Title: The real winner
Written at: August 3, 2007
Summary: Inspired by genius 352, Shiraishi is trying to understand why he is actually feeling more sorry for Sanada then Tezuka as he watches the game. The answer is because they are not so much like one another.
Theme: The idea of how the loser might be regarded as the real winner and why people might think that way.
Word count: 1506
Note: I wrote this story one or two days after I read Genius 352, and I think that Shiraishi might understand Sanada’s action because he sort of did a similar thing (in my opinion). So this is the result.

Shiraishi never liked Rikkai, what sympathy he had towards Yukimura was nothing more then common humanity- what anyone would feel. But now, for the first time, he was actually experiencing great sympathy for the vice-captain, who appeared as if he was going to collapse soon.
He was confused. Didn’t he come with the intention of supporting Seigaku with the hope that they would stop Rikkai from being the winners of the nationals once again?
“The trouble is that not everyone can realize Sanada is injured that bad, while they can all see Tezuka’s wound.” Watanabe said, almost making him scream by his sudden appearance: some things simply never alter. “The sad truth is that we are all more likely to pity the one who is hurt more.”
“Or the one who climbed back up instead of the one who is good enough to never fall.” Ashita commented, the strong anger and vehement in her voice caused both the coach and captain of Shitenhouji to turn and look at her instead.
“Why do so many people think that that Fuji guy should win just because he suddenly started to do better?” she began indignantly. “What about Kuranosuke, who tried so hard the whole time? Should he actually fake a fall in order to let people see he is equally determined by showing that he would continue even if he had problems as well?”
“Humans find it easier to pity those who have faults.” Watanabe explained once more. “Tanako-chan, it seems more admirable for a person to succeed after they lose control, as that implies they are not perfect.”
“But this is not the same, and beside- I won, didn’t I?” Shiraishi told his girlfriend gently, before he turned back to his coach. “Although he is reminding me of Fuji-kun. He is not really playing with his full potential, he can be much better. I don’t understand why he is not doing that when he is so obsessed with winning.”
“We don’t all want to do whatever we can in order to win, do we, Captain Shiraishi?” Watanabe reminded him by the attachment of his title. “Your boredom is not that different a thing from his honour.”
But a choice was soon made by Sanada, and it was to do what Yukimura asked, to stop his head on challenge. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, as it was what one should do, but judging by the loud cry of the Seigaku tennis club, Sanada’s action was not seen favourably.
“Is it not fair for Sanada-kun.” Shiraishi suddenly said, as his voice was very low and sad, causing all of his team mates to listen to him very carefully, as they did not want to miss his words. “What would anyone do in this situation? It is not his fault that this is happening to his opponent, he did not purposely drive Tezuka-kun into doing this. Besides, how can he not play? He can not just let Tezuka-kun win because he will not be able to answer to his team mates and captain. He is also the vice captain, whose duty is to bring the team to victory along with the captain.”
When people began to say that Sanada was unworthy of the title ‘emperor’, Shiraishi felt that he had to go outside, to get away from all this noise.

Once he was outside of the stadium, he immediately sat down on the bench and buried his face into his head.
“I think I am going crazy.” He mumbled out after a long pause. “Just…just what is all this for? “
“Isn’t it to win? Not that I am rubbing it in, but shouldn’t you out of all people know this really well?” Ashita reminded him, patting him on the back, although she wasn’t sure whether that was helping him at all.
“To win for the team,” he automatically corrected, “I would rather spend time with you then making sure that I can win every single match if it wasn’t for the fact that…”
“I know, I know, and as I said- I’m not rubbing it in. I really forgive you,” Ashita interrupted him.
Raising his head he turned to grasp her stretched hands, “Ashita…I don’t understand anything right now. The reason I had to get out from there is because I can’t stand hearing them criticising someone that I actually dislike quite a bit.”
Shiraishi was recollecting his first meeting with Sanada at last year’s nationals, like Echizen, Sanada was not good at creating a good first impression. What made matters even worse was that Shiraishi was already feeling quite angry at some of the comments that the other members of Rikkai made about his team, especially in regard to him being the captain.
“You feel sorry for him because you were in a similar situation.” Ashtia replied easily. “It is what Sensei just said. Kuranosuke…we are normal people, so what happens in there is a rarity. But I think your decision of playing tennis is equally admirable because to submit yourself to such a long period of boredom is not easy, especially if it is not for yourself. Most people would just give up, but you didn’t, even though it is quite painful, because you told me that it actually sometimes make you question why you play tennis. So you are equally noble.”
“But isn’t Tezuka-kun doing the same thing?” Shiraishi pointed out. “Why don’t I…”
“People can see that he’s making a sacrifice for the team. I don’t think you will admit this, but you wouldn’t mind playing perfect tennis that much if everyone in the club tells you how great you are in doing this sacrifice for them, likewise Rikkai’s vice-captain would not feel so bad if people tell him that it is alright.”
“You are right…again.” He said with a smile, “Why do you stay with me when you are so much smarter?”
Ashita immediately shook her head. “I’m not, Kuranosuke, it is just that I am not involved in any of this, so I can make a clear judgement. Don’t forget,” she added, “You are the one who helped me to move up a class.”
He smiled at the recollection of the factors that helped to bright them together, before he spoke again: “Even worse is the fact that people are seeing his actions in the opposite direction. I really don’t think Sanada-kun is doing anything wrong, in fact I think he was wrong before by not doing all he can in order to win. You are meant to do everything that is honourable to achieve this, which means playing with your full potential as soon as the game starts.”
“He reminds me of the samurai in this story I was reading. Because his opponent was a bandit who uses a sabre, he insisted on using that instead of his katana. As a result he was doing really badly in the fight.”
“Did he use the katana in the end?”
“I’m not sure if I should say this as it might bring bad luck…but I think he got killed in the end, so I guess the answer is no.” she gave a slight shrug. “Isn’t it a bit like what happened to you when you used perfect tennis at one of the competitions? You told me that there was this captain who was really angry and accused you of being sneaky by suddenly changing your way of playing.”
“He thought I was toying with him since my perfect tennis is a bit better then my other way of playing, but I really didn’t mean that.” He said softly. “I just really didn’t want to use it unless I had to. I think that is why Fuji Shuusuke annoys me so much, it is not as if playing his full potential is something that is really boring, or something that will make him thinks he is losing honour.”
“But I am really sorry for this Sanada now. Everyone is probably going to say Tezuka is the real winner because he is playing despite his wounds. I was thinking of that,” she admitted, “until you and sensei pointed out that his opponent is actually doing that too.”
Shiraishi smiled a bit sourly as he considered her words. In a way, the same thing happened to him. He has heard people describing Fuji as the real winner and that never failed to anger him. He tried as hard as Fuji.
The only difference was that his input of effort did not alter one bit, and ironically, that was why it was not seen as being remarkable, as his determination did not suddenly increase.
In a similar way, people were failing to see that Sanada was pushing himself equally hard, as they couldn’t really tell that he was actually barely able to move.
“If people are going to say that,” he said slowly, surprising himself with this realization, “Then I hope that Sanada-kun wins, as he might as well have the official title of being the winner.”

Final note: I first come to this team of the real winner after reading some people’s comment about the Tezuka/Atobe match, then the Fuji/Shiraishi match. I really don’t like this term as it seem to imply that those who win it does not deserve to win it. When I wrote this fan fiction I was rather certain that the same thing would be happening with Tezuka and Sanada.
I really think that to an extent, Shiraishi would be angry at Fuji due to the fact that Fuji playing with all his full potential is not like his perfect tennis, or like the case with Sanada. There really is no catch to it.

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