Memories of the Forgotten Play
National Tournament is just around the corner. Tension between region representatives has risen up the notch. The last game was between Rikkaidai and Seishun Gakuen, which ended with a close win for Seigaku. This secured a place for the Seigaku male tennis team in the Nationals. However, because of that, the expectations for the Female Seigaku team to win has increased and become almost unbearable for the team.
"Six games to four, Masato wins." Rin declared at the end of the match game.
"Yosh! You did well Fuku-Buchou!" Seito cheered, giving Reika a bottle of water.
"Arigatoo…" Reika muttered as she slumped on the bench.
"Ne Masa-chan, I've got new data from your game today, do you want to review it?" Miyuki asked, her eyeglasses glinting maliciously.
Reika smiled and shook her head. "Some other time Miyuki-chan… I still have three more games lined up." Reika said.
"But!" Miyuki whined.
"That's enough Reika… it won't do you any good if you keep pushing yourself to your limits. Listen to Miyuki and you might find other ways to improve your games." Raila said.
Reika smiled. "Wakarimashita." She replied. "You should heed your own advice Rai-chan…" Reika added.
Raila nodded and turned around to walk towards the gate when all of a sudden she felt nauseous. Her footing swayed and she would have hit the fence if Tezuka hadn't caught her in time.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
Raila covered her mouth. She felt like throwing up, her vision started to blur.
"Rai-chan!" she heard Reika on her side.
"Captain?!" The other girls were hovering over them, she tried to speak but her vision started to darken.
"What's happening to her Kuni-chan?" Reika asked worriedly.
"Wakaranai… it's better if I bring her to the infirmary." She heard Tezuka reply before everything blacked out.
"Stress and over-fatigue. No need to worry, with complete rest and proper nutrition she'll get better in no time." Raila heard the doctor say. She saw three outlines behind the infirmary's curtain divider. Due to her still hurting head, she could not distinguish who were there.
"I see…" a male voice said. Raila immediately recognized his voice. 'Tezuka,' she thought.
"Maybe it's better if we let Rai-chan have her rest at our place Kuni-chan, that way we can be sure she really gets proper rest and nourishment." Raila smiled. She'd recognize that voice anywhere… 'It's Reika,' she thought.
"She can stay at my place as well Tezuka… Raila lives alone in her apartment and we can never be sure of what she does when she's left alone." This time, it was Ryuuzaki-sensei's voice.
"I understand Ryuuzaki-sensei… but I must not put additional responsibility on you… training Sakuno is already taking up most of your personal time. This time, we will take responsibility. I have to agree with Reika, in our place we can be sure of Raila's well being. We have our entire family to help look after her." Tezuka said.
Raila's eyes snapped open. 'They are taking me to their home?!?' she thought. Her cheeks heated instantly. 'NO way!' she mentally screamed. Her head pounded in pain. 'Argh!' She closed her was too much and she found herself drifting back to sleep.
'Uso da yo…'
Tezuka carried Raila into one of the vacant rooms in his home. His mother immediately attended to them when they arrived. Reika explained the situation and his mother agreed instantly. It's been three years since Reika started living with them. Her father re-married and left Reika in their care.
Tezuka's family was very close friends of Reika's family before her mother and brother got into an accident that killed them both. From then on Reika turned to them for support since her father after mourning for almost a year found another love, re-married and left her.
Kunimitsu couldn't blame Masato-san, it's painful to lose your family. However, to abandon your only daughter to start anew is something unforgivable. Reika did not need to worry about financial matters since her mother, who was a former actress and heir of a multi-millionaire family, left a large trust fund in her name.
Reika grew up with them. Her brother, Masato Yuuki, was his best friend who shared the same passion as him in tennis. Even now, whenever he plays tennis he remembered Yuuki.
Yuuki was not an ordinary tennis player. It was he who devised the famous moves: 'Tezuka Zone' and the 'Zero Shiki Drop Shot'. He owed it to Yuuki. It was because of him that he is the kind of player he is now.
Three years ago Reika really didn't play tennis that much. She played tennis just to spar with her older brother Yuuki as her passion lay in martial arts. She was a latent Ryu Kasshin student. However, after the accident Reika stopped taking martial arts classes and chose to focus on tennis.
He can still remember it as if it was just yesterday. How Reika cried in the middle of the storm while playing tennis alone, screaming for Yuuki to come back and play with her. From then on, Tezuka vowed to take Yuuki's place until the time Reika was ready to face reality again.
And watching Raila sleep brought back that protective instinct in him. Something about her made him want to protect her. He had been thinking about her for a while now… how much her presence was affecting him and his games, in a good way.
Raila and Reika are total opposites, Reika is outspoken while Raila is reserved, like him. Yet the overflowing desire to protect Raila was brewing inside him. He sighed. There was no use comparing his feelings for Raila and his adopted sister. They were similar at the same time different.
Raila moaned and turned to the other side of the bed. He smiled. 'She looks like an angel when she sleeps…' he thought.
Tezuka didn't notice Reika grinning beside him.
"Hmmm… Kuni-chan is smiling… I wonder why…?" Reika taunted him with a smile. Tezuka ignored her and moved aside giving Reika access to place the clean clothes for Raila on the bedside.
"Ne Kuni-chan… these past few days… I noticed how you stare at Rai-chan… do you like her?" Reika asked.
Reika giggled. "Fine, don't answer me… action speaks louder than words." She said.
Tezuka remained silent. Reika turned to him and smiled.
"If you are worried about me… don't be… its high-time you got yourself a girlfriend." She said.
"I don't know what you are talking about. Watch over Raila, I'll go get cleaned up." Tezuka said and left the room.
He didn't see Reika sigh and eye Raila in concern or hear Reika murmur: 'Gomen nasai Kuni-chan… it's my fault that you think that you have to hold back what you truly feel.'
Reika arranged Raila's comforter to keep her warm. Winter was coming so is the Nationals Tournament. She can understand the pressure Raila is going through… during middle school, she watched her brother Yuuki toss and turn in his bed whenever an important match was coming up. She knew that Yuuki didn't only feel pressure but excitement as well. He loved tennis. That was why when Yuuki died she held tennis in her heart. She will play her best. For Yuuki.
As she watched Raila sleep she thought of the first time she met Raila; it was nine months ago at the opening ceremony of the new school year. Her first impression of Raila was mostly negative. Raila had this aura of anonymity in her and she was aloof to most of their schoolmates.
However, that impression worsened when she joined the female tennis club due to Yalen's nonstop persuasion. Raila was not just mysterious but also a self-centered and cold bitch that was talented and yet has no heart.
When Raila was elected as captain of the tennis team, she could not accept it. She thought 'How could an easy-going bitch like her take over the sports her brother love so dearly?' She might have the talent for the game, but she has no heart for it.
She can still remember the day she challenged her in a match. A match that she was sure was written in Seigaku's book of history, the match that put her life in danger.
Reika ran faster. Today is the day she declared war on Raila. The day she challenged the female tennis prodigy in a duel. Tezuka, her surrogate brother warned her of her foolishness but she didn't listen. She wanted justice for the sport her brother Yuuki adored so much. She was not going to let a laid-back girl like Raila lead their team to its doom.
She kept running until the street crossing and because of the need to make it on time she didn't pay attention to the stoplight when she crossed the street. A fast approaching car partially hit her. The impact had thrown her to the other side of the street, people started gathering around her. Her body felt like exploding. Her head was spinning. Someone offered to bring her to the hospital but she refused and told them she was fine.
The thought of making it in time for her match was her priority. She didn't pay attention to the aching of her body and continued on her way to the tennis court. They had their match. She, Masato Reika showed Okami Raila the real meaning of tennis and its importance to the people playing it. She gave her everything to that game despite of the injury she was nursing.
It's true that Raila is a talented player but without a heart that loves the sports, she can never truly win a game.
By the end of the match, Reika proved Raila her point and she opened a locked door in the girl's heart. During the game, she felt Raila truly took it seriously.
However, because of the serious injury she acquired from the accident she collapsed before the referee announced who the winner was.
Three days after, she woke up in a hospital bed. She found Raila asleep sitting beside her.
She might have received a mouth- full of lectures from her aunt, Tezuka's mother and the fearful wrath of Tezuka. Yet in the end, she gained Raila's friendship.
"How is she?" Tezuka asked upon entering the room.
"Asleep. We shouldn't bother her, let's get out of here" Reika said, standing up dragging Tezuka out of the room.
Raila felt good, too good to be true. Her mind was calm and her entire body relaxed. She remembered her weird dream. She saw Tezuka or someone who looks exactly like Tezuka minus the annoying eyeglasses and overly neat hairstyle. She never in her wildest imagination would think that the real Tezuka would do what the dream Tezuka did. He smiled and laughed!
Weirdly, she can clearly remember her dream. She was sitting in a flowery meadow, then dream Tezuka spoke besides her taking her by surprise.
"Beautiful aren't they?" dream Tezuka asked.
Dream Tezuka sat beside her. "It's been a while since I last had someone visit me here…" he said, his eyes stared of into the distance.
Then he turned to her, he smiled. "I am glad you met them." He said.
"Huh?" she asked him.
"Nothing." He replied.
"What's wrong with you Tezuka… you're not the type who always smiles and feels comfortable with others… is this because I am just dreaming?" Raila asked the dream Tezuka.
Dream Tezuka stared at her weirdly then burst out laughing. He held his side while laughing hysterically.
"I therefore conclude that you've gone insane in my dreams Tezuka," she commented.
Dream Tezuka paused in his laughter before laughing non-stop again.
"You're hopeless…" Raila muttered, looking away from him.
Dream Tezuka's laughter subsided he sat straight. "I see… he hasn't change at all… That idiot… how about cute little Reika? How is she?" he asked.
Raila looked at him weirdly again. "Since when did--? Oh well--- She maybe little, but for you to call her 'cute', are you really alright?" she asked while checking his temperature.
Dream Tezuka smiled again. Raila felt her heart skip a beat.
"I'll take that as she's fine…" he said, still smiling at her.
"Ah-- yeah…" Raila answered.
The dream Tezuka turned his gaze back into the distance. He had this forlorn look on his face again.
"Hey, are you alright?" Raila asked him.
Dream Tezuka turned his gaze to her and smiled, but this time his smile didn't reach his eyes.
"I am fine… but it would be better if they could be free from me… and my memories… I don't want to watch them suffer anymore…" he said.
Raila looked confused.
Dream Tezuka smiled genuinely at her. "Please help them." he said.
"Who? Help who?" she asked.
"I want them to go back… back to who they used to be…" dream Tezuka said as he faded away.
"Hey! Who are talking about? And what do you mean who they used to be… hey! Tezuka!" Raila called after the now ghostly image.
"Raila, wake up… wake up." A familiar voice called out. She opened her eyes to see Tezuka hovering at her. 'Are?! Did I fell asleep again?' she thought. She looked at Tezuka and saw he was wearing his PJ's and from the looks of it, he just got out of bed.
"Tezuka Kunimitsu…" she muttered his name, trying her best to sit up.
"You were having a bad dream." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. Raila couldn't help but smirk at his self-confidence.
"Here… take this and go back sleep." Tezuka muttered, helping her into a sitting position. He held a cup of herbal tea.
"Thank you." Raila muttered drinking the tea, after which she made a sour face.
"That's gross… it tastes like dirt." She commented.
She heard rather than saw Tezuka chuckle. "Go back to sleep." He said.
Tezuka was leaving when Raila tugged his sleeve. "Ne, do you by any chance… have a twin brother?" Raila asked.
She watched Tezuka looked confused and lost before he raised an eyebrow at her.
"I'll take that as a no…" Raila said.
"What gave you the idea that I have a brother… moreover, a twin… having Reika as a "sibling" is a headache already… having another sibling, a real blood at that, might drive me insane." He said.
Raila laughed slightly. "Forget it." She said before she closed her eyes. 'It's impossible. Tezuka Kunimitsu is the only one. Annoying as he is… but he will always be the headstrong Seigaku Male Tennis Team's Captain.' She thought. Her head began pounding again. 'Not again.' She thought as sleep dragged her eyelids close.
Reika ran past her schoolmates, she'd be late for her next class. 'Mou! This is Kuni-Chan's fault she didn't wake me up on time! Argh!' she thought as she dashed towards her second class.
As the bell rang Reika slid her classroom's door open. "SAVE!" she exclaimed.
Everyone looked at her weirdly. "Masato-san?" their class representative asked.
Reika bowed repeatedly at him. "Gomen nasai iinchou! Honto ni Gomen nasai…" she said.
"For what?" their class rep. asked.
"EH?!" Reika exclaimed.
"Tezuka-Sempai was here this morning and told sensei that you'd come late because you are attending to something important this morning." He said.
"O-Oh? He did---?" Reika murmured.
"Tezuka-Sempai is really good looking… you are so lucky Masato-san…" one of her female classmates said and then the rest followed. Reika sighed and went to her seat, throwing her bag on top of her desk she then slouched in her seat.
"Rei-chin!" someone called from the window beside her. Reika nearly fell off her chair when she turn and found Eiji standing in one of the branches of the tree outside.
"Eiji-Sempai!" she exclaimed.
"Cheese!" Eiji said with a victory smile.
Most of her classmates turned to her and saw Eiji on the tree branch. The girls squealed and opened the other windows to see him. "Kikumaru-Sempai!"
"What are you doing there Eiji-Sempai?!" Reika asked bewildered.
"Studying!" Eiji said proudly. "Ne Fuji?" the hyperactive acrobatic player turned his head upwards to a higher branch. Reika followed his gaze and found Fuji Syusuke on the top branch of the tree reading.
"Fuji-kun?! What the--?!" Reika was speechless.
Fuji smiled down at her. "Konnichi wa Rei-chin… the view here is beautiful…" he said.
"Hah?!" Reika asked.
Fuji just gave her another smile. Reika turned back to Eiji and found him jumping from one branch to another. Reika shook her head.
"Oh ya! Aren't you a bit too early for courting Fuji-Sempai?" Momoshiro asked from the seat behind Reika. The girls in their class moaned in defeat.
Reika lost her balance and nearly slipped out the window if not for Momo's grip on her collar.
"Careful now Masato… You don't want to spend the National tournament in the hospital, do you?" he asked.
"Che! Let go you chicken head! Mou! Stop teasing already." She whined.
Reika sighed before she went back to her seat after waving goodbye to Fuji who went back to reading his textbook.
It was already dismissal and Reika was late again. She took too long cleaning and forgot their early afternoon practice for the National Tournament. She arrived at the court to find her teammates fighting with Raila.
"What's going on here?" she asked.
"Fuku-Buchou!" they exclaimed.
"Raila-Buchou won't listen to us and wanted to have a practice match." Miyuki complained.
"She even threatened to remove us on the regular's line up if we don't fight her." Seito seconded.
Reika sighed heavily. 'Talk about stubbornness,' she thought. She turned to the sitting and silent Raila. "Do you have any thing to say Rai-chan?" she asked.
"None… I just want a match game." She said.
Reika raised an eyebrow. "Fine. If you want it that way… Yalen! Give Raila her racket." She said.
Yalen looked surprised. "WHAT?!?" she exclaimed.
"I said---" Reika was about to repeat what she said when Yalen stopped her.
"I heard what you said---" she said.
"Then what are you waiting for… give it to her…" Reika said.
"But…" Yalen said unsure.
Reika turned to Yelan. "Move!" she said.
"H-Hai…" Yalen's twin sister said as she ran to get Raila's tennis racket.
After a few minutes, Yelan came back with Raila's tennis racket. "Here," she said.
"Thank you," Raila said, grabbing it from her.
"Get up," Reika said as she headed towards the serving line.
"Fuku-Buchou!" Yalen exclaimed.
"What do you want Yalen? Do you want to play with her?" Reika asked annoyed.
"But the doctor said…" she reasoned out.
Reika snorted. "If the patient won't listen to her doctor why should I?" she said.
Yalen shut her mouth. Everyone did.
They know better. When Raila is in one of her bratty moods, it takes another… they should say more bratty person to deal with her. And Reika is the perfect person for that role.
Raila stood in her defensive position. Reika grinned before launching a fast serve. Raila barely caught and return the ball, Reika grinned wider.
"Loosing your touch… Ms. Genius?" Reika taunted Raila.
Raila narrowed her eyes. "You wish." She said and countered Reika's shot. Raila winced at the balls heaviness. 'Such power,' she thought.
Reika returned Raila's shot with a heavy ball that resulted partial losing of both Raila's body and hand balance.
"You were saying?" Reika asked with a smirk.
Raila tried standing up but her head started spinning. "Argh" she muttered, clutching her head in pain.
Reika walk towards her, grabbing Raila's hand to help her stand up. "That is what you get if you don't follow doctor's instructions." She said.
"As if you do…" Raila countered weakly.
"You and I are two different cases. My body is stronger than yours is, now… don't argue. You need rest and rest is what you will be having. NO EXCUSES. Period." Reika said.
"You sound like a nagging mother." Raila joked.
"Do you want to crawl back home?" Reika warned. Raila smirked.
"What happened?" Tezuka asked as he approached the tennis court.
"Ask this hardheaded patient of yours." Reika said.
Tezuka raised an eyebrow. "The only hardheaded person I know is you." He said.
Reika's eyebrow twitched. "NANI?!" she burst out. Raila winced.
Tezuka sighed and assisted Raila away from Reika. "You are too noisy Reika." He said.
Reika growled. Tezuka smirked. "Go back to the court. Your next match will be your last." He said.
"Huh?" Reika asked.
"Masato Reika," a voice from behind called Reika. She turned sharply as she recognized that voice. And true to her instinct, Fuji Syusuke was standing behind her.
"Fuji-kun?" she asked.
Raising his tennis racket, Fuji cracked his eyes open. "It's time for your real match," he said.
Reika's eyes widen. "Masaka…"
Fuji Syusuke adored her. Since the first time he saw her on that rainy day in the cactus plantation and on the day she first entered Seigaku's grounds. Everything about her amused him. From her childish innocence to her incomparable passion to tennis. Of course, he knew that she fell for him at first sight as well, judging from the blush on her face the day he reminded her of their first 'date' as strangers.
But that is not what entertained him the most. It was her unbelievably cute personality when she was being cornered. He enjoyed watching the widening and narrowing of her eyes as they change as per her emotions, the cute blush on her face as it went from embarrassment and anger, her mood swings and her uncontrollable temper. It was simply enjoyable.
"Ready?" he asked.
Reika remained rooted on her place. "Uso da yo…" she murmured.
"Uso ja nai… Reika-chin…" Fuji said smiling.
Reika blinked rapidly. "…"
"Scared?" he asked.
That snapped Reika out of her reverie. Fuji inwardly smiled wider. 'Too easy,' he thought.
"Why would I be?" she asked defensively.
"Then let's play." Fuji said.
Reika's eyes narrowed. Walking to her previous seat, she got her racket and walked back to the court. "Get on with it!" She muttered, gripping her racket tightly.
Fuji smiled innocently. "As you wish… my lady." He said.
Tezuka decided to bring Raila to the locker rooms when she stopped him. He looked at her with confusion.
"I want to watch their match." Raila said.
Tezuka wanted too… but Raila needed to be handled with care. "Dame," he replied.
"Onegai Tezuka… this might be the only time I get to see Reika and Fuji fight, seriously." Raila said, gripping his jacket.
"You need to rest." Tezuka said sternly.
"Silly, I didn't say I'll fight right? All I want is to watch their game." Raila said with a smile.
Tezuka sighed. "Fine," he muttered.
Raila smiled wider. Tezuka lifted Raila from the ground and carried her bridal style.
"OI!" Raila complained.
"You'll let me carry you or you'll stay in the locker room." he said. That rendered Raila speechless.
They passed some of the members and didn't escape from their teasing.
Arriving at the court area Tezuka was not surprised to find a large group of spectators watching the on-going match between Fuji and Reika.
"So you've come back to watch their game." Oishi said from beside them. Tezuka let Raila down while still somewhat supporting her.
"I cannot miss this chance to see who would win between the two. Fuji has all the advantages, mainly because Reika is generally weak when it comes to him… but will Reika's passion to win tennis bring her victory?" Raila said.
"The game has just began and we cannot say for sure who will win if they both play seriously." Tezuka said.
Oishi agreed as Raila remained silent, later other male regulars who finished their matches against the female regulars came to watch the game.
Reika gritted her teeth, Fuji was manipulating her. He's playing with her mind, she knew it, and yet she could not stop him. 'Curse it!' she thought as she hit the shot Fuji threw to her. Due to her lack of concentration, she accidentally hit a lob.
"Shimatta!" Reika muttered, her eyes widening.
Fuji's smile widens. "Got you." He said before smashing the ball in front of her.
"30-0" Sakuno declared.
Reika cursed under her breath. She's letting him get the best of her. 5-3. 'No way!' she thought.
"Ne Reika… I don't mind you day dreaming about me, but please take me seriously when we are playing." Fuji said still wearing his famous smile.
Reika tripped over her feet and landed on her shin. "Itai!" she whined.
There was a series of laughter from the watching crowd. Reika glared at Fuji. "Who says I am day dreaming about you freak!" Reika said.
"Oh? Fighting back?" Fuji asked.
Reika stood up dusting herself. "Fine, if you want it that way. An eye for an eye… a tooth for a tooth… you asked for this Fuji Syusuke-kun…" Reika warned.
Fuji smirked. "Scary," he muttered.
"You should be." Reika said smiling. Then, all of a sudden, Reika took off her Seigaku jacket revealing a body hugging tank top with low-neck line accenting her curves and hips.
Eiji, Momoshiro and Echizen whistled. "Talk about aggressiveness." Echizen said.
Tezuka narrowed his eyes. "What is that brat thinking? Fuji is not that easy." He said.
"You'll never know Tezuka…" Inui said. Oishi, Kawamura, Raila and Yalen who's now standing beside Oishi turned to him.
Inui closed his record book. "If you have that kind of body. It would make any man's mind go blank." He said.
Miyuki smack him with her own record book. "Pervert!" she exclaimed.
The others smiled looking back at the court.
Reika positioned herself at the service line.
"Eh?! It's not Reika-Sempai's turn to serve… but why is she at the service line?" Horio asked.
"Fuji will use his disappearing serve." Inui said.
"It's useless…" Fuji said and served.
Reika smiled flipping her hair. "Don't underestimate a woman's instinct." She said, returning the shot with a return ace.
That surprised Fuji. 'Must be coincidence…' he thought.
Reika smiled. "Ne Fuji-kun… do you know what my martial arts classmates used to call me?" she asked with a mischievous smile.
Fuji didn't reply and positioned himself for another serve.
Reika closed her eyes smiling. "Come," she said.
Fuji released his disappearing serve Reika held her racket tightly and waited for the chance to counter the serve. Before they knew it. Reika slammed the ball back to Fuji's court with a power shot.
Reika opened her eyes. "Luck doesn't strike twice…" she said.
Fuji wiped his sweat smiling widely. "Omoshiroi…" he said.
Reika smiled. "Thank you." She replied.
The next serve Reika returned, but this time Fuji was able to catch and return it resulting in a back and forth rally.
"Whoa! Reika-Sempai is really on fire." Echizen said.
Momoshiro nodded. Eiji smiled. "And so is Fuji." He said.
"Yeah," Oishi agreed.
"6-5, Fuji leads, match point!" Sakuno said.
Breathing hard, Reika gripped her racket. 'I won't lose…' she thought.
It's Fuji's turn to serve again, Reika raised a hand. "Time out!" she called.
"Ah--okay…" Sakuno said.
Reika walked back to her bench and tied her hair. She went back to the baseline. She gave a nod to Fuji and Sakuno.
"Let's begin. Fuji-Sempai to serve." Sakuno announced.
Fuji served the ball. Reika aggressively returned it.
"Fuji-kun… watch your back." Reika said.
Fuji halted on his moves looking weirdly at Reika.
Then before he knew it, Reika had shot back.
"Game Masato, six games all. Tie breaker." Sakuno called.
Fuji straightened and looked back at the ball. 'It seems like Reika's movements were faster than before. I expect her to lose stamina but it seems like it is I who's loosing my energy.' He thought.
"Chigau…" Reika said cutting Fuji's train of thoughts, he turned to her.
"It's not you who's slowing down… it's me who's getting faster." Reika said.
Fuji stared at her.
"I'll ask you again Fuji-kun… do you want to know in what name I am called before I became a tennis player" Reika said.
"What?" Fuji asked.
"Ryu Kasshin's…" Reika murmured. "Black Rose…" she finished in unison with Tezuka.
"Black Rose?" Raila asked.
"EH?! Did she say Ryu Kasshin…?! I've heard of that before." Momoshiro said.
They turned to him. "It's a martial arts style that use swords together with body flexibility and speed. Moreover, to be called a Black Rose in a Ryu Kasshin style, meaning you are the best in all aspects. Heart, mind, body and soul." He explained.
Raila turned to Tezuka. "You know about this?" she asked.
Tezuka didn't say a word.
"You do." Raila concluded.
"Reika is not originally a tennis player. She was a martial arts expert at the age of 12." He said.
"Then why did she start playing tennis?" Raila asked.
This time Tezuka didn't reply and closed his eyes.
Reika held her racket like a sword. "Don't hold back Fuji-kun… I don't intend to lose to you." She said.
"I am glad we feel the same way." Fuji said and served again running to the base line.
"I told you before Fuji-kun watch your back." Reika said striking back.
"I don't make the same mistake twice." Fuji said returning the ball. Another rally.
"You're stubborn aren't you Fuji-kun… but…" Reika said. "It's over!" she said smashing the ball using lightning shot.
"Not so easy." Fuji said, countering her shot using Higuma Otoshi.
Reika cursed. "Fuji leads." Sakuno announced.
Reika sighed. "Dame desu ka?" she asked herself, staring at her tennis racket.
Tezuka stiffened. Raila noticed it. "Tezuka?" she asked looking at him.
"She will use it. Ryu Kasshin…" he murmured.
Raila looked back at Reika. She stood holding her racket like it was a sheathed sword.
'What exactly is Ryu Kasshin?' she thought.
"Watch carefully. If you can, do not blink." Tezuka said.
Raila was about to look at him when he spoke again. "Don't take your eyes off Reika." He said his voice dead serious. "This time…" he murmured.
Reika closed her eyes. "It's been a long time… three years to be exact… congratulations Fuji Syusuke… you were able to force me to use Ryu Kasshin once again." She said.
Fuji smiled. "The pleasure is mine." He said.
Reika released the ball on one hand suddenly the ball is already inside Fuji's court.
'What?!' he thought. 'I didn't even see her hit the ball,' he added.
"F-fifteen to love" Sakuno stuttered.
"Didn't I tell you to watch your back Fuji-kun… don't tell me I didn't warn you…" Reika said seriously.
Fuji straightened and nodded. "I'll take your advice seriously next time." He said.
"You better do… because this time I am dead serious on beating you to pulp." She said.
"I want to see you try." Fuji replied.
"I will." She promised.
Fuji's smile widens. 'Maybe it's time to use that'.
Reika served, Fuji countered it, Reika dashed forward to return Fuji's shot.
"Too late," Fuji said.
Reika smiled. "I am not the Black rose for nothing." She said and dove to get the ball. She hit the ball with perfect control.
Fuji anticipated it and used Tsubame Gaeshi.
Reika didn't have the time to react and Fuji scored a point. "Fifteen all!" Sakuno called.
Reika glared at Fuji. Fuji smiled in return.
Reika straightened up. "Have it your way… tensai Fuji." She muttered.
Fuji served; Reika closed her eyes and put her racket into sheathed sword position.
When Reika opened her eyes she disappeared in a flash from her post and appeared in front of the ball, she hit it with perfect accuracy.
Fuji's eyes widened. He split-stepped and hit the ball to the opposite side of Reika. However, suddenly Reika appeared on that side instantly. 'Fast!' he thought.
Reika returned his shot using split steps and he returned the shot again, hitting one of his triple counters 'Hakugei'. He didn't expect Reika to move that fast and was surprised to see her already standing at the service line anticipating his shot. "Show me what you've got." he murmured
Reika smiled sheepishly. "Dragon Illusion One… Nazuki-shi"
Fuji's eyes widen. "Nazuki-shi?" he murmured.
Reika caught the ball using her unsheathed racket and reversed its rotation before she shot it back.
Fuji was too late to react.
"Gottcha!" Reika said smirking. "30-15," Sakuno said.
Fuji smiled. "Sugoi…" he said.
"Domo," Reika replied, flipping her hair. "Demo… Owari janai… korekara… hajimette…" she said as she turned back to him.
Reika positioned herself in the serving area. "Ryu Kasshin Dragon illusion two… Lightning Dragon, Raiden-shi!" Reika said serving the ball.
Fuji didn't expect that kind of serve but he knew exactly how to counter it. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on the movement of the ball. "Dragonfly illusion." He muttered, and caught the ball returning it with double force.
"Thirty all!" Sakuno declared.
Reika looked surprised her Raiden serve was returned. "That move is new…" she said.
"Yes, it is… and still not complete… thanks to you I managed to get the parts I am missing…" Fuji said.
Reika smirked. "Warukatta Fuji-kun… demo… I will be the winner," she said.
"Reika's playing style is different from her usual attack and defense play." Inui said.
"Hai… and the kind of game she is playing…" Raila said.
"Ryu Kasshin…" Tezuka said. "Reika used Ryu Kasshin style adapted to tennis. The increasing speed and flexibility is the result of that also… the three dragon illusions. If you use it with a sword, it's unstoppable." He explained.
"Sugoi." Echizen murmured.
"You said three… Reika-chan used two of it already. What is the third illusion Tezuka?" Oishi asked.
"Ryuuki-shi," Tezuka replied.
"That is?" Raila asked.
"Combination of Raiden-shi and Nazuki-shi plus its original speed and flexibility." Tezuka said.
"What do you mean by 'original'?" Oishi asked.
"Those shots Reika did before was returned by Fuji only because its speed and flexibility was reduced to 30%. If you use its 100%, force and speed. It's destructible. That is why… that playing style was sealed by me." Tezuka said.
"You sealed it?" Raila asked astonished.
"Yes… because of that playing style Reika was disqualified in most of her tennis matches. She despises tennis because it's a game for kind heart. And she is not kind. The real Reika is aggressive and dangerous." Tezuka said.
"What do you mean dangerous?" Kawamura asked.
"She disabled a player using that playing style during middle school." Tezuka said. "Even after the game… Reika didn't take pity on the player. She was forced to give a public apology but instead she broke her own wrist to repent for her brutality." He narrated.
"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," Raila muttered.
"Yes…" Tezuka said. "That is the philosophy behind Ryu Kasshin." He said.
"That is why you sealed that playing style…" Raila said.
"And also…" Tezuka muttered.
Raila, Oishi, Inui, Miyuki and the rest of the spectators turned to him.
"Using Ryu Kasshin brings out forgotten memories…" he murmured, closing his eyes.
They looked back at the playing pair and saw Reika in tears.
"Wha! Reika-Sempai is crying!" Katsuo said.
"Doushite?" Kachiro asked.
Reika clenched her left fist. She don't want to lose. BUT… if she continues using Ryu Kasshin, she'll keep reliving the past. The past she would rather remain forgotten.
She remembered Tezuka's words before they began the game. 'Your next game would be the last,' her eyes widened. 'He knew it! That if she fought with Fuji eventually her real playing style would be reawakened.' She thought. Looking at the fence's direction, she found Tezuka there with closed eyes.
She straightened turning to Tezuka's direction. "You did this on purpose." She said.
Tezuka opened his eyes and stared at her. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"You know it! My determination to win will eventually awaken it. You did this on purpose! Why?! WHY?!" she said angrily.
Tezuka looked at her in the eye, his eyeglasses glinted. "In order to win the Kantou Tournament and join the Nationals. I have to do something to stop you from pretending. You cannot win the Nationals if you keep on holding back your real potential." He said.
"You are the one who sealed this playing style!" she said.
"I sealed it because you cannot control it. However, three years ago I knew you would be able to master Ryu Kasshin in tennis. He taught you how to." Tezuka said.
Reika cursed. "I don't want to remember it!" she exclaimed.
"Because you are a coward. Do you think he'll be proud of how weak you've become." Tezuka said.
"SHUT UP!" she roared.
Tezuka glared at her. Reika shook in anger. "You don't understand. How painful it was… to me…" she said.
"I do… that is why I let you pretend to be someone you are not for the last three years. However, this time… in order to win... in order to fulfill his dream for you to win an official match in the Nationals game. I have to awaken the real you that we sealed three years ago." Tezuka said.
Reika slouched. "You are asking for something impossible." She said.
"I am not. You just don't want to." Tezuka said.
Reika snapped glaring at Tezuka. "You told Raila before that she's an idiot for not playing with all her heart. Then… you are as well… you hate people who doesn't take tennis seriously when you yourself doesn't take it as seriously as your brother do, you should hate yourself more." Tezuka said.
Reika's eyes widened and she dropped her racket.
"Enough," Tezuka said. "Finish this game and you will feel much better." He said.
Reika raised her head and stared at Fuji who was patiently waiting for her to calm down. "I will?" she asked.
"Yes… you will." It was Fuji who said it.
Reika picked her racket up wiping her tears, she smiled. "Wakatta." She muttered.
Fuji served, he didn't understand what was going through Reika's mind but he could sense her suffering and he didn't want her to suffer anymore. Tezuka was right. He wanted to see her real tennis style also.
He anticipated Reika to dash to the net and counter the ball, but the ball was already in her court she was still standing at the baseline.
'What is she trying to do?' he thought.
'Watch your back… Fuji-kun.' Reika's reminder shot through him.
'She'll use her real strength.' Fuji thought, gripping his racket firmly and standing on his guard.
He watch Reika smile. His eyes widened. It seemed like a huge black aura surrounded her. When she raised her head he noticed how different her eyes were. They looked like a hawk hunting for its prey. Her previous dilemma was forgotten, as if it had never existed.
"Third Dragon illusion… Ryuuki-chi…" Reika muttered.
In a blink of an eye, the ball was already in his area of responsibility and had scored.
Sakuno wasn't able to react. Reika delayed her reaction but used her high-speed movement and flexibility to counter it and let him think she hadn't shot at all.
"40-30… Masato leads." Reika said in Sakuno's place, her voice low and dangerous.
Fuji opened his eyes. If he lost all focus, Reika would surely use it to her advantage.
This Reika in front of him was no longer the Reika he knew. This was the real Reika… as a tennis player.
"Fuji Syusuke," Reika said. Fuji looked at her. She smiled. "One minute." She said crouching in a defensive post.
Fuji can feel his veins throbbing in his head; his body was trembling with excitement. 'For the first time, since, my fight with Tezuka… I want to win, really win.' He thought.
He served again, Reika dashed to the net and strike. Fuji countered her shot that resulted to another rally of speed, flexibility and mental alertness.
Fuji used his triple counters to score a point against Reika but each time he tried to steal a point Reika's speed and accuracy increased. Fuji used his newest technique, however, his eyes widened as he saw Reika smile wider. 'What now?' he thought.
"56…57…58…59…" she counted.
Fuji ran to the net to stop Reika's next shot.
"Too late…" Reika said. "Ryuuki-shi!" hitting the ball and returning it to Fuji's court.
Since Fuji had seen the shot before he was somewhat accustomed to the speed of the shot. He attacked Reika's shot head-on.
"That is the biggest mistake you could have made Fuji Syusuke." Reika muttered.
As Fuji hit the ball, his whole body froze as he felt the heaviness and force of the ball. 'My arm will break if I continue to fight this strength… it's too much.' He thought.
He was surprised when another racket supported his. He looked up beside him to see Tezuka helping him counter Reika's attack.
"You should have not met the attack head on. You should have waited till the impact of the first hit lessened in the floor before you hit it." He heard Tezuka say. He noticed him sweat with a single attack.
"I didn't know her strength had grown this big…" Tezuka muttered.
"Destructive," Fuji said.
Tezuka nodded. "In the count of three… release the ball." He said. "One… two…"
Fuji readied himself. On "three" they both released the ball and moved aside.
The ball hit the floor with deadly force. As it bounced up(.) Tezuka was already prepared to counter it. He hit the ball straight to Reika's face. Reika smiled evilly.
She raised her racket just in time before the ball hit her face and shot it downwards, making the ball rotate ferociously on the ground leaving a mark.
"Errr…" Sakuno muttered.
"Game end and match… Masato Reika wins." Tezuka said, putting his racket down.
"Ah! Hai!" Sakuno said.
"You really didn't hold back," Tezuka said.
"I have no intention to…" Reika answered.
"You could have broken Fuji's wrist." Tezuka said.
"It didn't… if it does… I'll just have to break mine as well…" Reika said monotonously.
"Yuuki did great in teaching you how to fully control Ryu Kasshin in tennis," Tezuka said.
"He did well when he gave you the ability to create Tezuka zone and zero shiki drop shot." Reika countered with a glare.
Tezuka smiled messed Reika's hair. "Welcome back gaki-chan."
Reika blinked. "Kuni-chan?" she asked.
"Are you back already?" Tezuka asked.
"What happened?" Reika asked.
"You went into some kind of trance and nearly broke my wrist." Fuji said.
Reika laughed nervously. "I did…?"
"It's okay… I guess not being able to use Ryu Kasshin for a while took some of your sanity." Tezuka said.
"You still have time… you can bring back your perfect control on Ryu Kasshin." He added.
"You mean… you're unsealing the Ryu Kasshin?" Reika asked.
"Yes, as long as you control it. Then feel free to use it again from now on." Tezuka said.
Reika's tears fell. She dropped her racket and fell on the floor crying. "Arigatoo… Arigatoo," she muttered.
Fuji went to Reika's side and hugged her.
Tezuka walked away.
Raila sat on one of the sofas in the living room of Tezuka's house. After watching Reika and Fuji's game, she felt somewhat relieved. Reika' real tennis game was back and it was because Tezuka planned to awaken it for the Nationals tournament. She looked at the picture frames on the table near the wall. She noticed a picture frame with young Tezuka in it. She lifted it and smiled. She took the other one beside it and was surprised to find two Tezuka's in the picture as well as a small Reika hidden behind the other smiling Tezuka.
"Shouldn't you be resting?" Tezuka's voice startled Raila. She turned around.
"Ah! Gomen." Raila said, placing the picture frame down. "Ano… Tezuka…?" she asked.
Tezuka chuckled. "You're not going to ask me again if I have a twin brother are you?" he asked.
"E-err," Raila said.
"I don't have a brother. I am the only son of my parents… that guy on the picture is Yuuki… my best friend. Masato Yuuki… Reika's older brother." He said.
"Reika's?!" Raila asked.
"Yes… most of the people think he was my brother rather than Reika's because of the similarities in our looks. That cannot be helped since my father and Reika's father were cousins." He said.
"Ah… sou ka…" Raila said.
"You still have something to ask me right?" Tezuka said.
Raila looked at him. "How did--?" she asked.
"It's written all over your face." He said.
Raila blushed. "Then…" she said recovering "Why exactly did you arrange a match game between Fuji and Reika?" she asked.
"In order to get Reika back on track." Tezuka said. "She's been pretending all this time. The happy-go-lucky, yet tennis passionate girl. The truth is, her passion was half-hearted because she'd been running away from the truth." He said.
"She did defeat me before. So I think she was serious at some point as well…" Raila said.
"Your match with her is the key. That is when she started opening up. You opened the door to her real tennis passion. Now, she doesn't only play tennis for the sake of remembering Yuuki. Also, for the memories Yuuki gave her through tennis," Tezuka said.
"Soon… she'll be playing whole heartedly again" Raila said.
"Yes, in order to fulfill his and her dream of winning in the Nationals Tournament." Tezuka said.
Raila nodded. "I'll do my best to help her keep her dream." She said.
Tezuka nodded. "You should rest now… finals of the Kantou tournament is just around the corner. You've got to rebuild your strength before that comes." He said.
"I understand," Raila answered.
"Thank you." Tezuka said.
Raila smiled and nodded.
'Huh? I was just talking to Tezuka a while ago…' she thought looking around her and noticing the familiar flower meadow.
She heard a female laughter behind her she turn around to see a small girl playing with a guy who she recognized as the dream Tezuka.
'He is not Tezuka… that is…' she thought.
The little girl ran past her. She followed the girl disappear in the light.
"Thank you." Dream Tezuka said.
"Masato Yuuki." Raila said.
''She's finally back… my cute little Reika…" Yuuki said.
''I really thought it was Tezuka who I was seeing in my dreams… I should have known,'' Raila said.
"I am sorry, I didn't want to scare you." He said.
"It's okay…" Raila said. "I wasn't able to help Reika." She said.
"Wrong. She started to open up when she met you. Your impassive play triggered her real capacity… slowly… and now, my angel is back." Yuuki said. "That only leaves Tezuka…" Yuuki said.
Yuuki placed a hand on Raila's shoulder. "I leave my stoic friend in your care Okami Raila-san." He said as he began to disappear.
Raila opened her eyes. 'Dream… again.' She thought.
She looked beside her to have her eyes widen with the sight of Tezuka sleep sitting at her side.
"Kunimitsu?!" she muttered surprised.
Raila felt a hand cover her mouth to keep her quiet. She looked at her other side to find Reika leaning down at her.
"Shhh… you don't want to wake him up do you?" she asked.
"Gomen," Raila apologized.
Reika shook her head. "Iiyo… You should go back to sleep. I was just checking up on you. Oyasumi nasai." She said.
"Thank you." Raila said.
Reika was about to leave when Raila remembered a part of her dream. "Reika…" she muttered.
Reika turned to her confused. "He said… Welcome back," Raila said.
Raila watched Reika's eyes widen as tears gathered on her eyes. She blinked rapidly and nodded her head walking out of the room. Raila smiled. 'I hope she got the message…' she thought before she closed her eyes again.
Making sure that Raila was back to sleep, Tezuka opened his eyes and looked behind the door. He knew Reika was crying now. What Raila told her before she left the room was something only Yuuki would say. Now that he thought of it, it might be Yuuki's fault that Raila got the idea of him having a twin brother.
'Yuuki, you idiot… even Raila… wait till I get to bash you in the head.' He thought.
The wind blew and filled the room with night breeze. Tezuka smiled before he went back to sleep.
'Once an idiot… always and idiot' Tezuka's last thought before he fell into a deep sleep.
Done… Another chapter of my The Prince of my Heart Series. At first, I planned to discontinue this series but… I cannot help myself when I feel like writing something about POT. I cannot bear to stop thinking about my beloved Fuji Syusuke and Tezuka Kunimitsu. LOL.