Whooboy, where have I been? Er, happy new year? Happy Friday the 13th?
Fandom: Prince of Tennis
Characters: Tezuka, Ryoma
Genre: AU. Shortfic.
Spoilers: Very vague ones. Fuhgeddaboutit.
Summary: If Echizen's tennis had been perfect to begin with, where would Tezuka be?
Tezuka should have foreseen this outcome when Echizen had beaten Kaidoh and then Inui so easily in the ranking matches, six-love, six-love. He should have listened a little more to the rumours about the first year tennis genius from America that were whispered behind his back. He should have seen how much Echizen was holding back as he played, how bored he looked even as he showed Tezuka the most perfect tennis he would ever witness.
Tezuka should have understood why he felt so much relief, when the day finally came that Echizen approched him for a match it was to be a private one.
Afterwards, Tezuka rose from his knees and, as they shook hands across the net, Echizen looked up at him from underneath the brim of his cap and said, "Not bad, Tezuka-san. But you're still mada mada dane."
There was no appropriate reply in the face of such humiliation.
As they were leaving, Echizen handed over his regular's jersey and told Tezuka that his family was moving back to America.
"When?" asked Tezuka.
"When I make my dad see things my way." Echizen tapped his racket against his calf, and Tezuka understood exactly how this 'convincing' would be done. Despite himself, he was impressed.
As if reading Tezuka's thoughts, Echizen said, "You can see why high school tennis doesn't really hold my attention."
"Then why did you come to this school?"
"My dad made me."
Echizen must have seen something strange in Tezuka's face, because his expression softened a little and he said, "Don't take it personally. Maybe if I'd come to Japan in middle school it would have meant something...but now there's nothing here for me to learn."
Nothing, Tezuka wanted to say, is what your tennis is all about. He wanted to teach this child who was not-a-child about tennis. About tennis so perfect it was empty, about passion that burned so brightly it died to ashes before it could burn its hottest. But it was hardly Tezuka's place to say this to Echizen. Not after their game. So he simply said, "Of course."
Echizen smiled a little, as if glad to be rid of some small guilt.
"I'll go now. Thanks, Tezuka-san," he said.
And Tezuka watched him walk away.