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Title: As the Pieces Fall Together
Writer: KeigoAtobe007 (me)
Chapter Word Count: 1,956
Pairing: Yagyuu/Yanagi; Yagyuu/Niou
Rating: PG-13 (R-ish for implied adult themes in later chapters)
Warnings: Nothing yet
Summary: Yagyuu wakes up one morning feeling unwell and is unable to go to school. Niou decides to do something for him, but was not expecting to end up in a situation where he had to make a complicated decision. Platinum Pair POV.
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis or any of the characters related to it. They all belong to Konomi Takeshi.
Author's Note: First fic I have ever finished and I wanted to share it on LJ as well. ^^



Chapter 2 - Suspicious Feelings

By lunchtime, Niou wholeheartedly wished he did not come to school as Yagyuu. Niou desperately wanted to sigh out of frustration, but couldn't because it was not the Yagyuu thing to do, so he settled for slowly stirring his soup. The morning was absolutely brutal, having been called on by all of the teachers to answer questions about the material they were learning and to have to help out some of his classmates with their homework. The only thing that saved him from immediate doom was the fact that he had copied Yagyuu's exact notes the day before.

'Too bad the only thing I can't copy is intelligence,' Niou thought to himself dryly. 'But being Yagyuu does have its benefits...' Niou smiled a little bit. He was looked up to by almost everyone, the teachers were not trying to find ways of getting him in trouble, and he did not have to suffer from the wrath of the fukubuchou...

"Hey Hiroshi, can I join you?"

Niou looked up from his soup to see Renji Yanagi standing there with a lunch tray in his hands and a book bag hanging off of his left shoulder. He had his eyes partially closed as always and his face showed a soft smile.

"Of course Yanagi-kun," Niou addressed him in a kind voice, indicating to the seat next to him. He watched as Yanagi sat down and set his bag on the ground before picking up a delicious looking sandwich.

"How was class?"

"Fine, had no trouble understanding today's lectures," replied Niou, now working on a salad. "You?"

"Good as well. I'm about 98.7% sure that I got every question right on my math exam." Yanagi replied smoothly.

"What's the 1.3% of doubt for?"

"In case the teacher makes an error in their correcting."

Niou flashed Yanagi an appreciative smile. The "Professor" of the Rikkai tennis club was well known for being a data master, usually talking about anything from tennis matches to school work to the chances of Kirihara running extra laps for being late to practice with a percentage. His somewhat acid sense of humor also included him being able to predict what a person is going to say and finishing their sentences for them.

Regarding tennis, Yanagi is an absolutely brutal player, using his data to completely crush his opponents. He, along with Genichirou Sanada and Seiichi Yukimura, are known as the Three Demons that are the main attacking force behind Rikkai's two consecutive National titles. Niou still hasn't won a single game against Yanagi in their practice matches - a fact which greatly annoyed him, but also fueled him to continue working hard to improve his game.

However, Yanagi didn't really give off a demonic personality outside of tennis tournaments. Speaking in a quiet voice, he was always straight forward with his suggestions to improve his teammates abilities and playing styles. Yukimura, on the other hand, was more bluntly honest with his advice, usually pointing out that their movements were slow or sloppy and that he expected better out of them.

Then there was Sanada, the Vice Captain of the team who was basically considered to be the strictest of them all. He was the one responsible for extra long practices and the occasional slaps across their faces for not living up to his high expectations. Sanada handed out laps, pushups, and swinging drills like receiving presents from every one of your relatives on Christmas Day. Despite it all, everyone respected the Three Demons' immense pride in upholding the team's reign as kings of Jr. High tennis.

"Hiroshi...Hiroshi?" Yanagi asked. "Are you paying attention?"

"...Huh?" Niou said vaguely. "...Sorry, didn't sleep well."

"How unusual." Yanagi commented. "The chance of you having a bad sleep is about 3.4%"

'Shoot...if there's someone that's going to see through this, it's definitely Yanagi.' Niou held his breath as he watched Yanagi scan his face quizzically.

"Oh well, I guess it's bound to happen sometimes," Yanagi said with a small sigh (Niou relaxed his shoulders a little bit). "Anyway, are we still on for studying after practice today?"

Niou choked on his drink.

"Hiroshi?"

"Yeah," Niou spluttered. "Yeah, Of course."

'Why today of all days?' Niou though agitatedly.

"Perfect, I'm looking forward to it." Yanagi said, glancing at his watch. "I have to head to my next class so I'll see you at practice..."

"Seven minutes and 45 seconds before the actual start time," Niou finished. "Right?"

Renji smiled and Niou couldn't help but notice how much brighter it was towards him than anybody else on the team.

Getting up from his seat, Niou waved goodbye to Yanagi, put his tray away, and started heading towards his next class, preoccupied with how to survive another few hours of having to stay awake in class and answering all of the absurdly hard questions that he knows will be directed towards him. On top of that, he had to figure out how to fool Yanagi during the study session and came to the conclusion that it would be much less painful to have his entire team hit him during practice than to trick the data master.

'Last class of the day... I can do it...' Niou encouraged himself as he forced himself to take notes on the lecture, but he found that he wanted to think of other things... like how many laps he would have to run as himself tomorrow, or where he would hide Bunta's chewing gum next, or if Yagyuu was feeling better...

He furrowed his eyebrows in concern, which was a perfectly normal Yagyuu expression. It still unnerved him quite a bit that Yagyuu was sick and was not able to be at school to spend time with. Niou made a mental note to bring him something nice later at night to cheer him up - maybe homemade food, some nice flowers (Yagyuu was particularly fond of lilies and lilacs), and something really special... like... Renji Yanagi...

'I did NOT just think that!' Niou screamed in his head, but the more he thought about it, the more sense it made. Niou has had this slight suspicion for the last year that Yagyuu might have had feelings for Yanagi just because he seemed to straighten his posture a little bit more when he walked by, smiled a bit more when they talked, and played tennis a bit better whenever he was watching. After having lunch with Yanagi, Niou felt like Yanagi might have those same exact feelings for Yagyuu.

'I mean, they are the top two students in our grade,' Niou reasoned with himself. 'And they're both nice people that offer great advice. They're also the two most tenacious players on the team and are greatly respected by their peers...And I guess they've been study partners for a while now...'

Niou shook his head. There was no way Yanagi thought of Yagyuu more than a close friend, similar to the way Niou thought of him. He felt pangs of jealously suddenly hit him by surprise as he tried to imagine those two in a relationship.

'What's this?' Niou thought in alarm, not really focused on the lecture anymore. 'Do I...do I have feelings for Yagyuu?' Niou shut his notebook, dismissing the absurd idea and blaming it on having to wake up at 6 a.m. in the morning.
-----

'The best thing about Yagyuu,' Niou thought as he entered the bathroom stall of the tennis clubroom. 'Is that Yagyuu never changes clothes in front of anyone.' Taking advantage of his much desired privacy, Niou ripped off his clothes in a hurry, ecstatic to be done with school and having to wear his clothes so neatly. A sense of relief washed over him as he was able to see his own torso - a piece of his own identity instead of Yagyuu's after such an arduous day. As he was pulling his jersey over his head, he could hear some other people coming into the clubroom.

"Eh?" Niou heard the mildly confused voice of Bunta Marui drift in from the main room. "My gum's not missing today."

"That's odd," remarked Jackal Kuwahara. "But then again, I haven't seen Niou all day."

"Hey Yanagi!" Marui called across the room. "Did you see Niou at lunch?"

"No, today is Wednesday, so he was serving detention for tripping his English teacher yet again," Yanagi replied smoothy.

'Nothing gets past this guy,' Niou thought, rolling his eyes. Stuffing his clothes into his tennis bag, he left the stall and walked out into the main room where Marui, Jackal, and Yanagi were already changed into their tennis attire.

"Ah, Hiroshi," Yanagi greeted and Niou nodded in acknowledgement. "The practice menu looks quite rigorous today, including a five mile run (Bunta groaned), 200 pushups (Bunta covered his ears), 20 sets of racquet swings (Jackal put a hand on a now shaking Bunta), and finally a round of Doubles matches."

Niou had the opposite reaction of Bunta - he was getting more and more excited with each of Yanagi's words. If the real Yagyuu was there, he would be feeling the exact same way.

"...so you and Masaharu have something to look forward to at the end of practice..." Yanagi continued. "Speaking of which, Masaharu hasn't arrived yet and Akaya just walked in the door."

"Oh, I forgot to mention it!" Niou said, a look of pretend alarm. "Niou-kun is at home with a rather high fever."

"What's that? Did I hear that correctly, Yagyuu-senpai?" Kirihara questioned while quickly changing into his tennis clothes and tripping over himself. "Nothing would keep Yagyuu-senpai from practice."

'The Junior Ace is right,' Niou thought approvingly. 'So he does appreciate other people after all.'

"But on a second thought, I always thought that Niou-senpai was a bit of a wimp." Kirihara added with a smirk as he got off of the floor.

Two things crossed his mind right at that moment. 1) He was going to snap Kirihara in half and hang him from the school flag pole for the rude attack on his character. 2) He was going to hold Kirihara in front of the tennis machine turned to the highest setting until he was completely bruised. Both sounded equally as tempting, but he ended up settling reluctantly for the correct Yagyuu reaction: Yagyuu would not show his annoyance to the comment, but he would tell Kirihara in a soft, but deadly voice to respect his upperclassmen. Options 1 and 2 still seemed like the more appealing ideas.

'How can Yagyuu stand being a gentleman all of the time?' Niou thought exasperatedly. Yagyuu firmly believed in delayed gratification and Niou could not even begin to fathom the idea.

"So you had that on your mind along with a bad night of rest?" Yanagi concluded, referring back to their lunchtime conversation.

"Yes, sorry I was so preoccupied."

"Don't worry about it."

The door to the club room opened and Sanada and Yukimura walked in with impassive faces.

"Everyone get outside!" Sanada yelled suddenly, startling Marui and Kirihara. "Practice starts right now!"

Yukimura put a hand on Sanada's shoulder to stop him.

"Where is Niou?" he asked softly. Yukimura had almost fully recovered from his surgery a few weeks prior, but he was still running on reserve to be in top condition for Nationals.

"Yagyuu-senpai says he is home sick, but I think he's ditching school to meet up with a girl."

"Akaya!" Sanada scolded violently. "An extra mile for being smart." He said as he pushed an angry Kirihara out the door.

"Well, I hope he gets better soon," Yukimura said kindly. "Come on everyone, we have 3+ brutal hours of practice ahead of us."

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