Ryouma and Tezuka have a mild clash of wills, over which Ryouma gets rather frustrated. Drama, I-3

Note: This particular story really came out of my personal opinion that the whole affair with Kevin Smith in the anime was rather inconsistent with the way Ryouma and Tezuka normally behave.

Most of the time, Ryouma agreed with Kikumaru-senpai. They could do without the scouts and sponsors crawling all over team practice time. It wasn’t like most of them had any real business with junior high students, no matter how talented. Only an idiot would consider going pro straight out of junior high.

After all, all the really fun competition was still going to be in high school.

And the high school scouts were wasting their time, as far as Ryouma could see. None of his senpai looked likely to give so much as a first thought to choosing high schools until Nationals were over. This one, though, had at least brought along an interesting hook. An example.

The example also seemed to think this would be interesting, going by the way he—Takeuchi, wasn’t it?—was eyeing the Regulars. After considering the third-years, though, his gaze settled on Ryouma.

“That’s right,” he said, as if thoughtfully, “this is the team with the first-year prodigy, isn’t it?”

Ryouma could hear the mocking undertone perfectly well, and stifled a grin. It wasn’t quite time to grin at this one, yet. Not until Ryouma had him on the court. He swung his racquet up to his shoulder, and gave the interloper a Yeah, so? look from under his cap.

“Well, that would make a good place to start, wouldn’t it?” Takeuchi asked, lightly.

“Takeuchi-kun,” the scout started.

“An example, Ishida-san. Isn’t that why I’m here?” Takeuchi cut in, without looking away from Ryouma.

Yep, definitely a first class jerk. Just the kind Ryouma liked taking down, when he stumbled across one. He stepped forward.


Ryouma checked, and looked around, sharply. His captain had his arms folded, and a particularly unyielding expression on his face. The visitors both sputtered a bit under that forbidding stare. Ryouma felt like sputtering himself. This was a challenge!

Tezuka-buchou’s eyes turned to meet his, and Ryouma stiffened. There was a clear command in that look, and no compromise whatsoever. But he couldn’t really want Ryouma to back down, could he? Not from this, this—Ryouma could only fall back on his childhood vocabulary—this poser! Could he?

“Buchou…” Ryouma trailed off, leaving the appeal hanging.

Still no hint of persuadability. His captain really was ordering him to back down. After a long, disbelieving moment Ryouma took a deep breath, turned on his heel and stalked away.

“Echizen…” Oishi-senpai started to call out, and then stopped. Perhaps Tezuka-buchou had told him to let Ryouma go. Just as well. Ryouma wouldn’t argue in front of visitors, but he wasn’t much in the mood to be polite to his senpai, right now, either.

He found an out of the way corner and took his frustration out on the wall.

It calmed him down some, but he was still in a bad mood when practice ended. This was not helped when he heard his captain’s voice behind him.


“What is it?” Ryouma muttered, paying unnecessary attention to packing his racquets.

“I don’t want you playing Takeuchi outside of school, either, if he challenges you again.”

That got Ryouma to look around, wide-eyed. Tezuka-buchou looked serious. This was just a day for firsts, because his captain had never said anything about who Ryouma played in his off time, any more than he had ever expected Ryouma to stand down from a match. Ryouma wrenched his gaze back to his bag, and bit his lip, but it was more than his self control could take.

“Buchou,” he said, and stopped to take a breath and try to moderate his tone. His captain waited. “Why?” he asked, at last, only a little strained. “Why won’t you let me play him? Do you really think I can’t do it?!” Despite his attempts, he couldn’t keep the edge of indignant incredulity out of his voice.

“I’m sure you can.” The even response pulled Ryouma’s eyes back to his captain. “But that kind of game isn’t good for you to get into the habit of.”

Ryouma blinked at him. That kind of game? What was Tezuka-buchou talking about? Apparently the question got through without needing to be verbalized, because his captain sighed faintly.

“The more widely your skill becomes known the less that kind of match will be an object lesson and the more it will be simple bullying,” Tezuka-buchou pointed out. “Does your game need that?”

Ryouma almost winced under the cool question. He wasn’t… was he? But he couldn’t pretend he didn’t know what his captain was talking about, because he did. “No, Buchou,” he muttered, looking aside. He shouldered his bag with a sigh of his own and turned for the door.

“Echizen.” Tezuka-buchou’s voice stopped him again, and Ryouma looked up, questioning. A question looked back at him, unvoiced because his captain would never ask it out loud, but still present. Would Ryouma do as Tezuka-buchou said? Ryouma’s mouth tightened with irritation, and maybe even a little hurt. Of course he would. He wasn’t about to be gracious about doing something he didn’t want to, or not doing something he did, but he would do it.

Ryouma certainly hoped his captain appreciated this.

Tezuka-buchou nodded, accepting that silent assurance, and let him go.

Ryouma had suggested to Momo that they stop by the park courts, hoping that a good game or two would put him in a better mood. Momo had been obliging and played an all out match with him, much to the gratification of the spectators, and Ryouma was finally shaking out enough of his tension to grin back properly at his friend, when he heard a newly familiar voice from the sidelines.

Takeuchi. Ryouma almost groaned out loud. Was some kami ticked off at him, or something?

“What a wonderful coincidence, Echizen, wasn’t it?” Takeuchi sauntered toward them, and Ryouma spared a spiteful moment to note that Atobe did it better. “Now that your babysitters are gone, how about that match?”

“No,” Ryouma snapped.

“Why not? Surely the prodigy isn’t scared?” Takeuchi wasn’t sneering, and somehow that made it even more offensive.

“I don’t know what discipline is like for your team, Takeuchi-san,” Momo said, hard and quiet, “but our captain forbid any matches with you. That’s all there is to it.”

“Ah, so there is still a babysitter,” Takeuchi said, eyeing Momo. “Well, perhaps another time, then.”

Ryouma breathed deeply, fighting down the urge to send a ball flying for some sensitive body part on the jerk. “Was there anyone else around who wanted to play?” he asked, tightly.

“Yeah, but how about one more round with me, just to calm you down enough that you don’t kill them?” Momo suggested with a wry smile.

Ryouma snorted. “Yeah. Thanks, Momo-senpai.”

The next day, at practice, Ryouma came to where his captain was leaning against the fence and leaned, silently, beside him for a few moments.

“Are you sure?” he asked, at last. “It would be a public service, honest.”

His captain looked down at him, sternly.

“Just asking,” Ryouma sighed, and slouched off again. He paused to look back. “Positive?” he pressed, widening his eyes hopefully. He grinned, feeling slightly more pleased over Tezuka-buchou’s rare expression of exasperation, and stepped off more quickly, before his insolence gained him any laps.

Even getting a rise out of his captain didn’t really help his mood for long, though, and when Momo asked whether he wanted to hit a different street court than the one up by the park, he growled. Momo grinned.

“Now, how did I know you would feel that way?” he teased. Ryouma glared at his friend, but had to admit that he would probably be grateful for Momo’s presence. He had no intention of crossing an actual order, but having his friend around might just keep him from trying to throttle Takeuchi, either.

He had second thoughts about whether this was a good thing when Takeuchi proved to be there ahead of them, tonight.

“And still with the babysitter, Echizen?” he asked with a raised brow. “Or is it a bodyguard? I’m really starting to wonder.”

That got him a glare from both of them.

“Maybe he really thinks you can’t handle me,” Takeuchi prodded.

“Hardly,” a deep voice said, repressively, from behind him.

Ryouma’s eyes widened, as Tezuka-buchou pushed away from the lamp post he’d been leaning quietly against. Takeuchi looked rather startled, too, but recovered quickly enough.

“So, has the captain come to deal with me, instead?” he smiled.

Tezuka-buchou paused, just past him, and spoke without turning. “Neither I nor any of my team will play the likes of you,” he stated, crisply. “Echizen.”

“Buchou?” Ryouma’s good mood was entirely restored.

His captain looked down to meet his gaze. “Come play a match with me.”

Small irritants were completely swallowed in the hot glitter of excitement. “Whatever you say, Buchou,” Ryouma agreed, grinning.

A murmur swept through the watchers, two parts Tezuka-buchou’s name and one part shock. Two players hastily declared their match finished and cleared a court for them. Ryouma took the intensely annoyed look on Takeuchi’s face, tucked it away to treasure later, and forgot about him. Even if he hadn’t been able to focus tightly on his own, Tezuka-buchou’s presence pushed everything else from his awareness when he played his captain.

It was like drowning, if your goal was to live underwater. Exhilarating, infuriating, overwhelming. Still overwhelming. Ryouma could do it, now, could hit shots that his captain couldn’t return. Just not enough. He couldn’t break past that well of stillness yet.

He was getting closer, though, and if this game, too, left him on his knees, he could return his captain’s gaze straight on and read approval there.

As Ryouma sprawled on a bench to catch his breath, he noticed Takeuchi fading back through the buzzing onlookers with a rather shell shocked expression. Ryouma made no effort to suppress his wicked smirk. Momo noticed, too.

“Doubt we’ll have any more problems with him,” he murmured, sounding deeply satisfied.

“Mm.” That reminded Ryouma, actually. He slipped around the corner of the courts, to where Tezuka-buchou was just slinging his bag over his shoulder. “Buchou?” he said, softly.

His captain glanced at him with a raised brow. Ryouma glanced down.

“Thank you,” he mumbled.

Tezuka-buchou was still for a moment, watching him. And then he nodded, and moved off, a hand resting on Ryouma’s shoulder in passing. Ryouma watched him go before shoving his hands in his pockets and turning back to find Momo.


Last Modified: Oct 17, 09
Posted: Sep 15, 04
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  1. tir-synni

    (coos) I adore your descriptions of the characters. It’s more believable than many of the fics on the net, dragging the readers more into the fic. You give them such depth! (huggles a hissing neko!ryoma)

  2. ladycrysiana

    Mmm, ficlove. And it’s so very Ryouma to do what Tezuka wants him to do, because, well, he’s Tezuka-buchou, regardless of what Ryouma personally thinks of the situation. It’s also oddly Tezuka to make sure that Ryouma doesn’t suffer too much for doing it. Well, suffer too much or beat someone to death with his racquet, which is the other option, and the one that I would opt for.

    …on a note completely unrelated to the fic, you said “Kevin Smith” and my initial reaction was, “…Silent Bob plays tennis?” But that’s just because these associations tend to form.

    1. branchandroot Post author


      I do think that a desire to steamroller all opposition is something Tezuka and Ryouma share, so it seemed reasonable that Tezuka would appreciate just how frustrated not being able to would make Ryouma. And, I expect, he wouldn’t want one of his best players hauled in for manslaughter, either…

  3. lady-readwolf


    Ah, what a wonderful way to end the work day…. now, if only I can go home and find more of this waiting for me…. Saa, maybe. Who knows. ^___^

    You already know my agreement with you (and others) about Ryoma’s reactions to almost anything Tezuka says, let alone if it’s made into an order or not…. He might not like it, everying in him might be screaming at him to do the opposite, and if anyone else were to say no, he would do what he wants anyone. Except for Tezuka. Sometimes I wonder if Tezuka must feel… I don’t know, maybe overwhelmed to realize that this kid who everyone else admires, worships, and cooes over… this kid who really doesn’t respect too much of anyone or anything (besides tennis)… respects him. Unconditionally.

    Reading this part, I think it could have easily presented itself as a oneshot, but knowing that there is more to follow makes me incrediably happy.

    Hugs & Luvs on you

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *grins hugely* In fact, yes, that consideration does come up later in the arc. Though, actually, it’s only when it gets personal that it overwhelms Tezuka. *pets ‘Mitsu-chan* It’s a good thing his mom knows what’s what, that’s all I’ve got to say.


  4. aishuu

    *HEARTS* I didn’t think blackmail would WORK!!!

    I love your Tezuka-as-mentor dynamics, though I seriously think Ryoma probably would have just ignored him anyway. ^_~ Ain’t no one going to tell ochibi what he can do.

    It’s interesting, to me, how the “outsiders” tend to make the best instigators. I was watching the first eps, and I realized the first shows were really about “amazing Ryoma.” Kinda miss that.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      Silly girl, it wasn’t the blackmail. If it were, Tezuka would have told me how to finish the multi-part. ^_^; But it’s good when inspiration coincides with doing something nice for someone, so here you are. <3

      *nods* Considering that there’s almost nothing Ryouma really wants to do that Tezuka doesn’t let him, and, in fact, encourage him to do, it’s really hard to tell. I thought the senbatsu arc’s take was over the edge. Actually, the movie/ova/whatever seemed like a reasonable variation: if Tezuka orders Ryouma off, he’ll do as he’s told, but he’ll also keep an eye out for opportunities to do what he wants without explicitly going against what he’s been told. Possibly because he knows perfectly well that Tezuka’s own competitive temper will get the better of him eventually. It took a while to decide on a reason not to fight that would stand up to Tezuka’s own temper enough to make him hold back Ryouma’s. Such impulsive boys…

      *grins* Yeah, the Ryouma-sticks-it-to-someone eps were an awful lot of fun.

      1. aishuu

        Really appreciate it. It’s nice when someone you barely know makes some kind of effort.

        I think that’s a good point. Ryoma’s mother is a lawyer – want to bet that Ryoma would be an EXPERT at getting around the rules??? And Tezuka knows this, which is why he has to lay it down bare when it comes down to it.

        ^_^ I miss those eps.

  5. written-in-blue

    [squeals in a pitch guaranteed to make dogs whimper and cringe]

    My morning has been made. ^______________________^

    Of all of this fic, I think I loved Ryouma teasing Tezuka the most. It *would* be a public service. [snickers]

    Also, Atobe does *everything* better.

    Atobe: Of course I do.

  6. sakurazuka-jae

    *whoops with joy* A new storyline and Tezu/Ryo to boot! *dies happy*

    LOVED Tezuka’s combination intervention/warning off/subtle reward for Ryoma being a good bratling. Just like Tezuka to be so efficient! And I love love LOOOOVEE their relationship dynamic. I totally agree that if there is ONE person in this world that Ryoma would obey, it would be him. It would be a stretch, but he’d do it. *snickers*

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *V sign* Good to hear you liked it!

      I now have a mental image of chibi Tezuka patting chibi Ryouma on the head and saying ‘Good bratling, have a game’. *hand to head* Those chibi eps really do cause brain damage…


      1. mica-chan

        My comment is because there are ONE, just ONE character in Prince of Tennis that I really, really don’t like to see in yaoi fanfics…it’s Ryoma. So….any Ryoma yaoi fic I don’t read, and I’ll suffer a lot because I love your way of writing and I’ll miss your stories…until you finish this TezuRyo arc.

  7. issen4

    He wasn’t about to be gracious about doing something he didn’t want to, or not doing something he did, but Ryouma had accepted Tezuka-buchou’s authority months ago.

    (And my next thought was, “After all, there’ll be other jerks.” Heh.)

    This is fun. I certainly look forward to reading more about Tezuka (and Ryouma). He’s always been rather stiff in appearance to me (passionate about tennis, bah) so I want to see him getting just a tinny bit agitated… and having an expression for it.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      ^____^ I can usually get Tezuka to give me expressions once I get him away from being The Captain, and all responsible and stuff. Then he gets livelier. Ryouma is right on board with this plan. More coming!

  8. miko-no-da

    Lovely. Just… lovely. Lady Readwolf directed me here. I actually went and read your Momo/Ryouma fics on your site first, because they’re my first love, but I adore your Tezuka, too. I think your characterizations are spot-on, and can’t wait to read the rest!

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *very pleased* Thank you! *laughing* The funny thing is, MomoRyo was and is my first love in tenipuri, too, and yet it took absolutely forever before I managed to write them. Poor boys; they were really very patient with my dithering.


  9. qem-chibati

    I just wanted to say that I really loved reading this; Ryouma’s exasperation; the way that he wants to cut people down to size were just perfect. And the way Tezuka forces more of him, just takes over is awesome. =D