Summary: Sequel to Flip Side. Hikari is gone, left the camp without any explanation, but the boys don't have time to ponder it. The U-17 World Cup is just around the corner and with familiar faces on competing teams, the boys' friendships will be tested. But there's a new dark horse in the tennis world from an unlikely country and who is this fierce and determined leader at the head of this team?
Kyandi: Hey, everyone! For those of you who are new, I'm Kyandi-sama! And this is the sequel to my story Flip Side. If you haven't read it, then go do so!
Shunsuke: It's a long story.
Kyandi: But the chapters are short, so hush. Everyone this is one of my OCs, Higarashi Shunsuke. He was a back ground character in Flip Side.
Shunsuke: But now I'm being brought to the forefront! I'm just that good looking.
Kyandi: Oh whatever! Ignore him everyone. Everyone does. His younger brother, Higarashi Haruhi will be joining us too.
Kyandi: But enough of that. Lets move on.
Shunsuke: Everyone enjoy and review.
Haruhi: Kyandi-sama does not own New Prince of Tennis.
Chapter 1 Never Far From My Thoughts
Forever sloping roads, slanted roof topped building, and a kind of people much more ruthless then that of his own. Tezuka Kunimitsu knew when he saw amount of work he was being, not asked to do, but told to do, that he had come to the right place. Germany had greeted Tezuka with increased work loads in his training and he was glad for it.
Why, one might asked?
The answer to this question remained back in Japan, was small, fiery, hard headed, and had hair as white as snow and silver eyes that saw far too much. Yes, that's right. Tezuka Kunimitsu was glad for the mind-numbing increase in training he was enduring, not because of the peak physical condition it put him in...but because it got his mind off of the young girl who had seemed to steal his attention away from tennis; Higarashi Hikari.
Since his arrival in Germany, no even before then. Since his departure from Japan, he had not heard a single word from Hikari. There had been calls and texts from his other friends he had left behind but none from Hikari who use to text him for no other reason then that she could. Tezuka wanted to feel a little hurt, a little stung by this but he knew he had brought it on himself.
Higarashi Hikari, middle school first year and a true daughter of international companies, had a revenge streak a mile wide and enjoyed her retaliation for things she viewed as wrongs dealt to her and those she cared for.
And Tezuka had dealt the biggest wrong to her.
He had betrayed her trust in him, had all but told her she was no good and would never make it in the tennis pro world, and had left her standing there without another word. Thinking back on how he dealt with the situation, he knew he had handled it wrong. Horribly wrong.
Somewhere along the line, Tezuka had greatly began to care about the well being of his female teammate. What hurt her, what could cause her pain or grief, what she would need to lead a full life...he found he started to care more then a mere captain or upperclassman should. He had seen Hikari at her best and he had seen her at her worst. He knew what it looked like when the girl hurt and the mere thought twisted at his heart. He didn't want to see her like that again. It had been that thought that had drove him to say what he had said.
He just wished he had thought his words through a little more before he spoke them. And now it was too late. Hikari refused to answer any of his calls and texts until just yesterday, when he tried to call, the line picked up to a cheerful automatic message telling him that the number he had dialed, was no longer in service.
Naturally, Tezuka was concerned but with the amount of training work he had, he hadn't yet managed to call one of his friends to find out if she was alright or if she had simply switched her number to avoid him. More then likely it was the latter, in which case he really felt like he had finally pushed a wrong button with Hikari. She had always been a bit harder to read then most girls, but she had always been rather patient with him.
Except for the one time at Nationals when she had actually slapped him. She hadn't been so patient then.
He wasn't exactly sure why it effected him so, though he was starting to figure it out. He would admit, if only to himself, that he was starting to care more for Hikari then a captain or upperclassman should. So perhaps Atobe had been right when he once had hinted at Tezuka having romantic feelings for Hikari. Tezuka wasn't admitting that. But nor was he denying it. Hikari certainly wasn't like other girls.
Tezuka gave himself a mental shake to draw his head out of that line of thinking. He was in the middle of training and couldn't have his head centered around the white haired, silver eyed queen of the courts who was starting to take up more room in his thoughts then he had open to give.
Running up the sloping streets of Germany was a mind consuming task as it was. One wrong step and he could fall backwards and end up rolling all the way back down the sloped length of the sidewalk. Not a pleasant thought to Tezuka who was still getting use to it. His training partner though, a pro and the German U-17 captain, Jurgen Valicevic Volk, was use to it and while Tezuka huffed and puffed his way after his partner, Volk remained un-effected, his breathing normal. The two wound their way through the streets, taking a path they had taken every time they had gone running. Tezuka had to concentrate on keeping his breathing even and on keeping up with Volk.
Finally, with relief, they came to a stop. Tezuka braced his hands on his knees as he took sharp, but deep breaths, trying to calm his breathing and the rapid beating of his heart while he could. Volk took a swing of his water before noticing the half bent over position Tezuka was in. He half turned to the middle school boy.
"What's wrong? You exhausted already, Kunimitsu?" he asked in German.
The man had given Tezuka very little to no down time since his arrival. It was almost as if he was constantly testing Tezuka to see how far the Japanese boy would push for his dream. Tezuka hadn't yet given him a reason to doubt him. He did everything Volk asked. Mostly because it kept him busy. Tezuka looked up at the man, with the same determined but stoic expression he always wore.
"No." he replied flatly.
"Good, then let's keep going." Volk replied with a satisfied nod of his bald head. Tezuka replied with a quick, "Yes, sir." and followed as Volk took off once more.
It was this way everyday. Intense training through out the day and then Tezuka would have a hour at night in which to keep up with his studies. If he was any less the student then he was, he probably would have fallen behind. Thankfully he hadn't, despite the many distractions in his brain.
Volk glanced back at his young training partner, glad to see the boy wasn't lagging despite obviously being tired. He liked Tezuka's spunk and determination. Given enough time, training, and experience, he would make a good pro.
Time would tell.
When the two arrived back at the building for the Tennis Association of Germany, he sent Tezuka off for more training while he reported to a meeting with the other representatives of Germany. When the others had gathered, he started the meeting with QP, a high school second year and another representative, at his side.
"We, the German Representatives, are aiming for our ninth consecutive U-17 World Cup championship. This year, for the first time since the establishment of this team, there will be five pros participating!" Volk announced to those listening.
"Any athlete who comes in here with arrogance or anxiety...will be kicked off the team!" he added before letting QP take over.
"Continuing on, I have new data regarding our rival countries. As expected, special attention must be paid to the Swiss. As a current pro, their acting captain, Amadeus, is just the beginning. Judging by the abundance of talent on their team, they're number one in terms of over all strength." QP said, shuffling papers.
"France's Camus is a creative tactician. With his entry, there will probably be a huge shift in how tennis is played around the world." he added.
"What about America, QP?" Volk asked. QP pulled up a picture of the team, featuring their captain in the forefront.
"We should pay special attention to Reinhardt's remarkable mental strength and his leadership abilities. There are a number of other players of interest amongst them as well." QP answered.
"After them, places like Japan are starting to acquire more power." he added.
Volk looked up at the other male at this, his mind going to Tezuka for a brief moment.
"There is one other team of interest that is currently featuring two pros amongst their ranks." QP added.
Volk looked up as QP brought up a picture of a team clad in the hooded, blue and white jerseys of the Greece flag. The members ranged from a very small and slight boy standing jut a little over five feet to a tall and muscled male towering a over a good foot taller then that small boy. Every member of the team, save for two, had their hoods up and pulled so far forward, it hid their faces from view.
The two with their hoods down were the ones QP drew attention to.
One of the two was a tall boy, lean and slightly willowy in frame with thick, sleeked back, black hair that had a pair of sunglasses neatly perched among the locks. He was good looking, as the other boy was, and had eyes of a light silver in color.
"Pro and high school third year, Shunsuke Higarashi. Of Japanese and Greek descent, he's playing for the Greek team this year. Some have written him off because he's not entirely serious but he has a strong Counter Puncher style and has a high store of stamina and speed. He's a bit hot headed though." QP told them before turning to the other boy.
This boy was slightly shorter the Shunsuke with a more stockier built. Still good looking with a mess of snow white curls on his head and eyes just as silver as Shunsuke's. The two had the same handsome facial features and were obviously brothers. QP's next words confirmed that.
"This is his younger brother. Pro and high school first year, Haruhi Higarashi. Meek and a bit of push over in personality, but he's a strong power player with deadly aim. He hits what he aims to hit, no matter what gets in the way. His mental strength in on the low side though." QP added.
"And the others?" Volk asked, looking over the team in the picture.
"The only other information I was able to gather is more of a rumor. Rumor has it they have a couple of players who excel past the Higarashi brothers. One is even been called a Mental Ninja. The team is being called the Dark Horse of this year's U-17 World Cup." QP told him.
The Dark Horse.
An underdog that the masses were cheering for. They would probably receive more support from the crowd then any other team. But what really stuck in Volk's head was that it seemed Japanese players were popping up in several teams this year including Germany with Tezuka, and America, with a high schooler named Ryoga, and now Greece with the Higarashi brothers.
It would be an interesting year, that was for sure.
Tezuka listened to the sounds of tennis balls meeting a racket gut and then bouncing off the court around as he fed more balls to the tennis player opposite of him. Though he was focused enough to continue feeding the balls to Volk, the majority of his mind was focused on something completely different. An image of the laughing and smiling, white haired girl flashed before his mind's eye and Tezuka tightened the muscles of his jaw.
He had been thinking of Hikari again, his mind flying back to the look on her adorable face when he had left her at the camp. If it hadn't been for the stoic mask and iron control he had gained from his grandfather, then he might have turned around and he might have, gods help him, hugged her. But he hadn't. He was tired of seeing Hikari hurt and knowing that he was part of the reason why. A man could only take feeling like an abusive jerk for so long. Of course now he felt like a completely different kind of jerk.
He didn't think Hikari would ever forgive him for the words he had said.
Tezuka's jaw muscled tightened another fraction of an inch at that thought. He didn't want Hikari to be forever angry with him. He had never cared much before, but he cared where Hikari was concerned. He cared too much. Tezuka tried yanking his mind from the thoughts and focus on feeding the balls.
Volk could see Tezuka trying to pull part of his mind away from other thoughts to focus on the task at hand. He saw this in the younger male quite a bit actually. It wasn't that Tezuka wasn't focusing. He was. He just wasn't focusing all of his attention. Part of Tezuka's mind was centered on something completely different. Tezuka never shared and Volk never asked. It wasn't his business. What was his business was having Tezuka focusing completely on the task at hand.
"Focus, Kunimitsu." Volk called across the courts.
Tezuka snapped to attention, doing as told. He sat thoughts of Hikari aside and turned his full mind to his assigned task. He could revisit the thoughts later when he was in his own room. Off the court, an old man with a walking cane, approached the court where another man stood observing Tezuka and Volk.
"Who's the Japanese guy feeding balls to Volk?" the old man asked. The observing man turned to him.
"Siegmund Pupke." the man said, seeing the old man, who smiled in return, still waiting for an answer.
"Kunimitsu Tezuka. He came here from Japan in order to become a pro." The younger man told Siegmund.
"Oh, I see...A pro...though, for Volk to be using such a boy as his training partner..." Siegmund trailed off as he watched the two on the court.
On court Volk turned to Tezuka as the younger male picked up another ball out of the ball cart, ready to feed it to Volk.
"Kunimitsu...why don't you try playing now." Volk suggested, much to the surprise of those around them.
Tezuka didn't argue. He removed the ball cart from the court and took up his serving stance, Volk ready to receive.
"They're having a match? Guess I'll watch to see if he really has what it takes to be a pro." Siegmund remarked, chuckling to himself as he watched.
"Come, Kunimitsu." Volk ordered. In reply to the order, Tezuka served.
He had barely taken a step when the returned ball hit the court just a foot from his right foot. Tezuka yanked his right foot up in an instinctive response to the ball's sudden reappearance on his side of the court. Siegmund heaved a sigh and shook his head. So far it didn't look that good. Volk on the other hand knew Tezuka could do better.
"Don't play the match so absent-mindedly! Concentrate! Whatever you're thinking of, set it aside!" Volk demanded of Tezuka.
Tezuka caught himself thinking, "It's not that easy to set thoughts of Higarashi aside.". He instantly gave himself a mental shake, pushing even that thought aside. He needed to focus and forget about Hikari for a moment. He gave a curt, "Yes sir", gathering his energy around in, using his Muga no Kyochi.
Siegmund was surprised by this, watching Tezuka with renewed interest.
"He condensed all of his power into his left arm..." Siegmund said in shock.
Volk returned the shot with a two handed hit, aiming the ball to Tezuka's left. But before the ball could reach it's spot, it curved, heading out of the court, Tezuka not even blinking as the out was called.
"He put a massive spin on the ball, so that it'll force the shot out..." Siegmund exclaimed, impressed and shocked all in one.
From then on Tezuka was able to play the match, even if Volk still had the upper hand, using two hands in all of his returns.
"That's the way, Kunimitsu! Intimidating your opponent early on in the match while attacking will give you an advantage! Wrong! Think about the position of your grip and elbow! Your attacks are too bland! You need to consistently out think you opponent! You get too despondent when your attacks fails! Being able to get over it is also a skill!" Volk yelled across the court to Tezuka.
Tezuka was huffing and having to brace a hand on his knee by the time Volk was done and approached the net.
"Thank you...for the match." Tezuka said, looking up at Volk who was no where near the state that Tezuka was in.
"You don't train your legs and lower half enough. That's why your shots start to waver in the second half. Now go and do three hundred straight dashes!" Volk ordered Tezuka who gave a firm nod and instantly turned to do as told with another, "Yes, sir.".
Siegmund watched the young male walk away to do as he was told. Volk noticed Siegmund then as he took a seat on the bench, picking up a towel to wipe his face.
"Hey there, Siegmund. Are you here to get the contract renewal signed?" Volk asked.
"Yeah...but there's something too, Volk...I'd like to offer "Kunimitsu Tezuka" a pro contract as part of Siegmund Inc." Siegmund replied.
Volk looked up at Siegmun, his expression unreadable as he did. The younger German man got to his feet and turned to watch Tezuka as he jogged off.
"He has absolutely no experience playing against top class players. If he were to become a pro now, he'd be run ragged. Let's have this discussion when Kunimitsu has reached the next level. After we've won the U-17 world cup as the representatives of Germany." Volk replied.
Silently he added, "And after he takes care of whatever is dividing his attention."
By the time Tezuka had finished his training and made it back to his room after dinner, he was ready to shower, do his school work, and go to bed. Training with his team back at Seigaku had never been this tough. Even training at the U-17 camp seemed tamed compared to the constant work he was given here.
Tezuka shed his jersey, hanging it from the back of his desk chair before gathering his clothes for a shower. He was just about to head for the bathroom when his phone rang. Tezuka sat his stuff down on the foot of the bed and picked up his phone. Oishi's name blinked up at him from the screen of his phone. Tezuka answered and heard the worry in Oishi's tone when he greeted Tezuka, but it was Oishi's words that froze him.
"Tezuka...Hika-chan left the camp."
Tezuka felt a mix of different emotions. There was concern, of course, the question of why going through his head. Then there was relief. If she wasn't at the camp then there would be no chance on him facing her during the U-17 World Cup. He felt responsible enough for Hikari's past injuries. He didn't want to be the actual cause for her getting hurt. He started to say good, but Oishi cut him off.
"And she's not home."
Tezuka froze all over again. A chill started creeping up his spine, freezing his insides as it went.
"Come again?" Tezuka asked.
"Sosuke-kun came to the camp to pick Hika-chan up. She left with him and her female friends, but when I called Hika-chan the next day, her phone number was out of service. I called Sosuke-kun instead and he told him he had no idea where Hikari went. He said he took her home, she packed her bags, and left with her friends. He doesn't know where she went." Oishi told him.
Tezuka felt himself drop to sit on his bed, the freezing of his insides increasing. He had noticed the number issue with her phone but had just assumed that she had switched numbers and had given her new number to the others, but now even her own brother, her legal guardian, didn't know where she was.
"What did he say about the phone?" Tezuka asked, thinking that Sosuke would have any new number Hikari got.
"He doesn't know. It shocked him too. And it wasn't just Hika-chan. Her female friends all changed their numbers too. Sosuke-kun and I tired their numbers after realizing Hika-chan had cut herself off. All of them had done it. Sosuke-kun is worried." Oishi replied.
So Hikari had dropped the camp, left home, cut off all communication with her home, and vanished. Tezuka felt dread form in the pit of his stomach.
"That's not all, Tezuka. Hika-chan competed for a spot in the first string here at the camp. A doubles match with Sanada-kun. She...she threw the match, Tezuka and then turned down the offer to be a representative here. She wouldn't explain any of it to us. She flat out refused to." Oishi told him.
Something was going on. Tezuka didn't know what, but he knew Hikari. She was up to something and she was doing everything in her power to make sure no one, not even her brothers, knew what until she was good and ready for them to know.
Of course it just made Tezuka weary and concerned.
Hikari, according to his friends, had become somewhat closed off after he left and had started to stick more to a high school boy named Tokugawa, then to her friends, training with him and two other high schoolers instead. Tezuka felt his stomach twist as he thought about that. It was almost as if Hikari was trading him for this Tokugawa guy. She had spent most of her training time, before and during the camp, with him and after he left she had latched on to this Tokugawa. Tezuka's stomach twist even more.
Something was going on and he didn't know what. It made him uncomfortable, especially knowing Hikari like he did. If she didn't want them knowing what she was up to until it was too late, then it would be too late. He was just going to have to wait, stay on guard, and see what came his way, because he was sure...
It was all going to come back to bite him in the back.
Kyandi: Take that, Tezuka! You can deal with the worry!
Shunsuke: Right! Take that, you dream crushing, little bas-
Shunsuke: What? He deserves it.
Kyandi: That's beside the point. You can't call him names.
Shunsuke: You're no fun.
Kyandi: I know. So everyone enjoy and review!
Shunsuke: We'll be back soon as we can.