Vengeance

Vengeance is a Prince of Tennis themed one-shot, but there is no pairing so I’m not going to give it its own page.  I was in the mood to write something a bit dark, and this is what resulted.

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Summary: Fuji Syuusuke does not forgive the people who steal from him. 

Syuusuke Fuji had been the star of Seigaku for two years. Their captain, Tezuka, was so far removed from ordinary people at his level of skill that he was more feared than admired.

But Syuusuke. He stood closer to the border between normal tennis player and genius. He was accessible and he was admired for his skills. People from all over the country showed up at tennis tournaments just to watch him play. They had since he was a small child.

Even his own brother had chosen a different school to get out of Syuusuke’s shadow. And Syuusuke cast a long one. There was no one else in Seigaku who even came close to him in terms of skill. Well. There hadn’t been.

Not until him.

Not until Echizen Ryoma had shown up.

Syuusuke’s hands clenched and he forced a deep breath through his chest as he uncurled his fingers. Echizen had come to practice the first day of the new school year and his skill had been so phenomenal the captain had let him join the Regulars.

Not even Syuusuke Fuji had managed that in his first year. He’d had to wait. He’d been forced to follow the rules that forbade a freshman from participating in tennis tournaments. They had forced him to sit on the sidelines, watching teammates that were sometimes painfully bad compete against rival schools.

But he’d endured it all. Because it was the rules. And rules were meant to be followed. At least, they had been. But Echizen had destroyed that concept.

He’d come into Seigaku with a bad attitude and the cocky assurance that he would never be denied access to the tennis he was so skilled at playing. Syuusuke had been sure that the captain would sideline Echizen, the way everyone else was sidelined during their freshman year.

But Echizen’s cockiness had paid off. He’d wormed his way into the Regulars.

But even that could have been bearable. Syuusuke could have wrapped his mind around it eventually. That there was a skilled freshman who deserved a spot on the Regulars. That was a potentially acceptable idea.

That was before he’d seen Echizen play. Before he’d watched the guy injure himself with a tennis racquet, stand up, and force himself back on the field.

Before that, Syuusuke could have forgiven him.

But with that one act, Echizen had done the unforgiveable. He’d stolen the spotlight from Syuusuke. And that was unacceptable.

Oh sure. There were still scouts that came to watch the tennis prodigy. But all of them were blown away by Echizen Ryoma. The son of a former professional who’d disappeared without any warning.

Syuusuke Fuji had become a 2nd page story.

Before Echizen, he’d been first page news.

And that wasn’t something that Syuusuke Fuji forgave.

Practice ended and Syuusuke headed to the locker room, intent on taking a shower after the fifty laps Tezuka had imposed on them.

He stood under the water for a long time, closing his eyes as he let the water hit his face. Today’s practice had been unusually intense, with the upcoming match against Hyoutei.

Fuji forced thoughts of the other tennis team out of his head. Getting worked up about it wouldn’t do any good. He always put in his best effort during practice. It either paid off or it didn’t.

He finished washing off the grime and got dressed quickly. It wasn’t until he was about to leave that he noticed that Echizen was the only other person in the locker room. The freshman was sitting on the bench nearest the exit, eyes focused on the wall in front of him.

Syuusuke walked over to Echizen, planting himself directly in the freshman’s line of vision. Echizen blinked at the sudden obstruction before giving Fuji a slight smile. “Syuusuke-san-“

Fuji didn’t give him a chance to finish. He reached forward, grabbed Echizen by the back of the head, and yanked him forward, forcing the freshman to fall painfully to his knees on the cold cement floor. Before Echizen could get a handle on what was going on, Fuji grabbed a handful of hair, yanked it back hard, and shoved a knee into Echizen’s solar plexus.

Tears welled up in Echizen’s eyes as he tried to back away from Fuji, but found his escape blocked by the bench behind him. “What did I do?” he wheezed, the passage of words hindered by the knee that Fuji was holding to his throat.

Syuusuke leaned down, his face so close to Echizen’s that their foreheads touched. “Do not ever,” he said, the rage in his voice tightly controlled, “refer to me as anything but Fuji-senpai again. You are not my friend. You will neverbe my friend.”

The freshman’s shoulders shook and his eyes widened with something akin to fear. “But we’re on the same team,” he whispered. “Why can’t we be friends?”

Fuji dug his knee a bit further into Echizen’s throat, forcing the man to gag. Real fear settled into the freshman’s eyes then. “Because,” he said. “I despise you.”

Echizen trembled, but forced himself to ask one last question. “Why?”

Fuji stepped away from Echizen, watching him warily in case he tried to retaliate. But Echizen didn’t move from his spot on the floor, his back still pressed firmly against the bench. He reached up a hand to massage his throat and started at Fuji, uncertain of what action to take.

Echizen cleared his throat. “Will you tell me why you despise me, Fuji-senpai?” he asked, his voice shaking. He hadn’t known that the gentle tensai had such a violent streak. He resolved, then and there, not to get on the man’s bad side. No matter what that took. Except. He shivered, as Fuji’s eyes bored into him. Somehow, he was already on the man’s bad side. How had that happened?

“Yeah,” Fuji said softly. “I’ll tell you.” He crouched in front of Echizen, who pressed his shoulders back into the bench out of fear of more violence. The reaction made Fuji smile, just a little. Because if he couldn’t have the spotlight, then he could have this. He could have Echizen’s terror of him. And that made up for it, just a little.

“W-hy, Fuji-senpai?”

“Because you stole from me,” Fuji said, icy blue eyes boring into Ryoma’s brown ones. “And I will never forgive you for that.”

“What did I-

Fuji placed a finger over Echizen’s lips, forcing the freshman to silence. “What you stole is of no consequence. But you’ll spend the rest of the year paying me back. Do we understand each other?”

Echizen wanted to protest. He had no idea what Fuji was talking about. He’d stolen nothing. He wasn’t a thief. But the muted fury in Fuji’s icy blue eyes staid his words. There was no doubt in his mind that if he answered wrong, the oh-so-gentle tensai would have no qualms about putting him out of commission.

He shivered, terrified of the man in front of him. He’d never been so scared of anyone in his life. But he wasn’t going to run away. He’d never run away. So he ducked his head, only to have his chin lifted by a single, bruising finger.

“Answer me.”

The words were soft, but Fuji’s voice was hard, uncompromising. Blinking back tears, Echizen said, “Yes, Fuji-senpai. We have an understanding.”

And just like that, Fuji was gone. He’d left the locker room, leaving Echizen to wonder if everything that had just transpired had only occurred in his imagination. But the pain in his throat and his solar plexus was too fresh for it to have been a dream.

Fuji hated him for a reason he could never hope to understand. Echizen began to shake in earnest, doing his best to suppress the tears that leaked from his eyes. Nothing he could do would ever make up for whatever he’d stolen from Fuji. He’d known that much by the look in the tensai’s eye. Fuji would always hate him. All Echizen could do was try to keep him from killing him.