A/N: So I was inspired greatly by Kitty Kat Allie's stories in the series Romance on the Gridiron. If you haven't read them you must! If you have you will see bits and pieces here that parallel with her story and I have received her permission to do so! This IS NOT part of that series and I'm sure her story with Riku will be much much better than my own. But I hope you enjoy this anyways. Quick Japanese note: 'gajin' literally means outsider or foreigner, but it often used in Japanese slang as an offensive term for anyone not from Japan.
There were whispers everywhere she went. 'You'd think I would be used to it by now,' she thought to herself. But Japan had always been the hardest. Living in a military family was never easy, but at least you had the option to go to school on the base. At least, until you graduated high school that is. Now here she was the foreigner trying to break into the close-knit social hierarchy that Japan was famous for, while trying to brave college at the same time. She must be mental. She had done everything she could to fit in. She had dyed her hair from a light brown to a black that almost looked blue and she adopted the local fashions, even if she would never understand why your skirt could be short but you must never show your shoulders.
At least she was naturally short. But despite her best efforts, her eyes weren't almond shaped and her stature was a bit thicker than a Japanese girl. In the States she had felt fine about her size, her friends berating her for being too small, but in Japan she was forced to shop in the large sizes to accommodate her foreign body structure and curves.
She floated down the hallway trying to get to class and then home. If she could make herself invisible maybe people wouldn't tease her. 'Hold yourself together Akairi,' she told herself, 'you're almost home-free.' She took a step forward and looked up at a large structure of a boy. It was incredibly surprising to see someone of that size in Japan! I mean yeah, yeah, diversity, people differences and all that rot, but it was just anthropologically true! She stared up at the boy who glared at her and turned to his friends, "Stupid 'gajin' doesn't even know where she's going. " He and his flunkies laughed and then he turned back to her, "Get out of the way 'gajin' trash."
Now, even though her self-esteem was suffering and she was hoping to avoid confrontation, she wasn't one to back down. Her dad was military after all. If she knew anything it was how to stand her ground, how to be a soldier. "I'm sorry, I don't see your name written on this hallway. I think I like standing here. You move," she insisted her hands settling on her hips.
The giant's face snarled and his arm reared back and in slow motion all she knew was that she was going to be struck, and it was going to hurt. So she braced herself for impact her arms up to absorb some of the blow. And then there was a breeze and the earth shifted. She blinked to realize she was a few feet left of where she had once stood and the giant's fist was dangling in the air where she had just been.
The giant smirked, "That's what I thought." And he strode away.
She was furious! I mean she didn't want to get smashed to pieces but she wasn't going to be a doormat either! She turned around searching for the source of the strange phenomenon and came face to face with another boy. Peculiar because she was rather short herself. His eyes looked like jade and his hair was like snow that just kept piling up on his head ending in sharp spikes. She blinked and took a step back.
"Are you alright?" the boy asked concern shinning in his jade eyes. "Yeah," she said breathlessly, before gaining her bearings, "yeah, but what was that!"
The boy reached up to rub the back of his neck and a small blush crept onto his face, "Sorry about that, I only had time to move you."
She stared at him. "There was barely 5 seconds to move! You couldn't possibly…"
He shrugged at her a smirk creeping up and said, "I'm fast. I'm Kaitani Riku by the way."
She looked at him suspiciously and held out her hand, "Well, I'm the resident gajin."
Riku scowled. "Don't let them get to you. There are a lot of international students here. You aren't the only one. What's your real name?"
"I'm Akairi Briggs. Oh no wait, that's American style… ummm…. Briggs Akairi?" she was really unsure about how to go about all these social Japanese customs.
Riku laughed good-naturedly, "What should I call you?"
She relaxed, "Call me Akairi." She said assuredly.
"Then call me Riku," he agreed finally shaking her hand.
"Riku, ok. OH…. Wait! Isn't there like something I'm supposed to put at the end? Like a –kun or a –san or something?" she started panicking again. "Are you older than me?" she asked frantically, "Maybe I'm supposed to call you senpai."
Riku laughed again. "I'm not older than you. If anything you're my senpai. I just started this term. "
"OH, yeah. Me too. I'm sorry, I've never had to go to Japanese school before. I've always just gone to school on the base."
"Where are you from?"
Riku's grin widened, "Don't suppose you like American football…."
Her head snapped up, "Of course I like Amefuto, that's what you guys call it right?"
"Then you should check out Enma's team. I'm sure we could use some real American input on how we are doing."
"WE?" she said incredulously. "YOU play amefuto?" He laughed. "Yeah."
She looked him over critically and then nodded, "Right, you're fast. Running back? "
He nodded, "And sometimes safety. Anyways, come by and watch for a bit. We practice every day at the stadium. We get started around 3."
She nodded. "Ok. Thanks."
"And Akairi…." He said over his shoulder his hands in his pockets, "you shouldn't let people bully you."
She stared after him anger flaring in her chest. She hadn't let anyone do anything! She had been trying to take care of herself when he had intervened!
Oh she would show up at their practice all right!
Riku darted through the crowds of people to get to his class and noticed the giant from earlier looming in front of him. He had been a player for the Sphinx back in high school and was pretty irritated that Enma wouldn't take him because all he had was size. Enma focused on skill. The Devil Bats taught them all that. You could be as big or as tall as you wanted but if you had skill there was no stopping you.
"You shouldn't have intervened," his voice boomed at Riku.
"And you shouldn't be such a jackass," Riku shot back never taking his hands from his pockets.
The giant lunged at Riku, who easily side stepped bringing his elbow down on the monster's back to knock him off balance and gripping the collar of his shirt. He brought the big guys face down level with his. "You are the one that is trash. And if I see you bothering her again …I'll be sure to take out the trash. You understand?"
Riku let go and the oaf fell flat on his face where Riku had once stood. He threw a hand up waving at the flunkies, who were staring in shock that such a little guy could take down their 'boss.' "Kasamatsu-san what are we gonna do about that damn midget?" One of the flunkies asked. "We are going to crush what he holds dear. The gajin is dead."