Yukimura watches Sanada play. His tennis isn't glamorous or anything of the sort, but Sanada himself isn't really that way either. He is impressed at the sheer force and power behind every shot. His tenacity is something to be admired.
He knows Sanada has always been there, lurking in the shadows of his peripheral vision. There whenever Yukimura has needed him. It isn't something he has taken for granted. No, he knows better, but it is something else nagging at the back of his mind as he looks on at Sanada thrashing one of the non-regular third years.
"You have been watching twenty percent more than usual," Yanagi says after Sanada takes a set and switches sides.
"I want to know what I'm up against." And it's true. Sanada's tennis has changed over the years. Yukimura knows that the game will be won by himself in the end but he doesn't know how long it will take.
Yanagi gives him a knowing look that he finds annoying. He doesn't show it; he knows better, but Yanagi is probably aware of it anyway. He turns away from the game and begins running. It would do him no good to slack off. He could play a match -- either against Yanagi or Kirihara -- but he doesn't feel like being examined or worshipped right now.
He stops counting after twenty five and finishes running when his headband can no longer absorb the sweat running down his face. Adjusting his jacket, Yukimura resumes watching over the club. Sanada has won -- he had no doubt to begin with that this would be the outcome -- but the quickness of the victory tells him that Sanada is pissed off about something. The fact that his best friend tends to wear his emotions on his sleeve is both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, it means he always knows how Sanada is feeling without having to ask. However, he is a bit more difficult to deal with, especially on the tennis court. Sanada's tennis when angry is primal and fluid, unrepentant and severe, fast and exceedingly dangerous.
"Should I ask about about his opponent?" Yukimura asks, coming to stand next to Yanagi once more.
"It took him almost five minutes to peel himself off of the court. I think it was more that he thought it safer not to move than deal with the consequences."
Yukimura hums thoughtfully. At least he would have justifiable reasons not to include the otherwise good third year onto the regulars. You just don't lay down like a dog in front of the Emperor. It is utterly pathetic.
"Sanada-Sawajiri, six-love," Sanada says, grabbing a towel from the bench next to Yanagi and wrapping it around his neck.
"A bit harsh today, Genichirou?" Yanagi asks, marking the clipboard with the score. He receives a grunt in reply. "In any case, Akaya is next. Don't break him too quickly."
"AKAYA! " Sanada barks. "COURT THREE."
It doesn't take long for the second year to yelp, leave his current match against Marui, and run as fast as he can to the advertised court. The redhead yells about abandonment, but he catches Yukimura eye. Rikkai's captain mouthes let it be and waves him on to either run laps or start another match.
"Ready, fukubuchou," Kirihara says, panting and checking his pockets for extra balls.
There are no words of warning. Sanada's serve slices right past Kirihara before he has time to get into position or blink. He hadn't even seen the third year throw the ball into the air. Three more come his way in rapid succession. Kirihara practically turns to stone.
"Your serve," Sanada yells, snapping the second year out of his daze.
Kirihara double faults his way through the match giving Sanada a two-love lead. Soon, the entirety of the club has stopped, eyes fixed on the match. Yukimura has given up attempting to stop it.
"Step in, Seiichi," Yanagi says calmly as Kirihara hits yet another serve into the net.
Yukimura takes off his jacket and folds it gently over the back of the bench. Playing Sanada like this would only cause the fabric to get in the way. He calls for a time out, ordering Kirihara to pass out somewhere other than on the court. Racket in hand, he pads to his side and pulls a ball out of his pocket. He has only been down three-love once in his entire tennis career, he doesn't plan to make this a repeat performance, even if he was taking over his kouhai's score. Tossing the ball up, he jumps up to smash the ball over the net. Sanada service returns it, putting a hole in the fence. Yukimura frowns. He doesn't know what is going on, but he is determined to find out.
Four-love and they switch sides. Yukimura glares as they pass each other, Sanada returning the look in kind. He bounces the ball once before serving it over the net. Yukimura has to step back to catch it, but it is too powerful for him to keep a hold of. His racket snaps back and the ball hits the back wall. He looks over at Yanagi, barely turning back to Sanada before the next serve comes. He is better prepared for this one, able to hit it into the net.
"Why don't you want to volley with me, Sanada?" He knows he shouldn't say anything, but he needs to know the reaction.
The response is a clean service ace that whizzes by Yukimura's ear, causing his hair to move slightly. His eyes widen just a bit. Whatever it is, Sanada isn't playing. Not like usual. He wins the match, making it five-love. Match game, he hears Jackal whisper. Yukimura tightens his grip on the ball and serves it. Another service ace. Even if he loses, he won't consider it a loss. It is going to count for Kirihara who couldn't last. He is at least trying to salvage something, as impossible as it is right now. When Sanada wins, he doesn't bother coming to the net and shaking Yukimura's hand. He storms off towards the clubhouse.
"No one follow," Yukimura orders. He gives his racket to Yanagi, nodding to him before he follows Sanada. Before he reaches the clubhouse, he can hear lockers slamming closed. It isn't going to be pretty. He steps inside, closing and locking the door behind him. Only Yanagi can get in now and he knows better.
"Genichirou," he states calmly, buffering through the storm that is his best friend. He looks at him, arms crossed. "You can't get out unless you disable me or talk."
Sanada pauses. Yukimura can see him contemplating the former, but he sits on the floor and leans back against the lockers. He lets out a frustrated sigh. It is a start.
Yukimura crosses the room and sits next to him. They stay silent for a few minutes until he bumps Sanada's leg with his own.
"What you did out there was impressive. Sawajiri is pretty good. We know Akaya is great. And," he pauses. "You broke my serve twice and I couldn't even volley. I would almost request you play like that all the time, but I don't know if we would have a team after you played them and it's just practise. If you don't want to tell me what's going on, that's fine, but I won't let you back on the court until you calm down."
"Liar," Yukimura accuses, reaching over and poking his fukubuchou in the upper arm. "I promise I won't laugh."
Sanada looks at him, eyes dark under the brim of his hat. Yukimura grabs it and puts it in on the bench in front of them.
"Much better. Go ahead. I could guess if you wanted. Your family?"
"I can't imagine it's tennis."
Sanada shakes his head.
"Any one on the team."
"Are you just in a vague bad mood?"
"You could say that."
Yukimura pushes Sanada's legs down and shifts to sit on them.
"I could move you."
"But you won't. If it had been Renji, you wouldn't have put up with any of this, but because it's me, you relent."
"Don't look so smug about it."
Yukimura smirks and leans forward. "Are you mad because I went out with Tezuka last week?"
"It wasn't a date and no, I'm not."
"True, but if it had been?"
"I still wouldn't be. What you do off the court isn't really any of my business."
"You're not pining any more then?"
"I wasn't pining to begin with."
Sanada shifts and Yukimura scoots up, practically planting himself in his best friend's lap.
"No, that's Akaya." He smiles. "Is it really just vague?"
Yukimura leans forward and brushes their lips together. It turns into a full blown kiss, Sanada bringing his hand up to curl into Yukimura's hair and deepen it as much as he can.
"Not mad about this," Yukimura says softly when they break apart. He rests his forehead against Sanada's and closes his eyes.
"No reason to be."
"At least you're calmer now."
"I have that effect and you know it."
Sanada leans up and kisses him again. "You're also a tease."
"Only when it comes to Akaya. I give you what you want."
"Most of the time."
Yukimura gets out of Sanada's lap and sits next to him again. "Are you going to tell me what's bothering you or not?"
Sanada sighs, resting his head against the lower set of lockers. "I didn't get the sponsorship."
"According to the form letter, I didn't have what it takes to advertise their product."
"You going to switch then?"
"Yeah. I was kind of hoping to break the damn thing playing so rough."
"When are you going racket shopping?"
"Saturday after practise. I don't have time until then."
Yukimura hums. "I'll come with you. I should have been able to return your shots better. My gut was fine and I kept getting them in my sweet spot, so I'm thinking it might be time for a new one. Then we can break them in afterwards." He stands up and holds out his hand. "Come on. Renji's probably called an end to practise by now."
Sanada grabs it and pulls him back down into a heated kiss. When they part, he waits until Yukimura is standing again to get up. "Thank you," he says, taking off his uniform shirt as Yukimura goes to unlock the door.
"No need. You would do it for me." Yukimura opens the door, waving to Yanagi and giving him a thumbs up before disappearing back inside. He changes quickly, urging Sanada to do the same. They finish up as the regulars come in, pointedly avoiding Sanada. He smirks at it, shouldering his tennis bag and leaving the club house. Yukimura says his goodbyes and follows soon after.
"Maybe you should send them a video of you smoking everyone in the club with their racket. That might change their mind. Renji can probably get the tape in a few hours if you asked," he says when he has caught up.
"Not worth it. Besides, I've been eying that Babolat for ages. I don't want to push products for a company that wouldn't know absolute victory even if it punched them in the face. They'll regret turning me down when I'm winning Grand Slams."
Yukimura smiles. There is something relaxing about Sanada's calm determination. He adjusts the shoulder strap on his tennis bag, then slips his hand into Sanada's, leaning against him as they walk home.