Summary: Tanaka Yoshida had always been famed in her class for being uncaring and cold. She showed no real emotions, and is revered as a fantastic (although quite confusing) advice-giver by the people she chose to counsel. There were no tragic incidents in her past, nor any traumatic events that had ever happened to her. So is her emotionless face just a facade and a trick?
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Prince of Tennis characters.
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This chapter is for the following users:14thEternityNightMare, Angel-chan1992, applegreentea, asianFrustration, aznprincessali, boncuk5174, BridgeofInsanity, cayleyjanssen, celtic27fionn, , CherriAme, Cherry Blossom Tea, ChocoholicAddict22, ChocolateFudgeSauce, Ciel Blanche, Coco96, CrushedCoppelia, demon twin, demoncat13, Deplorability, EcstaticPetenshii, EdgeOfInsanity, Erigay, gonda96, GothicDiva112, gOthiCkUrOcHo69, Hidden in Sunlight, iamspastic, IsaBis, Ice-creamy-life, Jaklyn-The-Pixie, Killer Socks, KL93, kyotolover, Lumiere01, Mavarta, Midnight Hikari, Miss CatLover Chii, Mochiiko, NothingNEverything, Ocean Wave Kira, personaprincesspeach, Pig the Cat, Princess Alice Rose, PurePrincess, QueenOfHearts27, Raf Kowalski, Raine Amorial, rebirthreborn, Reinuta, Rin136, roonaty, Sayonara Yasashii Akumu, Shadowsnow, Shitenhouji Chuu, Solar Powered Pandas, soni-chan, tazdevil, totoronii, wiznoy,xHicchan .Xx, xXRandomnessPrevailsXx, xxxVampy-chanxxx, xxxxihatepinkxxxx, and xYuzuruRengex who have alerted this particular fanfiction.
Before Tanaka knew it, she found herself instinctively pulling her surprised mother into the kitchen and whispered in a hushed tone. "This is a joke, right? Ka-san, this is a joke right?" She asked fiercely. Her mother rolled the trademark blue eyes that Tanaka had inherited and replied, "Tanaka, you know that Masaharu's father is a close family friend of your dad's. Besides - Masaharu is your best friend."
Tanaka gave her mother a pointed blank stare. "Was, ka-san. He was my best friend. Meaning in the past, meaning not anymore. Need I say more?" She cried out quietly in exasperation. She turned away, rubbing her forehead and tried to calm down. Niou Masaharu and his little brother is at her house. They will be staying at her house. If God couldn't kill her now, his fangirls will do the deed later.
"Tanaka, think about it. Just sixteen days. Can't you endure that for us? We've already promised their parents." Her mother laid a hand down on her daughter's shoulder, her eyes pleading. Tanaka never thought she would see the day when her mother would have to resort to using puppy dog eyes on her own daughter. Tanaka bit her lip, and headed back towards the living room.
Apparently, Masaharu had already made her house home since he had completely settled into the couch, stretching his long legs towards Tanaka's direction. The girl resisted the urge to scoff and kick his traitorous ass out of her couch. The only good thing Tanaka could get out of the situation was that her little brother would be out of her hair for a while since Niou's little brother and hers were practically family.
"Have a nice stay." She flatly told the smirking silver-haired boy through clenched teeth. From her peripheral vision, she could see both of parents sigh in relief. Tanaka bit her tongue and refrained from saying any other remarks before heading upstairs into her room. In the comfort of privacy, Tanaka began panicking. It seemed to her that the more she tried to avoid Niou, the more she found him lurking near her. Like an undying bacteria clinging to her. Tanaka shuddered.
She inhaled in and breathed out. "What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger." She calmly told herself. Niou staying here will not kill her. But his fangirls might. Dear Lord, his fangirls! Tanaka ran a hand through her long undone hair before settling her face into the comfort of her two hands. His fangirls already hated her because they thought she had one inkling of a connection; what would they do once they find out she'd be sharing the same house as him?
They were angry at her because they thought she liked him, for goodness' sake! They're a bunch of crazy hypocrites. But they couldn't be that crazy, could they? Of course not. Tanaka finally began to regain her composure. "You're Rikkai's Ice Princess. You can't be fazed. Just handle this situation maturely." She nodded to herself, letting out a deep breath.
"Y'know, talking to oneself is the first step towards insanity." Niou magically appeared into the room. Oh wait, she had left the door unlocked. He just happened to have opened it without her hearing.
Tanaka gave him the coldest glare she could emanate. "Listen, Niou. I have a few guidelines laid down. This is my house after all, and you are just the guest. First of all, ever heard of knocking? Yes? You do that. Second of all, you don't come into my room unless I say so. Doesn't matter if it's locked, unlocked, whatever. I know when somebody's touched my doorknob." At the last sentence, Niou began snickering but Tanaka ignored it and continued on.
"Lastly, no one finds out about this, understood? We leave this house separately at different times and we come back separately at different times. If you see any of your mad-minded fangirls stalking you, you shoo them. Do you understand?" Tanaka gave him a poke at the chest as he stopped chuckling and gave her a blank stare.
"Sorry, could you repeat that? You lost me at 'listen'." Niou told her, earning him a smack at the back of the head. "But alright, alright. I'll follow your rules."
Tanaka scoffed. "From the first word, I could already tell you were lying. But if I find out you've been nosing around my stuff, I'll - " She was interrupted as Niou rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to speak.
"You'll what? Tell on me?" Niou chuckled. "Honestly, Tanaka. I have no intention of touching anything of yours. I just came up here to tell you that your mother says she wants you down in thirty minutes." He shoved his hands in his pockets as he slowly backed out of the room and into the corridor. Tanaka glared at his retreating back and grabbed the nearest object she could find. Without hesitation, she flung it at the back of his head and it hit its target with a satisfactory smack. Tanaka felt a grin widen across her face. She closed the door loudly and locked it, grinning in victory. Until she realized the object she had thrown at Niou was her phone.
Tanaka jolted and pulled her door open. Niou was already at the stairs and hearing her stomped footsteps, he looked up from her lighted-up phone and smirked. "Kazuya Kamenashi, shirtless. Dear Lord, Tanaka. Who knew you'd be that kind of a girl?" He grinned mischievously as Tanaka hurriedly ran down the stairs and attempted to grab her phone from his grasp.
"Give that back to me." She glowered.
Niou grinned down at her relatively smaller frame and drawled. "You threw it at me."
"That doesn't mean I wanted you to keep it!" Tanaka angrily reached out for it again but he hung it out of reach over the railing. The room that the stairs led up to was the living room, and Tanaka thanked God her parents and their little brothers were currently in the kitchen chattering their lives away.
Niou's grin widened. "You've been losing touch, Yoshida. You're supposed to be smarter than this."
"..Now." Tanaka scowled at him, grabbing him by his school necktie and pulling him down to her level.
Niou's grin was replaced by his trademark smirk. "That only turns me on, Tanaka."
Without hesitation, she loosened her grip on the tie altogether and scowled. "There's nothing in there worthy of blackmail." Tanaka crossed her arms, her eyes nothing but narrowed slits. The phone was still out of her reach. Damn those growing boys and their abnormally long arms. She knew inwardly that she was lying. In her phone were texts. Texts which contained conversations that Niou MUST NOT SEE.
"There are texts in there about me, isn't there?" Niou smirked, gesturing towards Tanaka's phone. He had read her mind completely. So he hasn't lost his touch after all these years. The inner best friend in Tanaka applauded despite herself.
Tanaka smirked back. "You are just so arrogant, aren't you?" She tried to change the subject from the look painted on Niou's face - she knew she wasn't winning.
"Then, you wouldn't mind if I took a look?" Niou asked her, turning towards the phone. Smart trickster that he was, Niou didn't let the phone anywhere near her reach as he touched the text icon. The moment was an excruciating long process for Tanaka, but she barely moved an inch. She was praying that acting as if it didn't bother her might convince him to stop. Well, it seemed the Fates always disappeared whenever she was near Niou. Maybe he had some supernatural power she was never aware of.
"Your best friend is Shimizu, isn't she? So I suppose I should read your conversations with her first." Niou gestured towards Tanaka, his eyes the epitome of innocence but Tanaka knew that deep inside those orbs of his, the Devil dwelled.
"Yeah, go on ahead." Tanaka resisted her voice's urge to crack as his thumb hung above Kiseki's name by an inch. She looked away and crossed her arms, ice cool and unfazed. Niou raised an eyebrow as the shouts of savior called from down the kitchen.
"Tanaka, Masaharu! Time for dinner!"
Tanaka never imagined those five words would be her lifeline. Niou took one last look at the phone before tossing it back to Tanaka without care.
"Don't want to risk getting in trouble on the first day, do I?" He headed down with his hands in his pockets, but not before rumpling up his already messed-up hair.
Tanaka waited until he was out of earshot or sight as she cradled the phone into her safe and awaiting hands. She sighed in relief as she bit her lip and touched Kiseki's name on her phone. The last couple of texts were about a study group thing that they were planning but the majority of the messages were mainly about Niou. Tanaka thumbed up a couple of text messages from the lasts ones.
Kiseki: Tanaka, it's obvious you're in denial.
Tanaka: Please, Kiseki.
Kiseki: Admit it, Tanaka. I'm your best friend. I can read you like an open book.
Tanaka: Niou's a stranger.
Tanaka: Well, now he is.
Kiseki: But you used to like him?
Kiseki: You still do.
Tanaka: I don't know.
Kiseki: Keep telling yourself that. I'm not gonna poke into this anymore.
Tanaka: Fine. It's been so many years but nothing's changed. I still am stupidly ridiculously in love with Niou Masaharu.
Tanaka inhaled and breathed out once more, as she stumbled down the stairs. Without a second thought she erased all her messages, knowing that she couldn't risk another situation like that again. She pocketed her phone as she took a seat next to her mother who was staring at her expectantly. Tanaka gave her a raised eyebrow as she finally understood.
"Sorry for making all of you wait." Tanaka did not meet Niou's gaze as all of them said "Itadakimasu" and began eating. Tanaka could still feel her heart beating erratically from the inevitable nervousness from before. The whole entire time she felt Niou's uncomfortable gaze on her, but never once did she meet his eyes.
In the family guestroom downstairs, Niou tried to situate himself as best as possible but he just couldn't sleep. Something tugged onto him trying to keep him awake, and Niou knew exactly what it was. He looked up, which was exactly where Tanaka's bedroom was. He smirked as he crossed his arms over his head. Rubbing his eyes, Niou decided that trying to make himself sleep wasn't helping him and headed for the kitchen. Surprisingly, it was still flooded with light.
Sitting on one of the chairs was Tanaka, one hand cupping a half-finished glass of milk and the other tangled in her long brown hair.
"Can't sleep either, huh?" Niou remarked, leaning forward against a chair. Tanaka jumped up in surprise as she muttered, "I was about to head upstairs." She blinked and continued to not meet his gaze.
Niou sat himself down across from her as he studied Rikkai's local not-so-icy-princess. "Without finishing your milk?" He gestured towards the cup that her hand gripped tightly. Tanaka stared down at the cup as if realizing that it was there the whole time. She chuckled and shook her head.
"Why is it that whenever I try to be as composed as I can around you, I can never be?" Tanaka pondered loudly, asking rhetorically.
Niou stretched back and said. "Maybe that's just how things are supposed to be."
"Masaharu, can I ask you something?" Tanaka said, staring at her glass of milk.
Niou raised an eyebrow. "Go ahead."
"Do you think we can still be best friends?" Tanaka questioned, fiddling with her cup. Her icy blue eyes no longer contained the cold stare it used to always give him. In fact, they seemed confused. Dare he say, lost?
Niou smirked. "I thought I told you already that I don't want us to be like that anymore."
"I'm not falling for you, Niou." Tanaka said with as much resolution as she could muster.
Niou leaned forward. "I wonder, Tanaka. Is that what you really want? Or are you just scared?"
"I'm not scared of anything." Tanaka replied, a quiver in her voice noticeable.
Niou sighed. "Quit fronting it, Tanaka. You're as fragile as any other person can be, maybe even more easy to break. Years of being distant from you doesn't mean I've forgotten the years when we were best friends. You're frightened of something. You're used to being in control of everything. But this time around - you have no control. And you feel helpless because you don't know what to do. Am I right?"
"You're wrong." Tanaka stood up, one of her fists clenched as she tossed the remaining milk from her cup into the sink and placed it into the dishwasher. She turned to face Niou, who was giving her a studious gaze. "I'm not helpless and neither am I frightened. You're wrong."
"Tanaka." He stood up as well but she had begun heading for the stairs already. Niou caught her arm just in time as she swung up the stairs. He realized that she had left the lights on while she was heading down. "Tanaka. Look me in the eyes, and tell me what's wrong."
"There is nothing wrong. I'm perfectly fine." Tanaka emphasized the last word, running a hand through her hair one more time as she helplessly tried to let go of his death grip on her arm.
Niou narrowed his eyes at her. "You're scared about something. And you're scared of admitting that you're scared."
"You're not my therapist, damn it Niou. Let go of me." Tanaka told him, angrily swinging her arm around in no avail.
Niou's gaze softened. Then without warning, he crashed his lips into hers. He swung an arm around her waist as he let go of the arm he had been holding onto before. Tanaka's eyes widened but she soon found her right mind and began pushing him away. Niou only retained his fierce grip around her as he cupped a hand under her chin and angled her face better towards his. He kissed her slowly, nibbling on her lower lip at times but all that was running through his mind was that he couldn't let go of her. Not now. Not when he knew how she really felt.
"Haru..." Tanaka murmured in between his kisses. Niou rested his forehead on hers as he replied, "Shhh." He left one more peck on her lips as Tanaka suddenly found the will to push him away. She ran a hand through her hair and shook her head. "This...This has to stop. I can't. It's too much. I just..." She ran upstairs as he licked his own lips staring at her retreating back.
The text message he had read from before sounded through his head. "It's been so many years but nothing's changed. I still am stupidly ridiculously in love with Niou Masaharu."
"Damn it, Tanaka. If you can admit it to Kiseki, why can't you admit it to me?" He whispered, running a hand through his mess of a hair.
The day after, Tanaka had only one thing in her mind: Avoid Masaharu Niou at all times. She was wary, anxious, and jumpy at each step she took. So of course, when she felt a light tap on her shoulder - the Ice Princess nearly screamed. Tanaka turned, only to face the amused stare of her very own best friend. "Kiseki!" She cried out, making sure that they were the only ones near earshot.
"Why so jumpy?" Kiseki asked her, pointing at her best friend with her badminton racket.
Tanaka smoothed down her hair and said pointedly, "I'm not jumpy at all." She brushed Kiseki's racket aside with her own.
"It's got something to do with Niou." Kiseki observed, gesturing towards the trickster who was currently tripping Marui Bunta as they played soccer on the opposite field. They both turned to look at him as he looked up to meet their stares. Instantly, Tanaka averted her gaze.
Kiseki's puzzled features soon merged onto a mischievous grin. "You know what I found interesting this morning?" Tanaka gave her a raised eyebrow as she looked for the forgotten shuttlecock that they had been throwing around before. "What?" Tanaka responded cooly.
"Niou usually arrives at a much later time than you. Funny how he came before just ten minutes before you. Like it was some sort of a agenda or plan." Kiseki leaned forward, both her eyebrows raised and her mouth into a smirk.
Tanaka shrugged her shoulders. "I think it's just a coincidence."
"And funny how today you seem to be avoiding him more than usual." Kiseki observed, tapping her lips lightly with her forefinger.
Tanaka chuckled. "I always avoid him, Kiseki. What are you getting at?"
"What's going on?" Kiseki simply asked her, as Tanaka finally found the shuttlecock and started tossing it over to Kiseki with her racket.
Tanaka's mouth pursed into a thin line. "I'll tell you later." She responded.
"What's stopping you from telling me now?" Kiseki interrogated her best friend, as she bounced the shuttlecock back to Tanaka.
Tanaka gestured to their obnoxiously chatty classmates just a few yards away. "Them. I can't risk them hearing about this."
"Must be pretty important then." Kiseki remarked, mocking a shocked facade in which Tanaka had the sudden urge to hit her best friend with the shuttlecock right in the face. She must be starting to have a fetish with chucking objects at people. The blue-eyed teen sighed and replied, "You have no idea."
"He what?" was Kiseki's simple answer, her blank face clearly demonstrating how shocked she was.
Tanaka's eyebrow twitched. All that suspense, and this was her best friend's reaction? She could've at least pretended to be surprised, shocked, scandalized - SOMETHING. "I can see just how surprise you are about this."
"This isn't the first surprising thing Niou's done. I'm actually surprised you're being so affected about this." Kiseki replied, swinging her backpack over her shoulder as both of them strode towards their usual eating place. Tanaka's best friend shrugged at Tanaka's exasperated expression as she pulled her long auburn hair up into a messy bun.
"Gee. Thanks." Tanaka coldly responded.
Kiseki grinned. "So he's living with you now?"
"Only for a couple of weeks. Thank goodness." Tanaka sighed, stretching her arms out as best as she could without dropping her bento.
Kiseki's grin slowly formed into a grimace as they approached a couple of third years who Tanaka recognized as avid fangirls of Yagyuu Hiroshi. Kiseki inclined her head into a small bow, but they merely shrugged it off and gave Tanaka a rehearsed rolling of eyes. As soon as they disappeared from their view, Kiseki sighed.
"Be careful." She told Tanaka pointedly.
Tanaka brushed the remark off. "They won't do anything to me."
"You'll be surprised just how much they're capable off. Fangirls are scary possessive. Once they've realized you've locked lips with Niou Masaharu not just once, but twice - they'll be out to get your blood before I can say run." Kiseki bit her lip before sighing.
Tanaka barely blinked. "They're scary in numbers because they're so massive. But once you start singling them out, they whiter away as easy as this." She snapped her fingers in demonstration, grinning.
"I'm being serious, Tanaka. Doesn't matter how mentally strong you are; they know how to hurt a person in more ways than one." Kiseki sighed, her forehead creasing in worry.
Tanaka smirked and faced her best friend. "They can barely look me in the eye. How the hell am I supposed to get scared of that?"
By the time Tanaka came home after a long tiring softball practice, all she wanted to do as plop in the bath and take a nap. There was no denying that she looked like a mess; her usually tamed long brown hair seemed to choose that day to frizz all of a sudden, there were bags under her eyes since she missed her usual naptime, and her training outfit was nothing but dirty and battered.
Of course, she wouldn't have minded in the least if there were no house guests around. But when Niou's little brother had the nerve to come up and ask her why she looked like a worm, Tanaka couldn't be anything but ticked off. Tanaka was fuming by the time she grabbed some clean comfortable clothes and started rapping on the bathroom door which her little brother just had to use when she needed it most.
"Jeez. Hurry up!" Tanaka frustratingly yelled out. There was no response, so she decided to knock on the door even louder. An infuriated cry from a voice that clearly did not belong to her little brother responded as Tanaka was met with the sight of a shirtless Niou wearing her favorite towel as the door opened.
Tanaka gritted her teeth as she tried to keep her eyes off of his chest. "What the hell are you doing in my bathroom?" She cried out.
"Playing tennis, Tanaka." Niou shook his wet hair out off his eyes as he sarcastically replied.
Tanaka fumed then pointed down without looking at her finger's direction. "And why the hell are you wearing my favorite towel?"
"Your mom said I could use." Niou shrugged and replied nonchalantly as he stepped out of the door.
Tanaka gave him an exasperated look. "I was gonna use that."
"You have more towels." Niou responded.
Tanaka glared. "Don't you have any?"
"I forgot mine when I went in to take a shower and, you know - going commando isn't really my thing." Niou told the frustrated teenage girl, giving her a pointed look.
Tanaka shook her head in exasperation as she stomped her way towards her room, grabbed a towel off of her closet and stomped her way back into the bathroom where an amused Niou stood near chuckling at each movement she made.
Just as Tanaka closed the door, Niou grinned and yelled out, "I like your soap, by the way."
"Augh!" Tanaka cried out annoyance as Niou chuckled his way downstairs and into the guest room.
Tanaka poked her fried beef with her fork as she ate in silence. Niou was right across from her, his usual smirk pasted on his face.
"Mom, when are you going to the grocery store?" Tanaka suddenly asked, staring right at Niou whose eyebrow quirked at her question.
Tanaka's mother's eyebrows raised as well as she turned towards her daughter. "Why?"
"I need new soap." Tanaka said through gritted teeth, as Niou bit back his lowered lip and resisted the urge to chuckle straight at his former best friend's ice-cold blue eyes.
Tanaka's parents shared a look as her mother replied with a hesitant, "Alright then. I'll make sure you get your new soap as soon as possible."
"Thanks." Tanaka responded, her eyes never leaving Niou's amused once. Even though his face was as blank as possible, she knew inside he was dying to torment her even more. He quirked an eyebrow at her as she gave him a mocking smile.
Suddenly, Tanaka's father spoke up. "By the way, Masaharu's tennis match is this weekend and the whole family is coming to support him." He turned his gaze towards Tanaka and gave a wide smile which wiped the mocking smile off of his daughter's face. "The whole family." He repeated more pointedly.
Tanaka's eyes widened. Why is it that whenever she wanted to drift farther, fate just keeps trying to tie them together? Her gaze returned towards Niou who now was occupied with sloppily eating his rice and beef. She turned towards her parents who were each giving her pointed stares.
Kiseki's words echoed again through her mind. "Be careful."
"I'm in shit. Deep shit." Tanaka bit her lip in distress.
Well, guys. It's been a long time. Haha. It's kind of sad how it's been so many months since I've last updated this story. No worries though - I'll have them popping during Spring Break. Hopefully. Thank you so much for all the readers out there who constantly make my day with their alerts and favorites. It really is a blessing.
Anyways, I have no idea when the next update for this story will be. I've just managed through Finals the last week and I suppose this is my gift to you guys for a new trimester of English(: Anyways, please review if you'd like. Otherwise - keep reading. I'll do my best to keep you guys interested. I sincerely apologize to those who have to re-read the story all over again because they've forgotten how the plot goes. That's the author's fault so I apologize for that.
I love you guys!