Chapter 3: Xenodochy

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"Sakuno-chan! I missed you so much! I haven't seen you in soooo long!"

Yes, and you won't see me again if you continue suffocating me. Oh Kami, wasn't Marui-senpai glomping me enough? I can so see my epitaph now, and it would read:

Here lies Ryuuzaki Sakuno

Beloved Daughter

Kind Granddaughter

Treasured Friend

Death by Asphyxiation

"Oi, you freak! Release her at once!" I felt Marui-senpai trying to pry the heavy weight off me. Trying being the keyword. All he was really doing was shout and flail. So not helping. Aside from that, no one's really doing anything. I can just feel their amusement regarding my situation. Bastards.

"Oi, Kabaji, get the little monkey off Tezuka's coach's granddaughter."

"Ossu."

And then I was free. Thank you Kami for sweet, sweet air.

"Oh, my pretty cupcake! Are you alright?" Only to be smothered again. Dammit.

"Marui." I felt the sweets loving senpai stiffen at the terse voice that could only come from the team's scary fuku-buchou. "Let her go this instant."

"B-but my wife–"

"Cannot breathe anymore. And she's not your wife."

With a dejected sigh and a pout adorning his face, Marui-senpai took his arms off me. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

"And don't think I've forgotten your punishment with Niou. When we come back, I'll double the laps you'll run and the push ups you'll do."

I saw Marui-senpai cringe. Sanada-senpai was harsh. I think being a tennis player has a high correlation with having an enjoyment to seeing others suffer. Take for example Inui-senpai and Fuji-senpai. I think even Ryoma-kun has occasional bouts of sadism.

"What!" In a flash, Niou-senpai was standing up, a wild look on his face, his bento laying on the ground, forgotten. "Marui, you idiot! What have you done?! Why'd you have to remind him?!"

"Enough. We're here to enjoy this day, and so we will. No one will run laps and do push ups."

I turned to see whom had the audacity to abate Sanada-senpai's orders. My eyes widened and before I could question what he and his team (and the annoying tag-along) was doing here, Sanada-senpai spoke.

"Atobe, you have no right to command my team." Oh my Kami. I turned my gaze to the so called Emperor only to see him glaring daggers at the Monkey King. "I did not invite you here just so you can order my us around. And Niou, clean up your mess."

Niou-senpai quickly picked up the remains of his meal, careful not to invoke the wrath of his scary fuku-buchou. A smirk, however, was Hyotei's captain's reply and an "Of course Ore-sama does. Ore-sama is the captain of captains, the king of kings. Ore-sama is the highest being and what Ore-sama says, goes."

This is not good. I could feel Sanada-senpai's anger rolling off in waves and I could not help but shudder in fear. Even the others, who had come closer to watch the spectacle and amuse themselves, are slowly backing away. One more provocation and the cap wearing senpai will explode.

"A-ano, Atobe-san, if you d-don't mind me a-asking, what a-are you doing here? A-and why is Kintaro-kun with you?"

Well, that seemed to offset the tense situation. Thankfully, Sanada-senpai, too, has somewhat diffused. Hallelujah.

"Ah, Sakuno-chan," So we're in first name basis now, are we? And since when did I give him permission to address me as such? I guess he being the almighty, cocky Ore-sama gave him the impression that he can do that. "Sanada has invited myself and Hyotei to practice with them."

There was a pause as he looked exasperatedly at Kintaro-kun. "The little monkey over there just tagged along saying he was lost." It's funny how he calls Kintaro-kun a monkey when Ryoma-kun calls him a monkey himself.

An indignant "Hey!" came from Kintaro-kun followed by "I'm not a monkey!" The wild boy crossed his arms and pouted. "I was going to visit Koshimae when I ended up in Hyotei. So I decided to tag-along..."

"Oh." So that's why. I remember he's just as bad with directions as I am.

"Ne, Sakuno-chan, what are you doing here? I was surprised to see you with them."

Uh huh. I bet you were. You even decided to choke me in your embrace. I thought I was going to die.

"Y-yeah. Yo-you see, I just transferred to Rikkai."

And then I was in Marui-senpai's arms again. Really, has he not learned what happens when he does that? I hope Sanada-senpai won't go back to having an angry fit again.

"Yep, and she's my wife."

Okay, I take it back. I hope Sanada-senpai would become mad at that red haired, candy addict again, if only to wipe that smug smirk off his face. Unfortunately, by then, he and most of the others had gone off to warm up, leaving only Kintaro-kun, Marui-senpai, Atobe-san, and myself by the benches. You see, the arrival of the Hyotei tennis team and the exuberant kid from Shitenhouji meant the end of lunch and the bentos, thankfully, had been put back in my duffel bag. Even the mess I made when I dropped my bento was gone. I would have to thank Yagyuu-senpai later.

"Eh?! But what about Koshimae?!" Kintaro-kun looked surprised, and I don't blame him either. "I thought he was your one and only?! Did you have a fight?! Is that why you left?!"

"N-no, he's no–"

"Koshimae?"

"But I–"

"Who's Koshimae?"

"You've go–"

"And you've gotten yourself another already?!"

"I-it's not li–"

"I'm Sakuno-chan's one and only! There is no other!"

By then, I didn't bother explaining myself. They wouldn't let me anyway.

"Ore-sama does not know of a player whose name is Koshimae."

"Sakuno-chan, what would Koshimae think?"


I sigh. This is going to be a long day.

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"I am so going to kick your ass now, buchou!"

There he goes again, challenging his senpai. Really, is the Mean Dude always like that? However, Yukimura-senpai just smiled sweetly.

"If you say so, Kirihara."

And so they rallied the ball back and forth. I must say, the Mean Dude is good. But, he doesn't have anything on his team's buchou. After all, he is the Son of God. Really, Yukimura-senpai lives up to his name.

"40- 15!"

I've never seen Yukimura-senpai play before and to see him now, on the courts is extremely exciting, to tell the truth. It's a good thing they decided to have their match near the benches, so I get a front row seat.

He may not look like it but he's quite a formidable opponent. It's a wonder Ryoma-kun won against him in the nationals back when we were still freshmen in junior high. Not that I think Ryoma-kun isn't a great player and all, but I honestly like watching the Rikkai tennis captain play more. His strokes are graceful and his movements are fluid. It's like watching a dance. Everything just flows and fits into place. Even Oshitari-san, who's serving as an umpire seems mesmerized by the game.

"30- love"

He reminds me of Fuji-senpai. Like the sadistic tensai, he looks a little feminine, a bit frail if you must. And he's really calm and composed, too, it's hard to believe he could be such a strong, incredible player.

"Oshitari-san, the match is over."

"Wha– oh."

I giggled as I saw the prodigy of Hyotei try to compose himself. He pushed his glasses (which are so totally fake) back into place. I couldn't blame him though. The match was just that amazing.

"Game and match, Yukimura: six games to two."

"Couldn't you loosen up a bit, buchou? You didn't have to go all out on me, you know."

"Chyeah, right. Buchou didn't even show half his moves. He was just playing with you."

I was so into the match that I didn't notice the guys I was with had stopped their inane babble. The match had been great but, I must say, it had been a greater distraction if it was able shut these chatterboxes up. However, since it's over, Marui-senpai's attention is back to me and I found his arms around me once again.

"You've improved Kirihara. It was a great game."

Yukimura-senpai is not just an awesome player, it seems. He's really nice and kind, too. He even offered the Mean Dude a friendly smile and a compliment. I mean, he practically slaughtered the Mean Dude! I didn't really expect him to gloat, but I thought he was going to tell the Mean Dude to practice some more or something.

"Yeah, before, you couldn't even get a point from him."

Oh. Wow. If what Kuwahara-senpai said was true then... Wow. I cannot believe Yukimura-senpai is that exceptional. And I must say my respect for the Mean Dude has gone up a notch.

"Great job, Kirihara." I heard Sanada-senpai say. I turned to see him coming towards us, the others behind him. They must have finished their respective matches, too and were done cooling down.

"Thanks, Sanada fuku-buchou."

Well that turned the Mean Dude's frown upside down. Sanada-senpai must be really hard to please.

"Don't think I'll be going easy on you, though."

And then he's pouting again. How he changes expressions so fast, I have no idea.

"Sugoi! Will you play with me next, then?!"

The kind buchou just gave a lighthearted chuckle. It seems everyone wants to play against him and it doesn't surprise me in the least. He tried to comply as best he could but he can't have matches with all of them can he?

"Maybe next time, Tooyama-san. It's getting kind of late and we have one more place to go."

"Eh?" Where else could we be going? What else do they have up their sleeves? With everything that's been going on today, I don't think anything else could surprise me anymore.

"If it's alright with you, Ryuuzaki-san." That's Yagyuu-senpai for you, so considerate and ever the gentleman.

"I-it's okay."

I gave them a timid smile. Really, they've all been so nice and good to me. I looked at the Mean Dude stretching with Yukimura-senpai to cool down, and saw him wearing his ever present scowl. Well, most of them anyway.

"Yosh, let's go then!"

With that, we packed our things, exited the tennis courts and made our way to our new destination.

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I found myself in an arcade after a thirty minute bus ride to the mall with Kintaro-kun, and the Rikkai and Hyotei regulars. The others had quickly dispersed and went to their preferred game while Marui-senpai stayed faithfully with me. He hasn't left my side since this morning and I don't really know if that's a good or bad thing.

"Come on, Sakuno-chan, let's play Tekken!"

"But I don't k-know how to play."

He just grinned and for a moment, I thought he resembled the cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. Then I noticed Yukimura-senpai, Oshitari-san, Yagyuu-senpai, Atobe-san and Sanada-senpai by the entrance of the arcade. Aren't they going to play, too?

"Nah, they're not. I don't think Arcade games are their thing."

"Oh. I see." I fiddled with the hem of my shirt, not really knowing what to say. He's been really kind to me today, if a bit bold and a tad forward.

"Th-thank you for acco-accom-- for being w-with me today." Yeah. Let's just stick to simple words that are easy to pronounce. The stuttering does not really help much. "You and the o-other senpai ha-have been really nice to invite m-me along. I ha-had a lo-lot of fun."

And then, he smiled. One that was so sweet and wonderful and sincere, I nearly forgot to breathe. I didn't know he could smile like that.

"That's the whole point. We figured you'd be lonely without your friends that we thought we'd invite you to a practice match or two and spend the day with you." Then he took my hand in his and led me to the direction of his game of choice. "Now let's play Tekken."

"O-okay. Th-thank you again, fo-for thinking of this and do-doing this for me." I returned his smile, but what he said next nearly wiped it off my face.

"No problem. Besides, today was really mostly Akaya's idea, so you have him to thank the most."


Sorry for the super late update. Hehe. I'm still not sure if I'm to continue this as it is or to turn it into a drabble collection so please vote on the poll on my page. Thank you for reading, though, and your reviews were (are) very much appreciated. :)

Also, this is dedicated to TheFandomWhore. Hehe. Sorry for making you wait a long time!

My writing is not perfect. If you see anything wrong, be it on grammar, plot or characterization, feel free to let me know.

--Kirihara Sakuno