Tight by Halrloprillalar
Prince of Tennis, InuTez, PG, 1000 words.
When Seigaku won the Nationals, Tezuka relaxed. Taking the final point from Yukimura was like being underwater, then breaking through the surface, sucking air into his lungs after a little too long without.
Later, eating sushi at Kawamura's, Oishi smiling beside him, Tezuka felt like a line was unspooling inside of him, playing out and out, longer than he would have thought possible.
He hadn't realised he was so tense.
He sat at the counter, not eating much, both hands wrapped around a cup of tea, while the voices of the team rose around him. One by one, the boys came up to him, paying their respects. Tezuka nodded to them. Heat seeped into his palms and drifted along his limbs until he was soft and drowsy and a hair away from smiling.
"Well done," Inui said and Tezuka turned to look at him.
"Thank you." Tezuka drank. The tea slid down his throat, warming his chest and belly. "Good choices."
Inui smiled. "I'm glad they were so successful."
Last night, Tezuka had spent two hours at his desk, trying to decide the match order against Rikkai. He had just crumpled up his sixth attempt when his phone rang.
"There is a 93% chance you are having trouble with the match order."
"I'll think about your recommendations," Tezuka said. As soon as he rang off, he wrote the order down exactly as Inui had suggested.
"You should eat something." Inui pushed a plate closer to Tezuka. "You used a lot of energy today." He went to talk to Fuji. Tezuka ate.
They weren't done when it was time to leave and Tezuka found himself drawn along with the group, heading to Momoshiro's house to continue their celebration.
Momoshiro's parents weren't home. Tezuka sat down on the sofa to keep an eye on things. He sipped the drink Momoshiro handed him. The boys were loud, talking and laughing above the music Momoshiro put on, replaying every game in every match.
Echizen was sprawled in a corner, eyes closed, and Tezuka felt sleep pulling at him too. He took a second glass from Momoshiro and let the party swirl around him, turning down invitations to play a card game or join a conversation.
The lights were brighter now and Tezuka half-closed his eyes against the glare. The room was noisier, but the sound didn't quite reach him. He felt half a mile away and half a beat behind, slowly opening like a leaf uncurling in the sun.
Momoshiro filled his glass. Tezuka drank. Fuji spoke to him and Tezuka didn't know if he answered. All he could feel was the pressure of his bladder. He stood and the floor tilted sickeningly beneath him. He put one foot in front of the other, bumped into Oishi by the door, and followed the corridor to the toilet.
When he came out again, he blinked and didn't open up his eyes again. Walking in the dark was easy, just one foot in front of the other, arms out to catch the walls. Easy. Until he crashed into something.
Someone. They fell together, clutching at each other's arms, as though two could fight gravity better than one. Tezuka waited a moment to be sure they had really stopped and then he opened his eyes.
It was Inui. "Are you all right?" he said. His hands were on Tezuka's shoulders, his back against the wall.
Tezuka thought about Inui's tennis, about watching him play that afternoon. There was a strength and precision in Inui's shots that made Tezuka feel every one in his own arms, in his chest and legs, as though he were the one stretching to hit it.
Inui let go of Tezuka and pushed his glasses up his nose. Why were they tinted? It made it hard to read Inui's expression. Tezuka reached out and pulled them off.
"Tezuka," Inui said, and blinked. His eyes were clear and Tezuka looked into them to see what he could see.
Inui was still hard to read. Tezuka raised his hand and touched Inui's face, three fingers on his cheekbone, right below his eye. Inui was still and quiet, watching Tezuka, probably waiting to see what Tezuka would do.
Tezuka waited too. He could feel every second pass, but they wouldn't join together so he could count them. His leg was twisted underneath him and it was starting to ache. He looked at Inui's eyelashes and Inui's chin and the bridge of Inui's nose. He looked at the dent in Inui's upper lip. He moved his fingers down to touch it.
"Oishi," Inui said and that was wrong, because this was Tezuka.
But then Tezuka felt the uncomfortable silence gathering behind him and he sat back, unkinking his leg, and turned to see Oishi's worried face. Oishi was easy to read.
"I'll take him home," Oishi said.
"And I'll deal with Momoshiro." Inui's fingers closed around Tezuka's wrist. "My glasses, please," he said, and gently took them away.
Tezuka slept in a futon on Oishi's bedroom floor. In the morning, his head was splitting.
Momoshiro missed two days of school. When he came back, he apologized to Tezuka over and over again. Tezuka made him run a hundred laps, then turned the club over to him.
"He'll do fine." Inui stopped beside Tezuka as Momoshiro went to talk to a group of first-year students.
"Inui." Tezuka didn't know what to say to him. He crossed his arms over his chest.
"What high schools are you going to apply for?"
They compared choices. They had two in common.
"I'm making up a study schedule," Inui said. "Would you like to join me?"
"Yes," Tezuka said and wished that he could see Inui's eyes.
"Tomorrow after school then." Inui touched Tezuka's shoulder. "I'll see you then." He left, waving as he walked away.
Tezuka relaxed. And then he smiled.