Author's Notes: I do not own Prince of Tennis; it's all written for fun and no profit whatsoever. These 8, fairly short and simple drabbles were all written for Mother's Day and posted at Live Journal. I didn't use honorifics because of unfamiliarity, and I wouldn't want to butcher the language by trying.
Kirihara slammed his books onto his desk and slid unceremoniously into his seat.
"What's up?" his friend and classmate inquired, already seated behind Kirihara.
"My mom," Kirihara replied, turning around to face the classmate. "She's always on my case! Pick up this, pick up that, do this, do that! She's always telling me what to do when I go to to school or go out to hang with friends. Always telling me, 'Look both ways before crossing!'" he mimicked, "'Don't get caught by yourself at the mall at night!' or something else like that. Doesn't she know I can take care of myself? I'm not a baby anymore," Kirihara finished, suddenly aware that he was almost breathing hard. "Geez..."
"Sounds tough," the friend commented, offering a sympathetic smile.
"Well, not really..." Kirihara sighed. "She doesn't say that all the time, but when she does, it's really annoying. It's like she doesn't trust me."
The friend shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe. Maybe it's a way of showing she cares. I wish my mom was like that. She doesn't ask about my school work or...anything. Too busy and stuff."
Kirihara didn't really know what to say; he wasn't the best in those kind of situations where people expected comforting words.
Still, he pondered over his friend's words. For as long as he could remember, Kirihara's mother had been a bit of a worry-wart, even more so now that his dad traveled overseas from time to time. She did like to make sure that Kirihara and his older sister, Akiko, had their homework complete or were home on time.
Maybe it was better she was like that then not showing any sign that she cared at all about their welfare. Kirihara leaned his head on his hand, deciding he would think more on this.
Later that day, Kirihara's mother fainted when she discovered her grinning son standing in the middle of his freakishly clean room – spotless and organized for the first time in months.
"Hurry up," Niou called from the sidewalk, watching ten-year-old Masaaki bend down to grab the pencil and action figure he had dropped.
Every morning, Niou was expected to get his brother up and ready for school. Both parents left early for work, and the boys' high school sister, Yukiko, was probably still sleeping. Oh, well. She wasn't his responsibility, Niou concluded.
"I'm coming, dork face," Masaaki retorted, clutching the straps of his backpack as he jogged to join an already walking Niou.
Niou just about spun around to face his brother, but kept forward instead. "Who taught you that?"
"Yukiko calls you that," Masaaki replied, as thought it were obvious. "Duh."
"Stop running off at the mouth," Niou said, reaching up to adjust his tie. "I don't know why I put up with you."
Masaaki grinned. "Because you love me."
"You just don't know when to shut up, idiot," Niou muttered, but nonetheless reached out with a hand to ruffle his brother's hair.
"Hey! Oh, plus Mom says you have to."
Niou didn't find that a surprise. It seemed as though Masaaki and Yukiko were the favorites, and Niou, the middle child, didn't get much attention. It's not like he wanted attention really...but it would be nice if they would say something other than "Don't do that again!" where his pranks were considered. That grew tiresome.
Masaaki went on. "She says she relies on you to get me ready and pick me up at the bus stop because Yukiko is not ris-pon-si-bull like you."
Niou arched an eyebrow. "Mom said that?"
"Yup." Masaaki kicked at a pebble. "She said that even though you drive her and Dad crazy, you have more sense than Yukiko. She says they don't need to worry about you lots. You're perfect..." he teased, adding his own opinion (Masaaki quite admired his cunning big bro).
Well, he would hardly go that far. Niou smiled to himself, glad to know those facts through his brother, because he'd sooner jump into traffic than hang around to hear all that sentimental twaddle firsthand from his parents.
He suddenly chuckled deeply.
Masaaki stared at him, puzzled. "What's with you?"
Marui dropped his jersey on the armrest of the living room couch, and watched his mother bend over to pick up a few toys that Saburo had left behind. "Saburo, I told you to remove these!" she yelled, moving to adjust a picture that had tilted on its side, courtesy of eleven-year-old Koji and his soccer ball. "Bunta, move your jacket," she said crisply to her eldest son, stopping to check the hall mirror for any hair strands that refused to conform to her neat hairstyle, as well as surveying for grays.
"What's going on?" Marui grabbed his tennis jersey and waited, wincing when he heard a thud from somewhere in the house, and eight-year-old Saburo's angry cry coupled with Koji's laughter.
"Your father and I are having company this evening," his mother answered, turning around swiftly to check on the cooling pie on the kitchen counter and stir the simmering, homemade soup.
Marui followed her, pausing briefly to inhale that sweet pie scent. "Mmm."
"And I don't have time to deal with you boys right now," his mother continued, as if he had inquired further about the situation. "Today's just been one thing after another, and there's still so much to do and—oh my, the time! They're going to be here any second." She sighed, moving to retrieve the utensils from a drawer.
Marui immediately felt guilty for all the difficult times he had put her through himself when he was younger (now he was busy with school, tennis, buffets, and more). "Relax. I'll take Koji and Saburo out until they're gone."
Another sigh, but a grateful one. "Thank you, Bunta." She spared a moment to squeeze his shoulder. "I really appreciate it."
"No big deal." Marui left the kitchen and called for his brothers. "Hey, guys, let's go! I'm taking you out for burgers and fries!" There went the money he was saving for the grand opening of a new restaurant buffet, but it was for a good cause.
"Yeah!!" chimed their voices, and running footsteps filled the air.
"Fast food?" His mother popped her head out, frowning.
Marui tossed her a grin. "It's that or face-first into that pie."
She only shook her head, going back into the kitchen, but then backed out one last time. "Are you sure you can handle them?"
Marui waved her question away, pulling on his jersey. "Of course I can handle them. Don't stress out, Mom."
The three brothers passed their father and the expected company on their way outside. One of the guests just had to ask, "How can you handle three boys?"
But Marui's mother simply smiled. "Oh, they're a handful...but I wouldn't trade them for anything."
Anyone who had ever seen, heard, or heard of the Sanada family knew the way they were, the way they carried themselves. They were hard-working people with silent pride, noble and traditional. The father, the provider, would go off to work, and the mother remained home, taking on the job of caring for the house and raising their two sons well, preparing them for the world and its inhabitants.
There were two boys to carry on the family name. While Sanada and his older brother, Genisamu, did not always see eye to eye, they knew what was expected of them, and conducted themselves in a proper manner, saving their arguments for when they were alone – usually – and they had the same smoldering, dark eyes with emotions that were either kept in check at appropriate times or released when necessary. You lived day in and day out, doing what needed to be done.
And that included chores and respecting their parents. If their mother asked or ordered for something, the two boys did as they were told. That day before the week began, Sanada was to accompany his mother to buy groceries and pick up other odds and ends, maybe one of those cat ornaments his mother liked to collect.
Now, Sanada knew most of the boys on his team, save for Yagyuu, would probably be somewhat embarrassed to be seen with their mothers, especially a mother who did not hesitate in scolding her sons if they did something wrong or inappropriate, even in public. True, Sanada did hesitate every now and then to go with his mother, for she possessed sharp eyes and would surely catch him making a fool out of himself. But, it was his mother, the woman who bore and brought him into the world with much pain, and he could not refuse her.
So off they went, and Sanada passed by people of all ages, even junior and senior high schoolers. He found their stares annoying when he would hold the door open for others, even after his mother had already entered; when he told the cashier that they had been given too much change, and rightfully returned the extra money; when he stopped to help a man on the open market gather up his fallen boxes.
Old-fashioned! Do what you want! It's the new century! Just keep it. Keep walking.
While such words and phrases never quite tumbled out of their mouths, some may have been thinking that, but realistically, there were probably many who didn't even take notice.
But it mattered not. He dusted off his pants and stood up, already taller than his mother, and was surprised to see her smiling. "...Did I forget something?" Sanada asked, raising an eyebrow.
She shook her head. "No. You remembered everything."
Renji tapped the eraser point of his pencil unendingly on his desk, silent and still in his bedroom, but to the closer observer, one could see that his eyes darted from left to right, top to bottom, mentally calculating. Equations were not one of his weak points, but unlike other's assumptions, he was not a genius. Even he required help from someone who could do the job better, but no one was present that knew their numbers inside out.
Madoka, his older sister, always made it clear that numbers were the bane of her existence. Renji wasn't certain if he ought to ask his parents; surely the math they did in their day was less complicated than it was now. They might not fully understand the new stuff thrown to students these days, making that ever-present generation gap a little wider.
A frustrated sigh; Renji dropped the pencil onto his notebook and leaned back in his chair, rubbing at his eyes. It was just this one problem that was preventing him from declaring his homework as complete!
Several phone calls later, Renji retreated back to his desk. Not even the classmates he knew well had figured it out.
"Renji?" His mother poked her head into his bedroom. "You should be in bed."
"Hmm?" Renji cast a glance towards his digital clock, and noted the late hour of 11 – for a school night. "Oh...I'll be going to bed soon." I hope, he added silently.
"You're still working on your homework?"
"I'm having trouble with this one problem." Might as well give it a shot; Renji motioned for his mother to come over. "Could you...look over it?"
His mother complied, reading over his shoulder. After a few moments had passed, she took the notebook and studied it closely. Then, a smile lit up her face. "Ah. You added here when you should have multiplied."
Renji took back the notebook and looked at the appointed problem. He had gone through the equation over and over...oh, oh. Now he saw his error. "I mixed them up," he said, embarrassed at such a silly mistake, and somewhat ashamed that he had underestimated his own mother. "Thanks."
His mother put her hands on his shoulders. "No problem, dear."
Everyday he watched her set her coat on the chair in his hospital room and immediately ask him how he was doing. He would reply that he was fine, and she always seemed unconvinced, asking the doctor or the nurses on his condition.
Everyday he chuckled when she would chase his teammates out of the hospital room, and shake her head, muttering about overcrowding and relapses. He would comment on how he was fine, that it brightened his day when he saw his friends and learned of their victories. She only shrugged her shoulders, saying that they could talk to him when he returned to school.
Everyday he watched, pretending to be asleep, as she brought fresh clothes over, brought his homework, went back and forth from his room to other places, bringing him his meals or whatever else it was that was needed. He finally couldn't let it pass.
"Mom?" He waited for her to turn her attention to him. "Just go home. I'm fine, really, I'm getting better everyday, and soon I'll be able to go home." He paused. "You need some rest yourself..."
He hated feeling so helpless while others did countless tasks for him. He hated passing on the captain responsibility to Sanada, who confessed the pressure he felt sometimes. And most importantly, Yukimura hated the toll his illness was taking on his mother.
But she just stared him, coming over to rub his shoulder. Her hair was a bit of a mess, bags under her eyes, her clothes rumpled and wrinkled. She only smiled at her son, holding onto the strap of his gym bag with clothes to be laundered. "Someday, when you're a parent, you'll understand."
Jackal sat sitting at his desk, pondering over the topic for his rough draft of an essay. The topic was to write a detailed, researched piece on an icon of admiration; could be a celebrity, a sports player, a famous person in history, or even an older friend or family member.
Renji, and Yagyuu were in his class; Renji was writing about a historical figure and Yagyuu was writing about his favorite author. Jackal considered writing about Japan's top tennis player, but then remembered that most of the boys in his class had chosen sports players. Better to come up with something different...but what?
"Jackal, I'm putting your jersey in the wash," his mother said, entering his room to locate the crumpled jacket on his bed.
The teenager went back to his thinking after being momentarily side-tracked by a comic book. "OK...focus." Pick a person, then go online to research. Tomorrow, you can check out the library and work more on the rough draft.
Maybe he ought to write about his favorite comic book artist...nah. His teacher would never go for it. He could just see her scrutinizing eyes peering through her thin, wire-framed glasses, inspecting his paper with distaste. "Comic books," she'd say, "How...juvenile."
His mother re-entered the room, saying, "I fed Dusty for you, since you've got that essay to write."
Writing about an author would certainly please his teacher, but he just wasn't into reading as much as Yagyuu was. Jackal figured he was best off writing about something he actually knew about. History seemed to be the only option left. "But who?" he wondered out loud. Sure, there were some people in history he admired, but hadn't they been written about multiple times over?
And then his mother came into the picture again. "Now she wants to go out, so I'll take Dusty for a walk and you make sure you work on your essay, all right?"
"Yeah." As soon as she left the room, a sudden thought slapped Jackal across the face. "Hold it...that's it!"
Close to a week and a half later, Jackal handed in his essay about the person he admired the most, the person who kept the house in working order, the person who cared for her family (including the dog) – his mother.
Flowers for a Queen
Some time after practice, the Gentleman departed the flower shop with two pink roses and a white ribbon attached and hanging onto a crystalline bird – a lovely gift for a wonderful woman in his life.
He passed by a couple of high school girls, who giggled and whispered. "That's so sweet!" was among the words that filled his ears. Why, yes, he thought to himself, it is a sweet gesture.
"Valentine's Day is over," a male classmate of his teased good-naturedly. Yes, I know that, Yagyuu thought, but that's not why I have the roses.
"Didn't know you had a girlfriend," Niou said, popping out of nowhere and nudging his best friend with his elbow. "You, old dog, you."
"I don't," Yagyuu replied, "but if I did, I'd probably give her a red rose. More romantic."
"Shoot, they all think flowers are romantic, so it wouldn't matter," Niou replied, clasping his hands together at the back of his head.
"Oh, I suppose."
They reached the corner of the sidewalk, and bid farewell. Yagyuu went homeward, returning any smiles thrown his way, secretly amused by what they must be thinking.
"Giving flowers to your princess?" a neighbor called out from watering her small rock garden of various flowers.
"Not quite," Yagyuu responded, continuing on his way. Yes, close, but no dice.
He could smell dinner as soon as he entered his home, slipping out of his street shoes and dropping his tennis bag by the door. "I'm home," he called, stepping out of the porch area.
"What are those?" his younger sister asked, leading the way into the kitchen.
"I can't believe you even have to ask," Yagyuu replied, sending her a raised eyebrow. "Flowers."
Hiroko scrunched up her nose. "I know that. I mean, who are they for?"
"A queen," Yagyuu replied mysteriously, pushing his glasses up with one finger, much to the annoyance of his sister.
And before dinner, the Gentleman presented his gift to the queen, his mother.
"Happy Mother's Day."
FFN author, Kaoriin, has also translated and posted the Spanish version of my drabbles here for Spanish fans on this web site. The story ID number is 3541728.