Disclaimer- PoT is not mine.
Author's Notes- Song by Tegan and Sara. This could be considered sort of a series of drabbles as opposed to a story. These are set at different times and not necessarily in chronological order. It's more a product of writer's block than anything else.
One time in your life
You've got the route in hand but the map is stuck
They said it's not your fault
The tires are tired
The camera moves and your driver's been pulled
I have always felt this
I could never hear it
Ryoma loved Karupin. There were very few things in this world he even liked, and the only thing he'd ever confess to loving was tennis. But he loved his cat.
He woke with the sun in his eyes, pushing its way through the blinds on his window. At the bottom of the bed there was Karupin, curled around his ankle. Ryoma yawned, rubbing his eyes. How had Karupin gotten there? He must have slid down somehow, Ryoma realized sleepily. His eyes couldn't check, somehow not wanting to open. Karupin's claws were embedded there in his leg, a bit of blood pooling there from some shallow cuts. Wincing through a yawn, Ryoma reached down and pried the sleeping cat off his leg, hugging him to his chest. Clock, clock, clock... where was his clock...
He was late, Ryoma realized, but he couldn't bring himself to care much. Why should he care what they wanted? He just didn't. He'd be going to play tennis, but it wasn't like he'd get to play buchou anyway...
"Wake up, Karupin," Ryoma whispered. He didn't really want to get up if his cat didn't. Why hadn't the old man waken him up? Maybe he could beat Momo-sempai at practice. He hoped Momo-sempai was late like him, so he could still get a ride.
Ryoma groaned, Karupin stirring in his arms. He struggled to get up, pulling the hem of the big red T-shirt he slept in downwards. He sighed, and vaguely hoped it would be laps instead of juice.
If Momo-sempai wasn't there, Ryoma would definitely be wiping the courts with him at practice.
"Momo-sempai!" Ryoma called, waiting at the gate of his house, the regular's jacket slung over his slender shoulders a bright red and blue beacon. Momo put down a foot, slowing his bike and turning to the sound of the younger boy's voice.
"Hey, Echizen, you're sure late today!"
"You too, sempai," Ryoma smirked. He vaulted over the gate easily, hauling himself onto the back of Momo's bicycle. Wrapping his arms around his sempai's middle, Momo pushed off and they were skidding away.
"Have a good day, Ryoma-kun!" Ryoma's cousin Nanako yelled out after him.
Momo laughed. "She's cute!"
Ryoma leaned forward and, pulling the fabric of Momo's jacket and shirt aside, bit Momo, rewarded with a cry. "Anyone related to me is off limits."
"You bit me," Momo breathed, horrified. Thankfully, his feet still pedaled on, bike teetering down the street, rising sun bright in their eyes.
"Yeah," Ryoma said, all matter of fact. "You think? Come on, faster." He reached out, touched the spot on Momo's neck he'd chomped.
"You're such a brat, Echizen," Momo groaned. "You're not being cute right now... neh, are you gonna kiss it and make it better?"
They were late to practice, so Tezuka made them run laps. Even though Momo's legs were longer, Echizen was kinda faster than him. It pissed Momo off. And every time Echizen passed Momo, he jumped to tiptoe and touched his back. Ma-a-da ma-da-a da-a-a-a-ne.
For some incomprehensible reason Tachibana's little sister was there, clad in pretty school uniform and heart barrettes and cute smile, waiting at one of the corners to talk to Momo. Momo stopped running to see her, and they began to argue and laugh together, good friends. Ryoma, running past, didn't say anything, smiling smugly. Baka Momo-sempai, he thought, catching the name of Fudomine's stupid speed demon.
The two of them played a match when they'd finished running, the rest of the regulars already paired off. Momo could return Echizen's Twist Serve, which annoyed him. He tried hitting it faster, harder, at a different angle, but his sempai had just seen it too many times. Ryoma decided that he hadn't been training enough recently. He wasn't really interesting in watching Momoshiro's tennis anyway. Momo hadn't noticed, but his opponent was watching Tezuka and Fuji's match a lot more than their own.
Tezuka won easily and quickly, 6-0 straight points. Fuji's smile was just as brilliant. Tezuka looked angrier than Echizen had ever seen, a bit of it even showing through his stoic visage. Across the court, looking away from his match with Taka, Inui was shaking his head.
"Fuji," Tezuka said. "Thirty laps."
Fuji began to run. Echizen nodded to him.
So I turned it up and turned it on
And turned it down
Always the volume always the words
Review the press and tell it like it is
Your life is hype, your love is hype
"Seishounen?" Nanjiroh called, poking his head into Ryoma's room. "Wanna get slaughtered at tennis?"
"I'll win this time," Ryoma said confidently, grabbing his racket and following his father down.
But when they got to the court, lit by a big cheddar cheese-orange sunset, no shabby racket of Nanjiroh's was waiting for him, no balls to hit. Ryoma blinked, turning big yellow eyes to his father. "What?"
"Ryoma," Nanjiroh said, taking on a serious expression and pounding on his chest, looking very self-important.
Ryoma was confused, but didn't want to show it. "Baka oyaji," he muttered. "What's going on?"
"It's come to my attention that you aren't very well-versed in the facts of life," Nanjiroh said, puffing up, face taking on a bit of a leer. "So I figure it's about time for the Talk.
"The Talk?" Ryoma winced. He'd actually heard a little about this... "Since when are you interested in doing your fatherly duty?" Well, since it involved the matter of women.
"Okay!" Nanjiroh said, ignoring his son's dig at him. "Sit down, this may take a while." He leered, though Ryoma didn't sit. "So you know where babies come from, right?" He took out a few tennis balls from his pocket, fingering them, and smiled.
"I lived in America, oyaji," Ryoma said. His eyes darted, searching for the best escape route. "Do I really have to hear this?"
"There are some things only your father can teach his son," Nanjiroh said, then took on a thoughtful expression. "Even if that son's a brat with no talent at tennis." Ryoma rolled his eyes, lower lip unconsciously sticking out in a slight pout.
"So here's the way the world works," Nanjiroh announced, continuing. "Men and women. Women are pretty and curvy and sweet, especially the younger ones. Many may be bitches, though, so watch out. Still, they are there, and they have that One Special Purpose..."
"I get it," Ryoma said, flinching at his father's implication.
"It's nice to look at them. It's nice to touch them. It's healthy to want to and to Do So. It helps your tennis. It hurts your tennis, though, to take your dad's magazines with the girls.
But if you remember that, and bring Father some lovely ladies to chat with every now and then, you'll do me proud following in my lady-killing footsteps."
Ryoma let his racket drop from his hand and fall on the ground with a thump. "Mada mada, oyaji," he said nonchalantly. "You're just a stupid old pervert."
Nanjiroh smirked, the smirk Ryoma had copied. "Your loss. But your mother said I should explain the mechanics, you know..."
Ryoma would have let himself look dismayed if he'd been genuinely losing a tennis match. He would have shown his panic if he'd been threatened with, say, Inui's special new juice. But for this he showed nothing, though inside he was cringing.
"Okay," Nanjiroh began, "Sex is when you stick your thing inside a woman. You do have a thing, right, kid?"
The color of Ryoma's cheeks became a bit closer to the red R on his trademark cap. "Y-yeah."
"Well, there's a hole it goes in. You stick it there, and then you-" Nanjiroh demonstrated an in and out motion with his hands, making a weird face and nodding knowledgeably. "Then you let it loose. Oh yeah, before that, there's kissing, which is cool, and well, 'turning on the headlights'- that's COOL- but remember, foreplay is something women like. It's generally a waste of time, even if they whine afterwards."
"Oi, oyaji," Ryoma said, asking only to see the look on his father's face. "What about sex between two guys?"
He got to see what he'd wanted. Nanjiroh's features all sort of turned to mud, sagged and dislocated off his face in shock, mouth wide enough for him to have held more than a few of the tennis balls he was holding. "W-why would you want to know that?"
Ryoma just smirk-grinned at his dad, pulling his cap down and hooking his arms carelessly behind his back. "Maybe I'm cu-ri-ous."
In a matter of seconds, Ryoma had been dragged to Nanjiroh's side and had his face shoved in several girl magazines, conjured from inside Nanjiroh's robe. Ryoma had always thought his father wasn't as perverted as he could have been, pictures in the magazines showing girls in bathing suits or pretty dresses, nothing you wouldn't really see in the streets or on the beach. They were pretty, but he didn't understand how his dad could look at things like this all the time. It was kinda boring. But the idea of it... Ryoma felt a bit more of a flush creeping up his face.
"Well?" Nanjiroh said expectantly.
Ryoma frowned critically. He stared at their big chests, the long, silky hair flowing behind their tiny, made-up faces. "Well, they won't be able to play tennis very well, will they? Hey, can we play tennis now?"
"Alright, then," Nanjiroh sighed, taking his beloved pictures back, assuming a determined look, almost a puckered-fish expression. "I thought it might be like this, seishounen. My son!" he suddenly sobbed. "Just be a seme and not an uke, okay?"
Ryoma's face was becoming even hotter. "Huh?"
"Well, all that is one way to win a game..."
There's more there's more than blood
That beats through my heart
Stuck between my tongue and my teeth
"My brain hurts," Momo complained.
"English test?" Ryoma smirked.
Momo groaned. "Ugh. Come on, Echizen, I want food."
"Burgers, right?" Echizen asked, for once more energetic than his sempai. Man, Momo sighed, he'd thought too much.
They went, walking down to the same place as usual, Echizen unsuccessful in his efforts to freeload off Momo. After scarfing down a few double cheeseburgers and a large chocolate shake, Momo seemed to regain his spirits. "Aw, I love food," Momo grinned, feeling the happy feeling spread to his head.
"If you get fat, you won't be able to play tennis, Momo-sempai," Ryoma said, looking as bored with the place as he could possibly manage. Instead of getting pissed at his kouhai's attitude, though, Momo blinked, chewing on his lower lip, and took on a worried look.
"You don't think I'm ugly, do you, Echizen?" Momo blurted.
Ryoma raised an eyebrow, taken aback. "Why would you ask that?" He was staring at Momo like he was an alien. Maybe the test really had fried the other guy's brain.
"Well," Momo said, "I don't think anyone likes me, even though you and Buchou and Fuji-sempai and everyone have so many fans, and Tachibana Ann is gonna ask out Kamio Akira. And we learned how to say handsome and ugly when we were doing adjectives in English class, and when I described myself as handsome Kaidoh called me really stupid and all the girls laughed at me. And-" Momo stopped, laughed, rubbing the back of his head. "Eh, it's stupid to say these things. Baka. I sound like a girl."
"You're right," Ryoma said, "Baka. Mada mada dane."
"Don't you ever worry-" Momo snuck a glance at Echizen, stuffing some fries in his mouth and speaking around them. "Well, I guess you wouldn't. But I, um, I guess I just really want people to like me."
"What do you mean by saying that I wouldn't have to worry?" Ryoma grinned. "You think I'm good, Momo-sempai?"
Momo shrugged. "Well... what do you think?" He reached forward, ran a hand through Echizen's silky hair, rustling it. He let his hand fall down, trace Echizen's face, settle on slightly parted lips, thin and sharp.
"Don't touch me," Echizen said, lips and tongue shaping the words around Momo's finger, around his Dad smirk. "You're too old and fat and ugly."
"I'm gonna order another burger," Momo said, and licked his lips.
"Usu," Echizen sort of hissed, and then had licked around Momo's finger. Momo inhaled sharply, surprised.
"Brat," Momo said, more softly than usual.
Echizen let him go, reaching for one of Momo's fries. "Mada mada-"
"Oh, and thanks," Momo said. "I think I'm good, too."
Two times in your life you will trace the edge
Sink your toes in
Review the press and tell it like it is
My life is hype my love is hype
I will clench my own fist
I will always wait
Echizen and Momoshiro still sucked at doubles.
Ryoma never played doubles in competition after that one match against the Gyokurin pair. Aside from one match where he'd paired with Ibu Shinji, when he went to street tennis and had to play doubles, he only played with Momo. They did often go to the courts, and often had to.
They still weren't even synchronized with each other. They could usually win most games through their own individual skills, but every once in a while they played a really good pair which saw through them. Then their combination would be broken, and with complete ease. Echizen sometimes thought about their one synchronized moment, the satisfaction as they both drew one end of the white line dividing the court between them. Frustrated at losing another point, Ryoma impulsively leaned down and drew the line a second time.
Why was Echizen Ryoma so bad at doubles? He wouldn't say it, but he knew he was. It wasn't Momo who was causing their problems. Momo could work together with anyone well, even one of his rivals who he always argued with, like Kamio or Kaidoh. Ryoma sometimes read doubles theory books when he had some time and got bored, but he didn't find any answers there.
He'd known he could beat the two stupid high-school kids by himself, 2-on-1, and he did, a perfect Drive B scissoring between them finally, claiming match point. Momo sighed hard. The high school kids glared at them with complete hatred, Echizen mostly. Like, it wasn't just them, the kid thought he was too good for his own partner, too.
When Ryoma was walking home that night, dark sky illuminated by only streetlights, something felt strange. He shifted his Seigaku bag on his shoulder uneasily, turned his eyes to the spotlight's glare. Then there was a sudden pressure, heat on his shoulders, and he turned, body tensing in reaction just before being thrown. He gasped, air smashing out of him as the metal wires of the fence he'd been launched into sliced into his back.
One of the high school kids from before stood there, figure dark against the shadows of the alley. Dark hair, slanted eyes, tall, lanky frame. "What do you want?" Ryoma asked, unruffled, schooling his face into boredom. Say, who are you, anyway?
"Stupid no-talent bitches like you need to be taught a lesson," the guy hissed. Ryoma's big gold eyes widened.
A noise forced itself out of Ryoma's throat as his arms were slammed above his head, and mouth invaded, freezing in shock as it was pushed open and claimed, teeth and tongue grinding into him. He choked, eyes too huge in his head, the black eyes before him open, mocking. Then Echizen smiled, leaned back and slammed his fist into the guy's stomach.
The boy fell back off Echizen, gasping. "What the hell was that?" Ryoma snapped.
"Someone needs to put you down to size, kid," high school hissed. He'd bit Echizen's mouth, and he could feel the blood start to pour in, pain spreading across his jaw.
"Don't fuck with me," Echizen whispered. "Get lost."
The high school kid stared at him, uncertain. Ryoma met his gaze, challenging, even though he was panting, the only sound in the night air. Then the other boy had run.
Echizen and Momoshiro sucked at doubles. Momo didn't notice the way Ryoma almost winced as he ate, the way he'd come early to both practices to change before the others. He didn't, in the split second Ryoma's regular jersey rode up as he served, see the bruises on his wrists- almost deliberate, that exposure might have been, as if he wanted some person to notice. When Momo tripped and fell trying to return Kaidoh's Snake, Ryoma, a court down, laughed at him. They went to the street courts together after getting their customary burgers, this time laughing with each other.
Before serving for their first match, Echizen bent down and drew a white line between them.
I'd wait up all night for you
"Hmm?" Ryoma said, turning to face the person who'd addressed him. He'd been lying on his back, staring up into the challengingly bright sunlight. Ryuuzaki-sensei's granddaughter Sakuno stood over him, the one who always cheered for him, braids still too long, tone of voice still too wimpy, too sweet. He didn't terribly mind her.
He stood, meeting her gaze. Something seemed serious, so he actually did move, which he wouldn't have otherwise. "What's up?" he asked. He hoped no one would see them alone together and tease him about this, like Momo-sempai or someone.
"Ryoma-kun, I- I-" she stopped, biting her lip.
"Something wrong?" Ryoma blinked, unsure.
"Ryoma-kun, I-" she looked down, summoning her courage. "Suki da yo."
Ryoma's eyes shot fully open, heart pulsing out. This had happened before, but never with someone who sort of mattered sometimes. Never with someone pretty and sweet like his mother. "I'm sorry," Ryoma blinked slowly, arrogance startled out of him. He felt suddenly very miserable. "I can't."
"Is- there someone else?" Sakuno forced out, voice even higher than usual.
Ryoma felt frozen, glued to the spot, gold eyes flat. Something like this just wasn't supposed to happen to him. He didn't know anything about this. This was something important, wasn't it?
"I don't know," Ryoma said, and she dissolved into sobs.
"I'm sorry," Sakuno whispered. "I'm so sorry."
"It's... good you're trying at tennis," Ryoma said.
"Could you at least tell me who?" she asked softly, face red.
"Hey, Echizen! You won't believe what Kikumaru-sempai told me!"
Momo ran up from the stairs, pushing the door to the roof open. He was stuffing his face with pieces of a probably-stolen meat bun. He stopped in mid-stride when he saw the two freshman, Echizen's grimness, Sakuno's tears. "What's going on here?" Momo asked.
Echizen turned. "Momo-sempai."
We don't know
So we wait for tomorrow
We don't know
So we wait for tomorrow
We don't know
So we only go forward
Ryoma sighed when Momo challenged his father to a game. He watched Momo win the serve and walk back to the baseline, sighed. Momo seemed to be waiting before he served, though. Leaning against the bench, Ryoma yawned pointedly.
"Hey, seishounen! Come on!"
Ryoma looked up. His best friend and father were both waiting. "Echizen..." Momo whined.
"He says you play doubles together," Nanjiroh said. "So I'll play you two. Show me what you can do with the idiot."
"We'll crush you, you annoying monk!" Momo snapped. "I mean, who ARE you, anyway?"
Ryoma, walking forward to take his place in front, pulled his cap over his eyes. This might be painful. And Nanjiroh crushed them, completely breaking their combination. By the end of the game set, 6-0, Ryoma was frustrated and embarrassed, and at Momo's throat just as much as Momo was at his. He turned surly, practically as angry at his partner as at the father he was even farther from beating like this.
Nanjiroh even had the gall to look surprised as he made match point. "Wow," he said. "You really do suck." Well, at least they'd scored a few points. And Momo had returned the Twist Serve his dad had done. That had annoyed Ryoma, though, his father using his move. And why had Momo-sempai and him lost so bad?
"Oh yeah!" Momo yelled in response to Nanjiroh's comment, sticking his head over the net. "I mean, who ARE you?"
Ryoma's eyes widened. Oyaji wouldn't tell Momo-sempai, would he? He'd specifically asked him not to tell his friends. But this was HIS father...
"Oh, you didn't know?" Nanjiroh said innocently. "I'll tell you, even though you suck almost as bad as my son."
"Son?" Momo scratched his head, sticking a hand in that stupid soft spiky hair.
"Echizen Nanjiroh desu," Nanjiroh grinned. Ryoma buried his head in his hands.
"WHA?" Momo shrieked, falling down and backpedaling. "You're-"
"Your kouhai's father," Nanjiroh said, grinning evilly. "So, my son's seme, right?"
We don't know...