A/N: I am EXTREMELY sorry for the very long wait you guys. I really appreciate your support! The story is continuing on, so here's the next chapter! Again, sorry for the wait!
With her cheek supported by her palm, her gaze was to the window next to her. Her clear blue eyes were looking up at the matching sky, wondering when the next airplane would fly by. It hasn't been nearly an hour since he left and she's already feeling empty inside.
The class was longer than usual, but when it did end, Karin walked out of the class and walked through the hallways. After she changed into her tennis uniform, she walked towards the courts. She was happy with the fact that the team, regulars and all, were all practicing and trying everything they could to improve and win for their captain. But alas, Karin wasn't in such high spirits, but she tried to maintain her smile.
"Are you ok, Karin-chan?" Oishi was the first to approach her when she entered the courts. Karin nodded. "Yeah,"
"If it's not any trouble…how long has it been since Tezuka left Japan?" he asked slowly. Karin shrugged, pulling out her phone and looking at the time. "He left about five hours ago. I looked up the flight time and it's about eleven to twelve hours."
"Oh, ok," Oishi nodded and patted Karin on the shoulder in reassurance before making his way towards a few juniors to help them with their drills. Taking a short breath, the American girl looked up at the sky again.
Her glance snapped over to Inui, who stood next to her. She raised her eyebrows. "What's up?"
"You want to play?" he asked, pointing his thumb over his shoulder. "I don't have a partner."
"Sure," she hesitated before replying, but Inui didn't notice.
Standing at the baseline, Karin dribbled the ball and didn't even bother to look over and just served the ball.
"Fault!" the referee called out.
"Damn," she cussed. Inui furrowed his eyebrows at her lame excuse for a serve but figured the sun was in her face and didn't let her see his court. Everyone practicing on the courts took quick glances when they heard 'fault' coming from the one that is the best server on the whole Seigaku team.
She tossed the ball in the air again and hit it, but it collided with the net.
"Double fault!" the referee declared, "15-love!"
Letting out a soft, irritated sigh through her nose, she fished out a ball from her pocket and threw it to Inui, who caught it in his hand when it bounced towards him. His eyes were obscured by is foggy glasses, but even a blind person could tell he was shocked.
"You serve," Karin told him plainly.
"You haven't finished the game," the referee said matter-of-factly. Karin turned to face him with a sort of aggravated look, something foreign to see in her eyes.
The referee, intimidated by her glare, gulped and avoided her piercing eyes.
Inui, still shocked at Karin's behavior, said nothing and served the ball swiftly. Karin ran towards the ball and returned it, but it hit just an inch behind the baseline.
Karin sighed and glanced at Inui. "Sorry Sadaharu-chan, I'm really not in the mood for this,"
"It's alright," Inui shrugged. The two exited the court they were on. Inui went to drink water but Karin went over to the bench where she put her racquet away and sat down. She looked up at the sky and frowned. She promised herself she wouldn't get like this; she told herself to improve her skill so she could win the nationals with the regulars and fulfill Tezuka's wish.
"Oishi," Karin called out to him. When he turned to see her, he saw her getting up from the bench. "I'm going home; I really don't want to play today,"
"It's ok, come to practice whenever you want," Oishi said. "Be safe Karin-chan."
"Don't worry," she smiled half-heartedly and walked out of the courts. She decided to walk home, not bothering to run after her bus after it left the stop.
She opened the gate to her house, and was greeted by an excited Ramesses. He wagged his tail and barked happily at seeing his beloved owner, but with her mind elsewhere, she merely patted his head softly and walked by him. The dog whimpered, lowered his tail and flopped his ears, feeling the sadness within his owner. He followed her hesitantly as she walked into the house.
"You're home early," Jun stepped out into the hallway. Karin shrugged and placed her bag against the wall. "I didn't feel like playing today," she stepped into the house, but forgot to remove her shoes and just walked with her Converse sneakers on up the stairs.
"Hey!" Satoshi, hearing the squeaky sound of her shoes on his hardwood floors, his head perked up from the kitchen. "How many times do I—"
"Just leave her, Satoshi," Jun scolded her husband silently, who glanced at her with a confused expression. Looking into his wife's eyes, he nodded in understanding. "Oh, I see. Alright then,"
Upon entering her room, she took a long shower and changed into her pajamas. She laid down on her bed and sighed heavily. She stared up at her ceiling, seeing the orange rays of the setting sun on it.
Jewel nuzzled her head against Karin's cheek, making her look over at her elegant cat. Smiling softly, she petted her head. The cat looked at her with vivid green eyes and her tail moved from side to side.
Karin laughed gently and stroked Jewel's fur. "He's not here, Jewel. He won't be coming over for a long time…"
Jewel meowed. Her head turned as she looked around as she looked around the room, her cheerful eyes suddenly saddening. She meowed again and hopped off the bed, pouncing to the bedroom door, sat before it and looked up at it, as if waiting for him to walk through it any minute and greet her.
"Jewel, c'mon…" Karin's eyebrow's ceased, but the cat merely meowed and didn't move from her spot. Rolling her eyes, Karin looked up at the ceiling again. She brought her hand to her neck and took the violet pendant he had given her in her fingers, toying with it. And suddenly, she remembered his words:
"I'll call you as soon as I get there,"
Karin sprung out of her bed and emptied out her tennis bag until her phone came out. She grabbed it and looked at the screen. She sighed in relief when she had no missed phone calls from any strange foreign country.
She laid on her bed once more and just stared up at the screen of her iPhone, which was a picture of them at a fishing trip they'd gone too with Tezuka's grandfather. Karin smiled when she saw him smiling softly in the picture like he usually does, showing off his adorable dimples. Seeing the time, she'd counted an estimate of eight hours on the flight, so a total of four more hours were needed.
To kill time, she went downstairs and played video games for a while. After getting bored with that, she started to watch a movie, but didn't even finish half of it. Her grandmother then called her for dinner, and she was surprised to see a bowl of fettuccini pasta with Alfredo sauce. With a questioning look, she glanced at her grandmother, who only smiled and said she needed a little happiness boost. Her grandfather even stated it was only slightly better than Japanese food, but still pretty good.
By the time she knew it, it was dark as a cave outside, with only street lights to illuminate the neighborhood. Karin sat on her desk, finishing the last of her homework.
Suddenly, her phone began to vibrate against the covers of her bed. Looking over she only saw its light since it was under her blanket. She crawled onto her bed and finding her phone, she looked at the screen only to see the weirdest looking number and words saying: München, Deutschland.
Her fingers suddenly going limp and her heart beating fifty times per second, she fumbled to slide the bar to the right and answered the call. When she did, she slowly brought it to her ear.
"Hello?" her habit got to her, but thankfully, the person at the other end was well aware of this habit.
"Karin," the deep voice stated, with a sprinkle of happiness in it.
"Kuni!" Karin jumped on her bed happily. "I thought you were never gonna call me! Is it pretty over there? Are they all blonde with blue eyes? Do they really eat sausage with beer? Do they spit when the talk? Do—"
Tezuka's chuckle stopped her rambling. "I got here just fine, thank you for asking."
"I was just about to ask you that!" Karin sat on her bed with a pouty face. Tezuka chuckled. "Everything is nice here; there are people from all over the world and it's very professional."
"That's so cool!" Karin beamed.
"I haven't even unpacked my things yet. I decided to call you first so you wouldn't get worried," he told her softly. Karin smiled. "You're so cute!"
"And I loved the book," Tezuka said. "It was very thoughtful and creative of you. Thank you."
Karin blushed with a big grin. "You're welcome Kuni; I knew you were gonna like it!" she played with her hair. "So whatcha doing now?"
"I'm looking out the window," he said. "I have a prefect view of the city from here."
"It's daytime over there?"
"It's actually 3 p.m.," he replied. "What time is it in Tokyo?"
"It's…" Karin trailed off to take a small peek at the time on her phone before placing it back on her ear. "10 p.m. here,"
"So Japan's seven hours ahead," Tezuka quickly did the math. Karin sighed. "How the hell could you do math that easily?"
"It's not that difficult. All you do is count—"
"Don't even try," Karin stopped him before he could go into detail. She then smiled. "So how is it over there?"
"Since I just arrived, they let me into my room here to unpack and rest if I wanted too. They'll give me a tour tomorrow of the center and Munich,"
"Ohhh…" Karin trailed off. "When do you start the treatment?"
"The day after tomorrow," he stated simply. Karin pouted. "I miss you so much already!"
"Me too," he said sadly. "But I'll call you every day to see how you and everyone's doing."
"Did you call your parents already?"
"I'll do that after I finish talking to you,"
"Which will be three hours later," Karin giggled. Tezuka chuckled. "I suppose so."
Outside Karin's door, Mizushima Satoshi smiled at hearing his granddaughter's excited voice when Tezuka called her. He walked down the hall and down the stairs. His wife had already turned in for the day, so the downstairs floor was empty except for Ramesses who was sleeping on the living room floor.
Sighing, Satoshi sat at the dinner table and took the house phone into his hand, dialing the only number in his life he's memorized.
He placed the phone on his ear, waiting for the person at the other end to pick up.
"Speak Japanese," Satoshi told his only daughter, a smile on his face.
Michiko giggled. "Hi daddy,"
"Hello sweetie, how's everything in America?"
"Everything's fine," she said happily. Satoshi looked around the room absentmindedly. "Where's Kaichi?"
"He fell asleep watching a movie," Michiko said. "Why?"
"Just asking," Satoshi stated simply. "You know Tezuka-kun left for Germany today to get his arm healed, right?"
Michiko gasped. "He did? Is Karin alright?"
"She's talking to him in her room now and I'm glad; she looked so miserable," Satoshi sighed sadly. Michiko nodded. "I know how she feels; I felt just the same way when Kaichi left to play in the Australian Open when we were seventeen."
"I feel like I'm seeing you and Kaichi all over again," Satoshi chuckled. "But you two started dating in junior year."
"Yeah," Michiko said softly. "Seigaku had the same effect on Karin's generation."
"Apparently," Satoshi chuckled, but then sighed. "But I hate to see her the way she came in this afternoon; she's usually so happy and jumpy and that boy left and everything just disappeared."
"That happens; I can tell those two have been through a lot," Michiko told her father. Satoshi nodded. "More than you think; I remember Kazu telling me those two never got along until now."
"All that bickering led up to love; it's cute," Michiko smiled. "But I'd hate to just think Karin is upset…"
"She's my granddaughter; how do you think I feel?" Satoshi said. He paused when he heard nothing from Michiko's side.
"Daddy, I know how to cheer Karin up," her smile could be seen from where Satoshi sat.
"How?" Satoshi somehow knew what was coming.
"You remember those girls we brought to your house when we visited Japan in the summer; four years ago?"
"Yes…one was Canadian right?"
"You're lucky I love you and my granddaughter so much," Satoshi frowned.