IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ: As you may have noticed three chapters were taken down. They are: Seigaku, Fuji Syusuke, and Games. I decided that if and when I figure things out, I'll turn it into a series. For now let's settle with letting the following events'll be canon-like (i.e. from ep 1). :D
WARNING: For the few angels who reviewed the original CHAPTER 27: SEIGAKU, it would be awesome if you read this in an incognito tab or something, so I can still get to hear from you! :D
In any case, I do hope you enjoy this final chapter! And please don't forget to review. xD
Disclaimer: I wish I own Prince Of Tennis
"M-Monsters!" One of their opponents huffed as he crouched down the floor, panting, while his partner was already on his back and only had the energy to remain conscious. "Aiyaaaa…"
"I tried to warn you, you know." Ann said casually and helped the two boys up, before straightening her posture and turning to the newcomers. "That's Rikkai's Sanada." She said and eyed Sanada with obvious reverence, before shifting her sights on Reina. "And his double's partner…"
"Echizen Reina." Ann stared at her, familiar of the family name, but decided she'd think about it later.
"Well, nice to meet you Echizen-san." She said, staring at the other girl with interest. She was skilled, and surprisingly on par with the infamous Emperor. "Are you Rikkai as well?"
"In a sense." She said, shrugging, but used a dismissive tone that Ann didn't question further.
"Well, what brings you two here?" She asked, crossing her arms, and wiggling her eyebrows teasingly. "On a date?" The two blushed making Ann almost blushed as well, surprised at the stoic couple's reactions. She did not expect that.
"We're just friends." Echizen said after clearing her throat. "Good friends."
Sanada broke off his awkwardness and looked at the girl, and gave an expression Ann never saw in him before: A smile. Ann honestly didn't think he was capable.
"Hmn." Sanada hummed, with that baritone tone of his. His expression returned to what everyone was used to, but what he said next made them lose their footing. "But I will remember this as a date, regardless."
Sanada and Reina arrived back at the temple's steps some hour later. It wasn't the awkward silence they anticipated, and for it they were glad. Slowly, but surely, despite their situation (and the discomfited things they end up saying to other people), things were beginning to fix themselves again.
"Thank you." She said, standing still at the bottom of the stairs. Sanada nodded in assent. "I don't mean for walking me home." She said. "For remaining strong…, as my friend."
"When someone wants to be a part of your life—he'll have no reasons; no excuses." He said firmly staring past her, before allowing his eyes to soften again as he turned to look at her. "Our friendship means too much to allow it to go to waste."
She stared at him, before giving him a genuine smile. She couldn't repeat herself enough to equal the gratitude she truly felt. She ended up giving him a humbling and grateful bow.
She climbed up the multitude of steps with her mind somewhere else. She was pulled back by sensing a presence she knew too well. "He is a good man." Yukimura said, coming to view as he stood behind the temple's arc. Reina slowly looked at him, partly unsurprised of his sudden appearance. She had a feeling she'd do this, and rather than feeling offended… she felt relieved.
She smiled and nodded at his statement, walking to him and casually taking his hand. "We're fortunate to have been friends with him." She said and he did not disagree. They stared at each other for a few moments. Reina waited for him to speak but when he didn't she tilted her head in puzzlement, and raised an eyebrow. "You okay?"
He nodded and held her hand tighter. "I trust you, you know that right?" He paused. "I simply didn't want Sanada to be the last person from the team you meet before meeting your new one." And gave her a pointed look. "Masculinity-wise, that man's a threat."
She laughed, but mostly because of the relief Yukimura could now joke about it. They were growing up, and it was something that would reassure her now that they'd be apart. At that thought, she found herself staring into the stars, silently imagining what the future events would bring.
The problems they encountered in the past made her heart soar with both anxiety and anticipation. They were great foundations, especially for one so young.
Yukimura stared into her twinkling eyes and allowed her to lead him to the makeshift courts behind the house. "Play one more game with me."
The rhythm of the resilient ball bouncing from the ground to the linked strings of their rackets was comforting, even with the inhuman pace they were going. The small globe's sunflower skin was a welcome contrast with the artificially lit soils of the tennis court.
The rest of the household watched when the game began, before beginning to feel they were intruding. They all looked at each other, and smiled, and decided to leave the two alone.
On the other hand, the two remained oblivious to the presence of other people from the start. Devoured by the rhythmic sounds and movements, they effortlessly entered their own little world. And in their heads, they replayed when things begun to change for the best.
They arrived unannounced in a new place (a home, for others). They both appeared with much burden and hindrances in their hearts—her, the guilt of her sweet but overtly-loyal grandmother's death; him, the unfairness of being deprived of something he earned—and shamelessly disrupted the quo.
But then they met new people or, rather (and more accurately), allowing people in. And with it new opportunities roused. Their universe expanded and it, ironically, made them understand what was inside better. They came to know more clearly what it meant to have people, rather than places or memories of them, as a 'home'.
And that they could've had such a thing for so many years earlier, but they hadn't even noticed. Perhaps unconsciously, they assumed happiness was going to be so much more difficult—because nothing worth it came easy, not to them.
They trained and they grew along with their new team, creating many memories, and creating a memorable past for the future that would become their present. Through good and bad, up and down, as with all the awkwardness and angst that came through with them…, it was a momentum they wanted to ride on until the end.
They wouldn't have changed a thing.
Somewhere in the middle of the game—they had already lost score—drops of water began changing the soothing cadence that they had been in. It wasn't for the worst. The rain presented a challenge that actually pulled them deeper.
Until, that was, Reina stepped on a particularly wet area and slipped. Yukimura blinked and hurried to help her up. "Are you alright?"
"…ah." She said stingily, patting her backside. She looked up at him, finally feeling the cold stings of rain. "We should get shade."
But instead of going inside the house, they went to the temple's bell tower (if one could call a 3-meter tall hut with a bell as such) and sat there for a while, in silence, but it was comfortable. And, under the cold circumstance, they appreciated each other's warmth even more.
As she rested her head on his shoulders, he allowed his hand to hold her arm, gently rubbing them warm. Reina hummed as he did so and he could feel her breathing. She would fall asleep soon.
"Reina…" He said, nudging his shoulders a little. "If you want to sleep we should get in the house and get a change of clothes."
And there was no response.
He sighed, but it was really of amusement, before deciding to let her nap, even for just a few minutes. He just arranged her hair so she'd be a little more comfortable, and he took comfort in her even breathing.
Really, a year ago, he never would've imagined they be in this position. He'd probably be ordering her around, afraid of what she might see.
Now he wasn't feckless anymore. He no longer reacted instead of acting, he grew past mourning of the past, and he stopped worrying for the future. All because of that one decision to keep their pasts from preventing the stirring of their present.
In the silence, he found himself dwelling more into what was their 'present', and came to the thoughts that her brother—someone who was responsible for much of what she was now—had returned, and could easily change things as he wished.
Ah, he was fretting over the future again. One could not change that quickly, he thought, much to his chagrin.
"Are you sure the one month will be all they ask of you?" Yukimura asked rhetorically, but then he felt her scoff.
"Knowing dad and aniki?" She asked tilting her head back up, and her eyes still lethargic from her extremely short nap. "No, of course not." And he saw as her eyes moved up to anywhere but his eyes. "Knowing them it'll probably extend to the whole school year."
He couldn't answer for a while, trying to decipher if it was a joke, but he really knew from the start that it wasn't. He stared into her golden orbs deeper, and wondered how she could take it so light-heartedly…, until she smiled, and he understood.
He looked away. "Maybe they'd extend it to span your whole high school career." He said, and was thankful it sounded as nonchalant as he, surprisingly, felt.
She smirked. "Yeah." And their eyes met again, looking at each other as if nothing was wrong—because what was 'wrong' was insignificant…. for when one had a goal, everything one did along way would inevitably be a part of the journey towards it. "What is our goal?"
"To be together," He paused. "And play tennis."
Her eyes softened. "Does it matter if we're on opposing sides?"
He smiled. "No."
What's a month, a year, or three… when they were sure they'd spend the rest of their lives together?
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for being with me til' the end! xD
Special hugs to those who lent me their support by reviewing, fav'ing, and following the story. I LOVE YOU.
Now it shall be farewell, and please don't leave the story without
at least letting me hear from you one last time.