"I HATE YOU! Why do you have to play soccer too?! If you weren't playing soccer like me then I'd actually have a chance at the team!"
"Sho…why do you hate me? He was my dad too."
"Because thanks to you and your STUPID showing off, I don't have a chance to make the junior team!" said Sho angrily.
"Sho, that's not true! You're just as good as…"
"SHUT UP! I can't stand to be around you, even if you are my twin, Yuki!" cried Sho.
Yuki stood there stunned, her twin's words stinging her small heart. She watched as her brother ran as far away from her as he could, never looking back. When he left her sight she burst into tears. She couldn't believe that he'd turn on her over the fact that she was chosen for the junior soccer team and not him. She couldn't bear it…so she fled the town, heading to an unknown life.
Two years later, she was living on the streets, fighting to survive without a home or family. She stumbled along the side walk, and heard a strange sound. It almost sounded like…balls hitting a fence. She goes to the origin of the noise and sees a boy hitting small green balls at the fence with a large paddle-shaped bat. He looks up to see her watching and stops.
"Who're you?" he asked.
She realizes that a police car is coming and bolts. The boy watches her run; it was almost like she had nothing to lose.
"Hey kid have you seen a child around here? He's been reported as a runt who attacks like a rabid animal."
"No, I haven't seen any kids that fit the description," said the boy.
"If you see him, call the police and tell us where to find him. We have reason to believe he's a runaway from the local adoption agency."
"Will do sir," said the boy. As soon as they continue, the boy walks towards the park nearby and when he reaches a certain tree, he says, "They're gone now." A pair of small eyes stares at him and say "How did you…"
"I live around here and every kid knows about the hollow trunk. What's your name?"
"I think it was Yuki… but I can't remember. I can't remember anything…"
"I'm Ryoma. Ryoma Echizen," said the boy.
"Why didn't you tell the cops about me hiding here?"
"Well for one thing, if the adults knew about the hole, they'd take down the tree. But mostly it's cause I wasn't in the mood to turn a fellow outcast in," said Ryoma.
"But you don't look like an outcast."
"I'm a loner, meaning I don't do so well around a bunch of people."
"So what do you like to play for fun?" asked Ryoma.
"Soc… I don't have fun anymore. Not after what my twin said…" said the girl.
"You got a twin? Why aren't you living with your twin and family?"
"Because he said he hated me after I got a spot on the team and he didn't. He wasn't joking when he said he hated me, I could see that much in his eyes."
"I see…do you know how to play tennis?" asked Ryoma.
"No, what's tennis?" asked Yuki. Ryoma grinned and said "Follow me and I'll show ya!"
Ryoma showed Yuki how to hold the racket and hit the ball. When dinner time came, he started to head home when he thought of something.
"Hey Yuki-chan, wanna come over to my house? Then we can play some more!"
"Come on, you gots no where to go, right?"
"Well no, but still…"
"It's decided then! I'll bring ya to my house tonight!" said Ryoma as he literally dragged Yuki to his house. He took one look at her clothes and realized something. She was about the same size as he was!
"Wait here and I'll get ya something to wear. I'd say you've outgrown those a LONG time ago!" said Ryoma as he snuck inside his room and brought back some clothes he didn't quite fit in anymore. Yuki switched clothes and he brought her in with him.
"Dad I'm home! And I brought a friend with me!" called Ryoma from the door.
"Oh? You might as well come in, suppers almost ready!" replied his father.
"'Kay! Come on Yuki! If we hurry we might be able to beat dad to the good food!" said Ryoma with a grin.
As he got cleaned up quickly, he raced to the dining room. Yuki bolted past him with disturbing ease. While Ryoma skidded with every turn, Yuki merely went on the curve without problem. Ryoma was both shocked and annoyed. Yuki suddenly stopped short and held her foot out. Ryoma, unable to stop or even slow down in time, went flying and hit his head on the table. (No food was harmed in this trap.)
"Nice to see you use your head, Ryoma," said his father laughing.
"Yuki! What was that for?!" yelped Ryoma as he touched the bump.
"You shouldn't have been so competitive and run so fast," snickered Yuki.
"He has a point."
"But dad, Yuki isn't…"
"A very good friend, but I just couldn't resist!" said Yuki, cutting Ryoma short. She shot him a look that said "Let him think that I'm a guy if he wants!" Ryoma shrugged.
"So you're his friend. Nice prank," said Ryoma's father.
"Thanks. He should know that running on hard wood usually results in skidding problems," snickered Yuki.
"Well, at least he landed on his head. Come sit down! We're about to eat!"
Yuki ate her first actual meal in months, but she didn't let Ryoma's father know this. She remembered her table manners, and impressed his father.
"So Yuki-chan, where do you live?"
"Nearby, though I couldn't tell you the exact address yet," said Yuki vaguely.
"Do your parents know you're here?"
"Yes sir," lied Yuki with a straight face.
"Well in that case, why don't you stay over for tonight and torment my little Ryoma some more?"
"If that's alright with you," said Yuki with a grin.
"Of course! You can share Ryoma's room!"
"Yay!" said Ryoma.
"You can sleep here tonight! I can't wait to get up in the morning!" said Ryoma with a big grin.
"What do you want to do tomorrow?"
"Want me to teach ya some more about tennis?"
"Sure! It seems like a lot of fun!" said Yuki. Little did Ryoma know that her statement was a half-lie.
The next morning…
"Race ya to the table!" called Ryoma.
"You're on," said Yuki, hiding a VERY evil smirk. (Once again, Ryoma is sent flying due to Yuki's clever trick!)
"I don't get it Yuki… how are YOU able to run faster than me?!" grumbled Ryoma, pouting because he had fallen for it yet again.
"Easy. I'm lighter and more used to running at fast speeds for prolonged periods."
"Is that so? You may just have the makings of a pro tennis player!" laughed Ryoma's father.
"You think?" asked Yuki with a hopeful look.
"Absolutely! If you can outrun Ryoma, than you may very well outrun any balls that come at you."
"Yeah, but first ya have to learn the rules and how to hold the racket properly," sniggered Ryoma. (If looks could kill, Ryoma would be a stone statue by now. Yuki's glare was similar to a basilisk's!)
After breakfast, Ryoma and Yuki went to the courts. He spent the entire day teaching Yuki how tennis worked. Afterwards, Ryoma decided to invite her over yet again. Too bad the police showed up to take her away!
"Yuki-chan!" yelped Ryoma.
"You knew where the kid was and you didn't think to call?! This kid is an animal!" snorted the cop.
"I AM NOT!" growled Yuki.
"See? He isn't suited for the real world," said the officer with a smirk.
"HEY! GET BACK HERE YOU BRAT!" roared another cop. Yuki had escaped and was running.
Great! They've got me cornered! What am I gonna do?!
"There's no escape kid, just come quietly and we won't hurt you…much." The officers cruelly laughed and started to close in. Yuki was afraid, but was determined not to give up without a fight!
"If you creeps wanna get me, then you'll have to catch me first!" said Yuki as she bolted. The cops pursued, and their intentions weren't good. The only reason they were even after her was because of the reward money for her safe return.
After three hours chasing her, they finally caught her. When she got back to her family, she was fuming. But she now knew that she could still play, and that she had a friend. Now all she had to do was find a way to see him again; and as for that, well, she had a plan.
A year later…
"Mom, dad, I'm home!" called Yuki from the door.
"How was school today?"
"Okay… but I have great news! I made the team!"
"Great, go ahead and rub it in…" grumbled Sho.
"Bite me! Anyway, I tried out and the coach said I could join the tennis team!"
"TENNIS?! What about soccer?!" exclaimed Sho.
"If you despise me because of soccer, then I'll never play it again," said Yuki in a toneless voice. Her mother could see clearly that her heart was breaking.
"I'm delighted you made the team, Yuki! Tomorrow I'll go get you your own racket and set of balls to play with!"
"Arigato, father!" said Yuki with a false smile.
"You think you're so smart, don't you Yuki?" growled Sho.
"What are you moaning about now brother?!"
"You're not really a tennis player! Everyone knows you'd rather spend your time playing soccer!"
"After hearing you complain for months, I decided it was better to switch sports than to continue listening to your whining!" retorted Yuki angrily.
"Yeah right. You'll be playing soccer while our backs are turned. I know you too well sister!"
"Just shut up and leave me alone brat!"
"You can't fight your blood Yuki." Sho said as he left the room with a smirk.
"Did you hear? Yuki Kazamatsuri quit the soccer club!" said one girl.
"I heard it was her father's pressuring that did it."
"I hear it was her twin's doing. He always hated her because she beat him, so now she's trying to end the pointless fighting," said Yuki's friend.
"Now that rumor makes more sense!" said the first girl.
"It's no rumor. I got sick and tired of Sho always resenting me in the shadows for being better at soccer," said Yuki as she had been listening to the conversation.
"Yuki-chan! We didn't know you were there!" said the girls in unison.
"Like I really care."
"Well I have to admit, Ms. Kazamatsuri, that I was shocked to find out you wanted to quit the soccer club to join ours." The coach said with a look of disbelief.
"A friend taught me a little about tennis a while ago and I got hooked. Besides, this should end my battle against Sho quite effectively."
"But why did you quit the soccer team? You're their star striker."
"I wanted to do something different."
"In that case, welcome to the tennis team! I'll have my assistant show you the ropes of tennis!"
Yuki quickly became the best tennis player in the school. Sho still resented her, but it went down enough so that Yuki could handle it. However, every time she saw a soccer ball, she ended up with mixed feelings and a desire to play again. All she had to do was remember her twin and she pushed her desires down again. By the time she got out of grade school, she already had a degree in astrology, so her parents helped her move out. She no longer had to feel the cold and withering glares of her twin.
She enrolled in the junior high school, expecting to start anew. But in order to successfully do this, she had to leave her old life behind for good.
"Class I'd like you to meet Yukito Shiomi."
A boy enters with a smile and a mischievous glint in his eye.
"It's a great pleasure to be here," he said.
Yukito no longer spoke to his family, and never went back to soccer. He kept his gender a secret until he finally met up again with Ryoma Echizen. And their meeting place was (you guessed it), the tennis courts.