Hey, everyone. This is a rewrite of my now-deleted story, Who We Are. I'd royally messed that one up, so that it had begun to focus more on romance rather than on story and character. So rather than continue that one, I've started this one, with the same OC, Kagawa Sakura, because this is the fourth attempt I've made to write a story on her and I couldn't leave her without giving her what she deserves- a decent story, a well-rounded character, and some real personal development. And if Sanada-kun comes with the deal, so much the better ;)
To all those who had read, favourited and followed Who We Are, I'm sorry for taking that story down without any notice. I'm trying to develop my writing, to make it better and more realistic. So this story is dedicated to you all, with my sincerest apologies, as well as my gratitude for the interest all of you showed in my previous story. I hope you enjoy this one.
Disclaimer: I don't own PoT. It belongs to Takeshi Konomi. I do, however, own any OCs you may see here.
It was a pretty day. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, and the trees were weighed down by clusters of the small, pink flowers. The footpaths and the grasses in the park were strewn with the petals of the blossoms, providing a soft carpet for those who walked. There was soft sunlight, not too hot as it was only April, after all, and there was a gentle breeze that carried the detached petals on its breath to every part of the city. Truly, it was a pretty day. It was a perfect day.
Sakura sat bolt upright, snorting and sneezing helplessly, trying to dislodge the damn stray petal that had gone up her nose! This messy job done, she glared balefully through watery eyes at her mother. "I keep that window shut, ma."
"Oh, I'm aware." Aiki responded serenely, which would have been just fine if not for the glint in her eye that bespoke laughter. "I just thought that this room could use a breath of air. A fine thing, isn't it, seeing as it successfully woke you up? Just as well, too; I believe you have a new start to make today."
"Mmmgaaaaaa." With another inarticulate noise, Sakura dived back under the covers. This time, however, she achieved a new level of security by putting the pillow over her head.
"COLD!" She yelped, wrapping her arms around her torso and curling up. Her mother shook her head, and dropped the blanket she'd yanked off her daughter. "Nomura-san called."
Sakura 's eye peeked out as she turned her head slightly from the pillow she'd mashed her face into. "Ungh?" So early…
"She said that the entire tennis club is meeting at Ryuzaki-sensei's office before the first class, at seven-thirty."
"MmmmKAAAY." Sakura turned back the business of pillow-squashing. Or face-flattening.
Half an hour later, a very red, puffing and unbathed Sakura arrived at the coach's office. Not that anyone could tell the third.
"Kagawa." Nomura-buchou didn't look very pleased. "You're just on time."
"Guh." Was all she managed to say.
"I suppose you overslept."
"Really, Kagawa, on the first day?"
She scowled. She didn't get why people said that. Wasn't it normal to oversleep on the first day? After all, holiday habits could hardly be shaken off so easily, so didn't it make sense if people overslept on the first day?
"Never mind. Let's begin."
It was probably the principle of the thing.
Ranking matches: in a week. Go everyone, do your best! Let's try to kick ass this year. Girl power! Afternoon practice: starts at three. Allows enough time for after-class duties. And in a spirit of drive and awesomeness and general over-enthusiasm, let's start from today! Banzaaaaai!
Sakura almost groaned out loud and sank through the floor. From the first day! From the first day, for crying out loud!
"Oi, Kagawa, wake up. You don't want to be late for class too." Kazumi-senpai poked her.
Despite the above evidence, Sakura was actually a good speaker. A very good speaker, who demonstrated the kind of tenacity in her arguments that would have made a world-class marathoner proud. At times, however, she lapsed into monosyllables, random sentence fragments, impenetrable silences and worst of all, ambiguous sounds, all of which made no sense to her listeners whatsoever.
"You still haven't actually told me what happened, Sakura-chan." Kagome reminded her. "In The Devil Wears Prada."
Sakura, deep in thought, staring at the poem they were supposed to interpret, grunted.
"Sakura-chan." Kagome rapped her knuckles on the desk. "You promised. And it's break, and class is over. Tell me."
Kagome wilted. Not even a full week into term, and already Sakura was in full-on workaholic mode.
After about ten minutes, Sakura shoved the book into her desk and pulled her lunchbox out instead. "Sakura-chan?"
"Hmm? Yes, Kagome-chan?" Sakura replied. Kagome perked up. Finally! "What happened next in The Devil Wears Prada?"
Sakura thought for a second, and then perked up. "Oh right! I was telling you before sensei came in, about that part- oh yeah, yeah. Nothing much, really; the cow kicks the bitch and leaves." Standing up, she kicked the chair to the side. Kagome was still staring open-mouthed at her.
Sakura smiled sunnily. "Come on, Kagome-chan, I told Momo-chan to save seats for us. Let's go to the cafeteria!"
Kagome followed her, her mind frantically trying to make sense of Sakura's narration. She had waited one hour and ten minutes for that?
No sooner had she sat down at the table than someone came up to her. "Excuse me, but are you Kagawa Sakura-senpai?"
"Who's asking?" She mumbled, taking a bite of the onigiri her ma had made. Aaaahhh, bliss. When no reply came, she looked at the asker.
It was a little freshman girl with painfully long hair and a painfully shy expression. "Speak up, kid, I don't bite." She grinned her most jovial grin. "What's your name?"
"Ryuzaki Sakuno, senpai." The girl said. Her knees were shaking. Sakura blinked. Either the kid has a serious case of nerves or my reputation is just that bad.
"Right… Sakuno-chan. You got a message for me?"
"Y-yes!" Sakura blinked again at the sudden raised voice. The girl flushed. "I mean, No- Nomura-buchou asked me to tell you to come a little early for practice!"
"Oh, for the love of…" Sakura moaned. "Right, thanks, Sakuno-chan. You wouldn't be the coach's kid, would you? Although she does look too old to have a kid as young as you…"
"No- no, senpai, Obaa-chan is my grandmother. I- I mean, of course obaa-chan is… I mean, Ryuzaki-sensei is my grandmother." Sakuno finished, looking very red and like she wished the ground would swallow her up. Sakura suppressed a grin; the poor kid was flustered enough. "Okaaaay… well, nice to meet you, Sakuno-chan. Thanks for delivering the message."
"That is one nervous kid." Airi remarked, snickering. "Next time you meet her, Sakura-chan, go 'BOO'. I wanna record the reaction."
"Yeah, and you can record me getting kicked out of the club too." Sakura snorted. "She's nervous, I grant you, but she seems sweet. Plus she's Ryuzaki's granddaughter. No way I'm pissing off that dragon."
"Like getting kicked off the club will matter to you. You don't even care." Airi replied.
"I do care. I mean, I'm not all, "To the Nationals, Oishi-kun" and all, but I like playing. And get kicked out of anything is pretty bad, thank you very much. Plus, 'tennis regular' will look good on my CV after high school." Sakura said, deepening her voice when she did the Tezuka imitation. Her friends laughed.
"To the Nationals… I'd be content with just a "To bed, Oishi-kun". Now that, I'd be passionate about." Momoko grinned.
Kagome threw a piece of pickle at her. "You're disgusting."
"Like you don't lust after Fuji-senpai." Airi nudged her. "Hypocrite."
"Ooooh, look who's talking, Miss 'I-just-find-Kikumaru-senpai-cute!" Momoko trilled, as Airi scowled. "In fact, Sakura-chan's the only one of us with no real crush."
"Don't you believe it, Hayashi." A new voice interjected. The girls looked up, and Sakura, upon seeing the newcomer, groaned. "Go away, Momoshiro."
"Ah, so mean to your English partner, Kagawa." He teased. "I'm hurt, I am."
"Sakura-chan, he knows?" Airi demanded.
"It's not a crush!"
"But she does like someone." Momoshiro said, grinning.
"No, I don't." She said crossly. "Shut your trap, Momoshiro."
"Hey hey, touchy." He laughed. "She's lying."
"That's pretty clear." Momoko scoffed. "What I want to know is why you know and we don't. Betrayal, man, betrayal. Girl code."
"Come on, I didn't even tell him on purpose." Sakura scowled.
"HA! So there is something!" Kagome exclaimed, pointing an accusatory finger at her.
Sakura buried her head in her arms, groaning aloud again.
When she raised it again, Momoshiro's grin had stretched to catlike proportions, and all three of the girls were staring at her looking like she was the proverbial white light. "…What?"
"Oh my God, Sakura-chan! That is so cool!"
Sakura stared at them for a second. Then she swung around and glared at Momoshiro. "What did you tell them?!"
"Nothing!" He yelped, ducking her flailing fist. "I didn't lie!"
"That-doesn't-answer-my-question!" She punctuated each word with a blow.
"Oh, calm down, Sakura-chan." Momoko said, restraining her. "He just said you like Tezuka-senpai."
"Hey- ow, you bat, get off- I didn't lie, I told you!"
"You did too!"
"Ummm, Sakura-chan, maybe you'd better-"
"Yeah, shit, seriously, calm the hell down-"
"The hell? How am I wrong?!"
"That's not it- um, actually, it's just that-"
"Well, shit, we tried."
"We do not expect such behaviour from students of this school! What is going on!"
"He started it, sensei!"
"Wha- that's not true!"
"Oh isn't it, you lying little bas-"
"Kagawa! Silence, both of you!"
"Detention, after club activities! You'll replace the first years due to clean the basketball courts!"
"No buts. Both of you should be ashamed of yourselves!"
Sakura's ears burnt with humiliation. Apart from a few initial scuffles in freshman year, her record was spotless. Even those first few affairs hadn't got her a detention. Or such a public dressing-down.
"You know-" Kagome began, but Sakura leveled her such a sharp look that she broke off, shocked into silence. At a signal from Momoko, Momoshiro left, as angry and mortified as Sakura. Airi focused on her food, looking for all the world like nothing had really happened.
Sakura didn't need to look or listen to know that everyone was staring and whispering behind their hands. Except a few- some of the more classy second and third-years were determinedly focused on their lunch. Oishi-senpai would probably be shushing his bloody hyperactive doubles partner, and telling people not to look because it was rude. Freaking mother hen. Tezuka-senpai wouldn't even be looking, he probably wouldn't care. And if there was a tiny kernel of disappointment in her about that, she beat it away ruthlessly. It wasn't like she had a crush on him, it was just…
She looked at her friends. They were covertly watching her, waiting to see if she would explode any moment. And there was worry in their gazes; Airi would probably slit her throat before acknowledging it, though. She broke into a small grin, picturing the scene, and lifted a piece of sushi to her lips.
"For the record," She muttered. "It's just that he looks a helluva lot like Shirota Yuu."
Airi grinned; Momoko and Kagome began to giggle. Sakura's lips too curved into a reluctant smile; all was well, at least until detention.
"You asked me to come early, Buchou." Sakura said, twirling her racquet. "It's not about this morning, is it?"
"Not really." Nomura-buchou said. "I wanted to clarify some things with you before the rest of them show up."
Nomura looked away for a minute, at the courts, where Ryuzaki Sakuno and a few other first year girls were setting up the training cones.
"I need to know where tennis stands with you." She said quietly.
Whatever Sakura had expected, it definitely wasn't this. What?
"Um…" She gave a nervous laugh. "What does that mean, buchou?"
"You could become captain next year. But not unless you become a bit more serious about tennis, and the future of this club. How serious are you regarding this club, Kagawa?" Nomura-buchou's eyed were boring into her, as though she was trying to see into her brain, and Sakura didn't like it.
"You want me to be honest, buchou?" She asked, tilting her head.
"Of course." The captain had her eyebrow raised, silently questioning why the younger girl had asked that question.
"I'm not serious." Sakura shrugged. "I mean, it's fun and all, but it's more of a hobby than anything else. I'll be quitting the club at the end of this year anyway, so captaincy isn't really… But yeah, it's like, not my priority in life."
There was a silence as Nomura-buchou scrutinised her thoughtfully. At length, she nodded. "I had the feeling. Thank you for being open with me. This won't translate into your on-court game, I hope?"
"Oh, no. No, it won't."
"Good. I would hate to drop a good player because she isn't serious enough. But I would do it."
"Fair enough. You don't need to worry about that. I won't let a match slide." I think she just implied that I would make the team…
"Good. You can start running laps, then."
"Roger that. Hey, buchou?" Her captain paused while turning away. Sakura continued: "You might want to consider Mikabi-chan for captaincy next year." When no reply seemed forthcoming, she pressed, "Takada Mikabi? I have a feeling she'd suit."
Nomura-buchou's eyes were like two points of black steel. "Did I ask for your input?" Her voice was low and hard.
Sakura had the grace to look ashamed. "No, buchou."
"Stay within your limits, Kagawa. Join the others in laps now."
"Well handled, Nomura."
She smiled faintly. "Thanks, I guess. Although you did just compliment my bitch-tone, which I don't really like myself."
Tezuka's glasses glinted, and she thought it masked the amused glint in his eye. "I meant that it was dignified."
"Then seriously, thanks. She's a good kid, but she can become a bit… insolent. Doesn't know her limits."
"I noticed. She plays well?"
"Yeah. She's not too serious, otherwise she could probably at least play on par with either Kikumaru or Oishi. Good stamina- very good stamina. Likes the long battles."
"Yep. She's like a cat: plays with her food, and then finally pounces just when they think that they're safe. It's a bit cruel."
"She likes the feel of power, then." Tezuka observed. Nomura gave him a weird look. "Okay, stop psychoanalysing my player. It's getting creepy. Why are you so interested in her, anyway? Don't tell me the great Tezuka has a crush. That would be kind of funny."
Tezuka merely adjusted his spectacles. "The upcoming tournament. I'm… scouting."
"Oh, yeah, that. You couldn't let me decide?"
"Inui came up with a shortlist."
"Ah. Who else?"
"Takada Mikabi, second year."
"Writing us third years off, are we? Old maids as we are?"
"Whom do you have in mind?"
"Then how about this: Kagawa, Takada and myself. Or perhaps Kazumi." At Tezuka's look, she sighed. "I'll keep her off Fuji, okay? And I hope she has a bit more self-respect than that."
"You hope." The scepticism in Tezuka's voice was oodles thick.
"Your faith in the female species and in my abilities is heartening, Tezuka."
He adjusted his spectacles again. "Very well, I leave the decision to you. I hope to have the names by the end of the day."
"You can collect the list from Ryuzaki-sensei."
"This is all your fault." Sakura muttered, shooting Momoshiro a glare. She grabbed the broom and began to sweep one half of the court.
"Okay. How?" He asked, looking equal parts angry and exasperated. "You were hitting me. You were yelling. In a fair world, I wouldn't be here."
"You provoked me. That counts. In a court of law, you would get punished too. Provocation would be an important point in my defence."
"Okay, okay, don't go vomiting the Japanese law book on me." Momoshiro looked decidedly amused now.
"Oh come on, just smile already. I've been waiting for you to smile so I can laugh at you." He prodded her with the end of his broom.
"Ow! Violence isn't the answer, moron!" Her cheeks were flushed with annoyance.
"Like it was at lunch, you violent old hag!"
"Me, an old hag? You're an overgrown excuse for a humanoid gorilla!"
That stumped him. "What?"
She turned away, snorting. "Stupid too. Were you held back for a few grades at elementary school? Because that would explain a lot."
"Well, at least I don't have the temper of a shrew!"
"Who are you calling a shrew, nincompoop?"
"And the face of a witch!"
"Oh, like you're Shirota Yuu, ugly." She sneered.
"No, but you know who is? Te-"
She stamped on his foot.
"Che, you deserved it." She turned away.
Momoshiro fumed silently.
"Wow." Nomura muttered, watching them. "They really don't get along."
"Not all the time." Kazumi said. "Mikabi was saying that they got a terrible English grade last term because they just kept talking all the time, and never got any work done. This is probably about what happened at lunch today."
"I heard she was in a fight."
"Yes, with him." Kazumi gestured to the basketball court, where both juniors were cleaning up, silence simmering between them. "And I heard it was over Tezuka-kun."
That prompted a raised eyebrow from the captain. "Tezuka?"
"Don't know the details, but one of my friends was sitting at the next table in the cafeteria, and she said that one of Kagawa's friends said something about her having a crush on Tezuka-kun, and that's what prompted the fight." Kazumi's voice was casual. "I don't really believe it myself, of course; I mean, Kagawa's never spoken to him, has she? But I guess Momoshiro wouldn't bring it up without proof. But still, I suppose you'd know if it was true, wouldn't you, Ayano-chan?"
Nomura's temples began to ache. Kazumi, while a good player and a decent friend, could be an incurable gossip. Really, how was she supposed to know if Kagawa had a crush on Tezuka, pray?
She looked down at her list, and circled three names.
"Let's go. I need to get this to Ryuzaki-sensei."
I'm trying to actually build Sakura into an independent character here, so this story might progress rather slowly. I have a pre-write, but that's only the barest bones.
Oh, and Shirota Yuu was the actor who played Tezuka in the live action film. Fitting, I thought ;)
Reviews= feedback= I know what's going right and wrong= further correction and development= more writing= faster updates. And even if that didn't make much sense to you, review :)