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Pearl Essence

[Prince of Tennis] Et Cetera: Ripples - 03. Yanagi, Sanada, Yukimura

Posted on 2013.07.18 at 11:05
Current Mood: rushedrushed
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A Prince of Tennis fanfiction. Fantasy AU, drama/romance. Rated R (M) overall. Multiple pairings. 50,000+ words total. Originally written 11/20/2004 - 7/18/2006, with ongoing revisions.

This part belongs to one of the backstory sub-arc, Ripples, and takes place 10 years before the events in the main story.

Et Cetera: Ripples by Shiraume

03. Yanagi, Sanada, and Yukimura

Heda, three days after Tezuka's visit to Fuji.

"More tea?" Yanagi asked. Sanada shook his head.

"No, thank you." Sanada was quiet for a long moment. "Renji, you know about the war in Pyris?"

"Yes," Yanagi replied shortly. Hearing the slight hint of tension in Yanagi's voice, Sanada gave him a brief look of understanding.

"Tezuka sent Fuji there two days ago."

"Tezuka sent Fuji?" Yanagi asked, surprised. "Has the Council decided to intervene, after all?"

"No, of course not," Sanada replied with obvious contempt. "Seems Tezuka acted on his own. The Mage who had a contract with Pyris died a few days ago."

Fuji suddenly deciding to form a contract with Pyris as the city's Mage – unlikely, Yanagi concluded. In all the time they'd known each other, Fuji had never once shown willingness to be tied to any place. "So – Tezuka sent Fuji there to keep an eye on things in the interim while Pyris scrambles to find a new Mage to contract. Does the Council know yet?" Yanagi asked, impressed by Tezuka's audacity.

"Yes, but they'll probably let it slip." Strictly speaking, the Council had never issued any edict against personal action regarding the conflict. "But you know what the Council thinks of Fuji."

Fuji was already fully grown when the late Inui Sadaharu, a former Mage of Pyris and Yanagi's childhood friend, found him living in the Human world. A half-Cetera, but possessing surprising intelligence and surpassing talent at Magic, Fuji was interested in nothing and moved for no one, including the High Council of Cetera. If Fuji went, Tezuka must have invoked a personal favor unrelated to the Council business. The Council would have been quite cagey, particularly about the friendship between the unlikely pair, had not the apparently ambitionless Fuji retired to the remote wasteland of Hessedi at the first opportunity rather than pursuing any meaningful career. Still, even if the Academy never saw it fit to advance Fuji's rank beyond that of a Mage, his reputation as a prodigy was a well-deserved one. Sanada could certainly appreciate the logic behind Tezuka's choice.

Yanagi gave a careless shrug. "Before, maybe. I doubt they care about Fuji at this point."

"Perhaps," Sanada conceded. "Either way, I doubt Atobe would let them remove Tezuka." Sanada's voice was approving, if grudgingly.

"I thought you didn't like Atobe," Yanagi observed with a hint of amusement.

"He's obnoxious and arrogant," Sanada agreed, "but he's no fool. I suspect he has his own reasons for keeping Tezuka."

"He needs all the support, or at least neutrality, that he can get in the Council," Yanagi guessed. "Is he still trying to pressure the Eldest to resign early?"

Sanada narrowed his eyes. "He's hardly made it a secret that he wants to become one of the Primi. I wouldn't put it past him."

"Ah," Yanagi's lips twitched, "has he tried bribing them yet?"

"I think it would hurt his pride if he had to stoop to that," Sanada answered dryly. "He thinks everyone should be falling over themselves to give way to him."

Yanagi laughed at that. "Naturally." He took another sip of his tea.

"I don't like it," Sanada said in a low voice after a long pause.

"You don't like Fuji very much," Yanagi remarked neutrally.

"I don't trust him," Sanada corrected. "You remember the Council's reaction when they first realized his existence."

"Very surprised. On guard. I remember several Council members objected to his joining the Cetera."

"For once, with good reasons," Sanada said firmly.

"There has been other cases of half-Cetera children turning up fully grown," Yanagi pointed out.

"But none as powerful," Sanada countered. "It's impossible for someone with his level of Magic to have reached full maturity without anyone noticing."

"He'll get the job done," Yanagi said matter-of-factly.

"I have no doubt about his ability," Sanada conceded. "But I do not trust him. It was careless of Tezuka to send someone the Council already distrusts."

"I'm sure Tezuka had his reasons." Yanagi's tone held a touch of finality. He'd known Fuji longer than Sanada had, and despite the Council's paranoia, Yanagi was never convinced Fuji posed any threat.

Sanada nodded in acquiescence. The issue of Fuji was not worth fighting over. Especially because for Yanagi, Fuji's very existence was inextricably tied to the memories of Inui Sadaharu – a touchy subject even under the best circumstances.

"You know, I can understand why you refused your appointment to the Council," Yanagi said after a careful sip of his tea. "Atobe can play his games to heart's content, but in actuality, the Council is but a flimsy excuse to keep a closer watch on the most powerful of the Archmages."

"There's little reason to keep a watch on ordinary ones," Sanada answered wryly. "But that wasn't the reason why I declined."

"You declined because the Council once implicated your family name in a scandal," Yanagi replied, but did not pursue; like the subject of Inui, the scandal in question was one of the topics they avoided discussing by tacit agreement. "It would appear, then, either Tezuka is quite naive, or surprisingly unconcerned about his family name."

"I would expect the latter," Sanada replied dismissively. "Not that it matters. I'm glad I refused."

"You'd never have been able to keep Seiichi a secret for this long," Yanagi agreed. In that moment, Yukimura arrived in a flash of light, materializing in the middle of the room. "Is it alright for you to use your power so frequently?" Yanagi asked, reaching for the teapot. Yukimura shrugged, sliding into the chair next to Sanada with easy familiarity.

"It's all right. I'm not using any kind of Magic Cetera can detect, or understand." Yukimura murmured his thanks to Yanagi, who handed him a fresh cup of tea. "I wouldn't be so thoughtless as to inconvenience Genichirou by being caught."

"I'm sure Genichirou appreciates your thoughtfulness," Yanagi drawled amusedly. It was a standing joke between the two of them, that Sanada was so protective of someone who would likely never require his protection. Seeing a faint blush on Sanada's cheeks, Yanagi refrained from making further comments, but Yukimura's eyes were dancing.

"I try," Yukimura replied modestly, provoking a much put upon look from Sanada. Yanagi merely smiled. He didn't think Sanada really minded being teased, not when it was just the three of them.

"Did I mention your shields around the training chamber were a complete success?" Yanagi tactfully changed subject, deciding they could continue some other time. "No spell from outside could detect the Magic used inside the shields, no matter how powerful. I think I've run enough tests to be sure."

"Excellent. Thank you, Renji," Sanada said promptly, everything else promptly forgotten. Yanagi and Yukimura exchanged amused looks. Sanada was fanatical in his dedication to training, for both himself and his pupil.

"I take it Akaya has been most impatient?" Yanagi prodded, hiding a smile.

Sanada frowned with a touch of exasperation. "Akaya has much to learn. But his talent is exceptional, and his desire to improve, commendable."

"And Akaya has shown promising growth," Yukimura agreed. "When he's not driving Genichirou up a wall, that is. I will finish shielding the practice chambers today, then."

"Thank you," Sanada answered with a hint of irony. Although Kirihara Akaya, Sanada's wayward pupil, was quite possibly the most intractable individual Sanada had the misfortune to meet, the boy held an uncharacteristic, unquestioning respect for Yukimura's authority. Strange how Yukimura brought them all so much closer. Once, Yukimura was a secret for Sanada alone. Now the secret was shared by a tight-knit group of seven, who were fiercely dedicated to each other, and to Yukimura.

"Not at all," Yukimura returned in kind, not missing a beat. Yanagi serenely sipped his tea. Oh yes, his life was certainly more interesting with the other two around.


Crossposted at http://shiraume-fic.dreamwidth.org/27191.html.

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