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.
This fanfiction is for the following users: Anomaly E, celtic27fionn, chillybean, Just Wait and See, Koori no Kitsune, linhsongirl, Princess Alice Rose, and Raine Amorial who have favorited this particular fanfiction.
This chapter is for the following users: celtic27fionn, Coco96, Enjie, Happy-Valley, Haruka Nya, Jigglypuff's Pillow, Koori no Kitsune, linhsongirl, midnightshadow96, Miss CatLover Chii, MoonlitNite, Personheretolookatstories, Princess Alice Rose, Sarang-Ui Mellodi, Sayonara Yasashii Akumu, and SmartOotori who have alerted this particular fanfiction.
"Yoshida! You're falling behind." From the corner of her eye, Naomi saw her friend, Tanaka roll her blue eyes and her expression turn into one of disdain. Inwardly, Naomi chuckled as she continued to jog in the same pace. She could've sworn she heard Tanaka mutter some curses under her breath.
"What was that, Yoshida?" Screamed the captain running energetically at the forefront of the group.
Tanaka scowled, her dark brown ponytail whipping at her face as she jogged even faster. "Nothing!" She yelled back. She met eyes with Naomi who gave her a cheesy smile and merely returned it with a bitter glare. The group rounded the corner of the field.
"One more lap. One more lap." were the words that whispered endlessly through Naomi's brain as she felt a cool breeze come through and chills run down her spine. Her breathing was getting a bit harder each second as she spotted the softball captain, barely breathing at all. A rush of inspiration hit her as she jogged a bit faster, leaving behind some of the girls she had been in pace with before.
The softball tryouts were two weeks ago - two weeks since she had entered the club room and approached the manager of the team. She had done fairly well - better than most, but a two year break from the sport took a toll on her athletic ability and Naomi knew that she wouldn't be regaining back the experience she lost anytime soon.
She remembered how she felt two weeks ago, days before the tryouts.
"So...Tryouts are in a couple of days, I've heard." Shoko, Naomi's best friend, stretched across her desk grinning at the nervous girl. Some of Naomi's anxious habits have begun to resurface: messy handwriting, lack of sleep, bad eating habits, biting her nails, et cetera et cetera.
Naomi sighed, wrapping her caramel-colored hair into a messy bun and began tapping the edge of her worn-out desk with the end of her lime-green mechanical pencil. Shoko's onyx eyes scanned her best friend quietly, then without warning - took the pencil and threw it across the room.
"Shoko!" Naomi cried out, her emerald green eyes following the pencil roll and nearly get stomped on by a couple of arriving classmates.
Shoko merely crossed her arms and gave her a smug smirk. "You need to learn not to fret." She gave Naomi a pointed look, her onyx eyes digging into Naomi's green eyes. Naomi averted her gaze and scowled, silently picking up her favorite lime-green pencil decorated with Hello Kitty stickers and placing it safely inside her pencil pouch.
She sat back down as Shoko continued to analyze her with those sharp black eyes.
"Honestly, Naomi. Even if you don't get in - so what? It's not the end of the world." Shoko reasonably told her in a hushed tone, at least being considerable of the fact that Naomi didn't want anyone besides her friends knowing that she was trying out for the softball team. Naomi knew it was childish to keep something so irrelevant from her classmates, but some nosy schoolgirls would kill to make gossip and scandalize anyone they could find.
If her tryouts go badly, she'd be the target of the next round of teasing. Despite Shoko's harsh lectures about being indifferent, Naomi couldn't quite bring herself to reach the degree of her best friend's stony demeanor towards society.
"Easy for you to say. You've been athletic since you were born. I haven't played in two years. How am I supposed to get back into shape so easily?" Naomi questioned her, panic sinking inside her stomach again - just like it had day after day before.
Shoko raised a slender eyebrow at her and smiled. "It's called muscle memory, Naomi. You've been playing softball since you were five. Your body has already been used to strenuous exercise. Sure - the first couple of weeks might be torture, but that's because your body's just getting used to playing again. You'll do fine."
"You act as if I already got in." Naomi mumbled under her breath, her hands shaking with anxiousness and a hint of fear.
Shoko ran a hand through her silky straight black hair. "If you were as confident as you are caring - then we wouldn't be having this conversation right now."
"I feel like throwing up." Naomi said in a small voice, as Shoko rolled her onyx eyes and shoved her.
"Just not in my direction, thanks." was the response, and Naomi couldn't help but laugh.
"Listen, new members. I've noticed that a few of us have been lagging behind. I understand that stamina isn't as big of an issue in softball compared to other sports - but it is a key factor. I don't want you getting tired after a single run." The captain said fiercely, crossing her arms and pacing back and forth eyeing the new members with a disdainful gaze.
Naomi shook off her caramel colored hair from her ponytail and wrapped it back up in a bun, fanning herself with her hand - it was clear to her how red she must look since most of the newbie's cheeks seemed rosier than usual. She felt someone move beside her and faced Tanaka, who was rolling her cool blue eyes with the same disdain as the captain's.
Naomi playfully shoved Tanaka's right shoulder with her left as Tanaka gave her the trademark rolling of eyes. The whole club had finished a long run after playing several scrimmages against each other and everyone was as tired as can be.
Tanaka also wrapped her long dark brown hair into a bun and wiped her sweat with the collar of her t-shirt. Naomi shot her friend a disgusted look as the captain kept ranting on and on about the rules (which she went over each and every practice session), the club ("It's a softball club." Well, duh.), and other tedious things that neither Naomi or Tanaka bothered to process in their brains.
"Alright, that's all. Thank you for all your hard work." The captain ended as the club mumbled a some-what unified response.
Naomi walked back, wiping sweat away from her forehead with her forearm. She had piled her gear bag along with everyone else's inside the clubroom as they haven't officially assigned lockers yet, but walked slowly towards the door knowing that a stampede would occur in a few moments.
Naomi's green eyes met Tanaka's blue ones, and said in unison, "3...2...1."
Soon enough, a loud outcry came from the front door of the club room and screams and shouts that could only be identified as the words, "No! Me first!" or "Get away!" or "Let me in!" At least, somewhere along those lines.
"Us girls can be so catty." Tanaka observed the scene, watching girls shove and scratch to get in there first. A smirk lined itself on her smug face.
Naomi merely chuckled as the club adviser dispersed the crowd and each and every once-angry girl peacefully went through the door one by one. "This seems so unrealistic, don't you think?"
"Ah well. At least my daily dose of amusement has been filled." Tanaka shrugged and followed the line, Naomi trailing behind her. Naomi realized that their heights were almost similar. She stood at a strong 5 feet and 5 inches and as she stared at Tanaka's dark brown hair in front of hair, she wondered.
"Hey, Tanaka. How tall are you?" Naomi asked curiously.
Tanaka gave her a strange look and answered, "Last time I checked, I was 5"5. Why?"
"Just wondering." Naomi mused, looking away.
Tanaka gave her one last funny look before they both silently waited back in line.
"Yukimura-san, the youth leader is here again." The nurse opened the door, and softly told the captain of the Rikkai Tennis Team. He had been reading an interesting book about different kinds of herbs and plants presented to him by his own teammates and had looked up.
He sighed, placed the book down on his bedside table and nodded. "Let her in."
"Ah. Hayashi-san, you may come in." The nurse ushered her inside, bowing before leaving the room. A footfall sounded, and Yukimura stared hardly at the caramel-colored-haired girl with the soft green eyes. She was familiar. If he was certain, she had been in his class before he was admitted to Kanai General Hospital.
Naomi seated herself, trying hard not to blush against his searing stare. "Yorushiku, Yukimura-san." She inclined her head, as she silently let her school bag drop on a nearby table.
"Hayashi-san?" He questioned her, his voice soft and a tad bit feminine.
"I've been meaning to ask you something." Yukimura said, staring at her solemn face.
Naomi looked up, her gaze meeting his. "What is it?"
"Why do you come here?" It was a question of curiosity, not rudeness. His tone had no hint of harshness in it and Naomi was inwardly relieved.
She smiled. "To the hospital, you mean? Well - I figured, even if people feel isolated - they should never lose the right to be cared for and to be loved."
"Those are the nurses' jobs." Yukimura stated, telling her what she already knew.
Naomi bit back the comment and said. "Still. Each time I walk out of this place - I feel so lucky knowing that I've been so blessed compared to other people."
"So you use the patients to feel better about yourself?" He asked her, his mouth set in a thin line.
The comment stung, but Naomi knew harsh words could only come from an injured heart. "Ne, Yukimura-san. It's a bit unfair to be so judgmental based on assumptions alone."
"It was a question, not a statement." Yukimura told her, toneless and calm.
Naomi looked down on the squeaky-clean tiled hospital floor. Her green eyes evaded his blue ones. "If you don't want me to come and visit you anymore, just tell me." She couldn't hide the hint of hurt tainting her voice.
"Did I say anything of that sort?" He asked her, his arms crossed and staring at her like she was some foolish child and he was the superior. Naomi felt intimidated by his presence alone. It was, in no other words, disgruntling.
Naomi stood up. "If you think I'm visiting these children because of my own selfish reasons, I have no intent of changing your mind. But you can't keep me from visiting them." She took in a deep breath, finally meeting his gaze. Inwardly, she flinched. His stare was unyielding, strong, and willful - nothing like his frail body.
"Hayashi-san, please stop making assumptions of your own as well." Yukimura said. He uncrossed his arms and turned away, staring at the window. "I never said it was a sin for you to visit. I was merely questioning your intent."
Naomi immediately felt embarrassed. How can someone seeming so fragile jut out words that made her feel like an uneducated stupid kid? "I'll be leaving now." She inclined her head, taking her bag with her and swiftly made her way out the door. Yukimura heard the door click and sighed.
It was childish, Naomi knew. Each day after her first two-sided conversation with Yukimura, she visited the hospital. Each one of those days, she never laid a foot inside his room. Maybe she was scared. Maybe she was embarrassed. But Naomi knew the real answer.
She became too attached to a person she barely knew, expecting things she shouldn't have expected to begin with. And she knew just how ridiculous she was acting; even Shoko pointed out with the bluntness of an ax. Something inside Naomi felt torn apart, but she couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was.
It had been three days since their conversation, and as Naomi finally closed her school textbook and lightly dropped her lime-green mechanical pencil inside her pencil pouch, she ran a hand through her hair.
She sat herself down on her bed, as Aeha stared at her from across the room with a raised eyebrow. Naomi couldn't find the will to return it. She had enough awkward stares to last her a lifetime.
As she closed her eyes, something flashed.
She had just turned thirteen which was the day Tanaka tricked her into becoming a temporary member of the beautification committee. It was the first time she's ever seen Yukimura Seiichi taking leadership in something besides Tennis.
He had proposed the "Lots of Flowers Movement", taking charge of everything that was need. He had seemed so imperious, yet gentle at the same time. Guys respected him. Girls fawned over him. But all Naomi had was admiration for him.
Until he stood up for her. As some sort of cruel joke, the members of the beautification committee decided to prank Naomi by sending her to different rooms, giving her the wrong information, dumping down all their duties to her, and criticizing her for each mistake she made (and it must be noted, she made a lot - flustered that she was, and sneezing over the different assortments of flowers they'd given her).
She was in tears by the time the day ended. Naomi isolated herself from the rest of them, sitting in a small corner by herself and eating snacks that the event coordinators provided for the committee. Much to her surprise, she took note of the blue hair coming over to her.
Yukimura Seiichi sat down next to her and asked what the matter was. Lying, she told him that she was just tired and wasn't used to doing so much all at once. He narrowed his eyes and demanded the truth. Naomi hesitantly told him about how the beautification committee members slaved her the whole day long.
He called a spontaneous meeting and started blatantly singling out each member who had singled Naomi out. At that time, Naomi didn't know what that warm feeling was that began to sink in her chest.
But as each time he smiled to her across the hallways, or conversed with her in class - Naomi felt her heart soar. When she found out about his principles with the tennis club, she felt her admiration sink. She even felt a bit disgusted by it. And at time, she concluded that the feeling was no more.
But her thoughts revolved back to their conversation days before. The sharp way he had spoken to her, how he almost spat at her with inferiority - Naomi couldn't describe just how badly it hurt her. She ran a hand through her hair again, biting her lip.
Now she realized that for the past couple of years she knew why she acted the way she did with when Yukimura gave back chocolate to a third year girl, whereas not giving any other girl their chocolates back. When he stopped asking her about homework and started asking the girl who sat in front of him instead. When he began ignoring her greetings in the hallway.
Naomi leaned back against the wall, closing her eyelids. "This can't be happening to me..." She mumbled, frustrated under her breath.
"Did you say something, Naomi-nee-chan?" Aeha's voice seemed so far away.
Naomi didn't answer her question, for she was too engrossed with the deep dreaded sinking feeling in her stomach. She knew why. She knew exactly why.
"I have feelings for Yukimura Seiichi." were the only thoughts that her mind contained as she cradled her head in her arms.