Prince of Tennis, Psychologial Advantage

Title: Psychological Advantage [Momoshiro/Kaidoh]
Rating/Warnings: G for captain idiocy.
Summary: Momoshiro’s Super Doubles Training Menu Delight~
AN: Written for Playthefool for the 2007 Spring Fluff Exchange. Thanks to Marks for the beta.

Psychological Advantage

“So,” Momoshiro says after a long pause, “what now?”

“You’re captain now, idiot.” Kaidoh rolls his eyes. He sneaks a glance at the seniors, who have just said their farewells and are now bowing to Ryuzaki. Inui-senpai catches his eye and gives a dorky little wave; Kaidoh jerks his gaze back to Momoshiro with a snort.

“I know that!” Momoshiro snaps. “I know! But what are we going to do?”

“That’s what you’re supposed to know! You’re the captain!”

They stand in silence for a few seconds longer. The first years are doing swing practice; the second years are running laps, except for them. Echizen is standing nearby too, cap tugged low and one hand shoved in his pocket, the other bouncing his racket lightly against his shoulder.

“Oi,” Momoshiro says finally, and Kaidoh lets out a soft hiss. “If I’m Tezuka-buchou now, does that make you Fuji-senpai?”

“Of course not!” Kaidoh hisses harder, shoulders hunching against Momoshiro’s thoughtful gaze.

“You are my rival,” he continues, stroking his chin, “and you can be kind of creepy, and you do have that strange feather-tipped thing in your locker…”

“SHUT UP,” Kaidoh says, punching Momoshiro hard in the arm.

Off to the side he hears Echizen say, “Buchou, you can’t leave me with these people.”

******

“You should be my vice captain,” Momoshiro says later that afternoon. They’re at the burger place, of course, since Kaidoh let Momoshiro pick to celebrate his captaincy. “Definitely.”

“Are you retarded?” Kaidoh flicks the pickles off his burger, then eyes the diced onions, trying to decide whether or not it’s worth it. “Echizen should be it.”

“Echizen’s too short!” Momoshiro announces, plucking Kaidoh’s pickles up off his tray and eating them with a handful of fries. “And grumpy. And busy going on dates with Bu—I mean, Tezuka-senpai.”

“I’m sitting right here,” Echizen says, then adds, “Oops” and shoves Momoshiro’s soda into his lap.

Definitely not worth it, Kaidoh decides, slapping the bun back on his burger and taking a bite, ignoring the hopping dancing Momoshiro is doing while he hollers about frostbite on delicate bits.

Echizen and Kaidoh chew in companionable silence while Momoshiro goes to refill his soda, until Echizen says, “It’s okay, right?”

“Sure,” Kaidoh chews some more, “you’ll grow.”

Kaidoh-senpai.”

“Be vice captain.” Kaidoh swallows and turns to watch Momoshiro get in a fight with the ice dispenser. He’s definitely losing to it. “Don’t go pro until after you’re captain.”

“Yes, senpai,” Ryoma answers. Satisfied, Kaidoh starts opening his second burger, and when Momoshiro returns and asks if they’re ready to fight to the death, he flicks his pickles at their new captain’s head.

He almost feels bad when Momoshiro slips on an ice cube and goes down in a flail of limbs and root beer, but it doesn’t stop him and Echizen from laughing until orange soda comes out their noses.

******

It seems like no time at all before their third year is starting. Momoshiro is well-settled into his role as the loveable captain, while Echizen terrorizes the new batch of first years with laps and swing practice because he’s bitter that he isn’t taller than them yet.

Kaidoh trains, then trains some more, checking in less often than before with Inui-senpai now that he is in high school, but often enough that Inui-senpai can’t lecture him too much about working his body too hard.

It’s routine, and it’s very peaceful, until Momoshiro interrupts Kaidoh’s perfectly peaceful lunch by barging into his classroom unannounced.

“Oi, viper,” Momoshiro slaps down a crumpled sheet of notebook paper on Kaidoh’s desk, “look at this.”

The paper looks like it’s spent a few days slumming it in Momoshiro’s shoe locker, and Kaidoh eyes it distastefully before reaching to flatten it out. Momoshiro plunks himself down backwards in the chair in front of Kaidoh’s desk. “I’m not your vice captain, you know.”

“He doesn’t need to see it.” Momoshiro waves his hand, watching for Kaidoh’s reaction with sharp eyes. “What do you think?”

“This is the lineup for the Gyokurin match.” Kaidoh smoothes out the paper with the heel of his hand. “Echizen is singles one.”

“That’s why he doesn’t need to see it.” Momoshiro leans closer, grinning. “What do you think?”

Kaidoh reads the rest of the paper, then reads it again. He looks up, narrows his eyes at Momoshiro’s grin, then reads it a third time. “You want us to play doubles two?”

“It’s genius, right?” Momoshiro makes a fist and pounds it into his other palm. “Genius!”

“It’s MORONIC!” Kaidoh snaps. “You can’t trap both your second and third best players in doubles two!”

“Because it’s much better to put the worst players we have in the first three spots,” Momoshiro retorts, raising an eyebrow. “Much better. We just need a cool doubles name!”

Kaidoh splutters, trying to get his indignance and incredulity at Momoshiro’s idiocy all into the same sentence as the fact that he has totally not agreed to this. Momoshiro, meanwhile, spouts a string of increasingly horrific nicknames.

“Or the Super Ultra Golden Pair! Wait, I got it!” Momoshiro’s eyes sparkle, and Kaidoh can only watch in horrified fascination. “I got it, we can be the Ultimate Diam—where are you going?”

“I’m going to find Coach Ryuzaki!” Kaidoh yells over his shoulder, already at the door. “Maybe she can talk some sense into you.”

******

“It’s actually a pretty good plan,” Ryuzaki says, and Kaidoh shoves his hands in his pockets and grunts. “It’s a gamble, but, if you two take the first match decisively, it might create a psychological advantage.”

“Psychological advantage!” Momoshiro crows, crossing his arms. “Besides, viper, it’s only Gyokurin. Echizen and I beat them in nothing flat last year!”

Kaidoh glares until Momoshiro chuckles sheepishly and rubs the back of his head.

“What’s the matter?” he asks. “You don’t want to be my doubles partner? What if we get matching bandanas?”

“Shut up!” Kaidoh scuffs his sneaker against the office floor for a moment. “You’re the captain aren’t you?”

When he finally looks up from the floor, Momoshiro is grinning at him, fist held out. Kaidoh taps his knuckles against Momoshiro’s and resigns himself to the next few weeks as a member of the Ultimate Diamond Pair.

“Genius,” Momoshiro says.

******

Kaidoh bears with Momoshiro’s Super Doubles Training Menu Delight~ for two and a half days before the Synchro Burger Eating training drives him to send a discreet text message to the big guns.

“Thank you, senpai,” Kaidoh says, bowing to Inui. Half a dozen other high school students shush him, because Inui has spent his lunches holed up in the library practically since the moment he set foot in the high school section.

Inui pushes a thin notebook across the table towards Kaidoh with two fingers. “It’s no trouble. It was a welcome diversion from my reviewing.”

Kaidoh is about to apologize for troubling his senpai when he looks down and notices the notebook is labeled “Ultimate Diamond Pair Training Menu.” When he looks back up, Inui’s smile is amused.

“Ultimate Diamond Pair,” he says, “fight-o.”

“That’s not our name,” Momoshiro hisses, and gets shushed again.

*******

Later, in the clubhouse, Kaidoh opens the notebook to discover that step number one is Synchro Burger Eating.

“What’s that?” Momoshiro asks, looking over from beside his cubby, and Kaidoh heaves a resigned sigh and tosses the book at him.

*******

Over the next few days, Kaidoh also discovers the joys of Synchro Grunting, Synchro Trigonometry, and Synchro Pancake Flipping (with the assistance of Eiji-senpai).

He draws the line at Synchro DDR.

“People are staring!” he shouts when Momoshiro tells him to get a grip, and it doesn’t help when the girl standing in the front of the crowd in front of the machine asks her friend what’s going on, and the answer she gets is that there must be a battle for the captaincy of Seigaku.

“You’re just pissed because you suck,” Momoshiro says, but when Kaidoh stomps off the platform, he follows.

They stop at an oden stand on the way to the bus stop, and Kaidoh growls when Momoshiro tries to turn that into Synchro Noodle Slurping.

“Dammit!” Kaidoh finally shouts, slamming down his bowl. “Are you going to do this for everything until the match?”

“Yeah!” Momoshiro answers, blinking. “Yeah, that was definitely the plan. What’s the matter, viper?”

Kaidoh has some half-formed thought in his brain about how they’re rivals and not a doubles team, and if he has to go much longer without somebody losing something to somebody else, he’s going to freak out.

But Momoshiro is still talking, rattling on about how they’ll start their first tournament with a huge advantage and ride the momentum the whole way to Nationals, and he won’t disappoint Tezuka-buchou at all, not at all, if they at least make it that far.

Kaidoh swallows his thoughts, and only grumbles, “You should go at your own pace, idiot,” before picking his bowl back up.

Synchro Noodle Slurping kind of sucks, but Kaidoh keeps it to himself.

*******

“I’m going to be sick,” Momoshiro says, clutching his racket with both hands. “Really, I really am going to be sick. I will be!”

Glancing over at shoulder at where Arai is making similar declarations to a flustered Kachirou, Kaidoh grits his teeth and punches Momoshiro in the shoulder. “All you have to do is go shake the other captain’s hand!”

“I had jelly donuts for breakfast,” Momoshiro informs him, then gives Echizen’s shoulder a shove. “You go do it! Do it!”

“Don’t wanna.” Echizen yawns, cap tipping back. “Hurry up, Momochan-buchou, so I can go nap.”

Kaidoh helps out by sticking out his foot so that Momoshiro trips and stumbles forward. He shoots a dirty look over his shoulder, but the return of his jelly donuts seems forgotten as he jogs forward to greet the Gyokurin captain, who is tapping his foot by the net.

Even across the court, Kaidoh can hear the captain making a snide comment about Seigaku’s captain being in the D2 slot.

It’s because of all the practice that he and Momoshiro execute a flawless Synchro Obscene Hand Gesture.

The match afterwards is almost anti-climactic.

******

“We’re going to Nationals!” Momoshiro whoops at their celebration at Kawamura Sushi. Kawamura and a suspiciously convenient Fuji are pumping Echizen for every detail of the winning matches, leaving Kaidoh to deal with Momoshiro’s antics.

“Idiot, it was only the first round!” he says, but he’s grinning too, no matter how much he tries to look stern and scold Momoshiro out of hugging the breath out of any first year he can reach.

“Synchro Stupid Grin,” Fuji says, leaning his chin on his hands and smiling winningly at them. “Just like the Ultimate Diamond Pair.”

Kaidoh is opening his mouth to hiss at Fuji-senpai, but just then Kawamura wisely sits a tray of eel down between Momoshiro and Kaidoh, distracting him. Kaidoh reaches over and bangs chopsticks with Momoshiro since they are reaching for the same piece.

They stare at each other for a second, before Kaidoh sighs with resignation and asks, “Synchro Eel Sushi?”

“As if!” Momoshiro snorts, slapping Kaidoh’s chopsticks out of the way with his own. “I won’t lose to you!”

Things are suddenly back to normal, and Kaidoh snickers as he kicks Momoshiro in the shin hard, making him choke on his sushi, and then shoves two pieces of eel at once into his own mouth.

A few seconds later, Kachirou and Arai get to demonstrate their own prowess at the Synchro Heimlich Maneuver.

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