"Sometimes he thinks they forget that he's only twelve years old ..." Cranky Ryoma drabblet. [mild episode 65ish spoilers]
Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis is not mine. No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: Stupid Echizen plot bunny that would NOT DIE. It rambles, but I wrote this in a fit of brain-dumping to get it out of my head. Only very slightly edited, with thanks to La for comments. Wee spoilers for ... um ... episode 65 or thereabouts.
Sometimes he thinks they forget that he's only twelve years old, and while it makes him angry at times, it's only fair. When it comes to tennis, he often forgets that he's only twelve years old as well.
If they expect too much of him, it's alright, because he expects even more from himself. That doesn't bother him. But when his teammates look to him for sure victories and his fellow first-years for support (and why, he wonders, are they looking at him for that?), he thinks, I'm not supposed to be doing this or I'm only here to learn enough to beat my father or, sometimes, /I don't want to be here/. That's a lie, though, because he enjoys the challenge; it's the expectations he can't stand.
Become Seigaku's pillar of support/, says Tezuka, and in a sudden fury, he wants to yell at his buchou. /I don't care, he screams, but it's all in his mind, and Tezuka just looks at him from across the net with the demand strong and compelling in his steely gaze, and it is Ryoma who looks away first. When Tezuka leaves to recover after the match with Hyoutei, he wonders for a moment if this is the older boy's way of making sure Ryoma winds up doing as asked, but Oishi rises to the demands of captaincy, and Ryoma just keeps playing his matches and pretends that conversation never happened.
He defeats them, each and every one to cross his path, but nothing's good enough to give him the edge to beat his father. Nanjiroh's spectre lurks at the edge of every one of his tennis matches, hovers behind his opponent's shoulders, and each of them becomes the old man as Ryoma beats them, but then he goes home and challenges his father, and it's as if nothing has changed. He is still just a child, and Nanjiroh is still better.
He doesn't care about tennis teams or nationals or being a pillar or anything stupid like that: he just wants the one victory that matters most, and that he knows, even at twelve years old, he will never have.
- finis -