Clove Apple

The aftermath of Fuji’s encounter with Mizuki, and explanations for Tachibana. Drama With Romance, I-4

Pairing(s): Tachibana/Fuji

Kippei tracked him down on a small, sunny hill in a quiet corner of the park near Shuusuke’s house. He sat down beside Shuusuke, close but not touching.

“Eiji called me,” he said, quietly. “He said you were acting strangely at practice today. He was worried.” Shuusuke shrugged one shoulder.

“I was… out of sorts I suppose. Tezuka kept me away from most of the other club members. I suppose it is a bit strange for he and I to play much.” He snorted, remembering. “Echizen had the nerve to tell me I play better when I’m calm, afterwards.”

“That sounds like him,” Kippei smiled.

They sat in silence for a while, and Shuusuke tried to gather his thoughts. He should have known he wouldn’t be able to avoid Kippei for long; he really hadn’t been thinking very clearly. At last he leaned back on his hands, looking up at the clear, pale sky.

“I had,” he paused to fish for a neutral term, “an altercation with Mizuki two days ago. It got… a little out of hand.”

Kippei waited, and Shuusuke relaxed a little when he didn’t push for an immediate explanation.

“I was already angry that day,” he went on, and released a half laughing breath. “It sounds so petty when I tell it out loud. But that morning…” he paused again, trying to find the beginning of the sequence in his memory. “Everyone pretty much knows who will go on professionally, from the club, and who won’t. Everyone knows by now that I won’t. Some know that my brother probably will. I suppose I’m not one to talk about competitiveness,” he smiled tightly, “but sometimes I could do without the side effects. One of the second years was saying that it was too bad Fuji Yuuta would be the name the tennis world remembered. And then he realized I was listening and hurried to say that he was sure people would always remember Yuuta’s talent as second to mine.”

Kippei winced.

“Quite,” Shuusuke murmured. “I was unsettled enough to message Yuuta over lunch and ask how his training was going. I really should know better by now, don’t you think?”

Kippei moved around to sit behind Shuusuke and wrap an arm around his waist. Shuusuke leaned back against him with a sigh. The next part was going to be harder.

“I don’t know whether Yuuta mentioned it to Mizuki, but Mizuki was waiting for me on my way home. He… challenged me.”

“To what?” Kippei asked when Shuusuke didn’t continue.

“A game. I suppose.” Shuusuke sternly told the hollow feeling in his chest to go away for the nth time in almost three days. It made breathing feel like work. Once again, the feeling refused to go anywhere. Kippei’s arm tightening around him reminded Shuusuke that he wasn’t alone. And that there had, in fact, been a total of four parties fairly intimately involved in what had happened. On an impulse he turned and kissed Kippei.

It was a little wild, a little desperate, and Kippei started out returning it more gently, trying to soothe Shuusuke. As the seconds ticked by, though, Shuusuke thought the fact of the kiss fell in with what else he had said, and gave Kippei some of the shape of the “altercation”, because his lover’s kiss changed. It became deeper and hotter, demanding in a way that Kippei rarely was. Ironically, that calmed Shuusuke faster than the earlier softness. When they broke apart Kippei raised a hand to his cheek and held his gaze, eyes dark and serious.

“You aren’t the only one who’s possessive, Shuusuke,” Kippei told him.

Yes, Kippei had an idea what had happened. But not all of it. Shuusuke shook his head, laying a hand on Kippei’s chest.

“What he offered, what I did, it wasn’t about sex.” Kippei’s lips tightened as Shuusuke confirmed at least the mechanics of the encounter, but he didn’t protest Shuusuke’s interpretation. Yet.

“What was it about?” he asked, quite calmly under the circumstances Shuusuke thought. He turned again so he could lean back against Kippei.

“Control,” he answered, biting down a grimace as he remembered Mizuki’s voice gliding over that word. “Knowledge. I suppose,” he summoned a small smile, “it was more like a game of go than anything.” Entrapment, oh yes. He had to hand that to Mizuki, and he should have recognized it sooner.

“A game of go with a bed as the board?” Kippei suggested, sounding amused despite himself at the idea. Shuusuke smiled more genuinely, letting the intellectual metaphor carry him over his discomfort.

“Mmm. More like the bed, and the bodies, as the stones. The board was the mind.”

There was silence behind him for a moment before Kippei closed both arms around him.

“Shuusuke.” He didn’t sound amused any longer. He sounded a little shaken. Shuusuke supposed that made two of them. He didn’t really want to dwell on that.

“Besides, I never let him touch me,” he added, veering back to the original question and keeping his tone casual. Kippei’s hold tightened, and Shuusuke realized he’d probably just given away a little more of the mechanics than he’d really wanted to.

“Mizuki accepted that?” Kippei asked, both surprise and a touch of distaste in his voice. Shuusuke laughed, wearily.

“Oh, yes. Mizuki waylaid me, provoked me until I was extremely angry, invited me to take him any way I pleased and accepted everything I did, just to prove a point.” Shuusuke leaned his head back against Kippei’s shoulder. “He knew what he was doing, Kippei.” He fell silent, hoping his lover could unravel that and wouldn’t ask him to put words to the details.

“He knew?” Kippei asked at last, carefully. Shuusuke’s mouth twisted. Kippei had gotten very good at reading under what he said.

“Every last step,” Shuusuke confirmed with false cheer. He never did that for long around Kippei, though, and let it go to turn in Kippei’s arms until he could curl up against him.

“And it’s so easy,” he whispered. “To do that to people. To control, to break. Because I can. And when I’m in the middle of it it’s so satisfying, but afterwards, when I stop and look back… it doesn’t feel right.” Kippei stroked back his hair.

“I know,” he said. Shuusuke stirred at that. Kippei wasn’t like that.

“You do?”

“I know that you don’t really enjoy going that far. It’s pretty obvious.” Kippei smiled down at him when Shuusuke raised his head to give him an inquiring look. “All the people you’re most drawn to are ones you can’t control.”

Shuusuke ran a quick catalogue in his mind, and decided Kippei was right. Tezuka, who wouldn’t let him. Eiji, with whom there was no point. Taka-san, who was too sweet to tempt him. Even the firebrands like Echizen.

And Kippei, of course.

“So,” he smiled, reassured enough to tease a little, “you’re not worried about it at all?”

Kippei turned on his side, spilling Shuusuke into the grass, and dropped a kiss on his forehead.

“Of course not. I recall saying once that you don’t strike out unless you’re unbearably provoked, and never on your own account. It’s still true. Mizuki prodded you about Yuuta, didn’t he?”

Shuusuke nodded, holding back a snarl at the mere memory. From the quirk of Kippei’s mouth, he didn’t think he’d been entirely successful. That was all right, though; Kippei was the one person he could show anything to.

“So,” Kippei continued, “you might not want to admit out loud that Mizuki won this round, but it’s clear from what you have said that he asked for everything he got.”

Shuusuke opened his mouth to protest, and then closed it. Unfortunately, that statement was correct on every count. He had been focusing on how much he disliked the aftermath of getting carried away to distract himself from the thought that Mizuki was every bit as much to credit, and possibly more, as himself. And he hadn’t quite realized it until Kippei pointed it out. He felt a faint flush heating his cheeks.

“You’ve never been much good with your own motivations, Shuusuke,” Kippei pointed out, gently. “Let it go and stop worrying.”

Shuusuke took a stern hold of himself and considered his possible causes for worry. Was he dangerously out of hand? No. Was he, he sidled around to look at the thought with dislike, seriously concerned that Mizuki knew him well enough, now, to hurt him? To hurt him the way he knew, in a dark, back corner of his mind, Kippei could by knowing him so well. That one took more consideration, but the manner of Mizuki’s approach implied that he didn’t think he could overwhelm Shuusuke; and Shuusuke was now on his guard. So, no, not really. Was he really worried that Yuuta wouldn’t forgive him for what he’d done to his brother’s lover, be it ever so consensual? Shuusuke knew he had come very close to breaking Mizuki; it was why he had let Mizuki go with his success intact even when he realized what it had all been about. Somehow he doubted his brother would agree that any aftereffects were anything other than Shuusuke’s fault.

All right, perhaps he would still worry about that one. He sighed and reached up for Kippei.

“Mostly,” he allowed.

Kippei’s smile was wry as he leaned down. Shuusuke sighed again, against his mouth, for quite different reasons, as Kippei’s kiss folded him in weightless warmth like the sun on this hillside.

“No one but you touches me like this,” he said, softly, as they parted. Kippei answered by catching him up in another kiss, this one slow and deliberately sensual, a sliding dance of tongues. The hollowness in Shuusuke’s chest that had persisted for three days finally faded away. Shuusuke felt as though Kippei’s breath helped fill his lungs all the way. He drew Kippei down until his lips were at Kippei’s ear.

“Kippei,” he murmured, “make love to me.”

“Right here?” Kippei’s tone was half serious and half teasing. Shuusuke shook his head, and spoke slowly.

“No. I think I want to remember who belongs in my bed.”

When Kippei’s arms closed around him hard enough to drive his breath out, he knew his lover had accepted that sideways apology.

Lying against Kippei’s side, later, in the cool afternoon shadows of his bedroom, and far more pleased with the world, Shuusuke wondered whether he should call Yuuta. It would be nice to know whether his brother was upset with him or not.

The message tone rang on his phone.

“Someone has bad timing,” Kippei muttered. Shuusuke made agreeing sounds, but craned for a moment to check who it was from.

Then he leaned across Kippei and snatched at his phone so that he could glare at the sender from close range.


He stabbed the message button and read. His lips pulled back from his teeth, though he managed not to snarl out loud. That arrogant, insufferable, little…

“Shuusuke?” Kippei repeated, a bit cautiously.

“Dear Shuusuke,” he read off the message, “Please don’t be concerned. Yuuta’s opinion of my sanity has been confirmed, and he doesn’t blame you for any of it. Except, possibly, the bite mark. Regards, Mizuki.” Kippei didn’t make a sound, but Shuusuke was leaning over his stomach and could feel the muscles trembling, holding back what was probably a laugh. He transferred his glare, dropping the phone pointedly over the side of the bed. So, Mizuki thought he knew him that well, and had the gall to reassure him?

“I don’t think I ever fully appreciated just how much Mizuki likes to play with fire,” Kippei observed, mildly. “Can I hope you’ll chose a different way of burning him next time?”

The glare lost a good deal of force, and Shuusuke laid his head back on Kippei’s chest.

“Of course,” he confirmed, softly, pressing closer. Kippei’s hand stroking his back lulled him, and he set out to ignore Mizuki’s baiting in favor of Kippei’s heartbeat.

He could teach his would-be rival a lesson later, Shuusuke decided as he slipped into a doze, rocked by the rhythm of his lover’s breath.


Last Modified: May 08, 12
Posted: May 18, 04
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  1. mica-chan

    Am I allowed to say ‘in this fic’ that I love Mizuki? ^_^ Because I really do.
    I was a little worried after I read the previous one, specially because I hadn’t any idea how Tachibana would deal with the thing, but…I like it as you did. Of course I think Fuji deserved some pain because what he did to Tachibana was…geeez..But I can accept your way of see things too.
    I liked the idea of Mizuki ‘winning’ against Fuji. Not because I dislike Fuji, but because I think the tensai has to see that he’s not the almighty guy, and Mizuki can be really dangerous if he is really into it.

    I noticed I’m reviewing all the fics in one post, but…I had printed all of them (with Fuji, Tachibana, Mizuki and Yuuta) so just now I could write to you.
    I’m loving all the Mirror Writing…since Atobe/Tezuka until now. You are doing a great job…I’m just a little worried now about when this Mizuki/Fuji thing will end, because…if Yuuta will be with Mizuki…well…something will have to be done to settle things between them. A whole life fighting is not exactly a sane and good thing to see.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *grins* Sure you are. Mizuki is an evil creature who likes to get people’s goats; what’s not to love?

      I’m fairly sure Fuji does feel quite guilty, but he doesn’t seem to deal well with feeling guilty. Or, really, feeling a lot of things. Which is why I think it will probably be Tachibana who pulls him out of the tit-for-tat cycle with Mizuki. Tachibana is stable enough, and Fuji trusts him enough. Not sure when that will happen, though. The fourth story will bring Fuji and Mizuki to a sort of plateau, where their sniping at each other doesn’t get as toxically out of hand as it did in “The Winner Is”. But I think a real resolution will take a lot longer.

      Glad you’re liking it!

  2. written-in-blue

    Now I understand the post from the other day.

    Fuji’s gonna *maim* him, or something, isn’t he?

    God knows I would.

    [lurves on Tachibana for a bit, only in a purely platonic and non-infringing on the Fuji territory way]

    1. branchandroot Post author

      Eh, Fuji is getting kinda… serious. I don’t know what Mizuki’s thinking, really. But now Tachibana knows what’s going on I think he can keep things from exploding too violently… *as a mushroom cloud rises in the background*

      Fuji-muse says he will allow people to hug his boyfriend, platonically, on alternate Tuesdays. You’re in luck. Go ahead and glomp him.

      1. ayonoi

        It really scares me to think what the Fuji-muse will do if someone (not me, hell, not me!) hugs his boyfriend on the wrong day ^___^;;;. I hope to he keeps the sharp knives hidden *cowers*.

        Hehe…Fuji/Mizuki is scary but in a way, the whole battle tends to draw me in, plus they both have people that can help pull them out in things get ugly or intense (I liked the image of a little mushroom cloud in the background, that was so right) so Yuuta and Tachibana are their anchors here.

        Fudoumine was and will be my favorite (even over Hyotei!) so I love how Tachibana has come along.


        1. branchandroot Post author

          *whips out the Tachibana pompons* Yes! He’s utterly cool, and terribly sweet, and I love him to death!

          *coughs* I suppose that was probably obvious already…

          1. written-in-blue

            Yay! Alternate Tuesday!

            [platonicallypounceglomps Tachibana]


            [bows] Thank you, Fuji-muse. [wanders off to go molest Eiji for a bit]

  3. naanima

    Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods! LOVE YOU!!

    *giggles madly*

    Tachibana is wonderful, gorgeous, and the BEST! I love how you dealt with his reaction. Because he understands Fuji, the anger is not present, concern is so much more important. Fuji is human, but ohhhh the turning of cogs and wheels in his mind at present would frighten anyone.

    Mizuki is gonna get it. The gall, oh the gall.

    What I find fascinating is that while Mizuki is all about riling and winning against Fuji, he’s also at the same time soothing over certain issues. Not without ulterior motives of course, but the little insufferable snake does seem to have diffused a truly damaging situation.


    I can’t WAIT for the next part.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *snuggles* Next part is in the works, ma’am.

      *thoughtful* Between being obsessed with Fuji and in love with Yuuta, I think Mizuki doesn’t want to actually injure Fuji. Or even cause him mental anguish. Much. And having gotten what he needed, he seems to have settled down a bit; he’s almost behaving maturely at the music store.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *snickers* I don’t suppose you’d like the position of Muse Police? There’s currently an opening in my Storyspace, and you seem to have the approach down.

      *muses suddenly leave off torturing each other and stroll apart, whistling innocently*

  4. lady-readwolf

    Pictures Akira, Shinji, and Ann cornering Mizuki… and T-baby walking in through a sudden gape. “Listen kid. Don’t antagonize my boyfriend, got it? Especially not about his brother, cause he’s a real bitch to deal with afterwards, and while Syusuke might give a flying fig tree about what Yuuta wants, I don’t, and I’d be quite okay with pounding the living shit out of you. Got it? Good.”

    {chortling} that’s not to mention what *Ann* would do…. {howling now}

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *laughing* He’s not getting quite that blunt in the fourth story, but he’s definitely making his presence felt. I would not be entirely surprised if Mizuki learns, at some point, that the Fuji possessive streak is nothing to the Tachibana protective streak.

      1. lady-readwolf

        I’d still pitty him if he ever did anything to piss off Ann–no doubt about it, that girl is my favorite female character, no guilt about it, either.

        I *almost* wouldn’t know who to place a bet on–Fuji or her–when it comes down to protecting loved ones and revenge… Except, this is a tennis show, and she’s a “weak” player… always at the “mercy” of stronger players (bah!)

  5. chinawolf

    *melts* Hmmmmmmmmm. I think I forgot to say earlier how much I adore your Tachibana. *draws hearts*

    Sorry, too incoherent for more. *tries to wipe silly grin off face but fails*

      1. chinawolf

        He didn’t only melt me, I had to run off to squee about Tachibana after this because it was just too much goodness. *drools*

        And yes, this one managed to make Fuji’s motives clearer. I want to go on reading this, but must finish my own ShishiTori first because I’m very susceptible to other people’s versions and want to keep them on my own course. Meep. That music store incident was delicious. Thank you for writing so many plots within the same ‘verse, it’s a treat. So much love! <333

        1. branchandroot Post author


          Know what you mean about getting derailed by other people’s characterization; I can never read the characters I’m writing about on any given day. I’ll look forward to hearing what you think, after you’re done, though!

  6. flamesword


    god. damn. that’s bloody all I have to say about that. oh hell yeah. *big shiny sparkles*

    You… aack. I’ve said it all already. I worship you. I adore the way you write him. them. and. Such bloody fucking awesome cool shit!

    (apologies for swearing, i do that when I get excited and reallyreallyreally love something… ^^;;; The average number of swear words per sentence goes up dramatically. heh.)

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *examines sparkles with satisfaction* Ah, another job well done.

      Kippei is the greatest thing ever, yes, indeed. I give him all my problem characters to soothe into submission.


  7. solaas

    General comment on the Mizuki-Fuji-Yuuta-Tachibana arcs here:

    I love and worship you for what you’ve done with Mizuki. He really caught my interest when he first showed up in the anime, as a genuinely evil snake who was scary. Part of it was his ability to manipulate and his intelligence, and part of it was his voice (I’m deeply caught in the Saiyuki fandom, and Mizuki of PoT shares VA with Cho Hakkai, who is rather a lot like Fuji Syuuske. Or what Syuuske might become. >_>;;;), which was in Steely Evil Godmode. -And then they shafted him completely, turning him into a parody of an Unbergay Queen, for comic relief only. ;_;

    But you, you have vindicated him in all sorts of wonderful ways! Thank you! 😀 The interaction with him and Yuuta, how Mizuki was carefully scouting and preparing his ground, how Yuuta caught on to it and dealt quite reasonably with the whole thing (not to mention the tantalising little glimpses you show of Yuuta’s fundamental Fujiness), and and… Yes! The mindfuck encounter between Mizuki and Syuuske was very well executed; it’s good you’re not afraid to show the darkness in the elder Fuji brother.

    Fuji and Tachibana are really, really good together. There just isn’t enough Tachibana/Fudomine stories out there, so this one was extremely welcome. 🙂 The way Kippei decides that Fuji needs a friend he won’t have to compete with, and that this friend will be Kippei, is lovely. That he gets Tezuka to sign an agreement to this, as it were, even better. I see Kippei as one of three people grounded enough to be able to give Fuji some peace. (The other two being Kawamura and Ooishi.) I really enjoyed reading their story. 🙂

    One quibble: It’s really unfair of you to dangle teeny-weeny little flashes of Ann at us and not give her her own bit of screen time. She’s a great character, and her potential as wielder of the Clue-by-four +5 of DOOM, matchmaker, gripemistress and instigator of mayhem is uncharted. ;D . o O ( With Kirihara and Kamio as captaions of their respective teams, I see potential for fun, though. Especially if Momoshiro captains Seigaku. ) *innocent* What? Hm? No attempted plotbunnying going on here, nope. Move along, citizen. The Computer is your friend.

    …oh, heck. I’m adding general comments on the TezAto stuff too. They’re good together; or rather, you make them good together. Atobe is such a cat! Eiji might be the one going nya-nya, but he’s just a kitten compared to Atobe, the fully unleashed creature of luxury and World Domination. It’s good Tezuka seems to have the necessary calmness to be a good cat-keeper. ^^ And the way Atobe deals with Fuji is just great! Pays off to be a champion annoyer, doesn’t it? *grin* I almost, almost feel sorry for Tezuka who has to wrangle all these contrary people in his life, but really, he isn’t that much better himself. Obsessive, stubborn, insular and overachievery to the bone. What’s not to love? ^_^

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *flings arms around you* Yes! Mizuki was completely cool, and the ani-writers utterly shafted him! I was so upset. That was, in fact, part of why I wrote this arc. *pets Mizuki* I’m really very fond of the evil creature.

      And Ishida Akira’s voice helps very, very much. Oh, yes.

      *laughs* Ann never did quite get around to having bunnies of her own. Sometimes I think she just likes to mess with other people’s business too much. Or maybe she’s just holding out for Lys to write her. She is one of my favorite characters.

      *smiles fondly on Atobe* This whole enterprise really started with him. He complains a lot, these days, that I’m too easily distracted from his magnificence and don’t give him enough love. Of course, I gave him Tezuka, and you’d think that would be enough love for anyone…

      Fuji was the one that gave me the hardest time for the longest while. He’s hard for me to write, which is why, I think, I wind up writing him through other eyes so often. That, and he’s such a great catalyst to throw into a scene or situation. *wicked grin*

      The tenipuri boys have so devoured my life.

  8. audient

    This is so, very late, but I think I’m a Fuji/Tachibana convert. Only for your arc :’) That was very well-written. I love Fuji, I love Kippei, I love the dynamics — I never thought I’d enjoy a fic that involves Mizuki, but hay. You converted me. Amazing job. Thanks for sharing :3