A Special Kind of Love
by Calator (formerly lustbader064)
Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis.
Chapter 1- Normal Day
On that peaceful Sunday afternoon, Tezuka Kunimitsu was running an errand for his dear mother. He just exited the grocery store when he bumped into a boy whose height barely past his shoulder.
He was rereading the list his mother gave him, making sure that he did not miss any items on the list that he did not see the boy in front of him. Both of them belongings fell to the ground and Tezuka was quick to notice his mistake.
"Ah, sorry for bumping into you," he apologized, bending down to pick up their things. When he had gotten half of the objects on the ground, he noticed that the boy had yet to move as he stood there in the middle of the road doing nothing.
"Are you alright?" Tezuka asked the boy, worry creeping into his voice as the boy had his head down and his bangs covered unfocused golden eyes.
The boy raised his head, revealing a face that made Tezuka take a sharp intake of breath because he swore that the boy was a boy. He had a heart-shaped face, with rosy cherub cheeks and a proud, jutting chin. He had a tiny cute nose and elegant eyebrows that made a nice slender arch on his face. But the most striking of all were his eyes; they glimmered like liquid gold but they seemed different than everyone else's. Put aside the unique eye color, they seemed… off, not normal, like something was wrong with them.
He had gotten all of their fallen belongings from the ground and he still had that worried expression on his face and he stood up and laid a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder, "Are you alright?" He asked again. This time though, the boy answered back at him with a voice as soft and sweet as cotton candy.
"Y-yes, sorry for bumping into you mister," The boy just repeated his earlier apology! And hearing the mister comment, Tezuka's eyebrows gave an involuntary tick, did he really seem old? Tezuka continued to brood about this rather common misconception of his age and failed to notice the boy who continued speaking. "Um… can I have my things now please?" he said, extending out one arm into the space in front of him.
Now, Tezuka finds it strange. When someone wants to get back their belongings, they usually hold out their hand in front of the beholder of their things. But this boy just placed his arm out in front of him as if… he didn't know where Tezuka was. This made Tezuka Kunimitsu wonder.
But it wasn't like him to pry into things.
He gave back the boy's things with a small sorry and the usual, out-of-politeness, 'take care' and continued on his way, leaving the lost-looking boy alone in the middle of the street.
When Tezuka came back home from his mother's errand, his thoughts subconsciously drifted back to the boy he met in the market while he was rearranging the books on his shelf. He started worrying whether the child went home safely or not and then started to wonder why he had been there in the first place.
From their fallen belongings, he saw that the thing that fell from the boy's hands was a hardbound book with absolutely no name or title at the front cover. It was weird for a book that looked so new to have no title at the front.
His eyebrows scrunched together, irritated. Tezuka so rarely got irritated and if he did it would sometimes be caused by very trivial matters. And the matter presented by the boy he met this afternoon was trivial enough. The boy was different than most people, that's for sure. But who was Tezuka to compare him to everyone else when everyone in context was actually different from everybody else?
Shaking his head to clear it, he decided that it was not good to be worrying over someone whose name he didn't even know. He took out one book from the shelves and sat on his bed and started reading it quietly under the lamp's light. The title was 'Seeing With Eyes That Cannot' and Tezuka couldn't help but feel the slight suspicion that the story in the book was similar to the little boy he met earlier that day.
The day started like any other normal day would for Tezuka. He woke up early, being an early-riser by nature, and freshened up in the bath before going to the dining room to eat breakfast. He finished his food then grabbed his things which consisted of his tennis bag and a book bag and left the house after bidding his family goodbye and dutifully tracked the usual steps that led to school. A few neighbors waved at him and he greeted back politely in reply. When he met with some friends along the way, he joined them, not actually participating in their conversation but stayed close and kept silent as he walked to school with them.
"Today's the start of the District tournament, right?" his best friend, Oishi asked Tezuka in an attempt at small talk.
To which, the Seigaku Tennis Club Captain replied with his usual, "Aa."
A chuckling from their sides took both their attention and everyone in their group, including the ones that walked ahead of Tezuka and Oishi look at the smiling tensai of their team, Fuji Syuusuke. "It really surprises me how articulate Tezuka is with his speech. Don't you think so?" It was a clear insult on Tezuka's part but he chose to ignore it, knowing of his friend's insatiable thirst for humor, be it sick or innocent.
"Hn," was all he could say and proceeded to head faster to the tennis courts.
"Our first opponent is nothing very threatening. We can take them easily even if we hold back. But the 2.4% increase in their training exercises is something quite unnerving and I would suggest the team to still take them seriously," the data master, Inui, said, pushing up the thick pairs of glasses up his nose as he read from his green notebook that was full of data.
"Oya! We have to be careful! Momo has a sprained ankle and he can't participate today for the games, nya. We won't have a reserve player, then. Pity that he can't play with us," Kikumaru Eiji said as he bounced around the spot in his usual hyper activeness.
Oishi just restrained his doubles partner from being so bouncy and Fuji chuckled at his best friend's childish actions with Taka laughing nervously while Inui recorded stuff in his notebook, muttering in low tones, "…hmm, Kikumaru's jump has increased by 0.64%. I have to right that down…"
Tezuka, who had walked ahead of everyone, gave all of them a stern glare which made the five regulars flinch slightly before saying in his loud, captain-voice, "Practice starts in a few minutes. Pick up your pace!"
All of them hurried their pace at their captain's order but when Tezuka heard Fuji give his small chuckle he assigned the tensai 10 laps around the court and took out the key to the clubroom from his pocket. Members started to file in one by one and no sooner, all of them were dressed for practice and all the regulars were in their jersey except for Momoshiro who had an injury.
"Practice is starting. Minna, yuudan sezu ni ikou."
Morning practice had gone normally as each day's morning practice had. Well, if you count the mass of sweaty, quivering and tired bodies of well over 60 plus boys lying on the tennis grounds normal, then yes, everything was normal in today's practice.
"Oh man… I feel so sorry for you guys. I'm just glad that I only had to do push-ups and sit-ups." Momoshiro said in relief while looking at the other regulars, who were not sprawled out on the grounds like the rest of the club but nonetheless were gasping for air.
"Lucky Momo…" Kikumaru managed to wheeze out, his hands on his knees so he wouldn't topple over.
"Fsshh…" a viper-like second year hissed out the remaining vestiges of his adrenaline rush. "Baka Momoshiro." Kaidoh said in a grumble.
"What did you say, mamushi?" the other second year heard him and no sooner did the two heated rivals start bickering with each other and started up threats of beating each other into a pulp.
"I can't believe you two." Oishi said as he tried to pry Momo and Kaidoh away from each other. "How can you still have the energy to fight with each other after running so many laps!"
"Haa, minna…" Kawamura started but Fuji came up to him and gave him his racket which made everyone else stop their doings as he shouted, "BURNING! KAIDO! MOMO! SUTOPPU FIGHTIIINNNG!"
"It still passes my data how Taka-san can have a split personality after holding a racket." Inui said, pushing up his glasses and gasped in precious air.
Fuji gave a chuckle and continued watching his team mates. "Saa…"
When it seemed that they had enough rest, their captain called them to assemble.
"Minna," Tezuka started. "Today is the start of the District Tournament. A good half of the club will be permitted to join the regulars to the Tournament to cheer on for their games so I expect the remaining others to continue practicing later afternoon even if you will have no one to supervise you. If worse comes to worst, please go to Momoshiro since he will stay behind at school because of his injury. If I hear that you have been slacking in practice, I will see to it that you will be punished for your laziness." He passed a stern look at everyone in the club as he always did to get his point across before nodding to himself. "You are dismissed."
"Hai buchou!" they said in unison before dispersing in low grumbles and protests.
Tezuka watched as all of his team headed towards the club house to change and instructed the ones who were lagging behind to kindly clean up the courts. Since there were yet to be first years in their club, he decided that some of the juniors can temporarily take their job.
He just hoped that many freshmen will join their club this year. The tennis club members have been decreasing in number and he feared that soon, no one in their school will want to join the club anymore or worse, no one in their school would want to play tennis anymore.
The morning bell rang, signaling the start of classes for the day. Tezuka was in Class 3-1 and he was listening intently to their teacher as she explained that they had a new student with them for today.
"He accelerated two years above his age and he is now a third year despite being only 12 years old." Nakamura-sensei said, earning a few awed gasps from everyone in the room. Before continuing, she flipped back her thick brown hair. "I know, he's just simply amazing, right? But you know everyone, even if he is accelerated, it hasn't been easy for him. That young boy, he-"
She was interrupted by a knock on the door and she sheepishly gave the whole class an apology at their questioning looks. "Please excuse me for a moment." The teacher opened the door, revealing a man in his forties who wore a formal suit and black sunglasses.
"Ahm… good morning, sir. May I help you?"
"Is this Class 3-1?" his voice was deep as he asked Nakamura-sensei. The sunglasses he wore and the coat and tie on him made him seem like a very intimidating person.
"Yes it is. Is there something you need from my class?"
After shuffling for a bit to get something from his coat, he produced in his hand a crisp, white paper. "Here is my son's information sheet and required materials if he is to… accommodate in this environment."
Then realization hit her as she took the papers. "Ah, you must be Mr. Echizen, then." She said, her eyes lighting in knowing his identity. "And where is little Ryoma, by the way?"
A soft smile graced his lips and he stood to the side to reveal a small boy that only reached below his chest. "Here he is." He said with apparent pride in his voice. "This is my precious son and I expect you, Nakamura-sensei to take good care of him. He is a special case after all."
"Of course Echizen-san. I will not let you down." She replied with confidence in her voice before gently taking the boy's hand into hers. "Ryoma-kun?" she called, trying to get his attention.
He inclined his head to her voice and greeted with a small breathtaking smile, "Ohayou gozaimasu Nakamura-sensei."
If she had not been in front of her class and this mysterious-looking father, she might have gushed out at the boy's irresistible charm and would have started giggling like a teenage girl. "My, my, he is quite polite, ne?"
"Yes, he is." The father said, the pride in his voice not lessening for a bit. Then suddenly, all trace of a smile went away from his face as he looked at his rather expensive watch. "I'm sorry but I must leave now. I have to fetch someone important at the airport."
"I understand Echizen-san. Don't worry; your son is in safe hands." She assured.
But the man ignored her and knelt down to be in level with the boy and took his son's shoulders to face him. "Ryoma-chan?" he started.
"Hai, otou-san?" his soft voice said, making the older man's heart swell with love of a devoted father.
"I'll leave you here now at school okay? Sensei said that she'll take care of you and the others here. So you'll be alright with them. I'll just go and get your brother from the airport then later we can go to that tennis match you wanted to go to. How does that sound?"
Even if his eyes were not focused on his father, his eyes twinkled with happiness and his smile widened into an overjoyed grin. "That would be great. Will onii-chan come too?"
"Of course he will."
"Then it's a promise then." The boy said, extending a hand in the air with only the pinky sticking out.
Hooking his larger pinky with his son's, he sealed their promise. "Aa."
Nakamura Ayame smiled at the adorable scene of father and son in front of her. The boy must be really precious to his family if he is this cherished by their father. She became firmer with her resolve and silently vowed to make sure the boy had a good school year.
"Goodbye otou-san. Take care on the road." Ryoma said as he waved his hand gently in the air.
"Goodbye Ryoma. You take care too, okay?"
Placing both her hands on the boy's shoulders, the teacher also waved goodbye at the student's father. "I won't let you down Echizen-san."
It was a long time before Nakamura-sensei returned inside the classroom, bringing with her a small boy. Everyone in class was confused to see the boy, although a few already had guesses to who he was but held their tongues from questioning their teacher and waited until both their teacher and the new kid had gotten to the teacher's desk.
After seeing their teacher speak to the boy first in very hushed tones, she turned to them and continued where she left. "As I said, he accelerated two years above his level and now he's a third year like all of you even though he's just 12. His name is Echizen Ryoma and I hope you can all get along with him."
Murmurs started around the class as they regarded their new classmate. Everyone was talking about how cute he looked like and some were amazed that such a boy could be so smart. But one brunette in particular kept to himself as he swore he saw the boy from somewhere else, he just couldn't remember. Then, it hit him. This boy was the same boy he bumped into yesterday at the market!
Tezuka studied the boy and found nothing different about him except that his hair was now combed nicely compared to the messy bed hair he had the day before. He really couldn't believe that this was the same helpless boy he saw yesterday. The boy didn't seem like someone who could get lost for someone so smart.
"Alright everybody, settle down!" Nakamura-sensei said to stop everyone's murmuring and chatting. Everybody immediately went silent like a switch was turned on. Obviously glad that her students were so obedient, she continued with a big smile on her face. "Okay, Ryoma-kun here is a special case and I want everyone to know that. Not only is he younger than all of you by two years, he doesn't have what the rest of us in this school has."
Her voice started to become solemn along the way as she looked at the passive boy with a pitying look. Almost all of class 3-1 raised their eyebrows at this. What would the new kid not have but they had?
Tezuka, too wondered. There seemed to be nothing different with the boy that made him that unique compared to the others. But as the tennis captain studied the boy a bit more, he noticed one terrifyingly, obvious difference.
His eyes. They were…
"Ryoma-kun is special because unlike the rest of us, Ryoma is blind."
No one in class 3-1 expected to have a new classmate that day. And no one had expected that they would have a blind one at that.