|where you go
Author: Neon Genesis PM
For now, they are friends. For now, they are hers. Rikkai&OC friendship. Oneshot. For Kasey.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship - Rikkaidai - Words: 2,646 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 4 - Published: 06-13-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8214315
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: You may be asking, why did I italicize dialogue instead of using quotation marks? Because I am pretentious. That is why.
where you go
There's a café down the street and around the corner from Rikkai Dai Junior High. The exterior is a little dingy, the interior a little cramped. There's better food to be had in Kanagawa, for sure. But it's in the right place, and once she starts working there, so is she.
Because it's where they come.
I'll have this sandwich, he says, pointing to the menu, and also - this pastry. I can get that with raspberry filling instead of strawberry, right?
Raspberry filling, he says again, slowly.
Oh, she says, blushing, oh, yeah, sorry. It's just - yeah. Yeah, definitely. He's pretty. He's so pretty, this boy, with bright violet eyes and a fine-boned face, and she feels weird, because he's two or three years younger than her, but -
And for you? she asks the foreign boy. He's attractive too, taller, dark-skinned. God, has she turned into a cradle-robber? They're junior high boys, and Rikkai students at that. Which means out of her league on both counts, but in different ways.
Just coffee for me. Thank you. His Japanese is flawless. It could very well be better than hers, though that probably isn't to be determined by six words.
When she returns with their orders, the redhaired boy cocks his head by a handful of degrees. It reminds her of a bird. You're new here, he says. Aren't you.
If you've figured that out, that must mean you aren't. Wait. Had that been rude? She hadn't meant to be rude. I, um, I mean - sorry. I'm sorry -
Once she's worked there a day or two more, she learns. The café is, understandably, a favorite haunt of Rikkai students, and they all talk of tennis. It's tournament season, they say. We'll take our third National Championship, they say. And they say, almost prayerfully, Yukimura will come back soon.
She's serving parfaits to a table of girls when the bells on the door jingle, and two boys walk in. Oh, my God, the girls chatter. They're here. How's my hair? There's nothing in my teeth, is there?
One boy is quite tall, and willowy, while the other is a little shorter, more lean than anything. Both wear tennis uniforms, those awful yellow things, and somehow they make the color work for them. Like it's a hazard-warning. I want a sundae, says the not-as-tall boy.
Akaya, chides the other. Are his eyes closed?
Please, the boy called Akaya adds sullenly. As she walks away, she overhears, It's her job to bring food. Why do I have to act like she's doing me some huge damn favor?
A minute later, as she sets his sundae down in front of him, he's rubbing the back of his head, and eyeing the other boy. Yanagi-senpai, he whines. That wasn't necessary.
The older boy says nothing, and she smiles uncertainly. So - you two are tennis players?
Akaya squints at her. Why else would we be wearing tennis uniforms? He doesn't give her time to answer, or even to blush. My name is Kirihara Akaya. You know, Rikkai Dai's Junior Ace? You've heard of me.
She has, actually, which kind of bothers her, for she'd like to take his ego down a peg or two. But that's not in her job description, and he's pretty adorable, this boy, with a mess of black curls and cheeks still a little round with baby fat. I have, she replies, and he beams. It's nice to meet you.
They don't ask for her name.
By her second week of work, she knows all their names, and has seen most of their pictures, so she recognizes Yagyuu Hiroshi and Niou Masaharu when they come in and take seats at the counter.
She tries to push her hair away from her face, but it clings to her flushed, sweat-shiny cheeks. It's been a busy afternoon. Hi. What can I get for you?
Water, please. Yagyuu's smile is small, fixed. And a piece of the cranberry bread.
And for you?
Niou's eyes slide over to meet hers. The insouciance in his posture is studied, but that in his gaze is not. What would you recommend? As if he can't be bothered to read the menu.
Well, she says, carefully, our muffins are very good -
Nevermind. Just coffee. And then he's looking elsewhere, scanning the room, searching for something that could possibly hold his attention.
She smiles. She says, Coming right up. She thinks, Dickhead.
Oh, hey, it's you again.
Me again, she replies. Marui, Jackal, and Akaya are together this time, at a table in the middle of the room. They are the center of attention. She glances at the youngest boy. Rikkai Dai's Junior Ace, Kirihara Akaya. Right?
Now you've done it, Jackal sighs. This is going to go straight to his head.
Akaya's blinking. Yeah, he says blankly, yeah, that's me. A broad grin splits his face. You remembered. Turning to his upperclassmen, he crows, See? Finally, somebody is acknowledging my -
Do you work here everyday? Marui asks her quickly, trying to cut off Akaya's impending storm of self-congratulation.
I try to.
Jackal's eyebrows draw together. That must be hard, with school. Do you go to Rikkai Dai High School?
She looks at her notepad. No, just the public school a few blocks from here. No way could she afford to go to Rikkai. The classes aren't very hard, so I have time to work. What can I get for you?
When they've eaten, and are leaving the café, Akaya makes it to the doorway, then spins around, cups his hands around his mouth, and calls, See ya, Waitress-san!
She tries to bite down on her smile. Bye, Kirihara-kun.
So, public school, huh?
She blinks at Akaya. And then - Oh, she says, yeah. You remembered that?
Sure, he responds. It was only a week ago, and I'm not stupid. Have you ever gotten into a fight there? I hear people fight a lot. My parents didn't want me to go to public school 'cause they didn't want me falling in with the wrong crowd or whatever.
You are the wrong crowd, kid.
Shut up, Niou-senpai, Akaya scowls. Like you can talk. Turning back to her, he says, We're going to win the Kantou Finals tomorrow. Did you know that? That's why we even got Sanada-fukubuchou to come. He lifts his chin toward the tall, square-shouldered youth sitting by Yanagi.
Yeah, yeah, Akaya, whatever, Marui waves his hand. You can tell her your life story later. Can we order now? I'm starving.
They start bickering, with Niou throwing in the occasional comment to egg them on, until Sanada barks at them to be silent. Even then, there are mutinous mutters and expressions.
She just watches, and smiles.
The boys don't return to the café for another week and a half. Because - They lost, the students murmur, their food and drinks largely untouched, they lost, I can't believe it, can you, how could they lose?
School is on break, but still the Rikkai students come to the café, for it's where they know their peers to be. And one morning -
Hello, Yanagi-kun, Sanada-kun. She swallows, looks at the blue-eyed boy beside them. He's beautiful. Truly beautiful. His pictures have not done him justice. And you're Yukimura-kun. Right?
Yes, I am. Their table is by the window. Sunlight traces his face. Could I get green tea, please?
Of course. Anything else?
No, thank you.
Are you sure? He's lovely. God, he's lovely. She wants to keep talking to him. Our special today is really good, it's this sort of -
I'm sure. Please, just the tea. His voice is not icy or sharp or hard. It stops her in her tracks.
Oh, she stammers, okay. Sorry. Yes. Let me just - I'll go get that. Yes. Do you two - ?
Sanada and Yanagi order tea as well, and she hurries away to get it, her face tomato-red. In fact, it's still so red that, when the tea is ready, she has another waitress bring it over to them. Only half an hour later has she composed herself enough to go back.
Yukimura is sitting by himself. Sanada is outside taking a phone call, while Yanagi is in the restroom. She smiles, fidgets with her hands. Would you like more tea?
No, thank you. He pauses. I shouldn't have been curt, earlier.
Oh, no, no, you weren't, I shouldn't have pushed the way I did, I was just rambling, and I - I guess I'm doing it again. Um.
He looks out the window. I don't have much of an appetite right now, he explains. She's not sure whether it's for her benefit, or his own. I've been - ill. He turns toward her again, doesn't go on. Doesn't need to. Everyone knows about his disease.
That I got sick?
That you couldn't play tennis.
Waitress-san, hurry up! Come over here! You have to meet someone.
She's serving other customers, waves away Akaya's calls. What would it be like, to be that sure of yourself? To shout across a crowded place and demand to be noticed. It's outrageous, but it pleases her all the same. That he wants her attention. In her mind, he's almost like a kid brother.
This is Yukimura-buchou, Akaya says all in a rush when she's finally able to come over. Pretty cool, right?
We've met, actually. Yukimura gives her a smile. Really gives it to her. A gift.
It's nice to see you again, Yukimura-kun.
You guys have met already? Akaya crosses his arms, slumps lower in his chair. Nobody ever tells me anything.
That's because you don't listen, Yanagi murmurs.
Akaya isn't paying attention. We won today, he tells her.
Yeah. It wasn't a big deal, though, 'cause those other guys were pathetic. I bet you could have beaten them, and you probably don't even know how to play tennis, do you?
We play it in gym sometimes, but no, not really.
I could teach you. Really, I could.
Niou actually grins, and Marui burst into laughter. Don't take him up on it, he warns her, gasping. Seriously, don't. Not if you value your life.
Akaya trying to teach someone something. Jackal shakes his head. I can't even imagine it.
Tell you what, she says to a scowling Akaya, one day I'll come and watch you play. I'll bring a foam finger and a tennis ball for you to sign and everything.
Okay, he says dubiously, but you can't show up late. If you do, we'll probably have won already by the time you get there.
One day Marui brings a date into the café, leaves her at a table so he can come up to the counter. What do you think?
Of the girl? She's cute. They bumped fists, something he and Akaya had taught her to do on an earlier visit. Want me to make sure her food is extra fantastic?
You know it. Also, when you bring our order, maybe make some comments about how clever and dashing I am? Compliments from high school girls are like currency. Almost as valuable as National Championship trophies.
She laughs. I'll see what I can do. You better tip me well.
Won again today, Akaya tells her, swinging his legs. You weren't there.
I was working. Did I miss anything awesome? And get off the counter, you. She swats him with a dishtowel.
He sticks his tongue out at her, jumps down. He's taller than her. Five years younger than her, and taller. Stupid kid. Of course you missed something awesome. I dyed that sucker red.
He grins. His eyes have taken on a wild light. I dyed 'im red. It was great.
Akaya-kun, I don't understand what you're talking about.
Just come and watch next time, okay? Just come and watch.
Kirihara has a crush on you, Niou drawls.
I know. I'm not stupid. He just watches her, flipping his mechanical pencil up, catching it, and flipping it again. She frowns. Stop looking at me like that. What am I supposed to do? I'm old enough to be his - well. Old enough to be his older sister.
So tell him that. Break his heart. Go on.
I'm not like you. She clears away his plate, knowing full well he isn't done. And you missed a decimal point on number seventeen.
Is that a sketchbook?
Yukimura looks up. Yes. I have another one, for my art class, but this one - well, it's just mine.
Can I see it?
A moment passes. And then: Here you go. He hands it to her. They're done in pencil and charcoal, his drawings, and many are of nature, of flowers, trees. A snake. An intricately-wrought iron gate. There's a girl, not smiling, but wonderfully beautiful, her eyes the only color on the page. A hospital room.
Wow, she says softly. Thank you. Thank you for showing me this.
Akaya throws the door open. Waitress-san, we -
Won again today. I know. She moves aside so that he and the others can see the cake. Balloons and streamers decorate the café. Congratulations. You go on to the National Finals from here, yeah? I'm really proud of you.
Cake, says Marui. Cake, cake, cake -
Thank you very much for doing all this. Yanagi inclines his head.
It was me and the other waitresses, no big deal. You guys are our best customers. And - She shakes her head, smiles. Please, eat. Enjoy. Except, Akaya-kun, what happened to you? Why all the bandages?
Huh? Oh, nothing. Just tennis.
You can get that badly injured in a tennis match?
You'd know if you ever came to watch. Why don't you ever come?
Because if she does, she'll just be one of the spectators, just a face in the crowd. But when they come here, they come, at least in part, for her. And - and they're special, each one of them, special and astonishing. If they value her company, that must mean she's special too, right?
Maybe. When the school year ends she'll have to leave the café, find a college she can afford and work her way through it. Find a real reason to be special. Her own reason.
But for now, she's happy to stay here with them. Because time will pass and Akaya will fall out of like with her and the others will find better people to hang around with, but - but for now.
For now, they are her friends. For now, they are hers.
I'll come next time, Akaya-kun. Next time.
For Kasey. (I love you so much so much so much love for Kaseyyyyyyyy)
I do actually take requests. Kind of. ^_^
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis.