A Smile of Fortune
Yumiko couldn't help but overhear her little brother sigh loudly. Again. The fifth in the last hour.
"What's wrong, Syuusuke?" His sister asked, looking up from the fashion magazine she was browsing through.
Syuusuke looked at her from across the coffee table, perpetual sweet smile in place. "It's nothing. Just that...I haven't come up with anything for the competition this Saturday." He sighed once more, still smiling.
"Hm?" Yumiko raised her eyebrows questioningly. "That's strange. Usually it would be anything you came across, right? Anything at all that you feel like submitting." She brought a cookie to her rich red lips and took a small bite.
"Saa... I'll see if I can find something this time." He sipped what was left of his cooling tea then gently placed the cup back down. "I'm going."
"Oh, take an umbrella with you. It might rain later." Yumiko said.
The younger Fuji looked mildly surprised as he'd just been thinking what perfect weather it was for a walk. Then again, there were times his sister's foresight proved to be a bit more accurate than everyone else's. "Hai. Arigatou, Neesan."
"Ganbatte." She winked at him. While looking at his retreating back, a knowing smile graced her face. "By the time you come home for dinner, you'll have no more worries."
Up. Down. Throw. Catch. Alone in his room with his Himalayan spotted cat sleeping soundly in his lap, Ryoma had been playing with a tennis ball. Or to be more precise, the tennis ball Buchou gave him right before their one-on-one du... no, it was just a match.
"Show me tennis that only Echizen Ryoma can play."
His father's image surfaced in his mind. Again, with that annoying smirk that made him want to hit another ball right into that stupid monk's mouth. "Try hitting a ball that I can't return."
He clenched his fist around the green ball tightly.
"I will hit it!"
Karupin jumped to the floor then promptly growled at his living makeshift bed.
"Ah! Karupin, gomen..."
He got off the bed and knelt down. As he scratched the back of Karupin's head, making the cat purr, his eyes were absent-mindedly fixed on the ball.
"I'm going out for a while." He got up and pocketed it once more before heading for the door. Karupin followed closely at his heels. Ryoma waited for his cat to step out before closing the door behind him and trotting down the stairs.
"Going out, eh, Seishounen?"
Ryoma continued to tie his shoelaces and opted not to reply, hoping he could avoid the oncoming headache in the form of Echizen Nanjiro.
"Is it a date? With that cute girl in pigtails? Or is it another pretty girl? Need advice? I've got plenty" Nanjiro wiggled his eyebrows at his son. "Daddy's willing to help his son who's in desperate need of social relations counselling" The Smirk took its rightful place.
"Nope." After tightening the last knot, the droopy-eyed boy got up. "I'm not going out with a pretty girl." He picked up his tennis bag. "Who knows, probably a pretty boy. Ittekimasu." And he was off, leaving a wide-eyed and immobilized former-tennis-pro-now-temple bell-ringer behind.
"Heh." This time, it was Ryoma's turn to smirk. "Serves you right. Baka Oyaji." He had never felt so satisfied before.
Fuji strolled around the park's sprawling grounds, camera draped around his neck, smiling ever so sweetly. How he managed to reach his destination and continue to saunter about with his eyes practically closed is one of the seven wonders of Seishun Gakuen. He scanned the area. Children were running around on the playground, while their hearty laughter filled the air. The sunset's orange hue gave the horizon a feeling of looking at a Van Gogh painting. The hydrangeas were fresh from blooming, marking the season of Spring.
Potential subjects for his photos were all around, but nothing really caught his attention. Let it be said that the things that caught the prodigy's attention, often weren't exactly what caught other people's attention. Normal people, anyway.
"Nya! Fuji!" He turned and saw the noisy bouncing ball everyone associated with the name Kikumaru Eiji coming his way. "Watcha doing here, nya?"
"Eiji, don't disturb him." Came the gentle scolding of the boy tailing behind Kikumaru with an apologetic smile on his face. "Hey there, Fuji."
"Oishi." Fuji grinned back at the Mother of Seigaku.
"Come up with anything yet?"
Fuji shook his head. "Nope. Still looking."
"What, what, what? Tell me, watcha doing, nya?"
"Pictures." Oishi patiently explained to his doubles partner. "He's looking for a subject to take a picture of. It's for this Saturday."
"Ehhhh?" Kikumaru blinked twice. "But Fuji, there shouldn't be any problem, nya? Your pictures are always so perfect. It's like…" He put on what would pass for a dreamy expression. " …they're so alive as if they're the real thing!" He blinked theatrically.
Fuji mildly chuckled.
"It's not that, is it, Fuji?" Oishi held his partner's shoulder. "Eiji, he can take pictures all right, but he can't decide what to take pictures of."
"Ohhh..." Eiji nodded. "Artists are really hard to please, huh...?" He whistled wistfully. "Ne ne, can I see what you have so far? Can I? Can I?"
Eiji reached for Fuji's camera, but before he could even lay a finger on it, Fuji lightly slapped his hand away.
"Looks like you forgot again, Eiji." Oishi grinned at his partner. "That's Fuji's precious Leica. It's hands off to everyone."
"Eh?" Eiji looked a little hurt at first, before he suddenly remembered that it was the same thing that happened the first time he had seen Fuji's camera, and all other times after that. Now that he thought about it, he couldn't remember Fuji allowing anyone else to touch it, either. Not even the tensai's siblings. "Stingy!" He stuck his tongue out playfully.
"Anyway, I hope we're not disturb-- ah-- ah--!" Oishi swiftly took a handkerchief out of his pocket. "Achoo!" He grinned sheepishly. "S'cuse me."
"Are you all right?" Fuji asked, worried.
"Aa. Don't worry about it. Just a cold." Oishi sniffed.
"No no no! Don't 'Just a cold' me, Oishi. Really... if you weren't feeling well, you should've said so! We should've stayed at your house so you could rest." Eiji whined.
Fuji smiled at them. Really, Oishi just couldn't say 'no' to his best friend.
"Let's go, let's go!" Eiji grabbed his partner's arm, dragging him along. "See you later then, Fuji!"
"Ah! Wait!" Fuji gave his umbrella to the two. "It might rain, so take it. It will be bad if Oishi gets rained on."
Oishi beamed. "Thanks, Fuji."
As soon as the third large drop crashed on the concrete sidewalk, the rain poured down. Ryoma hastened his pace and ran for the nearest cover. With perfect timing, a bus stop came into view as he turned the next corner.
As soon as he got there, he abruptly stopped. Right in front of him was Seigaku's tensai taking cover from the rain as well. "Fuji-senpai."
"Oh, hi Echizen." Fuji greeted him with a warm smile.
Ryoma would've sat on the bench, but it was already wet. He stood an arms length away from Fuji instead. Neither talked as the rain pounded harder on the roof, the noise it made getting louder and louder until it was almost deafening.
The shorter boy shivered as the wind blew towards him. When he spared a glance at his senpai, he noticed that the older boy was trying to cover something in his hands.
Without thinking, Ryoma set his bag down. His hands automatically moved, unzipping his red jacket -the one he often wore when playing outside of school. He took it off, moved closer to Fuji and tiptoed to cloak his senpai's head.
"It will break if it got drenched, won't it?" Ryoma said flatly.
He crossed his arms and shivered again, and although the movement was subtle, Fuji's keen eyes saw it.
"Here." He took Ryoma's arm and pulled the freshman closer. He carefully took off the camera slung on his neck and handed it to the younger boy. Ryoma looked up inquisitively. Fuji simply shrugged, smiling, then tentatively wrapped his arms around the shorter boy's shoulders. "Hold on to it for me until the rain stops, okay? That way, we can share your jacket."
"Whatever." Ryoma relaxed in Fuji's hold, relishing the warmth. He was a little conscious of the camera he was holding. He knew how precious it was to the other boy as he often saw his senpai carrying it around.
When the rain finally stopped, Fuji handed the jacket back to Ryoma, as Ryoma carefully handed the camera back to him as well. "Thank you."
"You too." Ryoma replied quietly. As he picked up his bag and slung it over his left shoulder, he heard a soft gasp. Startled, he abruptly turned to Fuji.
He shifted his gaze to where the prodigy pointed, and his eyes widened.
A rainbow had just appeared after the rain.
Ryoma's eyes softened and his lips slightly curved upwards. "Wow..." His voice came out soft as a whisper.
When Saturday came, it was no surprise that Fuji won an award (again) in the photography contest held annually in their district. Everyone was amazed, however, to find out he'd won the first prize since even pros entered the competition.
The winning picture was that of a rainbow travelling across the sky. Its array of colours framed a boy whose head was tilted to follow the arc, features relaxed into the beginnings of a smile.
1. Arigatou, Neesan- Thanks, Sis
2. Ganbatte- roughly, "Good Luck"; "Do your best"
3. Seishounen- young man
4. Ittekimasu- What one would say before going out.
5. Baka Oyaji- stupid Old Man; Oyaji is also a casual way of addressing one's father
Disclaimers: Tennis no Oujisama belongs to Konomi Takeshi.
A/N: I don't remember where I read it, but I'm pretty sure Fuji's camera is a Leica. The rich bastard. XD
Oh, and please send all your hugs and kisses to arctic dragon for beta-reading. i would never have dared to post this fic at all if she hadn't remedied it. :D