Title: And The World Begins Again: Vanishing Smoke
By: Lucifer Hisaki/
Disclaimer: I don't own Tenipuri or we be seeing orgies upon orgies of yummy yaoi smex
Theme/Challenge (both number and theme title): 27 - Snow
Fandom: Tennis No Oujisama/Prince of Tennis
Pairing: Atobe Keigo/Fuji Syuusuke/Echizen Ryoma/Sanada Genichirou/Tezuka Kunimitsu
Rating: PG so far
Word Count: 2142
Summary: Ryoma wants to go back in time. He wants to fix all that had happened. Pre-OT5
Notes: Please don't kill me, it will get better! I promise! More of a Ryoma introspective general fic but the rest of the cast will make a cameo at the end and have more importantance in later parts. Will be Yaoiful at end. If this sounds too informative, blame my english class which I wrote this for.

And The World Begins Again

Vanishing Smoke
By Lucifer Hisaki

He shouldn't be doing this but he is.

In his fingers is a lit cigarette with blue wisps of smoke drifting away in the light breeze. It's night. Cold, wintry night complete with falling snow. His tennis bag is thrown aside in the nearest snowdrift along with his ever present white baseball cap. He likes it here. It's quiet and peaceful, Ryoma's alone. Alone with only his thoughts as company, just like when he first visited Japan three years ago.

He takes the cigarette and brings it to his lips, a slight salute in the gesture. His father's been dead for over a day now. The old man died from lung cancer, smoking the same brand in his calloused fingers. Ryoma does not want to go back home. He wants to go to the tennis courts and play a set, preferably against someone strong. No one in their right mind would play tennis in this snow storm. No one that is but Ryoma.

Ryoma's fifteen. Still short, only an inch or two taller than when he was twelve and the doctors said that he's probably going to stay 5'3" for good. That's okay, Ryoma thinks, height isn't that much of an advantage unless you make it one in tennis. Tennis is the game he plays and played against his old man. Ryoma was already a professional player, after winning the US Open at age twelve. He has a good faith system from his old teammates and interschool rivals. They all believed in him and he won to pay their faith back. He even devoted that win to the ones that pushed him to where he was then, to what he was before the incident two years.

The courts have been empty for a good fortnight. It's close to Christmas Eve, his birthday. Ryoma's been in Japan for the inevitable funeral, he knows that his old man wouldn't live very long, even before he even stepped on that airplane, and everyone he recognizes doesn't remember him as he passes them by in the streets. Ryoma was his middle school's team's pillar of strength. He was their motivation, their friend. He had seen them all in various parts of their day for over a week. He only came back a week and a half earlier to visit his sickly father in a famous Tokyo hospital. He had to come despite his reluctance and hesitance; his mother said that his father was dying. Now the man's dead and so is his ambition.

Ryoma's only purpose in playing tennis was to beat his father. The man was a Legend, a mythical god, he was the best there was. He was the Samurai who left the professional realm of tennis only mere moments before becoming the number one player in the world. Ryoma wanted to defeat that man, now that man, that Samurai, his father is dead and he will never have that chance ever again.

Ryoma wants to play against his old school's Captain. The one that made him believe that there was more to tennis than conquering his father the Samurai. Ryoma lost his way and no one is there to catch him as he falls into his dark void.

Instead, all he has left besides his Seigaku jersey was a pack of cigarettes his old man left behind and a switch knife in his sweat pant's pocket. His bag has three tennis rackets but they haven't been used since months before Ryoma's own encounter with death. Trouble, he muses, is always at our heels, naa oyaji?

After a competition in France which he won two years, Ryoma was walking the streets when he was kidnapped. His captor was a man that stalked him for over half a decade. The mad man even managed to get his hands on the boy more times than Ryoma would care to remember. It was always the same, usually. He would be torture and later when Ryoma was twelve and had returned to the United States a final time, rape. However that last time, he and his stalker met, his wrists and ankles were injured severely. His dominant tennis hand's wrist was broken twice in two different areas. Once he was rescued, Ryoma fell into a coma and the psychopathic stalker disappeared into the shadows. The doctors said when he was in a coma that he may never play tennis again.

Ryoma only woke up from his coma about three months after the ordeal, a good two months of a vegetable state. His wounds had healed but the doctor was right. Ryoma can no longer play long term sets of tennis matches without overexerting his wrists with pain, never mind the constant limping in his walk. So he stopped, sulked and moped in his Los Angeles home and dreamed of a day he defeated his old man. He trained hard and long with a professional trainer. All of it to prepare for the final match against his seemingly invincible old man. Then his purpose to becoming stronger died with his father just hours before.

So now here he is, in the snow, smoking his old man's last cigarette pack and watching the snow fall. Here, Ryoma is no one but a stranger, someone not remembered and easily forgotten. In a way, Ryoma is already forgotten. No one he knows recognizes him. The famous twelve year old tennis prodigy professional is no more. Ryoma's just a hurt fifteen year old boy now. His father died and no one cares about him. No one cares. Ryoma's gone.

Ryoma's cold in his thin jacket. Underneath that he only had a red and white polo shirt. Ryoma's freezing and he welcomes the frost into his blood. Ryoma doesn't want to die but he doesn't want to live either. His purpose, his goal, his ambition is gone just like the ashes of the cigarette in his mouth.

Ryoma wants to go back in time. He wants to fix all that had happened. He wants to have a closer relationship with his then-living father. Ryoma just doesn't know how. The only thing that was exchanged between his old man and him were insults. Ryoma wants to change that.

Ryoma's getting tired now. He can't keep his eyes open for very long. He wants to sleep and forget the world without his father and ambition. He wants everything to disappear. Ryoma wants his dad back. He wants his ambition back. A cold wetness touches his cheeks and his eyes threw open and wide. Ryoma's crying. His mouth quirked a little upward as he wipes the tears away with his cold jacket's sleeve.

It's cold tonight, Ryoma thinks. He is frozen still now. The snow is covering his body with a white blanket of cold ice. Ryoma should move or else he'd be buried in the snow. That's okay, I'm not that important anyway.

Ryoma closes his eyes and fall into a deep trance of indifferent nothingness. A passerby might note that he can hardly be seen from the drift that is covering him. His lips are a harsh ice blue. Ryoma wonders if his old man knew that he loved the bastard despite of everything that happened between them. Ryoma at least hopes that he did. They might not had a perfect father-son relationship but Ryoma wouldn't have it any other way. It was unique to both him and his father. It was perfect in his eyes. Ryoma just regrets not telling his father that he actually loved him in the words he knew his old man wanted to hear. He wasn't the best role model but he knew what was best for him.

Ryoma wants to play a tennis match with someone. He wants to play against someone he could rank as good as his old man. Someone that could be only moments from gaining the title of number one player in the world. Ryoma wants to defeat someone that powerful and maybe then he'd heal from his issues of abandonment. He wants to live one more time before the funeral, the final realization that all he had strived for is truly gone.

Ryoma planned to quit Professional Tennis after the funeral. There's nothing left for him now, nothing. Ryoma's just going to disappear into the woodworks. The only time he truly felt alive was when he was at Seigaku, when he was twelve. He wants his old man back to tell him that it's wrong. That it's not right to quit tennis now, just because he died. Ryoma wants someone he respected in middle school to reprimand him for even thinking that thought. No one is there. Ryoma's alone in the snow and he's loosing consciousness among the white. Ryoma was fading black in a white realm of snow.

Ryoma decides it's probably just as good of a time to go to sleep now. It's comfortable and he can't keep his eyes open anymore. His body won't move and Ryoma lost sight of his blue and white tennis bag. The cigarette on his lips is just a burning stub that's dangerously close to the edge of his mouth. Ryoma spits it out, away from him. Ryoma curls up a bit more and all becomes black.

Unknown to him, someone was and still is looking for him amongst the whiteness of snow. It's not his old man but someone he admired and still admires despite the years apart, it was his middle school's tennis captain. The bespectacled teen of nineteen has three companions with him, all of whom Ryoma played against and respected because of their tennis skills.

Ryoma's almost gone now; all that's left is the wisps of his dark hair in the snow, a stark contrast black blades and white dirt. The quartet comes closer to his location and one trips over his tennis bag, hidden in the whiteness of the clearing. They start calling his name, frantically. They split and walk around in circles, trying to find anything that assembles him amongst the cold white snow. Ryoma doesn't hear any of this. Ryoma's almost completely gone.

The captain looks down into the ground and spies something sticking out. It's the cigarette stub. Quelling the joy in his chest, he begins to dig around it and finds a shock of dark hair. Calling the others to him, he begins to excavate his surroundings with his hands. A splash of blue and he yells for the others to help him. In the edges of Ryoma's subconscious, he feels a tugging; Ryoma ignores it and go back to his numbing sleep.

The foursome begins to take him away from his snowy coffin and the moment Ryoma's finally revealed, he disappears into a sea of layered coats. One of the group calls the others of the search party through his cell phone. The captain and another teen carry him into their arms as the final member runs to the car to get it started.

The moment they get to the automobile, Ryoma has completely vanished in their arms.

Back into the clearing where they found his body, the cigarette stub glows orange before dying in a wisp of bluish smoke. The cigarette pack is forgotten amongst the snow before a passerby wipes the white ice off to retrieve it. His stubbled face lights up in a small grin before he takes out a white cancer stick from the pack. It lights up automatically in his fingertips and he inhales it.

He looks back to the fading car that Ryoma and his saviors disappeared into. His body flickers in and out against the wintry scene. His body floats inches off the floor in his black kimono. In one hand is a old wooden tennis racket and his short hair wisps in an imaginary wind. He waits patiently for hours as he smokes the pack to its demise. He has all the time in the world.

Next to the first specter, in a wisp of bluish grey smoke, a boy no older than twelve manifests amongst the snow. He wears a white cap and a blue and white polo and white shorts. In his left hand is a red tennis racket and a light blue wristband with two white stripes that adorn the same wrist. He looks up to the older man with catlike golden eyes. The boy mouths one word before he disappears, for good this time. But to where, the older man does not know. The boy might have gone back to the living as a miracle or to the next life.

Nanjiroh watches his son's spirit go and muses to the falling white sky, And the world begins again. Then the Samurai disappears into the sky and an empty box of cigarettes drop to the white floor only to be covered again in the snow.

Post Notes:
Anything from the vanishing in their arms in the car to the end can be skipped, I think. If you read my game plan on my Livejournal then no Ryoma's not going to die, at least completely. I will supply more info on the stalker in later parts. Please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me (repeats again and again).