Disclaimer! I do not own Prince of Tennis and its franchise.
Moody boy, what can I do for you?
Sometimes she worries about him.
He's quieter now. Not that he was a chatterbox before, but at least she knows he pays attention when people talk to him and replies in his mumbling way. Something she found quite cute, not that she'll ever say it out loud.
They're in the same class, so it's something that she can't help but notice. When she voiced her concerns to her brother, he simply said it was due to exhaustion from training maybe. They've been training hard for the next tournament.
Accepting his reasons rather grudgingly, she went back to the girls' side of the court.
It's lunch time.
When she comes back into the classroom, she sees him stuffing something rather violently under his table.
'Probably just having a bad day, that's all,' she thinks to herself.
Going back to her seat, she can't help but to look his way every now and then.
When her classmates have left, something inside her urges her to look under his desk. Going against her own rules of not going through other people stuff, she finds a crumpled piece of paper.
It's their recent test paper that was just handed out today.
'Why would he leave this at school?'
Smoothing out the creases, she sees a big red mark at the centre of the paper.
'This- this can't be his paper!' she looks at the name; sure enough it says 'Ibu Shinji'. She turns her attention back at the glaring red '10' on the paper.
Her face contorts into confusion. He's not a bad student; she knows this because his name was frequently being called out by the teachers as one of the top scorers in the class.
Folding up the paper carefully, she intends on confronting him later. 'He won't miss a crumpled piece of paper anyway,' she thinks as she pockets the test paper.
She doesn't see him during practice, so she asks the person that would know; Kamio.
"Ne, ne, did Shinji-kun gets sick today? I don't see him on the court," nonchalantly, she asks him.
After taking a swig from his water bottle, he turns to her, "Ah, he said he had to help take care of his sisters."
An looks around before she asks him again.
"Akira-kun," she begins.
"Did you notice anything weird with Shinji-kun lately?"
Thinking for a while, Kamio finally answers with, "I don't think so. Why, An-chan?"
"Well, he seems, I don't know," this frustrates her for some reason.
"Don't worry about it, you're probably over thinking it like always," he says.
An yelps an indignant 'hey!' and punches him squarely in the shoulder.
"Are you sure you're a girl because that HURTS," says Kamio, rubbing the spot while saying 'ow, ow' which acquires him another punch.
"Look, if it bothers you that much, I'll tell you if I notice anything off with him."
"Oh, okay. Thanks, Akira-kun," she smiles at him and bounces off the ledge she was on and runs back to her bag.
She stops and thinks, 'should she do this?' A few moments later, her mind was already made up.
Taking out her phone, she types a quick message, hoping for a reply by the end of practice session.
⌈Gomen, An-chan. I can't go out today. Maybe tomorrow?
The reply she got wasn't what she expected. Still, she's not giving up. So she tries again.
⌈It's okay. Do you mind if I come over tonight? I need some help with my homework.
Under the pretences of having troubles with her homework, she manages to get him to agree to meet with her. It's not a complete lie. She really does have troubles in Science. He's also good at it. It all works out.
She feels uncharacteristically giddy over it.
"So it's like that," she says, peering through her text for confirmation.
"Yes, so if it's an exothermic reaction the equilibrium would shift to the left to absorb the heat," he explains while showing the diagram he'd drawn up for her understanding.
She nods in affirmation.
"Shinji-kun," she tries, "Are you okay?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, lately, you're not like... you."
He looks at her in confusion (well, she's been around him long enough to interpret his change of emotions).
An pulls out the test paper from earlier and presents it in front of him.
His face betrays no feelings.
"How do you explain this then?" her tone was more commanding than asking.
"It's my paper. I got a bad mark on it," he says plainly.
"You rarely get bad marks in History, Shinji-kun."
"You're wrong then."
This is giving An a headache.
An begins listing the things that led to this, "You're not yourself, you don't go on your monotonous tirade about random things and you don't even have an argument with the lunch lady anymore-"
"It's nothing for you to worry about, An-chan," he cuts her off and turns away from her.
"All I'm saying is that, if you have a problem, you can tell me. We're friends, right?"
They stay that way for a good five minutes before An's phone rings.
"Nii-chan! I told you, didn't I? Yes, okay. Okay. I'm done anyway," with a huff, she shuts her phone.
"Shinji-kun, I have to go. Nii-chan's about to blow a fuse," he smiles at that. Well, his version of a smile anyway (and An's not complaining).
She cleans up her books and notes and stuffs them into her tote, "Thanks for teaching me again."
He merely shakes his head (man of many words, he is not).
At the door, she thanks him again.
"I mean it; what I've said earlier," she says firmly before saying goodbye.
A few days later he comes up to her with a lengthy lecture on him saying sorry to her and the usual consequences of his actions that he might have just thought up at that moment.
She waits for him to finish before hitting him lightly.
"What's that for?"
"For making me worry."
And he goes on one of his rambles again, only she can't really make out because he's mumbling fast. She thinks she wouldn't have it any other way.
Thanks for reading. :)