Sharp squeaks of shoes dragging along the floor and the constant rhythm of a ball repeatedly hitting a surface captured his curiosity. It was raining, and there was no shelter in sight, so who could be playing a ball game outdoors? The sky had darkened to an angry grey, raindrops mystifying the whole area.
Fuji Syusuke was drenched.
It wasn't his fault that he had lent Eji his umbrella thinking that the storm would clear up after he stayed back for a while. In fact, it had gotten heavier than before but he really needed to go home. Yuuta was coming home today and no way was he going to miss the chance to welcome him back.
With his tennis back slung over his shoulder, Fuji resigned to his fate and began his wet way back. But the suspicious noises of a tennis practice piped his interest. Playing in the rain was dangerous, and to no use – after all, tennis matches were cancelled when raining or played indoors.
Few minutes later, he found himself standing in front of a wall. A girl was dashing side to side, expertly hitting the ball right in the center of the wall, each time hitting the exact same spot. It is quite a feat to do such a thing in the rain. The ball would have an unpredictable mass every time it bounced off the floor, either soaking in more water or forcing some out.
The girl had noticed his arrival, he was sure of it. True enough, the girl caught the ball and turned to face him.
The Girl's POV
Sixty-five, sixty-six, sixty-seven…
It's raining but I'm playing tennis against a wall. Crazy, aren't I?
You would too actually, if tennis was your only way to vent out your frustrations. My smart parents had decided to move back to Japan after staying in Singapore for 15 years. Which is all my life so far. I love Japan, I really do. But telling me that I would start my life here from now on today is kind of overboard.
Last week, I reached Japan as a tourist. I've been bugging my parents for 4 years to bring me here on holiday. A proper holiday that did not involve business parties and meetings. So this was a real nice surprise from them. What was not nice was telling me today we are officially living here.
I mean... my friends? I never had the chance to tell them. Heck, I didn't even know. I have their contacts but saying "Oh, I'm living in Japan now." isn't the everyday sort of thing.
Speaking of friends... tomorrow's my first day of school. Seishun Gakuen or something like that. Dad said they have a pretty strong tennis team, which is good. But I hate being the new girl so I'm hoping this practice would earn me a cold or fever at least.
I heard some footsteps behind me and immediately knew I had an audience. As much I would like to hit the 100th ball, I can't concentrate until I know who that is behind me. Stopping the rhythm (what a waste) I turned around.
"Miss?" I approached her. "You should get home lest you fall sick."
"That's what I'm trying to do," she stated flatly, whilst eyeing my tennis bag. "Who are you anyway?"
"Fuji Syusuke," I flashed my usual smile.
"Do you attend school around here?" I asked.
"I was just informed that today."
So she was a foreigner. Apparently she wasn't happy about something.
"Then where are you from?"
She seemed surprised. "You understood that?"
"Are you saying I have such a low intelligence level that I couldn't understand simple Japanese?"
"Um, no. Just that.. never mind."
Of course I knew what she was talking about, her answer are so vague but straight to the point. But teasing her proved to have considerable results.
"I'm from Singapore, a Japanese-Chinese."
Well. This Fuji Syusuke is certainly no normal teenager. No one has yet to keep up with the weird way I answer stuff but he proved me wrong just by interpreting the "I was just informed that today" remark. Anyone else would have gone 'huh?' or "You've just moved here?" not replying with a "You've-just immigrated-here-and you're-starting-school-tomorrow" kind of tone.
"So how about a match?" I offered.
"If you noticed, there is no proper court in sight. Plus the weather isn't appropriate," he pointed out.
"It's a challenge. First to hit a hundred times on the exact same spot on the wall wins. If you miss the spot you have to start over."
When a tensai is offered a challenge (by a girl no less) there is no way Fuji could turn it down.
"Winner gets the other to do anything for them?" Fuji suggested, his sadistic side was showing out.
Riska nodded in agreement and they got ready to start.
"One, two, three.. start!"
The two players ran back and forth to catch the ball. It was harder this time as the running space was smaller. Risaka kept up a fast constant speed while Fuji, who had never done this before, was behind her by 5 counts slowly getting used to it.
Pok. Pok. Pok. Pok.
In the end, Fuji won by 8 counts, as he sped up the last second.
"You are good at this," commented Risaka as they shook hands. "So what do you want me to do?"
"Go home and take a hot shower."
"Ok then. Nice meeting you, Syusuke. See you around."
And she jogged off.
What a waste of a perfectly good opportunity. Well, lucky for me. I should have brought my camera. When I called him "Syusuke", his eyes opened for the first time and they are so pretty! How does he see with his eyes closed anyway?
I could ask him next time, I thought, making my way home. The sky was clearing up and the rain droplets had reduced to a drizzle.
I could easily find him. The "Seigaku" printed on his track pants were such a dead giveaway.
"What an unusual girl," was Fuji's final thought as Risaka's back disappeared round the corner.
He had totally forgotten about Yuuta.
"Risa-chan! Where were you?!"
Rika opened the door to reveal her father sitting on the couch reading the newspapers.
"For the last time, it's Rika. Not Risa. Plus you don't seems very concerned," pointing a look at the comfortable position he was in on the couch.
Her father waved a hand dismissively. "Well, there isn't anywhere you could actually run off to…"
"What about Kei-chan's place?"
"Possible," He replied. "Except for the fact you don't know the way there, and you left your phone and wallet at home so you couldn't have called him to pick you up. Now go take a shower, Risa-chan."
"Fine, fine." Rika headed for her room.
After another Japanese dinner, Rika was pacing up and down the house wondering if she had forgotten to pack something for her first day at school.
"Stop worrying, dear." A very amused mother of Rika commented. Rika had been walking up and down the stairs taking stuff, and one minute later bringing them down muttering "no, not needed." "By the way," she continued, "Kei-chan called when you were out."
"And you tell me this, now?!"
Grabbing the nearest telephone, I dialed my cousin's number and waited for the annoying ring tone to end.
"Cut the ore-sama crap, Kei-chan." I rolled my eyes. Seriously, I didn't need that coming from someone I was close to.
"Ah. Imouto. How did you take the news?"
"Of me staying here for the rest of my life? Pretty good actually. Got over the whole shock thing with the help of a tennis challenge."
"Tennis challenge? Isn't it raining?"
"Some guy by the name of Fuji Syusuke played with me."
"Fuji Syusuke.. the name seems familiar to Ore-sama.."
"Atobe." A warning tone crept into my voice.
"Ah. He is from Seigaku?"
"Duh. 'Seigaku' was printed on his track pants."
"Then you would have met the tensai."
"Tensai? I thought Yuu-chan was the tensai." Yuu-chan, or Oshitari Yuushi was known as the tensai… or maybe so only at Hyotei?
"Risa-chan, have you been listening to my Hyotei-Seigaku matches?"
"Actually, no, because you go all 'ore-sama' on me."
A loud sigh could be heard over the line. I smiled.
"You remember Tezuka Kunimitsu then?"
"Of course." I swear beating Tezuka was the only goal in Kei-chan's life. ("What an insult to be played against with an injured arm.")
"Tezuka, the "undefeatable captain of Seigaku"..?"
"Yes, yes.. OH!" It suddenly became clear to me. All the stories I had sub-consciously listened to was coming back to me.
"Good. Now be a good girl and sleep. It's your first day at Seishun Gakuen tomorrow."
"Whatever Kei-chan. Night."
I arrived at Seigaku on time, in fact, I woke up extra early partly due to the fact that I couldn't sleep, and also I didn't want to be late. I had collected my schedule from the office and the secretary was walking me to my class.
Upon reaching my class, the secretary lightly shoved me into the classroom, causing the teacher to pause in mid-lecture and the whole class stopped and stared. Fixing my eyes on the teacher, I was determined not to let the eyes bother me. Luckily, the teacher got over her shock and warmly pulled me to the center.
"You must be Kurogen Risaka," she smiled. "I'm Katsuya Umede, your form."
Katsuya-sensei made me face the class, so I was forced to take a look at the students. Almost immediately, I spotted Syusuke sitting at the right hand corner near the window seat with his eyes open staring at me. Obviously he was surprised, and to see his eyes again : Score!
Introducing myself.. I hate this.
"Hi, call me Rika. I come from Singapore. I know English and Chinese as well. I play tennis."
I felt a nudge on my shoulder but I refused to speak.
"Since Kurogen has introduced herself, I hope you all will be kind to her. Now I need someone to show her a-"
Before Katsuya-sensei could finish her sentence, Fuji interrupted.
"Sensei? I could show her around. We've met before."
"Ok. That's settled, so Kurogen, please take the empty seat behind Fuji for the time being until the new seating arrangement is drawn up."
As I walked to my seat, many jealous looks were thrown at me from the girls of the class... Did it have something to do with Syusuke?
My seat was the last row at the right hand corner, near to a window.
"As I was saying," continued Katsuya-sensei. "The homework from the holidays is to be handed up by today, latest 2 pm. That being said, the first period is yours." And she settled into her chair, the front row students instantly asking her about her holidays.
Syusuke turned around and greeted me with that smile of his.
"You didn't tell me you were transferring here."
"You didn't ask." Was my reply. "I think you did something that caused all the girls in class to hate me, you know."
"Maa.. not all. Try the girl beside you."
I looked to my left. There sat a girl doodling in a book. She had her hair tied in a ponytail and she seemed oblivious to the world. Wanting to prove my point, I reached over and tapped her shoulder. She looked up and shot me a slight smile.
"Hey. Atsuki Miwako here."
"Ok, you don't seem to hate me.." I muttered to myself. Fuji smirked upon hearing it, but I noticed Miwako did too.
"Do you know why?"
"Let's just say your friend Fuji there has a very big fanbase." He had fangirls?! Well. Not surprising really. If Kei-chan had some, Syusuke would definitely have more.
"Nya! Introduce me Fujiko!" a red-haired person turned around from his seat in front Miwako.
"Kikumaru Eji, Risa-chan. Risa-chan, Kikumaru Eji." A subtle evil glint flashed in Fuji's otherwise innocent eyes. I mean, Risa-chan?!
"Wait... You're Kikumaru Eji?" remembering Kei-chan stories.. "You are one of the Golden Pair, right? Kikumaru-beam… fast reflexes, plays acrobatic tennis..." Gaku's rivial..
"Eh? How did you know?"
"Aa. You just came from Singapore didn't you?" questioned Fuji. "And you didn't know me yesterday."
"I didn't know that you were the one who made the Higuma Otoshi."
"Ah. Connections with Oshitari?"
"Miwako," I turned to her to ignore Fuji but she was absorbed in her drawing again. It was detailed portrait of a girl getting ready to hit an oncoming tennis ball.
"You play tennis too right?"
She blinked as she digested this. A full second later, she protested, "No! Who told you that?!"
"Then what is that you are drawing?"
"Anyone could have drawn this pose, Rika-san."
"No, someone who never played tennis would not know the exact grip, stance and power behind that shot, which is clearly expressed in your drawing, even if you were a superb observer. You need at least the basics to picture all this out perfectly."
"Miwako-san, why don't you just tell her?"
"Shush you Fuji Syususke or I'll tell your fangirls it would be a good idea to steal your clothes while you are showering," Threatened Miwako.
She hit me as the quiet type so this was totally unexpected from her. Fuji shut up right away.
"I take it they did something to scar you for life?" I raised an eyebrow.
Miwako laughed. "I told them Fuji liked girls who were assertive, and for two weeks Fuji was literally running for his life from one class to the next."
"Fujiko's fangirls are scary, nya." Agreed Eji. "They cornered me that week to demand why Fujiko was such in a hurry."
Sensing eyes on my back again, I knew it was the girls.
I am so going to be dead.