Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis. Also, some of the schools mentioned in this story that has similar names to real schools is in no way related to the real schools. I'm just borrowing the name since I suck at thinking of school names.
Notes: Hello~ Finally, another update. Wanted to update last week, but I was swamped with assignments. That's why, we should never ever procrastinate on them...lol So yeah, maybe this chapter might not be that eventful, but it'll get better in the next chapter or so...maybe..haha Hopefully, the end part of this chapter isn't that bad, since I think I ended up having a block, and the sentences are all weird. But I hope everyone could still enjoy this chapter despite all my mistakes and weird sentences etc.
Also, thank you for the reviews that I received. Sorry I won't be able to answer the questions, since it will be answered in this chapter or future chapters.
Ren groaned when he woke up to the first ray of light that entered his bedroom. He had a, sometimes terrible, habit of waking up just as the sun rises, and today, all he wanted to do was stay in bed late. After a week in Japan, his body has already adjusted itself to the time difference. He tried closing his eyes again, trying to fall asleep, but it was no use. His mind was awake. He had started thinking about dinner the day before yesterday, particularly about Takuya.
Strangely, Takuya really looked like Chiyo. He wanted to send Chiyo an email regarding this matter, but he knew the girl would laugh it off and say that he thinks too much. He wanted to ask his dad about it too, since his dad seemed to know Takuya but his parents were having their 'moment' after returning from the sushi shop so he didn't want to disturb them. He wanted to ask yesterday too, but his dad was called to the company where he worked as a human resource director due to an emergency.
Ren sighed. Since he was awake, he might as well get productive. He got off his bed and changed into a plain t-shirt and black track pants. He thought that he might as well get an early start on his daily morning jog, seeing as it was only 4.40 a.m. still. He took his tennis bag and went downstairs.
He walked to the kitchen to grab a drink. He looked around, smiling. This house was so old, yet so new to him. His grandparents gave this house to his parents — a joint gift from the Tachibana and Momoshiro family when his parents just got married. They lived there until Ren was three years old, before his dad was transferred to New York. His dad was promoted to a human resource manager, and was sent to oversee the newer branch in New York of the multinational company he worked for. After twelve years abroad, Momo was once again promoted, this time to a human resource director, and he requested to be transferred back to Japan.
"What are you doing up so early, Ren?" Momo asked before another yawn escaped his mouth.
"I'm going for a run," he answered.
Momo nodded, but when he saw the clock, he said, "Darn, Ren. It's not even 5 a.m."
He shrugged. "Blame the sun."
Momo chuckled. "I'm going back to bed," he told his son, "but I'll meet you at the street tennis court around seven and we could have a light match, if you want."
The teen grinned. "That would be great."
Momo nodded, and after telling his son to be careful, which annoyed Ren greatly since he was a responsible almost-fifteen year old, the older man returned to his bedroom. Ren then took a bottle of water and placed it into his tennis bag before leaving the house.
"That was a good game," Momo told his son while they were walking home. Although they intended to play a light game, but when it comes to tennis, both father and son can't help but gave it everything they have. However, because Momo hadn't been training regularly anymore, the match ended with the score of 6-4, won by Ren.
"Yeah, it was," the teen replied, a small smile plastered on his face. When they almost reached home, he decided to ask. "Dad, this might sound weird but are Chiyo and Takuya related?" If he were looking at his dad, he would have seen the surprised look on his dad's face.
"What makes you think that?" Momo laughed it off.
"Well, they do look alike," he stated. "They have the same golden eyes."
"Maybe you just missed Echizen's kid," Momo teased, trying to change the subject. "I mean, everyone except for Chiyo could see how much you like her."
At that, his face flushed red. Was he really that obvious? Then, realization hit him. He glared at his dad. "You're trying to change the subject."
"No, I'm not."
"That makes it even more suspicious. If they are not related, you could just deny it." When silence followed, he pushed, "Come on, dad. It's just a question."
"Just drop it, Ren," Momo suddenly snapped. Before his son could say anything, Momo pushed open the house gate, and quickly made his way inside.
"That went well," he muttered, before following his dad into the house.
As soon as he was inside, Ren could smell the sweet scent of pancakes. When he poked his head into the kitchen, he found his mom by the stove making some big, fluffy American pancakes, and his sister was eating her share of breakfast at the table. They would always eat in the kitchen when it was just the four of them. But when they have guests, they would always eat in the dining room instead.
Ann smiled when she saw Ren as she turned to put a plate of stacked up pancakes on the table. "Had a good match with your dad?"
"Yeah," he replied as he stalked into the kitchen. Ann gave him a knowing look, so he deduced that his dad must have been here earlier. He asked, "Hey mom, is dad mad at me?"
"Of course not, Ren. But you have to understand that this was a sensitive issue for your dad as he is one of Ryoma's close friend, and it is not his secret to tell."
"When you put it that way, it makes me feel guilty for pushing too hard."
Ann chuckled. "Go and take a shower so that you can have breakfast. Pancakes are best eaten hot after all."
He nodded. "I'll be back in a few." Before walking out of the kitchen, he paused and turned towards his mother, "Thanks, mom," and continued making his way upstairs.
Echizen Rinko smiled as she placed two mugs of hot chocolate on a tray, and filled a plate with cookies before putting it on the tray as well. Her grandchildren have safely arrived in London earlier that day, and her sons were away on business. Her daughter-in-law was out for a business dinner and should be home in an hour or so. But for now, it would only be the old couple at the Echizen Residence.
She chuckled as she made her way to the drawing room, tray in hand. Outsiders always wondered how she could have stay married to Nanjirou for so long. That's because they couldn't see what she saw. They only saw Nanjirou as childish and 'perverted old man', as Ryoma phrased it. But she knew better. She knew how loving and caring her husband could be. That's why a smile appeared on her face when she saw her husband sitting on the armchair with a few photo albums on the coffee table in front of him.
She cleared her throat, announcing her presence before setting the tray on the coffee table near the fireplace. "Ah, Rinko-chan," the sixty year old man said, smiling widely at his wife.
"What are you doing, dear?" fifty-eight year old Echizen Rinko asked as she sat on the armchair opposite Nanjirou's.
"It seems like Chiyo took one of seinen's and Kunimitsu's pictures with her," Nanjirou replied, showing Rinko the page of the missing picture. It was from Ryoma and Tezuka's wedding album.
"Ryoma would be angry if he knows you've been showing Chiyo these pictures, you know?"
"Don't worry. Chiyo and I have an agreement. Besides, despite Kunimitsu's flaws, I think Chiyo deserve to know him a bit," the former tennis pro exclaimed while looking at the pictures fondly.
"What happens if you break the agreement between Ryoma and Kunimitsu's grandfather instead?"
At the mention of Tezuka's grandfather, Nanjirou's expression changed. "That old man could go to hell, for all I care. He ruined my son's marriage."
She smiled, leaning forward as she reached for her husband's arm. She squeezed it lightly. "I know, I know. You love Ryoma so much, don't you, dear?" she added in.
Nanjirou quickly looked away, but she knew her husband was blushing. "What are you talking about? That brat isn't cute at all."
She laughed. Sometimes Ryoma and Nanjirou are so much alike. Refusing to be honest about their feelings. She nodded, and continued listening to her husband with an amused smile on her face.
Unknown to them, Evelyn had been listening by the door when they started talking about Ryoma. She smiled. She was planning on telling her parents-in-law that she has returned but decided not to disturb the couple. Slowly and quietly, she shut the door again.
She was glad to be in this family, she thought as she made her way to hers and Ryoga's room. When she first met the Echizens after Ryoga proposed, she thought the family was dysfunctional. Ryoma kept on swearing and arguing with Nanjirou, and the latter had a habit of reading erotic magazines. However, despite all that, she realized that when it comes to it, they would always have each other's back. After spending a lot of time with the Echizens, she realized that the family was far from being a dysfunctional family. Instead, they just showed their affections in an awkward or weird way.
Yes, she was very glad, she thought as she entered her room. This family really looked out for one another, and when her parents-in-law moved back to America after Ryoma married Tezuka, the older couple insisted that Ryoga and her moved in with them. They argued about having a lot of room in the mansion and only two of them living there, and Nanjirou argued about his right to spoil his grandchildren. Amused, Ryoga agreed to it, and she too agreed since she would follow Ryoga anywhere. Coincidentally, Ryoga had become a partner to one of the most prestigious law firm in Connecticut at that time, so it was easier for him to commute to work.
At six thirty in the evening, Tezuka was standing in front of his parents' house, holding a box of pastries in his hand. He slowly let out a deep breath. This would be the first time he went to his parents' house without Takuya after his grandfather died. He wanted to skip this weekly Sunday dinner, make excuses not to come but Takuya had warned him about it.
After his grandfather passed away, his mother wanted to reconcile, she wanted to fix her family once more. While she can't make it right about Ryoma, but she wanted to make it right again with what was left. So, she made him promise to come over every Sunday with Takuya for dinner. There were times that he wasn't able to come because of his work, but Takuya made sure he was there every week. That was why Takuya made sure he didn't miss the dinner while Takuya was away for camp.
He walked up the steps and pressed the doorbell. No chance of escaping now, he thought with an inward sigh. A moment later, the door opened and the woman in her late sixties smiled widely.
"Kunimitsu," Ayana said, "I almost thought you wouldn't make it."
He almost winced. Mothers know best, he thought. "I bought some pastries," he said as he handed the box to his mother. "Sorry for arriving late, okaa-san."
"Nonsense," Ayana exclaimed, as she took the box from him. After that, she quickly ushered him in. When he entered the house, he could smell a distinct scent of unacha coming from the kitchen. "Your father is in his study. Call him for dinner, and I'll bring the food out in the mean time."
"Do you need any help with that?"
Ayana shook her head. "Just call your father."
He dreaded being alone with his father, but he complied and made his way to his father's study room. After the whole incident that made Ryoma leave, the relationship between his father and himself has become estranged. He couldn't forgive his father for being a part of the reason Ryoma left him and taking away his daughter too.
He knocked on the door of his father's study, causing the older man to look up from his book. "Kunimitsu," the older man said.
"Otou-san," he replied.
"I assume it is time for dinner?" seventy-one year old Kuniharu asked. When he nodded, Kuniharu stood up, "Well then, let's not make your mother wait."
He didn't say anything, but wait for his father to exit the room before walking together to the dining hall. He wanted to say something to break the silence, but couldn't think of anything to say. His father didn't seem to have any trouble with the uncomfortable silence though, so he decided to just keep his mouth shut.
After all three of them were seated, with Kuniharu at the head of the table, Ayana to his right, and himself the opposite of his mother, Kuniharu glanced at the empty seat next to him. "Where's your boy, Kunimitsu?"
"Didn't I tell you before, dear? He is in England for tennis summer camp," Ayana answered before he could even open his mouth.
Then, it was silent again as his father continued to eat. After awhile, out of the blue, his mother asked, "Kunimitsu, have you ever thought of remarrying?"
He nearly choked on his food because of that. He also noticed that his father has stopped eating. After taking a few sips of his drink, he asked, "It never crossed my mind, okaa-san." After a pause, he asked, "Why the sudden interest in my lack of married life, okaa-san?"
"Because you're important to me, Kunimitsu. I want you to be happy."
"I don't need a wife to be happy, okaa-san," he stated.
"Just think about it, okay? It would also be good for Takuya to have another parent."
The two were startled when Kuniharu suddenly pushed back his chair and said, "Thanks for the food." Without another word, he left the dining hall.
He noticed that his father didn't look too pleased when his mom mentioned the whole marriage thing. He wondered why. His father was always siding with his grandfather, so he assumed that his father hated him being with Ryoma. He would have thought his father would be more pleased he was to marry a woman.
Suddenly, his pager beeped. After reading the message, he looked at his mother apologetically and said, "I have to go now, okaa-san. There is an emergency at the hospital."
Ayana nodded, "Go and do your job." After thanking his mom for the food, he left. Ayana sighed. "I hope Kunimitsu could find more happiness, even if he can't be with Ryoma."
"Oh my god, we're almost there," Chiyo squealed, clinging to her cousin. On a Monday morning, after checking out of the hotel, they were now on a ferry, since that was the only way to get to the tennis camp venue. "I can't believe we're going to live in a freaking castle. This is so cool!"
"Calm down, princess, or you might choke the Red Queen to death," Michael Turner, the captain of the Bezarius Academy male tennis team said. He looked at the female team representing their school with an amused look.
"But this is just too exciting," she exclaimed. "Now we could observe players from other countries too. If they are chosen to represent their country to attend this camp, then that means they are really good."
"I don't care about any of that as long as we get there quick," fourteen year-old Gabriella Lantéli slumped down into the seat next to Caitlyn. The girl with curly, shoulder length blonde hair and pink streaks looked green.
"That's why I reminded you to check if you brought your seasickness tablets, but no," a girl identical to Gabriella, but with blue streaks instead, said.
"Isabella, you're not helping," Gabriella glared.
The others looked at the twins, amused. Both of them bicker a lot, but they are the best doubles players in the team.
"Girls, and boys," Coach Helen, the coach for Bezarius Academy's female tennis team added when she saw the few members from the male team. "We're almost there, so be sure not to leave anything on the ferry." After a chorus of 'yes' was heard, she returned to her seat.
"I wonder what other schools will be there," Henry Matthews thought out loud.
"From America, the other two chosen middle schools are Donovan Academy from New York and Oak Hill Academy from Florida. One of the schools that will be participating from England is The Leys School from Cambridge. That's for the high school team though. And from Japan, for middle school division, Hyoutei would definitely be participating since that's the sponsor's alma mater, and Seigaku and Rikkaidai would probably be participating too since they took first and second for the National Tournament. That's all the information I could find out though," said Caitlyn. When the others stared at her with wide eyes, amazed, the redhead asked, "What?"
"Wow, there are so many people here," Masami, a third year from Seigaku said.
"Well, there are approximately 480 people on the ground right now from five different countries," Inui Hayato stated, "and that does not include the coaches, and the instructors for this camp."
Yuuma nodded. "Hey, where's the rest of your team?"
"They're mingling with the other players. Since most of them are fluent in English, communication won't be a problem for them."
About two third of the Seigaku team sweat dropped; in their team, only Yuuma, Takuya, and Shun are fluent in English and the rest of them barely passed. "What would happen if we have to share a room with a non-Japanese and we couldn't speak English?"
"You don't have to worry about that," Yuuma said. "Coach said that they made sure to room us with someone who could speak Japanese, if we were to share a room with a non-Japanese that is."
"I hope this assembly would start soon," Imai Arata, Seigaku's speed player exclaimed. "I want to start playing soon."
"I think your wish has been granted, Imai," Takuya said, when he saw the three instructors of the camp going up the stage.
When one of the instructors, Mr. Patrick started speaking, asking for their attention, the players returned to their team and started lining up. Then, Mr. Patrick began introducing all the instructors as well as some of the staffs, and the coaches from each school, who will be helping out to supervise practices. Then, he began listing the rules of the camp, and told them that the high school players will be staying at and using the courts at the east side of the castle while the middle school players will be staying at and using the courts at the west side. However, although their practices would be separate, they would still be able to socialize during breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, which will be held in the main dining hall.
After all the rules and explanations about the tennis camp were told, they were instructed to meet up with their coach so that they would know which room they would stay in. Then, after unpacking, they were told to meet up at the common room so that they could be given a tour of the ground before lunch, and practice.
Notes: So, how was it? Please review after reading, and tell me what you think.