DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN ANY OF THE IDEAS OR CHARACTERS FROM PRINCE OF TENNIS.
(A/N): Hi! This story was a request from a friend and based on one of the Kaidou Pair Themes Challenge from the Tenipuri Plot Bunny and Challenge forum whose link can be found in my profile.
On another note, CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is welcome. Please, do not be cruel without giving a reason and at least have the decency to tell me what I did wrong & how to fix it. This is my first Tenipuri fanfic and a personally requested fic to boot. If there's anything I can do to improve, I'd really like to know.
Well, enjoy the story!
Sketches: What is missing…
It was a hot afternoon and the Seigaku regulars had just finished a particularly grueling practice. Exhausted, everyone was in a rush to leave. Kaidou had already jogged off, along with Kikumaru and Oishi, both of whom went out for ice-cream. Kawamura had to leave early to help his father with the restaurant. Momoshiro was still helping clean up with Fuji's help and Tezuka was busy conversing with Coach Sumire and Inui, possibly another training exercise. Trudging into the changing room, Echizen Ryoma began gathering his things. Nani? What is this?
Pausing in his task, Ryoma picked up the small, black book that was lying inconspicuously on one of the benches. Curious, he slowly opened the worn cover. Is this one of Inui-senpai's note books?
He was surprised to see, not a set of carefully scribbled notes, but instead a beautifully rendered, fully colored sketch of the entire Seigaku team. It looks just like us… Everyone's smiling, but… Something's missing… I wonder whose book this is…
Turning the page over, Ryoma was stunned to see a drawing of himself dedicatedly hitting tennis balls against a wall. Does this person know me?
The sound of the door turning alerted Ryoma to the entrance of the last set of regulars. Shutting the book, he carefully placed it in his bag before continuing to change. "Momo-senpai, did you lose a note-book?" Ryoma asked.
"Eh? Note-book? No," Momo replied, "Did you ask Inui-senpai?"
"Mada mada dane," Ryoma answered, "It's not his."
"What isn't mine, Echizen?" Inui inquired, popping out of no where.
"Nothing, Inui-senpai." Ryoma answered, before turning to Fuji and Tezuka, "Did either of you lose a black note-book?"
"No, Echizen, I haven't misplaced anything," Tezuka-Buchou answered. Turning to the person beside him, he asked, "Fuji?"
"Sorry, it wasn't me." Was the soft, smiling reply, "Is there a name on the note-book?"
"No." Ryoma answered, finishing up his packing and walking out of the room, "That's alright. I'll figure it out later."
Turning to each other, the remaining Seigaku tennis players shared a thoughtful glance.
In his room, Ryoma couldn't keep his gaze from wandering to the mysterious sketch book. Sighing, he hesitantly picked up and once again began turning its pages.
What really caught Ryoma's eyes were the intricate details and breath-taking quality of the drawings. Each sketch seemed to capture a special moment just the way it happened. Each sketch was, in its own way, alive.
There were countless pictures of the regulars, each uniquely personal in its own way. From Oishi tenderly placing a band-aid on Kikumaru's scraped knees to Momoshiro chowing down on burgers. There were sketches of Tezuka talking to Coach Sumire and Inui. It showed Kawamura in burning mode. There were even pictures of other school teams.
There was a picture of Atobe of Hyotei sitting comfortably under an umbrella with Kabaji faithfully standing at his side. Taking a closer look, Ryoma noticed that the artist showed the two sharing a small companionable smile. Another picture showed Inui shaking hands with Yanagi of Rikkaidai, their expressions intense, as if they were finishing something. Yet another drawing showed Tachibana An standing between an arguing Kamio and Momo with Ibu and Ryoma himself standing on the side tugging on a roll of grip tape between them. More pictures showed Inui practicing at the river with a towel and Momo yelling at some invisible person.
Then, there were the sketches of them playing tennis. The artist had captured Momoshiro's dunk smash at the peak of its glory. The next page stunned Ryoma. That's me… doing the twist serve!
The sweeping lines and careful detail put into his pose were amazing. The look of concentration on his own face... Is this what they see when I play? It's so… Powerful… I never thought… Wow…
Most of the pages were drawn in black and white, and carefully shaded with tones of gray. Yet, as he turned the next page, Ryoma was greeted by the second, full colored picture, much like the one of the Seigaku team, except this time, there were people he didn't know in it. A sweet, older woman smiling as she prepared a set of bento at the kitchen counter, a stern man sitting at the dining table reading his newspaper, and a young, intelligent looking boy carefully eating his soup. They were so expressive and so carefully drawn and colored. It looked like such a happy family, yet… Why do I feel like there's something missing in this picture? It's just like our team's picture… I wonder what it is… But this picture, it's so personal…
Ignoring the slight pang of guilt, Ryoma continued to turn the pages. More black and white sketches of the different teams fluttered by, little snapshots of the lives of the different people in the artist's life. A sketch, this time of the river, caught Ryoma's attention. Most of the picture was black and white, except for the sky which was an awe-inspiring wash of warm yellows, oranges, and pinks, and the river which was a clear, clean blue, and two, nearly inconspicuous objects lying on the dark gray grass. A green and white diamond patterned cloth and a notebook. This place must be important to this person… I think I've been there before… It's the bridge Momo-senpai and I walk over on our way home…
The last page of drawings was another colored picture, in which the artist seemed to put as much care and work into as that of the family picture. Even though he had already seen many of the artist's previous drawings moments ago, Ryoma's breath still caught at the site of the new picture. It was a simple, unassuming sketch of himself sitting on the temple stairs with Karupin curled up in his lap, yet it was beautifully rendered. This picture… Is that what I look like when I smile? It's so… Beautiful… Is that how this person sees me? I… I want to find them… These sketches are so open, yet at the same time, there's something missing… Hidden like a secret…
Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Ryoma slowly shut the book and gently placed in back into his bag.
Arriving at practice the next day, Ryoma was quickly assaulted by Kikumaru, "Ne, Ne Ochibi-chan! What's this I hear about you finding a diary? I want to see it, nya!"
"Eiji! Please be careful!" Oishi chided as he rushed over, "Ano, Echizen, is it true? You found someone's diary? I hope you didn't read it, we really should find out whose it is and return it."
"Mada mada dane, senpai," Ryoma replied, "It's not a diary, it's…"
"Is this it, Echizen," Momo grinned, holding up the black book he had dug up from Echizen's bag.
"Senpai," Echizen began, before Kikumaru cut him off.
"Nya! Let me see it, Momo-chan! Let me see!" He exclaimed, jumping around and escaping Oishi's grip.
"I believe I'd like a look at it as well," Inui commented as he walked towards the group, "It would be ii data."
"Hehe, me first," Momo crowed, before squawking as Fuji surreptitiously plucked the book from his flailing hands.
"Now, let's see here, oh my!" Fuji exclaimed as he saw a page depicting Yuuta's surprised face as Fuji offered him a wrapped present. Noticing the curious looks from the others, Fuji showed them the page with all of the regulars drawn onto it. Everyone was stunned. Gathering around Fuji, they gasped at the skill and personal care shown in each drawing as page after page was turned. They were all surprised as each picture showed a different aspect of their lives.
"Nya, the pictures are so pretty, ne Oishi?" Kikumaru said as he continued to gaze at the one of him and Oishi eating ice cream.
"Yeah," Oishi murmured in agreement as he saw the picture of him helping his uncle at the hospital flash by, "I wonder who drew these."
"Hmm… There is a 92 percent chance that who ever drew these knew us personally," Inui commented, his own eyes narrowing as he noticed the picture of him and Yanagi Renji playing, "Echizen, you found this in the locker room, correct?"
"Hai, but I don't know whose book it is," Ryoma answered.
"Perhaps we should do our own little investigation, ne Tezuka?" Fuji said as their captain approached them.
"Fine, but only after practice." The captain answered tersely as he carefully eyed the pages of the book, which was now displaying a picture of him sitting at a desk reading an old novel, one of his favorites in fact.
Sighing to himself, Ryoma plucked the book from Fuji's hand and made his way to the locker room. In the corner of his eye, he noticed one of the regulars standing distantly on the courts, already dressed and practicing. Kaidou-senpai? I guess he didn't want to see the book… Wait… His bandana… I wonder…
Quickly flipping the pages to the sketch of the river, Ryoma threw a quick glance over the unnoticing Viper before looking back at the sketch book. Flipping a few more pages, he finally quirked a tiny, almost imperceptible smile. Mada mada dane, senpai…
Having finished practice, Ryoma rushed to the locker room. Already in there, was Kaidou, carefully packing his things.
"Kaidou-senpai, here," Ryoma said as he gently placed the worn sketch book in his upperclassman's hands, "your pictures are missing something." Chuckling at his senpai's questioning stare, he simply said, "You shouldn't forget yourself, ne senpai?"
Having returned the book, Ryoma picked up his things and set out, ignoring Kaidou's thoughtful and penetrating gaze.
"You returned the book?!" Momo yelled, "Who's the owner?"
"Saa, that's not my secret to tell, senpai," Ryoma answered, as he strolled back into the locker room.
"No fair! You shouldn't keep secrets from us, Ochibi-chan!" Kikumaru whined.
Oishi sighed, "Well, at least we returned the book… Still, it would have been nice to talk to the artist… I wonder who it was… You really can't tell us, Echizen?"
"Iie," Ryoma replied, before pausing. In front of his locker was a large, folded piece of paper.
"Hmm? What is that?" Fuji asked as the other regulars gathered around the freshman.
Gingerly unfolding the paper, the Seigaku regulars were greeted by an enlarged drawing of the entire team together, surrounded by a frame of individual sketches, each a snap-shot of their lives. It was a master piece.
"The pictures are the same, but there's something different about it all," Momo commented, his brows creasing in thought.
Smiling, Ryoma's eyes wandered to the left corner of the team picture, which in the sketch book had been empty. Yet now, in that very corner of the new sketch, was a drawing of Kaidou in his usual green bandana, standing to side of the group, but still smiling with the rest of the team. Saa, now the picture feels complete…
(A/N): How was it? This is my first Tenipuri fanfic and a personally requested fic to boot. If there's anything I can do to improve, I'd really like to know.
I couldn't really tell the pairings, it's something you need to squint to see… What pairings did you see in it? I really need to know if I did this right.
Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed. Your input is greatly appreciated!