Crumbling

Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis.

Author's Notes: So, I generally write Pokemon (If you look through my stories, hehe, you'll notice.) But I recently watched the Prince of Tennis and fell grandly in love, and I fell so in love that it deserved to break my record of only writing Pokeshipping stories and putting a Prince of Tennis story on here. It's about Rinko abusing Ryoma, but it's very slow, so it doesn't really start off as abuse…anyway, enjoy!

Warnings: The chapters will be short but will be updated frequently. I'm not very well with Japanese as Prince of Tennis is one of the few anime's I've watched, so forgive me for misspelling stuff or saying the wrong words.


Ryoma Echizen hated mornings.

He felt cold; his eyes hurt; Karupin attacked him. Sometimes, his baka father would bang on the door and yell, or barge right inside and throw off his covers. Breakfast demanded all the nutrients and two cartons of Milk from Inui's special nutrition menu. He was also always late for tennis practice so Captain Tezuka would make him run extra laps. On worse days, he would also make him wear extra weights on his ankles.

I overslept for the third time this week, Ryoma thought as he shovelled cereal in his mouth. With Nanako out early with a new boyfriend or something like that, the young tennis genius was forced to eat American food. At this rate, Captain'll throw me off the team.

His mother was pouring milk for him at the counter, her short brown hair spilling over her head as she scurried about the small kitchen. Ryoma watched as she turned her head, pausing, a slight frown on her face. He had been worrying about his mother lately – it wasn't like him to be concerned, but he knew she was being overworked at her job, and she was being pretty irritable.

"Ryoma, aren't you going to be late?" Rinko mumbled, but she didn't seem to be paying attention.

Ryoma shrugged in reply, eyeing the clock, wondering if Momoshiro could haul him a ride again. After all, Momoshiro was late half the days too, so they usually ended up walking or bicycling together. He took another bite out of the soggy cornflakes and grimaced. "Okaa-san…can't you make some Japanese breakfast?"

He watched his mom's back stiffen. "Mada, Ryoma. Honestly, do you think I have the time-"

"Ois, ois. Nevermind." He replied testily.

Rinko tensed, her fingers curled tightly around her coffee cup. She swung around, looking at him with dark, flaming brown eyes. "You don't need to put so much attitude into your words, Ryoma."

Ryoma nearly dropped his spoon. "Huh?"

"Your attitude. I know you're a great tennis player, just like your father, but you have to stop treating your own mother like she's less than you."

"Nanni?" he twisted in his seat, suddenly not hungry. His mother rarely scolded him – in fact, she rarely talked to him in general. She was constantly busy with work, and since he was always out playing tennis, they never really had proper face-to-face conversations.

Rinko furrowed her brow, watching as her son looked at her with wide eyes. "I-" she sighed, wiping her brow, before slumping her shoulders. "Just eat."

"So…" There was a long pause. "…no Japanese breakfast?"

There was a large moment of silence as Ryoma waited innocently, knowing he was probably pushing his limits, but hating the taste of soggy cereal in his mouth.

"Why you...you…" Rinko suddenly sputtered. "You ungrateful brat."

Ryoma nearly jumped in his chair as his mother shot over to him, raised her hand, and swatted him hard on his cheek. His right hand instantly flew to his face, surprise overwhelming his childish features. His heart rung loudly in his ears and he fought to regain his composure. "Okaa-san?" he asked.

Never in his life had Rinko called him a brat; oh, his father did it all the time. His team members did it too. Even opponents called him that. But never his mother. And in all of his twelve years, his mother had never, ever hit him.

So then why…for such a small thing…

"Ryoma…gomensai…" Rinko looked frozen as she stared at the palm of her hand, and then at her son's cheek which had gone slightly pink. "I didn't-didn't mean to." Her eyes were disoriented and confused, her lips pursed in a thin line, her head pounding slightly.

Ryoma blinked. "Whatever."

A smile of relief spread over Rinko's face and she let the guilt go, turning around and taking a long sip from her coffee. Her shoulders hunched tiredly. Ryoma watched his mother's back, still slightly shocked that she had hit him. It hadn't exactly hurt, but a frown edged his lips anyway. His mother was obviously under a lot of stress at work, which was probably why she had become so quickly irritated with him – his frown deepened into a sort of pout as he remembered when Captain Tezuka had hit him. The shock of it was pretty much similar to that occurrence.

His voice, much to his dismay, was rather soft as he spoke. "Where's father?"

"Temple."

"Che."

Ryoma quickly finished his cereal and jumped out of his chair, stuffing his racket into his tennis bag and taking a long gulp of milk from his carton. Pushing in his chair, he moved quickly towards the door – he was late, and for some reason, he wanted to get out of the house. An odd, bad feeling had spread to the pit of his stomach.

It's not a big deal…she just slapped me…lots of parents do that…right?

He sighed, his fingers touching the handle of the door.

"Ryoma, come back into the kitchen."

His mouth dropped slightly as he heard the angry tone of his mother travel to his ears; she sounded absolutely livid. His fingers instinctevly tightened around the strap of his tennis bag and he made no move to walk back to the kitchen.

"I said get in the kitchen, Ryoma."

His brain snapped back into motion and he swiftly strode back in, one hand crammed in his pocket, his black hair sweeping over his eyes. "Okaa-san?" he asked. The moment he saw the look in his mother's eyes, he took a step backward. Her eyes were wild and she didn't look like the gentle, quiet Rinko she normally was. "Ryoma," she flung a hand towards his dish and glass. "Don't you even bother to clean up? Or help around the house? Don't you know how disrespectful it is to just leave your dish there and just get up?"

Ryoma opened his mouth.

"Don't speak. I work my butt off at work every day so I can keep up with your stupid tennis funds, and now that Nanako's gone, I have to do the housework too…and you just leave your dish there without even bothering to clean it."

Her breathing was heavy, her face flushed red as she waited for her son to answer. She worked eight hours every day, normally overtime because the tennis school was so expensive, and was now forced to do the housework as well…and her damned son couldn't even be bothered to put away his dish?

"I was gunna be late." Ryoma said simply, pulling his tennis cap slightly over his head.

Rinko's jaw dropped at his calm, cool tone, and for some reason, the silly excuse just made her boil even more. Her eyes narrowed into slits and she marched over, throwing his white hat off his head.

"Oka-"

And her palm connected with his cheek once again. He stumbled backwards at the force of it – it was much stronger than before, and his lips parted slightly in disbelief. What was going on? He knew about his mother having problems lately, but she never took her stress out on him before. He tried to control his body from shaking as he let his fingers tenderly touch his cheekbone, sliding over. He winced; it actually hurt a bit this time.

Ryoma looked up at his mother.

"Oh…Ryoma…I…" Her anger faded. "I apolog-"

"EH, ECHIZEN, YOU COMING?" Momoshiro's voice travelled through the open kitchen window, confirming that he had been late as well. "I'LL GIVE YOU A LIFT."

With his stomach feeling queasy, Ryoma ignored his mother's apologises and rushed out the door, his cheek still stinging from the impact. The sunlight streamed on his eyes as he walked over to Momoshiro's smiling face.

It's no big deal.

She won't do it again.

Everyone gets hit.

It's no big deal.