Summary: He wasn't kind. He was just respectful. After all, he was Rikkai's famed Gentleman. And even after the realization that we were a lot alike, I wasn't fazed by the fact that he would choose his fans over our friendship. He's just Yagyuu Hiroshi.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Prince of Tennis characters.

They first met in the school's library, accidentally reaching out for the same copy of the same exact book. Kiseki recognized him immediately but she was certain he didn't know her. However, she was taken aback when he smiled politely and greeted her, "Shimizu-san, I didn't realize you would be in here."

He had bowed his head in a proper manner and generously let her take the only copy of the book. She thanked him respectfully as she bowed her own head and walked away knowing they were bound not to have another interaction again.

They met once more in cram school, when they had accidentally reached out for the same seat - the center seat of the first front row. Chuckling at the repetitiveness of such events, he took a seat next to her and greeted her once more.

"I didn't realize you went to cram school either, Shimizu-san."

Kiseki smiled as she set her books down gently on her desk. "The same to you, Yagyuu-san. It seems we have more in common than I originally thought."

"Is that so? I did not think our interests would be that different. It seems to me, you are a quite a role-model student." Yagyuu replied, setting down his own books.

Kiseki gave him a curious glance. "Excuse me if this offends you, but did you just compliment yourself?"

"How so?" Yagyuu answered.

Kiseki bit her lip and then explained, "Well - you were comparing our interests as alike. And afterwards, you call me a role-model student. In so, you also called yourself a role-model student which I found was a compliment you indirectly gave yourself."

"You're quite the analyst." Yagyuu smiled, pushing his glasses up.

Kiseki glanced down, blood rushing to her face. "I wouldn't call myself that, particularly. Even though I must agree now, we do have a lot of same interests."

"Indeed. It's refreshing for me to see a junior high girl who cares for her intellect as much as I do." Yagyuu responded.

Kiseki finally looked up. "But you care for sports as well, don't you Yagyuu-san? Particularly, tennis."

"And golf as well. But yes, I take much pride in being a part of our school's tennis team." Yagyuu agreed, as he slowly took out a freshly sharpened pencil and a newly bought pen.

Kiseki, now curious, did not abort the flurry of questions. "Is it true that winning is the only thing you have in mind?"

"Winning is the most important part, yes. I don't suppose fun tennis exists in competitive teams such as ours." Yagyuu mused.

Kiseki looked down at her own desk. "But what's the point of playing a sport, if you do not enjoy it?"

"So you disagree with our principles?"

Kiseki smiled. "Quite frankly, yes."

"Hmm. Even if that's the case, it seems you play tennis as well." Yagyuu observed.

Kiseki took out her own set of writing utensils. "I have been playing since the start of junior high. I was once a member of the girl's tennis club."

"Why did you quit?" He asked, curiously staring at her.

Kiseki looked down once more and mumbled uncharacteristically, "Shoko Tokiwa doesn't agree. And neither does Naomi Hayashi..."

"Could you please repeat that?" Yagyuu leaned in, unsure of what she had just said.

Kiseki looked up and shook her head frantically along with her arms. "Uh..It's nothing, really. I just didn't feel comfortable being a part of that particular club."

"Something tells me you're not telling the truth." Yagyuu told her bluntly, crossing his arms as other students seated themselves noisily.

Kiseki averted his gaze. "Truly, Yagyuu-san. My issues with the tennis club does not have that big of an importance."

"Just being curious." He replied, pushing his glasses up in instinct.

Kiseki smiled. "Curiosity killed the cat."

"I wasn't aware I was a cat." He retorted wittily, smiling as well.

She had a sudden urge to roll her eyes. "Witty, aren't you?"

"My hats goes off to you as well, Shimizu-san." Yagyuu responded, as the class silenced when the commanding voices of the tutors interrupted the chatting noises.

Kiseki turned one last time towards Yagyuu. "Excuse my curiosity - but are you here for a remedial class?"

"No. I come here to take more advanced courses, I take it you have the same case." Yagyuu said.

Kiseki nodded. "You are much more than I expected, Yagyuu-san. I suppose, my hat goes off to you as well."

"Thank you kindly."

Kiseki couldn't help but smile at this answer as her tutor came over to the empty seat beside hers and started explaining today's lesson.

"Domo arigatou gozaimasu." Kiseki bowed her head as her tutor got up to pack her own things.

Her tutor smiled. "You're most welcome, Kiseki-chan. It's good there are still hard-working diligent students like yourself here."

"There are more diligent students than me." Kiseki waved the compliment away as she bowed her head again as her tutor nodded and left.

Yagyuu Hiroshi and his tutor had left for the chemistry classroom an hour ago and Kiseki predicted he wouldn't be coming back in the original room. She felt a bit of disappointment. There was no shame in admitting that she enjoyed talking with him.

It was pleasant to have a normal conversation with another Rikkaidai student besides her friends. Packing up her own things, Kiseki exited the cram school building, wrapping her arms around herself as a cold chill blew by.

She turned on her phone and pocketed it as she reached out into her bag for her cardigan. Quickly putting on, as she had just realized how dark it was already, Kiseki swung her bag around her shoulders and swiftly walked in an irregularly fast pace.

"Shimizu-san!" A voice called out from behind her, as the slight panting of heavy breathing reached the girl.

Kiseki turned only to be met by a rosy-cheeked Yagyuu who looked down at her, smiling. "It wouldn't be proper to let you walk home by yourself this late at night."

"Oh. I don't really want to be a bother." Kiseki inclined her head.

Yagyuu shifted to her side. "We are walking towards the same direction, so it's no real bother."

"Arigatou gozaimasu." Kiseki bowed again before meeting his gaze.

The both of them began walking at a relatively slow pace when Yagyuu started the conversation, "You and your friends, Shimizu-san - is your group a club?"

"Oh, no. We're merely a close group of friends, that's all. It's just that...I suppose, it's difficult for us to socialize with other students after being so close to each other." Kiseki explained, fiddling with her fingers.

Yagyuu nodded. "You do seem close. Excuse my curiosity, but why is it that you seem much more assertive outside of school?"

"What exactly do you mean?" She asked him, slightly confused.

Yagyuu looked forward. "You're part of the student council and yet you rarely ever speak at meetings."

"I guess I just don't feel as comfortable around people as I am with my friends." She shrugged, unsure of the answer as well.

Yagyuu frowned. "You seem quite comfortable with me."

"I feel like you understand my situation." Kiseki answered.

Yagyuu smiled. "So are we friends then, Shimizu-san?"

"I suppose we are, Yagyuu-san." They stopped at a red light. Kiseki quietly reached out for the button, as Yagyuu nodded in agreement.

He swung his own bag around his shoulders and crossed his arms. "Funny. I find you the most outgoing of your bunch."

"We're not the most sociable people." Kiseki told him, unashamed.

Yagyuu's brow furrowed. "But I feel that if you would initiate interaction with others, you would be extremely likeable."

"Huh. My public image was never that important to me." Kiseki bluntly said as the light turned green and the two continued walking.

Yagyuu smiled. "That's quite admirable."

"I'm glad you think so. Especially for a popular tennis regular - I didn't think you'd understand that so easily." Kiseki managed a relieved sigh, then quickly added, "Of course I don't mean to generalize all the tennis regulars."

Yagyuu chuckled lightly. "We may be popular, Shimizu-san, but I assure you - we are not shallow."

"I didn't mean for you think that way." She answered, looking down.

Yagyuu pushed his glasses up. "I know you didn't. I was merely relieving you of any other broad generalizations that may be circulating your mind."

"Hm. I suppose you have given me a more positive opinion of the tennis regulars." Kiseki bit her lip, unable to restrain her words.

Yagyuu looked taken aback. "You had a negative opinion before?"

"More like neutral. From afar, you seemed a bit cocky and overconfident. But you had a good reason to be, I guess." Kiseki explained, once more fiddling with her fingers.

Yagyuu's face lightened. "I can see why you would think of us that way. But all of us are just normal junior high students, despite our achievements."

"That's nice to hear." Kiseki stopped, as she realized that they were right in front of her house.

Yagyuu looked up and seemed to realize the same thing. He smiled and inclined his head, "See you at school then, Shimizu-san."

"You as well, Yagyuu-san. Thank you again." She bowed as she unlocked the door and went inside, raising a hand in the form of goodbye as he nodded and disappeared towards the next block.

Kiseki smiled as she closed the door behind her, only to be greeted by a chorus of "welcome back!" She turned around and grinned even wider at the sight of her younger twin sisters waving enthusiastically from the couch, her young toddler brother who was playing with his newly-bought car toy, her bored-looking older brother getting lectured by her other older sister and her parents in the kitchen, making dinner.

She set her bag down on the couch and picked up her little brother from the carpeted floor. "Ne, Kenji - how's your new car?" Kiseki picked up the car and rolled it around the sofa as he chased after it in childlike happiness.

"Heh. So how was cram school, nerdy little sister?" Her older brother clambered down onto the couch next to her, ruffled up her hair, then turned the television on.

Kiseki crossed her arms and scowled as her other older sister interrupted. "Better to be a nerd than a completely brainless fool, Daiki."

At this, the older brother frowned in irritation and ignored his peeved older sister who had taken two hours of her free time to tutor him with no avail.

"I think got Fuyumi-nee-chan you on that one, Daiki." Kiseki nudged her older brother, who rolled his eyes in response and shoved her playfully.

Sighing, Kiseki picked up her bag and started towards the kitchen when one of her sisters jumped in her way and asked loudly, "So who was that boy, Kiseki-chan? Your secret boyfriend?"

"What boy?" Fuyumi yelled out, grabbing the irritated junior high-schooler by the shoulders and gave her a long stare.

From the kitchen, their mother made their way into the living room. "There's a boy?" She asked Kiseki teasingly, with a knowing smile.

With no hesitation, Kiseki face-palmed herself and sighed. "I'm going upstairs." She told her noisy family who was now debating about the poor victimized Yagyuu Hiroshi.

"You're not gonna escape this torture so easily, Kiseki." Her older brother called out from the sofa and Kiseki had the sudden urge to throw something at his grinning sadistic face.

She ignored him and ran towards her room in a speed she didn't know she was possible of attaining. Dropping her bag softly on the side of bed, Kiseki lied down on her bed and smiled.

"Yagyuu Hiroshi, huh?"

I enjoy writing about Kiseki. I don't why - she's very cheerful among her friends and yet I always find an urge to write about her in a more mature persona. In actuality, Kiseki's story was supposed to be written before Naomi but I found a sudden inspiration to write the beginning chapter of Faith before I found inspiration to write this one.

Hopefully, you, the reader will enjoy this story. I will try my best to keep every single canon character in character - I would not want to disappoint Takeshi Konomi-sensei by doing otherwise.


Radiance Within