Categories > Anime/Manga > Prince of Tennis


by evil_whimsey 2 reviews

Echizen's gift for pointing out the obvious is a lot like his twist serve; a blunt frontal attack that leaves opponents frozen, incapable of regrouping until it's far too late.

Category: Prince of Tennis - Rating: G - Genres: Romance - Characters: Echizen Ryoma,Tezuka Kunimitsu - Published: 2008-12-28 - Updated: 2008-12-29 - 950 words - Complete

From 2008 Summer Bootcamp.
15 minutes: lyric prompt

"I've never seen a night so long,
when time keeps crawling by..."

A week after winning the Men's Final at Wimbledon, Tezuka has a minor nervous breakdown. He's been leading up to it all week.

...Correction. He's been leading up to it for years, but it doesn't come to pass until a certain phone conversation with Echizen Ryoma, in which Echizen says, "I'm not worried about it, Buchou. I'll play you at Wimbledon next year." At which point Tezuka's hands start to shake, and he has to hang up.

At first he mistakes it for sheer disbelief; that after a grueling tournament season in which they'd both clawed their way to the top ranks, culminating in the unbelievable--Echizen's disqualification due to late arrival--and Echizen so offhandedly disappointed, as though this weren't something they'd discussed for years, as though it didn't matter at all that Tezuka had sweated and worked and pushed himself mercilessly, just for this one opportunity.

Well, okay. That wasn't entirely fair. Echizen had no idea how much Tezuka had wanted to play him in this match, because Tezuka had given him no outward indication of it whatsoever.

And it never struck Tezuka, until that last conversation, how much he wanted that he never gave away, and how much Echizen had no idea, not the slightest inkling, and though Tezuka had made Echizen omniscient in his own mind (thanks to enough timely flashes of astuteness over the years that nearly unmanned him), for the most part Echizen could also be truly, extraordinarily dense.

And it was somewhere between Echizen's offhandedness and the staggering accumulation of all that Tezuka felt but had never, ever revealed, that Tezuka's will and self-control finally keeled over. He doesn't recall wanting to hang up the phone, he just remembers having a hell of a difficult time doing it, because his hands. He couldn't for the life of him keep them steady.

He thinks it will get better, but it doesn't. And then somehow, Echizen is at his apartment, and he's packing Tezuka's bags, and says they're going somewhere.
"You need a break, Buchou."
Echizen's gift for pointing out the obvious is a lot like his twist serve; a blunt frontal attack that leaves opponents frozen, incapable of regrouping until it's far too late. Someday, Tezuka will work out a defense for this.


They end up in a pension outside Karuizawa. A quiet, tidy place with gingham curtains and a gingerbread house feel. The establishment is run by an effusive, motherly cross-dresser, but everything is so surreal to Tezuka by that point, that he takes this in stride too.

Their first day in, Tezuka would just as soon stay shut in his room, watching the curtains flutter, laying stretched out on the chenille coverlet, listening to the lawn sprinklers. After giving him a long doubtful stare, Echizen allows it. He brings up an armload of paperbacks from downstairs--vacation books left behind by visitors--and litters Tezuka's bed with them. Tezuka finds the curtains quite stimulating enough, but doesn't mind Echizen flopping down across the foot of his bed with a dog-eared crime thriller.

Echizen is quiet by nature and unless he's occupying the tennis court, or Tezuka's every spare thought, he takes up very little space. Having him around all the time means Tezuka isn't wondering where he is or what he's doing, so at least in that respect he's getting a respite here.


As long as Tezuka stays very still and doesn't think, he does all right. As long as nothing happens to jostle the perilously loaded applecart in him, teetering with the thousands of things he's never said, every hoarded desire, every moment of speechless attachment, then Tezuka thinks he'll be safe. They'll both be safe.

So he goes to meals when Echizen herds him down, and he follows alongside Echizen on an evening walk through the neighborhood, and when they return to the terrace of the pension, he sits when Echizen suggests it.

The dusk gathers around their feet, side by side on the terrace steps. It slips in around their shoulders, trailing fragrant coolness and insect chirps into the silence between them.

When the stars come out, Tezuka tilts his head back, and starts counting them, just because they're there, and it's easy to not think if you're counting stars.

"Buchou?" says Echizen.
"There's supposed to be some good mountain hiking around here. We could do that if you want."
Tezuka hasn't hiked in months. All he's done is train and compete, waking up every day seeing Echizen's eyes over the net, across the court, just one more time, and he has to hold his breath for several seconds before he can start counting stars again.

Echizen breathes. Out and in. "It doesn't have to be just tournaments."

Tezuka counts another dozen stars, and then looks over. Echizen is propped back on his hands, legs stretched out. "There's a lot of other things we can do."
If Echizen is trying to apologize for Wimbledon, Tezuka thinks he may weep.

The lights from the inn cut shadows across his neck and his hair, catching the plane of his cheek, one glinting eye, and half a knowing smirk that puts any fear of apology to rest. "I'm not going anywhere, Buchou. It's not like we just had this one season. I'll play you a match anytime you want."

Tezuka stares at Echizen, and puts every ounce of his strength into not moving.
"Or we don't have to play, we can just...." He angles a shrug out toward the dark lawn, the hills. The wide summer sky scattered with twinkling stars too thick to count.


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