To Live Without You
Author's Note: To my faithful readers whom I adore. There is nothing that I can put into words to make me feel like I've said enough for this to be excusable. I do have to say that this was a hard chapter to write because I wanted it to be the best that it could be for you guys. I hope that you haven't given up completely on this story because like I've said before, I will finish this. It's a personal goal and I think I owe it to all of you too.
So, please enjoy this...
Disclaimer: The characters of Prince of Tennis do not belong to me but I do own the characters that you do not recognize as well as this plot.
Were you right? Was I wrong?
Were you weak? Was I strong?
Yeah, both of us broken, caught in a moment.
We lived and we loved and we hurt and we jumped, yeah.
But the planets all aligned when you looked into my eyes.
And just like that, the chemicals react.
- Chemicals React; Aly & AJ
Chapter 13: Winter Festival - Part 2
Selena ran her fingers over the gold-coloured clip that Rue had bought for her with a small smile. That was before Rue began to pull at her hair, fighting with it to lie down flat against her head like Rue wanted it to. Selena winced, as her head was tugged not-so gently as Rue fixed it with an elastic band.
"It wouldn't hurt so much if you had invited me to look for the kimono with you." Rue said in a tone that was too kind to be good.
Selena ignored the older girl's comment but felt her eyes water at the scent of the unfamiliar concoction that Rue put into her hair. "What is that?" She asked with her nose wrinkling in distaste.
"The smell will go away soon, Selena-chan."
"Not if I die first," Selena thought as Rue twisted her hair into a bun, using the clip to keep it intact.
"Touch it, you die." Rue said in a sickly sweet voice as she used two bobby pins to hold back Selena's bangs to the side.
"Hai," Selena muttered softly as she looked out her window.
The sun was already fading beneath the horizon at a much earlier time than when she had first arrived two months ago. The time didn't feel like it had gone like the calendars said it had; it was almost surreal.
Despite the slight throbbing of her scalp, Selena felt herself smile.
The crazy thing was that she had been on a handful of dates in her life but this one felt special. The boys she had gone out with were just persistent and made her resolve weaker against their many proposals until she said yes. Never had she felt excited about going out with a boy and instead usually felt like she wanted to drag Tina long to keep her entertained.
" – clothes."
Selena blinked out of her musings, turning to Rue with a confused look on her face. "Huh?"
"I said to take off your clothes."
Selena promptly turned a bight red as her brain tried to work. "N-Nani?"
Rue rolled her eyes, jerking her thumb towards the hanging kimono. "You can't dress yourself, Miss Modest."
Selena hugged her oversized sweater in response before she hesitantly pulled it down past her hips and dropping it on the ground, taking her fleece pants down with it. Rue turned around to throw a pair of tabi socks at Selena.
"You won't be able to bend down when everything is put on." Rue explained. "Now, this is called an eri-sugata. It's the white collar that you see under the actual kimono."
Selena couldn't help the fact that she didn't listen to what Rue was saying to her the entire time she was dressed. All she was hoping for was to be covered and her blushing to disappear for eternity.
Was it possible to postpone the entire affair?
Could one actually die of nervousness?
Selena stole a glance to her open bathroom door, not remembering if there was an actual lock on it. It wouldn't be so hard to run inside and stay there for at least ten hours, right? With the weight of the kimono on her shoulders, she wasn't sure that she was as fast as she used to be.
Rue was busy with some eye shadow that she insisted Selena should wear and ordered her to close her eyes. Selena wanted to rub it off of her face along with the foundation that she had to cough through. She never was one for make-up except for cherry Chapstick and the occasional lip-gloss but Rue wouldn't have any of it.
Maybe there was a reason why she didn't have any sisters…
"All finished!" Rue said with what sounded like genuine happiness.
Selena looked into the mirror by her door curiously and felt her breath catch in her throat. She was expecting to look like a curly-haired, wannabe Japanese Barbie but she was grateful that she still looked like herself.
There was a hint of sheer cream eyeshadow on her eyelids that faded to a dark green once it got to the middle and a nude shade of lip gloss on her lips with a bit of sparkle but not enough to blind her. It was a miracle in itself that her hair was actually staying down and she doubted that she could ever accomplish it for herself.
She looked so simple but she'd never felt so beautiful before.
With a light sniffle, Selena turned to Rue and grabbed her into a tight hug; careful not to rub any of her foundation onto Rue's powder blue kimono. "Arigatou Rue-san. I never would have been able to do this by myself."
"Damn straight." Rue said smugly, but without her usual bite.
Selena smiled and grabbed her camera from the table beside the door as well as her keys and phone, tucking everything inside a small matching bag that came with her kimono. She slipped into her sandals before she and Rue walked into the hallway then out in the cool winter air.
The plan was to walk around with Rue until she went to meet Fuji by the west entrance of the park where the festival was being held. So, she had three hours till Showtime and Rue had adopted Selena's extra time to walk around with her. Good thing that this wasn't Canada because she was sure that she would have run back to her apartment for a thick coat, a hat, a pair of gloves and a scarf at the thought of being outside for so long.
At least she could hide her hands inside the sleeves of her kimono, saving them from being exposed from what mild cold was present.
Rue bought a stick of dango from a shop while Selena snapped a few pictures. "So when are you running off to your boyfriend?"
Selena was thankful that the pink on her cheeks could be blamed on the chill in the air. "He isn't my boyfriend," she shot out quickly, taking a picture of the paper lanterns that looped across the shops. "We decided on seven."
Rue waved away the first comment as she ate her food. "If he makes a move, I want a time. Says something suave, I want a recording. Details are not to be overlooked by your shyness, Selena-chan. It's crunch time."
Selena's arms lost their movement from the momentary shock and she fumbled with her camera. "W-What are you – " She stuttered out before Rue shoved a piece of the dango into Selena's mouth.
"Lock up that innocent girl and throw away the key. This is Fuji Syusuke we're talking about. This is the first documented time that his proven that he has hormones and towards our batting team. I need details, get it?"
Selena felt her eyes water as she coughed, forcing the sweet out of her lungs. "G-Got it." She wheezed.
"Good." Rue nodded before grabbing Selena's arm and turning around and almost crashing into a bouncing ball of red-headed energy.
The redhead side-stepped Rue so quickly before they impacted that Selena barely even saw it happen. "That was close, nya." He breathed in relief.
"Eiji, I told you not to run in such a crowded place. Gomen nasai."
Selena could spot that 'nya' from a mile away as well as that mother-like tone. "Eiji-senpai, Oishi-senpai."
Eiji stared at her curiously for a second while Oishi smiled kindly at her. "I didn't think we'd run into you here Selena-san."
Selena smiled and quickly took a picture of the two before Eiji glomped her with new enthusiasm. "I almost didn't recognize you without your curly hair!" He said with a big smile. "You look much cuter in a kimono!"
Selena blushed brightly as she patted his arm that hung just below her chin. "Arigatou, Eiji-senpai."
Rue frowned from the sidelines, crossing her arms just under her chest. "Okay Neko-chan. Selena's already taken so keep your paws off."
Selena let out a horrified gasp while Oishi and Eiji turned with a confused expression on their faces. "Lena-chan has a boyfriend?" Eiji asked, peeling himself away from her.
Oishi tried not to gape at his kohai. "N-Now Eiji,"
"Senpai, that's not true! Don't listen to Rue-san!" Selena said in a voice that sounded a bit high in her personal opinion.
Rue made a high pitched hmph sound as she rolled her eyes. "Sure,"
Two and a half hours later…
Selena walked along the dirt path, listening to the soft hum of people, with Rue sticking close beside her. The older girl didn't seem to have enough patience for Selena's cat-like senior and took to sending him glares every time he spoke.
It was strange how the Seigaku tennis team was always drawn to each other. Never in Selena's life had she witnessed such a common coincidence that everyone found one another. And they were now together, wreaking havoc on the small shops that surrounded them.
Momo slung his arm around Taka-san's shoulders while they both laughed at something Selena didn't catch because of Rue's unhappy mumbling. Kaidoh was hanging back in their small crowd, enjoying the quiet company of Ryoma while the Freshman Trio and the two girls tried to coax them into talking with the others. Oishi, Inui and Tezuka were having a conversation that Selena was sure involved tennis while Eiji bounced around the different shops playing games and grabbing another person every time.
"He's idiotic," Rue murmured, clenching her teeth.
Eiji shrunk away from her, deciding to herd everyone to a stage where a young girl was singing. "Let's go to the karaoke contest minna!" He shouted, pushing mainly Ryoma and Kaidoh with a large smile that was directed to everyone else.
Selena returned it, gently patting Rue's arm at the same time as she grinned mischievously at Momo. "I want to hear Momo sing." She laughed, teasing her classmate.
"You shouldn't joke like that Selena-chan," Momo said with a nervous laugh. "You really shouldn't."
The crowd was bouncing along to a popular song while a boy around her age sang to a song that she didn't recognize. Selena squished right between Eiji and another boy with Rue right behind her when someone held her hand lightly. At first she thought it was Rue not wanting to get separated by the growing crowd of excited teenagers but she began to notice that it was slightly bigger than hers and it had a mix of delicacy and roughness that made it seem familiar to her.
She let out a startled squeak when the hand tugged her away from everyone else, away from Rue who was watching her curiously as she moved away. That was when a person Selena couldn't recognize walked on stage and the audience let out a loud scream of joy. The people rushed forward to get closer but Selena was led out of the large mass with Rue trapped behind her.
Selena let out a tired huff as she gracelessly stumbled out of the group of people, dropping the mass of fabric that she had picked up during her mini-escapade. A light laugh caught her attention and she looked up curiously at person who had pulled her away from her friends.
His eyes and smile were what stopped her breath for just a few milliseconds. "S-Syusuke-senpai!" Selena's voice was higher than usual but she caught her mouth twisting up in a smile in reaction to his own.
Her brain seemed to explode, her heart accelerated unnaturally, and her breathing came out in a shortened huff. Her whole body was singing just to be near him and she was more than willing to stay near him with a feeling like this.
In all of the times that she'd seen him smile, there had always been some hint of falseness to it. Like he had been hiding away but she could never be sure. Someone's eyes usually reflected their smiles and hinted towards their true feelings but his were never opened. But now, even with his eyes shut, she could feel the lightheartedness rolling off of him in waves.
"I didn't want you to be late, Selena-chan." Fuji said lightly before leading her away from the crowd. Her heart skipped a beat, hearing him use the new suffix to the end of her name.
Selena blushed as she stumbled beside Fuji as he led her away to the towering evergreens of the park. The sun had set without her noticing and so paper lanterns gave off a warm glow as they made their way down the narrow wooden walkway. The music faded away as the whisper of crickets became more prominent in their surroundings. Selena stayed silent, enjoying the calming atmosphere, and admiring Fuji's presence.
He had a simple blue-grey kimono with a forest of silvery bamboo sticks around him. A crane seemed to take off from the rippling pond that lined the bottom, flapping its wings and disappearing around his shoulder where she guessed the head curved around. The detail wasn't like some of the other kimonos she'd seen but she liked the fact that it represented him perfectly.
"We're here," Fuji said, grasping her attention with his voice.
She hadn't noticed that they had long left the forest and were now standing at the top of a hill in a clear field. A few other couples were sitting farther down, lying in each others arms and looking up at the midnight blue sky. To her left, a blanket was spread out with a lantern on either side to chase away the darkness with a small bag beside it.
Fuji escorted her to the spot and they both sat down, leaving their sandals in the grass. Selena folded her hands into the sleeves of her kimono to hide the fact that she was playing with her bracelet nervously.
Who would have thought that she could be excited and terrified at the same time?
She hadn't even spoken to him except for squeaking out his name when she first saw him. Dates were a horrible. Who made them up in the first place? They were nothing but a trap to put people into the hands of others who liked to poke fun at them for the hell of it.
Selena was busy staring nervously at the couples below them when Fuji cleared his throat.
"Selena – "
Rue clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth as she bumped into The Idiot. This guy was nothing but an immature child stuck in a teenager's body. She pushed him away from her as she settled about six meters away from Selena and Fuji Syusuke.
The redhead whined like a two year old beside her. What was his name again? Neji? Benji? Trenji? Well, something around there was doing nothing but making too much noise and she was so close to just flinging her slipper at his cat-like face.
"For the love of Kami-sama, stay still!" She hissed under her breath and glared at him for good measure.
He jumped away from her and clung to his friend with the egg-shaped head. "Why is Lena-chan's friend so mean to me?!"
"Now Eiji - " Oh yeah! She was close enough. "We shouldn't even be here in the first place."
Echizen Ryoma scoffed to her right while the boy with violet eyes grinned. "Oishi-senpai we can't miss this! We just can't." He said in a poor attempt to whisper to his senior.
"I was here first so you all can just go somewhere else." Rue said, though the comment was directed at the fool named Eiji. "Get off my kimono!" She growled, hiking the fabric up to protect it.
"Gomen nasai!" Eiji shouted nervously before three pairs of hands shot up to cover his mouth.
The three freshmen shushed him feverishly and they all looked nervously at the pair that didn't seem to hear them. Rue finally noticed that out of the group of twelve that they started out with, there were only ten of them left. The snake-like boy and Tezuka had refused to follow them and Echizen would have gone with them if Eiji hadn't pulled him along.
"Iie data." A deep voice sighed from above them.
The collective group looked up to see the boy with thick glasses sitting in the tree with a small book and pen in his hands. Rue gave him a strange look that she doubted he could see in the darkness but one of the freshman screeched in an annoying voice in surprise.
"Inui-senpai, what are you doing?!"
Inui looked down at them and an unseen light made his glasses gleam menacingly. "It is best to get a better vantage point of Fuji and Selena-san."
Rue groaned softly and slapped a hand against her forehead, dragging her fingers down her face in annoyance. "The Seigaku Regulars are nothing but a bad comical act…" she murmured to herself.
Selena cradled the plastic cup of hot chocolate in her hands watching as Fuji poured himself a cup and put the Thermos back inside the bag.
"Do you miss your home?" He asked.
Selena looked down at the chocolate brown depths, noticing how they were the same shade as her mother's eyes. Thinking about her sent a twinge of homesickness through Selena's heart. "Of course. I never liked being far from home."
Fuji was confused. "So why would you sign up for this?"
Selena smiled at him. "When else would such an opportunity knock on my door? The experiences that I'm having here almost cancel out me missing home. Wouldn't you do the same?"
There was a moment of silence. "I'm not sure," Fuji answered truthfully.
They both sat back and took careful sips of their drinks, listening to the cicadas that were hiding nearby. Selena sighed lightly, watching her breath puff in front of her while Fuji was looking at the forest with a small frown.
"Something the matter, Syusuke-senpai?" Selena asked curiously, looking where he was but she couldn't see anything.
Fuji put his cup on the grass and stood up quietly. "Will you be alright for a few minutes, Selena-chan? I hove something to do quickly." He explained, putting on his sandals.
She watched him walk straight into the bushes where a bunch of startled cries echoed from. She was sure that she heard Eiji and Momo's voices and guessed that the rest of the gang was with them.
A few moments later, everything was quiet once again.
"You certainly do clean up well, Selena-hime."
Selena almost dropped her cup at the sound of the voice behind her. She didn't need to turn around to see him but she hoped that she could wish him away. "D-Daichi-kun."
Eiji's eyes turned misty as he clasped his hands together to beg. "Onigai Fujiko-chan! Have mercy!"
Fuji's mouth was turned into an innocent smile but everyone knew that he meant business with his crystal blue eyes in full view. "Now Eiji," he smiled. "There's no need for mercy."
There was a black-haired girl that Fuji recognized as Selena's friend who was looking at him in an inspective way. "Are you treating her well? I couldn't hear a thing over these two fools' bickering." She said, jerking her thumb at Momo and Eiji.
Fuji closed his eyes. "Hai."
"Good. Then there's no need for me to be around cat-boy over here anymore. Are you taking her home, too?" She said in an impassive tone.
"Okay then. I'm gone." She said, turning around and waving behind her as she disappeared in the crowd of people.
Fuji turned to the rest. "Saa, you should all follow her example, don't you think?" He said with a small grin.
The Freshman Trio clung to each other and with quick nods, ran in an unknown direction, far away from their senpai. Ryoma seemed to reach for his hat but brushed back his hair all in one movement as he walked away with Tomoka and Sakuno at his heels. Inui had mysteriously disappeared as Fuji spoke leaving Oishi, Eiji, Momo and Taka-san left.
"A-Ano…enjoy your date with Selena-chan, Fuji." Taka-san said awkwardly before he and Oishi ushered their two frozen kohai away.
"Arigatou, Taka-san." Fuji said pleasantly and he watched them leave before turning back and hurrying to where he left Selena.
It didn't take very long to find her again but his stomach twisted strangely when he saw a figure pick up Selena's hand and - before Fuji could open his mouth - kissed it. An unfamiliar heat rushed through his veins through he felt frozen as he watched Selena yank her hand away and turn away from him.
"Are you happy now? Just go." Selena could feel the heat burning her cheeks painfully but it wasn't from embarrassment. It was disappointment, confusion, but mostly anger that she couldn't express verbally.
"My, my, we have a spectator Selena-hime."
Selena turned to see Fuji staring at Daichi with a look in his eyes that she could not name. "S-Syusuke-senpai…"
Fuji finally blinked at the sound of Selena's voice and forced himself to walk over to them calmly. Daichi stepped away, grinning smugly as he folded his hands neatly into his sleeves and walked towards Fuji.
"Have fun, Senpai." He said with a wink before walking away and out of sight.
Selena watched Daichi leave; feeling like her chest would burst from watching Fuji walk over to her. She wanted to curl into a ball and hide away from Daichi's words and now that there was nothing to stay strong for anymore, she felt drained.
Selena felt her spine stiffen automatically at the threat and she mentally shook her head. There was no reason for her to be so antsy around this boy. She needed to shape up and show her stuff because she knew he wouldn't leave her alone until she stopped being so frozen around him.
"What is it?" she said in a tone that could be described as a snap.
Daichi was –as always- unfazed. "There are a lot of girls that are not happy with your current relations right now, Selena-hime. I'm just here as a paid spokesperson to try and either sway your affections or to break them off completely."
Selena was unsure where this was heading. "What are you talking about?"
He chuckled like he was getting a kick out of an inside joke. "I'm talking about fangirls," he replied. "Sometimes they can get a little protective of their idols. This specific case is Fuji Syusuke who seems to be a hot commodity to the ladies."
Selena laughed at his words but felt it to be a bit forced. "That's crazy. So you're a fan of Syu-Fuji-senpai too?" She tripped over his name, not wanting Daichi to hear something personal.
He raised an eyebrow curiously. "I personally was just curious about the fuss. It's a bit annoying the most of the girls are pining over someone from the tennis team."
Selena grinned. "Jealous?"
"Not when there's a challenge in winning a perfect prize." He retorted quickly.
Selena's brain froze for a moment then decided that he needed to go away. "Can you please leave? I'm in the middle of a date." She said in a heavily dismissive tone.
Daichi shrugged when an idea seemed to fall into his head. "May I have something first?" He asked with a mischievous look glistening in his eyes as he walked closer to her.
Selena's head was clouded with the unpleasant memory when Fuji's hand hovered just above her shoulder. "Shall I take you home?" He asked with his original smile back in place.
Her heart seemed to constrict itself in her chest and she forced herself to nod. His smile had reverted back to how it was before today. Fake and guarded. It hurt her to know that she had ruined their date in just about twenty seconds.
She forced herself to move and help him pack up his things and soon there was only flattened grass behind them. Selena slipped into her sandals and picked the thick blanket up into her arms.
"I can carry it." Fuji said, reaching out to take it from her.
Selena held it tightly, shaking her head. "It's okay." Her voice sounded hideously small to her ears and she clutched the blanket to her stomach, walking silently behind Fuji with her eyes downcast.
She didn't realize how long it was but she soon saw the familiar doors to her apartment building. She handed the blanket to Fuji, accidentally touching his hand with her fingertips. It sent liquid heat shooting through her body that left a pins and needles feeling in its wake.
Fuji smiled at her again as she stepped towards her door. "Saa, I had a good time Selena-san."
"Liar." Selena's lungs felt deprived of air like she'd been punched in the gut. He'd gone back to the formalities, leaving her feeling cheated of the happiness that she knew that came when a first date was finished. Fuji nodded to her once before turning around and heading to his own home.
Where was her heart-stopping kiss at the door? Did he not have any interest in her? What was the point of asking her out then?
Wait, this wasn't fair! She wanted his true smile like when he found her in the crowd, talk without any double meaning, and be what seemed like his true self. More than anything, she knew that when the sun rose again that he would have put her off and not looked back.
Just like he was doing now...
"Wait!" She shouted, maybe a bit too loud but she could gauge the volume because of the blood pumping noisily in her ears. "Syusuke-senpai!"
Fuji stopped at the sound of her voice, not quite willing to turn around and look at her face just yet. Every time he looked at her, he saw the scene of her and the boy that was supposed to be him. The blood rushed through his veins and he felt genuinely mad which was uncharacteristic of him.
Selena picked up the extra fabric of her kimono and jumped down the stairs, taking three long strides to Fuji. She stared at the crane on his back, trying to find the courage to voice what was going through her head.
"Daichi is nothing. I feel like dunking my hand in bleach just to get the crawling feeling off of my skin. I…" Her voice trailed off as she gripped the fabric in her hands tightly. "It was the perfect date with just a bump in the middle. I don't want to go three steps back."
Fuji opened his mouth, turning around quickly just for Selena to reach up and press her lips gently onto his cheek.
His mind took a mental picture of the glowing streetlamp behind her that gave her frame a heavenly glow, the absolute silence that seemed to follow the moment, her flushed face from what he knew was embarrassment, and her eyelids that hid her eyes from his view.
His heart gave a wild thump in his chest and for one of the very few times in his life, Fuji was surprised. "Oyasumi," Selena whispered after leaning away from him before turning around and darting inside of the apartment.
Fuji blinked once…twice…three times before all he could do was rest his hand just below the tingling sensation that had erupted on his skin after Selena's lips touched his cheek.
A/N: I hope that the next chapter will not take as long as this one did but I can't make any promises. Please be patient with me and I'll work as fast as I could. Thank you Heart for reminding me that I was still writing and forgive me singer in the wind for not being patient. I never really was...
I hope I can receive some constructive criticism because I felt like I was a little rusty with the whole writing thing so please leave me a note. Thank you very much...
On to the list of my faithful reviewers!
xAniGirlx (I totally understand what you mean! I tend to do that a bit myself but I'm glad that you're enjoying my story.), singer in the wind (Thanks for the compliment btw), Frejya-the Fallen Angel- (And this one took forever too! I'm really sorry about the giant gap in updates.), Kiyoshi Kozue (Hate is such a strong word for sweet Daichi-kun don't you think?), silver0scorpio (Thanks for the gracious rating...I'm sure to lose some points for being late), SachikoisGreato (I still can't believe that you've changed your username for me. LOL), LittleSnowDancer (I'm sure that you've spotted some grammar errors in this one too since I didn't wait for my beta since she was taking a bit of a while. Please feel free to point them out to me if you do), sasukenejifirewolfgrl12 (Thanks!), .the.alaskan.musical.pig (Hope that it was enough Fuji for you even though it was late.), Leite Destiny (Welcome to the story! I'm glad that you've enjoyed it so far), P o l k a . M o n k e y (I don't think that I will ever be able to keep Fuji in-character even with some research that I've been doing on him and I still personally don't think he's written very well sadly. I hope I'll get the hang of it soon so that I can fix things up in the end. Love the new name btw LOL.), AngelicRoses (Hope you liked it!), Melovia (Nice to meet you! I hope you hear more from you later!), White Alchemist Taya (Hope it didn't disappoint!), Dainty Sue (I have to say that you make me a bit nervous to read your review if you choose to leave one. You see like a reader with high expectations LOL -nervous laugh of course- I hope you liked it!), unknown player (Now not everything can be action-packed, right?), Ms. Wish (LOL I think you mean Daichi, right? Yes, he does seem to instill those reactions in people he isn't trying to whoo. And yes, it has been proven that boys are strange creatures...), Hoku ala, invisible-gurl, Broken Glass Walker,(Welcome! I'm glad that you're liking my story so far and I hope that you'll continue to read it.), eclecticeyes (Hope you enjoyed it!), uchiha.itachi.101 (I love your username! Itachi-sama is also my love. I have a big heart LOL. I hope you continue to like it!)
You guys are amazing as always and I hope that you enjoyed this chapter like the others. Oyasumi nasai!