Danger in the Tennis Courts

I. Tanabata

It was the night of the seventh day of the seventh month—the night of Tanabata, a celebration which the Westerners dubbed as the "Star Festival." This festival originated from a Chinese folk legend concerning two stars, Vega and Altair, who were said to be lovers who could meet only once a year on this very night.*

"Sakunooooo!"

A 16-year-old girl wearing high pigtails called to her best friend as she turned to look back at her. She was wearing a yellow-patterned summer kimono that boasted wisteria flowers.

"Hayaku, hayaku! We must hurry or we won't be able to get the most out of this festival!" Tomoka beckoned impatiently to her friend, who was lagging a few feet behind.

Sakuno smiled fondly at her best friend. It's so like her to get so excited over celebrations like this. As if to complement her friend's clothes, she wore a light pink kimono stylishly adorned with cherry blossoms.

"Hai, hai. I'm coming, Tomo-chan. Gomen ne, I could've easily kept up if only I didn't keep tripping over the steps on our way up here. Mou."

The shy girl, who was also the same age as her pigtailed best friend, frowned cutely as she shot harmless glares at the cause of her demise—two innocent and brand new wooden sandals that her baa-chan had gotten for her just for this festival. Sakuno's glaring concentration was rudely interrupted by a very pleasant chuckle that came from her right side.

"Aa… Ryuzaki-chan, spare the sandals. I could carry you around for the rest of the night, if you wish."

Both girls' eyes widened in surprise when they turned to see who just interrupted their conversation.

"F-Fuji-senpai!" They both exclaimed quite loudly that Sakuno blushed a pretty shade of pink when people turned to see what the big commotion was all about. The tensai simply flashed them one of his charming smiles.

"Fuji-senpai is spending his night at this festival too?" Tomoka, who ignored the stares they were getting, squealed in a high-pitched voice as she shot Sakuno a happy expression. "How lucky!"

Sakuno sweatdropped and weakly smiled back at her best friend.

"Saa, that is partly true. But I am not the only one who is celebrating Tanabata at this temple. It seems like the whole team decided to come after all, ne, Tezuka?" Fuji suavely asked his companion, who up to now prompted to remain somewhat hidden behind the drapes of a nearby stall. Now that the attention was diverted to him, the stoic captain of the great Seigaku team had no choice but to come out of his hiding spot and approach the trio. He gave a curt nod as a reply to Fuji's question before he looked at the girls.

The young damsels stared back at the captain. They more or less looked like deer caught in headlights.

After a few seconds, the sweeter one of the two recovered from the temporary shock. She promptly gave the captain a warm smile. "It's good to see you here, Kuni-, I mean, buchou." She bowed respectfully before she turned and did the same to the tensai. "You too, Fuji-senpai."

Although Tomoka was never really intimidated by any of the scary-looking tennis players they often socialize with, she had always felt a little uneasy whenever she was in the presence of "the" great Tezuka Kunimitsu. No one can blame her though, the buchou is simply that intimidating. That's why she often wondered how the sweet and oh-so-shy Sakuno can almost seem comfortable in front of this ice captain. Something smells fishy out there.

Tomoka didn't notice it until they entered the first year of high school. Over the years, both girls had gotten considerably close to the tennis players, especially since Sakuno took up the title of being the official girl manager of the Seigaku tennis team. It was thanks to a ridiculous rule imposed by a feminist who happened to be a member of the Tennis Board Committee. She wanted to have female presence in the courts completely dominated by males, and so, the requirement of a female manager for each tennis team was created.

In the middle of Tomoka's musings, something hit her like a lightning, and all of a sudden, her overexcited mood came back.

"Fuji-senpai! Did you just say that the whole team is attending this festival?" she eagerly questioned the tensai.

"Aah, that is correct," Fuji answered the girl with his ever-present smile.

Tomoka screamed, completely in her fangirl mode.

"Then that means… Ryoma-sama is here too!" she continued to voice out loudly, not noticing that her best friend had stiffened upon hearing her last words.

As Sakuno unconsciously clutched the hem of her kimono sleeves, she suddenly got the feeling that something will go wrong tonight.

Oh how right she was.


* From Wikipedia

Author's Notes:

Sorry for the short chapter but it just felt right to end there xD R&R please?

Japanese Vocabulary

hayaku - hurry

hai - yes

gomen ne - I'm sorry; I apologize

mou - an expression that indicates frustration, Sakuno uses it a lot

baa-chan - shortened form of "obaa-chan," Sakuno's cute way of referring to her grandmother

tensai - genius

buchou - captain