Summary: Renji Yanagi found a beautiful piece of literature lying about the school library and was quite certain that it was purely student-made. He does not recognize the handwriting of the person while Ranawa Ikeda searches tirelessly for that creative writing piece she had to finish. Are the fates toying the feelings of the two most logical students in Rikkaidai Fuzoku Chuu?
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Prince of Tennis characters.
Ranawa blinked. A millisecond passed when she realized she had not yet responded. "Thank you...?" She slowly answered, the uncertainty obvious in her tone.
She saw an eyebrow slowly raise and Yanagi Renji turned towards her. "It was a mere observation."
"Of course it was." Ranawa responded quickly. The silence was rubbing down on her, and she felt some tension (possibly imaginary?) rise between the both of them. "Well, it was pleasure speaking with you, Yanagi-san." She stood up, and gathered her things as Yanagi sat there, completely motionless.
Ranawa tried not to make so much noise, since the atmosphere seemed so solemn (and a tad bit awkward, but that could be easily disregarded) and briskly walked down the stairs, but not before giving Yanagi Renji one last weak wave. One that she doubted would make such a lasting impression.
She coolly made her way into her respective classroom, ignoring the gradual feeling of heat creeping it's way up towards her cheeks. Ranawa made sure not to cause a clamor as she dropped her bag softly near the edge of her chair, and plopped herself down onto her seat. She suddenly felt the strong stare of a certain blue-eyed girl and stared back at Tanaka who seemed to have been studying her intently.
"Your face is red." The dark-haired Ice Princess commented bluntly, pointing her pencil towards the said body part.
Ranawa brushed the remark off. "I was rushing from the rooftop down to here."
"There was plenty of time to leisurely walk between up there to here." Tanaka raised a curious eyebrow.
Ranawa gave her friend an exasperated look. "Honestly, Tanaka. What's the point of interrogating me?"
"Nothing. You just seemed flustered, is all." The bright blue-eyed teen turned her attention back towards her notebook, as Ranawa scoffed and turned away. "Flustered..." Ranawa mumbled under her breath, as she began taking out of her own notebook. Yanagi Renji was no reason to be flustered, and Ranawa knew that. He is, after all, her sole rival. The one whom she's always wanted to beat. Nothing and no one else.
"So, Ranawa - I was wondering, when are you going to take up a sport?" Naomi Hayashi, her always-optimistic fellow 3rd year, wondered as they walked slowly home from school. The topic soon caught the attention of the seemingly-solemn Shoko Tokiwa, who had been busily shoving her ankle brace inside her gigantic sports bag. Shoko was a renowned athlete, but her grades couldn't keep up with the many sports she had been involved in, so she had to drop most of them.
Ranawa sighed as she stretched her arms out. "School's already keeping me busy. And of course, the volunteer work that we do. I don't think I have time."
"Well, it's good to have your grades as a priority but doing a sport can be a lot of fun." Naomi told her, her caramel-colored hair glistening unnaturally under the bright glare of the sun.
Ranawa rolled her eyes. "You're only saying that because you're good at the sport you play. In case you guys haven't noticed yet, I'm not exactly an athletic kind of person."
"Didn't you used to play tennis?" Aeha inquired innocently, but as she batted her eyelashes sweetly at the already-peeved 3rd year. Ranawa knew the girl's remark was deeply rooted from Tanaka's curious ears and Shoko's blabbering mouth.
Ranawa glared at Shoko, who merely responded with a blank stare. "Have you been telling everybody everything?"
"They were curious." Shoko stood unyielding to Ranawa's piercing narrow slits, as she shrugged and gave her a devil-may-care look.
Naomi smirked and mused. "You know you're majorly crushing on a guy when you'd take up a sport just so that you can play him..."
Ranawa rolled her eyes and scoffed. "Alright. Let's get this straight. I've not shown as much as an ounce of romantic interest in Yanagi Renji since the 1st grade. The only relationship we share is apparently a two-sided rivalry, and nothing more. Have I made myself clear?"
Cue the rolling of eyes. And when Ranawa thought she finally found herself a mature group of teenage friends, they just had to prove her wrong.
Kanagawa's Annual Book Fair! Recently released books to be sold with a 30-60% discount!
Ranawa clutched the brightly colored piece of paper and stared at it curiously.
"Thought I should remind you." Her mother said, a few footsteps away from her in the hallway.
Ranawa smiled. "Thanks, okaa-san. I almost forgot."
"You seemed be a bit disgruntled these past few days. Everything alright, Nawa?" The sudden worry in her mother's voice startled Ranawa. It's been days since they've had a proper mother-to-daughter conversation, and Ranawa's family has always been a bit detached from each other. Her father was barely home half the time, her brother showed no family interest, her sister was always busy, and her mother had been a bit aloof for weeks now.
She bit back the small urge to ask if her mother ate something funny and shook her head. "Everything's fine. Thank you for this." Ranawa held up the advertisement as she inclined her head and slowly walked to her room. Maybe it was just her imagination, but she felt as if her mother's eyes never left her back as she turned the hallway corner and into the stuffy warmth of her room.
Changing out of her uniform and into a comfortable attire, she stepped out into the hallway and into the living room where her mother sat alone in front of the tv, a blank look occupying her features as she watched a documentary on panda bears.
"Okaa-san, everything alright?" Ranawa echoed her own mother's words, concern written across her face.
Her mother seemed to shake out of the blank spell she had been and smiled a close-mouthed smile. "Of course. Go on to the fair, Ranawa. And make sure to be home by dinner."
"Nobody else is home yet?" Ranawa wondered, looking around. The house was eerily quiet without the booming of her brother's bass, or her sister's loud chattering.
Her mother shook her head. "No, but I'll be fine. Go on ahead."
Ranawa sighed, and crossed her arms before seating herself down next to her stubborn mother. "Okaa-san, what is it? I'm not an idiot. I know something's bothering you."
"Your grandfather died."
Time seemed to stand still. From the chill that emanated from her mother's words, Ranawa knew it couldn't possibly her father's father. That meant it had to be the jackass who decided to leave her grandmother when she was 8 months pregnant with Ranawa's mother. He hadn't kept in contact with them ever since he left, and Ranawa knew her mother had never been fond of her absent father.
"How?" Ranawa asked uncertainly.
Her mother gave a sad smirk. "I don't know. The woman he eloped with had her eldest daughter call me this morning. Didn't say the cause, didn't say exactly when. Just said he was gone."
"And you care?" Ranawa regretted saying those words as soon as it left her mouth. Her mother stared at her with a hurt look which instantly turned into a silent rage only she could conjure.
Her mother shook her head. "No matter, he was still my father. No matter how much he didn't want me, or loved me, or even considered me his daughter, I still am. It hurts, Nawa. Knowing that your own father don't give a damn even about how you are now, or what you've grown up to be." There were no tears that poured down her stiff mother's face, but Ranawa knew that inside her mother was crying.
For an instant, Ranawa pondered about just how privileged she was to at least have a father in her life. To have a complete family. It was privilege other children didn't have, and here she was complaining about losing a piece of writing. She patted her mother reluctantly on the back and said, "If you want me to stay here until somebody else gets here..."
She was cut off. "No. You shouldn't burdened with my problems. Just know that even though your father is barely around, he truly does care for you and love you, alright?"
"I know." Ranawa smiled, wondering if that was a half-assed truth. She hasn't had a decent conversation with her father for weeks; he was always gone every time she was home.
Her mother echoed her smile, only in a more solemn manner. "Well, go ahead and hurry. I saw kids passing by already while you were upstairs. I know you don't like crowded places, so you should get there before they do."
Ranawa nodded as she reluctantly made her way outside, and crossed her arms. Then, she quickly stuck her head back in and said, "Okaa-san?"
She saw her mother's head turn from a few yards away.
"You know that I'm always here for you, right?" Ranawa asked.
Her mother smiled and nodded. "I know, Nawa-chan. I do."
Ranawa nodded before heading back out again.
The annual book fair always took place in her favorite bookstore, so Ranawa knew the route well. She had thought that she had been early enough to at least get a couple of decent books at a favorable price but the place was already crowded by the time she entered through.
Amazed at how many people decided to show up this year, she barely had time to look at the direction where she was going and landed her face right into the back of Rikkaidai's one and only Sanada Genichirou. The intensity of his glare was enough to make her pee her pants but she quickly avoided his gaze and stared at the ground, faking a respectful incline of the head.
"Sorry, Sanada-san. Didn't mean to run into you." She rolled her eyes as he gave her a typical stone-cold Sanada response.
"Ikeda-san, is something the matter?" A familiar voice made her sharply looked up and she stared back at Yanagi Renji's slightly irritating close-eyed stare.
Ranawa backed up and smiled. "No, nothing at all." She quickly turned tail and wandered into a less crowded spot. Now she knew why it was so damn stuffy. The fangirls must have followed their beloved regulars' to the store.
"Ranawa, there you are!" For once, Ranawa was pleased to hear a familiar tone and surprisingly met the hazel eyes of a bun-headed Konomi Ritsu being tagged along by a cheerful Kiseki Shimizu.
"Kiseki, Konomi. Didn't see you guys this afternoon." Ranawa told them, relieved that she finally found companions to wander with.
Konomi opened her mouth to respond, but Kiseki had already beaten her. "I had to walk my sister to the dance academy. Hey, did you know Konomi trains and works there as a mentor?" She excitedly asked.
"No, Kiseki. Because I haven't known her and gone to the same schools as her since what, kindergarten?" Ranawa rolled her eyes and tried to sound less hostile and more playful.
Kiseki scowled. "You know, sometimes your sarcasm really bites."
"Aw, boo-hoo. Cry me a river." Ranawa cooed, chuckling as Kiseki smacked her with a nearby book on the shoulder.
Kiseki rolled her own eyes and muttered. "You've been hanging Tanaka and Shoko waay too much."
"Tanaka-chan isn't as venomous." Konomi murmured, catching the attention of both the bantering girls in front of her. It took a moment for the sentence to sink in before Ranawa realized what the timid-looking girl had meant.
Kiseki held back a howl of laughter as she pointed the book she was holding towards Ranawa's peeved face. "She just called you extra-hostile."
"Funny, both of you, really." Ranawa slapped Kiseki's book aside as she made her way towards the fiction section of the store. "Now, rudeness aside, have you realized how many fangirls are here?" She gestured towards a girl fully clothed in Rikkaidai attire slowly making their way towards an unsuspecting Yagyuu Hiroshi accompanied by a bored-looking Niou Masaharu.
"You know how they are. They never miss a chance to stalk." Kiseki said so in a matter-of-fact tone and turned around a shelf, following a completely random path.
Ranawa sighed. "And seeing how both of you are practically the ones they've been preying on these past few months...I should probably...go..." She faked a face, as if she has no other choice but to do so.
"Wow, ouch. I thought we already pulled rudeness aside." Kiseki responded, shaking her head in disbelief. Ranawa returned the gesture with a playful grin when she suddenly realized Konomi had been eyeing her for the past few moments.
"You know, Ranawa-san, this is probably the first time I've seen you so carefree." Konomi informed the dark-haired teen who had been busying herself raising an interrogatory eyebrow at the shorter brunette.
"Yeah, what gives? You were pretty flustered during lunch too." Kiseki remembered, crossing her arms at Ranawa.
Ranawa shrugged. "Don't know. Early symptoms of Mother Nature's monthly gifts, perhaps?" She gave them a goofy lopsided grin.
"And we all know you don't want to talk about something when you have resort to using your lame sense of humor. I'll drop the subject." Kiseki quickly replied, cringing but Konomi seemed ever-curious. When Ranawa caught her eye, she saw concern flecked in the shorter brunette's bright orbs.
They rounded a corner when suddenly a mob of girls separated the trio from each other and when the crowd had cleared, Ranawa found herself standing stupidly alone near the "Preganancy" aisle. Awkwardly shuffling away, Ranawa turned her heads here and there to try and find any signs of Kiseki and Konomi but they seemed to have been swept away by the overly excited mob of girls from before.
Sighing, Ranawa randomly pried a book from a shelf and found herself meeting the amber eyes of Yanagi Renji on the other side.
"Ikeda-san. Fancy seeing you here." The dry slightly-sarcastic tone of his voice made Ranawa raise an eyebrow as she looked up to see the section she was in. Literature History. She fought the urge not to crack a grin. Literature History was the subject she had almost best Yanagi Renji at, just 3% away from beating him.
"I've been running into you a lot lately. It's pretty funny." Ranawa murmured, as he rounded the corner to go into her aisle. Maybe it was an instinct for him to talk to people face to face, just not eye-to-eye.
"I fail to see the humor." His voice was flat, but an edge of possible playfulness made Ranawa take back the slightly hostile response that had been itching to come out the tip of her tongue.
Ranawa raised an eyebrow. "Never pegged you for the bantering type." She mused, playing with the spine of the book she had taken.
"I'm sorry for walking in on you at the rooftop." Yanagi told her, ignoring her last comment. Ranawa wondered if she had offended him, but quickly disregarded it.
Ranawa shrugged. "It's fine. Interrupting me wouldn't make the new piece worse."
"You still want the old one back, don't you?" Yanagi asked her, crossing his arms.
Ranawa smirked. "I'd ask you to make a percentage prediction and prove you wrong, but that would be going too far, wouldn't it?"
"I'm supposing you are decently happy with this new one, but you'd still like to turn in the old one instead. Am I right?" Ranawa realized he had pointedly made a prediction, just not a percentage one and she studied his face - trying to find a hint of smugness or a smirk, but could find none. Is this boy even human?
Ranawa raised an eyebrow. "Where are you going with this?"
"I want to help you find your missing piece. I feel like I at least owe you my assistance." Yanagi replied in a robotic tone, as if he had practiced his response a thousand times.
Ranawa sighed. "If you're doing this out of guilt, I don't want to be bother you. Granted, you are the only person who can help me and I do want my old piece back in my hands, but I can find it myself. Thank you." She felt her pride being bruised. Did Yanagi believe she wasn't capable of finding it herself? Did he pride himself with his calculative mindset so much that he believes he is the only one who could find it?
"Ikeda-san, I didn't mean to offend you. It was partly my fault it is currently lost, but I'm not offering to assist you out of guilt. It's obvious how much it means to you. I've no other reason to find it but to safely bring it back into your hands. Nothing else." Yanagi responded as Ranawa studied him carefully.
Yanagi Renji, the Data Master, was asking to do something out of compassion? She thought he was an emotionless rock!
"Then, thank you." Ranawa inclined her head before walking away from him.
"Oh, and Ranawa." The fact that he had called her by her first name made her freeze. "It is an instinct for me not to open my eyes, it's become a habit so don't find it insulting when my eyes do not meet yours. I do banter, just not casually. You did not offend me by asking so, I was just curious as to how you would react if I ignored your remark. I'd know if you were to say my prediction is wrong and I didn't want to waste my time saying so. Yes, I am human. I do believe you are capable of finding your piece yourself, but I wanted you to consider my offer. And yes, habitually I do try to do something out of compassion. It must be my being a human."
Ranawa realized that he had just answered every question she had been asking in her mind. Shaking her head in both disbelief and amusement, she walked away knowing full well he was intently watching her from behind.
"If Sanada finds out that you've been busying yourself with something other than desiring to win for Yukimura's sake, I'm betting a 100 slaps at least." Niou said, appearing behind Yanagi and following his gaze towards a departing Ranawa.
Yanagi raised an eyebrow. "Sanada, no matter how much of an authoritative figure I see him as, has no control over what I personally choose to do in my free time."
"Since when have you taken an interest in Ikeda?" Niou gestured towards the disappearing girl who had just rounded off a corner.
Yanagi pursed his lips. "You already know that it was partly my fault that her piece is currently lost. This is merely my form of repayment."
"No use trying to fool the trickster, Yanagi. When did you ever take the time to even converse with the opposite sex, let alone assist them? I know you're no Yagyuu. What's the real reason you want to help Ikeda, huh, Yanagi?" Niou pressed, eyebrows raised.
Yanagi sighed before responding, "I won't waste time arguing with you, Niou. Just know that not all of us are as girl-crazy as you and Marui."
"Heh, nice comeback, Mr. Dataman." Niou smirked, as he stood straight and looked Yanagi straight in the face. "After all, it takes one to know one." He walked away, with Yanagi exasperatedly irritated behind him.
Yanagi has known Ranawa Ikeda since the 1st grade, when he first moved to Kanagawa and many of the girls flounced over to him. Ranawa, included. But she was pointedly different; a lot less chirpy and a lot more good-natured. A lot less mindless and a lot more ambitious. Of course, that explained why she was such a recurring name. The girl who always came 2nd to Yanagi Renji. All of the attention always came to him, and never to her because no one else really bothered to consistently congratulate those who came under 1st place.
Her one-sided rivalry became apparent to him in 3rd grade when she had challenged him to a match; back then, she was much more impulsive and less reserved. Because she was an obvious rookie and he was obviously experienced, he murdered her 6-0. Not once did she ever call him out again.
During the final years of primary school, their fellow classmates knew she harbored an intense desire to best him at one thing, at least. But as they progressed onto middle school, she became a lot more solemn and pointedly detached. Ever since then, he'd never really recalled her tediously busying herself over beating him again.
Yanagi Renji became a legend among the students, along with Sanada and Yukimura during their freshman year. And Ranawa Ikeda disappeared in the shadows along with her best friend Shoko Tokiwa who had once been a renowned athlete who could have made it as a regular in the girl's tennis team. Yet, her name consistently stood under his after every exam. Always.
Yanagi wanted to confirm if their rivalry still existed, if he could still ignite a competitive drive in Ranawa. And sure enough, he was right. And despite knowing in the pit of his heart that he could never admit this to anyone but himself, the girl who always came 2nd intrigued him. And although he's known her for years, he's never really known her.
And now, here was his chance to. And as irrational as it might be, Yanagi couldn't help but take it.
Hey guys! So...it's summertime!(: Which also means updating time for me. I was completely busy throughout the school year, but now I'm really driven to make updates for you guys. Thank you for waiting this long. I know some of you might have to re-read the story which is completely understandable. I'm really sorry for not updating as much as I should be.
Anyways...this is officially the start of updating time, so be on the lookout for other updates! Thank you for reading! Don't forget to review as well(: