Summary: Naomi Hayashi wasn't a nurse. She wasn't a doctor. And she certainly did not know how to cure the Child of God. Seiichi Yukimura used to be the will-driven, determined leader of the famous Rikkaidai Tennis Team. He used to be the team's hope and the team's faith. Now he has deteriorated into an empty shell of hopelessness. He had never spoken to her. She had never spoken to him. Could there be anything more?
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Prince of Tennis characters.
"Yukimura-kun, the youth leader is here to see you." The nurse opened his hospital door just slightly, her clean new shoes scraping the unblemished floor. A fragment of the bright hospital lights shone through the cold darkened room.
"Send her away." A sullen tone answered. A figure with brilliant blue hair seemed to shift uncomfortably around his bed. His back was turned towards the nurse and his body was curled in an instinctive means to comfort himself.
The nurse winced at the usual words. "This had been the fifth time you've sent her away. The other children seem to like her." Most of her persuasion tactics (especially when said in a soft comforting voice) would usually work with the other young hospital patients. However, she was met by an unwavering answer from this particular one.
"Don't compare me to the other children." The captain of the prominent Rikkaidai Tennis Team replied with a somewhat angry voice.
The nurse furrowed her eyebrows and her eyes looked down upon the white-clean tiled floor. "Give her a chance."
"Please leave." Yukimura turned about on his bed, and faced the window. Silently, he heard the door close. He could hear the sound of soft whispering from the other side of the closed door.
For five times he had rejected her coming and talking to him personally. He did not want to see eyes that pitied him, nor did he want to speak to some stranger in a hellish hospital. But for five times, she had silently slipped in through the door and spoke to him. It startled him at first; she spoke to him as if they were sitting just desks away from each other. He had pretended to sleep, not wanting her to be scared of such a disgruntling presence.
Yukimura Seiichi waited patiently. The clock hands were louder than usual, and it filled the room with the boring noise of time ticking. Soon, he knew, she'd come. He waited for a minute. Five. Ten. Now fifteen.
He could hear the sound of a closing door from across the corridor. A childish goodbye came out from the almost-closing door, and an almost-unheard goodbye answered. The young girl across from Yukimura was a girl suffering of heart problems; he heard gossip that she might never recover, but Seiichi never really chose to believe rumors, even when he was whole and healthy.
Then, the sound of cautious footsteps carried through to his sensitive ears. For a minute, he tried to see in his peripheral vision the opening door, but he could only hear it as is gently opened.
Yukimura had never truly seen the "youth leader" before. All he knew was that it was "she" and she attends Rikkaidai, the school that he had attended before he had gotten inevitably hospitalized. He figured she had never met him, and he had never met her. Which only adds to the relief that she wasn't another pitying voice in the sound of hopeless dismay.
The door closed in a soft clatter. Footsteps can be heard as he heard the rolling of a nearby chair come to the side of his bed. His back was, as usual, turned to hear.
"It's a beautiful noon, Yukimura-san. If you wake up soon, you might see a glimpse of it." Her voice was always so delicate, as if her words might break him. As usual, she began the one-way conversation with such a simple thing, Yukimura still wasn't quite sure why. Just the feeling of someone, somewhere was still connecting with his ill-defeated self calmed him. Once, he even thought it might have strengthened him, but in retrospect, he concluded that it was just a simple fantasy in his disease-fated hospitalized life.
"Everybody in Rikkai waits for your return. Your class even seemed less enthusiastic since your absence. The tennis team, they've also been doing well in the tournament. It seems that Sanada-san and Yanagi-san are disciplining the tennis club well. Of course, I've only heard that from other classmates. Tennis has never really been my thing." He could hear her fingers slip through her hair; how, he did not know. Yukimura felt some of his anger rise, hearing about the tennis team doing well without any of his doing.
"But don't think that your absence hasn't affected them," She seemed to have read his mind, "in fact, they seem less organized, less strong. Either way, they have a secured spot in the Nationals, but seeing the degree of their training, they really want to win the Kantou finals."
Now, Seiichi could hear her fiddling with some of the things on his table. "I think...I'm sorry if this offends you in any way, but I think they want to win it for you. They want to give you strength, faith, something like that. I think that...by winning, they feel that they're giving you something worthy. But, even if you don't heal - even if you can never play tennis again, I believe you and your teammates would remain friends."
"I'm sorry if I'm offending you," He heard her sigh, her breathing growing uneven, "since I hear, tennis is practically your life. But even without tennis, Yukimura-san, there's a world waiting for you. You've always been the source of strength, of power, of determination, and of will in Rikkaidai. And, I believe that even without tennis, you will always be that kind of source."
"People have faith in you, unable to play tennis or not. Never forget that you always have a place in this world."
His breathing grew uneven. The sincerity in her voice, in her words struck something deep in him. It didn't awaken any lost strength nor did it start giving him hope again. Just the knowledge that somebody besides the people caring for him still sees him as the figure he had lost all hope in becoming - that knowledge comforted him.
She spoke for a few more minutes, but around 10:30 A.M. (according to his bedside clock), she stood up and placed a simple and a bit of a reluctant pat upon his turned back. Soon, Seiichi heard the clatter of the door closing and he muttered a small sincere "thank you", even though he knew fully well that she was gone.
He faced the ceiling and sighed. The doctor had just spoken to him about the surgery a few days ago; Seiichi had a choice on whether or not he wanted to do the operation. Still indecisive, he closed his eyes and breathed out.
Naomi had just closed the door of Yukimura Seiichi's hospital room and was heading down the second set of stairs. On the fourth step, she sat down and shook out some stray hairs from her hair.
Every time she entered the former Rikkai Tennis captain's hospital room, she felt a tad bit stupid. She had tried to converse with him personally for five times, but he seemed to always send her away. Naomi could understand the trauma of feeling unable to do anything about his predicament, but she felt that cutting off connections to the world just wasn't healthy.
But it wasn't as if she could fault him. If she even imagined being in his current shoes, Naomi would have probably broken down as well. She looked up the stairs and sighed. Each day she entered the hospital, she felt determined to make a change for the patients' lives. Each day she left, she felt more discouraged.
Maybe just the heavy feeling of dismay and surrender just filled her in as it did to the other children. The girl across Yukimura had heart problems and had been so constantly rushed to the hospital, that her parents finally let her become a permanent patient. The girl is scheduled to have an operation just a couple of weeks away.
A few rooms down from the girl, was a teenage boy with eye problems. He could barely see a glint of light, let alone anything. The doctors have not scheduled a surgery for him yet, but he seemed to be a lot more cheerful compared to the other patients.
The nurses have said that the one they felt the most concern for was Yukimura Seiichi. Apparently, just days before he overheard a doctor saying that he has no hope of playing tennis every again, he had been training in the nearby rehabilitation center for many hours a day.
That only added to the sadness of his situation.
As Naomi brushed a few strands of hair, she looked up and closed her eyes. She clasped her hands, and even though she did not kneel, Naomi sent out a little prayer. Her family was strictly Catholic, and she and Aeha had constantly had to pray when they were children. They were taught the Bible teachings, the important prayers, and the Rosary.
Naomi, before this year, was not at all interested in being a good Christian. In fact, despite her parents' multiple attempts, she just did not see what was so special. It wasn't until her father had been caught in the middle of a murderous robbery, that Naomi began to honestly pray. She brushed the discriminatory comments that surrounded her being Catholic aside, and she ignored the gossip and teasing that she have had to endure about being a strict Christian.
Naomi made the sign of the cross.
"Lord God, there are so many of Your children here. I know that it is of your choice, but Lord God, even through my imperfect eyes, I can see that they are capable of doing so much in this world. I pray especially for Mochiko-chan, who is about to have a surgery. Lord, I know that chances are slim for her. I know that she might not be able to survive it. But each day I walk into her room, I can feel Your undying love for her - and I know I'm not alone in thinking that she has a chance. I also pray for Yukimura-san, Lord. He has so much going for him, but he just can't see it." Naomi clasped her hands even more tightly.
"I know - I know, that there are so many people who deserve their prayers to be heard more than me. But Lord, I'm not praying for myself, Lord. I'm praying for the patients in this hospital, Lord. For the nurses, the doctors, the assistants - everybody who works to help these patients heal. Please heal them, Lord. I know you can. I don't want them to suffer anymore. Lord, please."
She opened her eyes, and made the sign of the cross again. Naomi breathed deeply and stood up. She swung her tote lightly and began to walk down. On the way down the stairs, she passed the Rikkaidai Tennis Team. Sanada Genichirou, in his imperious glory, had his arms crossed and was leading the bunch. Yanagi Renji, the Master, was walking silently behind the vice-captain. Yagyuu Hiroshi stood next to his doubles partner, Niou Masaharu and was ignoring the loud trio behind him; Marui Bunta, Jackal Kuwahara, and Kirihara Akaya.
None of them were her classmates, but some of them probably knew her as she saw Yanagi and Yagyuu incline their head slightly at her. She gave them a small smile and a tiny nod as well.
By the time she was checking out at the lobby, her phone began to ring. Embarrassed at how loud it sounded in the silent lobby, she quickly took it out of her bag and answered it. It was Shoko. Hurriedly, Naomi signed herself out and answered the phone.
"Hey." She said curtly.
"Hi. Ranawa's busy, and I'm not sure about Kiseki, so I'm probably the only one showing." The four were the planners of the group, and tended to schedule visits or organize events weekly. But as Naomi remembered, Ranawa was busy with an important creative writing piece and Kiseki had just started cram school - so Shoko was the only Naomi was in contact with.
"Okay. I'll be there in about five or ten minutes. Do you have the planner?" Naomi began walking briskly. She was glad she decided to wear comfortable sneakers instead of the sandals she usually wore to hospital visits; they had planned to meet at a nearby cafe and just plan there.
"Like always." Shoko answered in a teasing manner.
"Alright. See you then." Naomi was about to cross an intersection, and she began to looking left and right.
"Bye." was the simply reply as they both ended the call simultaneously.
While Naomi was exiting the lobby, Yukimura and his teammates had just filled up the rooftop. As Naomi was about ten yards away from the intersection, Yukimura and Sanada were having a conversation about Seiichi's surgery near the fence.
Just when Naomi walked near the intersection, when she was in full view of the Rikkai captain, Yukimura turned and looked at his arguing teammates in a captain-like worry.
And this "youth leader" of his would remain a simple plain part of his unfortunate complicated life. All Yukimura Seiichi could do was stare at his teammates and wonder if he will ever be able to hold a racket and play once more in a tournament tennis court.
"Everything's under control." Sanada assured his ill captain, also looking over his teammates.
Yukimura nodded in silence before adding, "I've heard."
"Other people have been visiting you?" Yagyuu chimed in, his hands folded neatly behind his back. He had separated from the noisy group and had overheard the conversation.
Seiichi glanced at the Gentleman in skepticism; it wasn't like Yagyuu to eavesdrop on people. "Just a volunteer. She goes to our school." He saw Sanada raise curious eyebrows.
Yagyuu, looked down as if contemplating. "We passed a familiar-looking girl on the way up. Unfortunately, I don't seem to know her."
"Naomi Hayashi." The Master's voice interrupted the conversation. "3rd year, such as us. No notable achievements, no prominent sport awards, no real important records." He had calmly joined the circle.
Sanada furrowed his eyebrows. "Just focus on getting better." He patted Yukimura on the back, in a mere attempt to be supportive.
"We will win the Kantou Tournament for you." Yagyuu nodded in addition.
"And after your surgery, we will conquer the Nationals together." Yanagi added, nodding his head once, his calm face if possible, more composed than ever.
It seemed like such a simple fine idea, that even Yukimura was persuaded to taking the dangerous surgery for a moment. Yet still, there was a part of him frightened to take the risk.
"Yes." Yukimura Seiichi said in a strong firm tone; almost in a way that he resembled his strong healthy self in his Rikkaidai jersey. Then, Marui in his own comedic way, set a cake in front of Yukimura's face and said cheerfully, "We have cake for you, buchou!"
Niou then appeared in the circle and smirked. "Of course he ate some of it already." He gestured to the bubble-blowing redhead.
"I ate a piece...After Jackal took the first bite!" Bunta jerked his thumb to his doubles partner who responded with a loud, "Hey!"
The youngest, Kirihara Akaya could only chuckle at his arguing sempais. And for a time, for a rare time, Yukimura was filled with only the cheery sound of friendly laughter.
"So how was the hospital?" Shoko initiated the conversation, putting her long silky black hair onto a high ponytail. Her sidebangs fluttered softly, as a gentle breeze swayed the outside part of the cafe.
Naomi set her bag down on a far side of the circular table. "Depressing, as always." She shrugged off her navy blue blazer and rolled up the sleeves of her ivory striped knit top to her elbows.
"Maybe I should go with you next time." Shoko opened up their organizer and took out a pen from her red convertible plaid backpack.
Naomi chuckled at the thought. "Please. As if you could survive in there." She responded teasingly, putting her caramel colored hair into a low side-ponytail, tucking a few long bangs behind her ear. It was a pleasant day, although quite warm.
"I should just stick to planning, huh?" Shoko replied, rolling up her dark blue washed skinny jeans to her calves.
Naomi fiddled with her bracelet. "That is what you're good at." She said so in a matter-of-fact voice.
"Well, first things first - it looks like we're gonna have a free week. Ranawa won't be able to really do anything, because she'll be too busy with journalism. Kiseki has extra work for cram school. Tanaka's trying out for a local softball team. And Konomi...well, we can't really expect her to do anything yet. She's still getting used to us." Shoko tapped her pen in constant rhythm on the planner.
Naomi furrowed her eyebrows, then nodded in agreement. "Aeha has dance practice every other day. My teacher's hinting at an important chemistry project, but I'm not too sure. And you're trying out for soccer?"
"Yeah. Either that or tennis. And apparently all the tennis girls can talk about are the boy's regulars team. It was an easy choice." Shoko smirked, then flipped through the planner to the current date.
Naomi leaned back on her chair, and crossed her arms. "There are friendly girls in the tennis club."
"Yeah. And most are obsessed. Nu-uh. Not taking that risk." Shoko shook her head, and began writing on the organizer.
Naomi sighed. "Oh, come on. And plus, the girl's tennis team could use some real sporty people like you."
"If you think so, maybe you should join. You don't have any extracurricular sports, and maybe now is the time to try one." Shoko looked up, her eyebrows raised.
Naomi laughed pleasantly. "You know how bad my eye-hand coordination is."
"There's always a chance." Shoko said in a sort of singsong voice.
Naomi smiled. "Yeah, crazy chance."
And for a moment, all seemed right. Naomi knew where she belonged and so did Seiichi. Both knew which parts they were each taking and nothing was going to deter them. Crazy chance, right?
Added more parts into the first draft. Just wanted to see what people thought. My heart and best wishes go to Japan and the families and victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami. May God be with them, and stop this horrible disastrous tragedy. I also wish for the healing of those currently hospitalized everywhere and those suffering of a heavy illness.