RAINDROPS

RAINDROPS
A Prince of Tennis Fanfic
By: weirdcoffeeholic

Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis.

Author's Note
: The epilogue is up! Bwahaha. :)) So, yeah. Uhm… This is kind of bittersweet for me, because this little ficcie has finally come to a close and it also means I have more time to focus on my other story. :)

Saying goodbye to my characters (especially little Kesuke) is very, very depressing, like saying goodbye to a friend, like saying goodbye to my loyal readers, fans, and supporters. sob

And now, for the last time in Raindrops, read on. :)

-oOo-

EPILOGUE
Of Peace and Serenity

You taught my heart a sense I never knew I had.
I can forget the times that I was
Lost and depressed from the awful truth.
How do you do it?
You're my heroine…

- My Heroine, Silverstein

-oOo-

Detective Inui fumbled around for his glasses and quickly slipped them on, safely propping it high on the bridge of his nose. He then blinked against the early morning sunlight which was cascading like water from the large glass casement across their bed. It was a couple more moments before he found out what had woken him from his deep, unfathomable slumber.

He silently reached out for his persistent, noise-making mobile phone on the nightstand. Completely ignoring the caller ID, he flipped it open and placed the speaker on his ear.

"Hello?" His voice was hoarse as he sat up, letting the sheets fall off his naked torso.

"Hey, Inui," the man on the other line said. There was a laugh. "Oh, sorry, did I wake you? My sincere apologies."

The detective instantly recognized the voice. Phone calls from this man have been a regular thing ever since Nitoryuu's sudden and unfortunate demise. "Good morning, Fuji," he replied. "No, it's fine, it's fine. Did you need anything?"

"Yes, actually, I did," he said politely. Fuji cleared out his throat. "I know it's kind of early, but Mr. Echizen left me a message an hour ago."

Inui's senses instinctively heightened with the mention of the name. He ran a hand through his hair."Echizen? You mean the younger one, right?" he inquired. He had been doing business with the former CEO for some time now.

"Yes, Ryoma Echizen, the youngest son," answered Fuji cautiously, as though someone might eavesdrop. "He was asking about the current status of his case. Has everything… fallen into place?"

It had been almost six years since he and his connections had staged the setup. It was odd for the detective to be oblivious as to why the ex-President of Nitoryuu, heir to the Echizen name wanted to be completely erased from the world of business – or simply the world. It sounded alien to his ears when he had told them that he was just too "sick" of everything and he wanted "peace and quiet living" for the rest of his life.

Who on earth would let go of his fame and fortune simple because he was tired of it?

Apparently, the Ryoma Echizen could.

Detective Inui didn't buy it at first, thinking it was some sort of bluff. But it was nothing money and a little convincing couldn't handle. It was a time in his life that he was short on cash and Mr. Echizen was just too generous to give him enough for a lifetime of easy living. He simply couldn't resist.

And so the plan was set.

After some deliberations, they were able to stage that the once-famous CEO had passed away when his private jet had ill-fatedly crashed somewhere in the Scandinavian mountains as he was traveling to attend an important meeting with a world-renowned chief executive of tennis.

They had paid the airlines, the press, and even every single person involved and threatened those who dared to speak of the truth. Nitoryuu was then left in ruins, with no one to run it. It was almost hilarious when his very own wife didn't take his death too seriously and remarried soon after. Mrs. Echizen, his mother, grieved deeply but now lived in peace in one of the high-class neighborhoods in the Los Angeles suburbs.

Echizen was now residing in a humble estate somewhere in the British countryside with his family. Inui had secretly thought that his wife was his real reason for letting go of his previous life as a business tycoon, but he didn't dare delve into the private and personal life of Ryoma Echizen. It wasn't any of his business anyway. He just did what he was told to and was paid very highly of it.

No one knew of what really happened except for him, the trustworthy Fuji Syuusuke, and Mr. Echizen himself. It just happened to be sheer coincidence that Mrs. Echizen hired him to be the lead detective on his son's "death."

Everything was almost perfect. All was quite well.

All they needed was a little more time.

"Mrs. Echizen e-mailed me the other night, and she stated that she's planning to withdraw the search-and-rescue team in two months time if they are still unable to recover a body," he said matter-of-factly. "She's also willing to close the case if they fail with their search."

A sigh was audible from the other line. "Finally, after so long," Fuji said with relief. "Mr. Echizen can live in quietly now. How are you and the Mrs.?"

Inui grinned, pleased at the change of topic. "She doing pretty well," he said. "The baby's due in a month and the food cravings are just killing me. I mean, last night she was asking for grilled bananas. Where the hell am I supposed to find those in the middle of the city?"

Fuji chuckled. "Good luck with that," he said. "I'll update you on the case, and you do the same. Go get some sleep."

"Alright. Thanks, man," said Inui before he hung up and turned to look at the small, sleeping figure curled up beside him. Her long, straight, black hair was trailing graceful lines across the bed and a baby bump was clearly visible beneath the sheets. He took a stray strand between two fingers and placed it behind her ear.

That has got to be the cutest thing I've seen.

She frowned at little and gave a yawn before her eyes slowly fluttered open. Her charcoal orbs landed on his bespectacled ones as her lips slowly spread into a beautiful, heartbreaking smile.

"G'morning," Nanako whispered before Inui pulled her into his arms for a kiss.

-oOo-

My Freeform Writing Exercise
Submitted by Kesuke Echizen
Submitted to Mr. Inoue
For English 6

You know how typical families are made, right? Dad meets Mom, they get married, buy a house, and then have kids. It's the ideal, mediocre way of life, the safest trip down the road of family life – It's how most young people would want their lives to take a turn to.

But if you're one of those kids who would always want to be different, well, you'd want to be me, and you'd want to have the same family as I do.

I grew up mostly with my Mom – not that I have much of a choice though. (I'll explain later.) But don't get me wrong! She's the most amazing woman in the entire world. And that's the truth! I'm not just saying it because I want to have extra dessert after dinner…

If Wonderwoman was real, she'd be my mother, and that's an understatement. I have no idea how she manages the house, her work at a local newpaper, her bills, and chasing after me every time I ran off somewhere just because I felt like it. I guess multitasking hormones (if there were ever such things) naturally come after having to pop a baby out. I cringe at the thought, thankful that I am of the male specie.

Although, sometimes, I feel that something about her was missing. I never could quite place what it was. Even when I've lived all my life seeing my mom as a single mom, well… I just can't help but imagine her with another man other than myself. And that's when I started thinking about… him.

I never gave much thought about my father. Not until… I was about seven or eight years old though. There wasn't a single picture of him in the house, in my mom's purse, or even in my head, and that's just a tad disturbing. My mom never, ever mentions him to me, not that I asked though. I just feel like it'd be very awkward if I did. So I avoided the topic like a plague until the thought was buried beneath my schoolwork, writing my butt off, and tennis.

It's just normal to be curious about someone who made half of who you are, right? There's nothing wrong about it. I just wanted to know what he looks like, what he does for a living, and why… he wasn't there with us.

I guess some unexpected things in this world are just waiting to happen, carefully planned and executed so that people don't know when to expect them or how.

Around six years ago, back when my horsepower would make any racecar envious, I broke into this guy's house just because I couldn't help myself. Turns out this guy was a very good tennis player and, being the avid fan of the said sport, I was ecstatic! I took pictures of everything around me – shelves upon shelves of trophies and certificates that I could only dream of winning.

Just when I thought everything was safe, the owner of the house barged right through the doors and was aiming this caliber handgun at my face! Turns out that he was a pretty cool guy, even if that's hard to believe. He even promised not to tell my mother what I just did, provided that I stopped, ahem, crying. (Hey, I was eight freaking years old, okay?)

After we made our deal, he agreed to drive me home because I had no idea how to get to my house from his. We hung out, played on my Wii, and looked at some pictures of my mom and me. The last part was kind of odd because I could see how his eyes went… somehow, blurry when she saw one photo of my mom, wasted in the hospital after she gave birth to me. And that got me thinking… Hmmm…

As if right on cue, mom came bursting through the front door, all frantic and worried because I'd disappeared off for the umpteenth time. It's a very normal sight for me. She gets bothered over the silliest of things.

When she saw the guy I had brought home with me, the look on her face told me everything. Ha! It was like watching an episode of One Tree Hill.

Would you believe that the guy whose house I broke into was my dad?

And no, not in a stepfather kind of way. He's my real dad, as in the guy my mom dated way back in the olden days when I wasn't even a plan to begin with. No one would believe how they instantly clicked! (Well, instantly, as in after they yelled at each other for a bit about leaving and not knowing what they wanted because they were too young and stuff.)

So then I realized where I got all my tennis skills! To be honest, well, my mom sucks at anything that has to do with a racket, a small yellow ball, and making her lower extremities exert too much effort.

My dad has been the best dad a kid could wish for. And I can see that he's clearly trying to make up for being an absentee father for the first eight years of my life. But personally, I think he's already made up for it just by coming back and making my mom the happiest woman in the world. She's been singing in the shower ever since he's been around! Although I'd prefer it more if my mom didn't sing at all because the racket is always annoying the neighbors.

Some people might wonder why I accepted him so easily. After all, I think accepting a step dad is a whole lot easier than accepting your real father back especially if he wasn't there most of your life. I was still pretty young then when I found out, but the thing is he admitted that when he was away, all he ever thought about was my mom. Heck, he didn't even have the slightest idea that he had a son, but he braced it like a man would. And that's good enough reason for me.

He's been really great, my dad, I mean. Not just at being a father or mowing the lawn every Sunday, but at tennis! I never thought I'd see a Cyclone Smash right before my very eyes! I'm still trying to master it though, and trying to live up to his name and expectations.

After all, if your dad was your idol, who wouldn't want to?

Kesuke quickly let his feline eyes skim over the word document one last time before stretching out and cracking his knuckles, beaming proudly as he did so. If he didn't get an A-plus on this one, he'd hang his teacher upside-down and feed him to his father's cat.

It was a little past seven in the morning he noticed after stealing a glance the digital clock on his computer's taskbar. It was a Saturday and he shouldn't be doing school work at all, but there were just so many fun things to get done this weekend that he didn't want anything academic-related to interfere.

He yawned one last time, rubbed his sleepy eyes, and got up to trudge downstairs where breakfast awaited.

-oOo-

Ryoma groaned like a five-year-old. "I thought you were making Japanese breakfast today," he told his wife, who was busying herself by the kitchen stove, throwing pancakes in the air. "You said so last night."

"Well… Kesuke said he wanted something different," she said sweetly as she flipped two cakes on an empty plate and smothered it with butter. "Honestly, Ryoma, you can't expect to have it your way every time! He's a sixth-grader and you're old enough to—"

"Don't even go there," he warned a giggling Sakuno, stuffing his mouth with food.

She shook her head in defeat and took a sideward glance at her husband. You're as stubborn as always… Her eyes landed on his biceps peeking out from under his sleeve and she couldn't help but grin roguishly. And still as sexy as always…

"Morning," came a voice from the doorway, snapping Sakuno out of her trance.

"Good morning, honey," she replied brightly as she eyed Kesuke's disheveled black-green hair, much like his father's. She watched him as he sleepily dragged his feet across the floor, grabbed a pancake from the stack on the countertop and sat down across Ryoma, placing his racket against the stool's leg. "Oh, for goodness' sake, Kesuke, use a plate."

"What time's Uncle Ryoga gonna drop by?" asked Kesuke through a full mouth as he examined the worn-out Fila sneakers on his feet.

"He said he'd be here before noon," Ryoma said over the newspaper he was reading. "But knowing him, he'd probably arrive in the afternoon."

Sakuno swiftly finished up the cooking and joined her two men on the table, putting a very high stack of pancakes in the middle, which their son was quickly consuming. "So…" she began, looking at Kesuke with a smile on her round face. "You were up all night again."

"Hn," was the younger man's dismissive reply.

"What've you been up to?" she asked in a very motherly tone as she swallowed her food. You're turning more and more into your father everyday…

Kesuke shrugged, clearly manifesting where he got his indifference from. The resemblance was uncanny.

Ryoma took his liberty of looking away from the newsprint to shoot his son an inquiring gaze. "Were you talking to a girl?" he asked, not being able to hide the suggestive tone in his voice.

"No, I was not talking to a girl, Dad," he denied, earning a chuckle from the other man and a half-smile from his mother. "Something for English. It's due on Monday and I can't have anything bothering me while I'm practicing with Uncle Ryoga."

"That's surprising, doing homework on a weekend," Sakuno said, trailing off as she started filling the glasses with Tropicana. "At least I can see you can prioritize what you need to do before anything else, unlike some people…" She glared at her husband.

"What did I do?" the man said, looking surprised.

"Nothing! And I mean it!" Sakuno retorted not too harshly though. She was using her remember-when-I-told-you-to-fix-this-but-you-didn't tone. "You still haven't replaced the bulb in the living room and the plumbing in the second floor washroom is still not working!" Men… Why can't they just do what you tell them to?

Ryoma rolled his yellow eyes. "I'll just hire a plumber and someone to fix the light," he said absentmindedly, focusing on the newspaper again.

"Alright, fine," she snapped. "Just make sure that it's done before your games with your brother. I can never talk properly to you once you start playing and—"

"Sure, beautiful," Ryoma cut her short before he put down his paper, grabbed his wife by her arm and pushed his lips against hers in an earth-shattering kiss.

Sakuno fought hard not to moan, knowing that they were in the kitchen with their twelve-year-old son raising a very peculiar eyebrow at them. But Ryoma was just way too strong to fight off so she simply placed her hand behind his hand and pushed his face harder towards hers. He knew she absolutely loved it when he does his grab-and-kiss thing. It just makes him look so hot and… God, does he still kiss like he did when we first met… Oh, wow, yes, he does…

Kesuke made a disgusted face. "Get a room," he told the couple as he downed his orange juice in one gulp and grabbed his racket. "I'll be outside, making rounds on the court."

With that, he sprinted to the backdoor and out, not having the courage to look back.

-oOo-

The young man dropped, eagle-spread on the court, his eyes closing just after he had scored his last and winning point against his opponent. Sweat dripped down his face and soaked his ruffled hair. His cap had somehow flown away right before his last swing.

The final score was 7-6.

Kesuke coughed. "Ha!" he managed to say between short and shallow breaths. "I beat you! I finally beat you!" He shakily stood up and swung his racket in the air in sheer delight. "You're not so tough now, huh, old man?"

"Hey, who you calling old?" Ryoga shot back from the other side of the court. Kesuke was surprised to see that he too was out of breath. "That was one game! Just one game! Don't get your hopes up too high, shorty!"

Ryoma, who was standing at the sidelines with his arms crossed, rolled his eyes. He was also clad in his tennis outfit. "Tch. Don't be a sore loser," he called out, grinning amusedly. "It's not my son's fault he got better. Besides, he's been trained by the best."

Kesuke smirked smugly.

"Oh, yeah? By who?" Ryoga retorted, checking his racket strings as he shot his younger brother a death glare.

"Me," Ryoma said without hesitations.

Kesuke grinned at the bickering siblings quarreling like an old married couple. Talk about brotherly love… Tch.

"You're too full of yourself!" Ryoga yelled immaturely.

"Hn. And you should take your defeat like a forty-year-old," said Ryoma with scorn.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing. I just said you haven't lost your touch, old man."

"Get on the court, Chibisuke."

"What did you call me?" Ryoma warned, his voice becoming dangerous.

"You heard what I said. I said get on the court, Chi—"

"Chibisuke?" Kesuke blurted out of nowhere. Apparently, the two men had almost forgotten he was still there. They turned to look at him as he was wiping tears from his eyes. His stomach was already hurting from laughing too much. "Are you serious, Uncle Ryoga?"

Smirking proudly, Ryoga took an orange from his pocket took a bite from it. "That's what I used to call your dad when I thought he had a shortage on growth hormones."

Kesuke erupted into a fit of laughter.

"Get off the court, Ryoga," he told his older brother, who shrugged and willingly obliged. He then stood by the sidelines just as Sakuno came, a tray with glasses of lemonade in her hands.

The youngest man immediately stopped whatever he was doing and straightened up at his father's words. Even the winds seemed to die down.

"Hey, Ryoga," she greeted her brother-in-law, who gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "I didn't know things were already heating up," she added with a giggle as she eyed Ryoma pacing towards the vacant side of the tennis court.

Ryoga scoffed. "I know," he said as he took a glass from her and downed its contents. "Apparently, your husband doesn't like his childhood nicknames that much."

"Oh… That," Sakuno said, realizing and smiling. "That's why he looks pissed."

"Are you up for it, oyaji?" Kesuke told his father as he took his white cap from the ground and slipped it on his head. He then resumed his stance across the other man and gripped his racket precisely how he was taught to.

Ryoma grinned. "You've been working on your Japanese, I presume," he said, dribbling the yellow tennis ball. Kesuke found his refuge at the sound it made, it was like music.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

"Yes, I have, actually, Dad," Kesuke answered courteously. His brown, cat-like eyes narrowing slightly as he anticipated the flight of the ball. He had already dissected the secret to his father's trademark twist serve and he was more than ready to return it. Give it your best shot, oyaji. I'll make you proud.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

"And what have you learned?" Ryoma inquired in a voice that warned Kesuke of what was to come.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

Kesuke smirked. He had always wanted to say this line. It was about time he did.

He stood up straight and pointed his racket at his father's face.

"Mada mada dane."

-oOo-

FIN

-oOo-

ABOUT THE AUTHORESS
(Written by a good friend of mine)

(Insert my picture here)

A writer wannabe and all-around bum, Rose (or weirdcoffeeholic) is an eighteen-year-old physical therapy student who is an aspiring pediatrician, novelist, and Pixar animator. She enjoys sleeping, eating, text messaging, IM-ing, listening to her iPod, reading and writing, sketching, catching movies, playing the piano, Warcraft III and Guitar Hero, hanging out with her boyfriend and friends, and having the time of her life. During her free periods, Rose can usually be found lounging in her dorm, typing away in her laptop or just dozing off till noon.

Rose has been writing since she was thirteen years old and has published non-fiction articles, essays, and literary selections for her school paper. She also has several unpublished "drawer" short stories and poetry.

She stays with her parents in the San Fernando Valley in southern California during summer and Christmas breaks. Or whenever she feels like it.

-oOo-

Author's Last Note: Finally, and it's for real this time, it's DONE! It's actually finished! :) I hope you guys enjoyed reading this, from the prologue to the epilogue! I am so happy to complete this after ten long months. A lot has happened, and a lot has changed since I started this, but I'm so happy that the readers and reviewers keep on coming and coming! :) I'd like to thank YOU, especially, because you've stuck with Ryoma, Sakuno, and Kesuke until the very end. And I love you for that! big bear hug

I know this isn't the end, and I know we'll see each other soon, come another fanfic, right? :)

Until then,
weirdcoffeeholic
(stuffing her face with vanilla ice cream)

P.S. If you have questions, complaints, or violent reactions, you can PM me or you can leave it in your review if you decide to post one. :)