Disclaimer: Once upon a time there was a magnificent mangaka and an amazing author. They created Prince of Tennis, and Harry Potter, and sadly I am neither of them.
Warnings: Bullying, sketchy morals, future slash, future het, sports, swearing, Sanada and Atobe attitude, and AU.
Sanada Family: Gen'emon- Grandfather, Genkichi- Father, Mei- Mother, Gentaro- Eldest son, Genichirou- Middle son, Gensaburo- Harry and youngest son
Family Follow Through
He trained them hard and today he would see if he had trained them enough. Gensaburo was worried. He knew he had a good team walking into the tournament, but that didn't mean there wasn't a better one out there. Renji had done a great job researching the other teams, and compiling data and footage for them to go over, but that didn't ensure their success. Preparation was only part of the battle.
While confidence was an important part of the game, one couldn't be overconfident. Over-confidence was as much a killer as no confidence when playing a match. Gensaburo had strived to ensure that his regulars were secure in the knowledge that they had the skill to win, but also aware that they weren't standing on an unshakeable podium. The third years knew this since Seiichi and Genichirou had arrived. The second years, not as affected as the third years, knew that there were freshmen better than them, standing directly behind them and judging. As for his brother and best friend… they had enough experience to use common sense during a match.
Gensaburo knew his system was not perfect. He knew there were flaws and that maybe allowing Marui to practice alone wasn't the best. The boy was very driven, but he didn't know his limits. Gensaburo had tried to rectify this by pushing the other first year Niou to be his training partner but it hadn't ended well. Niou had played tricks, joked around and distracted Marui until he burst in a fit of frustration and expended all his energy at fighting that by the time he calmed down he didn't have the ability to continue training. Gensaburo had swiftly kicked Niou back to the regular tennis club and informed the captain that the white haired boy may benefit from some extra laps.
Next Gensaburo had tried getting the Brazilian boy Jackal to help, but his silent continence didn't offer Marui any tips or information if the ball even landed in the correct box when it hit too close on the line. He could admit that the Brazilian had good defense skills, but as a training partner he lacked what Marui needed. So Gensaburo was forced to return him to the club also and look for another partner. It was hard considering there weren't many first years in the silver group, the second years would probably feel offended that they had to help a freshman, and Gensaburo wouldn't even dare ask a third year. The first years from the Bronze group were still too unskilled to be helpful, plus Gensaburo rather they focus on improving their basic skills before attempting anything advanced like Marui. It left him in a pickle.
Gensaburo could admit that he had been rather impulsive when he learned the Marui had an interesting trick, and that he really should have thought the plan through more before creating a whole special training area for the red head, but he didn't regret it either. He was just stuck on where to go from there. Instead of spending lots of time working himself up in a right state of frustration over it, Gensaburo had focussed on getting the regulars ready and preventing Seiichi from scaring any other club member if they annoyed the bluenette.
He didn't like to hurt people or see them suffer. After his kidnapping and torture, Gensaburo had been adamant that no one would suffer needlessly. He knew that there were times when he needed to be firm and strict, show his power and strength to get his point across. He also knew that there were times where you needed to be kind and understanding of the situation. Seiichi didn't believe in the last part, being quite cruel to those he didn't like, which is why Gensaburo usually deferred any punishment to Aikawa or his brother. Genichirou was strict but not overly, while Aikawa believed in a modern form of punishment of laps and cleaning. It was also why Gensaburo had seen to sealing some of Seiichi's talent. His methods were too harmful. He had limited his brother also, but he knew he couldn't ask them to stop completely, but use their more dangerous skills sparingly and only on those that could withhold the pressure. This method kept all tennis club members mentally and emotionally safe, and kept the gentle and sweet image Seiichi projected.
But now, walking towards the tennis park and hearing the loud chants and cheers for Rikkaidai, Gensaburo couldn't help but wonder if his presence did more harm than good. He knew he was too young still, that he didn't have enough experience to lead the school. He wanted to try hard, he did try hard, but sometimes effort wasn't enough. The other tennis coaches had years of experience on him, they knew things that would take him years to understand. Walking towards the court Gensaburo just couldn't help but fear that those coaches had spent time and saw past his juvenile methods and discovered a way to beat them.
"Rikkaidai! Rikkaidai! Invincible Rikkaidai!"
Genichirou closed his eyes as he let the chant wash over him. It was the final matchup of the tournament and the students that came to cheer for them were deafening in their support. It was easy to tell who was more confident going into this as the other team seemed shell-shocked at the loud cries. Rikkaidai was a proud school that encouraged the students to attend and cheer at every sporting event. The cheering squad had several large drums, and was the biggest cheering group in Kanagawa. The other schools were usually completely unprepared when they faced the squad for the first time, being blown away by their volume and passion. Today was especially intimidating as the squad came out in full force, bringing every instrument, uniform, and banner to support the tennis team as they claimed the Kanagawa title again.
As he opened his eyes, Genichirou felt his grandfather's presence in the crowd and located him. His grandfather was sitting among teenagers looking completely content in his position as he gazed down at him in pride. His face may still be stoic but Genichirou could see that pride in the man's eyes. He gave the man a nod and then directed his attention to Gensaburo who was saying some last minute words to Nishishiki and Mikado before the entered the courts.
The drums started just as the pair stepped on the court, sending vibrations through Genichirou as he settled between Seiichi and Aikawa. As Nishishiki raised the ball in the air, signaling himself ready to serve, the drums and cheers cut off sharply leaving the stadium in a sudden silence. Gracefully, the ball arched and sailed over the net making a loud thwack as it hit the court, beginning the match. The sound of the rally carried to every spectator and only as Rikkaidai took the first point did the crowd return to cheering, filling the stadium once more.
Genichirou could feel his blood pumping, could feel his heart speed up in anticipation and could feel that satisfying feeling of a match come to him. He would play soon, but his fingers drummed against his racket, wanting to play now, this very instant instead of watching his teammates.
"This match won't last long. Shall we go warm up Gen-kun?" Seiichi asked.
Gensaburo had decided to mix up the order for the final match. Nishishiki and Mikado would continue in their doubles two spot, but this time Genichirou and Seiichi would be doubles one, leaving Aikawa as singles three, Renji as singles two, and Kudo in his throw away singles one. Genichirou didn't mind the order, he still got to play, but he didn't like Kudo. He would prefer if the older boy could actually contribute to the team instead of being the throw away game. He was good yes, but he wasn't good enough. He barely skated by on his regular matches, and he couldn't play doubles. He wouldn't last long as Genichirou couldn't see Yukimura or his brother allowing such a player to go to Nationals with them.
"Let's go," Genichirou answered. He shouldered his racket and turned away from the match to find an empty court to warm up.
They only took a few steps before Seiichi spoke," I'm surprised you are so eager to leave when that strange Coach is in the stands, watching our Gen-chan."
Genichirou felt a cold shiver roll down his spine at that. Snapping his head back, his eyes quickly scanned the crowd until he found the man, looking out of place in a white lab coat and sitting taller than the people around him. "What is he doing here?"
Yukimura chuckled as he grabbed Genichirou's arm and dragged him away. "That is not important at the moment. Besides, what can he do when Gen-chan is surrounded by the entire Rikkaidai tennis team and with your grandfather sitting in the stands? No, instead you should focus on the match."
Genichirou glared at the boy. "If that is what you want then why did you tell me he was here?"
Seiichi gave him a serene smile in return. "So that hopefully you will be motivated to play a little faster and a little more aggressively today. The longer we take to play, the longer that man gets to sit and watch Gen-chan."
Genichirou glared again but didn't say anything, instead he went to the nearest free court and smashed a tennis ball against the wall. He would show Seiichi, that sadistic bastard, aggressive.
Destroyed. Obliterated. Crushed. Those were the only three words that could describe how the three matches went.
Nishishiki and Mikado's opponents had put up a good fight, making the pair work for some games, but they still lost 6-1. Doubles two, didn't stand a chance. Gensaburo had watched his brother walk on the court, a dark aura hanging over him. His eyes were narrowed, his stance tense, and he looked ready to fight. Yukimura in contrast had been calm and smiling, but no one on the Rikkaidai side was fooled by it. As soon as the first ball was served, Genichirou was out and hitting balls faster than most people's eyes could follow. He was a dark looming presence on his side of the court and the other team faltered and hesitated.
Aikawa in turn had a more… calm match in comparison. He had worked hard in training to improve not only in doubles but his singles game. Gensaburo had kept his end of the deal and helped the captain think of and execute some new moves that would give him the edge over Genichirou. They weren't perfect, but putting them into practice during a real match was training itself. Aikawa would still need another month or so before he could face Genichirou on a more even footing, but Gensaburo was proud of the third year's progress.
As Aikawa took his last swing, Gensaburo stood. The ball sailed over the net and the opponent missed it by a full racket's length and Gensaburo applauded his captain. A dam broke and he was drowned out by the fervent cheers of his school. Gensaburo quickly ran to his captain and gave the older boy a hug.
"Buchou, congratulations," Gensaburo said loudly to be heard.
Aikawa coughed and looked away from Gen-chan. "I don't know why you're so excited. It's only the Kanagawa title, not like it's the National tournament or something."
Gensaburo smiled and lightly pat the captain's side before he pulled away. "True but as the captain of the team you led them to another victory, and this was your first singles match in a tournament this year, you did really well."
"Whatever. I need to gather the team to shake the other team's hands." Gensaburo let the third year boy go, and instead went to shake the other coach's hand. He was surprised to see his grandfather waiting for him behind the other coach's bench.
"Grandfather!" Gensaburo called as he ran over. "I didn't know you came today."
Gen'emon placed a firm hand on Gen-chan's shoulder. "You did well today," he complimented.
"Thank you Grandfather." Gensaburo could feel himself preening slightly under the praise. He enjoyed the attention his grandfather showered on him, and he wouldn't deny it if someone asked.
"Gensaburo, there is someone I would like you to meet, could you follow me?"
Gen-chan perked up at the news. "Really? Should I get Gen-nii?" He asked.
"I believe we can leave you brother for a moment to celebrate with his team." Gensaburo nodded and eagerly followed his grandfather out and away from the stadium to a small café where a single patron was sitting.
As they approached the man stood up and greeted them with a bow. "Sanada-sama, Gensaburo-kun." Gensaburo returned the greeting and took the seat the man offered him afterwards.
"Gensaburo, this is Coach Saito. He works with the U-17 representative team. I approached him to see if he would help train you as a coach since you are so passionate about it. After observing you for a while he has come to a decision," Gen'emon informed him. Gensaburo nodded, he folded his hands neatly on his lap and gave the man his full attention.
On the outside he was calm, but inside he was buzzing. This was the answer to his problem; a coach and guide that would help him navigate the waters of coaching and hopefully help bring him away from his juvenile and amateur coach status. While he hoped the news would be positive, Gensaburo also prepared himself for rejection. He had been rejected by the players at Rikkaidai at first and because of his age he knew most adults wouldn't take him seriously.
"Gensaburo-kun," the man started. "In my field I see a lot of tennis players of various skills and strengths. It is easy to see the potential some hold, and how far it will take them. When I watched you, I not only took in how you set up your coaching system at Rikkaidai, but also how you interacted with your players. Some things did impress me, but others worried me.
"I thought on this choice for a few days and I couldn't understand why you needed a mentor. You are still young, there is still time for you to change your mind and if you do that I would have wasted any amount of effort I put into mentoring. If I were going to mentor someone, it would be so that they may take over my position, or surpass what I have accomplished. To have a student change their mind and decide that my teachings are no longer relevant would be hurtful, and wasteful. I do not want that to happen. In my eyes you are too young to seriously pursue this path."
Gensaburo nodded his head. He could see the man's reasoning. "I understand sir. I need to mature and show you my dedication to becoming a tennis coach before you will agree to mentor me." While he understood, it still hurt. If only he weren't so small… and young. If he were big like Gentaro, then Coach Saito probably would have agreed to take him on.
"However," The man continued. "While you are too young in my eyes, in my heart you are old enough. Like I have said, I can see the potential that players have and I can see your potential as a coach. You are still too inexperienced to handle a large tennis club like Rikkaidai and bring out each players potential, but you have enough intuition to recognize the truly talented and nurture them. The ability and how you motivate your team before a match has led me to believe that my efforts won't be wasted. I will happily mentor you as much as I can."
"Really sir?" Gensaburo leaned over the table and stared into the man's eyes, looking for any signs of deceit. He could feel the excitement vibrating through his body at the thought of learning to coach from such a man. To coach the U-17 team was quite the accomplishment, and Gensaburo couldn't even imagine the things he could learn from this man.
"If you promise to work hard."
Gensaburo eagerly nodded. "Oh I will! I promise!" He stated vehemently.
Saito grinned and pat Gensaburo on the head. "Alright, it's a deal. Now I can't see you often as I do have my own work to do with the camp, prepping for the summer, and finding suitable candidates, but I can stop by every once in a while and help at Rikkaidai. I will drop off any study material I think you need to learn, and if you have any questions you may email me. If your parents are agreeable you may even be able to join me at the Selection camp for two weeks and observe as my assistant."
Gensaburo turned towards his grandfather and sent the man his best pleading eyes. "Can I grandfather?"
Gen'emon quirked his lips and looked away. "We need to discuss such things as a family. Before they agree, they may want to meet Coach Saito."
Gensaburo sat back in his chair and sighed. His grandfather was right. His family wouldn't agree to him going somewhere for two weeks with a stranger no matter his credentials. Not just his parent but Gen-nii and Seiichi would voice their objections.
"We could… invite him over for dinner…" Gensaburo tried.
"We could." Gen'emon stared steadily back at his grandson.
"We should invite him over for dinner?"
"Coach Saito, would you like to come to our house for dinner tonight?" Gensaburo asked the man.
Saito chuckled a little. "I would like that, but I can't tonight. Maybe next week?"
Gensaburo looked towards his grandfather for approval, and the eldest Sanada took over. "Next week is agreeable. You have our number, when you pick a day that works for you just give the house a call and I will inform Mei. If you are free Sunday, we usually go to the restaurant where we first met. You may be more comfortable meeting my family in a more neutral territory for the first time."
"I will keep that in mind, but for now I will take my leave." Saito stood up, and bowed towards Gen'emon once more.
Gensaburo watched as his grandfather stood and shook the man's hand. "Thank you for doing this."
Saito smiled and took his leave.
"Grandfather, I can't express how grateful I am that you are doing this," said Gen-chan.
Gen'emon gave a small smile and ruffled his hair. "When a Sanada dedicates themselves to something, it is the role of the family to support them how they can. This is my support for you."
"It's the best support you could have given me," Gensaburo responded sincerely.
Genichirou wouldn't say he was jealous, that would be silly, but he was feeling slightly anxious over his brother's coach. After the tournament, Gen-chan had rushed the team and excitedly told everyone who would listen that their grandfather had arranged for him to be mentored by a professional coach, Coach Saito. When Genichirou heard the man's name he had been understandably upset that the man who spent time watching his younger brother would now be in charge of his teachings. He didn't like it. Had the man meant to teach his brother from the start, he should have come forward and properly introduced himself and not hid in the shadows like a hoodlum.
When he reached home he had sought out his grandfather and questioned the man. His grandfather reassured him that he had performed a full background check and character test on the man. That reassured him slightly, but he still didn't like it. The man seemed off to him.
The week passed with Gen-chan in high spirits and then following Sunday they all gathered at their favourite restaurant and sat down the Coach Saito. The man was charming, easily gaining his mother's favour. He was intelligent and had won over his father. He was kind and gentle which reassured his older brother, but he didn't ease Genichirou's worries. His family all seemed relieved that Gensaburo was so eager to learn from the man, which made Genichirou wonder. Did they set this all up for a reason?
They had been acting weird of late and Genichirou had noticed it. They seemed more anxious around Gensaburo, more affectionate and loving. Not that they weren't affectionate and loving before, they were, but they all seemed to increase the amount of hugs they gave the youngest, Gentaro had taken to cuddling Gensaburo at night, and his father was more gentle and encouraging in Gensaburo's desire to coach.
Genichirou noticed this all and he knew that this Coach Saito was part of their plan, part of their reassurance that Gensaburo would want to stay with them. It all just confused Genichirou because there was no cause or reason for Gensaburo to ever want to leave them. Gen-chan loved his life, he had thanked Genichirou numerous times over the years for accepting him. Nothing was trying to lure Gensaburo away and no more strange people had appeared attempting to kidnap him. So why did his family feel like they needed to cement Gensaburo's desire to stay? He wasn't sure at the moment, but Genichirou vowed to find out. Until then he wouldn't trust Coach Saito because in his mind that man was only a pawn, a conspirator to a secret he was not privy.
"Gen-nii, can you believe that Mother and Father are actually letting me go to the U-17 camp? I will get to see how they coach the high school students," Gensaburo whispered excitedly as he leaned over.
Genichirou looked at his brother fondly and nodded. "It will be a very interesting experience I'm sure." He may not like the man but he would never deny Gensaburo the chance to work with a professional coaching staff.
"Coach Saito was telling me about the camp and it sounds amazing. There are over 16 tennis courts!" Gensaburo seemed to descend into a state of bliss as he pictured the grounds.
No, you couldn't deny Gensaburo anything when it made him look that happy, but that didn't mean he had to like the situation.
Kirihara -16, Quidditch- 12.
I don't know what I would pick. I don't like heights but the chance to fly through the air might make me forget that since it would be pretty fun. But on the other hand, Kirihara would terrify me and I might spend the entire match hidden behind the Umpire's chair, hoping for it to end soon. Tough choice.
Would You Rather….
Learn to make Sushi with Kawamura OR Learn to repot a mandrake with Neville?