Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis and its characters.
"speaking", 'thoughts' and Telephone Conversation (other end of the line)/ Sound Effects/ Read
- - - - -
Transferred My Heart
Chapter 14: Smile For Us, Sakuno!
- - - - -
To tell the truth, Sakuno was actually pretty excited to go to school that morning. First, because it was going to be another fun-filled day with several of her most favorite people in the world: Tomoka, Rikku and the Rikkai Dai and Seigaku regulars. Second, it was going to be the last day of her school's annual bazaar, so there was bound to be a lot of unforgettable moments in every nook of the place. And lastly, the end of the annual bazaar marked the start of their Christmas break. Sakuno can't wait for whatever was going to be in store for her in the next few days!
But the moment she stepped foot on Rikkai Dai grounds… maybe Sakuno could take back what she said about being excited.
"Kya! Sakuno-chan! You're so lucky!" a girl Sakuno wasn't really familiar with screamed when she entered the school gates that morning. Recently, there had been a group of girls going about while carrying big banners and wearing strips of papers around their heads that say Akaya-kun and Sakuno-chan forever!
Sakuno turned beet red when more girls joined in the morning greeting and chorused, "How did it feel like to be kissed by Kirihara-kun?"
How Sakuno wished that she could be swallowed up by the earth that moment. Especially now that everyone was looking at her. She could feel a mixture of gazes from everyone. Some excited, some awe-struck (the participants from the bachelorette), some curious and some deadly. True that not exactly everyone liked her, most probably for the reason that she had the Rikkai Dai and Seigaku regulars as her friends, but all she knew was that she was never going to walk in the same light again. Or rather, she'd always be in the spotlight from now on. Never to be invisible again.
Sakuno turned to where the familiar voice came from. She had never been gladder to see her friend. "Rikku!" She quickly ran towards the younger Kirihara sibling, ignoring the crowd she had left behind.
Sensing that something was off, Rikku grabbed her friend's wrist and dragged her towards the secluded Student Council tent. "What's up?" she asked as soon as Sakuno took a seat on one of the plastic chairs.
Sakuno began to fidget with her skirt, "I-It's about yesterday…" she replied in a soft murmur. She sighed when Rikku raised a curious eyebrow. "You know… the bachelorette…" Her voice was hardly audible anymore, and her face was practically on fire! She was going to talk to Rikku about kissing her brother!
At the way Sakuno had turned an incredibly dark shade of red, it dawned on Rikku, "Oh. That."
Instead of seeing her uncomfortable, Sakuno was surprised to see Rikku grinning at her mischievously. Why was it that she had to be friends with someone who always had something up her sleeve? "R-Rikku?"
"Ne… I wasn't wrong in suggesting you'll be the bachelorette. Our funds increased immensely, all thanks to you! And it really turned out to be such a splendid event, don't you think?" Rikku's eyes twinkled. "Even if no one really anticipated the… last part," she giggled. "And just so you know, I'm part of the Akaya and Sakuno fan club," she laughed when Sakuno looked at her horrified. "Kidding, kidding! Me, a fan of aniki? I don't think so," she stuck her tongue out. "But I can be your fan!"
Sakuno's blush intensified. "I'm not used to all this attention, Rikku…" she said softly. "I've never experienced something like this in Seigaku before…"
Rikku's face softened. "But, Sakuno-chan. Don't you like it? People appreciate you here so much. I think that your transfer was even better for you," she remarked thoughtfully. Glancing at her friend, she panicked when Sakuno suddenly had a really pained expression. "S-Sakuno-chan?"
"Oh, Rikku-chan… If only you know how overwhelmed I really am about everything…" Sakuno murmured. "About all the attention… the sudden recognition… and… Bunta-kun, Fuji-senpai, Ryoma-kun and Kirihara-senpai… My transfer changed everything…" Rikku looked at her friend worriedly. "I'm really confused…" Sakuno ended faintly.
"Sakuno-chan… what does your heart tell you?" Rikku took a seat beside her friend and touched her shoulder for comfort. "Your transfer did not change anything. In fact, you've still got Tomoka and Seigaku, right?" Sakuno nodded. "Me, aniki, Marui-senpai and the others only means that we ourselves found a place in your heart." She smiled when Sakuno brightened up a bit. "Not necessarily a transfer of your heart, too…"
Rikku was surprised when Sakuno hugged her, "Thank you, Rikku-chan."
The younger Kirihara hugged her friend back, "No problem, Sakuno-chan… But always remember that we really love having you here and we'd never let you go." Rikku's sly grin returned when they pulled from each other's embraces. "So I suggest you better get used to this all attention, okay?"
The two were surprised to see their Science teacher and a familiar schoolmate running towards them.
"Sensei! Takagi-buchou!" Both Sakuno and Rikku immediately stood up from their seats.
The teacher greeted Rikku with a 'good morning' as Takagi acknowledged the student council officer with a nod. Then they turned to Sakuno who instantly looked dreadful and feared what she thought she would hear.
"Did you sign up already?"
- - - - -
"Hey look, there's Kirihara!"
"I still can't believe he kissed her, dude. I never thought that Kirihara was actually interested in romance."
"Shut up already! Sakuno-chan and Akaya-kun are meant to be together, alright?"
Kirihara could feel the ominous auras from three certain boys behind him. Namely Echizen, Fuji and Marui. For some reasons, despite the fact that he had scored in with Sakuno, he couldn't be smug about it. Not that he did not enjoy it. Of course not! Even if he didn't really want to sound so cliché, the one-word that would completely describe the feeling of having Sakuno's lips on his was magical. And at that given moment in the 'tower', he really felt like he was her prince charming. BUT. He felt that what he had done was wrong. It was as if the magic had only lasted that moment, for instead of making Sakuno feel happy, he had only made her more miserable.
"As much as I would like to let you walk straight to the post as revenge, I won't because I'm your friend. So, Kirihara... Watch out for that post."
Kirihara managed to stop himself before crashing to the wooden post that carried the huge banner of the school bazaar. He was about to thank Marui, but the boy was already walking away alongside the others. He quickly followed and remained behind the group, sulking. They were all on the look out for Sakuno, who the entire fun fair week, had been their decision-maker as to what they would do that day. So far, all they had seen were rows and rows of booths, lots and lots of people who would every now and then cry, 'Akaya-kun and Sakuno-chan forever'- which of course earns Kirihara a stronger spurt of ominous aura from the three others -, but no sight of a braided auburn-head. The Rikkai Dai regulars met up with Seigaku regulars and Tomoka right outside the school gates that morning and had decided to enter together… much to the four admirer's inner chagrin.
"Hey, it's a different set-up again," Niou remarked all of a sudden. He was warily eyeing the grounds where the paintball competition and the bachelorette were previously held. It looked normal. "Why'd it turn into an ordinary field now?!"
"Eh? Why is it like that?!" Momoshiro sounded heartbroken.
"The sooner we find Ryuzaki-san and Kirihara-san, the sooner we will find out," Yukimura smiled gently.
"Where did Sakuno-chan say she was, Osakada-san?" Fuji asked Tomoka who was eyeing her phone, frustrated.
The girl shook her head. "She hasn't replied yet!"
"Hoi! Hoi! I found Ryuzaki-chan, nya!" Kikumaru chirped happily and dashed towards the direction where he said Sakuno was. Indeed, Sakuno was found. The girl was currently seated by a tent and was reading a science book. "Ryuzaki-chan!" he exclaimed and lifted the girl from her chair as soon as he reached her. "We're here again, just like we promised!"
"I-I'm glad, K-Kikumaru-senpai," Sakuno managed to squeak out with a smile.
"Nya! You're so cute when you blush like that!"
"Eiji," Oishi warned his doubles partner- who was still busy cuddling Sakuno- when four sets of glares were instantly directed towards him. "You're hugging her when you're not supposed to," he whispered to Kikumaru. Everyone curiously looked at the Golden Pair whispering to each other.
"Nya, Oishi! You should have said so earlier that I was hogging Ryuzaki-chan all to myself! If you want, you can hug her, too! So it's fair!" Kikumaru shouted.
The temperature suddenly dropped to zero degrees.
"H-He was kidding!" Oishi cried defensively, specifically directing it towards Echizen, Fuji, Marui and Kirihara who already had their eyes hidden by their eyes, and could possible be planning who-knows-what.
"A-Ano… m-minna…" Sakuno started when Kikumaru finally released her and finally had both feet on the ground. "I won't be joining you today…"
A glare from Sanada and Tezuka silenced the exaggerated regulars.
"What happened, Sakuno-chan?" Tomoka asked with a look of concern on her face. "You did ask us to come, right?"
Sakuno felt even more uncomfortable when she her eyes met with the Seigaku regulars'. They had travelled all the way to go to the bazaar, and she won't even make it worthwhile for them. For all it's worth, they could all be preparing for the tournaments right now instead of spending time to be with her! It was only at that moment that Sakuno realized she was being selfish.
"I-I'm really sorry, minna…" Sakuno tried to keep her voice from wavering. "I've been keeping you from doing whatever you want these past few days… And now, just when you could be doing something more important, I ask you to come here, yet I won't even be with you… I'm really sorry… For insisting on you guys to come here…"
"What the heck are you talking about, Ryuzaki."
Sakuno was surprised to see Ryoma looking at her intently.
"We come here because we want to, Sakuno-chan," Fuji assured soothingly – even causing the other admirers to flinch with the use of 'chan' and show of open affection by the look on his face and his cerulean orbs.
Instinctively, she glanced at the rest of the Seigaku regulars as well. Kikumaru, Oishi, Kawamura, Inui, Momoshiro and Kaidoh gave her a small nod. Even Tezuka gave his assurance through the slight upward curving of his lips.
Kirihara tried to keep himself from holding Sakuno's hand and telling her that everything will be alright. Who knows what would happen if he laid a finger on her again in front of the other admirers after the kiss. But he really hated seeing her sad!
"Sakuno, what did you mean by you can't come with us today?" Marui asked while his eyebrows were knotted confusedly. He was beside Sakuno all of a sudden, much to everyone's surprise. "Is there something wrong?" Marui reached for the girl's hand. And to add to everyone's surprise, Sakuno had intertwined their fingers together.
'I knew I should have held her hand!' Kirihara mentally groaned. Not wanting to be left behind in comforting their favorite auburn-head, he said, "Ryuzaki-san, we care for you-"
"Takagi-buchou!" Sakuno cried and faced the opposite direction all of a sudden.
Everyone's attention was instantly on where Sakuno was looking. Kirihara began to grow mushrooms by the corner and sulked again. Sakuno just ignored him! "I don't see anything wrong with a kiss, in fact, kissing is perfectly normal. Especially for growing teenagers. I see it in movies all the time…" Kirihara began muttering as if to comfort himself. But honestly, Sakuno had not intended to ignore him.
"Ryuzaki, here you are!" A black-haired girl ran towards the group. "The Mini-Olympics will start in a few minutes!"
"Mini Olypmics?!" everyone chorused.
"Come on, we've got to assemble all participants already," Takagi said and began dragging Sakuno away from the regulars and Tomoka.
"Can we join?!" Momoshiro, Kikumaru and Niou all looked excited.
Takagi stopped from walking and turned to the others. "I'm sorry. But only chosen participants of the captains of each club can join," she explained and turned to Yukimura. "You can ask your captain who will be representing the boys' tennis club… As for Seigaku… I'm not really sure if you can participate," she said apologetically.
All Rikkai Dai regulars were around Yukimura the next moment as Seigaku tried to keep themselves from bawling out. Tomoka was currently busy talking to Rikku over her cell phone.
"I need to go now, minna," Sakuno bid her farewell with a sad smile. "I apologize again… M-Maybe you can just go around and check out the booths... Have fun," she said with a bow and then left.
Everyone darkened when they watched the girl walk away from them. To be honest, they had all looked forward into spending the day with Sakuno.
"Hey, guys! Sorry I'm late! I had to prepare some stuff before the major events today," Rikku popped out of the blue all of a sudden, panting. She took a look at everyone. "Did someone die?" she raised an eyebrow. "And, aniki. Stop growing mushrooms, please. You're freaking people out."
"Dear Sakuno was abducted from us!" Marui exclaimed dramatically. "And she was frowning deeply! Kami-sama had betrayed us all for making Sakuno frown! We can't let this happen! We just can't! Please, Rikku! Do something about it! I can't stand a day without spending it with her!" he kneeled on the ground and started making sobbing sounds.
Everyone had large sweatdrops dangling above their heads. 'Sugar rush,' they all thought.
"Chillax, Marui-senpai," Rikku grinned at her senpai and then at everyone else. "I'm not a student council officer for nothing!"
- - - - -
Mini-Olympics (additional teams)
Basketball: Momoshiro, Yagyuu, girl1, girl2, girl3
Volleyball: Kuwabara, Oishi, Kaidoh, girl4, girl5, girl6
Track and Field: Kikumaru, girl7
Swimming: Sanada, girl8
Tennis: boy1, girl9
Basketball: Echizen, Marui, girl10, girl11, girl12
Volleyball: Yukimura, Kawamura, Inui, girl13, girl14
Track and Field: Niou, girl15
Swimming: Tezuka, girl16
Tennis: boy2, Osakada
"No need to thank me, everyone!" Rikku grinned after handing out the paper containing the distribution of players.
"Thank you?!" Niou glared daggers at his kouhai. "You didn't even put anyone for tennis except Osakada-san! No offense," he turned to Tomoka who was about to retort, "And you put me in track and field?!"
"Rikku! Why am I on the same team with this shorty!" Marui pointed at Echizen. "I demand to get a new teammate!"
Rikku's grin turned upside down. "Stop complaining, senpai! Don't you think the main event would spice up even more with how I twisted things? Leave it to me to keep things interesting! Everyone would love it and everything will turn out alright!" Then that smile appeared again. "Trust me."
"Who would earn more squeals when in trunks? Sanada or Tezuka?" Inui muttered to himself. "This is a must see, don't you think so, Renji? Yanagi nodded and began furiously scribbling on his data notebook.
Tomoka suddenly stomped her foot to gain everyone's attention. "Ne, don't be such party-poopers! You all agreed on this, so no backing out now! And we're doing this for Sakuno-chan, ne? She wouldn't want to see everyone frowning while playing with her out there! She'd like us to have fun!"
"I agree with Osakada-san," Oishi voiced out with conviction and his eyes twinkling. "And we need to show Ryuzaki-san that Seigaku and Rikkai Dai can work together! Fighting would only make her frown. That's why our job today is to work as a team to bring that smile back on her face—"
"Where is Fuji-senpai?" Echizen cut in shamelessly.
"Now that you mentioned it, he's not even in the list!" Marui cried aghast. "And Kirihara, too!"
Both Echizen and Marui looked at each other. Why was it they felt that they had just been outwitted?
"Kirihara was my chosen player. As for Fuji… he asked if he could replace me for this event," Yukimura admitted. "Two members from each team were required, and I gave in since I didn't really feel like having a tennis match today."
Marui gasped, feeling betrayed. "Yukimura! How could you?!"
The blue-haired bishounen shrugged and smiled apologetically, "I'm sorry, Marui. But I guess it was because he asked kindly."
"The Mini-Olympics will start in a few moments! All teams please go to the soccer field for a briefing of the main event. Thank you."
"I guess we better settle the competition out there," Ryoma muttered as he was the first to head towards the assembly place. His golden cat-like eyes were smoldering with passion. "Watch out, Kirihara, Fuji-senpai."
- - - - -
"Why is Sakuno-chan frowning?"
"Do you think Kirihara and she fought?"
"I just hope things would be better at the end of the day…"
Sakuno pretended to be completely unaware that she was the hot topic among the students. She passed by them, with that frown still on her face. She still couldn't get over the fact that she was going to spend the day playing tennis, mixing chemicals and cooking for the fair competitions instead of being with her friends.
All contestants for the Mini-Olympics were now assembled on the open field. She chose to stay at the end of the line of her team to avoid being the center of attention if the KiriSaku fan base decided to attack again. Since she was at the back, she couldn't really hear the line-up of players for each team. All she knew was that she was part of China and was playing for tennis. And to her, that really was the only thing she needed to know. As bad as it may sound, what she really looked forward to was the end of all commitments of participation in the fair, so that she could spend the little time she was going to have with Tomoka, Rikku, Seigaku and the Rikkai Dai regulars. Now that she thought about it, she dreaded the start of the Christmas break. Everyone was bound to get busy soon enough and would rather do more important things than spend time with her.
Sakuno pulled her braids, frustrated. She really was selfish! She does not own her friends, so she had no right to claim them by thinking that they'd all leave everything for her and choose to stay by her side always!That was impossible! The world did not revolve around Ryuzaki Sakuno!
'Dear Kami… even now, their voice still haunts me' Sakuno thought with a sigh. She really was hopeless without them.
"There goes Fuji-senpai's voice again…" she muttered to herself as she buried her face in her hands. "D-Do I really long for them… for him… that much?" 'I'm becoming very dependent of them!' She suddenly heard chuckles from behind her, but she chose to ignore it. She still thought that her ears were playing tricks on her, and that Kami really was bored to make her go so paranoid about her friends.
"I'm very flattered that you long for me," Sakuno stiffened when she felt a hot breath tickling the shell of her ear, "But you don't know how much I long for you more, Sakuno…"
The girl turned around, only to find herself face to face (and nose to nose) with Fuji-senpai, his face only a fraction of a breath away from her. If she made even the smallest movement of leaning forward, their lips would already have been in contact. Sakuno instantly blushed and backed away from her smiling senpai.
"A-Ano... F-Fuji-senpai, w-w-what a-are y-you d-d-oing h-here?" Sakuno was on the roll in stuttering.
Fuji, being Fuji, didn't really have a hard time processing what his kouhai just said. "I'm on your team." He smiled handsomely, his cerulean orbs shining magnificently.
Sakuno could have sworn she heard giggling somewhere behind them. She definitely hoped it was not going to be a FujiSaku fan club this time. She didn't know what she'd do to survive if there was an additional group of people going to torture her for the rest of her stay in Rikkai Dai… which would be for three more years and two terms. Good luck to her if ever that happened.
"B-But I thought that non-Rikkai students weren't allowed to join," Sakuno said confused.
Fuji suddenly looked as if Christmas had just been cancelled. "You don't want me to be on your team, Sakuno-chan? I'm hurt."
Sakuno flailed her hands, and her face burning, "N-No! T-That w-wasn't what I meant, F-Fuji-senpai! I-I d-didn't mean it like that…"
His kouhai had never looked so cute. Sakuno was currently wearing a shirt too huge for her that had China written on it. With the length of her shirt, it was as if she wasn't wearing any skirt. He restrained himself from sealing the distance between them to stop her adorable stuttering with a chaste kiss. Kirihara had had his chance, didn't he? He couldn't just let him have Sakuno like that… The braided auburn-head standing just in front of him –who was still vehemently defending her previous statement- was his most treasured friend. But being reminded that she is indeed his most precious friend, he knew she won't approve of such a gesture. Not when she was obviously so confused of everything at the moment.
"I know, Sakuno-chan… I know," Fuji reached out to pat his kouhai's head instead and smiled.
Sakuno brightened up a bit and returned his smile. She hesitated to touch the hand on her head at first, but relented soon enough. Fuji was surprised when Sakuno gently clasped his hand. He loved seeing that sweet smile on her face. He hadn't seen all day. "I-It's just that if I knew the competition was open to everyone, and then I would have asked the others to join, too..."
"Maybe you don't have to," Fuji said, surprising Sakuno a bit. He pointed at the group of newcomers entering the soccer field.
Sakuno's eyes widened.
"Presenting the additional teams for the Mini-Olympics: Egypt and Greece," the game-coordinator announced which caused a loud eruption of murmurs and whispers amongst the crowd.
The Seigaku and Rikkai Dai regulars, alongside Tomoka and Rikku, entered the scene full force. Sakuno couldn't believe her eyes that she had stared at them for an incredibly long time. When she happened to meet Rikku's gaze though, her Rikkai Dai best friend winked, and at that, all confusion disappeared.
Sakuno's smile was as bright as the morning sun.
Fuji liked that. And he seemed to savor another fact even more: Sakuno had not let go of his hand.
'Score'. He couldn't stop from smiling like an idiot himself.
- - - - -
"I never knew that Ryuzaki was that good," Echizen told himself as he watched the said girl returning the tricky lob with an impressive smash.
There was an on-going match between China and Japan at the moment. Ryuzaki as the representative of the former and Takagi, the girl's tennis club team captain, as the representative of the latter. It had been such a surprise to everyone that Sakuno was able to keep up with Takagi, not when she looked like such a fragile person who was known for her blushes and stutters. But it was a different Ryuzaki Sakuno in the courts at the moment. The Ryuzaki Sakuno in the courts was a fine tennis player who was finally showing the fruits of her hard work. The hard work the Seigaku regulars had taken for granted before her transfer.
"Maybe because you spent most of your time not giving a damn about anything aside from your tennis when she was still in Seigaku."
Ryoma scowled when he saw the Rikkai Dai volley specialist- who popped out all of a sudden- look at him smugly. Instead of taking the bait for a verbal brawl, he lowered his cap instead and said, "Mada mada dane."
Marui turned to the tennis courts where Sakuno was currently, and his expression instantly softened at the sight of the auburn-head. She was panting heavily as sweat profusely dripped from her face… but there was that bright smile on her face. And she had never looked more beautiful with that lost spirit finally back with her. She was shining!
"7-6. Game set match. Ryuzaki wins!"
An onslaught of cheers followed right after as all of China (the Mini-Olympics team, mind you) all rushed to hug her. Ryoma's eyes narrowed when he caught a glimpse of a familiar brunet cuddling Sakuno. 'Fuji-senpai…' He growled.
"Hey Echizen. We're up." Marui said before turning away, still looking calm. But in the inside, he was very, very angry. 'You're going down, Fuji, Kirihara…'
- - - - -
(Date: December 10. Location: Rikkai Dai Fuzoku Fun Fair. Event: Modified Olympics which is only inclusive of the sports Basketball, Volleyball, Track and Field, Swimming and Tennis.)
Basketball - Greece vs. Egypt (Finals)
(1) 22.45% chance Momoshiro would lead Egypt to victory with a series of dunks.
(2) 35.75% chance that Echizen would burden Greece with his height disadvantage.
(3) 41.80% chance that the rivalry between Echizen and Marui to Ryuzaki's heart would affect Greece's team play.
Hypothesis: Egypt will claim the championship.
(1) The point-guard passes the ball to Yagyuu when Egypt is in their arc (which surrounds the two-three defense position of Greece). Yagyuu passes to Momoshiro -who makes a "C cut" behind the players of Greece positioned under the basket- and dunks.
(2) Greece tightens their defense when Egypt drives the ball near their basket. Greece takes an offensive strategy of man-to-man. Momoshiro on Greece's (girl) team captain, Marui on Yagyuu and Echizen on the smallest (girl) player of the other team.
(3) In the second quarter of the game, Greece breaks Egypt's strategy. Yagyuu passes the ball to Momoshiro, but Greece's team captain blocks it. She passes to Echizen- who was the only player open- and attempts to drive the ball to the other side of the court. It slips. Egypt's wing player steals the ball and passes it to their point guard. The point guard passes it straight to Momoshiro who aims to get a three-point shot. It goes in.
*extra: Marui looked ready to kill Echizen.
(4) Break. Greece teaches Echizen how to dribble. After ten-minute break, team Greece's positions get jumbled up in the second half. Echizen becomes point guard. Marui becomes wing player.
*side-comment: Definitely a wrong move. Echizen still has problems dribbling the ball.
(5) Greece's strategy was underestimated by Egypt who solely focused on attacking the rest of the game. Marui works on stealing the ball from Egypt and passes to their team captain. The ball is passed around among the Greece members until Egypt takes the bait and loosens their defense on Echizen. Marui passed the ball to Greece's shortest player. Echizen surprisingly manages to drive the ball to the basket and does a lay up. It doesn't go in. Marui gets the rebound and passes to Echizen one more time. Echizen aims for a two-point shot. It goes in.
*side-comment: MISCALCULATION! MISCALCULATION! MISCALCULATION!
Miscalculation: Echizen and Marui work well together.
Conclusion: Greece wins with a score of 50 to 46.
*side-comment: At least we won… even if I miscalculated.
Volleyball – Greece vs. USA (Finals)
(1) 100% chance that Yukimura will unleash his hidden volleyball talent.
(2) 100% chance that hyper Kawamura will be unleashed as long as the team manages to convince the coordinators that he will hold a racket but will not use it to physically attack the other team.
(3) 100% chance that my data is 100% correct.
Hypothesis: Greece will claim the championship.
Miscalculation: Team USA withdraws because of everyone in the team having a 'tummy ache'.
*side-comment: Highly suspicious. But I'm thankful.
Conclusion: Greece wins by default.
*side-comment: This is the second time I miscalculated today. Something's wrong with me.
Track and Field – (Set 1: Boys)
(1) 20.30% chance that Kikumaru's weak stamina will be a strong disadvantage.
(2) 79.70% chance that Niou will use 'tactics' to eliminate his opponents.
*side-comment: This shows that he is very insecure about the others and knows that he is very bad in track and field. His earlier protest with Kirihara Rikku proves that theory. Such an immoral chicken—
"Hey! That's below the belt!" Niou roared while clutching the green notebook tightly. He sighed when he had given his position away and caught Inui's attention… who currently looked like he was going to murder him.
"I believe you have something that belongs to me," Inui started, his tone eerie. "An item I have desperately been looking for since awhile ago." Inui's look darkened, every passing moment seemingly transfiguring him into a monster.
Niou shivered at the sight and at the thought that he was going to drop his juice (poison!) in his water jug any time soon. The data man may even ask for Yanagi's help. And as far as Niou could remember, he owes Yanagi a few bucks. The Rikkai Dai data man was definitely not going to be on his side. Deciding quickly, he shoved the green notebook back to Inui and ran who-knows-where.
It took some time for Inui to calm himself down. "Now to check on Tezuka and Sanada and see who earns the most squeals…" he said as he headed towards the swimming pools. Just as he was passing by the tennis courts, he was surprised to see a set of familiar people lingering in the area. He instantly dove behind a nearby bush, perched his ears and poised his pen on top of his already open data notebook.
- - - - -
"Congratulations on your win, Ryoma-kun, Bunta-kun," Sakuno tried her best to keep her gaze in level with their amused ones. She had actually turned a deep shade of red the moment the two looked like they were just handed a billion yen at the sight of her.
"Ne… You stopped us just to say that?" Echizen smirked.
Marui did not hesitate to hit the smaller boy on the head. "Idiot! She's already congratulating us and that's what you say!" Then he turned to the surprised Sakuno and smiled brightly, "I'm glad you took the time to watch the championship, Sakuno! I never knew you were fan of basketball!" he laughed lightly.
Sakuno smiled wider, "Neither have I know that you are both amazing players," she remarked which caused to the boys to blush slightly. "Ano… I'm happy that you played so good as a team," she muttered with a growing blush. "Actually, I'm glad that everyone's working well together. H-Honestly… I've always looked forward to this day since transferring… the day when Seigaku and Rikkai Dai would finally be at ease with each other," she said softly, her eyes on her fidgeting hands.
When she looked up, she was surprised to see both boys warmly smiling at her. She blushed at the sight of two handsome boys smiling because of her… and for her.
"You do know that I won't pair up with any of them if it weren't for you," Ryoma said nonchalantly as if what he just said usually popped up in casual conversations.
"This is all for you, Sakuno," Marui breathed. He intended to reach for Sakuno's hand for the second time that day when Echizen wisely placed himself in between the other two. Marui twitched. But he wasn't going to give up. "Sakuno, would you like to take a break and eat some cakes with me and the others? I can't wait to eat cakes again!" He went around Echizen and quickly grabbed Sakuno's hand before the tennis prince beat him to it. "And of course, to show the others that you're smiling again!"
"A-Ano… I don't think I can stay long, Bunta-kun—"
"There you are, Sakuno-chan."
Marui and Echizen flinched at the 'chan'. It was at that they immediately knew who the newcomer was.
"Fuji-senpai," Sakuno said when her brunet senpai stopped right in front of her. "Ano… Is there something wrong?" she asked worriedly. Her hand was already released from Marui's hold.
"There is a team meeting for later's finals. I was asked to look for you since you're my teammate," Fuji turned smug when he felt Marui and Echizen's ominous auras. "Come on then, something important has to be said," he ushered and casually took Sakuno's hand in his.
Marui and Echizen looked ready to kill, but softened their expressions when Sakuno looked over her shoulder and said, "See you around, Ryoma-kun, Bunta-kun."
There was an uncomfortable silence during Sakuno and Fuji's walk. They had turned several heads when they passed by the booths and Fuji had not released her hand only when they have reached the shade of one of the big trees in a deserted area just beside the open field. There were beautiful flowerbeds just beside it which made the place look so lovely. Though Sakuno was surprised to find it empty.
"Ano… Fuji-senpai, are you sure the meeting's in here?" Sakuno asked softly as she scanned the area. "No one's in here." Then she turned to Fuji right after. She was taken aback by the intensity of his gaze.
"Sakuno-chan… I lied to you about the meeting." Fuji's cerulean orbs were shining brightly under the afternoon sun.
Sakuno looked confused. "What do you mean, senpai? Why did you bring me here then?"
"There is still something important that you need to know though…" he whispered as he started to approach the girl in front of him. He inched his face towards Sakuno's starting to burn one until they were nose to nose. "I like you very much, Sakuno."
With wide eyes, the auburn-head looked back at Fuji's sincere gaze. "F-Fuji-senpai—"
Fuji leaned in towards Sakuno and completely sealed her lips with his. The contact was brief, but sweet that it took the girl quite a while to comprehend what just happened. "And I hope you do, too…" he breathed on her lips.
Sakuno turned an incredible shade of red. "A-Ano… W-Why are you… W-What does this… D-Do you really…" She stopped when she realized it was hopeless completing her sentences.
Fuji was clearly amused at everything. "Saa… Sakuno-chan. Since you can't finish sentences, I will kiss you again. If you kiss back, that means it's a 'yes' and if you don't, then it's a 'no'." He suddenly looked serious as if their lives actually depended on Sakuno's answer.
'W-What?!' Sakuno was blushing to root's end at Fuji's proposal! "A-Ano…" Fuji was already leaning towards her once more when,
"Contestants for the Science Contest, please head towards the Science Laboratory now. I repeat, contestants for the Science Contest, please head towards the Science Laboratory now. Thank you! Oh, and this is Kirihara Rikku by the way."
- - - - -
"Eh? Sakuno-chan won't be with us even if it's break?!"
Several heads turned towards their table at the sudden outburst. Tomoka embarrassedly took a slice of her cake and pretended she wasn't the one who just shouted awhile ago. Marui nodded and munched on another slice to ease his depression. The others were also busy eating their snacks and digesting the information about Sakuno in silence. The Mini-Olympics had surprisingly been very tiresome that they all decided to take a break in the cake shop and regain their energy for the rest of the day.
"According to my data, it is for the reason that Ryuzaki-san is also a participant in the Science and Cooking Contest," Inui said all of a sudden.
"Science Contest?" Echizen repeated incredulously.
"Cooking Contest?!" Marui jumped from his seat.
"That is what I just said, Echizen, Marui," Inui replied which earned him glares from both boys. "And believe it or not, but my data says that you two have gotten less hostile with each other now. Could it be that your affection for Ryuzaki-san has shifted to each other instead?"
Both boys choked on their cakes and instantly cried, "Hell no!" The others were amused at both boys' reaction, for in the next moment, the two seated themselves as far as they could from each other.
"Shall we go and watch Sakuno-chan's contest then?" Tomoka piped in all of a sudden after everything had settled down.
It wasn't long before everyone headed towards the Science Laboratory. The mixture of smells that greeted them was very much repulsive, especially right after eating. Despite this though, they still insisted on entering and took their seats on the empty chairs for the audience. And currently, there was a huge number of people. Who knew that so many people would stand sitting inside a laboratory and do nothing but watch other people mix chemicals?
"Kya! Sakuno-chan looks so cute when coughing like that!"
Tomoka and the tennis regulars should have known. They all looked horrified at the crowd of girls madly giggling at a very flustered Sakuno currently pouring a red liquid inside an Erlenmeyer flask. They seriously didn't get what was so pleasing with the sight of a girl wheezing at the pungent odor of the 'who-knows-what' she's brewing. Everyone became worried when Sakuno began coughing again.
"FIGHT-O! FIGHT-O! SAKUNO-CHAAAAAN!" Tomoka screamed her lungs out and stood on top of one of the tables. She started doing some cheer dance moves despite the sudden looks she was receiving.
"You can do it, Ryuzaki!"
"Go! Go! Go!"
"Kick some ass with your chemicals, Ryuzaki-san—"
"Momoshiro! Watch your language!"
Sakuno laughed when she saw her friends get a scolding from the teacher-in-charge. Just when things were starting to look impossible, they came and made things look possible. Sakuno smiled the rest of the contest at that thought.
- - - - -
To be honest, she was tired. Right after the Science Contest, she was immediately on her feet to head back towards the open field were the venue for the Cooking Contest was already set up. She knew that her senpai-tachi, Tomoka and Ryoma-kun were tailing behind her, but they were considerate enough not to interfere with her schedule. As soon as she reached the open fields, the contest briefing began and she was handed her apron.
"Kya! You look so cute in that apron, Sakuno-chan!"
Sakuno tried her best to concentrate on the crème brulee she was making, but that intense blush was evident on her face. In reality, she did not only have a group of girls adoring her, but also boys which you could actually consider as her fan club.
"Dude. How I wish I'd wake up in the morning and have Sakuno-chan greet me in the morning with a tray of breakfast."
"Heh, if ever Sakuno-chan gives you a breakfast in bed, I bet you won't even be too keen in tasting the breakfast anymore. Sakuno-chan would be tastier, ne?"
Sakuno almost cut her finger after hearing that statement.
Echizen, Fuji and Marui were restrained by the others from strangling the living daylights out of those perverted boys. After being restrained, the three decided to do something else to make Sakuno feel better. As a form of support, Marui squished himself in the middle of the thick crowd and cried, "Sakuno makes the best cakes in the world and how lucky I am to have been one of the few who tasted it already!"
Sakuno blushed upon hearing this. Then she was surprised when Echizen stealthily slipped beside her to grab one of the muffins she finished making and shamelessly popped one in his mouth. There was a wave of gasps from the audience at the audacity of the tennis prince to climb the stage, much lest rub it in everyone's faces that he had just eaten one of Sakuno's muffins.
Sakuno's blushed intensified. And from a distance, she suddenly saw Fuji-senpai walking out from behind the bushes looking satisfied. Realization hit her and she quickly searched for the boys who said she would be tasty. They were gone. When Fuji met her gaze, he smiled at her and gave her a thumbs-up.
Sakuno's fatigue was slowly ebbing away. And to her, even if she wasn't completely spending time with them and they weren't standing on stage with her (well, maybe except for Echizen who was still busy munching on some cupcakes), she felt their presence and full support.
Having them as her friends, Ryuzaki Sakuno must be the luckiest girl in the world.
- - - - -
"Calling Fuji Syusuke of China and Kirihara Akaya of USA. Calling Fuji Syusuke of China and Kirihara Akaya of USA. Please proceed to Court B for the Tennis Championships of the Mini-Olympics."
Sakuno smiled when Fuji passed by her to head towards the courts, "Good luck, Fuji-senpai." Fuji nodded and smiled back. Sakuno noted down the number of people who came to watch the match. It seemed that the mention of Seigaku's famed tennis tensai and Rikkai Dai's prized junior ace having a match caught lots of attention. Students who were previously just idly going around the booths were now surrounding Court B, all of them thrilled to see the highlight of the Mini-Olympics.
'I haven't seen Kirihara-senpai the entire day," Sakuno looked at the messy-haired boy who surprisingly looked pre-occupied. She was instantly worried for him. Then, she was surprised at the appearance of Rikku right behind him. And it reminded her that the last time she had seen her Rikkai Dai best friend was that morning. 'Could Rikku-chan be the tennis finalist of USA?'
"Senpai…" The tall boy- who was currently fixated on Kirihara and Fuji exchanging handshakes- turned to the tiny auburn-head beside him. "May I go to the restroom?"
He gave her a curt nod, "Just be sure to come back before your game…"
- - - - -
"I haven't seen you all day, Kirihara," Fuji remarked with a taunting grin as he reached out for a handshake.
Kirihara scowled, but returned the handshake with a firm grip nevertheless. "I was preparing to beat you to a pulp, Fuji."
The Seigaku tennis tensai opened his eyes. His smile was still there though, "Let's see, Kirihara… Let's see…" Were his last words before they both went to their side of the court.
Kirihara was first to serve. He positioned himself and prepared to do his famous Knuckle Serve. "You definitely will see, Fuji," he muttered before throwing the ball and hitting it.
- - - - -
The cheers and applause were deafening.
It even echoed inside the girl's bathroom that Sakuno instantly panicked when she realized she was missing the heat of the game. She quickly splashed some water to her face to keep her awake for the rest of the day. Because honestly, she did not know how long she was going to last after everything that happened that morning. As soon as she stepped out of the restroom though, there was surprisingly a group of girls who blocked her way. Sakuno inwardly groaned. She seriously had had enough of attention for the day!
"Ano… excuse me… I-I might not be able to return in time for my game," she said rather urgently.
"You really are full of yourself," the girl spat back with a sneer. "You think that you're so good and that everyone loves you, ne?" Her company laughed when Sakuno recoiled from the intimidating aura they were giving off.
"I-I never thought of things that way," she said in defense, her face growing worried.
"Oh, but it appears like that. You're head had gotten big when Kirihara-kun kissed you, huh? You think you're so lucky just because you kissed him!" the girl cried. It scared Sakuno that the hysterical girl suddenly rushed towards her and started pulling her braids. "You think that you're somebody, don't you?"
Sakuno felt like crying, "P-Please…"
The girl pulled even more which caused Sakuno's knees to buckle, "But when in reality, you will be nothing if it weren't for your friends!" Was the last thing Sakuno heard.
Then everything went black.
- - - - -
Taking a deep breath, Rikku stepped inside the designated court for the final match of the Mini-Olympics. The wave of murmurs and chatter heightened when that happened, for everyone was well aware that the next match was going to be as intense as the previous one. This was the fated re-match Sakuno and she promised to have. Even if she looked composed on the outside, in the inside, she was brimming with excitement at the anticipated match! Realizing that her opponent had not yet entered the courts, she shifted her gaze towards where China (the team, people!) was. And from where she was standing, she could see them panicking.
Rikku's eyebrows knotted. 'Where are you, Sakuno?'
- - - - -
All tennis regulars and Tomoka immediately headed out to search for their friend. The first five minutes of Sakuno's no-show after the announcement, they were all instantly on their feet. Even Fuji and Kirihara joined in the search despite both of them being fresh from a tiring game.
Kirihara Akaya was furious. His game with Fuji ended with a score of 7-6, and it really wasn't such a good result after all the practice he had to go through for the rest of the day. It was a close battle, and he would have won against him if it weren't for the crowd's jibes of: 'Go Akaya-kun! Make Sakuno-chan proud!'. Of course Fuji would be 100 percent serious for that!
And right at that moment, he was even more furious… and worried. He didn't know if it was instinct or what, but had a bad feeling with Sakuno's absence. He did not even know what brought him to the girl's restroom right behind the tennis courts. It only took him one glance to confirm his worrisome thoughts.
He paled at the sight of Sakuno lying unconscious on the cold tiles of the empty girl's restroom.
Kirihara effortlessly lifted the auburn-head from the floor and carried her bridal style. The moment they were exposed to everyone else in the school grounds, the sight of a seemingly lifeless Sakuno in the arms of the sickly worried Kirihara spurred different reactions.
"What happened to Sakuno-chan?!"
"Oh my gosh! Akaya-kun looks so worried with Sakuno-chan fainted like that! It must be love!"
Kirihara recognized the voices of Tomoka, Rikku and the Seigaku and Rikkai Dai regulars upon transit towards the infirmary. But he did not spare them even a moment to explain or whatnot because his current objective was to bring Sakuno to a nurse as soon as possible.
- - - - -
"Poor, poor Sakuno-chan, nya!" She must have been so tired after all the contests she joined today."
"And it was supposed to be a fun day for her! But it turned out like this…"
"We not anticipating her fatigue and letting this happen are much worse than failing to make her smile."
"Shhhhh… She's waking up—"
Sakuno's eyes snapped open. The first thing she saw was the white ceilings of the infirmary… and then suddenly her vision turned into heads looking down on her with relieved faces. "H-Hey, minna…" she mumbled softly and tried sitting up. And when she had done so, she was instantly glomped and hugged from all sides.
"Kirihara-kun brought you here," the nurse said.
Sakuno blushed. "R-Really?" 'I haven't talked to him for the entire day…' she thought sadly.
"We were so worried!" Tomoka said as soon as she released her friend from her fierce embrace, also breaking Sakuno from her trance about Kirihara. "Well, not everyone's here right now." Sakuno's momentary happiness disappeared in a flash. It was only then she realized that only Oishi, Kikumaru, Kaidoh, Momoshiro, Yagyuu, Niou, Jackal and Sanada were there.
Oishi quickly supplied the answer to Sakuno's obvious confusion, "The teachers and the school nurse had a hard time convincing them to get out for the awarding ceremony…"
"But they did not relent because of those reasons," Yagyuu added.
"They wanted to give you rest," Sanada remarked.
"Especially ochibi, Fujiko, Marui and Kirihara, nya!" Kikumaru exclaimed and earned himself a glare from the school nurse. He softened his voice, "They know they're too restless for their own good… but honestly, they were the hardest to convince at first." He winked knowingly.
"Actually, even you're supposed to be outside, Ryuzaki-chan," Niou piped in. "You've won quite a few awards."
Sakuno blinked, "Hah?"
- - - - -
"Winner of the Science Contest… even if she's not here, let us please give a round of applause for Ryuzaki Sakuno—"
"Wait! She's here! She's here!"
Just when everyone was about to put their hands together, they all turned around to where the voice came from. Ryuzaki Sakuno was being supported by eight burly boys and a hyperactive girl friend, just in case she was to faint again.
And at that, she carefully climbed the stage and received the trophy graciously. Rikku was smiling in relief from the line of student council officers on stage. From a distance, Echizen, Fuji, Marui, Kirihara, Tezuka, Yukimura, Kawamura, Inui also brightened when they saw Sakuno walk on stage.
'It's good to see her fine,' Kirihara thought to himself… even if he regretted that he wasn't by her side when she had woken up. The sight of her unconscious made him want to hurt someone all of a sudden. His worry for her was that bad. He glanced to his side and glanced at Echizen, Fuji and Marui briefly. They were all so lucky to have spent some time with Sakuno for the day.
A loud roar of applause echoed throughout the school grounds.
Several hands were extended to her when she was on her way down, and she thanked all those who showed their concern with a blush and a smile on her face.
"Winner of the Cooking Contest… once again! Ryuzaki Sakuno!"
Another wave of applause resounded throughout Rikkai Dai.
After receiving her second trophy, she was about to head down. When she was on stage for the second time that was the only moment she located where the rest of her friends were, and she intended to go to them and personally approach Kirihara and thank him when Rikku grabbed her arm and pulled her back on stage.
Rikku smiled at her friend…and then hugged her. "It's good that you're alright now…" she whispered before returning to look at the entire student body and announced, "Here is this year's Bachelorette!"
Another round applause.
"…and I would like to call on stage the winner of this year's 'The Bachelorette' contest, Kirihara Akaya!"
A sudden boom of giggles erupted which caused both Kirihara and Sakuno to redden.
As he walked on stage, he ignored the envious gazes he was receiving from the male population of the school, the awe-struck squeals from the KiriSaku fan base and the murderous glares he was receiving from Echizen, Fuji and Marui.
"The prize would be a date with Sakuno-chan in an amusement park for the entire day!"
Kirihara couldn't believe his luck. 'Oh, life is good…'
- - - - -
To be continued…
A/N: Still the same reason for the wait! I'm really so sorry! Even if it's summer, somehow, I find it hard to keep the creative juices flowing, y'know? I think it's because I'm too worried about the upcoming college entrance exams… (sighs) Well, good luck to me. Anyway! I hope you guys liked it. It was INCREDIBLY long, I know. But then again, since when were my chapters short, ne? Please review and tell me what you think!
P.S.: By the way, I'm extending the voting. I know, I know. I'm so mean. But I can't help but feel overwhelmed with my choices sometimes. I'm still so confused! I think it's because the competition really is tight! Look at this:
The poll in my profile will be up for another week, so if you still want your votes to count, go to my profile and pick the boy you would like to end up with Sakuno-chan! Arigatou gozaimasu!!!
P.P.S.: This chapter hasn't been beta-ed yet! So I apologize for the grammatical errors and etc.