Title: A Little Bit of Faith
Author name and e-mail: mistykasumi at mistykasumi at gmail dot com
Fandom: Tennis no Oujisama
Summary: Strong people gravitate toward other strong people, and Yukimura is no exception.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: Done in 46 minutes for tempsmort's rivals challenge. I've followed manga as closely as possible/I remember. Second Tenipuri fic ever and first Rikkai fic, so please please don't kill me if I manage to screw everyone up.
Strong people gravitate toward other strong people. That is why Yukimura introduced himself to Sanada that first day of club, and that's also how they met Renji. Sanada has known from the very beginning that Renji isn't just his rival in tennis.
He just never expected to find another rival.
The first thing he thinks when he loses to Echizen is that he failed Yukimura and broke his promise, but later, Sanada realizes that he has also just gained a new rival. Yukimura came to him because Sanada's strong, and he'll no doubt take interest in Echizen now, the freshman who beat the emperor.
Sanada thinks that it shouldn't have happened that way because he has to be better than Tezuka, and Tezuka's better than Echizen, so it doesn't make sense that Echizen beat him. But he did, and though Echizen may not realize about Yukimura, Sanada does. He isn't going to let Echizen steal Yukimura away that easily.
Yukimura tells Sanada that they'll win Nationals, especially since he'll have recovered enough to play by then, and Sanada can tell that Yukimura is interested in Echizen, even though Yukimura doesn't say a single word about the brat.
Sanada drives himself harder in everything he does because he has to stay strong enough to capture Yukimura's interest. He practices that much harder in tennis and kenjutsu, and the one last time he slaps Akaya before Yukimura returns, Akaya has to cover the bruise with a bandage and pretend that he bumped into something for a week.
In the first match after his discharge, Yukimura plays Sanada at the street courts, and Sanada is still easily beaten, even though Yukimura hasn't played in months. Yukimura tsks at him and tells Sanada that he hasn't improved as much as he hoped, and Sanada wonders if he was this easy when he played Echizen.
He wonders if he's become weak to Yukimura.
Yukimura insists on going to a shop in Tokyo to fix his racket, and he drags Sanada with him. On the way back to the train station, they take a different route, and when they pass the street courts, Yukimura says he wants to test his racket. Sanada can only acquiesce.
Yukimura scans everyone gathered at the court, and Sanada knows that he's looking for someone who seems strong. Sanada sees Echizen standing at one side of the court, and he's not surprised to see Yukimura heading toward him.
Sanada follows at a distance, and he can see them conversing, Echizen with a bored expression on his face as usual. They turn and walk away, and he follows them past the building at one end of the court to an empty court.
Echizen tests his racket nonchalantly while Yukimura puts on his headband, and his smile is predatory, like he's found the perfect prey. Sanada thinks that maybe he has because Yukimura has never smiled like that before at him, like he wants to crush him utterly and completely.
The game goes by faster than even Sanada expected. He knows that Yukimura will win, but he doesn't expect Echizen to do so badly. Echizen doesn't even manage to score a point until the forth game, and by then, Yukimura's smile has turned completely lethal. It isn't much of a match up until that point, and it's almost less of a match after that. Sanada knows Yukimura's playing style, and he can tell that Yukimura doesn't even try very hard until Echizen scores.
Echizen can barely stand after the game, and Yukimura tells him, "I don't know how you won against Sanada because you are clearly weaker than he is." Sanada wonders if that has been Yukimura's purpose all along, to play Echizen.
Yukimura waves off Sanada's concern about helping Echizen, and he says, "I don't want to see you lose to him again." Sanada thinks that maybe he could have won against Echizen if he hadn't underestimated him or been so worried about Yukimura or had used all of Fuurinkazan, and maybe he'll have another chance and maybe he won't.
When they get off the train, Yukimura turns to Sanada and says softly, "You are the strongest person I know," and Sanada thinks that maybe he's never had a rival when it comes to Yukimura, after all.