Okay so yeah, this story is being rewritten. For those of you who had read it, I have published a sequel entitled, Had It Not for Whom You Shine :D go check it out.
They'll be changes in the plot so yeah. I hope you guys will be patient for this, again.
Special thanks to lilybunnyboo18 for proofreading this chapter.
I do not own PoT.
People usually get famous in school on the second day of classes.
Yukimura Seiichi became famous on the second day of classes during their first year of middle school. In the afternoon of their first day, he joined the tennis club along with Sanada, his childhood friend whom he met in a tennis club for kids, Marui-kun, Jackal-kun, Niou-kun, and Yanagi-kun. Their senpais didn't allow them to join the try outs for the regulars.
The first years are only allowed to participate in courts if the upper classmen needed someone to pick up balls or to clean the courts (which are after practice.)
Yanagi and the others accepted it, because it was expected.
Sanada condescendingly accepted picking balls and cleaning up.
But Yukimura did not accept that. Oh, he did not. If his upper classmen think that he is a child that can easily be swayed just because famous people said so, then they're wrong. Very, very wrong.
Yukimura had enough of people telling him what to do, who to befriend and who to shrug off. Tennis is something he will lay out rules and they will play with it.
So, he rebelliously picked his racket and challenged their captain.
Their captain laughed as if Yukimura told a joke to everyone.
"Careful brat, I am not an easy opponent." Captain Senjumaru cockily said, getting his racket and leaning it on his shoulder.
Yukimura only nodded and served.
The first part of the game was, as expected, owned by the captain. When they reached the latter part, Yukimura won.
"Game Set and Match, Yukimura! 6 games to 4." The umpire had trouble taking in the battered form of Senjumaru in the court.
Yukimura went over to the net and held out his hand towards the lying captain on the other side. The blue haired boy wore a smile on his face as if he didn't cast some sort of miracle to render his opponent incapable. After that, they named him a regular.
It was thanks to that incident that Senjumaru reconsidered putting the first years in the sidelines and training them.
On the second day, Sanada and Yanagi were given a regular position as well. Before the day ended, their names became the headline of Rikkai's rumor-mill.
There are those who became famous on their first day of classes. It wasn't as though she made a grand gesture like Yukimura.
"Please step up, first year representative Asusagawa Avery-chan!" The principal proudly announced. The student was a transfer from Italy. She had good marks from her previous school and topped the entrance exam of Rikkai Dai Fuzoku.
But that was just the second reason why the principal looked so smug. Asusagawa Avery came from a very prominent family known for their wine industry throughout the world. Their family dates back in the Edo period, known for making high class sake. And when Japan finally opened its doors to foreign relations, the Asusagawa's (already added clothing industries, chains of inns and hotels, and starting a food company) expanded their horizons as well. They arranged a marriage with a family in Italy that owns manifold business dealings (but mostly adept in wine making), thus creating wider connections throughout the world, and a larger empire. One can safely say that they are like the Atobes.
The principal eyed the girl who ascended the flight of stairs to the stage. She carried herself well and she already holds an air of authority as most people do coming from such family. She has a nice pair of red- auburn, she corrected him that morning- and long waist length silky black hair.
The students gave a round of applause.
Taking the microphone in her hands, she surveyed the audience before opening her mouth to speak. "We* are delighted to be standing in front of you-"
Pretty much everyone in the crowd laughed so hard.
"Really? Who does she think she is, a princess?" One of them shouted, unable to resist the tears as he laughed.
"We? Just because she ranked first doesn't mean she could think highly of herself."
"What an idiot!"
"She's pretty though!"
Yukimura wanted to tell them that yes she is a princess but not what they were thinking. She is bound to inherit the riches of an empire her ancestors built with time. No, she wasn't thinking highly of herself because they are thinking highly of themselves to think that she is not allowed to talk in a manner of royalty. No, she's not an idiot. She was trained by professionals in etiquette, learned five languages when she was 7, and can easily solve a math problem (well not easily but can grasped the concept), can easily remember history and current events, and already knows the class of wine (at such a young age, her father wanted her to be trained by famous wine tasters) just by tasting it.
And yes, she's pretty.
"If she were my relative, I'd change my family name!" A boy in front of Yukimura told his seatmate.
Mustering up a smile that could freeze the earth's core, Yukimura patted the boy's shoulder to gain his attention.
Looking over his shoulder, the boy immediately grew stiff at the sight. He didn't even know this kid and yet-
"Do you have a problem with my cousin, Hikitani-san?" Yukimura's eyes narrowed at him, his grip on the boy's shoulder tightened. How the hell did he know his name?
Sanada could only sigh. He glanced at the stage where a very, very flushed Asusagawa continued her speech despite being jeered at.
Marui popped the balloon he formed with his bubblegum.
Jackal felt pity for said girl and tried to give his attention.
Yanagi wrote on a notebook.
Yagyuu, the gentleman he was, duplicitously listened.
Niou was looking for a standard Japanese dictionary and guide to give the poor- rich, however one would view it- girl.
After a week of classes, the whole student body came to know that Asusagawa Avery is the heir to a multibillion dollar international company. The name Princess of Rikkai that they call her to mock her became an official name of adoration for her- well her family's wealth that is.
Thus new rules were set:
Never, ever mock her for her choice of language (but really she didn't know that it wasn't the standard Japanese she was speaking and she could only blame her Japanese tutor.)
Never, ever bring up that topic.
Treat her like how one treats royalty.
And thanks to that Asusagawa Avery only has Yukimura, her cousin, and Sanada, by extension, as her friends. Oh, and that mysterious person who gave her a Japanese Dictionary and a guide on how to speak the language with the word 'normally' scribbled on the cover page.
The principal didn't even tell her it was the wrong choice of pronouns why they all laughed at her. It was only when she asked Seiichi that she knew. It was thanks to that mysterious person who gave her that guide when she came to know what she did wrong. It felt like it was a scene from The Emperor and His New Clothes.
She blamed her Japanese tutor for that.
(In his defense, her father's exact words were, "Teach her how to speak Japanese so she could carry herself like how a royal would in a crowd of commoners. With grace, and worthy for social gatherings, and of course respectable." The Asusagawa senior should have just told him that he wanted her to be adept in the language… really high class people and their euphemism-)
"So our*-" Avery shook her head when Yukimura gave her an even stare. "My pronouns are mostly the problem?" She asked while she browsed through the pages of the book given to her.
Yukimura nodded. The night before, he had told her it wasn't standard Japanese but she didn't believe him and instead insisted that it was. She even reasoned out that he didn't have enough interaction with most people, really this girl. "You say I* and not we. And mine* instead of our*" He felt as though he were teaching his little sister than someone the same age as him.
Avery's brows furrowed. Even the staff back in Italy was forced to learn Japanese because she insisted that everyone should speak the language so she could learn it easily.
After a month or so, Avery became adept in the Standard Japanese Language.
It was also in that age that they started participating in social gatherings that the upper crust of the society holds. The event was hosted by the Asusagawa's, in celebration of the safe return of the second child.
People came dressed in expensive designer gowns and suits, wearing those ostentatious shoes, and perfectly crafted smile.
They came in the party wanting to satiate their desire for information regarding the controversial second child. Why name her as heir? How about Lianne? Why is she attending Rikkai? Dear Lianne attended Hyotei which has more strict standards. How come she's only introduced now, and why did they hide her from public? What kind of training did she have?
Hundreds of questions coming from different people. Not even one had the right mind to ask how her journey was, the reason for the said event was (oddly it was held three months after her arrival.)
Avery was beginning to understand then why they were explicitly told and trained to master the art of subtly. She wasn't taught how to be amiable because she's an Asusagawa, higher than anyone else in the ballroom. If she says that red is black, everyone will blindly follow it. She was taught how to read a person's expression, and never give them a favor without them paying it back. Examine them and at one glance you should be able to tell what they want to convey from what they want to say.
She was prepared for this. It was like a scientist that had proven his equations correct countless times and supported by all theories possible, and when it came to the experimental phase the prototype exploded.
She thought she was prepared for this. But it was suffocating and she couldn't even find comfort in the served Italian dishes (one she was used to eat) at the party. The glittering smiles they gave her wasn't welcoming, if not they came as more scrutinizing.
Surprisingly, Seiichi had an easier time taking all these in despite the fact that he had fewer lessons in the fields that Avery had been extensively taught in.
There were 'young adults' in the party that attended. They were in Avery's age range and were also in their way to perfecting that innocent smile that hides a lot of motives, that sharp and piercing remark that has an underlying indignant reply, and that duplicitous amiable nature they possess.
And for someone to be expected as an heir to a corporate empire, they sure hold a lot of expectations. Undeniably, impossibly high expectations for a 12 year old.
"Really, is that the second child?"
"She could dress well."
"I think she is too pampered in Italy. Look at her plump cheeks!"
"Does she have some hobbies?"
"Is she being trained by Asusagawa-sama?"
"Did she put an addition to their ever growing wine collection?"
"But she could do better. Have you seen her sister?"
"Oh Lianne, that darling. I heard she's on her way in becoming a great doctor."
"Yes in her third year of med school I think."
"What do you think will Avery take in Tokyo U in six years' time?"
"What can little Avery do?"
The last question rang inside Avery's head and bothered her throughout the night. She was taught on how to deal with this. Just smile at them. Give them a pointed stare to silence them. Never ever show your emotions.
It was hard to follow the guidelines if her insides were exploding with emotions if she didn't know what palliative measures to undertake. Really, really hard even with Seiichi's hand giving her a reassuring squeeze and a promise that if she makes it through this night, he would treat her some ice cream.
What can little Avery do?
The question remained unanswered for the rest of the evening but a mask was formed overnight that she would wear every time she would be interacting with this lot.
And no one even asked how her journey was.
Things got interesting in their second year of middle school. Yukimura, Sanada and Yanagi became the foundation of the new Rikkai Dai Tennis Club and their senpais happily gave those deserving of the title regular to their juniors who could pave way for another win in the Nationals. All they need to do is accept the position and they would just work themselves to death for their school to have another gold.
Asusagawa Avery is still the top in their batch but repudiated the position in the student council in exchange for having an afternoon free so she could do some assignments or study the lessons she is having difficulty in while waiting for Seiichi's practice to end.
At least that was the plan but spending the afternoon lazing on the fields with comfortable patches of grass lures her to a very long nap. She never really found what she wanted to do, and sweating the whole afternoon for strenuous activities isn't part of the list that she wanted to do.
The morning of the first day of classes of their second year, Avery walked alongside the 'Three Demons' of Rikkai. In her one year stay in Japan, so far she earned Yukimura's friend (Sanada in his own way), became acquainted with his teammates (Marui, Niou, Jackal, and Yanagi), and somehow befriended two- no, three of those acquaintance (Marui, Niou- sort of-, and Jackal- thanks to Marui.) The rest of the 1745 students in Rikkai were either too intimidated or too afraid of what her last name carries.
All in all, she could say that she has a very pathetic social life. She would have been glad if some bullied her because of her choice of pronouns, her social status, her name which really doesn't fit in their society or just because they can't pronounce it, or at least try to befriend her because she's Yukimura Seiichi's cousin.
But they avoided her like a plague and adore the ground she walks on. An equation to a very unhealthy social life.
The only comfort in all this was that her Japanese is finally an ordinary person's Japanese, and that at least there are people who treat her like a normal person… as normal as how they interact with other people that is.
"Is it part of the Japanese culture to jump on a high fence on the first day of classes?" She stopped walking and turned her attention to the little kid she has never seen before. He has black curly hair and perhaps a head shorter than her in height.
The three boys turned their attention to her and followed her gaze. Sanada wondered just how much her eyes wander around for her to even see that minor detail. Yanagi's attention was fixed on the first year (he concluded because he never saw him anywhere before) like how a scientist would study the human anatomy for the first time.
"No, Avery." Yukimura answered.
"I'm going to be number one in Japan!" The little boy declared, earning everyone's attention including the teacher who was entering the building.
Sanada and Yanagi looked at the boy with askance while Yukimura merely chuckled.
The teacher reprimanded him and the boy got down immediately.
The 'Three Demons' tore their gazes away and headed to their classroom. Avery followed when the little boy was dragged towards the building by the teacher and out of her sight.
Rikkai Dai became well known after a year when the three rookies won the championship of the nationals for them. Their glorious days started when the captain of the club deliberately decided on putting those three freshmen on the list of regulars who would compete for the first round of the kantou tournament.
And thus, those three became the heads of the club, surpassing their senpais who were there before them, the next year. Their brilliance glistened throughout the school that even athletes from other sports would want to see their grandeur. Some tried to challenge their authority, only to fail. And that includes the self-proclaimed super rookie who was famous in his elementary days for winning the tournament or so he had proclaimed atop the fences before a teacher reprimanded him. He, too, became a follower of their brilliance that thus started the golden days of Rikkai Daigaku fuzoku's tennis club.
In that club, even a squire's equivalent would have a smug look on his face at the mention of his affiliation in the said league. But of course, talent wouldn't be put to waste, so there is always an exemption. And if they saw that person possessing a skill that will ensure their triumph, they would do their best to hone him, to make him one of the best, and use him to bring out great results.
"Increase your speed!" Yukimura Seiichi, the Child of God, ordered at the passing group of first years as they ran their assigned laps, only for him to increase when he saw how many of them were only taking it seriously. He, as usual, had his jersey draped over his shoulder, arms crossed as he stood in the corner supervising their training and scrutinizing each move.
Onlookers are always welcome, and they didn't care much if someone documented their training, because no matter how much they study every move, they stand no chance in the actual battle. But then, not all onlookers have that kind of agenda. There are those who only come to see the extraordinarily good looks of some players, while some are curious on what makes this club so special.
Marui blew his gum to a small balloon as he headed to the fences where a girl stood. He raised an arm to wave, and at the same time, his gum popped. She laughed. "Yes, hello to you too." He rolled his eyes.
She removed the gold clip that was keeping her bangs in place, and ran a hand through her long black locks. "How many minutes left before you go back to training?" She asked, glancing at the blue haired captain who seemed disappointed at the third batch of first years. "Seiichi seems furious." She raised a brow as she examined his frown.
The red head leaned against the fence. "You think so?" He faced the direction of his captain just to make sure if there is a need to be a good member.
"Don't you think you should go back to training instead of talking to me?" Her red eyes were now directed to the regular.
Marui shrugged. "Don't worry Ave-chan, I am assigned to supervise that Kirihara kid for today." He might have sensed that she was thinking who that was. "See the kid running towards here?" She nodded. "That's him."
"Isn't that the first year who challenged Sanada and ran out of the court crying. The one I said who tripped halfway. He thought no one saw." She covered her mouth with her hand to hide the smile, casting her gaze aside as he approached them.
Kirihara's eyes narrowed sharply at the girl who was standing next to his Marui-senpai who seemed familiar. His pace slowed down and examined her from head to toe.
The girl raised a brow at him, and then turned away. "Bunta-kun, make him go away, tell him to pick his pace or something." She whispered taking a step closer, hoping that the red head was enough to hide her.
"Oi, are you buchou's girlfriend?" The kid asked to which Marui laughed. Kirihara jogged in place as he faced the girl whom he knew as 'Asusagawa' or something. He doesn't really care if she's the daughter of some top businessman, or if she's a king's daughter, he just wanted the truth.
"Yes nice to meet you too, uh" The girl faced Bunta, with a confused look on her face.
"Kirihara-kun," Marui supplied, not bothering to turn to the girl. "Asusagawa Avery," He pointed his thumb over his shoulder. "Vice versa."
Avery put a hand above her eyes, mouth gaping open. "Look, Seiichi's looking over here! Faster, Kirihara-kun!"
Kirihara gritted his teeth in annoyance before he picked up his pace and went on another round of running. "Well, are you?!" He asked.
Marui and Avery laughed.
"He'd be back, you know. This is the only area where I allowed him to run." Marui leaned against the fence as he watched the boy ran away from them.
"Then make him do laps around school. It will boost his stamina, I assure you." She answered in a matter-of-factly tone.
A little while later, both saw him coming towards them, again. "So are you?" Kirihara persisted.
Marui glanced at Avery who smiled uncontrollably. And he knew that this girl was up to no good.
"What do you think?" She asked, and Bunta only shook his head.
Kirihara jogged in place and looked at her with expectant blue eyes. "So that makes sense." He jogged off again, leaving the two only to come back after another round. "Uh, hey, my name is Kirihara Akaya, the number one rookie of this tennis club and will be Japan's number one. It's a pleasure to meet you buchou's girlfriend-senpai." He looked at her with sparkly eyes, and the girl only laughed at how naïve he could be.
Marui gave her an accusing glance.
Avery returned it with a smile. "Rather long name for me, don't you think so?"
Marui rolled his eyes. Poor kid. "You are feeding him with lies. You're destroying his childhood!" He placed a hand over his heart, feigning hurt. "His faith in humanity will be broken."
"Humanity is such a fickle thing to put faith onto, don't you think so?" She retorted, waving at the captain when their eyes met.
At this, Kirihara looked at the two with narrowed eyes. His keen perception didn't betray him. And thus, started his belief that his buchou has a girlfriend and his sister will never have a chance on him.
"What do you suggest then, oh wise lady?" Marui resisted a laugh that threatened to erupt from his throat. From his periphery, he could see Niou approaching them with a lopsided grin.
"Apathy." Her gaze was directed to the silver head whose emotional attachment exactly fits the word. "Look at how our dear Niou-kun is thriving with life in general."
If there were no fences that separates the two of them, Marui would have placed a hand on her head and ruffled her hair. "And that is the reason why you shouldn't pass your philosophy to kids. Please don't ever produce progeny in the future."
"And let our company fall to those impure souls who don't know a thing about wines?" Avery grinned at him. "I don't think so."
Hyotei Gakuen is a school known in Tokyo for having prestige, and already published an international name. The students are being prepared for only the best universities in their college years, Tokyo U, Harvard, Oxford… and the competition keeps getting harder every day.
The well-known Atobe Keigo is still the top of the food chain where in one just might as well give up in trying to conquer the things he had conquered. No one could really, try as they might.
And they could only feed their own ego by reassuring themselves that he only earned his title because of his parents' power and influence, but the clear truth becomes so clouded in the eyes of those unaccepting… rivals.
Though it is so painful to accept, the truth is already presenting itself to everyone. He wouldn't earn a battalion called the tennis club and still be the captain if it weren't for his honed skill. He wouldn't be the student council president if he weren't as talented in every aspect, even where most geniuses fail. He got talent, and there's hard work and perseverance, add a huge ego and charisma, he got the whole school bowing to him in less than a day.
And one particular example is the crowd forming, chanting his name as if he were a god, a religion that they want to follow, to believe, to live with for the rest of their lives.
With just snap from his fingers, the crowd silenced. "Be awed by my prowess." And everyone cheered once again, as if life was given back to them.
Atobe smirked at how he could control the crowd that well. Two years, and he wouldn't let anyone get the glory from him.
It was lunch time when Yukimura spotted Marui with Avery and Jackal in the cafeteria. By the looks of it, she just arrived after the strenuous PE class she got enrolled. He turned around, and headed to the famous tree where people said that confessions are likely to be returned. Likely is what they said, but-
Yukimura would be an exemption.
Jackal was staring at the door. "Oh, Yukimura left, Asusagawa." He regarded the girl who was sitting across them, head leaning against the table.
"Funny, buchou ran away from you." Marui pointed at the door while his other hand played with the apple he got from the vending machine. "How do you feel about that, itoko-san*?" He asked grinning sheepishly.
Avery regarded him with a glance, too tired to even say anything. The feeling of thirst made her want to have her butler follow her wherever she is so she may just order him to fetch some water or perform the activity the stupid PE class expected her to do. Why is Seiichi not her identical twin?
Marui blinked, not really liking the lack of reaction. He raised his brows and handed the apple to her. "Here, have some bite then we can order after you have replenished your energy."
Avery considered not biting and just going over the counter of food, but the line is just too long so she took a large bite, thankful for the fruit that was presented to her. "Thanks," She said chewing a mouthful of apple.
Marui stared at the fruit, a brow raised examining the bite. The girl's red eyes narrowed at him. "You know, Snow White who lived with dwarves only had a millimeter diameter for a bite, while you who had etiquette lessons when you were a kid almost halved it with just a bite."
"Bunta!" Jackal reprimanded. She might not really be the kind who seemed not to care but it is still not proper to say such things to girl, especially to someone like her who is really sensitive but with a layer of detachment, or so Niou phrased.
"Don't worry Jackal," Avery sat straight, smirking at the two. "Unlike Snow White who has no connections or whatsoever in the business world, I could just use my family's influence and tell the nation's pastry shops to ban a man with the name of Marui Bunta with that old face." She pointed at the red head who was frowning. "I'm sure they'd be glad to do that for me." The wicked grin spread like wild fire.
Marui's confidence crumbled, because her family's influence isn't something so laughable. "I'm sorry! I was just kidding!" Marui heard that Atobe Keigo ordered to have his drink crafted and be put in the menu of every café in Tokyo. Her family has the same influence and privilege in Japan, so if he could do it, she could. Might. But that doesn't mean she couldn't.
Avery bit her lips to prevent herself from laughing or smiling in the least. "Or you know, I might tell Seiichi that your stamina dropped low and-"
"Absolutely not!" Marui crossed his arms, forming an X to emphasize his point. "You know, there's a pastry shop near the station that sells delicious cheesecakes!" His bribe was working for she was regarding her with a sweet smile. "If you forgive me, I'll treat you a box of cheesecake."
And she sighed out. "You're so good at this." But she loves cheesecake more than revenge, so she stood up. "Deal!" She headed to the counter where a lot of food was presented for them to choose from.
Marui followed, also feeling hungry.
Jackal only shook his head at the two. At least, there will be no death rallies in a form of laps and intense tennis practice for them… not that she would really do it anyway.
The resident prodigy of Hyotei stood by the door of the clubroom where he watched Atobe fixed his tie. "So, there'll be a marriage interview so you dismissed us early?" He was smiling, and Atobe wanted to wipe that out of his face. "It will be fortunate that tomorrow's a weekend. The Honda's really doesn't suite your father's tastes. I'm sure the daughter will get over you when Monday comes." It was out of respect, and formality that Atobe Keigo is required to attend those omiai's and not simply decline.
Atobe rolled his eyes as he put on the brown blazer. "I'm sure she'd be honored to dine with a bachelor such as myself, Yushi." He simply remarked.
"But why would you dismiss us this early, buchou?" Ohtori implored with such curious eyes that even Atobe would not use his sharp tongue against him for the kid only have pure reasons.
"A prince should always inspect his attire. God forbid if there's a single crease in his pristine shirt." Mukahi mocked as he closed his locker door.
Shishido chuckled at the taunt, but Atobe wasn't in the mood to entertain them.
"Kanagawa is a relatively far place from here, Choutaro." Atobe simply answered the first year who is showing promise.
Oshitari chuckled. "So honored she wouldn't even register that it was an impending heartbreak?" He went inside and sat on the bench next to his locker. Mukahi snorted at the statement. Atobe was already prepared to go home and change into something more suitable for the marriage interview. "Would you like an escort?" He offered, eyes gleaming with hidden interest.
Atobe sighed in exasperation as he rolled his eyes. He knew the tensai enough to think that he simply wanted to accompany him in the marriage interview. "If that is your ploy so you can get your hands on my books, then no, thank you. You still haven't returned my collection of Jane Austin." The hoarder this human being is!
Oshitari could only frown at this. "But Keigo," It became a first name basis a month after they had their first match. "I still have the feel of being Mr. Darcy, so until the day that I die-"
And Atobe heaved a sigh of exasperation as he left the clubroom. He really doesn't have the time for this.
The marriage interview ended even before the sun set in the horizon. He was accompanied by his aunt who happened to be in a supposed vacation. Contrary to popular belief, Atobe has an aunt, his father's cousin, whom he became close with during his stay in England. She was the mother he never had, and he became the son she never had. But shortly after dinner, a call ended the interview.
Her aunt needed to attend an emergency operation so she entrusted Atobe to one of her chauffeurs, and his father wanted him to go home after all has been said politely. And funny enough, Atobe seemed to be having a feeling that the person he would spend the rest of his life with is selected just like in a job interview.
Grace them with your presence to show to them that we at least cared. He could hear his father say those words to him with such emotionless tone. It's not good for business to just decline them.
He chuckled at the thought, and instead looked outside where a heavy traffic ensued. He didn't expect this part of Japan to be as busy as Tokyo during rush hour. He was getting a bad feeling about this after all. He wanted to go home immediately and-
-a sudden halt in the engine, and the noticeably black smoke puffing out of the hood snapped him out of his thoughts.
"Keigo, dear, I'm so sorry for that. I forgot that it has some engine problems-"
"Well, you won't expect me to ride a train, oba-sama!" Atobe rolled his eyes in exasperation. He found a bench near the train station, across a pastry shop to contact his aunt and tell her how he was thankful that they weren't in the middle of nowhere when this happened.
"Oh, so you'll walk home?" He could hear the laughter across the line, though they tried to stifle it. His aunt did try to sound apologetic.
"Do stop performing the operation when I'm talking to you." He ran a hand through his face.
"I see, pretty self-important than a man suffering from blood loss due to a car accident hmm?" Oh, how he hated his aunt's snide remarks. "This will only take an hour dear, and then I'll come to your rescue." And another round of laughter ensued. "Nii-san will murder me if he finds out I let you go home riding a public train."
In his immature side, he wanted to say what's so important about that stranger anyway? But then, he knew better than to say it while he's on speaker. So he simply nodded. "I understand, oba-sama." He ended the phone call and resisted the urge to throw it across the street.
From his periphery, he saw a girl wearing the standard Rikkai Dai Fuzoku uniform sat on the other bench. He regarded her for a while, seeing that her face seemed so familiar. He chuckled at how cliché it sounded if he'd tell her that. Perhaps he saw her in one of the magazines that featured the family of businessmen, but she just might look like one of those people. She, just like most of Japan's populace, has long black hair, but those red eyes wouldn't go unnoticed. It was hazel, really but one glance would deceive the person that she has red eyes. He directed his gaze elsewhere, anywhere but the passing cars and the train station.
She leaned her chin against the palm of her hand, letting her bag fall to her side as she heaved a sigh, eyes directed at the pastry shop across the street leaking with people. Bunta is taking too long. But she knew it's an unreasonable whine since the line is a mile long.
After five minutes, Avery busied herself by playing with her hair. Marui was kind enough to make her go to a place with a chair, and heavens know that he'd be in trouble if Yukimura hears her whine about her exaggerated complaints, not that she would do it but it would be a good blackmail material.
A group of teenage boys passed by wearing a school uniform that she recognized as the affiliated catholic school that Yanagi spoke of one time. "What's a student of the prestigious Rikkai Dai doing here all by herself?"
Avery rolled her eyes. "Can't really say that I am by myself." She mentally punched herself for entertaining the question. Acting tough didn't merit anyone in this world, for in times like this, when in trouble run to Bunta. "So if you would excuse me," She grabbed her bag and prepared herself to run across the street-
-but of course all plans will eventually be spoiled if it was only due to a whim. "Wait, we still don't know your name." A hand grabbed her wrist, and she tried to pull away but they proved to be difficult. She could only list all advantages if she were to be Seiichi's identical twin sister.
"My life goals are simple, really, and it doesn't involve being affiliated with you, so I suggest you leave me alone." Avery wouldn't let them bully her. They may be strong but she wouldn't let herself be defeated without a fight. Though now she knew that she's a mouse trying to claw out of an eagle's… no eagles' grasps. But then, eagles are dignified animals. She successfully pulled her hand back and was about to go run but she felt on her shoulder and pulled her close to a warm body.
Atobe couldn't really stand these kinds of people. He was smirking, holding the girl close to him. He remembered her when he read the latest issue of Japan's businessmen. Asusagawa Avery, she was escorted by Yukimura Seiichi, her cousin to the opening celebration of a major hotel enterprise that the Atobe's failed to attend due to an emergency in England. He wanted to laugh at her so called life goals. "Are they bothering you?" He knew the group as the school's tennis regulars. They didn't reach the finals. "I'm sure Yukimura would be delighted to know that some people are making friends with his, cousin."
Avery's eyes narrowed at him. She couldn't fathom as to why he knew her. Perhaps it was his cousin, he seemed to be a tennis player, or an art connoisseur if her cousin is involved, but she suspected the former than the latter.
The mere mention of Yukimura's name, and the presence of Atobe Keigo in front of them was enough for their resolve to crumble. "We're sorry, Atobe. We didn't know." The most sensible among them apologized, and urged them to leave.
And after a minute, they left the two.
"Please let go of me." Avery was the first one to break the silence. An Atobe… that would explain why he knew her. "Though I am grateful, I am not really in favor of you not thinking of alternative ways of saving me from those men." Men, she snorted. She wouldn't really call them as such. "Do you really have to engulf me in an embrace?" She turned to him when he pulled away.
Atobe raised a brow at her. He least expected her to be that feisty, especially with all those etiquette lessons one grew up with. "Then what do you suggest that ore-sama should do?" He asked, inching closer to her just to see how she would react. He couldn't bother hiding his smirk when she took a step back.
Avery heaved a sigh. "How about simply saying those without the embrace?" She answered, still inching away from him. If she tried to straighten up, her face might touch his, and she wouldn't want that kind of contact. "But thank you, nonetheless, Atobe-san."
He smirked before straightening up. "It was nothing."
"Ave!" Marui came approaching them, two boxes in tow. He raised a brow at Atobe. "Oh Atobe!"
The narrowed eye look Atobe gave Marui made the red head make a rerun on what has been happening on his life and thought of the crimes he had done for that look was like a troubled look between stone to death or a guillotine sentence. "Uhm, did this girl bully you?" He asked uneasily.
Avery gave the red head a glare. "For once in your life, act as if you don't see me as such." She said in a hushed tone but still audible for both men.
"No, but Yukimura wouldn't be glad to hear that she was almost harassed by the St. John's tennis regulars." Atobe informed the red head with such accusing eyes.
Avery's eyes narrowed at the man. His words struck her deep, as if it were the words of one of the people who wanted to gather information regarding her at a party a year ago. As if he were saying, what could little Avery do?
"It's not his fault that I just so happened to be here and they took the chance to take advantage of the situation." She moved forward, as if defending Marui.
And Marui felt bad about asking if he was bullied by her. "Hey, hey! Stop it, Ave. It's partially my fault." She looked at him with a raised brow that says, really-partially, but he ignored it for the time being. "Sorry about that Atobe." He grinned at the man.
Atobe cannot really blame someone on this. "She's right though." He regarded the girl with a glance. "It's not your fault, but you should be more careful next time. Yukimura wouldn't want his dear cousin to be-"
"Atobe-san, if this is just about what Seiichi feels, then by all means, do not feel obliged to save me from those kind of men ever again just because I am related by someone you know." Avery had it with nobility being used in politics. "If you'll excuse us." She bowed politely before she turned her back at him with grace.
Marui blinked, trying to register what just happened (aside from the conversation between the two that might have been a mix of the 1940's and Regent era). He didn't really expect for her to be angry, and it was the first time that he saw her really got mad (aside from that time when she had enough of his teasing, but this is a different sort of anger), with some contempt dripping out of those words. He nodded politely at Atobe and caught up with Avery.
He was left with a mix of surprise and interest for the girl.
That Monday afternoon, after practice, Yukimura confronted Marui about the incident in the train station last Friday. Not that Marui expected that he wouldn't know because Avery's involved, and whenever Yukimura's family is concerned, then he is concerned.
"Sorry about that, Yukimura." Marui looked away, and turned to the girl who was approaching the two. "I'm really-"
"Did that Atobe tell you, Seiichi?" Avery asked, raising a brow. "I'm fine, don't worry about it." She smiled at him to reassure the blue haired boy.
"No, but for some odd reason, some regulars from St. John's came to the clubroom offering gifts to us." The blue haired captain answered.
"Really, no harm done. It's not as if Bunta would allow them to if he knew. Forgive him already, Seiichi-kun." She looked at him with eyes gleaming with sincerity and honesty.
Marui wanted to gasp at how she was defending him, and not taking the pleasure of blackmailing him. A week worth of not teasing her. He thought.
Yukimura could only heave a sigh. "Next time, just don't be careless." It was a rare sight that these two are getting along, well, it was also rare that he'd berate Marui over her cousin.
"Yes, and Seiichi treasures this cousin of his so much that he'd-"
"Cousin?!" She was cut off when a loud cry of disbelief overpowered her voice. The three turned to the newcomer, eyes wide and finger pointing at the girl. "So buchou's girlfriend-senpai is not really a girlfriend but a cousin? But last week you said that you are!" Kirihara looked like a lost puppy.
Yukimura turned to Avery with a disapproving gaze.
She turned to Yukimura with a shrug. "I didn't answer this child's question with a yes or a no. I simply asked him what he thought, and he concluded with that thought."
Marui laughed. "Took you long enough."
Yukimura only heaved a sigh. "Akaya, this is Asusagawa Avery, my cousin. Avery, this is Kirihara, please don't subject him to another one of your social experiments." He begged.
It was a month after that someone came in the courts of Rikkai, challenging Sanada with such confidence. Everyone recognized him. His black eyes were burning with determination as stood on the other side of the court. He wore a violet hooded jersey, a pair of white tennis shorts and a pair of white shoes. His blue racquet was stringed well, and he prepared for this day. The day when he, Atobe Keigo would challenge the blooming name, Sanada Genichiro in a match.
Everyone watching stood in awe as the rally went on. But there could only be one winner.
The color of the sky that afternoon was like a blood's color. Two men stood at the tennis courts, panting. Some outsider challenged the emperor of Rikkai Dai. Somehow, both managed to reach the tie break, and was about to continue, that until Yukimura arrived to stop the match.
"It was your loss, Genichirou." Yukimura, though he held such a calm composure, his tone was delivered like a sharp blade. "I think you have proven your point, Atobe-kun."
Atobe smirked before he turned his back on them. He retrieved his things and went out of the court. When he reached uphill, he halted his steps upon seeing the girl he met a month ago across the train station.
When she tried to peek over his shoulder to look at Sanada, having some sort of sympathy for the man, he knew then that she had watched the match. She stepped aside to give him way.
"So you are only regarding me with such respect now that I've won against someone you have respects for, don't you?" His insight is a blessing and at the same time a curse. It allowed him to read people, though at times, he didn't want to.
For a moment, she only stared at him. She glanced at the court and directed her gaze back to him. "But you know, for someone who won, you don't feel like it, don't you?"
Her words hit him. Atobe smirked before he flicked her forehead with his thumb and index finger. He, for the first time, doubted his insight. She was right; he didn't feel like he won. It was only of partial high, because he had gained a new technique but that doesn't define the end, though Yukimura claimed that it was Sanada's loss.
"We haven't introduced ourselves properly yet." He reached out his hand to her and smirked. "I am Atobe Keigo. It's a pleasure to meet you."
She smiled back at him, and shook his hand. "Asusagawa Avery." A pause, before she chuckled. "I have yet to see before I can declare that it's a pleasure to meet you, Atobe-san."
He chuckled. People like her are as rare as the rare jewels in this world.
And only a handful are worthy to touch such treasure.