DISCLAIMER: Prince of Tennis isn't mine. I own the plot of this story though..
Senri Yukimura is a fabricated character, who looks exactly like Seiichi Yukimura (I have the feeling you need to know this beforehand)
He never cared if students saw him as a potential target for their lust and fantasies. Nor did he give much consideration to girls on his class whose sole purpose of being present is to either force him to give up his ethical practices as a professor or simply annoy him by sleeping on the entire course of his lecture.
Tezuka never cared.
What he was after of are the hidden potentials, which are waiting to be tapped among the select few whom he categorically labeled as the group of 'good students'.
Being a sort of a perfectionist, Tezuka had expected disappointments on the first submission of his class' project. After all, photojournalism was never an easy subject. He did recognize however few students who excelled on the assigned task. He was not just sure if their momentum's going to soar higher on the succeeding weeks of the semester, especially not when he's laid out plans to push his students to their limits.
Tezuka sat down comfortably behind his desk at the faculty room. His next class will be an hour after, which means he had the next entire hour to relax, and probably sort out what he needs to do next. He needed not to prepare of course, for he already did the day before. That was how he organized things well. Perfectly. No loopholes. Plain perfection.
It has been his routine to find solace in his everyday's tough schedule, which means, any presence at his moments of rest will be considered unwelcome. It always has. So as to why a brave soul still decided to approach him now still remains a question.
Tezuka frowned and eyed the familiar yet not so familiar figure in front of him. He knew the guy was his student, but his memory wasn't doing a very good job in remembering who exactly he was.
"What can I do for you?" Tezuka asked, with his usual formal tone despite the annoyance he felt from the intrusion. Even if he wants to simply shut his ears to what this guy's after, he knew it's not possible. He was a professor. His students are his responsibility, and he knew better that whatever academic performance they will show is a direct attribution to his quality as a teacher. And though he sees it as unfair on his part, Tezuka knew things work that way.
The black-haired guy, with emerald green eyes and coy way of standing in front of him looked away with a blush. Tezuka frowned and eyed him sharply. One thing he didn't like was when he's disturbed without any valid reason.
"I….here are my photos sir!" the student said, bowing in front of Tezuka and shoving in his hand a brown envelope, which apparently contained the photos the guy was talking about.
When Tezuka didn't make any move to accept it, the guy raised his head and looked at him.
"I..know it's late but-"
"Then there's no point in submitting. I gave my instructions. Crystal clear. Late submission is equals to a zero. Better luck on our next field work." Tezuka dismissed, wanting to rid of the student's presence immediately.
But instead of heeding to his indirect command, the student insisted and placed the envelope on top of Tezuka's table.
"Just take a look…..I don't expect for grades….I just need to know if I did it right." the student started before Tezuka could protest. He would have driven the guy out had he not recognized the logic of his reason.
He might be hard, but he knew passion when he sees one, and Tezuka knew this student has it in him. The approach, he might not approve, but the objective was more or less the same – to learn.
"Fine." he decided. "But you need to wait until our next class for my feedbacks." he continued, taken slightly aback when the student actually grinned in relief. Tezuka started to say something, but the student had already stomped his way out, waiving a hand at him before disappearing behind the closed doors of his office.
Tezuka shook his head, and looked at the envelope as if debating if it was indeed right to open it or not. After few more thoughts, he picked and opened it, only to realize how he should've waited to have come back home before he did.
After grabbing a bite for dinner at a fastfood chain across his apartment, Tezuka took a quick shower and picked up the envelope the student had submitted earlier. He opened it again and scattered the 10 photo series on his bedside desk.
The theme of the series, Tezuka had concluded was 'flowers'. It was apparent on the first 9 photo series which showed different types of flowers all planted in a single garden. The photos were taken correctly; just the right ISO and aperture, and to the public's eye, the series would have been more than commendable. Yet what struck Tezuka most was not the theme or the way on how the photos were taken. It was the last photo itself; the 10th photo of the supposed 'flower series'.
When Tezuka first had a look at it in his office, his first impression was its complete irrelevance to the other 9; for instead of another flower, it was a photo of a blue-haired person, apparently a guy based on how he's dressed, with a white long-sleeved shirt and pale gray pants, barefoot as he stood still on a mass of grass directly beneath his feet. A careful look would tell that the place where he was standing was the same place where the other 9 photos were taken. A ranch, Tezuka guessed, or a garden. He wasn't sure.
But that was not all to it.
It was the subject that bothered him most; the 10th picture.
For in as much as Tezuka would want to set aside what's impossible, the more he looked at it, the more he was convinced that he knew the man.
Tezuka frowned and shook his head in disbelief. It's no way possible.
Not in a week-old photo series; and especially not when Yukimura's been dead for more than 2 years.
"I honor excellence in taking photos, as much as how I condemn lies and fabrications. So it's either you tell me the truth, or I'll bring this up to the dean." Tezuka warned at the student whom he later knew as Kirihara, the one who submitted late photos.
The confusion on the student's face upon hearing his remarks was real, Tezuka could tell as much. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any plans of dealing much about it. What he needs to hear is how Kirihara 'made' the 10th photo.
"I'm not sure I'm following you, sir." Kirihara said, confusion now starting to turn to worry, fearing that he did something offensive, which he thought was unlikely when he only did series shots on flowers.
"The 10th photo." Tezuka pointed out.
A streak of recognition struck Kirihara.
"Oh..that…Well he seemed to be in a trance with those flowers out there, so I decided to take a photo of him…and…he was really beautiful." he said, lowering his voice on the last comment to free himself more of Tezuka's criticism.
"And that's the worst lie you could ever make." Tezuka said.
Sensing the ominous threat on the statement, Kirihara went on redeeming himself by explaining every detail on how he took the photos.
"So you're telling me that 'he' was actually there. On the scene." Tezuka wanted to confirm.
Kirihara nodded in absolute certainty, and it took Tezuka's remaining patience not to slap the truth directly on the student's face.
"If he's a problem, then I can always go back to the scene and reshoot." Kirihara offered, with hopes that the alternative would be enough to save him from being sent to the dean's office, which is honestly the last thing he would ever want to happen in his college life.
Tezuka glared and Kirihara flinched.
"How could a non-existent, fabricated character be a problem when he's not there at all? Can you explain that?"
"He's there! Why would I lie?!" Kirihara insisted, now starting to get annoyed by his professor's inquiries, which don't make sense at all.
With a sharp sigh, Tezuka looked at his student straight in the eye.
"Your subject couldn't be possibly standing on the scene because he's dead. He suffered from a lung cancer and died two years ago. He's a friend of mine. Senri Yukimura."
The dumbfounded look that registered on Kirihara's face was enough. Tezuka could've have brought the issue to the dean, but he decided that he totally lost interest on the subject. Not after he made mention of his deceased friend. If there was one thing he would want to happen now, that would be to go home.
Gesturing Kirihara to step out of his office, Tezuka went on packing his things.
Kirihara knew there was no reason why Tezuka would lie about his claim; nor did he see any reason why he shouldn't believe him. Tezuka was after all, the most reliable person he had ever crossed path with.
He slowly made his way to the hospital's reception area, where he was welcomed by a pleasant nurse on duty, the same one who attended to him when he sought entry on the hospital's garden; where he took the photos.
"I see you need more photos." the nurse commented, seeing Kirihara bringing along his camera.
Kirihara smiled. "Not really. I do need information though."
Kirihara pulled out the 10th photo on the side pocket of his pants and handed it to the nurse. "I'd like to know it you've seen this person here before."
The nurse took the photo and examined the person on it. She nodded when she recognized who it was.
"You did?" Kirihara said almost in disbelief. So Tezuka did lie.
"He's our patient." the nurse said with a smile, as she turned on to go back to her previous task.
Kirihara would have wanted to meet his subject in person, but he knew that wasn't possible. Hospital rules says that only direct relatives could visit any patient unless with a prior notice to the department head.
Feeling the need to convey his message he scrambled on a piece of paper he found discarded at the nearest table and wrote a note. He then asked the nurse to hand it to Yukimura as a favor, which the former gladly accepted, saying that it wasn't the first time for her doing such favors. Though it was her first doing such for Yukimura.
Kirihara thanked her and headed his way home.
If there was one thing he didn't understand; it's the fact that Tezuka lied.
Whoa! I lost track of the time! Clock says: 1:13 am! Got to get some sleep.
While I originally planned this story to be a one-shot, it seems like I have to go a bit further.
See you on the next chapter!