A New Beginning

A Prince of Tennis Fudoumine Fanfic

By Jaelle

Rating: G. Angst, drama.
Setting: At the Nationals.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All Konomi-sensei's.
For a challenge posed on fudo_courts: new beginnings.

"There they are!"


"Have you heard about their Captain?"

"Attacked their own coach and sempai..."

"... dangerous..."

"Don't mess with them."

"... more like a gang than a tennis team..."

"Ah, fame," Mori muttered as Fudoumine Tennis Team walked through the groups of spectators at the National tennis championships. "How sweet it isn't."

"Think anyone will ask us for our autographs?" Uchimura joked.

"They will when we win," Kamio said, a snarl in his voice. The others cast him nervous looks. Kamio had been on edge for days now, and this was not looking promising.

"Kamio, walk with me," Tachibana called over his shoulder, and the younger boy hurried to catch up to his Captain, who then rested a hand on his shoulder. The rest of the team watched as the tension slowly drained out of Kamio's body as their Captain addressed a few quiet words to him, and relaxed in turn.

It wasn't always like this, Sakurai thought as Kamio fell back into the main group and began making outrageous predictions about today's games to amuse the others. No, it hadn't always been this way. People often talked about their past, about how the core of Fudoumine's team had rebelled against their abusive sempai and coach, how they'd carried on to train with no support and very few resources, and then fought their way to the Nationals under the leadership of their Captain. The wild card challengers, the dark horses, the outsiders. It was now part of the legend of Fudoumine, the team who Shouldn't Have Been. Shouldn't have been able to come together, shouldn't have been able to win, shouldn't have been here, at the Finals with the top teams in Japan.

But here they were.

People talked about how their shared experiences had cemented Fudoumine into an unstoppable, unbreakable force. Unlike other teams, Fudoumine were entirely free of internal conflicts. People talked about their loyalty and friendship, their "unbreakable bonds".

It wasn't always like this.

Sometimes Sakurai wished he could tell them the truth. That it wasn't as simple as people made out. Fudoumine weren't naturally bonded together from birth. Hell, most of them hadn't even known each other until they'd all joined the school tennis team. Out of the entire group, only Shinji and Mori had known each other previously. Kamio had been a new arrival to the area, and Uchimura, Ishida and himself had never encountered each other before. Their first week at the club they'd begun to scope each other out and form tentative friendships, but those had been nothing like what they had now.

Shinji had been weird, and ostracised because of it. Mori and Kamio had formed a tentative friendship, but ultimately found they had nothing in common. Uchimura mostly hung with Sakurai, but that had been more for convenience than genuine interest in becoming friends. Sakurai himself had held himself a little more aloof from the others, and had consequently come across as snotty. And they'd all been intimidated by Ishida's looks. It had taken them three weeks to realise that behind the painfully tall, dangerous appearance, was an extremely shy young man.

They hadn't always been a team. But they had become one, eventually. A struggling, tormented, leaderless one, barely worthy of the title, but a team nonetheless.

They hadn't banded together out of friendship, and it wasn't a shared history that made them such a cohesive team. No, it had been fear. Fear and pain. Sakurai supposed they owed their sempai some thanks for that. If it hadn't been for their abuse and violence, the boys would probably never have banded together so strongly. And if they hadn't seen what bad leadership looked like, they would never have appreciated good, decent leadership when they found it. Tachibana-san's arrival had been like a godsend to the beleaguered boys, and they were all aware of how much they truly owed him. They could never have come so far without his guidance. He'd praised their strengths, advised them on how to overcome their weaknesses, and done his best to mend their hurts. He and Ann had offered the team a new beginning, and it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

"Oi, Sakurai!"

A jerk on his collar brought him to a halt, and he turned his head to see Ishida grinning at him. "The courts are this
way. Get with it, man. You were a million miles away."

Sakurai blinked, and then raised an eyebrow loftily and swept Ishida's hand loose from his collar majestically. "In fact, I was years away, not miles."

Ishida rolled his eyes at him. "Well, whenever you feel like checking into the here and now, we'll be waiting for ya."

Sakurai looked past his friend to see the rest of the team watching him in amusement.

It wasn't always like this.

But it was now. This here was the now... and the now was good.

"I'm here. I'm here already. Let's get started!"

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