of Tennis Fanfic
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Spoilers: None. Post-series
Echizen trailed slowly along the paths to the tennis courts, feeling a
strange nervous sensation creeping over him as he walked. Would they be
there? Would it be the same? Or would his memories disappoint him?
had been three years since they'd all been properly together, and a
month since he'd seen any of them at all. After he'd finished his third
and final year at Seigaku Junior High school and sat the entrance exams
for the associated High school, his father had dragged him back to the
States for the holidays to visit old friends and to play tennis against
the up-and-coming international competition. Ryoma had acquited himself
well, meeting some old opponents from his earlier career, and
encountering new ones. It had been fun, and he'd won a lot of games
(and even a tournament, fortuitously scheduled for his last week of
holidays). But it had meant a month away from what he now thought of as
home. And away from the others.
*I wonder if they even know I'm
first day of school had passed in a bit of a blur, with all the usual
problems associated with trying to find ones way around a new
environment, and trying to remember everyone's names. He'd seen quite a
few familiar faces, and heard one or two familiar squeals, but the
people he'd REALLY wanted to see had been absent.
the best tennis team Seigaku Junior High had ever seen. Kunimitsu
Tezuka, Syuusuke Fuji, Syuuichiro Oishi, Eiji Kikumaru, Takashi
Kawamura, Sadaharu Inui, Kaoru Kaidou, Takeshi Momoshiro, and himself.
Almost legendary now, even after only three years. They'd stormed their
way to the Nationals and won, and for a short period of time he'd felt
like nothing could prevent him from becoming stronger and stronger and
eventually defeating all of his opponents.
But time was one
opponent that no-one could beat. On the tennis courts he was a part of
the team, but no matter how good he got, he couldn't erase the age gap.
It had been a glorious golden year, and at the end of it over half the
team had graduated and left. Even when he'd left America, the place
he'd been born and grown up in, it hadn't hurt so much, and for the
first time he felt the real implications of what it meant being the
"Ochibi", the baby of the team.
They were all going to leave him
second year hadn't been too bad. He'd still had Kaidou and Momo to play
against, even though he could beat both of them four times out of five,
and there had been some promising new players who'd joined. Most of his
really good opponents had moved on too, but some were still around, so
at least he had a few decent games. And he still saw all his other
senpai on weekends and occasionally after school for practices and
friendly games (ha!), and even the occasional "reunion outing".
But it just hadn't been the same.
Then Kaidou and Momo left, and he
was all alone.
to make friends his own age that last year, inside the team and out.
But he'd never really been particularly socially adept, and to be
honest he didn't really WANT to be friends with most of his
contemporaries. They were so JUVENILE. And they weren't very good at
tennis. He'd only really spoken to one person in any real depth at all
that year, a promising young player named Akira. Akira had come late to
tennis, but he had talent and a newly-discovered and enthusiastic love
of the game, and Ryoma had become quite fond of him by the time he
left, although only his senpai would have been able to tell.
Seigaku's pillar of support,” he'd told Akira on the last day of
school, his gaze unwaveringly locked on the younger boy. “Rise to meet
every challenge, and inspire others to rise with you. Don’t EVER give
up, and don’t let anyone else give up either. Lead.”
been an unusually eloquent and long speech for the normally
close-mouthed Echizen, but he’d felt that an occasion as important as
the handover of the captaincy of the team required special effort.
his own had been somewhat different: “It’s you next year,” Kaidou had
growled. “Don’t embarrass us. Dismissed.” But he’d understood the
underlying message well enough).
He’d been very surprised to find
that it had meant more to him that he’d expected.
now he had left too, and everything was new. He was no longer the first
year prodigy, the vice-captain, or captain. He was starting over again.
Would it be the same? It was useless to want to go back, but that first
year of Junior High... when they'd all become a team...
Wasn’t he a loner anyway?
not. He wanted it again. He might be able to have it again. They were
all here. All of them, even Kawamura-senpai, although he'd quit the
team. But they were all HERE. Maybe he COULD go back, just for a little
while. It hadn’t been so bad, and... well, it hadn’t been si bad. Maybe
they could recreate those days. He would find out today if they could
do it again.
If he could just make it to the
Ryoma glumly considered his
sneakers as his pace slowed.
He didn't want to go. He didn't
want to find that it would all be different. He didn't want them to
was so pathetic! He couldn’t even get up the energy to be irritated,
and he was ALWAYS irritated by SOMETHING. But all he could think about
was that it had been a month since they'd thrown him a farewell party,
and he'd sent some postcards, but there had been no point in them
replying, and no-one had visited last night when he'd returned and
maybe they were avoiding him...
His head lowered even further and
his shoulders slumped as he dragged his feet.
It wouldn't be the same.
Ryoma halted, and slowly raised his
Sparkling eyes greeted him.
know," Momoshiro said, grinning widely. "You could walk into someone if
you don't watch where you're going. Look in front of you when you walk,
Ryoma blinked as a memory surfaced
depths of his mind. It lingered out of reach, but in a rare display of
effort, he grabbed for it and pulled it close.
*Oh yeah. That's what he said the
first time we met.*
Momo sighed at the unmoving boy and
grabbed his hand, tugging him along. "Hurry up, we're going to be late."
felt like he was moving through a dream as they neared the courts. He
could see familiar figures waiting, and Momo dragged him along faster.
"Found him!" Momo yelled as they
Eiji yelled, flinging himself at the boy. Ryoma grunted as the impact
knocked him to the ground. "Where have you BEEN? We've been looking all
over for you!"
"Eiji, don't tackle him like that!"
Oishi ran up.
"Are you alright Echizen? How are you feeling? Your flight only got in
yesterday, are you having any problems with jet-lag?"
"Ah, for that I have Inui's special
Jet-Lag-Be-Free Tea!" Inui materialised behind him, clutching a
container. "Drink it."
"Waaa! Don't go poisoning him on
his first day at school!" Eiji yelled, hugging Ryoma fiercely.
"It's perfectly safe, I tested the
effects on Kaidou earlier," Inui said.
statement would have been more reassuring were Kaidou not rolling
around on the ground, clutching at his throat and hissing. Fuji stood
over him, holding a half-empty cup. "Piquant," he murmured, sipping at
Momo burst out laughing, "The
perfect reaction for the viper!"
suddenly underwent an amazing recovery and began yelling something at
Momo, apparently a continuation of an argument they'd been having
Ryoma slowly got to his feet, aided
by Oishi and
hindered by Eiji, and absently accepted a water flask from Kawamura,
before realising who it was.
Echizen," the taller boy smiled at him gently. "Tezuka-buchou asked me
to help out with the club this year, even if I'm not playing anymore.
It's good to see you again. Have you grown a little?"
"More milk needed in his diet,"
Inui muttered, making notes. "Height/weight ratio estimated at..."
group quietened and turned. Tezuka regarded them all with a narrow
gaze. "Club started five minutes ago," he said quietly. "20 laps around
There was a loud chorus of "Yes,
Buchou!" and everyone immediately set off.
"Echizen," Tezuka called out.
hung back and lowered his head again as Tezuka walked over, wishing he
was wearing his hat so that he could tug it down. He felt weird,
off-balance and unsure of himself.
A hand landed on his shoulder and
"I presume you've brought the
application for membership with you?" Tezuka asked.
Ryoma found himself blinking at
Tezuka in surprise. "Umm..." he felt around in his pockets. "No?"
frowned at him slightly and handed over a sheet of paper. "Inui filled
it in. Look over it while you get changed and let me know if he got
Tezuka walked away to keep an eye
on the running and chattering team.
feeling a bit dazed, Ryoma quickly ducked into the changing rooms to
get into his tennis gear, and scanned the membership form, feeling both
oddly pleased and deeply worried that he didn't need to make any
changes to it.
Jogging back out to the courts, he
handed it to
Tezuka and was motioned to join in with the runners. "They’re up to
twelve," the older boy said quietly. "Catch up quickly, there’s much to
Ryoma nodded and jogged on the spot
until the main group came into view.
"Welcome back," Tezuka said with a
small smile as the younger boy dropped into place with his old
time you got here," Momo said, swiping at him as he fell in with the
others. Ryoma ducked his head to avoid the swat and sent a tentative
smirk at Momo in reply.
The older boy frowned at him. "Now
Echizen, for the last time, make sure you look IN FRONT of you when you
run! In FRONT!!!"
Ryoma grinned as the others added
comments and Tezuka yelled at them to pick up the pace.
It was different, yes. But the
feeling was the same.
He didn't need to worry about
looking backwards anymore.
From now on, he was only looking
Argh... actually my second PoT fanfic. I thought I could handle it, but
I was wrong. Just what I didn't need. Another obsession. *groans*
was originally supposed to end at the point where Momo encounters
Ryoma, because I LOVE their meeting in the second episode, when Momo
tells him to look in front of himself when he walks. The reminder to
look in front when he walked, kind of got mixed up in my head with the
often-used metaphor of moving forwards which appears in FMA, and I
decided I wanted to use it to bring the story back to where the series
started. However, I promptly got crash-tackled by Eiji, who insisted on
appearing, and then he said that I had to put all the others in as well
in order to be fair. So, the whole gang wound up in there after all.
In one of those weird coincidence
things, both Orla and I wrote PoT fics in which we needed another
player and both of us named him Akira. I guess we just like the name.