AN: Hello, y'all! Before you begin to read, please take the time to look over my author's note.
To Rinko fans: I would recommend turning away now if you do not like the fact that Rinko will be my antagonist. I do not know her character very well (it's not really explored very well in the manga or anime) and have thus manipulated it to fulfill my needs. She will be OOC, and you will probably hate me for what I am going to have her do. Do not flame me, for you have been warned.
Dedication: This story was inspired by chapter 48 of expendable's Changechildren.
About Japanese: In Japan, the honorific system is an important part of the language. Many of these honorifics do not translate well, and some of those can be used as words on their own. As such, the only Japanese I will use in this story are directly related to the honorific system. Translations will be at the bottom of each chapter.
Standard Disclaimer: Sugarpony does not own Tennis no Ohjisama. It belongs to the brilliant Takeshi Konomi. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Angst, child abuse, psychological abuse, OOC.
If Wishes Were Horses
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches, I would wear one by my side.
And if "ifs" and "ands"
Were pots and pans,
There'd be no work for tinkers!
-"If Wishes Were Horses," a Mother Goose nursery rhyme
"See ya tomorrow, Echizen!" Momoshiro waved goodbye to his friend as the two separated for the evening. Ryoma shouldered his tennis bag and turned the corner, heading for his own home. It was currently the off season, but the tennis club met after classes every afternoon regardless. Now that Ryoma had finally joined his senpai at Seishun High School, he and Momoshiro had returned to their tradition of grabbing burgers after practice, conning one of their elder teammates into buying whenever they could.
Today, Ryoma had been stuck with the bill, since Momoshiro had changed his plans of visiting a sports equipment store to join him. But as much of a sour face Ryoma had made at his friend's insistence, he really didn't mind. After all, it gave him an excuse to avoid returning home for an extra two hours.
He, his father, and his mother had been living in America the last two years but had returned shortly before the spring semester had begun in order for Ryoma to finish high school with his friends. The three of them lived once again in the house behind his father's temple, but his cousin Nanako had recently married and lived across town with her new husband. His dad resumed his duties as a monk, spending his free time (as always) lying around reading porn, while his mom worked at the local division of her company's law firm.
At first glance, things were not so different from when they had lived in Japan two years prior. Ryoma, however, knew better. Things had been tense between his parents for a while. He head been hopeful that returning to Japan would help, but instead it seemed to have only made things worse. His mother and father rarely spoke, and when they did it was always in short, harsh words. And more often than not, Ryoma was caught in the middle of it.
All things considered, Ryoma didn't think it too inconceivable that he was always looking for an excuse to stay out just a little while longer. It was normal for him to drag his feet when cleaning the courts after practice and lag behind in the locker room. For the past few weeks, whenever he and Momoshiro separated, Ryoma retraced his steps and took the longer path home.
Finally, though, he turned onto his street and headed up the hill. All too soon, he was sliding open his front door and toeing off his shoes.
"I'm home," he called.
He held his breathe waiting for a response, and when none came he stepped lightly toward the stairs. As he was passing the kitchen, though, a chilled voice reach his ears.
Ryoma tugged the brim of his hat down over his eyes, shuffling in place. "Sorry," he mumbled. "Practice ran late."
Footsteps stormed toward him, and Ryoma braced himself as his mother slapped him across the face. "Don't you take that tone with me!" she screamed. "If you are going to be late, you should call! If you can't be grateful that a hot dinner is waiting for when you're supposed to be home, then you won't eat in this house!"
Ryoma kept his eyes to the floor as he muttered another apology. Another slap followed.
"I'm tired of your excuses! You need to learn to be thankful and respectful! Starting with not wearing that hat when you're in my house!" Said hat was summarily ripped from his head, painfully jerking Ryoma's neck to one side. The boy winced as his mother's arm reared back again, but the expected blow never landed.
Ryoma's father was tightly gripping his mother's wrist, a furious expression on his face. "What do you think you're doing, Rinko?" he growled.
"Let go of me, Nanjirou!" She tugged her arm, trying to break his hold. Nanjirou glowered.
"No," he said. "I won't let you hurt our son."
Rinko stilled. "Of course," she whispered, her voice dangerously quiet. "Of course, you're taking his side. You always take his side." She looked beseechingly into her husband's eyes. "Do I even matter to you anymore?"
Nanjirou wrapped his arms around Rinko and pulled her close. "Of course, you matter," he assured her. "You've always mattered. I love you." Then he gently lifted her chin and met her eyes. "But I won't allow you to harm our son."
"Lies!" Rinko shoved him away, shaking her head in denial. "All lies! You never cared about me! All you ever cared about was tennis!" She fell against the wall, sobbing. "I thought we could make it work. When he came along, I thought we could be a family, but it just made things worse!"
A knife twisted in Nanjirou's heart as he watched his wife fall apart.
"It was always 'Ryoma' this, 'tennis' that. Nothing I did mattered anymore! You were always with him, and you still are, playing tennis, teaching him new tricks, encouraging him, being in his life more than you were ever in mine! You took him away from me!"
She was yelling at Ryoma again, a dangerous glint in her eyes, as she grabbed his by both arms, squeezing tightly and viciously digging her fingernails into the flesh beneath his jacket. "You took away everything I ever had, everything I ever wanted! It's all your fault! If it wasn't for you, I would still have my husband! If it wasn't for you, I never would have had to come to Japan! If it wasn't for you, I would be happy!"
She shook him violently and slammed him into the wall, and Ryoma winced as his head knocked into the wood. Rinko's eyes were unfocused as she continued, hysterical.
"But instead, I'm forced to take care of this family, working myself to my grave every day, and for what? To come home to a husband who would rather look at a stupid magazine than his own wife? To an ungrateful brat who never shows any thanks for what I've done for him? To a monster who takes my husband away from me?
Nanjirou hurried forward, afraid of what his wife might do, but she had already thrown Ryoma across the room and into another wall. Before he could move, Rinko was at his throat, long, manicured fingernails digging into his neck, hands clenching and cutting off his air supply. "You're a monster! A demon! You deserve to die a slow and painful death! I wish you had never been born!"
In less than a second the former tennis champion had crossed the room and thrown his wife off of their–no, his–son. "Get out." His voice was dangerously low, and he was practically growling at the woman before him.
" . Now."
Rinko looked her husband in the face with heartbroken eyes, and she let out a muffled sob as she stood. "I tried," she choked, tears on her face that was already red with anger. "I really did. But it wasn't enough." With no more words, she grabbed her purse, slid into her shoes, and raced out the door onto the dark temple grounds.
Nanjirou wasted no more time on the woman and hurried to where his son sat still on the floor. A haunted look was in his usually bright golden eyes, and he made no move to get up from his spot. The monk wanted to cry, but he knew that he needed to be strong for his son. Gently, he took the broken boy into his arms and carried him up the stairs to the bathroom where he set him on the toilet seat. He then grabbed the first aid kit out of the medicine cabinet, bandaged his head and neck, and left to retrieve ice for his bruises. When he returned, Ryoma still had not moved.
Sighing, Nanjirou carried his son to his bedroom, where he laid him on his bed and tucked the covers around him. Karupin curled up next to his master, sensing the boy's distress.
Echizen Nanjirou had always been a strong-willed person; after all, he had been a world champion before he had retired from his tennis career. He had always been optimistic, even though he rarely showed it. He had high hopes for his son, and he wanted to help him to achieve his full potential.
He supposed, however, that Rinko had been right, in a way. He had been too focused on Ryoma to see his wife's unhappiness. She had never been one to display her emotions, but to his credit, her husband had noticed the subtle changes in her behavior. She had, as of late, become more and more irritable, and Nanjirou had tried to approach her about the subject. She had always shrugged him off, however, and muttered an excuse about stress from work. Never would he have dreamed that his wife had been jealous of their son!
How long had this been going on? Was it a recent development, or had it been growing inside of her for months or even years? Ryoma was a symbol of their love, and Nanjirou had always seen and treated him as such. Rinko, apparently, had seen him as competition for the man's affection, and she had reacted accordingly.
Whatever the reason, though, Nanjirou would not–could not–forgive his wife for her actions. She had brutally attacked their only son in numerous ways, with the intent to hurt and destroy. She was no longer the woman with whom he had fallen in love.
The Samurai, now feeling less worthy of his title than ever before, gazed sadly at his son, who had not even closed his eyes yet. Not knowing what to say, he decided to speak without thinking.
"Nothing she said is true, Ryoma," he said. There was no reaction from the boy in the bed. Nanjirou blinked hard, fighting back tears, and continued. "You haven't done anything wrong. You are the best thing that ever happened to me, and I'd be lost without you.
"Rinko..." He swallowed hard at a lump forming in his throat. "She isn't worthy of being your mother. She was, once, but something changed. I don't think anyone could have prevented it even if we had noticed. This is all her problem, and she'll see that she's wrong, some day."
Ryoma had turned onto his side by now, as if he wanted to block out the words of comfort. "Ryoma," his dad said, "do you understand? You did nothing wrong. None of this is your fault." The young tennis champion, looking anything but at the moment, laid still for several moments before slowly nodding. Nanjirou breathed a sigh of relief.
"Good." They both remained where they were in silence for what seemed like hours but was really only minutes before the elder spoke again. "I'm going to call the school tomorrow morning and tell them that you'll be staying home. You need to rest now, and we both need to figure some things out." He then turned to leave the room, hesitated in the doorway, and turned back to kiss his son on the head before retiring to his own bed for the night.
Ryoma laid under the covers, unmoving, for the rest of the night. He could think of nothing but his mother's words. He had failed both of his parents as a son; he had forced his mother to leave because he had been selfish, and he had disappointed his father by being unable to defeat him in tennis. They had both sacrificed their time and worked hard for nothing. And now, his parents had both lost the love of their lives because of him.
At that moment, Echizen Ryoma, Samurai Jr., Prince of Tennis, Seigaku's star rookie, and three-time champion of the US Open wished for nothing more than to make everything return to the way it was.
At that moment, Echizen Nanjirou, the original Samurai and former tennis world champion wished for nothing more than to ease his son's and his own pain caused by his wife's betrayal.
At that moment, Echizen Rinko wished for nothing more than the death of her son and the love of her husband.
But if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
senpai - upper-classman/men
AN: Wow. Has it really been almost six years since I first wrote this? That's just... wow. Anyway, here's the revamped version of chapter one. Not really any changes plot-wise, as I'm trying to keep everything as close to the original as I can. The only times I'll be changing the plot is if I find something truly cringeworthy, as the whole point of this revamp is to get the story in a shape where I can feel confident finishing it with my writing skills and style that have changes in the past (wow!) almost six years.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it!
Second Edit: 2/09/08
Third Edit: 3/25/08
Fourth Edit: 1/05/13