Exchange, by kishmet. TezuRyo, G. Direct sequel to Stolen, although it can be read on its own.
Tezuka has two essays to write, fifty math problems to complete, and an oral presentation to give, all due within the next three days. He opens his backpack, intending to finish one essay and the math before going to bed. He stops before he can even bring out his math book.
There, resting on top of his books, is Echizen's cap. Tezuka touches it, and then pulls his hand back warily. It would be very like Fuji to capture something like this on a hidden camera, and then "accidentally" show it the next time they watch a tournament video together.
Curiosity overcomes his natural caution. He picks up the cap, and a note flutters to the floor. He leans over to read it. The note is simple. "Have fun," it says, in handwriting that couldn't possibly belong to anyone but Echizen. Tezuka thinks for a minute that it could be Fuji, since forgery is no doubt one of Fuji's many skills. He runs a finger over the words. He knows that Fuji hadn't been the one to write this, even if the words are Fuji's and the idea is uncomfortably like one of Fuji's.
Tezuka notes to himself that Fuji has too much influence over Echizen. He considers for a moment, but he doesn't think there are any plausible ways he can stop that from happening. He glances at his door, and then stands up and turns the lock. He sits at his desk again and puts on the cap. "Buchou," he says to himself. It sends a chill through him that definitely shouldn't be there.
He starts to take the cap off and hesitates. He pulls it back on. "Buchou," he says again, quietly, thinking of the way Ryoma looks up at him when he says it.
On the other hand, maybe Fuji isn't always a bad influence.
As soon as he opens his tennis bag to bring out his racket, Tezuka realizes too late that the cap has somehow moved from the bottom of his bag to the top, where everyone will be able to see it. Momo is sitting next to him. Momo doesn't always notice everything, but he almost always notices the thing he's not supposed to. Fuji and Eiji have been bad influences on all of the younger students, it would seem. Tezuka wonders if he can give them laps for overall inconvenient behavior, and concludes that it would be irresponsible.
"Hey, what's that, buchou?" Momo cranes his neck, trying to get a better look at the inside of Tezuka's tennis bag. "It kind of looks like Ech-"
"Momoshiro. Ten laps," says Tezuka shortly, zipping up the bag. Part of him feels guilty, because this is irresponsible too, and part of him is proud that he'd kept it to ten laps instead of thirty.
Momo blinks at him, looking surprised. "But I-"
"I'm going," Momo says, jumping to his feet before Tezuka can assign him any more laps. He looks back at Tezuka on his way out, and mutters something that sounds suspiciously like "Fuji-senpai was right." He walks out of the clubroom, still shaking his head.
Tezuka tells himself not to get careless. He stands up and goes to run the ten laps with Momo to remind himself, even though that shocks everyone even further. He only makes one more mistake all through practice, and that's when Fuji takes a sip of the newest Inui Juice, smiles, and asks, "Like a sip, Tezuka? It's delicious."
The liquid is orange and bubbling. Tezuka almost says "Che" before he can stop himself. His mouth starts to form the word. He closes it firmly. Fuji puts a hand over his mouth, covering a chuckle that makes Tezuka think that Fuji knows exactly what Tezuka had been about to say. Tezuka glances over at Ryoma.
Ryoma is a few meters away with the other freshmen. He's looking right at Tezuka though, and when Tezuka looks at him, Ryoma grins and pulls down the brim of his cap. Apparently he has a spare. Tezuka's first reaction is relief, because now he can keep the cap he has instead of returning it as he'd intended. His second reaction is guilt again. He thinks about assigning himself more laps, but he doesn't do it.
Tezuka is always up early. Usually he finishes up his plan for the day's practice, finalizing the matchups between the regulars and looking through the notes given him by Ryuzaki-sensei, Inui, and Oishi. Today he does something completely different, telling himself that it's because he's already done with the practice plan.
That's a lie, and he knows it even as he locks his door again. He takes the cap out from under his pillow, where he'd put it so that his mother wouldn't find it. That's also a lie. He keeps his room so neat that there's no reason for his mother to come in, and she almost never does.
He takes out his racket, too. He puts on the cap, and takes the racket in his right hand. He doesn't bring out a tennis ball. It wouldn't bounce very well on the carpet, and he doesn't mean to hit it anyway. If he wants to go that far with it, he'll have to go to one of the public courts that no one knows about. He never will. There's always the possibility that someone would see him, if he did.
Tezuka goes through the motions of Ryoma's serve. He looks up at an opponent and grins slightly. The expression feels almost natural when he thinks of Ryoma, and when he's being Ryoma. "Mada mada da ne."
It's different when Tezuka is the one on the other side of the net from Ryoma. This time Tezuka levels an intense gaze at the person across the imaginary net. "Buchou," he says again. It's like he's the one saying it and the one it's being said to, all at once. He closes his eyes, trying to rid himself of his racing adrenaline and something else that's indefinable, or maybe he just doesn't want to define it yet.
He shakes his head. He puts the racket back into his tennis bag. He opens his backpack to put the cap in. He pauses. He always leaves his spare glasses case in his backpack, on the off chance that his regular pair breaks at school. He's used to seeing the gray case at the bottom of his backpack. This time, there's a piece of paper on top of it.
He picks up the case and opens it. His spare pair of glasses is gone. Now Tezuka's smile isn't because he's pretending to be Ryoma. This smile is all Tezuka's own. It's gone quickly, but the feeling remains.
The note on the case reads, "Trade you."