Tenacity and Hard Work vs. Talent and Natural Ability

Disclaimer: I don't own Eyeshield 21 or the quotes, they belong to their respective owners, and the prompt is by Kirskipkat. (I was itching to write one of those…)

Warnings: Uhm… Nothing much, some philosophy that may, or may not make sense, and very faint hints of Shonen-ai – boy x boy love. If you don't like, don't read! You were warned. So enjoy!

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

Stephen King

Sena was patiently listening to the reporter's blabbing, and praising him for his speed, cuteness, politeness and anything and everything in – between. He would like to fidget in his seat a bit, but that would be considered rude, and so, he quietly sighed, an exhale and then inhale again, the scent of the discreet perfume wafting into his nose. Idly, he tried to guess which ingredients were in the perfume – even if the reporter was annoying to the point of being obnoxious; her perfume was nice and relaxing. Hmm…Roses and lavender? He was fairly certain that was it, however….

He blinked as he tuned in..."… and of course with your immeasurable talent – "

"Don't." He interrupted her gently. The young reporter widened her eyes. "Eh?" She asked, clueless as to what she had done wrong now. Sena had to smile at her excitable nature, she reminded him of a puppy playing around. Clumsy, endearing and adorable. "Have I done something wrong?" She blinked cutely, and pouted a little, nibbling her bottom lip.

Usually, this gesture would set any hot – blooded male stuttering and stammering, but not him. Not Sena Kobayakawa, the Eyeshield 21, the Man with the Golden Legs and a veritable high – school legend in the sport of American football.

If she was honest with herself, Kimiko Sakai was pretty lucky to get to interview with the hot - shot football star.

It was an accident, really - some thug has stolen her purse, and when she was panicking what to do now – a strong breeze wafted past her, and she saw black, brown and blue blur chasing after the mugger.

She was pretty dumbfounded when three minutes later, the aforementioned blur stopped in front of her, and revealed itself – or rather, himself, to be much searched and coveted Kobayakawa Sena. She had stuttered out an apology, and somehow managed to invite the young man to drink, and reluctantly, the running back allowed her interview him.

"I dislike that word…" He murmured out, his face serious. "Eh?" Kimiko blinked. "Which one? Talent?" Upon seeing Sena nod, the young reporter was baffled. "But – but - !" She sputtered. "You are, like, very talented, and you, like, have a lot of natural ability – "

"And that's just it, "The mocha – eyed man interrupted her. He blushed. "Excuse me for my interruption. As I said, I dislike that particular word – I could even go that far as to say I hate it."

Kimiko gaped unattractively. To hear that from the one man that was one of the brightest rising stars in the amufeto world, it was nothing short of scandalous. Usually, a man would brag with his achievements, but here and now, there was sitting one exception, named Kobayakawa Sena, who had defied her expectations by claiming that he hated that particular word.

She collected her wits about her. "But why? It's just a word…" Sena lifted his cup of tea and inhaled the scent of white tea and honey with lemon. She was watching his hands – small, slender, with long, but not too long fingers and practically cut nails. The hands which griped the football safely, while this man was running across the field like lightning, untouchable and unreachable. It was odd to see him in person, Kimiko mused. When on the football field, Sena had seemed to be larger than life, towering over his opponents somehow, even if, realistically looking, he was smaller and slimmer than his often buffed – up opponents. In fact, if she hadn't known better, she would have mistaken him for a teenager on a cusp of the adulthood – a boy who was taking classes on tea ceremony in the after – school hours, and not the blindingly fast runner, who was dominating the field within the moment he was thrown the ellipsoid ball to carry it across the field, to score a touchdown in one of the most brutal sports known to the man.

"Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck -- but, most of all, endurance."

James Arthur Baldwin

"I prefer to be called hard – working to the talented, Kimiko – san," He smiled a small smile. The reporter still didn't understand, and her bug blue eyes were still eyeing him questioningly. "Uh? I still don't understand," she admitted, perfectly drawn eyebrows knitted together into a confused frown.

Sena sighed. Was that so hard to understand? "In my football career, I had played against some of the best players in that sport. And not all of them were called talented. Personally, I think they would be also insulted if they would have been called as such. However, they were some of the most hard – working men I have ever came across."

"But surely they had some talent! Didn't they? Akaba – kun, Shin – san, Marco – kun – "She pouted again, determined to win the argument.

Sena shook his head. "Well, yes… but they had potential. And that is vastly different from talent. "He made a small sip, enjoying the interlacing tastes. "Ano…. "The poor reporter was vastly bewildered now. Sena had to stifle a chuckle.

"Potential is, when we have abilities, however refined they are, to do something. You or I could sing, draw or swim, but we are still far away from professionals, when in some other things, we have potential to be the better than anyone. Do you understand now?"

Her eyes lit up "Oh! So it's like a stick – some are given longer and some are given shorter. Ne, ne, am I right?" She nearly bounced on her chair. Sena chuckled. "Close, yes. But I prefer to think that we are given seeds of different plants. Some would, if we care for them, grow up higher and better than others. And if we care for them long enough, that seed becomes beautiful flower, which people call "he frowned at the word, "talent."

She scrunched her nose. "But why would having a flower be a bad thing? And what did you mean with this story?"

"Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go so much further than people with vastly superior talent."

Sophia Loren

Sena sighed. "I may have been a good runner. However, if I hadn't trained, ran and improved myself, I wouldn't have been where I am today. And I refuse to believe that I had won over them with mere talent," His eyes blazed, as his hand clenched into a fist.

"I refuse to believe I had more, as you say, talent, than then. It would have been too much like a fate, and insult to them, as if they were fated to fall before me, just because I was more talented than them. I refuse to believe that, because it would mean that Panther is better than me, and I have no hope to reach and surpass him!"

"A - Aa…" She agreed weakly.

This young man in front of her was trembling with determination and faith. It made her feel small and weak, and at the same time, incredibly hopeful. He smiled at her apologetically. "Excuse me, I seem to have gone overboard a bit – ""Oh, no, no. no, you didn't," She hurried to reassure him. "So you would rather be called hard – working, or even tenacious - "He nodded. "Yeah. Because with a lot of hard work, anyone could triumph even over so – called genius. It's hard to do, but it isn't impossible. You just have to have a faith in yourself and your abilities."

She nodded. "But that contradicts your earlier statement on potential…" She trailed off. Sena paused, relaxing a little. "Where is a determination, there's a way. If you can't excel with talent, triumph with effort." He blushed.

"Dave Weinbaum?" She winked knowingly. Sena nodded. "Y – Yeah…" They shared a chuckle.

"And on the topic of your former adversaries…" She trailed off. Sena blinked at her. "Yeah?"

"Are you looking forward to having matches with them, and are there particular ones…?" She giggled. Sena blinked again. "Of course I look forward to playing with them again… and I wonder how much they had improved. I hope I would be worthy opponent for them, as they were the main ones who inspired me to undertake this path…"

After a short chat, Sena had to go to the training match.

The reporter was smiling to herself thoughtfully. "Better to be hard – working than a genius any day, huh?" She mumbled to herself.

In the neighbor booth, there were six football players, smiling as well.

"I didn't know that Sena – kin had such high opinion of us," muttered the one with white streak in his hair. He was clothed in a suave suit, icy blue eyes glinting in light.

"Fuu…" The redheaded one silently agreed with him. "Our rhythms are still in sync…" He strummed on a guitar, as to make the itchiness in his fingers go away.

Aquamarine eyes were, for once, warm, before were quickly shielded with a cool exterior. "Indeed. And what is with you and your rhythms?"

"He truly is the Eyeshield 21," The amber – eyed youth mused. "I predict that our next match will be very interesting."

"And he is still trash, trashes," the derisive voice of the dread – haired man said scornfully.

"Kobayakawa would indeed be a great opponent," the grave voice sounded out. "It seems I am in need of more training if I wish to surpass him."

The one with white streak eyed him, horrified. " Are you nuts!?" He squeaked out.

The grave – voiced teen eyed him flatly. "No. But I have some." He offered them to the streaked man, who frantically shook his head.

"Shin, you are hopeless..." The aquamarine – eyed man said, rubbing his temple. "And just because you were not included in his – "

"Don't say a word, if you value your life," The dread – haired man snarled, gray eyes flashing.

Red eyes rolled heavenward. "You know it's true. Your baby tantrum proves it." The red – haired man scoffed.

Gray eyes widened. "Baby tant I'll show you baby tantrum!" the fist was blocked with the palm. "No fighting in the restaurant." The grave voice implied.

The amber eyed man snickered. Then, his eyes widened. "Oh, man…. The training! We are late!" He yelped out.

Similarly, the others scrambled out. They wouldn't want to miss Sena's training match now, would they?