Disclaimer: 100% Konomi's.
Pairing: Pillar Pair (Tezuka Kunimitsu x Echizen Ryoma)
Warnings: BL. That's about it.
Author's Note: For clinck's TezRyo Revival!
Ryoma has never fully understood why his father quit professional tennis at such a young age; he's been told it's to do with him, but he gets the feeling it's more to do with his father's small attention span and immaturity, and since no one tells him otherwise, this is the story that he sticks with as he departs from middle school and dives head-first into professional life. It's not something he thinks about regularly, per se, but it's a paradigm, yet another brick in the alarmingly high wall of proof that his father never matured past the age of thirteen.
But professional life while simultaneously completing high school online is taxing enough that he thinks about his father alarmingly little; not like at the beginning of middle school, when Nanjirou was everything, Nanjirou was his target and his goal and the thing that blinded him from caring about all else. But now he had someone else in his life, and someone with whom he'd much prefer to spend time than Nanjirou, anyway. Tezuka has gone pro, as well, and, at first, they'd "happen" to stay in all the same hotels at the big tournaments, and only let that facade drop to begin sharing a room, instead. This left Ryoma antsy and anxious for tournaments to roll around for reasons completely alien to tennis, but luckily, his anxieties were quelled when, one day, Tezuka asked him, softly but firmly and with only a tiny hint of unsureness if Ryoma would like to move in with him. Ryoma responded by throwing his arms around Tezuka's neck and kissing him as if the day would never come, and that was the end of that and the beginning of so much more.
They've been married (in America; despite the fact that it isn't legal in Japan, they went ahead with it because, really, it's the intent that matters) for a little over two years when he first starts to notice. It's small things, imperceivable things to anyone else, really, but Ryoma is not just anyone, especially not when it comes to Tezuka. He begins to catch it first when they play against one another, a little wince here, a falter there, a point that shouldn't have been lost, but he tries very hard to write it off as paranoia and the fact that Ryoma knows he's the hardest opponent that Tezuka ever faces, even when it's just the two of them rallying to warm up. But then he starts picking up the hints in public matches, too, when he catches the tail ends of Tezuka's matches in tournaments or flips to old replays of last year's Wimbledon on TV, and that's when he knows he can't write it off any longer, knows something's wrong. It's a sickening realization, heavy and leaden in the pit of his stomach, but he resists the urge to vomit and confronts Tezuka about it instead.
Of course, Tezuka insists everything is fine. Ryoma displays his evidence like a novice defense attorney, emotional and unsteady, exhibit a, exhibit b, exhibit c, but it's all circumstantial, and its nothing says Tezuka. Still, Ryoma only relents when Tezuka agrees to see the trainer. He wants to come along, but the appointment conflicts with an interview he's already agreed to, and so, grudgingly, he makes Tezuka promise to tell him everything the trainer says and then kisses him on the cheek before seeing him out the door. He's antsy and jittery throughout the interview, and snappish when asked something he thinks is stupid, and when the damn thing's finally over, he hurries home already planning his questions, his responses depending on the answers. But he comes home only to more I'm fines and It's nothings, and finally, when he thinks he's about the burst and explode into a fit of anger or perhaps tears, Tezuka relents that the trainer suggested he be careful and might want to avoid zero-shiki in the near future.
This placates Ryoma, and he watches like a hawk from then on; unlike middle school, now he's informed, now he knows, and he'll be damned if he lets Tezuka use that shot when most of the time he could win easily without it, anyway. But no win is more important than Tezuka's arm, and when much to Ryoma's dismay, he watches the flinching, the missed points, the slight winces of pain get worse, a knot that only tightens with each instance twists in his stomach and he knows it's not nothing, and Tezuka is not fine, and, never having been particularly patient, he pulls Tezuka aside that night, as soon as he's back, in the cramped entrance hall of their hotel room.
You're injured, Ryoma accuses, much more sharply than he intended, and You're wrong, Tezuka bristles in reply, and Ryoma recoils as if hit but does not back down. You're injured, he tries again, a little more softly this time, and I'm fine, Tezuka softens as well but does not relent either. You need to see a doctor, Ryoma begs, to which he receives a predictable I already have, but A specialist, he tries anyway, only to find himself faced with a raised eyebrow. Ryoma hasn't been this close to crying for a very long time, but he swallows back the hysterics and takes a step closer, his gaze never breaking from Tezuka's. You're not invincible, he pleads quietly, evenly, And you don't need to be anymore. But Tezuka shakes his head, his right hand unconsciously coming to rest on his left arm, and replies, It isn't important, and that's when Ryoma breaks down. Yes it is, he bursts, yes it is, because you can live without professional tennis, but I can't live without you.
And so, Ryoma, at the prime age of twenty-seven, leaves professional tennis behind, not because of injury or illness or scandal, not because of losses or lack of funds. He leaves for the one he loves most, and though he never understood at twelve or thirteen, he thinks, as he packs his bags for the final time, perhaps, once they're back in Tokyo, he'll go back home and pay his father a visit. He's fairly certain he'll regret it, but Tezuka will have college applications to deal with, and Ryoma's just a little bit curious as to what's so great about having a kid, anyway.