Disclaimer:I do not own Prince of Tennis nor am I making a profit off this story. I write for my own pleasure. Nor do I own any brands mention herein; it's all just to go with the storyline.
Summary: Ryoma and Ryuuka Echizen are born to be tennis players. Devastatingly, Ryuuka is diagnosed with a blood disorder. Playing in Japan, Ryoma worries over his dying sister in USA. Or will she live to join him at Seigaku?
Pairings: Golden Pair, Inui-Kaidoh, Momo-Ann. (for now)
Note: Ryoga does not exist!
Pairings! Vote! It will influence my choice:
RyomaxYukimura - (workable and cute!)
RyomaxAtobe - (Amusing. I see lots of torture...)
RyomaxSanada - (Potentially hot! I see a bro-sis dating the vice-cap)
RyuukaxYukimura - (easier to write and very cute fluff)
RyuukaxFuji - (I like protective!Fuji)
I can work the story around these pairs. Tell me what you think as I need to start planning... But note that it will only be a slow build up, as these people aren't even sixteen yet...
Note 1: I mention Gene Therapy as a cure for sickle cell anaemia. It's used to keep the disease under control and not fully developed. I'm using my right as a writer to make it a cure. It is not, as far as I know, in reality.
RivalAdmirer19: I think this story is now dedicated to you! I've never had such a loyal reader! I will promise you this; I will finish this story, even if you're the only one reading it!
Oh, and I apologise for the late update. RL sucks.
Catch my Breathe
Ryoma said nothing as Akutsu Jin spat thinly veiled insults at him. His hand just clenched at the familiar red racket. He hadn't used the red as much as the blue racket, but he could feel the difference in weight. In make, in design. And this one felt more natural to him than anything else.
"I've been waiting for this, punk!" Akutsu said with a gleam in his eye as he placed the challenged. "Let's play."
Ryoma met the elder boy's gaze full on with disdain. He didn't even bother to answer the rude declaration. The referee tried to reprimand the player but was subdued with one look.
"Che," Ryoma muttered as he watched the weak referee be willed into submission with one look. He returned his gaze to Akutsu and tightened his grip on his racket. His knuckles were white from the strain. He was starting left handed right off the bat.
'I'm not taking any chances with this guy,' Ryoma thought as his gaze slid to the spectators and his extremely pale sister. 'I can't afford to lose; not today.'
Ryoma took up his stance at the service line. Gold eyes flashes across the court as a slim body threw itself in the air. The racket connected with the ball. The moment his feet touched the ground, Ryoma moved. He sprinted towards the net.
He caught the return ball and dropped a volley back across the net. Akutsu cursed as he easily returned the ball, "Underestimate me and you'll be sorry!"
Ryoma smirked as he raised his racket.
Ryuuka sat up, gold eyes narrowing as she watched the play. "So you're bringing that out, Ryo?" she murmured quietly, but nonetheless drawing the attention of both Seiichi and Fuji.
The yellow ball streaked across the net and into the unsuspecting face of Akutsu Jin. The older boy fell backwards, his hand going instinctively to the stinging area of his face.
"Drive A." Ryoma's words echoed through the silent court. Such aggressive play was not expected from any Seigaku player, let alone the baby of the team. "Don't underestimate tennis."
Jin glared at his pint-sized opponent but nonetheless felt the rush of adrenaline. It was the thrill of facing someone good; someone that could stand against you.
"Don't get cocky, brat," he growled as he stood easily. Ryoma merely quirked an eyebrow and took up his serving position.
Ryuuka grimaced with a sigh, "This is going to be messy..."
"Messy?" Fuji asked, eyes closed but curiosity written on his face. Seiichi and the rest of the Seigaku team turned to face her.
"Yeah," Ryuuka sighed as she watched her brother serve another ball, "messy. Ryo doesn't usually play aggressive tennis in the violent sense, but that doesn't mean he can't. You don't play street tennis in New York and not pick up a few tricks. Granted, Drive A is new but he has a whole arsenal up his sleeve."
"Violent tennis is not permitted. To harm your opponent deliberately will result in a loss of position as a regular," Tezuka quoted sternly as he turned back to the match.
"It's not truly violent," Ryuuka mused as he turned the racket in her hand over, "I suppose with practice you could return the shots."
Eiji stared at the petite girl with wide eyes before turning back to the match. He couldn't help but whisper, "Ne Oishi, chibisuke is scary..."
Inui continued to take down data and Seiichi chuckled dryly. "Now I want to play a match against you even more."
Ryuuka shot him an unreadable look, "I think a match would be interesting, especially considering your more special gifts."
"Somehow," Seiichi shot back, even with his eyes glued to the match in front of him, "I think you would be up for the challenge. Or, at the very least, go down fighting."
Ryuuka smirked but didn't reply as she watched Akutsu change his form and play in strange but effective posture. Her eyes narrowed, 'A talent that only comes around once every ten years. Power, flexibility, co-ordination, speed. What are you going to do now, Ryo?'
Ryoma panted as he lost yet another point.
"15-40" the ref called. Inwardly, Ryoma cursed as he realised that he could not keep up with Akutsu with the way he was playing.
With a smirk, Akutsu made direct eye contact with Ryoma, "Today, don't think you can score a single point off me."
"Che," Ryoma muttered as he tried to face the onslaught of offensive play. 'He shouldn't be able te make half of those shots with the jumping movement he uses!'
"0-1, Yamabuki's Akutsu!"
Ryoma ignored the heavy gaze of his twin. He knew that he had to step it up. But a part of him held on tightly to the silent cow he took when Ryuuka stopped playing tennis. That he would win, but not leave her behind. He would not leave her alone, both on the court or off.
So he compromised. Glaring at the silver demon, he bounced lightly on the balls of his feet, ready to move at a moment's notice. 'I still have plenty of tricks up my sleeve. If you push me far enough, maybe you will see them.'
Ryuuka's eyes narrowed as she watched Akutsu, yet again, send the ball into the opposite direction as she where Ryoma had turned. She frowned and sighed. The trace of a headache that she had that morning was growing steadily into a dull throb of pain. Her world tilted slightly but she ignored the common symptom she suffered from under the new medication. But she would admit that the sun was not helping matters nor was the heat.
"Worried?" someone asked, causing Ryuuka to turn her head slightly. She paused as she waited for her world to stop spinning and smiled slightly at Seiichi, "Either he steps up his game or his speed. He's not in dire trouble just yet."
"You have a lot of faith," Seiichi noted, eyes slightly worried as Ryuuka brought a hand up to her head. "Are you okay?"
Akio was watching them silent, hands inching towards her bags.
"I'm fine, it's just hot and I'm not used to the sun. Being stuck in a hospital room does that you know."
Seiichi nodded and his eyes saddened slightly, "I know."
Ryuuka winced at the guilt that hit her like a sledgehammer. Sighing she murmured, eyes watching her brother struggle to keep up, "I've trained by whole life with Ryoma. Sometimes, I think even he doesn't know as much as I do about his style of play. Of how far he could actually go and how much potential he really has. He's never been pushed constantly, so he keeps playing at the level of tennis that would guarantee a win, but not digging deeper."
Seiichi was silent as he watched Ryoma lob the ball and dash forward towards the net. Akutsu readied himself to return the ball.
"Running away?" Ryoma called; his smirk firmly in place.
"You've got a lot of guts, brat!" Akutsu replied in a biting tone as he changed his shot at the last moment, aiming for Ryoma.
Ryuuka sighed as she closed her eyes at the inevitable, and muttered, "And of course you would choose the difficult route."
Seiichi raised an eyebrow but smiled slightly as Ryoma hit the ground. Akutsu gave a snort and raised his eyebrow as well.
"Echizen!" Oishi shouted as he stood up, his instinct screaming to him to rush to his younger teammate. Momoshiro glared at Seiichi, "He deliberately aimed at Echizen's face and you smile?"
Seiichi rolled his eyes but it was Fuji who answered, "Ryoma-kun did that on purpose. He used his body as a target to return the ball. He just won a point."
Momoshiro's jaw slackened as he turned to stare at Ryoma still lying on the ground.
"But you knew he would do that, ne Ryuuka-chan?" Fuji questioned Ryuuka who merely smirked, eyes reopened and on the game.
"Hey brat!" Akutsu called when Ryoma stayed on the ground, "how long are you planning to pretending your asleep?"
"Hey! Didn't you say," Ryoma said with his trademark smirk as he got up, "you wouldn't let me score even a single point?"
Ryuuka sighed as he finished.
"Mada mada dane."
Akutsu glared as he stepped back to the service line.
"L-I-A-R," Ryoma taunted.
Banji sighed as he watched his player become angrier with every word that came out of his opponent's mouth. Though, the boy reminded him of a player from years before. Back then, as a mere child, he possessed the strength of the Heavens. On the court, he was almost invincible as a ten with only a few weak points. Weaknesses he overcame quickly and rose through the professional ranks like a rocket. He took the world by storm only to disappear.
Akutsu served and watched the brat with focussed eyes. Ryoma dashed as soon as the ball touch his racket. Akutsu's guard came up immediately. The kid had a look in his eye that screamed that he was going to use a new move.
"He's mastered it already," Fuji murmured as he watched, "Super Rising!"
Ryuuka's eyes narrowed, "Right corner but he's on the ball!"
Akutsu hit his return with a smug smile as Ryoma went the wrong direction.
"Damnit, Ryo! Kick it up a gear!"
Ryoma's eyes widened as he reacted instinctively to the phrase they used do often in doubles. The words Ryuuka used when she needed him to help her end the match quicker because she felt her strength waning. He increased his pace and his body movements, forcing his body to react faster as he twisted his body, changing his direction.
'I'm stronger than this!' he thought as he viciously returned the ball, 'Ryu.'
The ball was a fast, cross-slice across the court, swerving away from Akutsu at an obtuse angle and irregular bounce.
Akutsu froze as he couldn't react in time. The spectators fell silent as Ryoma landed lightly on his feet, gaze locked on Ryuuka.
Why did you do that?
Why do you think?
Don't do that! I had everything under control!
Yeah right! I don't understand why you won't play at your best!
I will when I need to!
Or maybe you're so comfortable at this level that you have forgotten.
Ryoma glared at Ryuuka.
Prove it then. Win this match.
Banji sighed as he rubbed his eyes, 'Just my luck. This boy…' He turned to the smiling Sumire and asked half-hearted, "This boy is related to Samurai Nanjiroh?"
Sumire smirked as she tilted her head towards the stands. Banji leaned forward to see who she was pointing to, eyebrow rising at the sight of the Rikkaidai captain sitting with the Seigaku team. Ignoring the Child of God, he gazed at an almost carbon copy, albeit female version, of the boy playing.
"They are Nanjiroh's children, and his greatest treasures."
Banji sighed but looked on as Akutsu grinned with a fire in his eyes. A fire that Banji had never seen before in him.
"You'll make a good stepping stone," Ryoma mocked, aware of Ryuuka rolling her eyes at him.
"I'll crush you!" Akutsu bit back as the thrill filled him. As a worthy challenge presented itself in front of him.
"He's one hell of a freshman," Seiichi comment to Fuji, "wonder how he would fare against our freshman?"
Fuji opened his eyes and glared at the ill captain, but said nothing. Ryuuka sighed as she leaned back. Her headache was getting worse and she was starting to feel nauseous. Wincing, she glared at those that were cheering loudly for her brother.
"Too damn noisy," she muttered, amusing the players around her. She sounded just like Ryoma, all she need was a cap.
"Me? As a stepping stone?" Akutsu called as he served, "Don't make me laugh!"
Ryoma glared as he returned it with his Slice Shot.
"Returning ace!" a Seigaku supporter called.
"Yes!" Ryuuka whispered as he Akutsu found the ball before it bounced but made the mistake of letting it touch the ground. The silver head cursed as the ball bounced away from his reach and racket.
'Shit! Don't get cocky brat!' Akutsu thought as he served again. The rally began and ended like the last one. 'One foot split step and a shot that I can't let the ball bounce.'
"What a scary freshman," some said behind Ryuuka and she had to smile sadly. "His movements are different from before."
"What?" someone replied, "You mean he hid his full potential?"
"Or, that he is still growing."
"So which is it?" Seiichi asked, Ryuuka, pulling her from eavesdropping. She pouted slightly before thinking, her eyes analysing Ryoma critically.
"A bit of both actually," she said truthfully after a moment, "I haven't seen the Super Rising move before but I know of his Slice Shot. And he's definitely faster that before."
Seiichi said nothing but frowned slightly as the shimmer of perspiration on her forehead.
"It's Drive B!" the Seigaku called in delight as Ryoma scored the point after a rally.
"Game Echizen! 1-1!"
'I won't lose!' Akutsu thought viciously as he got in position to receive the serve. 'Or else I'll be stuck playing the boring damn sport against boring damn wannabes!'
Ryoma smirked as he won another game. Ryuuka frowned as he kept using the one shot.
"2-1! Seigaku lead!"
'I won't lose!' Akutsu vowed as he sat down for the quick break, ignoring the old man.
"You know," Banji said casually, "tennis isn't only about attacking. Why don't you add a few slow balls?"
"Just who do you think you are ordering around?" Akutsu threw back coldly as he stood up and walked onto the courts.
He gripped his racket tighter when he caught the smirk on the brat's face.
"Be ready, brat. This game is mine."
Ryoma's eyes flashed "Bring it on!"
Ryoma gritted his teeth as Akutsu stepped up his game. For the first time since the sliver head stepped on the court, Ryoma felt as if he was only taking the game seriously now. That he was only throwing everything behind every shot now. He played with this familiar desperation.
Ryoma's eyes drifted to his pale sister as she watched passively, waiting for him to break past the limit he had set himself. 'He's playing like Ryuuka!' he realised as the game ended, 'the same desperation to prove oneself. To prove that they are worth something. To not lose.'
"Game! 4 all!"
"Akutsu's awakened," Ryuuka said casually, the dizziness was world tilting now. But she had to see whether this opponent would finally ignite her brother's passion, his true play or if he would fizzle.
"Worried?" Fuji asked with his ever present smile.
Ryuuka gave him an unimpressed look that said, 'No.' Though the genius could sense the 'not yet' she tried to hide behind the calm façade.
'It's just like the old man said!' Akutsu said with a smirk as he hit a slow ball, 'add a few slow balls.'
Ryoma returned the ball with a twist of his wrist.
'And my fast balls go through!' and Akutsu returned with a fast ball.
Ryoma was already moving even as his legs burned with the familiar fire. Stretching, he caught the ball, returning it with pace and spin.
Ryoma won the point.
The game continued, both pushing for a victory. Slowly, so very slowly, Ryoma let go of his self-imposed limitations. His actions became sharper and smoother. He ran on a instinct that one only got after years of playing competitive tennis. Although, he didn't use any more of his old moves, it was evident that Ryoma was far more skilled that Akutsu.
"You know," Ryoma said as he returned the ball at a particularly difficult angle, "If you had just continued to practice karate then you wouldn't' be losing to a kid like me."
Akutsu felt his eyebrow twitch as he snarled, "Shut up!" as he barely returned the ball.
Ryuuka sighed as she got up slowly. The team, plus Seiichi and Akio turned to look at her. She had a small smile on her lips. "I'm going to get a drink."
"Now?" Momoshiro asked, incredulously, "But this is the most crucial part of the match. It go either way!"
Ryuuka walked to the steps and turned around, eyebrow raised. "This match has already been won," she said calmly, "Physically, Akutsu might have started with an advantage but Ryoma rose to the occasion. Now it's more up to mental strength, right?" She looked at Tezuka who met her gaze but nodded slowly.
"You seem to forget that we both have been playing competitively for years. We are conditioned for situations like this," she said nonchalantly before nodding to Akio and walking up the stairs.
"Conditioned?" Eiji asked Oishi. Oishi turned back to the match to watch the Ryoma win a point and said, "She means, that by playing competitively, Ryoma has the advantage of not giving up under pressure or when in a tight spot. When the body gets tired, his mind still stayed sharp."
Ryuuka stopped at the stop of the stairs and panted. Her world spun on its axis, and even though she felt like she would throw up her last meal, her throat was screaming for liquid. Her body was heavy, unwilling to move and drained of energy.
"I'll get some cherry Ponta," she muttered as she slowly mad her way to the nearby vending machine. The short distance felt like a marathon that just wouldn't end. Stumbling, she leaned against the machine, trying to catch her breath.
'Damn those new meds!' she cursed as she panted.
"It's game point!" Momshiro said excitedly, "Come on, Echizen!"
"If Akutsu loses his concentration for even a moment, it's over," Oishi said quietly s he watched the intense rally between the two players, "And this is why Ryuuka-san means by Echizen having an advantage."
Eiji nodded as he watched wordless as Ryoma returned the ball with a Super Rising.
"Come on, brat!"
"Here we go!" Ryoma replied, fire in his eyes and smile on his lips, as he hit a Slice Shot.
"That won't work! " Akutsu shouted as he raced forward, returned the ball before it bounced.
"Oh yeah!" Ryoma said as he ran forward, "I still owe you for Arai-sempai and Taka-sempai!"
Ryoma hit a Drive A. The ball sped towards Akutsu who grinned victoriously as he leaned back.
"I saw through this shot already!" as he return it with a lob.
"It's still not finished!" Akutsu's eyes widened, "I got hit with rocks too!"
Ryoma jumped, stretching for the high ball causing Akutsu to stiffen as he prepared for another Drive A.
'What!' Akutsu was shocked as the brat dropped his elbow, a position different from Drive A's form, 'Drop volley?'
The ball sailed lightly over the net, spinning horizontally as it dropped to the ground and didn't bounce.
"Max Grav. Drop Shot."
The crowd stared, stunned at the freshman. Some at the shot and some at the fact he had the audacity to trick Akutsu.
Jin strode forward and grabbed Ryoma by his uniform and lifted him off the ground.
"I won," Ryoma said seriously causing Akutsu to tighten his hold, "But, you played your best, which is a hell of a lot better than most."
Akutsu stared at the younger boy before bursting out in laughter.
"Game won by Seigaku! 6-4!"
Letting go of the brat, Akutsu turned to walk away when Ryoma called to him, ignoring the fanfare around him.
"You remind me of someone when you play. You played to prove something yet you feel no love for the game. So what did you want to prove?"
Akutsu paused before continued walking away as Ryoma was crushed by his teammates. He walked to Banji and stared at the old man. Before the coach could open his mouth, Akutsu said, "I'm not interested in future matches. Consider this my resignation."
"Looks like your plan failed, Banji," Sumire jabbed as she watched happily as her team threw their youngest teammate in the air.
Ryoma extracted himself from his teammates as they celebrated their winning of the tournament and walked to the stands. He slowed down as he searched for Ryuuka. Worried he hurried forward to Akio, ignoring those that tried to stop him and congratulate him.
"Where's Ryuuka?" he asked, eyes darting around.
Akio frowned as she turned around, not seeing the girl anywhere. "She went to get a drink a few moments ago."
Ryoma shook his head and started up the stairs. He pushed past well wishers and looked towards the direction of the nearby vending machine. He froze. There was something, someone, dressed in blue and red lying on the ground and green-black hair shining in the sunlight.
People turned to stare at the freshman and then where he was staring. Within seconds, Ryoma had sprinted across the distance, skidding to a stop and dropped on his knees next to the figure.
"Some call an ambulance!" Ryoma screamed in panic as he checked for a pulse. He breathed a sigh of relief as he felt it under his fingers, slightly faster than it should be, but there. Swallowing, he glanced at her chest and noted that it was rising and falling.
"Ryuuka!" Akio called as he knelt on the opposite side of Ryuuka. Immediately, she started checking her pulse with a BP machine and her sugar levels. Swearing, Akio noted the rasping breathes Ryuuka were taking and pulled out a compact machine with a mask attached to it. Swiftly, she pulled the mask over Ryuuka's nose and mouth.
"Did anyone call an ambulance!" Ryoma turned to the crowd that had gathered, desperately. He didn't want to leave her side just to go and fetch his phone. Someone answered yes, that they had called.
"Ryoma!" Akio called, pulling back his attention, "her heart rate is too high. Strap her arm!" She threw him the velcro'd material and Ryoma immediately readied the arm for the injection. Akio pulled out her box and opened a need and syringe. Quickly and efficiently, she filled the medicine into it and tapped it to get out any air bubbles.
"Ready?" she asked Ryoma who nodded, before finding the vein and injecting Ryuuka. Pulling out the needle, Akio started the BP machine again.
"Ryoma! I need to you to find detach her drip bad from her arm. I need to add to her drip."
"Got it!" Quickly, but gently, Ryoma slipped off the arm of Ryuuka's thin jacket and unclipped the bag from the armband. "Done!"
"Shit! Her heart rate is increasing," Akio looked frazzled as she gave the BP machine to Ryoma with an order to monitor the BP constantly as she injected something into the drip.
"Ryuuka!" Seiichi called as he was helped to the scene by Fuji. "Is she all right?"
"It's still rising!" Ryoma said with a panicked voice.
"Where is that ambulance?" Akio called desperately as she readied another injection and jabbed Ryuuka.
That got a groan from the girl. Akio and Ryoma's eyes snapped towards Ryuuka. Slowly she opened her eyes.
"Ryo?" she said, muffled by the mask.
"Ryuuka! I need to you to take slow, deep breathes," Akio said as her eyes returned to the BP machine.
Ryuuka nodded slightly but her eyes cringed with pain. "It hurts."
"What does?" Ryoma asked urgently as he restarted the BP machine, "Ryu, what's wrong."
"Dizzy. Nauseous. Headache. Weak. Sore. Chest hurts."
A warning sound came from the device and Akio swore loudly.
"She's going into cardiac arrest! Ryuuka, you have to try and calm down!"
Ryuuka's eyes widened in terror as the crowd parted to let through the ENTs. Within moments, they lifted her on the stretcher and were pulling her away, Akio hot on their heels.
"Ryoma, bring Yukimura back to the hospital! I have to go with her!" Akio called as she grabbed her bag and ran.
Ryoma stood still and a part of him felt like it had just died. The words resounded in his head over and over again.
Ryuuka was having a heart attack.
'Ryuuka needs me.'
The thought snapped him into action as he sprinted back to the courts. He jumped the stairs four at a time and dove for him bag. Pulling out his phone, he called his dad.
He needed to get the hospital.
I know I am evil. Read and Review!