimura scoffs. "Anyone distracted by her merely standing on the sidelines and watching is severly lacking in focus and discipline." Softly, he asks, "Wouldn't you say?"
He may as well have spat in Sanada's face.
His hands shaking with anger, Sanada jabs a finger at the corner of the far court, where Sayoko is trying (and failing) to juggle tennis balls. "I want her gone."
But she's not there anymore.
She's moved since Sanada and Yukimura's argument has started, retreated to the bleachers. And she's not alone. Niou's toying with a lock of her long brown hair, talking lowly to her. She scowls but does not bat his hand away. Says something that makes him smirk.
The Niou looks over to where Sanada and the rest stand. Even across the distance, his mocking amusement is apparent. His expression says, You're all so tedious, making such a big deal over nothing. I've got it covered.
"You see?" Yukimura inquires. He folds his arms over his chest. "Her sitting there can hardly be called 'getting underfoot.'"
Sanada storms away.
That's how it becomes all right for Niou Masaharu to play around with Yukimura Sayoko.
"Niou-senpai," Sayoko huffs, "give it back."
"Make me." He holds her book up high, out of her reach. Grins at her. "Well, go on. Jump for it."
"No." She crosses her arms and lifts her chin much the way her brother does. It's actually eerie how exactly her tone matches his when she says loftily, "It would lack dignity."
Niou waves the book around. She says something foul under her breath - but not so quietly that Niou and Yagyuu, who's watching bemusedly, can't hear it - and jumps for it. But her foot catches on the edge of the bleachers, and she trips, jostling Niou. He steadies them both, but accidentally drops the book.
It clips the side of her head as it falls.
It's a thick, hardcover nonfiction book, and she whimpers. Yagyuu hurries over, but Niou's already sitting her down on the bleachers. He crouches before her, peers up into her face. "You all right?" he asks quietly. Doesn't apologize, but Niou never apologizes. Not sincerely.
"Yeah," she mumbles, rubbing her head. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"This," says Yagyuu pointedly to Niou, "is why your childish games are a bad idea."
Niou ignores him. Asks Sayoko, "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"You're not even holding your hand up."
"So the answer is zero. One day you and I will work on those math skills of yours, sweetheart." Though he's smirking, there's not quite as much mockery in his voice as usual. To Yagyuu he adds much more brusquely, "Let's not tell Yukimura about this. Just because."
Yagyuu glances at Yukimura, who's some distance from them and facing the other direction, watching Kirihara fail miserably at overcoming Yanagi's Kamaitachi. "Agreed."
Sayoko nods glumly. "Oniisan would be disappointed in me."
"Not you I'm worried about," Niou mutters.
Yukimura already has a great doubles pair in Marui and Jackal, but he needs another. He finds it in Yagyuu and Niou.
They don't need to call out or use hand signals. They just know where the other boy will be, what he'll do when this happens, or this, or this. It takes Yagyuu a while to realize that it's because, in some ways, they think very much alike. (Except they don't, not at all, but somehow they do. Dwelling on it, he decides, is not worthwhile.)
Yagyuu's known for some time that Niou's behavior off the court is one thing, and on the court something else entirely. But on the court at a tournament?
"I guess - I guess we'll serve," the opponent mumbles, clutching his racquet as if he'll need to defend himself with it. When Niou's cool, flat expression doesn't change, the boy stammers, "U-Unless you want to serve…"
"Go ahead," Yagyuu tells the boy firmly, tossing him the tennis balls. "You won the call." As he turns around, he says lowly to Niou, "You nearly gave that kid a heart attack."
"Would have been more interesting than the next thirty minutes are going to be," Niou replies carelessly, taking his position on service line. His prediction, once again, is correct: the match, though brutally short, seems to take forever. It's too easy. The opposition is just. Too. Weak.
"Tennis is supposed to be interesting," Niou says to Yukimura later, almost accusingly. Jackal blanches, and by the way he gags, Marui nearly swallows his gum. A bored Niou does not bode well for anyone. That dark, sharp glint of his eyes spells trouble for all.
Yukimura has the uncharacteristic decency to look a bit sheepish. "The competition was pitiful, wasn't it," he sighs. "Still, it can't be helped. Things will get better after the prefectural tournament, you'll see."
Niou's expression says, That doesn't do anything for me now. As if to prove his point, he drops down beside Sayoko, flicks her forehead. She makes a face at him. He starts teasing her about how she chews her nails, about how she'd rather read The Economist than Us Weekly -
But Yagyuu knows this won't hold his attention for long.
Niou mimics Marui's Tightrope Walking technique for the first time during the Kantou quarterfinals. He looks pretty pleased with himself, though his smugness may be due in large part to Marui's gaping, sputtering indignation. Not that Niou ever needs an excuse to be smug.
Yagyuu wonders how long he's been working on it.
At the National finals Niou tries his hand at Yanagi's Kamaitachi. It's the final nail in the Oshitari-Mukahi pair coffin. Niou and Yagyuu take the set at six - two.
"How far have you gotten with the Laser Beam?" Yagyuu inquires as they watch Sanada duke it out against Atobe. He hates the thought that Niou might be able to hit it as well as he does, yet there's a part of him that itches to see it.
Niou, sitting some distance apart from the rest of the team, only smirks. It's Yukimura who speaks next, turning to face them. Only the vice-captain, and already he's made the coach's bench his own. "I am glad, Niou," he says with a small smile, "that you're so productive when you're bored. If I'd known I would have confiscated all your sources of entertainment long ago."
Yagyuu, reflecting on the way their maths teacher now pops a migraine pill everyday before class, murmurs, "Not everything he's done has been quite so productive."
Niou, clearly thinking of the same thing, deepens his smirk. "Productive is as productive does," he says. Not a word more. He's watching the match again. Yagyuu knows he won't miss a thing.
That's their second National title. "Two-thirds of the way there," Marui crows during the party thrown on the beach. The moon hangs low in the sky like fruit waiting to be picked off a tree branch.
"One-third of the way to go," Yukimura reminds him. But his tone is light. He's sitting on the sand, leaning back against his hands. Yagyuu can already tell he's already mapping out the road to next year's victory, but right now Yukimura's present in a way he hardly ever cares to be, catching the bottle of Sprite Jackal tosses to him, laughing at Kirihara's attempts at roasting a marshmallow.
This isn't the Yukimura that inspires people to play tennis until their hands bleed and the soles of their shoes are worn down to nothing.
This is the Yukimura that inspires friendship. If this Yukimura showed himself more often, he might even have a close friend other than Yanagi.
Yagyuu's talking to the brown-haired boy in question, discussing the finer points of a novel they'd both read. Not one of the best out there - the plot had been straightforward as anything, with no mystery to speak of - but well-written in the extreme.
Niou's a little ways away, by Sayoko. She sits with her arms wrapped around her legs, her chin atop her knees. Her body is angled toward Niou, whose legs are stretched out before him. Beyond them the sea encroaches steadily on the shore. They're talking quietly, about what Yagyuu can't imagine.
He knows that Niou is fascinated by Yukimura's blend of charisma and ruthlessness, of sunshine and steel. He also knows that Niou likes to study different situations, different outcomes, what happens if you take this but alter it in x, y, or z ways.
If you change the variables in the equation, how does the solution change?
Yagyuu thinks that maybe that's the appeal Niou sees in Sayoko, who has her brother's charm and intelligence, and has the replication of his manners and mannerisms down to a science. Or perhaps that's it: they both like to copy people.
"It is a bit interesting, isn't it," Yanagi murmurs. He sees where Yagyuu is looking.
"There's a sixty percent chance they're talking about a current event," Yanagi reports in that quaint way of his. "Judging by the tilt of Niou's chin and the set of Sayoko-chan's shoulders, she knows more about the matter than he does, but the way Niou is acting convinces her otherwise."
Yagyuu smiles a little. Niou keeps his cards very close to his chest, reluctant to reveal what he does or doesn't know. He's guarded, Niou is. Always wary, always watching, despite behaving as if life's a game he can't even be bothered to learn the rules of.
Which is why it's almost baffling to see the faintest trace of interest in his expression.
(You have to be careful, though. Is Niou actually feeling something, or simply mimicking human emotion the way he would another person's forehand? Niou shows what he wants people to see.
To control someone's perception. That is to deceive.)
"Is that so," Yagyuu says after a long pause.
"I'll admit my data on Niou is not as complete as it should be," Yanagi replies placidly, though if Yagyuu were one to bet, he'd lay money on him being quite irritated by this. "You understand him better than I do. What do you think?"
Yagyuu adjusts his glasses. Tries to see the way Niou would, think the way Niou would.
Numbers, he tells himself. Niou's mind, most likely, is a place of numbers and patterns and puzzle pieces.
Yet though he looks hard, all he can see is the way Sayoko's eyes shine with reflected firelight and a growing adoration for the boy beside her.
Is that what Niou sees?
"I think," Yagyuu says slowly, "that Niou-kun doesn't want us to know what he thinks."
Though this can't even be called an observation, it's so apparent, Yanagi laughs softly anyway.
Not done, obviously, but I figured I could at least get this up a day late? Which is better than three weeks late? I am the worst friend ever. Also I have no idea if this is even the sort of thing you wanted. Or that anyone else would even want to read.
But happy belated birthday Kasey I love you Kasey we're going to college together Kasey how excited are you Kasey I'm so excited Kasey I love you Kaseyyyyyyyyy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis.