Seriously

Sanada Genichirou One-Shot


He always told me I needed to take things more seriously. I argued that he needed to lighten up. It was an endless cycle that he probably found tedious; I just thought of it as another way to get him talking. Sure, the repetition of our conversations was sometimes irritating to no end and made me wish he hadn't spoken at all, but in the end I always cherished those few exchanged words with the enigmatic Sanada Genichirou.


"You need to take things more seriously, Tokiwa-san."

I sighed, picking my head up from its place nestled into my arms. I could feel his hard stare before I had even turned my head. Seeing him now made me wonder just what he looked like smiling.

Like a goblin, probably. It would be creepy: just plain wrong. Sanada wasn't that kind of guy.

When he sent me those sort of advisories, it almost made me think he actually cared about what I did with my life - because he cared about me. But no, it was impossible. The only thing that fukubuchou cared about was tennis. And kendo, I suppose. School as well, considering the only time we spoke was when he reprimanded my laziness in the classroom...

The bottom line was, those were all inanimate activities. Sanada didn't have a very wide range of emotions that strayed far from respect and determination. Least likely of all the feelings for him to explore would be human affection.

I sent him a half-hearted grin, stretching my arms out before me and cracking my knuckles. "You need to lighten up, Sanada-kun."

His frown dipped a little farther down (if it was even possible), an expression of distain etched into stone on that handsome face. I watched on dauntlessly as he nailed one last glare into my skull before going back to his work. I could have laughed at how docile he was off the courts: if the sensei asked him to write a summary of WWII he would be right on it, scribbling away in that irksomely neat handwriting until his fingers fell off.

I, on the other hand, couldn't care less about school. This whole routine of playing nice with the other kids and doing what I was told had no appeal what-so-ever. I didn't need to know about who bombed who all those years ago, how many times ten went into one hundred, or what the chemical symbol for gold was - it was all useless. Why waste my brain power? I already had a plan for my life and it didn't include anything the Educational Council insisted I needed drilled into my memory.

It was decided that I would leave for England as soon as I graduated High School, or possibly a little before (when I turned eighteen and, therefore, became a legal adult). I wasn't exactly sure of the significance of Europe or why it was the place I had picked - it just felt right. Instinctual. Maybe my theatrical soul had some kind of kinship with the west and was calling out for reunion. All of the best thespians had come from England, after all, and acting was in my soul.

Whatever the reason, I knew that I belonged there better than I knew Marui's claim of genius was nothing but delusional male ego. It would happen, hopefully in the nearer future rather than distant, whether anyone else believed it or not. I would get my start in Europe before moving on to bigger and better things in the US.

Until then, I would just lay back down on my desk and ignore the blank sheet of paper and unopened text book in front of me while I gazed out the window, thinking about when my life would actually start once I escaped this time-pit called 'school'.


The most tolerable season in Japan was undoubtedly winter. I wasn't one for spring or summer; sure, it was pretty outside and all, but I couldn't stand the heat and humidity. Just below winter, autumn was high on my list as well, only number two because of those few warm days when children would run around screaming like maniacs and jumping into piles of leaves. I was never overly fond of toddlers; No, I was never overly fond of people in general, especially those who were obnoxious and immature. I was a bit of a loner, I admit, but it was willingly. It wasn't that I was rude or shunned by the other students of Rikkai Daigaku Fuzoku Chuu: I just chose to be alone. At least I wasn't like Genichirou, who was almost always seen in the company of his fellow regulars and looking like he wished to be anywhere else.

Being winter at the time, tennis season had yet to begin and the regulars were almost treated like normal people. But only almost, of course. I honestly didn't understand the celebrity status they were given just because they were decent at hitting balls back and forth. They were good (great even - maybe fantastic) but I still never bothered to give them so much as a second look in passing. Aside form being stars on the courts, a majority of them were loud, cocky, or just plain creepy.

Yukimura Seiichi: Captain. Sadist. Androgynous.

Sanada Genichioru: Vice-Captain. Stoic. Abusive.

Yanagi Renji: Stalker. Squinter. Bad hair.

Niou Masaharu: Even worse hair. Annoying. Jerk.

Yagyuu Hiroshi: Always-fogged glasses. Too polite. Likely to be a closet pervert.

Marui Bunta: Obsessed with sweets. Pink. Self-absorbed.

Kuwahara Jackal: Bald. Forgettable. Foreign.

Kirihara Akaya: Demon. Demon. Demon.

But why was I bothering to put so much thought into people I didn't care about? Hadn't I said they got too much unworthy attention? I shouldn't even know their names. Why did I, anyway?

Oh, that's right - because of the rabid fans. Mostly female. I hated what the world was coming to. Did the Honors Society - the kids who would one day rule the country with their brilliance - have a fan club?

I didn't think so.

It was the same prejudice that separated Hollywood from Broadway; Actors on stage were twice as talented as those fooling around in cinema. In front of a live audience, there was no chance for mistake. Everything had to go according to plan right then and there and if it didn't there was only a split second to choose an alternate route. Crews had seconds to set props, costumes, sets, mics, tracks, etc. Actors had to keep their lines, blocking, voices and minds straight. It was a rush worth all of the stress in the end. But we didn't get all that much recognition for it.

It was those dilettante tween idiots like Miley Cyrus that hoarded all of the undeserved attention while real talent went unnoticed.

It was just one of the uncountable faults of society. Most civilians wouldn't know true art if it came up and bit them in the -

"Tokiwa-chan?" the old hag in charge of my Literature lessons called out. I merely grunted lightly, waking up from my current cloud and sending her a dull stare. "Please explain this quote."

I politely raised a brow. Did she actually think I had any idea what she was talking about? I hadn't touched my text book since the day she handed it to me at the start of the semester.

"Which quote, Kotobane-sensei?"

Sensei sighed heavily, adjusting her thin-rimmed glasses. "The excerpt from the work we've been discussing all week, Tokiwa-chan," she classified plainly. My only response was another blank, forcefully bashful look (I was, after all, and actress: it was child's play to convince this woman that I was embarrassed over being caught without an answer). She finally cracked that poised veneer and scowled. "Turn to page 321. Lines 29-44 are considered the third section: find the sentence that begins with 'Paths of glory.'"

Huffing under my breath, I made no hurry to do as she had instructed. I pretended not to notice the hints of giggling behind my back as I finally found the desired page and scanned the story before me. "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray. When had we started this stuff? I might have paid attention if I had known we were working on something interesting.

"'...paths of glory lead but to the grave,'" I read, only sparing a moment to blink once before locking eyes with the teacher once more. "It means material status doesn't mean anything in the end - we all just end up dying anyway."

I didn't know why some of the other kids found that funny, but my abrupt answer send off another wave of chuckles. The rippling laughter calmed as Kotobane-sensei shushed the classroom.

"Very good, Tokiwa-chan. Do you agree with this?"

Sighing at her persistence, I shrugged. "I suppose. It's true that no one really wins once life's over for all of us, but if you're going to bother living you might as well spent the time making something of yourself."

Nodding enthusiastically at my input, the pedagogue singled out another student. "And you, Sanada-kun? Do you have anything to add?"

I snorted behind my hand, regaining my slouched posture and supporting my chin with one arm. Of course she just had to choose him to contrast with my ideas.

Sanada sat up straighter, pulling his shoulder back for a little more height. "Forgive me, Kotobane-sensei, but I read ahead in this reading last night and finished the elegy."

Brownnoser.

"That's quite all right," sensei crooned, obviously thrilled that at least one of her pupils had some initiative. "And what did you think of it? Were you able to understand Gray's intention?"

The fukubuchou nodded sternly. "Hai. The author is comparing life of the aristocrats to the lower class. He is making the point that while more astute persons are able to utilize their skills because of their wealth, the less affluent are repressed because of their lack of opportunity."

"Exactly," sensei smiled proudly. "Did you all understand that? In the time that this work was written, a person's class decided their position in life - the rich could follow their dreams with the money in their possession while the poor, but equally deserving and gifted citizens, never had the chance to show and prove their potential greatness. Now, what do you think..."

I stopped listening at that point, gazing back off into space. Thomas Gray was a smart man: he had basically summed up life perfectly - nothing was fair in this world. But there was one little problem with his view: I wasn't about to just take my fate lying down. I would go out into the world and do something great with my life by any means possible, millionaire or not. Nothing as insignificant as money was going to hold me back from my dream.

Mark my words: one day the name Tokiwa Kin was going to be lit up in lights in New York City.


"Oi, Tokiwa-sempai!"

I flinched slightly but kept up my pace, walking through the cafeteria like I hadn't heard a thing. It had to have been a mistake. No one would bother to seek me out in a crowd.

"Tokiwa-sempai! Chotto matte!"

This time I was forced to halt. Biting my lip, I swiveled around on my heel, glancing back to see the little devil himself trotting up to me like some curious house cat.

"Tokiwa-sempai," Kirihara Akaya said, slowing his steps as he approached. "Are you busy?"

I shook my head, inwardly thinking of any possible reason that he would be asking. Had we ever spoken at all? How did he know my name, anyway?

The second year smiled shyly, rubbing the back of his neck. "Ne, would you mind eating with the team and me some time, then? Niou-sempai told me that you're really good in English and stuff, so I figured you could sort of tutor me during the lunch periods if you didn't mind..."

What? This was random. Couldn't he have asked more officially or something?

"What about your other sempai?" I questioned dubiously, sensing something suspicious. "Why can't they help you since you guys already spend so much time together?"

My kouhai stiffened before waving it off with an awkward laugh. "Ah, that's just it - we're together too much! They've tried teaching me, but we always end up fooling around and getting off topic..."

My brow raised on its own accord. "Sanada fools around? I somehow can't picture it."

Akaya shuffled his feet. "Well, Sanada-fukubuchou is a busy guy - I wouldn't want to take up his time when he could be doing other things..."

Oh, and I just had hours up for sale?

"...And besides, the vice-captain is kind of scary, ne?"

I should have fought it, told him to find someone more qualified and went on with my life, but something told me that I should just accept. Besides, it sort of felt good to be looked up to and asked for educational advice for once in my life. I had never been renowned for my grades, but I had always excelled in the areas of English Literature and the Fine Arts as a result of my goal.

"Whatever," I settled, cocking my head to the side. "Just don't expect me to enjoy it too much."


Despite all of my previously stated opinions of indifference towards the tennis team, being invited into their table during our meal block the next day was like being asked to join a group of celebrities. I could feel the hundreds of stares on my back, hear the whispers of gossip making their way throughout the room like a wildfire, and sense the mass of estrogenic beings out for my blood. It was actually making a little nervous - my palms had already begun to sweat.

"Oi, Kin-chan, are you gonna pass out or something? You look like a drowned goldfish."

The Brazilian boy, Jackal, quirked an invisible brow and turned to Niou. "How do you drown a goldfish? They that can only survive in water. I don't think being drowned is possible..."

Rikkai's resident trickster rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Either way she looks like a sick guppy, puri~."

Marui popped his gum. "Mou," he grinned, poking a thumb to his chest. "She's probably just nervous being so close to a tensai. Ne, Kin-chan?"

If he was some kind of genius, why didn't he tutor Akaya in English and let me leave?

Forgetting my (already minimal) manners, I attempted to frown towards every single male surrounding me at once. "It's Tokiwa to you guys..."

The boy nearest to me -Bunta- threw an arm across my shoulders as if we were old friends. I recoiled, trying to decide how vicious it would be of me to elbow him in the gut and if the consequences would be worth it. "We've been classmates for years now, Kin-chan! We should call each other by our first names."

Choosing to simply shrug out of his embrace, I shot the doubles player a sour stare from the corner of my eye. "That doesn't mean I've learned to like you enough to let you call me by my given name."

It might have been harsh, but being backed into this uncomfortable corner (literally - the table was set up so that I was closest to the wall, with Marui seated to my direct right and Akaya across from me on another bench) had brought out my defensive side. Whenever I was in this type of position, everything that came out of my mouth was just an unintended insult. Even then, I seemed to open my mouth twice as much as I would normally, spitting out those sort of uncensored sentences.

"So mean..." the red-head pouted. "It's no wonder fukubuchou - "

A hand was slapped over his jaw before the thought could be finished aloud. I blinked, startled, and followed the arm to the face of a gentleman.

"Forgive the others, Tokiwa-san," Yagyuu said, using his free hand to adjust his oval lenses while slowly dropping the fingers from Marui's mouth. "They tend to grow a little rowdy when we have company."

I didn't know how to respond to that. In the end I just let it go, not willing to try and figure these kids out at all.

Clearing his throat, Yagyuu send me an appreciative nod. "Why don't we introduce ourselves?"

Like they needed to - the whole school knew who they were.

"I'm Yagyuu Hiroshi," Yagyuu Hiroshi spoke. "Yoroshiku."

"Uhm... hi."

"You seem to know Marui already," he continued, gesturing to the energetic male at my side. I found no reason to agree as Yagyuu went on. "Obviously, Akaya is the one who brought you here today, and to his left is Niou Masaharu. The two of you are in the same Theatre Studies class, correct?"

Unfortunately, yes. Even if he was irritating to no end, I couldn't deny that Niou had a gift in acting as well as tennis. I had heard a rumor that he and Yagyuu often switched places to throw off their opponents, so I was forced to give the silver-haired third year a small amount of respect as a fellow drama student.

"To his left is Yanagi Renji..."

Right, the freaky one.

"And at the end of the table is, of course, Yukimura Seiichi."

I had never been this close to the captain before. Frankly, I never wanted to again. There was just something so unnerving about that grin of his that I had never noticed before, like he was planning something... malicious.

"It's nice to see you, Tokiwa-chan," the angelic boy greeted kindly. I was struck with an inexplicable fear, smiling awkwardly back. He was even scarier than an angry Sanada! Since when have heavenly features been know to strike terror in the hearts of adolescence? It just wasn't right!

"And next is Sanada Genichirou from our class..."

I welcomed the chance to take my eyes from Yukimura, even if Sanada was the alternate. I was instantly calmed - the man might as well have just been a giant brick for all the enthusiasm he showed. Just for spite, I made sure to give him a uncharacteristically zealous wave, which he pointedly ignored.

Yagyuu skipped over himself, he being the one seated beside Sanada on the left, and acquainted me with the final member of the team.

"Lastly, this is Kuwahara Jakal. We're all pleased to have you joining us today while assisting Akaya in his studies."

...Sure.

Taking in a deep breath, I bared my teeth genially towards the others at the table before locking eyes with the kouhai opposite of me.

"Let's get right into this, Kirihara-kun..."

Socializing with the tennis club was NOT something that was scribbled in to my list of things to accomplish before I died, so I wouldn't spend too much time getting side-tracked by it. I had real work to do.


Things went on in a similar way for the next week, minus the idle chit-chat between the boys and I. They had learned by the third day that I wanted more or less nothing to do with them and generally respected my opinion, giving me as much space as I ordered. The only one I exchanged words with more than a customary 'hello' was Akaya, for obvious reasons. The child actually wasn't half as bad as I expected him to be - who would have thought that the 'devil' of the courts was actually such a cutie?

When I walked into the crowded eating hall on one particular Tuesday and approached the usual table, the absence of three key members was immediately noticed.

"Where are Sanada, Yukimura, and Yagyuu?" I questioned the remaining males, sliding into my seat. Akaya shrugged, a grumpy frown etched onto his face.

"Who cares? We just started Shakespeare today! As if it's not bad enough translating regular English, now it has to be Shakespeare, too?! Ergh..."

I smirked at the youngest boy's blatant frustration, finding the display adorable. Niou shook his head and gave me a proper reply.

"Buchou has Student Council activities that ran late. Fukubuchou and Yagyuu are helping him out to get things done faster."

A huff forced its way out up my esophagus. "Of course. Where ever Yukimura is, Sanada will be there to hold his hand..."

Niou leered deviously, leaning over the table and resting a palm to his cheek. "Is that jealousy I detect, Kin-chan?"

I let the use of my name drop, finding his intention more important to address. Keeping my expression neutral, I tugged Akaya's English book to my side of the table in preparation. "Please. Yukimura's a little too pretty for me. I'd want a guy who doesn't make other people question who the male in the relationship is."

I let my eyes scan the second year's assignment. Sonnets, huh? Too easy. And Shakespeare? It was my specialty. I knew Sonnet number 18 as well as I knew the inside of my eyelids.

"Who said I was talking about the buchou?"

My gaze snapped up, eyes doubtful. "You're kidding, right?"

"Nope. Sanada's more masculine than even you, surprisingly. And by chance, even if people couldn't tell which of you was the man they'd probably just let it drop because they've always thought Sanada was gay."

I stuck my tongue out maturely, going back to my dissection of Akaya's work. I tilted my head, trying to make sense of it.

"Anou, Kirihara-kun... all you did was write it over in Katakana..." [1]

The green-eyed brat crossed his arms. "Isn't that good enough? I told you - I don't know English!"

A smile popped up against my will. "For you, yes. I'm surprised that you actually got most of it right. It's impressive that even if you don't know what any of the words mean, you can at least figure out how to pronounce most of them."

Akaya brightened slightly, sitting up. "Oh, well... would you mind helping me out?"

The poetry in Akaya's book was written in its original Romanized form. The class's task was to understand that traditional English style and rewrite the sonnet into a more understandable Japanese. Even I had to admit that Akaya's sensei was expecting too much from his students, so I decided to spoil the second year just this once.

"You're lucky that buchou and the others are gone," Jackal spoke up, watching as I bit my lip and began the translations. "They would scold you for doing Akaya's work for him instead of letting him learn."

"Aa," Marui whined, gnawing away on his green apple gum. "We all had to make it through that class the hard way! This isn't fair!"

"Damare, sempai," Akaya narrowed his eyes. "Kin-sempai is being nice. Don't make her turn into a female fukubuchou again!"

I stiffened, the movement of my pen halting with my breath. As slow as a snail, my eyes lifted to pin my kouhai in his place. "What?"

The boy gulped, falling victim to my intense stare. Niou chortled, slapping his distressed teammate on the back and taking over.

"See, look at that! Even you glare of death rivals the fukubuchou, puri~."

I switched my 'glare of death' to the rat-tailed teen. "You are insane. I'm not anything like Sanada!"

Niou shrugged, entirely unaffected. "Its not an uncanny resemblance, but there are some shared traits. Admit it, you can be pretty harsh and monotonous sometimes. Besides, I think that's what makes him so interested in you."

Interested in me?

"Interested in me?"

The entire table nodded. My jaw dropped.

"Are you saying..." I started off, completely convinced that these boys had been hit in the head one too many times with those little green balls. "...that Sanada Genichirou likes me or something?"

"No."

I almost expected them to say yes; it would only fit in with the rest of this bizarre conversation. I couldn't make out whether I was relieved or crestfallen with the negative answer. The entire thing was too confusing for me to follow along with.

"I never said he liked you," Niou said cheekily. "Just that you're interesting enough to capture his attention. Is that some wishful thinking going on in your head, Kin-chan? Why do you think the team pressured Seaweed-head into asking you to tutor him? It definitely had nothing to do with your grades..."

"Mm," Yanagi agreed suddenly, making noise for the first time that day. Now that Yukimura wasn't around, the data master took his place as the creepiest member of the bunch. "There is only a seven percent chance that Sanada would ever develop romantic feelings towards Tokiwa-san."

The was a pregnant pause before I turned away, going back to my work and ignoring every ounce of testosterone surrounding me. Was I bitter? Yes. Feeling taken advantage of and moronic? That was true as well. I really didn't know how to react, so I chose not to at all.

Recognizing my resignation, the males left me to myself until I had calmed down.

"Okay," I settled once I had finished converting the sonnet into our native language. "Now read it, Kirihara-kun."

He looked as if he would rather stand up on the table and do the Macarena, but complied with my request anyway.

"'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day...'"

Somewhere in the middle of his narration the rest of his sempai arrived, noticing that Akaya was busy and regaining their seats without a fuss until he had wrapped it up.

"'...So long as men can breath and eyes can see,

So long lives this and this gives life to thee.'"

I nodded as he finished reading, jumping right into the next step. "Do you know what it means, Kirihara-kun?"

His eyes were empty when he glanced up. "No idea."

I sighed, rubbing my temples in frustration. The kid really was pretty hopeless in this subject.

"At least try thinking about it," I advised, wishing he would put a little effort into it. I realized how hypocritical I was with that thought, but dismissed it as a simply technicality. At least Literature was a useful subject, unlike math or science. This was worth it.

"I guess," Akaya huffed with annoyance. "...it's a love poem?"

"Yes!" I encouraged, glad he had figured that much. "But what about the mood? Is he just droning on with all of that romantic speech or is there a hidden meaning to it?"

I was barely aware that all of the boys were listening in to my lesson, only focusing on getting Akaya to understand.

"...What? It's a love poem. Why would there be a hidden meaning? It just a bunch of sappy lines."

He was definitely missing the point of this.

"Think about it this way," I voiced, picking an alternate route. "Look at the first line - does he actually want to compare the woman in the poem to a summer's day?"

"Uh... yes?"

"No," I corrected bluntly, face expressionless. "He's speaking with an almost sarcastic voice. The whole point of the sonnet is that she shouldn't be compared to a summer's day."

"Huh? Why would he say he's comparing her to a summer's day and not mean it? Can't he just say what he wants to without all of these dead ends? I hate poetry! And when did this woman come in anyway? Since when did it say anything about a girl...?"

My vision turned hazy. This kid was clueless, really. He hadn't even caught on to the fact that this poem was about a woman? How was it a love poem without an intimate object of interest? Did he think Shakespeare was referring to another man?

"Let's try the ending. Do you get what that final point means?"

"…"

"It says that as long as the poem lives on, so will the memory of the woman he dedicated it to."

"…How the heck did you figure that?!"

Shaking my head I decided to give it a rest, lightly shutting the text and nudging it back to its owner. "Why don't you think about it over night and we'll discuss it again tomorrow."

If he had any sense at all, he would just look up an analysis on the internet when he got home.

"You know, I'm a fan of Shakespeare, too," Niou sighed melodramatically, placing his knuckles to his forehead daintily. "'O Romeo, Romeo! Werefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name! Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love and I'll no longer be a Capulet!~"

I couldn't help but choke on a laugh. For someone who I had given credit to as an actor, Niou's epic failure as the female Juliet was something dreadful.

"Please," I chortled, not even attempting to hold back a smile while all the rest of the boys laughed openly at the Trickster's rendition. "No fan of Shakespeare would even consider quoting Romeo and Juliet unless it was a joke. It's the worst play he's ever written!"

"What makes you say that, Tokiwa-san?" Yukimura asked, innocent and curious. I spared him a momentary glance before averting my eyes.

"It's simple, really. Just compare it to something like Macbeth and there's really no question as to which is better. I really don't understand why Romeo and Juliet gets so much attention anyway."

Niou huffed, faking displeasure that I had soiled his performance. "Maybe you're just a dark person, Kin-chan. Most girls like those kinds of romance stories."

"Maybe," I smirked, thinking it would be too cliché if I added in the 'I'm not like most girls'.

"Ne, Kin-chan," Marui asked between pops. "How come you know so much about all of that English stuff anyway?"

I sighed, wondering if I should deign to answer the moron. Luckily for me (or maybe not), Yanagi came to the rescue.

"Tokiwa-san spends approximately forty-three percent of her free time studying global Literature and Arts," he read off from a page in his notebook. Stiffening, I wondered how he would know that kind of information. It was unsettling - what else did he have recorded about my life? And why did he talk like I wasn't here at all? "Because her ultimate ambition is to become a well-known stage actress, she devotes all free time not already dedicated to her job and family to developing her understanding of accomplished thespians, directors and playwrights. She puts this knowledge into practice and uses the ideals of past accomplishments to create her own unique style and skill."

I nearly forgot to breath. Millions of horrified questions took up all of my brain activity. How did he know all of that? Why had he wanted to know all of that? Did he need to tell the others without my personal consent? Could I sue him? Had the boys been paying enough attention to pick up on every fact…?

"Ne…" Bunta scrunched his face up in concentration. "I thought you didn't like school, Kin-chan?"

I tried to get my spine to regain its flexibility by shifting in my seat, hoping my discomfort wouldn't be noticed. "I hate school. I don't like anything that wastes my time when I could be doing things that are actually important."

Some of the others snorted at my explanation, but one member voiced a particular feeling of offense.

"Are you saying that education is unimportant?" Sanada demanded, doe-eyes morphing into a dragon's stare.

Not surprised in the least that he was the one lecturing me, I pulled myself together in record time and prepared for a debate.

"Not education in general," I supplied, putting on the face of a defendant. "Just the pointless aspects that I'm forced to learn against my will."

The Emperor's face hardened. "The subject taught to us in this stage of school are necessary. They will be important in our later years so that we will become well-rounded individuals."

If he had asked for my opinion, I would have told him that he sounded like a Mission Statement found in the class manual. Not yet provoked to that point, however, I only continued with my counter.

"I don't need to be well-rounded when I already have a plan for my life. Being 'well-rounded' is an excuse for those who are uncertain of their future."

I may have crossed some sort of invisible line in Sanada's mind, because the expression of pure contempt that he wore constricted my lungs.

"There is nothing certain about the future," he rumbled. "The only people who think that they can amount to anything they dream is a fool."

"Are you calling me a fool?" I seethed, almost sitting up as I leaned towards the male threateningly. Caught in the cross fire, the other members of the tennis team tried to remain as still as possible as they waited for the storm to blow over.

"I am calling you foolish for believing that your plans can work out simply because you want them to," the fukubuchou stated. I would have said that his tone was angry, but to be honest I could barely pick up on the traces when he always spoke so coldly. "If you were wise, you would prepare yourself for anything that the world could throw at you. Without any fallback talents or education, should you goal as an actress fail you would be hopeless, penniless and miserable."

"Those are bold words coming from someone who's future is paved out for him," I countered, making up for his lack of emotion with my iciness. "If your tennis dream fails you'll what - inherit the family dōjō? You don't need any luck or smarts for that, do you, Genichirou?"

"That's enough," Yukimura cut in, sensing that things were taking a turn for the worse. Despite the fact that I had absolutely no reason to heed his lecture I chose to abandon my exchange with Sanada, cutting my lunch break short. I gathering my supplies and stalking from the table without another word or look backwards. I left behind no regrets, only proud that I had defended myself and stood up to the conceited vice-captain, hopefully bringing him back down to earth.


It wasn't until the end of the day when I came across the tennis team again, namely Sanada. I had been held after for detention (it wasn't a usual occurrence: I suppose I was just so distracted with my brooding of the events at lunch that I didn't hear the teacher call for my attention five times) and been let out at the same time that the regular's out-of-season practice ended. They truly were crazy if they trained year round.

I passed by the courts silently, hoping to go by unnoticed. I thought I had managed well enough once I had cleared the arena and headed straight for the school gates, but I was wrong.

"Tokiwa-san."

A chill ran along my spine and I pondered whether or not I should face Sanada or simply walk away as if I hadn't heard him. In the end I settled with the former option. He would, after all, only call me again with increased volume.

I found words unecessary as I stared the capped boy in the eye, awaiting is verdict. Sanada wasn't ruffled in the least, only holding my gaze with no effort or strain.

"Yukimura asked me to apologize for this afternoon. It was wrong of me to question your judgment and disopprove of the way you live your life."

I snorted, finding the entire situation funny.

"'Yukimura asked you,'" I teased, smirking. "I'm sorry, but when you start off a confession like that, I already know it doesn't mean anything."

He didn't argue my point, only standing there without twitching a muscle; Like a statue.

I sighed, not knowing exactly what he was looking for. "If you're going to try and make amends, you could at least mean it and not point out right in the beginning that your only apologizing for the sake of your boyfriend."

I froze once that last word had left my lips, horrified at the slip. Had I really said that out loud?! I had always thought there was something strange between the buchou and fukubuchou, but I was never supposed to admit it like that right in front of them

If Sanada noticed my wording, he didn't show any embarrassment or fury. Insteady, he merely proved that he really was a hunk of stone, the mask of marble never melting for a moment. The only indication I got that he had even heard me was the long, tense period that passed between us. But he was the one who broke that, his gaze drfting off to the side rather than towards me.

"Yanagi mentioned that you work. Why?"

It took me a moment to realize what he was talking about before I flushed and look towards the ground. "Oh, you heard that? Well, I have a job, if that's what you mean…"

I didn't delve anymore into the subject until he pushed me with, "Why do you look so ashamed? I'm impressed, actually. I wouldn't have expected you to actually plan ahead. I assumed you thought you could simply walk to England."

An exhale left my nose in the place of a laugh as I looked up again, catching Sanada's eye this time. "No, I'm not that stupid. My family isn't anything wealthy - we get by, barely covering my school fees, but there's no way my parents could support my demanding dreams. If I want to get out of here one day, I have to get there myself without their help."

We were quite for a moment, and I passed the time with watching my breath turn to fog in the frozed air. "…Yanagi told you about my going to Europe, too? How does that boy know these things…"

Sanada chose not to respond to that, probably not knowing the answer himself. Neither of us spoke for a while more until the boy grunted.

"Gomen."

"You already said that," I reminded him.

"I mean it this time."

I blinked, looking up and trying to decipher the look in his eyes. If I didn't know any better, I would say it was almost warmth.

…No. Impossible: this was Sanada Genichirou. But maybe there was a chance I had actually earned a little bit of respect out of him. After all, proving that I really knew how to work towards my goals and wasn't always the unmotivated slacker our classmates saw in school had to mean something, didn't it?

"I'm still not admitting that I think your impulsive actions regarding the future are rational," he continued, looking strange. "…but if, by chance, both of our dreams fail, I suppose I could find use for you in my dōjō."

I didn't know what to think of that. Could he actually be joking?

"I'm not very good with martial arts," I supplied awkwardly, still at a loss as to what was going on. Had Sanada received a concussion during practise?

"That's fine," he settled with a sober nod. "Even if I provide for you with room and board, you would most likely still make a cheap alternative to a practice dummy."

"…"

As in, those things that the students used to hit with wooden sword and polish their aiming ability?

When I gazed at Sanada as if he had lost his mind, it all suddenly fell into place. The sudden kindness in his eyes, the way his teammates had hinted that he found me 'interesting', the puzzling words I took to be his humor: Sanada was human! He could actually throw a decent wisecrack together, who knew? What an epiphany.

Yanagi had said that there was only a seven percent chance that Sanada would ever develope romantic feelings for me. It may have been a low percentile, but there was still a possibility. I couldn't possibly believe that Genichirou could feel something as strong as love so soon (I had only just realized he was capable of emotion at all - it must have been a fairly new discovery for him as well) but maybe somewhere down the line, if he kept this sort of interaction up, I might be able to break down a few walls and get him to open me up a bit more, too. If I was left with no other alternative, spending the rest of my life by a laconic man's side might not be so bad.

I grinned, the world somehow feeling like a much better place. "Seriously, Sanada-kun?"

There was almost the soupçon of a smile on the corner of his lips. "I'm not known for my comedic abilities, Tokiwa-san."


(A/N) I got some great feedback from my last Prince of Tennis fic, so I was pretty hyped up to do this next one! I hope you guys like it, even though I'm positive the ending is a little rushed :]

[1] I don't know how English is taught in foreign schools, but I've taken languages before and based Kirihara's assignment after a few things I had to do in French. The only Japanese alphabet I know is Katakana, so I apologize ^-^ For those of you who don't know, Katakana is a system of Japanese characters that are used to represent Romanized words based on their sounds; When things are written in Katakana, it's literally just a series of symbols (mora) that represents the real pronunciation of a word (ex: like the word 'tenisu,' as in Tenisu no Oujisama. It's the real [or general] English pronunciation, but its written as テニス(te - ni- su) so that the Japanese public can read it since they don't used Romanized letters.) So when Akaya just re-wrote the sonnet in Katakana, he basically just looked at the words and used what he knew about English sounds to copy the letters into that simple Japanese alphabet. If he done the assignment correctly, he would have been able to know what the passage as a whole meant and translated it directly into Japanese words written with other 'alphabets' (Hiragana and Kanji).

Get it? I'm sorry if I fail at this explanation DX