Deck

by beaple leone michaelmas

Summary:

While waiting for a special girl to turn up, Fuji Shusuke tries to foretell Tezuka Kunimitsu's love life.

Deck (Final of Three)

A/N:

Ah. I was trying to study earlier, but I couldn't keep my head off this fic. I had the whole idea in my head already, swirling there with the bits of academic info, and it just wouldn't stay put. Garn. I had to write it out before crunch time comes for my exam.

Also, I made a slight error on Deck (First of Three). Ayamiko, sharing Shusuke's last name, cannot be his mother's sister's daughter. Long story short, I've fixed the glitch by settling with them being 'relatives'. Sorry about that.

Disclaimer:

I do not own The Prince of Tennis. The whole concept belongs to Konomi Takeshi-sensei.

Deck (Final of Three)

Clutching a stitch at his side, a wide-eyed Fuji Shusuke leaned against the cold metal railing separating the crowded Tokyo sidewalk from the busy intersection before it. The forbidding Watanabe Theater stretched out towards the starless evening sky before him, its marquee proclaiming the title of the musical Tezuka and Ayamiko had come to watch.

Beads of sweat pouring down the sides of his forehead, Fuji scanned the line of theater patrons outside the building, by the side of the road, searching for his warm bronze hair, distinct frame, striking aura…

He saw him standing by the theater entrance, his back turned.

"Tezuka," Fuji exhaled, a wave of relief washing over him as he slowly inched towards the pedestrian lane. "Tezuka Kunimitsu!"

Hearing his name, the Seigaku team captain stiffened and turned, a look of mild surprise forming on his face as he saw who was calling him.

"Fuji?" his lips formed, too far away to be heard.

Ecstatic to see that his friend was all right, the genius practically skipped the rest of the distance to the pedestrian lane, bumping into several passersby but not caring. His lopsided grin, however, turned into an expression of horror as the person standing before Tezuka whirled around, her long, dark hair fanning slightly in the cold, night breeze as she turned to look at her cousin.

With a small smile, she stretched out her pale, white hand.

Fuji Shusuke, said a lilting voice in Fuji's head, I have been waiting for you.

Her eyes were white. All white.

"Tezuka!" Fuji shouted across the roar of the traffic speeding by him at breakneck speed, earning him the worried glances of the surrounding crowd. "Tezuka, that's not Ayamiko! That's NOT her!"

Confused, Tezuka turned to his companion, shocked to see that she was gone. As he frantically searched for her in the crowd gathered in front of the theater, Fuji stood on the other side of the street, watching helplessly, waiting impatiently for the light on the pedestrian lane to go green. Behind him, a crowd was gathering, waiting just as he was, chatting about mundane matters, oblivious to the young man who was rearing to get across the traffic to help his best friend…

Fuji felt someone stand directly behind him.

"Shusuke~"

Holding his breath, Fuji turned around.

How strange that she looked so much like Ayamiko, and yet so different, too. The hair, the face, even the height was identical to his cousin's – everything except for the look on her face. Smiling serenely, the stark whiteness of her eyes magnifying the eeriness that echoed her enigmatic but tranquil expression, the other Ayamiko stretched her hand once more.

"Jaa," she whispered so that only Fuji could hear. "It's time to go."

With astonishingly remarkable force, she pushed him towards the traffic.

XXX

"Ne, Tezuka, why don't you let me predict your future?"

Looking at Fuji Shusuke over the rim of his teacup, Tezuka Kunimitsu gauged his teammate's degree of frivolity. The offer was absurd, definitely, but with Fuji, nothing was too insane to be considered.

"I can't promise you I'll do it perfectly, though," Fuji said sheepishly. "I only learned the steps last night."

Tezuka caught a glimpse of the object in Fuji's hands: what seemed like oversized playing cards embellished with fanciful drawings of celestial bodies.

"Tarot cards?"

"Yeah, Ayamiko gave them to me as a thank you present. For arranging this date, she said."

Stiffening at the statement, Tezuka looked outside as Fuji began shuffling.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, not too cold and not too warm – perfect weather for a date, indeed. Tokyo was packed with thousands of people, swarming about like ants, testing Tezuka's limited patience. Why he had agreed to this ridiculous idea in the first place, he couldn't comprehend. All he knew was that for the past few months he had been feeling things he should not be feeling, and Fuji Ayamiko was his way out.

Tezuka closed his eyes, expression pained. He had never planned to use anyone like this; it was wrong, and he was well aware of that fact. But when Fuji pointed out to him that Ayamiko was serious…

The first thing that came to his mind was that if he began to date a girl, perhaps he would stop feeling this way about him.

Fuji Shusuke.

Tezuka looked at his friend, who was still shuffling the cards, an inscrutable expression on his face. Brows furrowing as he watched Fuji's slender, elegant fingers move, he once again felt guilty for betraying his friend's trust, not to mention potentially losing his family's respect, and his name's honor. That was why Ayamiko had to be sacrificed… Without her, much worse things could happen.

Much worse things like unrequited affections unacceptable by society's standards.

The impossibly swift movement of Fuji's shuffling caught Tezuka's attention, bringing him crashing back down to earth. Frowning at his friend's apparent lack of focus, he chided, "Fuji, you've been shuffling for close to five minutes now."

The tennis genius looked up, reverie broken, a few cards scattering on the table.

"Ahhhhh, gomenasai. I was running through the process in my head; I can't seem to remember everything…"

As he began to gather the fallen cards, Fuji flashed Tezuka a small smile, reminding Tezuka of his betrayal…

"Well then, I'll explain the procedure to you," he said, putting the cards on a neat stack before Tezuka. "What I'm about to foretell is your future in relation to someone in your life. The first thing you must do is to think of an important person to you right now. Then, knock once on this deck for each letter of that person's name. Go on," he prodded gently, pushing the deck closer to Tezuka.

The latter was thrown mentally off balance. He hadn't expected this. Despite his skepticism, Tezuka found himself wondering who the most important person in his life was right now. Surely, tennis and reaching Nationals was his primary goal, but when asked about a special person…

There was no one. Not even his family, nor his teammates. He felt varying degrees of affection for all of them, but there was no one he thought of or cared for particularly excessively…

Except him.

No, he mentally scolded himself. This is wrong. WRONG.

He felt his pulse quicken as his left hand rose instinctively.

But I don't want to lie. He'll never know anyway…

His knuckles felt the cold, smooth back of the deck.

He must never know.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven.

Shusuke.

"Right," Fuji acknowledged, smiling warmly, oblivious to the internal debate his friend had just gone through. "I'll pretend I don't know whose name you just knocked, so answer me this: What is this person to you right now? A lover? A close friend? A parent? A rival, perhaps…?"

Tezuka's gaze fell as his estimate struck gold: Fuji had misinterpreted his actions. Pushing his glasses even higher up his nose, hiding behind glinting lenses the turbulent emotions he feared would show in his eyes, he told himself this was for Fuji's own good.

It is better off this way.

"Just a friend."

A/N:

Saa, who saw that coming? 0.o

Final notes: 1) Tezuka's opinions are his own - I daresay the world's warmed up to the idea of homo love; 2) The other Ayamiko is a shinigami or death god, and it's really her job to "kill" people – at least in other horror stories I've read; and, 3) The name Ayamiko is taken after another fanfic writer in this site, and I just used her name, without her permission (sorry) because it had 7 letters. ::D

PS:

Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to review this fic so far:

masi, MoonLuna2009, zenbonzakura

Once again, thank you very much for your support. ::D This is for you.

Also dedicated to J and T - the former for his fortunetelling skills, the latter for serving as unknowing muse for the twist in this story.