To Em; February prompt number 20
Yagyuu/Niou - Spying.
ALT: Nanjiroh-centric - I want something with Nanjiroh/Ryoma interaction (doesn't have to be sexual) about 'growing up.' Can involve any of Ryoma's teammates.
Between his father and his teammates, life is difficult for Echizen Ryoma. 1379 Words.
Somehow or another, though Ryoma avoids it like the plague, every single member of the tennis team manages to visit his house at some point. When it was Buchou, Ryoma's legs shook the entire time, even though Oishi-sempai was there too. He kept pushing them into the next room and the next room because his father kept coming in to interrupt, and the last thing he needed was for Buchou and his father to meet.
That just couldn't happen.
"Hiding something from me, boy?" Nanjiroh leered after Ryoma had pushed the front gates firmly shut behind Tezuka-Buchou and Oishi-sempai. "What, or who, is it you don't want your old dad to see? Not a girl, is it?"
"No, don't be stupid." Ryoma replied, walking past his dad with his nose in the air. It wasn't until he reached his room that his control faltered and his legs gave out on him.
Close, so close.
Momo is always at Ryoma's house, and when they are together, they play tennis a lot. That isn't unusual. Ryoma doesn't have books, just tennis magazines, and he doesn't play computer or video games much.
Sometimes Ryoma feels the leacherous stare of his father on him as they play. That is unusual. He focuses his eyes more sharply on Momo and lets him win some points, just not too many. Let the old man see that he is worth something, he can beat his teammate, the one older than him who comes round all the time on his bicycle and calls Ryoma 'friend'.
Ryoma thinks his father has no friends, after all. He wins the match, and Momo takes it in his stride, because he knows now that Ryoma is better than he is. He evolves his skills much faster. In fact, his smile isn't just easy, sometimes Ryoma thinks he sees something like... pride there. He's seen that look from his mother, but never from his father.
"You won't get any better playing someone who is no challenge." Nanjiroh says. The sun is setting, Momo is long gone, and Ryoma's feet have made themselves walk out the back door near to the steps his father is sitting on. "Shall we play a match, Ryoma?"
"Whatever." He replies, but his feet are already making to follow his father's footsteps.
Eiji-sempai has been to Ryoma's house with Momo a couple of times, mostly after a huge pig-out on burgers, because they insist they can't walk too far, and Ryoma's home is closest. Tezuka-Buchou and Oishi-sempai came out of concern and obligation to the team. Kaidoh and Inui-sempai have not come to his house at all, though Ryoma thinks Kaidoh-sempai jogs somewhere near the house in the hope that Karupin will sneak through the bushes and adventure close to his running route. He doesn't say anything.
When Kawamura-sempai comes by, it is a complete accident. Nobody warned Ryoma they had ordered sushi in, and so when he opens the door and sees Kawamura-sempai standing there with a package in his hands, he does not know what to say. Kawamura holds up the package feebly, with a hesitant smile, and lets Ryoma see the 'Kawamura Sushi!' on the side of the box.
"My father asked me to deliver some take-out because our delivery person is on another trip, and stuck in traffic." He explains. "I'm sorry, I didn't realise it would be you. You never told us where you lived."
"It doesn't matter." Ryoma mumbles, and invites Kawamura-sempai in, thinking he will refuse. To his surprise, Kawamura-sempai does go inside for a while, but not for long because he is probably needed back at the shop. He peers around the hall and the kitchen with interest, as Ryoma's mother and cousin unpack the food and divide up the portions for everyone.
"He seemed like such a nice boy," Ryoma's mother says when Kawamura-sempai is gone. "Very polite, if a little shy. Maybe you should invite him back sometime."
"Mmm." Ryoma replies, not intending to at all. That was even weirder than Oishi-sempai being at his house, even weirder than Tezuka-Buchou.
"What's this I hear?" Nanjiroh asks, bounding into the kitchen and sniffing the air appreciatively. "Ryoma has a polite friend? He must be growing up!"
"I'm eating now." Ryoma says, taking his plate and walking away from the whole situation.
If he were to list the events in order of weirdness, which in his head he technically already has, then Fuji-sempai's visit to Ryoma's house is weirdest of all. For a start, there is no reason for it. Everyone else has had a reason.
"I just felt like it," he shrugs in response when Ryoma asks, and smiles. Ryoma doesn't even know how Fuji-sempai knew where he lived, and he is scared to ask.
He figures maybe Fuji-sempai is lonely, because his brother doesn't live at home anymore, and Eiji-sempai seems to go out for burgers or on trips with Oishi-sempai more often than not now, and even Tezuka-Buchou isn't around for him to tease, because he's all the way in Germany. thinking of Germany makes Ryoma grit his teeth. It is too far away, and he wants a rematch.
"Shall we play some tennis?" Fuji-sempai asks, as though reading Ryoma's mind, and though he wants it more than anything, he jus shrugs and says, "yeah okay."
Fuji-sempai stands up and ties his hair back, something Ryoma has never seen him do. It makes him look even prettier than usual, more girly. And his non-descript clothes add to that.
They start off rallying to warm up, and when Ryoma feels his father's approach, something is different. He stares in a shocked, open-mouth sort of way, and Ryoma knows what the problem is. Then he knows Fuji-sempai is a mind-reader.
"Do you want to serve, Echizen?" Fuji-sempai asks with a sweet smile. Ryoma frowns and knows he must give all his attention this time and ignore his father.
"You don't have to do me any favours, Fuji-sempai." He says, adopting a cheerful attitude, though inside he is screaming. "I'm going to beat you."
"Ah," Fuji-sempai nods. "Of course. If you say so."
Ryoma grips his racket harder and serves with his right hand. Fuji-sempai returns it easily; he has seen it too many times now to be phased by it. That's okay, that's fine, it means Ryoma can play properly and not rely on patented moves. He plays better when he has to improvise. He begins to bounce on his tip-toes. Fuji-sempai smiles.
"Split-step so soon?" He asks across the net. "This isn't a real match, Echizen. You don't have to get so serious."
"I'm going to beat you, Fuji-sempai." He repeats, and he can't understand the responding smile on Fuji-sempai's face this time. It looks a little sad. Or longing.
Fuji-sempai doesn't play seriously, he can tell. He can tell because it frustrates him like not having Tezuka-Buchou around right now to play a match against does, and he wonders if they're both determined to annoy the hell out of him with tennis. The sun gets warmer overheard, and Fuji-sempai just gives up when he is ahead, just like that, to reach for a towel and a drink from his bag. He came prepared.
"That's enough for today, I think." He says, sitting down and not betraying a ounce of exhaustion. Ryoma is sweating a little, but that is it. He was concentrating too hard on the match to notice anything else.
"It's not fair," Ryoma begins, and Fuji-sempai is already smiling. "You were ahead again, and you just gave up! I might have won!"
"You might have." Fuji-sempai nods in response. "But I guess we'll never know. Sometimes the game you are playing is more important than who wins, Ryoma-kun."
Ryoma just frowns all the way until Fuji-sempai leaves, which is not long after. Suddenly he remembers his father watching them again, and can feel the eyes on him from behind, not pretending to hide at all.
"RYOMA HAS A GIRLFRIEND!" Nanjiroh shouts so loud the birds in the trees dart off in all directions, and Ryoma lets his head drop to his knees in despair as his father makes the connection Ryoma knew he would.
Just outside the gates, Ryoma bets Fuji-sempai is laughing. And planned everything all along.