Aqua says: Enjoy the chapter!
E: I can't believe no one noticed this except one reviewer. Natsume is a 3rd year…hehe, she can't be vice-captain…sorry! (I forgot about that. School made me forget a few details about my favorite fic!) Anyway, a chapter was edited and so was this one.
Disclaimer: I don't own POT
Squeaks of shoes and quick ruffling of clothes sounded throughout the girls' tennis locker room. It was a fast change from morning practice. All of the girls wanted to hear which person would be the next captain. Unfortunately, the announcements start in the afternoon which disappointed some people.
Katou showed no particular like towards anyone the whole day, she talked to everyone normally or strictly, even to her own friends. Most of the girls were anxious but some were angry at Sakuno.
"Did you hear yesterday? I thought I heard that Ryuzaki's granddaughter, Sakuno, is going to get it." One short girl said.
"Yeah, I remember when we crawled through that window to hear. Captain said Sakuno was 'green'. They probably tried to color code it so people would get confused but I'm sure that the three main candidates were Kumiko, Nakashima, and Ryuzaki. It seems as though Ryuzaki passed." Another pointed out.
"And then there's the vice captain to think about. She said that Kumiko was gold and Nakashima was silver so that means Kumiko is the next vice captain right?" Another added.
"That's not fair! They kept hogging all the regular positions and Ryuzaki is a bad freshman anyway!" One snapped.
"Maybe if Ryuzaki got into an accident and one of us rises to the occasion then one will become captain!"
"Right!" the other two agreed.
Then they begin their quest to torture poor Sakuno.
Sakuno hid behind a bookshelf, staring at the librarian timidly. She wanted to ask her something but her courage diminished whenever she thought of him.
Ryoma was a library helper or assistant but he didn't go to his classes (at least the ones she had with him) and she couldn't find him anywhere in the library. Just what was going on with that boy?
"Is there something wrong?" a small alto-sounding voice came from behind Sakuno. The smaller girl jumped with surprise, causing books to fall and an abundant amount of apologies.
"Sakuno, did you forget that they are announcing who's the next captain? Come on." Usio dragged Sakuno out of the library.
"O-Okay! Can I just use the restroom first?" Sakuno asked?
Usio nodded and left Sakuno.
Sakuno walked back to the library to check up on Ryoma. Maybe he was just running late. As she reached the library, something bumped her head.
Then everything went black.
"Uh…" Sakuno groggily got up and looked around, dazed. She seemed to be in the "office" room where Katou, Sakamoto, and Emi usually go to for work.
Sakuno helped herself up and then fell back down. "OW!" She shrieked. Her legs suddenly shot out a burst of pain as if she just got stabbed with a knife. She peered at her legs and arms to find bruises. Sakuno gasped. Was she going to be…raped!?
Sakuno looked around, paranoid. There was no one around, all empty and abandoned.
"Hey…get everyone together…"
Sakuno heard distinct sounds of voices. Then she banged on the door. "HELP, PLEASE!" She yelled. Everything was dark and silent. Sakuno stood at the corner, took deep breaths, and then told herself that someone would have to come by.
One single sign of hope appeared, the door clicked opened. Someone opened the door, a second year girl that was in the tennis club.
"R-Ryuzaki…? What are you doing here?" The second year asked.
"Err…long story…?"Sakuno hid her bruises.
"Well, we have to hurry, practice is almost over. The captain is announcing who will be the next captain and vice-captain."
"Okay." Sakuno followed, keeping most of her arms and legs hidden (which was hard to do since she was wearing her school uniform).
Once they arrived to the courts, the freshmen were cleaning up while the other lined up to hear the announcements. Sakuno left the second year and helped clean up, she was after all a freshman too.
"Alright everyone, listen up. I'm going to announce the captain and the vice-captain." Katou lifted up her clipboard.
Everyone was anxious to hear. Sakuno waited with bated breath. She was so close. Maybe it would be her and then…and then she could tell Ryoma. Then maybe he would finally see her for real.
The three girls who locked Sakuno up were right behind her. They muttered curses under their breaths. They would get Sakuno next time before Katou graduates and leaves so she could make one of them captain.
"The captain is Kumiko Usio…" Katou informed. People muttered like bees in a hive. Usio didn't look happy, in fact, she looked annoyed.
"What's with that face? You should be happy." Natsume stuck out her tongue.
The other's murmurs got louder. Wasn't Sakuno supposed to be captain? Maybe she was only a freshman so they gave it to Usio. So then…Sakuno would be vice captain…right?
"QUIET DOWN." Katou hollered over the noise. She was tired of all this drama they were causing. "And the vice captain will be Nakashima Airi." She gave the clip board to Sakamoto. "No questions asked, dismissed." She added.
Airi stood there, surprised. She lowered her head when Katou announced that she was the vice-captain. "B-But…! I thought Sakuno…!" Natsume exclaimed. Airi and Usio followed Katou.
Sakuno was left all alone as the others left. They were all sure Sakuno would get one of those positions. The three girls suddenly felt very guilty and scared. "But Captain said Sakuno was green!" one hissed.
"Shush! It's one of those color-code things, they tried to trick us." The girls all walked away from Sakuno as if they were innocent and did nothing.
Sakuno's knees fell weak and then she slumped down. "I thought it would be me." Sakuno sniffed.
Then for the first time in a long while, Sakuno cried.
Afterschool, Katou knew it was going to happen. She knew they would question her.
"I fail to see how I would make a good captain. I can't stand some people." Usio said.
"Captain, why didn't you pick Sakuno-chan?" Airi asked.
Katou stomped her foot on the ground for control. "We won the nationals. It was Sakuno's first time winning but this year, all the strong tennis players graduated. Sakuno finally beat people who were a bit above average. You guys knew and that's why the matches were pretty easy."
"But Sakuno could get better." Airi argued. Usio put her hand on Airi's shoulder.
"That girl never played until middle school. All the guys from the regular team, at least the ones with amazing skills have been playing since they were little. No matter how much Sakuno tries, she will always be a little behind." Usio let go and turned her back. "I don't want to take the position of Captain."
"You have to. You have the best understanding of all regulars, even normal people. You'll grow as a captain." Katou explained.
"And what about Sakuno," Airi asked. She defended Sakuno with such passion maybe because…she found something in Sakuno. 'That girl tries hard…' Airi thought.
"She's not ready. The next year…in the next year, most of us will be gone and that's when she'll really be on her own." Katou walked away.
Airi lowered her head. In this whole year, she did nothing. All she ever did was get involved with romance when she should've been helping out Sakuno. "If…If we train Sakuno to be one of the best and win the nationals, will it be alright!?" Airi hollered a question but by then, Katou was already gone.
"Calm down, Airi." Usio patted Airi's head (she had to tip-toe). Airi simply stared. Usio never tried to comfort people.
"I know what you're thinking. We should train Sakuno…and then captain won't have any complaints." Usio began walking. Airi touched her head, smiled, and followed Usio.
Katou was right when she chose Usio as captain.
Sakuno sighed. She clutched onto Ryoma's hat and stared at it then hugged it. "I…didn't get that position…I sort of knew it but…I still thought that it would be me." Sakuno sniffed.
She gazed at the hat, mind filled with memories of Ryoma. Then when a cat jumped on her legs, she returned to reality. The cat grabbed the hat and sprinted away. Sakuno gasped and dashed after the cat. By the time she reached it and retried the cap, the cat was already bored. It reminded Sakuno of Ryoma.
"Ah! W-Wait, I can't be crying! I need to return this to Ryoma!" Sakuno ran again. She was sure Ryoma was just sick at home so she ran.
And kept running…
And now lost…
Lost without a map…
Sakuno and her way of directions…
Sakuno nervously looked from left to right. She noticed a car, a small but smooth black car, stopped right in front of her. The windows rolled down to reveal her upperclassman, Sakamoto. Sakuno gasped and wore Ryoma's hat to hide her red and slightly puffy eyes.
"Sakuno, get on." Sakuno nodded and went into Sakamoto's car. She had someone else driving, a young man with a cheery smile.
"Where to, miss?" He asked.
"Airport in less than five minutes, got it?" Sakamoto ordered. The driver nodded his head and started the car. Sakuno looked at Sakamoto and opened her mouth, "U-Um, why are we going to the airport?" she asked.
"Echizen's leaving today."
Sakuno fought for her breath. She dashed though the door of Sakamoto's car just to find him. Through the whole crowd, she couldn't see a boy with cat-like eyes and black hair with a green-ish tint.
Sakuno took a death breath and, "RYOMA!" She shouted.
"You talk too loud." A voice came from behind her. Sakuno turned around and then saw…him.
"Ryoma…" she took off her hat and held it out for him. "Why…why didn't you tell me you were leaving?" She asked, voice cracking.
Ryoma never touched his cap. "I did tell you. I said…" Ryoma walked past her, picking up the cap and then placed it on her head, "Give me that the next time we meet."
Sakuno touched the cap, her expression filled with shock. That was what he meant.
"But I might not come back." He said, "So there's no point in wa-…"
"I'LL WAIT!" Hot tears streamed down her face. She wiped them away. Ryoma turned back to look at her.
"I'll wait…" She said in a quieter voice 'I've waiting for so long anyway.'
Ryoma scratched his cheek and then remembered something that his father told him: when you make a girl cry, you should DIE! You have to make sure the girl smiles again so you kiss her!
It was such a stupid thing to listen to but…
"Ne, Sakuno," He pulled her cap lower. "A girl looks ugly when she cries, you look better when your face doesn't look like that…"
He headed off. "And I did say: give me that cap when you see me again."
Then he left. Sakuno took off her cap and hugged it. "We will, we will meet again."
And maybe they will meet again.
Epilogue: (1 year later)
"Hey, Usio, it's that time again. We'll have to compete. I hear the competition is tough." A girl with short brown hair handed apple juice to a girl with blue hair tied in a French braid. Usio grabbed the juice with her left hand while drawing.
"Right, we need to pick the new regulars." She said.
"And…and Sakuno's real training begins!" Airi smiled excitedly. Usio smiled.
"I wonder…" She began.
"Captain," A girl in a single braid with brown hair and auburn eyes walked towards the two.
"Wow, she's here…" Airi muttered. Usio continued drawing.
"Sakuno, it's time for the real tournaments. Are you ready for your real training?" Usio asked.
"Yes!" She replied with a strong tone (something she copied from Tezuka just to look more like a respectable figure)
"Okay." Usio walked away without another word. Airi stayed behind to whisper to Sakuno something good.
"She's really happy. She wants to try out to be a tough but cool captain." Airi grinned. "Oh, and the others are going for a little reunion 'via sleepovers' arranged by Sakamoto. Are you coming?"
Sakuno nodded. She was excited. Airi walked away, waving good-bye to Sakuno.
Sakuno stared at the courts and imagined the first time she saw him play. She imagined all the other times he's played and in those moments, a new Sakuno was born.
"Without you, my life wouldn't have been this way. Even though you're not here…" She spoke, staring at the beautiful sunset, "Maybe…we'll meet again."
She put back on her cap.
A/N: Sadly…it's the end…
Thank you for all the reviews.
Edit: I apologize. I promised another sequel but I can't write my OC characters the same way anymore. Please don't get your hopes up too much but I'm thinking I might (please notice the heavy emphasis) put up a new story called "Lizard Skins".