A/N: ( 08.17.14 ) This first chapter has been rewritten. Again. I'm sorry. I just- I don't know what's wrong with me.
A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE TO MY READERS
( Tumblr announcement. ) I got this idea from fyerigurl. I get a lot of 'when will you update so and so' and 'what do you think about this and that' and 'how do you do this' or 'where did you come up with this' sorts of questions in my inbox and my reviews. I've never really gotten the chance to reply to these things even when I always think of the answer to myself, so I wanted to give you guys this tumblr for any questions, comments or concerns you may have. If you click on my profile, the link to the tumblr will be at the top of my bio. (In case ffnet updates are lagging again, the name of my tumblr is 'xcoffeelatte' - so just do xcoffeelatte dot tumblr dot c-o-m hahaha.)
( A small introduction. ) Hello, readers - whether you've been a long-time reader of this fic or just arriving, please take a moment to read over this little introduction! I started this story back in 2008 - I think I was in middle school, then, hardly a writer, a fangirl at best; I didn't have a developed voice or a distinctive writing style to call my own, with a pathetic diction to my name.
I'm not much better now, but I feel as though I've come a long way from my roots. And this story has a very dear place in my heart as one of the first stories I've started, and I will finish this, in time. As my writing continues to evolve, I may come back and rewrite a few chapters, and this first chapter alone has seen many revisions.
The entire story itself took a completely different route than when I'd started in 2008, but I feel as though it's better as it is now.
I know I've already rewritten this story completely once, but I will be revising it once more - part of the reason I hadn't updated in so long. I look back on the earlier chapters and I just see so many ways I can improve this story, improve the characterizations and delve into certain parts I'd neglected that would be so great.
But, for those who followed me on my MKYK journey, do not fear - this rewriting is nothing like that one.
I make a pledge. I will upload at least one chapter a day.
Futhermore, this rewriting is nothing like my first one, either. This is not a completely plot change and rehaul - this is so I can accurately reflect my current writing style, and insert a little things here and there, and just overall improve the story as a whole.
Please, take a read, tell me what you think, and hopefully, you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: I do not own PoT.
The classroom is in a state of clear disarray. The last class of the day has just ended and the teacher has left not moments before, and a noise slowly filters into the room until it heightens to a raucous fray - gossip here and laughter there, plans being made for the afternoon stretch ahead. Somewhere from all the din, a girl's distinctly excited tone joins in:
"Nori-chan, Nori-chan - guess what?"
A girl raises her head from where it'd lain atop her arms, sleepiness scrawled across her features. A lazy yawn escapes her lips, eyes drowsy and lidded and hazy; the words haven't quiet registered in her mind, yet, and she's trying to rub away the sleep from her vision. "Hm-" another yawn. "What?"
"Well," the girl begins, an over dramatic tone to her voice, and Noriko highly doubts that what she's about to say is worthy of such anticipation. Ai got herself so worked up over the smallest of things, really, like when she saw one of the famous tennis regulars outside of school the other day - said it was like seeing a celebrity out and about doing "normal people things."
But then again, they do attend Rikkai Dai - the academy prized for its excellence in the sports, consistently swarmed by scouts and sports reporters and even fellow athletes for their golden array of star athletes and teams. It's a point of pride and prestige, here, to wear a regulars' jersey, to be a part of such a fanfare and Rikkai Dai had always been an institution that emphasized-
Rikkai Dai, always win.
She supposed that here, in such an environment, athletes really were celebrities.
Ai plants her hands on Noriko's desk, leaned in, whispers a conspiratory "Well, I heard that Yukimura Seiichi is coming back! He's been discharged!"
Noriko blinks languidly, slowly, eyes glazed with a blank sort of curiosity. Certainly not the reaction Ai had been hoping for, if the exasperation in her expression is anything to go by. But Noriko is drawing a blank, feels as though that name is achingly familiar and its an irritating tug in the back of her mind, because-
The- the sick one, yes?
Well, that's what Noriko had him labeled as in her head, anyway, not that she'd tell anyone. She'd transferred in her third year, quite after the initial fuss had begun about the so-called 'Child of God' - that was his nickname, right? And before she had a chance to really understand and get into the whole craze about Yukimura, he'd been promptly carted off to the hospital and on leave from school.
She can't quite remember what it was for - she'd like to say cancer, but it might be something else. Cancer, she decides, firmly. Right?
The entity of 'Yukimura Seiichi' was primarily unknown and unimportant to Shiori Noriko's life thus far, but sometimes, though, Noriko wonders at what kind of a guy could have earned himself the nickname as a Child of God?
Must be some monster of an athlete.
Befitting of his nickname, the entire school seemed to be on some 'Yukimura' rave; girls, boys, teachers, even, were constantly mentioning his name in passing comments as though it were a natural part of their daily lives. It kind of unnerved Noriko, to be honest, but- if the guy was brilliant enough to be called divine, well, who was she to judge?
In fact, he was such an impressive person that even Kirihara Akaya, that horrendous second year, respected him. Noriko had bumped into that kid, once, to be rewarded with a sight of blood red eyes; to this day she dearly hoped that those were some colored contacts, instead of his actual eyes.
"Really?" Noriko hums under her breath, a small spark of interest flickering in her eyes. Perhaps, she thinks, she was finally to lay her eyes on this urban legend. Her excitement was still severely lacking, however, (but how was she supposed to be excited at the return of someone she'd never even met?) and Ai visibly shows her disapproval in a frown.
"Oh, whatever," Ai mutters irritably. "You're such a bore sometimes, you know that?" Ai pauses then, a pensive look dawning on her face. "Oh, hey - didn't you say that today was the regular selection matches?"
Noriko pauses, before horror begins to seep into her eyes.
"Oh my god," she breathes, eyes widening and hand flying up to her mouth. The color's drained from her cheeks, then, and there's an unhealthy sort of pallor to the fear glimmering from her expression. "Ai, why didn't you tell me sooner? I'm late," she moans.
Ai huffs, plants her hands on her slender hips. "What do you mean, 'why didn't I tell you sooner'? You're the regular here, not me - honestly, Noriko, you're so addle-brained all the time, it's a miracle you even remember to breathe-"
But Noriko was already off, duffle bag slung across her shoulder and loose tie swinging behind her as she ran. She paused in the doorway, though, to give Ai a sheepish wave and a cheeky smile, before running down the hallway. She didn't have much time, considering-
Shiori Noriko: starting striker for the Rikkai Dai girls' soccer team - the reigning champion in the middle school circuits at the national level. Everyone's familiar with Rikkai Dai's do-or-die motto of whatever it takes, and for this particular team, it meant staying on top of one's game at all times. It meant that being a regular was a privilege, and rotational regular selection matches took place at least once a month.
Since her transfer to the school, she'd been the team's striker without fail; most of the regulars tended to keep their spots with consistency, but there were always one or two who slipped halfway through. And rules were rules, their ever-strict Captain would harrumph, whistle in between her lips. At the thought of the captain, Noriko grimaces and runs a little faster.
Halfway down the hallway Noriko skids to a halt and decides that no, going down to the staircase, running through another hallway and finally out the main entrance would not get her to the matches in time. A late regular means an angry captain, and an angry captain was never good for anyone. Tick tock, tick tock, an almost daring sort of clock made itself present in her mind.
Her eyes flicker to the wide open window.
It is only the second floor, she reasons. People don't die from this sort of height, right? This was reasonable. This was a good idea.
People jump this sort of thing in the movies all the time!
And if it really came down to it, Noriko thinks, she'd honestly rather have a broken leg than an angry captain (an angry captain was nothing to scoff at).
With one last glance down the hallway, Noriko makes her decision before logic comes back to coax her out of it. She tosses her duffle bag out the window with little finesse, calls out with a careless "Watch out, if anyone's there!" and-
And without further ado, Shiori Noriko, third year, placed in the regular selection matches, nationally-ranked soccer star, has jumped off the second story window of the famous Rikkai Dai Fuzoku B Building.
"Ow! What the fu-"
There's a long string of creative curse words and indecipherable squawking, each syllable distinct with a viciously angry note, that falls from the boy's lips afterwards. His hand rubs at the back of his curly-haired head, eyes bright and indignant and bewildered as he continues in his haphazard tirade. From beside him, the rest of the tennis regulars have already begun to tune out their youngest member.
Beside the second-year boy is a yellow-and-black gym bag, lying harmlessly on the grass - it had fallen, quite literally, out of the sky.
'RIKKAI DAI FUZOKU GIRLS' SOCCER TEAM' is written across the bag in a bold, proud white font, with a smaller 'SHIORI NORIKO' printed just below the label. Kirihara swivels his head to scowl and direct a heated glare at Niou and Marui, both of whom are snickering at the poor boy.
Yanagi bends to quietly examine the bag, one brow raised and curiosity on his features. But that's nothing new, considering curiosity is his constant state of being; curiosity killed the cat, Yukimura used to tease, with that chilling soft tone to his voice.
But cats have nine lives, Yanagi would reply serenely in return.
Somewhere amidst all of Akaya's huffing and stomping, no one had thought to actually peer upwards to see where the bag had come from in the first place. That is, until it's too late, and the distant 'Look out, if anyone's there' registers just a moment after; by then, something is already falling from the sky, down, down, at a breakneck speed-
-right towards their beloved captain.
Seven pairs of eyes – some buggering out of their sockets, some horrified, a few delightedly amused – stare in absolute stark silence at the black shadow that fell rapidly towards the blue-haired head of Yukimura. The only person with enough sense of mind to dart into action is Kirihara himself, who attempts to run towards his captain in time to push him out of the way – unfortunately, the boy trips over the duffel bag on the floor.
Sprawled on the ground, he whips his head to bare his teeth at the bag, colorful curses falling from his lips once more.
Sanada, then, vein bulging from his neck, manages to bellow: "Yukimura - move!" before lunging towards the boy himself.
But, as stated before: it was far too late for anything to be done by then.
Yukimura Seiichi is nothing if not calm in the face of anything, including unidentified flying objects (a U.F.O.) hurtling towards his body, and he stares at it quietly, tilts his head in mild amusement. He lifts his arms to form a gentle arch, and without batting an eyelid, deftly catches the U.F.O. as it lands in his arms.
The unidentified flying object is identified in the next moment as:
A human. A human girl, quite clearly bewildered and confused as she stares at Yukimura through wide eyes, limbs askew in awkward angles.
Yukimura tilts his head the other way.
As for Noriko, well. She's-
She's not quite sure how to describe her emotional state of being at the moment. When she'd tossed her duffel bag out the window and leaped, she hadn't even thought that there was a possibility someone would be beneath her - quite obviously, because if she had, she wouldn't have jumped. And beyond that, if she had thought someone was below her, the last thing she'd expect was for said person to catch her.
But that's precisely what had happened, and now she's - quite awkwardly, might she add - resting in someone's arms, her own limbs akimbo and her eyes wide with bafflement. For a moment, she's not quite sure what to do, simply sits there, flabbergasted, eyes wide and lips opening and closing like a fish impression.
The boy stares back at her with a sense of such calm that it sends Noriko spiraling into more panic, if anything.
Finally, she finds some form of words to say: "I- Well- Um- I...I did call out for people to move."
It's then that she sees Kirihara Akaya glowering at her from the floor, and her expression grows even more confused. "What?" slips past her lips before she can quite stop it, and it's only then that she realizes there's an entire ringof boys around her, each wearing some form of surprise, horror and amusement on their expressions. She pauses.
These faces are oddly familiar.
Her head jerks to gaze at the face of the boy holding her-
And oh, wow, he's a pretty boy, with pale skin the color of smooth porcelain and wavy, dark hair framing his face like a halo. His smile is beautifully serene even when it's so small, and his features are delicate and intense at the same time; there's a sort of amusement from his blue eyes that makes her heart quicken its pace.
Who is he?
Yukimura isn't surprised, per say.
This is Rikkai Dai, after all; no use in being surprised over girls throwing themselves off of second stories. Though he had to admit, this wasn't exactly the welcome he'd expected upon his return. Niou had joked about girls throwing themselves into his arms, but he hadn't really thought there'd be a literal manifestation of said actions.
And somewhere in the background, he's sure he hears Sanada quite possibly frothing at the mouth (from half anger and half shock, he was sure), Niou and Marui howling with laughter, and Kirihara, screaming obscenities at the girl and the duffel bag in turn. All this, Yukimura had to admit – was quite a delightfully amusing first day back.
He watched the confusion in her eyes with sharp eyes, deconstructing and breaking down every minuscule little quirk of her lashes with frightening detail - observing her, analyzing her, getting inside her head and figuring her out inside out. (It's second nature by now, this natural inclination to take people apart and see how they work and read their eyes and see every little dark crevice of their soul).
He lets the girl down gently, without a word - and if anything, the tension in the air doubles.
Noriko takes a step to regain her balance, feels gravity shifting down and planting her feet firmly on the ground. She looks around, and to be quite honest, she still hasn't been able to wrap her head around the events that had just transpired. And Noriko wasn't a very large thinker, tended to act before she thought, tended to be thrown and blurt out inappropriate things at inappropriate times, so the next words out of her mouth are:
"So- what a fall, huh?" Her sheepish laugh dies in her throat when she notices the lack of any humor in the boys' expressions.
And she's still trying to place a name or an identity to these all-too familiar faces, trying to link why on earth Kirihara Akaya is here, as well.
In the meantime, she wipes her hand awkwardly on her soccer shorts before extending it to the- beautiful, frightening beautiful, her mind adds -blue-haired boy. "So- um- hey. I'm Shiori Noriko." A little smile, tinged with painful awkwardness and an uncomfortable edge.
Yukimura stares at the hand for a moment, a small smile still placed calmly on his lips. Noriko squirms under his gaze - there's just something about his eyes that's too heavy, too intense, for it to be a simple smile. She forces a cough and a smile on her own lips.
The silence lasts for a second more before Yukimura takes her hand. "Yukimura Seiichi. A pleasure," he murmurs, because even if 'pleasure' is a far cry from the situation, he's polite and suave.
Noriko blinks and surprise overtakes her expression. Yukimura catches it and tilts his head.
His voice registers in the back of her mind, and she notes that it's- silky smooth, sounds like velvet, and isn't that odd, for a sound to remind her of a fabric? But that's honestly the only way to describe the way it sounds. Beyond that, there's a far more pressing matter, because his name- his name, his name, his name, is so familiar and she knows she should know who it is, because she's certain she'd heard that name just a few minutes earlier-
It registers in her mind with a small 'click.'
Yukimura Seiichi, the sick boy.
Noriko finds herself swallowing. "Ah…you can't mean Yukimura Seiichi, as in…the Child of God-"
Yukimura's smile widens.
Noriko feels her heart drop into her gut.
...Had she possibly just fallen on the Child of God?
"Oh, shit," passes her lips before she can even fully comprehend the situation.
Oh. Oh. She only notices then that all the boys around her are wearing tennis jerseys; of course. He was their bloody captain - the monster athlete with a crazy moniker and crazier reputation, who she'd almost resigned to thinking of as an 'urban legend.' Oh, oh, oh-
Hysterical laughter threatens to crawl up her throat.
The captain of Rikkai Dai's tennis team - the one with the miracle recovery from his disease.
The Child of God.
The Child of God.
She's just hurtled her body at a child of God.
There was going to be a special, special hell for her in the afterlife.
Noriko's eyes go wide, and suddenly, being late for soccer practice doesn't seem all that terrifying - not when compared to the hostile glares of seven pairs of eyes in front of her. Her awful, awful tendency to blurt out highly inappropriate things makes an appearance once again, because she's blurting out "Oh, congratulations on recovering from cancer, man," and there's a nervous laughter to accompany those awful, awful words.
The laughter dies away when the boys' glares turn sharp, and Yukimura's smile widens just a teeny bit.
"I mean...must be hard, huh? Cancer and tennis and all?" Oh my god, she wants to moan; shut up, stupid mouth. But Noriko's babbling, now, a forced smile stretched so wide her cheeks ache.
Yukimura's smile never once wavers. He takes this, like everything else, in stride. He hadn't quite expected this, but when he thinks about it, he supposes 'sick boy' is how most regard him, now. Since his admittance into the hospital, his reputation as a tennis player had gone down considerably; he'd even heard rumors that he wasn't a good tennis player flying around.
And he'd been too sick to display his real skills, and the rumors had gone on.
That was what happened when an emperor left his throne - his throne vanished, his kingdom fell, ashes, ashes, everywhere.
The girl in front of him - who is she, even - hasn't stopped her silly words, though, and he catches the tail end: "...-that's pretty cool, though." When he glances at her face, he notes with a hint of bemusement that the smile on her lips is real, this time. "I mean- I don't- I don't know that much and I've just heard the rumors, but - I think it's cool. Your recovery. Um. That you're back for your team so soon."
It makes Yukimura pause.
Suddenly, something's beeping from the girl's hand, and she looks down at the cell phone clutched in her grasp.
"Oh, shit- I'm late," she huffs. Noriko glances nervously at the boys around her, smiles sheepishly. "I uh- I gotta go," she mumbles, reaching for the duffel bag on the floor. She snatches it up, tries one last attempt at a smile (that fails miserably), dashes through a quick "I am so, so sorry about this - sorry!" before sprinting off in the direction of...somewhere.
"Who the fuck was that?" Kirihara hisses, nursing his knee and staring at the rapidly disappearing figure of the still-running girl. He narrows his eyes at it, turns to Yanagi for some sort of explanation; there's a lot of things about that girl that irks him now that he's in a state to actually think about it.
Falling on their captain?
Calling him a tennis player with cancer?
Who the hell did she think she was?
Not only that, but she'd dared to hit his, the great Kirihara-sama's, head, with a damn duffel bag?
Yanagi clears his throat, then, a small pause before: "Well. Shiori Noriko, as she introduced herself as. Soccer player; can be found in tournaments dating back to when she's ten years of age. Starter for the girls' regulars. Third year, birthday is October 15th, fifteen years old, favorite food is sushi, body measurements-"
"That's enough, Renji," Sanada coughs, then, and Yanagi shrugs smoothly with a smile.
Sanada fights the overpowering urge to pinch the bridge of his nose.
He'd known something would go dreadfully wrong today, when he'd broken his sister's hand mirror that morning; he wasn't normally so paranoid or superstitious, but there had been something unsavory tugging at the bottom of his gut, telling him today would be a bad day.
He should take Yukimura for a check-up later today, just to be sure he was okay.
Yukimura laughs, then, and it dissipates the still-lingering tension in the air. He reassures the boys that he's fine, particularly Sanada, and beckons his team to continue their trek to the tennis courts. He'll write it off as just another day at the strange Rikkai Dai.
Sanada breaths a sigh of exasperation; this particular assembly of regulars never bode well for his peace of mind.
Their captain was too easy-going for his own good.
One was a sugar-high idiot.
One was a fool who found anything unpleasant funny.
One was on the path to becoming a bloodthirsty murderer.
One was a human computer.
One was a 'gentleman' who was secretly a sadist.
Only two were normal on the team, as Sanada saw it: him, and Jackal.
Actually, Sanada pinched the bridge of his nose as he saw Jackal looking at Marui's mini-cake collection with interest, there was only one normal person.
And he wasn't very safe, either.
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