Provocation by Halrloprillalar
InuTez, 740 words, PG-13
Inui welcomes Tezuka back.
NB: takes place at good old Junior Senbatsu Enrichment Camp
"It's good to see you back."
Tezuka looked up at Inui, then nodded and kept pushing the weights. It was well past curfew and he had expected to have the place to himself.
"There was a 73% chance you would come here to work out at this hour." Inui sat down on the next machine over. "You want to improve your condition, but not cause a disruption to the camp schedule or take up resources designated for the participants." Inui opened a notebook. "So I came out to see you. How is your rehabilitation progressing?"
"Good, good." Inui scribbled something down. "I wanted to check on you. But I also wanted to fill you in. We've been busy while you've been gone." He flipped to the beginning of the notebook, then began recounting everything the tennis club had been up to -- practices, matches, parties, Arai's girlfriend, training programs, Arai's breakup, the condition of the nets, Arai's new girlfriend. Every minute detail, accompanied by Inui's analysis and speculation, and all Tezuka could do was keep pushing the weights.
Because it was Inui. With anyone else, Tezuka would have simply said, "It's past curfew." But he couldn't say that to Inui, because then Inui would win.
Tezuka couldn't remember just when this had become a competition, though Inui probably had the date and time recorded somewhere. But at some point in their second year, Tezuka had realised that Inui wanted more from him than just a victory in tennis.
Phone calls, text messages, rambling monologues beside the court, personal remarks, requests to try a new version of Inui's homemade health drinks -- all of this was in aid of Inui's goal.
A reaction from Tezuka.
Tezuka didn't know why he had got such a reputation for dispassion. He wasn't callous or indifferent. He always expressed himself in a manner appropriate to the situation. Inui, though, seemed to want Tezuka to twitch or snap or break. Tezuka wasn't going to do that.
So he hung up when Inui called. He deleted the text messages. He listened to Inui's rambles and responded with single words, or just a nod. Like all sane people, he avoided Inui's drinks. And he never, ever let Inui see him react.
Usually this worked very well. But Tezuka must have got out of practice while he had been gone becaue right now he wanted to tell Inui that ten minutes on Rokkaku's hairstyles was boring to the point of physical agony and that Inui should just shut up before Tezuka had to claw his own eyeballs out just to survive.
He managed not to say this. But he had to clench his hands around the weights and push that much harder in order to keep his eyeballs in their sockets. It wasn't until Inui repeated himself that Tezuka noticed he had changed the subject.
"You're pushing too hard," Inui said. "You'll injure yourself again."
It was true. Tezuka could feel the strain he was putting on his shoulder. So he stopped, even though it was verging on a point to Inui. But at least Inui had stopped talking about Horio's snow cone addiction.
Inui reached out and slowly drew two fingers along Tezuka's forehead, collecting perspiration. Then he licked it off. "You need more electrolytes," he said.
This was much stranger than usual, but Tezuka managed not to blink. He just nodded. "I'm going to bed."
Inui's eyebrows twitched and the corners of his mouth went down and Tezuka knew he'd won another round. He stood and Inui did too, moving to block Tezuka's way. "Tezuka."
"It's after curfew," Tezuka said because enough was enough and he had to get up very early in the morning.
Then Inui leaned down and kissed him.
Their glasses clacked together. Inui's notebook dropped to the floor. Tezuka tasted the salt of his own sweat on Inui's mouth. And Inui was winning because it was Tezuka who put his arms around Inui's neck and Tezuka who swiped his tongue past Inui's lips and Tezuka who felt the shock all over his body, the needles pricking just beneath his skin.
But maybe he'd misunderstood the game after all.
They moved apart, finally. Tezuka's breath came in a soft gasp. "Inui."
Inui opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again. No sound came out. He just stood there, gaping and, for the first time ever, silent.
Tezuka smiled. "We'll call that a draw."