I don't own Prince of Tennis.
EDIT 10/12/14: This story has been brought back from the dead, rehauled and then edited to death again. Content has been altered and/or switched around so older reviews might be off on certain events. It sounds worse than it is! The story, to its core, is still pretty much the same. Only with a much better, stronger core. :)
With all that said... enjoy!
The door fell close behind her as she slipped out of her shoes, paper bag in her hand crackling with each move. "I'm home," she shouted into the house but received only a hushed 'Come in!' in response. She hummed to herself, curious about the secretive manner before she, too, snuck a peak at the living room down the short hall.
And promptly switched from humming to whistling in awe.
The air tingled of the lemony fragrance of freshly polished wood and something bubbling in the stew. Mom stood by the kitchen counter in the far back, cutting up food for dinner as well as chuckling over her daughter's gaping expression. The woolen carpet near the sofa was soft to her feet. The contrast of the white fluffy material to the dark wood went well together.
Minori crossed her arms. They could've done waaay worse than this.
"Like what you see, eh?" Toshio lounged on the new leather and had his best smug grin on, looking at her through heavy-lidded eyes and messy honey curls. With an amused roll of her eyes she threw the paper bag right at his face. His head instantly disappeared in the dephts of the bag, looting its contents like a hungry racoon.
"Jeez, it finally feels like home. Of course I do," she said through a grin and plopped down next to her brother, pulling off her beanie in one swift motion as well. The flat hair sprung to life with a wild shake of her head, many shades darker and straighter than the curls of her older brother.
Toshio carefully pulled out the first of the two uniforms, humming an upbeat tune. "Is that praise I hear? Do I get a reward?" With his big, dark eyes and pouty-lipped mouth the resemblance to a racoon suddenly tripled.
She wound out of her coat, throwing it over the armrest before reaching for the remote on the couch table in front of her. The TV flickered to senses without problems, bubbly and quirky Japanese people running about in some flashy advertisement. She wiggled her brows at her brother. He shrug his shoulders, smiling wryly. "Priorities."
She knew there was a reason why she liked him so much. "This," Minori plucked a candy from her pocket, "is for setting priorities straight." He caught it triumphantly with his teeth.
Mom snorted in the background. "How about a functional bed anytime soon?" she called out. "You need a place to sleep, Mr. TV-Junkie. You're not crashing at my place." Toshio groaned.
"I was four years old the last time I crawled into your bed, mom. And who's the one pestering me about the anime channel, huh? And that creepy channel about flower arrangement."
"I have no idea what you're talking about. It's all for the sake of learning about a new culture," she hummed in ignorance, just out of sight from this angle. Minori rolled her eyes. Yeah, right. If she kept with the excuse, one far-off day someone might even believe her. Toshio stuck his tongue out. "And keep that tongue back where it belongs if you're no longer a four-year-old."
The siblings stared at each other. How did she...? They shook their heads. Better not ask.
Minori decided to snuggle deeper into the leather instead and placed her feet up on the couch table. They'd arrived on Friday, just a few days prior, and barely managed to enter the house as it was, filled with moving boxes to the brim. Maybe sending their packed stuff over first before following in the last plane they could possibly get (there had always been something new to pack, to carry to the mail, to send off with lots of blessings) had been a slightly wrongheaded plan.
"What's this?" Toshio's voice snapped her out of her musing. He had both their new school uniforms laid outstretched on the table; black pants, white shirts and a dark blue tie with white stripes to round it out. Minori leaned in closer, blinking. What the...? "They're looking kinda, uh... the same," Toshio ended flatly.
She looked over the piece of paper taped on the pocket of the smaller sized of the white shirts. Kobayashi Minori. "They got the name right." She cocked her head to the side. She might be wrong here but she could've sworn she was supposed to wear a—
"So, bro." Toshio slung an arm over her shoulder. "A brother. Cool. I mean, too bad about the 'Japanese School Girl' look mom babbled about, but hey, maybe you'll finally hit your growth spurt, Minori-kun—" She smacked him over the head.
"Clearly a misunderstanding, dearest bro," she prompted sweetly.
His eyes shamelessy wandered over her body, only to stop at breast height. "It's not like there's much to see anyway—oof!" This time she caught him in the gut. Ever so sickeningly sweet she smiled through it all. Bastard. Like there wasn't some sort of misunderstanding at play here waving around one hell of a fence post in the form of a big, neon arrow.
Mom walked in, wiping her hands clean on the red-checkered apron with the cheesy heart the children had gotten her one Valentines. Her long hair was tied in a loose pony tail, the same color as her brother's nest on his head. With curious eyes she neared the table, kneeling down on the fluffy carpet and contemplated the situation. In her own way.
She looked back and forth between the uniform and her daughter. "So. Minori-kun it is." She cocked her head to the side, sheepish for all the world to see. Toshio cackled loudly while Minori stifled a curse and slammed a palm against her forehead.
Mom patted her on the knees lightly. "I'm just kidding." When they're not busy conspiring against each other they sure knew how to show off their succesfully-working-against-the-youngest-family-member-cuz-it's-fun area of expertise. The name was official, at least to her, because she was always in the minority; hell, her whole name was engraved into the word.
"How did this happen?" Minori muttered instead, turning the attention back on the problem at hand. Lost in thoughts she ran her real and very physical hand through her short hair.
An unexpected explanation dawned on her. Speaking of names...
By the look on her mother's face, she'd guessed the same.
"Minori is a pretty—how do I say it without upsetting you—" She gesticulated with her arms before clasping her hands together. "—it's a pretty neutral name. The Kanji can be read both ways," she drawled out, avoiding the derailed face of her shocked daughter. A hand quickly cupped her mouth, trembling shoulders barely concealing the 'Pfff' escaping her lips.
No way. "You're kidding me," Minori exclaimed. She exchanged looks with Toshio, pointed a finger to her very merrily giggling mother. "She's kidding me, right?" Toshio shrug his shoulders with a grin of his own. Oh, things did not look good at all.
Minori groaned as she drew a hand over her face. "Japan has got to be kidding me."
The Following Day
The teacher gave a reassuring smile before opening the door to the class and stepping inside. A small, simple sign showcased the class number before the door fell close after them. 2-D.
The moment the pair entered, the focus of thirty-something pairs of eyes immediately shifted towards them. Hushed conversations halted and tired faces lit up with curiosity at the unknown person intruding the class room in the morn; dark brown hair soft like feathers instead of silky black and gray eyes piercing with brightness so unlike dark Asian ones.
"From today on we have a new student in this class. He recently moved from America to Japan, so please treat him well." The teacher turned to look at who he'd just announced. "Please introduce yourself."
With eyes shifting first left before swiping over to the right side of the class, the small transfer student hesitated only for the briefest of seconds. One hand in the pocket of his pants, the other leisurely holding onto one of the straps of his backpack he looked straight-on, unwavering. "I'm Kobayashi Minori. I lived in America but my Mom is French, so I'm only half-Japanese. Just moved in a few days ago." He paused before offering a crooked grin. "Yoroshiku, I guess you'd say."
"How did you end up in Japan?" a boy called out.
His eyes flickered to the side briefly. "Well..." Then Kobayashi Minori, the male, turned his attention back to the boy who'd asked the question. "One thing led to another, really."
What Really Happened
"Stop laughing!" She looked at her family from between splayed fingers. "No, seriously, what am I supposed to do now?"
Mom clasped her hands together in excitement. "Roll with it!"
Toshio snorted. "Blunt." Minori shot him a disbelieving glance.
"Am I the only one that remembers how terribly uncomfortable misunderstandings can be?" It's not like it's a thing from that much of a faraway past. She'd been eleven. And she wasn't talking about that time when a boy in her class thought that she liked him. He kept on popping up out of nowhere for a whole month until she finally got wind of what was going on behind her back. By the time she found out, the rumors had soared way past any roof and Minori had a few friendly talks to do before the ground swallowed her whole.
Of course Mom laughed it off, finding her daughter's embarassment entirely 'too cute' to pass upon.
Right now wasn't much of a difference. She must be reading some rubbish Shoujo Manga again. "That's a thing from the past. I thought moving to Japan was the final step away from that ugly mess. A clean start," she said, nodding to herself. "We wouldn't even talk about it, we said!"
"As a boy," Minori added dryly. "A clean start."
Mom went into pouting mode. So that's where Toshio got his genes from. "Aw, come on!"
Minori sent her quiet brother a glance. "If he goes as a girl, I'm in."
He locked gazes with her; black meeting gray in a serious manner. "I'd totally do it." She whacked him across the arm. "It's not like we're not used to your tomboy-ism," he whined, rubbing his hurting limb. She hit him again, realizing too late she was proving his words that way. Damnit.
There's this one chance for her—for them!—to have a happy family life and the misunderstanding of the century comes hurling like a thunder bolt from Zeus down on them. Minori felt like kicking the made in Japan bolt to pieces. She stared at the future version of herself, the way Kobayashi Sylvie's eyes tried to reel her daughter's sympathy in. She couldn't be serious. Even considering it was beyond any reasoning. "No," Minori repeated. Then furrowed her brows. "Didn't we send a photo together with my résumé?"
Mom waved it off, not wanting to stray off-topic too much. "Only the most recent with short hair."
"And believe me, the dark circles under your eyes did not look fashionable," Toshio added with a satisfied grin. She resisted the urge to smack him again. Speaking of blunt, he sure knew how to trample on a lady's feelings. "Come on, we're going in with a boom!"
"You usually leave with one."
"We don't do usual."
Meanwhile Mom had inched ever the closer and Minori startled backwards when their noses almost touched. Big, gray eyes. Big—baby-innocent—gray eyes. "Wha—?"
She raised a finger. "Toshio's right. Just one week." Minori shook her head vigorously.
The finger buckled but didn't disappear. "One day?" Minori's expression was as blank as before.
All of a sudden she backed off and puffed up her cheeks, hands akimbo. "You're not going all the way back to school now! After all, they made the mistake first. Therefore they should be so forthcoming as to also apologize for the inconvenience first."
That's the French Revolution speaking inside her all right. Never searching the fault in one of their own because French pride and all that. "You can't justify things like that," she retorted.
"Rubbish! I always find a way to justify whatever I say." She threw her pony tail back over her shoulder. There's the aristocrat's turn now; that arrogant air of way-too-much-grandeur. The siblings exchanged a glance. Best to leave it at that. Mom's eyes drilled back into hers. "And right now I have a justified reason to re-enact any gender-bender story I have ever read in my entire life and check it for viability."
Aaaaand here's the Otaku coming out from its hellhole. She saw Toshio back away slowly, attempting to escape before things escalated any further and he got dragged into it in ways he never expected nor wished for. Minori grabbed a hold of his wrist. She wasn't about to die a martyr's death alone, oh no, sir!
"That's your reason but definitely not mine," she answered. Toshio tugged at her iron grip but she kept him hostage.
Kobayashi Sylvie wouldn't be the French witch that she were if she hadn't calculated that into her plans already. And here Minori had wondered once how she'd met and married Dad—it's all a question about willpower. If you want a Japanese husband real hard, you get a Japanese husband real soon. "One whole year of never even touching the word 'laundry duty' sound good to you?"
Toshio suddenly stopped in his struggle. "I'm in!" He raised both their arms. She quickly let go and pressed hers to her chest.
Mom looked at her through long, dark lashes. "Oh, really? So you'd rather do your two-year punishment of double-laundry, huh." Here we are again: the sensitive topic of her cutting off her long hair—the next best thing her mother treasured apart from her immense love of Japan and Japan-related things, no matter how hard she tried to bury the latter away from plain sight.
"There was bubble-gum in my hair! The size of a hamster! You can't force me to do laundry until it grows back again!"
"No reason to cut it off," Toshio said as sassy as any woman.
Her eye twitched at his sudden change of demeanor. "On whose side are you?"
He shrug his shoulders. "Biggest fun factor. Least punishing one. Mom's." Traitor. Only because he got dragged into the punishment as well; they'd went to the barber together which had signed his death by accomplice. Mom was mad at him for not stopping the barber when he had the chance to. There had been an abundance of possibilities, many of them involving the scissors as a main choice of weaponry when you asked for her opinion in the matter.
There was a reason they didn't.
Minori sighed. This discussion was running in neverending circles. She frowned. Funny. They were completely isolated yet safe. It would actually benefit them if they kept low in a way like this, wouldn't it? "You'll clear my punishment?" To say she wasn't materialistic would be a lie. Any healthy teenager despised housework.
Mom nodded vehemently, sniffing victory. "Of course. And come on," she huffed in exasperation. Minori already handed herself over to fate. The final spurt was about to pour down on her and when she spoke, Minori winced as if she'd been slapped. "I didn't raise a boring coward, did I?"
Besides, she couldn't say no to a challenge with this kind of reward attached to it.
Hoho! Hello and welcome to this little story of mine. I recently reanimated my passion for PoT via reading the whole manga and quickly turned to my keyboard before the muse went away. I hope reading this brings you the same joy as me writing it. This is going to be the start of a wonderful adventure!
EDIT 10/12/14: Rehauled for consistency, readibilty and generally more awesomeness.