SkyGem: Hey y'all! Okay, so earlier, I was reading a fic called "Surviving the Struggle" by Will(dot)Hell(dot)Minna(dot) (sorry, that's the only way her whole username will show, replace dot with .), and it was sooooo sad! But it gave me a wonderful idea. So, with the author's permission, I have written this (sort-of) sequel. Please leave a review and tell me what you thought, ne?
Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis or Surviving the Struggle, but I do own this fanfic.
P.S. I strongly suggest you read Will(dot)Hell(dot)Minna(dot)'s fic before this one.
"Otou-san! Otou-san! Look what I can do!" shouted my five year old son, hitting a tennis ball repeatedly against the brick wall of our house.
I smiled at him, feeling my heart break a little. I loved him to death, but his sparkling amber eyes and green-tinted black hair, not to mention his unrivalled love of tennis, all reminded me vividly of his namesake.
"That's wonderful, Ryou! You'll be invited to the US Open before you know it!" I shouted, and I felt my voice shake a little.
Seeming to notice my distress, he stopped playing and walked over to me.
"Tou-san?" he asked, looked up at me with wide, serious eyes. "Daijobu?" he asked.
"I'm fine," I said, forcing a smile.
Shaking his head, he said, "No, you're not alright. Are you homesick?"
I couldn't help but laugh a little at that. We had only just moved to Japan the day before, and I could tell that my son missed America already.
Nodding slightly, I said, "Yes, I'm homesick."
Patting my cheek lightly, he said, "It's okay, otou-san. We'll go there again someday."
"Of course," I said, feeling a little better. Then I kissed him lightly on the head and said, "Anyways, let's go inside now, ne? It's getting a little late, and you don't want to be tired tomorrow when you meet grandma and grandpa, do you?"
"Hai!" he said, skipping inside.
Dinner was a quiet affair, as Ryou seemed too tired from jetlag to talk as much as he usually did, and Mitsuki, my wife, seemed to notice that something was wrong and was just giving me space.
Later that night, after Ryou had been tucked in, Mitsuki and I were lying in bed when she snuggled closer to me.
Without looking up, she said, "Are you thinking about him again?"
I nodded before remembering that she couldn't see me. "Yeah," I said quietly.
"He really does look like him, doesn't he?" she asked in a small voice.
I was quiet for a moment. "Yes," I said again. "He's almost exactly like him."
"I wish I could have met him," she said sadly. "The way you talk about him, he seems like he was a wonderful guy."
"He was," I said and felt my voice crack.
Then, I turned my face away, feeling a single tear slip down my face. After that, we didn't talk anymore and slowly, I drifted to sleep.
I open my eyes to find myself inside a hospital.
Feeling a bone-crushing grip on my hand, I look down and see my wife clutching it so tightly, her knuckles are white.
I look up at her sweat-matted face, twisted in pain, and realize where –or rather when- I am.
"It's okay, honey, you can do it!" I say, trying to comfort her.
Suddenly, there's a blood-curdling scream and I feel as if my hand is going to break.
Then, the scream dies down and is replaced by the wailing of an infant. The pressure on my hand lightens as my wife breathes heavily, and I hear the doctor say, "It's a boy!"
Although I know vaguely what to expect, I'm still shocked breathless when I see my son. His face is round and sweet and his cheeks soft. His eyes are closed tight but they have a kind of feline shape to them and he has soft tufts of greenish-black hair.
I feel as if I'm going to cry.
When the doctor asks for his name, I reply without thinking. "Ryoma. Echizen Ryoma."
My wife, who knows about what happened to my otouto all those years ago, doesn't protest. Instead, she smiles tiredly, holding her arms out for her baby.
As the doctor leaves to get the legal documents, I go over to Mitsuki and we both look down at our little bundle of joy.
"Isn't he just beautiful?" she asks, her voice soft. Then, to the baby, she coos, "I bet you'll grow up into a wonderful tennis player, just like your father. Won't you, Ryoma?"
At this, our son opens his eyes for the first time, and I gasp. They're bright amber, completely unlike the grays and blues that newborns usually have for their first few weeks of life. When I look at them, I feel like I'm seeing my little brother again, and it hurts.
I almost break down right there, and when the nurse comes to take him to the nursery, I almost don't want to let go, but I know I have to.
When he's gone, Mitsuki looks up at me and she smiles proudly.
"He looks just like you."
I shake my head. "He looks more like his uncle…"
When I woke up the next morning, there were tears in my eyes.
Mitsuki had awoken earlier than me, so I was alone in bed, and for that, I was a bit grateful.
After composing myself and washing up in the bathroom, I headed downstairs for some breakfast.
"Good morning," I said when I entered the kitchen, kissing my wife on the cheek. "What's for breakfast?"
"Blueberry pancakes," she said, smiling.
"Yum," I said, licking my lips. "I love western food."
Giggling, she said, "That's great. Can you go tell Ryou that breakfast is ready? He's in the living room."
"Hai," I said nonchalantly and went to find my mischievous son.
When I found him, he was sitting in the middle of the living room floor, flipping through what looked to be a book.
"What're you looking at?" I asked, kneeling beside him.
Smiling up at me, he said, "Ohayou, otou-san. I found a photo album!"
"Really?" I said interestedly.
"Hai!" he said. Then, seeming to remember something, he turned to the very beginning of the album and pointed to a picture of two laughing teens. "Otou-san, who are they?" he asked.
My breath caught when I saw the picture. I remembered it vividly, as it had been taken only a month or so before my brother had passed away.
Trying to steady my voice, I pointed to the older boy, who seemed to be about 17, and said, "This one is me."
His eyes widened and his mouth formed a cute little 'o'.
"Otou-san looks so cool!" he said. "But who's the one beside otou-san?"
I stared at the one he was talking about, a young boy that looked to be about 12. "That's my otouto," I said in a voice that just barely escaped shaking. In the picture, he had on one of those rare, genuine smiles that you would almost never see, let alone get on camera.
When he looked up at me and our eyes met, I could tell that Ryou had noticed my distress.
With serious eyes, he asked, "What happened to him?"
"He died when he was twelve," I said.
"How?" asked my son, seeming curious.
I shrugged. "Nobody knows. He was perfectly healthy, but then, he went to sleep one night, and never woke up again."
Getting up, he put a hand on my cheek just like the day before. "Is this why you were sad yesterday?" he asked innocently.
Sometimes, his perceptiveness really surprised me, in some ways, he was almost exactly like Ryoma.
I nodded. "He was a great tennis player, you know. Have you ever heard of the famous tennis player that everyone called the Prince of Tennis?"
"That was him. Everyone had high hopes for him. We all believed that he would one day be at the top of the tennis world."
Ryou's eyes were now trained intently on the image of his namesake, he seemed awed.
"What was oji-san's name?" he asked.
I smiled at this. "His name was Ryoma."
Suddenly, my son's eyes flew up to my face.
"Nani?" he asked. "He had the same name as me?"
I nodded. "Because you were named after him, he's now your guardian angel. He'll always be watching you, so you better make him proud."
He was quiet for a moment, as if digesting this new information.
Then, he looked up at me and smiled brightly. "One day, I will become the best tennis player in the world! I will become the next Prince of Tennis and make Ryoma-ji-san proud of me!"
When he said this, for a second, I thought I saw strong, leanly muscled arms gently enveloping him in a hug, and just over his left shoulder, I saw a beloved face smiling brightly at me.
The next second, though, the face was gone, and I thought I might have imagined it, but still, the image had brought me great comfort. Even though he was no longer alive, Ryoma hadn't truly left us.
"Anyways, okaa-san made pancakes for breakfast. Let's go before they get cold, ne?" I said, smiling slightly.
"Yay!" he shouted, dashing for the kitchen.
I let out a chuckle, then followed after him.
When I got to the doorway of our kitchen, I saw Mitsuki pick a white feather out of Ryou's hair and look at it curiously. "Now where could this have come from?"
Ryou didn't look at all surprised; he just threw me a knowing smile.
"It's a sign from my guardian angel, he's saying that he'll always be there with me!"
SkyGem: So, what did you think? Is it good? The ending is based a slightly on a drabble I wrote a little while ago called Wings. It's very short, so please take some time to read it, ne? Anyways, please do leave a review and do tell me what you thought.
P.S. I'm debating on whether or not to turn this into a two-shot or a three-shot. What do you guys think?