To A Father

To A Father

Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis. I really can't say more on that statement.

This is a companion one-shot with To a Mother, a one-shot I wrote for mother's day this year. I hope that you enjoy this story like you enjoyed the other one. On to the fic.

--

13 years ago

Nanjiroh Echizen let the door close behind him. After a long 2 hour flight back to Los Angeles, California from Tucson, Arizona, he was finally home. He glanced at the clock; it was now 10:30 at night, everyone would be asleep.

Or so he thought.

As he headed upstairs to take a well deserved rest in his bed with his wife of two years, Rinko; he heard small cries from behind a closed door. He opened the door and saw flailing limbs from the bed on the wall. He came closer and saw his son, Ryoma, crying.

"What's the matter sleepyhead?" He asked. Ryoma glanced up at him but said nothing. Nanjiroh sighed. No matter how much he and his wife coaxed the boy, he hadn't said anything yet. Not mama or dada, not a no or yes to anything; he just gave them a stare. Not that he had to say anything at all, he never had to complain to get anything; a small grunt or a wail would set his mother busy attending to him, and if she was too busy to do it, the two-year-old would get it himself, by use of a chair or a racket and ball if necessary. The doctor's responses to his wife's worries were "When he wants to speak, he will, and then he won't shut up." Nanjiroh had scoffed, muttering that the man was a quack, but further comments were stopped with a whack on the forearm and a steady glare.

The toddler fussed about in his bed for a moment, trying to get his father's attention but Nanjiroh, fed up with his son's silence, not caring about the doctor's warning of patience said to the boy, "If you don't say anything then I don't know what you want." Ryoma grunted and whined softly but Nanjiroh stood his ground and promptly ignored the noises and yawned purposely, teasing the boy. Ryoma's tired golden eyes narrowed and he whined again, louder this time, apparently annoyed that his father didn't automatically assume what the boy was complaining about. Nanjiroh started to clean his ears out, bored. Ryoma's pout grew and he practically screamed at his father, giving him another whine.

"I don't understand baby talk." He said in a weird accent. He used that accent to feign ignorance when other people are talking to him. The toddler glared at the tall man over his bed and grumbled nonsensical words but nothing that Nanjiroh wanted to hear.

"What was that, little boy, I can't hear you." He teased placing his head in the crib, placing a hand over his ear in an attempt to try and coax the boy to speak louder. His long hair dangled above Ryoma who promptly pulled on it to examine it better. Nanjiroh gave a loud yelp and tried to pull it out. The boy giggled and garbled as he watched his father try to pull out his long tresses from his son's reach. After Nanjiroh successfully rescued his hair he saw that Ryoma was clapping and laughing at his expense.

"You think you are so cute do you?" Nanjiroh spat bitterly. Ryoma just giggled. Nanjiroh turned from the crib, starting to get annoyed with the boy. He was just about to leave when he heard a small coo from the crib.

"Daddy?" The voice said. Nanjiroh stopped and turned back toward the sound. Ryoma was standing in his crib, his head cocked to the side and his enormous golden eyes searching the dark for his father. Nanjiroh walked back to the crib and stared hard at the boy.

"What did you say?" He asked.

"Daddy, me go up." Ryoma added to his previous sentence, his arms outstretched toward his father, eyes pleading yet demanding at the same time. The words came flowing out of his mouth as if he had said them all along. Nanjiroh felt a great sense of pride when he finally registered that his son's first word was daddy. He picked up the small boy with a smile on his face and held him close.

"Yes Ryoma, you go up."

--

As Nanjiroh lay on the reclining seat with Ryoma on his chest, he thought to himself that he could have missed that with his son in a few months with another tennis tournament coming up. His fingers threaded through his son's baby fine green tresses. His future didn't lie with tennis, he decided after a while. He had settled down, made a family, and mapped a different future. If he were so much younger, and not tied down, he could have had a chance at the top, but not now, not after tonight's events, could he think of leaving the most precious thing in his life, Ryoma. After closing his thoughts, he placed the boy back in his crib and walked over toward the phone, doing the hardest, but probably the best thing he would ever do for himself.

--

Present time

Nanjiroh sat on the back porch waiting for his son to come home. He had been gone all day, doing whatever it is that Ryoma does on Sundays. His face was currently trained on a magazine in front of him and a cigarette in his mouth. Today was the only day that he couldn't be ragged on by his niece about his peculiar habits. Father's Day, Nanjiroh's favorite time of the year. Not because of the presents, it was never about the presents; only because he was free to do whatever he wanted, no questions, and no complaints. Even Ryoma had play tennis with him if he wanted. This is probably why he was gone all day. He heard a car pull up to a screeching stop in front of the house, it was probably Ryoma.

"Thanks, Fuji-sempai." Ryoma said as the car sped away nosily. "I'm home!"

Nanjiroh had taken it upon himself to be the one to greet his son at the door. "So where were you?" He asked. "Out with a pretty girl all day and not playing tennis with your father on Father's Day? Oh what a horrible son I have, not wanting to spend time with his aging father in the later years of his life." Nanjiroh whined dramatically. Ryoma rolled his eyes.

"Dad, you're 40. You aren't going to die anytime this minute." He said passing into the kitchen to grab a ponta from the refrigerator. He came back out and handed his father a bag. "This is for you; I'll be in the living room." Ryoma scurried off into the living room, probably embarrassed to still be giving his father a gift and sat on the couch.

Nanjiroh opened the bag protecting what seemed to be a silver frame. He turned it over and studied the picture inside. It was a picture of him and Ryoma, one of the few they took together that wasn't a catastrophe. Ryoma was two and Nanjiroh still had his long hair. They were both smiling. At the bottom of the frame was engraved: Daddy me go up. A tear came to Nanjiroh's eye as he fought the urge to cry and smother his son with embarrassing hugs and kisses because he knew that would annoy him the most. He placed the frame on the table and passed into the living room where Ryoma was sitting on the couch watching a, what else, tennis match. Nanjiroh bent over the back of the couch and rested his chin on Ryoma's messy head of hair. Ryoma bent his head to look back at the obstruction on his sensitive head and saw his dad smiling at him.

"Thank you." Nanjiroh simply said placing a kiss on his son's forehead. Ryoma glared at him but smiled nonetheless.

"Happy Father's Day." He said.

Nanjiroh couldn't have wished for a better present.

--

I think Fuji would be a bad-ass driver, don't you?

That's it. It took me a while but I kept my promise. Please review.

KatrinaKaiba