Standard Disclaimers Apply.
A/N from hyperdude: As the A/N title suggests, this is a collab work, with my good friend Apple Snapple! Please treat us kindly.
No pairings are currently planned, so this is general, but it is Ryoma-centric. This is post-Nationals, and it follows the manga storyline.
It sprouted from the quote in the summary by Momo, and wondering what it would be like if Ryoma actually couldn't physically/mentally/emotionally function without tennis. So, please enjoy this little bit of fic! :D Apple Snapple will take over now.
A/N from Apple Snapple: Heya guys! Um, I hope you enjoy? This idea was from hyperdude. And now we're uh…messing around with it. –nods- But yeah, we decided to post this on my profile. XD
People say sometimes that they're obsessed with something that they enjoy.
But those obsessions die away after a while.
This isn't an obsession, nor is it something that I can freely say I enjoy. It's something more than that.
Tennis was a means to an end.
Looking back, those idle days spent with his mother's gentle affection smoothing over his father's harsh qualities had probably been the best days of his life. He'd probably been happy, if his baby pictures were anything to go by. It was always so hard for him to remember, and besides, it didn't seem like he had anything worth remembering anyways. But of course, with his mother not working, there was no money coming in, so she was forced to go back to work when he was three, trusting her husband to take care of her precious child.
Things did not work out so well. He instead suddenly found himself pushed into tennis when he was four, where he'd been perfectly fine with tinkering around with books and playing random things on the keyboard sitting in a dusty corner. His father did not let up, and as he was unable to catch any balls, his father released himself from the verbal confines his wife had him restricted to.
He'd never thought of himself as worthless and weak before. The first time, he thought that maybe his father wanted him to be encouraged, but it didn't matter, he didn't want to be a tennis player. But every time he tried to leave the courts, his father would drag him back all over again. So he would play.
There was the father, who'd played horsie with him in the living room, who'd laughed mockingly at his pictures, teasing him and tickling him to make up for it. Who'd failed at making dinner time and time again, so all they ended up with was a pizza they'd found in the depths of the refrigerator.
A father who didn't even call him, 'Ryoma' half the time.
Had it ever been about him? Four, five, six, seven years old. There were no more games, no more pizzas, no more warm father-son moments.
"What sort of tennis player are you? Get up, do it again. I'm not letting you back in the house until you do it right."
Now there was only the porn magazines he'd started finding at five-and-a-half. There was only the wary call of his father telling him to do chores while he did nothing but stare at the TV screen, and giggle at his 'buxom beauties.'
What had happened in the time in between? What had happened to his father? Where his father used to take him in and roughly dab at his playtime injuries with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol, was now the man who left him out on the tennis courts battered with bruises from tennis balls served by his own hands.
It wasn't fun anymore.
Tennis tennis tennis. Nothing but tennis, day in, day out, on the weekends, on weekdays, afternoons, mornings, evenings, and stretching to dinnertime. The ever present threat of tennis seemed to tower over him. It was grueling, hard, work and really, there wasn't any reason for him to do anything when he was never interested in the first place…..
"Otou-san? Can you play ball with me?"
"Eh? You want to play tennis? Then let's go out—"
"—I didn't mean tennis Otou-san. Ball."
"…ball? You shouldn't be wasting your time with that, seishounen. Let's play tennis instead."
"Come on, seishounen. Don't be such a pansy. You're going to be a tennis player. You're going to stand on top of the world. But not when you keep being worthless like this. You're weak. You're still so mada mada."
"But I don't like—"
"Stop whining! Just get out there and play!"
Never a second glance, except when he was playing with that ball. That stupid, idiotic, ugly, fucking green ball that kept messing up his life. But he had no choice.
Otou-san, why don't you play with me anymore?
Why don't you say my name anymore?
Why don't you pay any attention to me? I'm your son….
He wanted that. He wanted it so badly. There was nothing more important than that hand on his shoulder, that proud glimmer in his eyes, that grin that sat smugly on his father's lips.
Nothing else was worth that.
So he dropped that beautiful red rubber ball, he dropped his keyboard, he dropped those childish games—blocks, toy cars, board games—and he picked up that horrid ball, and that ugly feeling racket, and that stupid white cap.
I hate tennis.
His room was a tennis haven.Scattered around were his tennis rackets, his jerseys, his tennis videos that were stacked up in one corner, tennis magazines. Tennis, tennis, tennis. A stranger would look at is as an innocent hobby, an innocent obsession for the sport. A sport that surrounded him day by day, night by night, like a dark cloud enveloping him, suffocating him.
Tennis consumed his life. He didn't talk to anyone, didn't play with anyone. He ate lunch by himself, thought to himself, did projects mostly by himself, read by himself. He didn't interact with anyone, or anything other than that ball. He didn't want to play tennis, he had to play tennis. There was no other way to win over those eyes. It didn't matter either, because all that mattered was a neon ball and the grin of a proud father.
The move to New York when he was eight changed nothing. The tennis didn't change, and neither did he. There was still no one to be friends with, still no one to talk to, but by then it had been so long since he had even had anyone that he had forgotten what it was like. No one knew him, and he didn't know anyone. He didn't even register the loneliness, it was just something that was there, everyday. He didn't even think of it as loneliness, just that lump of nothing sitting in his chest.
Lump of nothing. It was what he was becoming, it was what he was. He knew that, understood, dimly, distantly, that he was losing himself to tennis. He was obsessed with that little green ball, with the swing and feel of a racket, copying his father's every move, his every stroke. And that nothing spread like a disease, swallowing him up, moving down through his body, through veins and arteries, moving into his lungs, his liver, his kidneys, his brain, his heart.
By the time he was ten, he'd already disappeared.
Disappearance from the world should have been scarier than this, more frightening, more overwhelming.
But as he slowly disappeared from the world, he felt, surprisingly, nothing.