I didn't honestly think I would ever write fanfiction, but decided to give it a try anyway. I hope I can keep everyone as in-character as possible – if I fail, I promise to stop posting. Based on the manga version, and using original names.
Chapter 1: History Repeating
Rinko hummed quietly to herself as she left the bathroom, tucking her hair behind her ears a little tighter than usual. As she withdrew her hands she noticed that she had chewed her fingernails again although she could not really remember when she had done so. She began to hum a little louder and more forcefully as a sense of irritation began to set in. She told herself that she was merely annoyed at herself for ruining her fingernails and nothing more and started down the stairs to make herself breakfast; which of course she would not be eating because her stomach was in a knot of nerves, but she had to at least go through the motions of acting normal under Mari's watchful eye.
Rinko slowly and gently closed her fists to hide the evidence of her nervous habit and forced herself to stop humming and look cheerful as she began to descend the steps. But she did not get far before her false smile faded and her feet began to slow beneath her, her head tilting a little in curiosity at the muffled sounds below her. She could hear Mari moving about in the kitchen, which of course was not unusual, but she could also hear what sounded like a weak and dying animal whining away the remainder of its life somewhere in the vicinity of the dining room.
Rinko stopped about halfway down the steps and lowered herself to a crouch, clasping the railings of the banister and peeking through them at the dining room doorway, where she could just make out one end of the dining table. She could not find a source for the odd sound but she did not need to look for long. Mari shortly stepped into her line of sight, placing down a large bowl of food in the centre of the table. A large pair of hands eagerly grabbed the bowl up and Mari smiled almost lovingly as she watched something that was beyond Rinko's sight. Rinko sighed quietly as she heard Suguru Kinniku happily devour what her nose was telling her must be yet another beef bowl.
She stood up and began quietly slinking her way down the remaining steps, listening carefully as she went. Suguru had finished his meal before Rinko had reached the bottom step, and by the time she had crept over to the doorway he was asking Mari for another bowl. Rinko carefully peeked around the doorframe, finding Suguru sat at the dining table smiling dumbly up at Mari, one hand holding his empty bowl and the other outstretched and upturned expectantly. Mari looked a little anxious and unusually girlish to Rinko as she slowly shook her head at the king.
"Don't you have a fight today?" Mari asked gently.
Suguru's face dropped and his hands slowly lowered to the surface of the table.
"It's part of the opening ceremony for the big final, isn't it?" Mari added.
Suguru still looked perplexed, making Rinko roll her eyes and bite back the urge to growl in frustration at his stupidity.
"Remember?" Mari tried again.
"Oh, yeah, of course!" Suguru said, grinning again. "I remember!"
Mari nodded and took his empty bowl from him. His smile vanished again as he watched Mari move over to the kitchen sink and add his bowl to the pile of dirty dishes before returning empty-handed.
"There's more beef in the pot, right?" he asked as Mari pulled out a chair to sit down opposite him.
"Well, yes, but…"
Mari paused, squatted over the chair she had been about to sit into, studying Suguru's expression curiously.
"I really don't think you should be filling up on beef bowl before a fight," she said slowly. "It's not good for you. We could have the rest later on, when Mantaro gets back."
"What are you talking about?" Suguru asked her.
"After the… After the big fight between Mantaro and Kevin Mask?"
Rinko began to wonder why her normally sensible and astute guardian became such a clueless idiot around a clueless idiot like Suguru Kinniku. There would, of course, be no later on. After the final round of the Chojin Olympics had ended Mantaro and Suguru would return home to celebrate or commiserate the result and Mari would be unlikely to see her old friend until the next Chojin Olympics, whenever that would be.
When Rinko had first found out about Mantaro's father and his connection to Mari it had fascinated her. Hearing about her mother being a young girl in love with a superhuman wrestler had seemed so endearing a tale; but since Suguru's arrival a few days earlier Rinko had begun to see the matter a little differently. What had once been a cute little story of young love was now a rather sad and somewhat pitiful story of unrequited love that had lasted two decades and was in danger of transcending a generation and manifesting itself in Rinko's relationship with Mantaro.
Rinko slid back from the doorway and pressed herself against the hall wall, her mind recapping the events of the last few days. Suguru Kinniku and a selection of the other Legends had arrived for the final of the Chojin Olympics and Mari had insisted on meeting him at the airport. She had said they were meeting him to tell him about Mantaro's disappearance and to enlist his help tracking the cowardly prince down; but Rinko had seen something slightly different play out when the tall pig-faced man in the gaudy yellow silk suit adorned with red suns made his appearance. Instead of actually greeting each other, Mari and Suguru had grabbed onto each other's hands and simply stared at each other with idiotic grins of disbelief and tears in their eyes.
Part of Rinko was pleased that Suguru had been so overjoyed to see Mari again but a bigger part of her felt angry and saddened that Mari had remained single on behalf of what was basically an older, slightly smellier and slightly less vain Mantaro Kinniku. Rinko had to tell Suguru why they were meeting him, as Mari appeared to have forgotten, and although he appeared concerned at first he quickly forgot about the problem when they all arrived back at Suminoe Kindergarten, where he promptly began reminiscing with Mari about the good old days.
Despite pretending she was not really interested in their exchanges Rinko had heard enough and seen enough to determine that Mari still had feelings for Suguru and that Suguru had once cared about her and chased after her as vehemently as Mantaro pursued Rinko; but a chirpy blonde girl with a penchant for brash and skimpy outfits had been sufficient to lure Suguru from Mari and Mari seemed quite accepting of that fact, even admitting that she was not as bold as Bibinda and therefore not an ideal match for Suguru. The result of which was Rinko asking herself if she was somehow destined to follow in Mari's footsteps, playing the role of the girl who the Kinniku prince chased after, the girl who supported and encouraged him until he found someone a little more exciting to devote his time to leaving her to retire to the life of a lonely woman who ran the kindergarten.
After another glance into the dining area to confirm that Mari was sufficiently preoccupied tending to Suguru Rinko hurriedly and silently made her way out of the house. Once outside she started in the direction of her friends' homes, telling herself that she would go with them to the Tokyo National Stadium and meet Mari there. But Rinko did not have to travel far before she caught sight of Keiko walking towards her.
"Hi Rinko!" Keiko called to her.
"Hi Keiko," Rinko replied, slowing as she neared her friend.
"I was just coming over to your place," Keiko said.
Rinko stopped in front of Keiko and looked about herself with a small frown.
"Where's Tamaki?" she asked.
"Huh?" Keiko asked.
"Tamaki, where is she?" Rinko asked again.
"Oh, right, yeah, she um… She's over there."
Rinko turned in the direction Keiko appeared to be pointing, seeing nothing but strings of wrestling fans with painted faces, giant foam hands and home-made costumes of both Kid Muscle and Kevin Mask. She eventually located four people not adorned in fan clothing, quickly identifying them as Tamaki, Terry the Kid, Terryman and a woman she assumed must be Kid's mother.
"I think she has a bit of a crush on Kid," Keiko whispered.
Rinko turned back to Keiko who was grinning cheerfully and apparently saw nothing wrong with whispering when the people in question were considerably out of earshot.
"They would make a really cute couple," Keiko added, still in a whisper. "Like Kid's parents, Terryman and Natsuko."
Rinko felt her eyebrows shoot upwards and she turned back to the foursome, studying them a little more carefully before turning back to Keiko again.
"Keiko, do you ever wonder about fate?" she asked.
Keiko frowned and tilted her head to one side to regard Rinko as though she had suddenly gone a little insane.
"You mean like astrology?" she asked.
"No, I mean like destiny," Rinko explained. "Like maybe our lives have already been decided, and we're just making decisions and hanging around the people we're meant to be."
"Oh, I get it!"
Keiko giggled a little into the palm of her hand which only served to irritate Rinko.
"No, I don't think you do," Rinko insisted. "I've been watching Mari with Suguru Kinniku, and I think maybe that's just like me and Mantaro. And now Tamaki is hanging around Kid just like Terryman and his wife did when they were out age."
"Yeah, you're talking about love!" Keiko replied.
"No, I'm talking about our futures."
"You're talking about you and Mantaro and Tamaki and Kid."
"Yes… But not the way you think…"
Rinko and Keiko exchanged confused looks until they were interrupted by Tamaki who joined them looking a little flustered. She began talking about Kid and Keiko squealed excitedly along with her leaving Rinko alone with her thoughts. And her thoughts mainly concerned the fact that she appeared to be repeating Mari's life, as though it was her purpose in life to play the Kinniku prince's love interest as long as it was convenient for him, and apparently even her own friends saw it and thought it seemed like the right thing for her to be doing with her life.
Rinko wanted to dismiss the idea from her mind but she could not deny that she had feelings for Mantaro, even to the point that she had turned down Jade, who was easily the most attractive, charming, determined and brave Chojin known.
And so maybe it was just history repeating, and maybe she was destined to devote herself to Mantaro through the most difficult of his challenges until he met the new generation version of Bibinda.