Okay, so I finished reading Prince of Tennis today and was completely sad to see it go. Anyway, I just had ideas for these little drabbles pop up in my head while reading the chapter. They're almost all from Tezuka's point of view and take place in the final match of the Nationals. Yes, this means there are MAJOR SERIES SPOILERS in here, so if you want to wait to read the whole thing, then don't read this.
Anyway, suggested Pillar Pair if you squint hard enough - you have to really want to see it.
Also, PLEASE review! Authors live off of them. How else do you think our writing grows and evolves?
Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis and its characters belong to their creator, Takeshi Konomi. In fact, the dialogue is not even mine. I just put spins on some of the actions and thoughts.
The Final Match
Tezuka Kunimitsu could not help but feel relief as he followed everyone's gaze to the small figure almost engulfed in the shadows of the large stadium entrance. The one on whom all hope for the finals now rested had finally regained his memory.
Momoshiro, I don't know what you did, but thank you, the young captain thought as he recognized the fire in his teammate's golden eyes as he entered the floor of the arena.
"Echizen…everything you have done in these last three and a half months has come down to this match," he warned the boy.
"I got it," Echizen replied, and Tezuka had to work to suppress a smirk because he knew the boy had.
Yudan sezu ni ikkou, Echizen. Welcome back.
Tezuka Kunimitsu's attention was drawn from the match only once, and that was when Sanada Genichirou walked past him.
"I'm sorry, Sanada…" he called out to his previous opponent, I had to use you to stall.
"There's no need to thank me," the vice captain replied, I know what it's like.
Tezuka Kunimitsu was beyond surprised when his own Pinnacle of Hard Work came into play – but then again should he have been?
No, he realized, the boy on the courts in front of him was meant to fly higher than he ever could, and his hypothesis was proven right as the aura of the Pinnacle flowed from his left arm to his feet and back up to his right arm to return the Child of God's hit.
Tezuka knew the Pinnacle of Hard Work needed a zone, it was what had helped in the formation of his own, but here was a twelve year old boy that was brazenly using the technique to fly around the court.
It was the first point he took from Yukimura, and when Echizen warned his opponent, "The next one…is gonna be in five shots!" Tezuka knew it would not be his last.
Tezuka Kunimitsu had not been worried when Yukimura had returned all of Echizen's best moves within the first rally. He did not worry when Yukimura had all but sealed Echizen's Muga no Kyouchi. He did, however, worry when his teammate hit a homerun on the fifth shot.
No, Tezuka Kunimitsu did not worry about the first year on the court until he heard Kikumaru's shocked cry, "Ochibi, you okay!? Your nose is bleeding!!"
"Eh…are you serious?" the captain heard the boy's response as he smeared a handful of blood across his face and hands.
"Hey…Tezuka, what is that now…" Fuji asked with wide eyes as he tightly gripped the wall in front of him.
Tezuka could only watch, eyes just as wide, as the first year on the court began to lose all sense of touch and his teammates argued over the absurdity of it. He knew Echizen should have been able to score that last point, and when he had seen the boy's eyes open wide in shock and a bit of fear, Tezuka knew something horribly wrong had just happened.
Fear was a new experience for Tezuka Kunimitsu, an overwhelming fear that churned in his stomach mixed with the anger that burned in his chest. He clenched his fists once, twice, to try to lessen the gripping panic beginning to settle in his muscles when he heard a choked sob.
"Ryuuzaki-sensei!" he called out in worry at the coach sitting in front of him.
But, he clenched his jaw and tightened his fisted right hand as he realized his emotions were resonating with hers.
I'm so sorry Ryoma…
He wanted to stop the match. They had worked so hard to reach the nationals – his sacrifice of his own arm was enough to prove that – but it meant nothing if the first year in front of him was destroyed.
He had been building the words in his mind, in his heart, in his throat, when he noticed the look in his teammate's glazed eyes.
He froze in shock and all previous ideas of forfeiture flew from his mind.
"Show me your tennis, Echizen," he remembered once telling the boy. Tezuka had a feeling that he was finally going to do so.
"This tennis thing is actually really fun," he heard the boy on the court call out before a sudden burst of light almost blinded him, almost concealed the younger boy's doubled over form and Tezuka's eyes widened once more as he finally realized what he was seeing.
"Pinnacle of Perfection!"
Everyone was drawn in. They could not see the ball fly across the court as Echizen aced each serve, but they could not turn away either.
Amazing! was the overall sigh of the crowd as Echizen aced his fourth serve, winning his first game.
They all watched, eyes wide in shock and mouths gaping in awe, as Echizen return-aced Yukimura's first serve – all but Tezuka Kunimitsu.
Pinnacle of Perfection. Echizen had finally surpassed any and all goals placed before him. Upon realizing how much he truly enjoyed tennis, all barriers had finally been removed.
Tezuka kept close attention as he watched the one he had chosen reach far beyond where he ever could. But, instead of jealousy or envy, he felt an overwhelming sense of pride as he looked upon the final product of a year of molding and teaching.
Tezuka Kunimitsu had known who Echizen's father was: the great Samurai Nanjiroh – so he did not fall over in shock as did many of his teammates. Instead, what caught the captain's attention was the man's reply to Momoshiro's statement.
Could he really believe such a coveted power as the Pinnacle of Perfection was just a reversion from competition to the true enjoyment of a match?
But when Tezuka saw Echizen fall into the stance for his newest shot, a smirk on his face and a brilliant fire in his eyes, he knew it had to be true.
"Now, Echizen, become Seigaku's pillar of support!!" he called out to the boy with a fierceness he did not know he held within him.
"Of course," the boy replied through his growing grin, "Samurai Drive!"
Tezuka Kunimitsu did not smile. Fuji knew the fourteen year old well enough to know that. So, when Echizen Ryoma finally scored match point, and first place in the nationals, in the longest, most dangerous game he had ever seen, Fuji could not help but notice the smile on the young captain's face.
"I guess this is the kind of thing to finally make you smile," the tennis genius teased lightheartedly before falling into a state of thoughtfulness, never promising to keep the secret his friend had asked of him.
Then again, he did not really need to tell anyone. Inui could spread the news – and take the punishment – for him. The video camera the data player trained on their coach could show the soft look in their captain's eyes as he smiled at the first year being congratulated by their other teammates than his explanations ever could.
Plus, running laps everyday before practice for the rest of his high school life was something Fuji would rather not have to do.