A/N: thank you for giving this story a chance. It really means a lot to me. I noticed some grammatical errors when I went through the previous chaper. I really feel bad about not proofreading it. I will try to be more careful. Although it would be easier if someone offered to Beta it…..PM me if you are interested…..
20th April, 2013…..HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUNTA!...A perfect reunion chaper for this special day.
To nemesisswan: I appreciate your honesty and for giving this a chance...i know the childhood friend part is cliche as a lot of relationships in this story are, but that is because i need the childhood friend thing to accelerate the pace of their relationship...i really would get sick of writing the story from a point where the two main characters are strangers. i really need that old connection to be there in order to emphasize how close they are. They have a very special bond that i will enjoy developing. Remember that the other stories usually potray them as friends and pair her with seiichi ...anyway i agree that this is cliche, but wouldn't you agree that the new girl who is good at tennis falls in love with a tennis regular she meets at her new school is actually more cliched? Yet it is featured in every femryo story...I don't think I have it in me to write about a world where Riho and Bunta are strangers...if you pay attention you will notice that he is the only one who can call her Riho...its his special nickname for her...everyone else will call her something else
Well, Rihomi mused, it couldn't be said that his face was extremely familiar. It had changed a lot since they were kids. However, certain distinguishing features like his bright red hair, eyes and that expression were all the same. Enough for her to recognize her childhood best friend with a single glance despite not having seen him in years. He had obviously been playing tennis with great dedication. That much was obvious. She mentally sighed as she realized that all her efforts to escape, to avoid tennis were nullified by his very presence. Here was a person who would notice the lack of a racquet in her hand and comment on it. Bunta wasn't one to shy away from awkward topics or care about frivolities like tact, especially not when it concerned someone close to him. Rihomi mentally sighed and braced herself for his inevitable barrage of questions that would venture into sensitive areas and soon enough he managed to stop choking and incredulously sputter, ''Riho? How? What are you doing here?…."
He trailed off and seemed to take in her uniform and its implications. Shaking his head, he jumped off the desk he had previously been perched on and quickly made his way to the front of the classroom, coming to stand right in front of her. A small smile curled on her lips as she realized that despite the complications he would bring, despite the fact that he would not allow her to forget about tennis as she had intended, she did not mind his intrusion into her life. She'd always had a soft spot for him and could not help but secretly welcome his reappearance into her life. That was probably what made her beam at him and throw her arms around his neck and initiate the hug that, if his tightly woven arms around her waist were any indication, he had been about to give.
Marui Bunta had cycled through a lot of emotions in the past minute. He had been caught off guard by Riho's entrance. He could barely believe that she was right in front of him at first and had looked at her with an expression of wonder, hoping against all hope that this was not a beautiful dream. Oh yes, the years had only enhanced the beauty of the girl standing before him, if she were real. A small part of him prayed for her to have remained unchanged. He did not think he could bear it if this girl in front of him was not his Riho, and hoped that the Riho he had known all those years ago was still present beneath the pretty face. He could feel the shock of his classmates pervading in the air, as if it was a tangible entity. He knew he should feel embarrassed because he- Marui Bunta- had choked on his favourite lemon flavoured gum. He had also heard Yanagi's comment (if only he knew) but the only emotion he could feel after the shock had faded into the realization of a pleasant surprise was delight. He had only been waiting for this moment for five years and eleven months, which incidentally was the exact duration of their separation.
It was not a surprising then, when he rushed to crush her to his chest. His eyes must have flickered with hesitation for a moment as the thought that Riho may not consider him her best friend anymore crossed his mind. He should have known that his extremely perceptive friend would pick up on that. She had always been able to read him like a book. Although he had to admit, their understanding had been mutual. He really shouldn't have doubted the strength of their bond because Riho directed that smile at him. The special one that was reserved for him and always managed to allay his fears and never failed to reassure him. His hands were rising, almost lifted of their own volition in order to embrace her, when she leaped into them and wound her slender but strong arms around his neck.
He really couldn't help himself. He wrapped his arms around her in a bear hug before lowering them to her waist and squeezing her closer. He denied the impulse to bury his head in her hair and chose to lighten the atmosphere instead by lifting her a little and swinging her around, eliciting a surprised laugh out of her. He finally let go of her with great reluctance, stepping back to see her face reflect the wide grin he could feel splitting across his own face.
A/N: here is the second half:
The flabbergasted expressions of all the other students would have been funny if Rihomi and Bunta were not completely absorbed in each other. They were only made aware of their surprised audience when Kirihara could take it no longer and blurted out, ''Wait! You two already know each other?"
The other regulars also reacted in a predictable manner. Yukimura's eyes developed an amused glint that made Sanada, who knew him very well, try to subtly edge away from him. Yanagi Renji immediately began to mumble in a semi-audible voice and quickly scribbled the new data into his ever-present notebook. Niou started sporting a mischievous expression that made his partner feel extremely wary, so Yagyuu tried to distract him by responding to Kirihara's silly question. '' Its quite obvious that they do," he replied in his driest voice, giving Kirihara an are-you-an-idiot look.
Perhaps Kuwahara Jackal was the one most affected by the sudden display of affection. He was Bunta's doubles partner and that had created a strong friendship between the two players. After all, you had to get along well with someone in order to know them well enough to read their next move and back them up. The fact that they were one of the best pairs in the country said quite a lot about their teamwork and closeness. So he was completely taken aback by Bunta's uncharacteristic behavior around the new girl. He knew his doubles partner like the back of his hand and he knew that despite his exuberant personality (that was probably a result of his extremely high sugar intake), Bunta would not have reacted like that in the presence of a mere friend. No, this girl definitely meant a lot to Bunta and Jackal could not help but wonder if Yanagi's earlier comment had a kernel of truth in it. It only took him a couple of seconds to process this epiphany so he schooled his wide-eyed, slack-jawed expression and decided to take a step back and observe the unfolding drama.
Meanwhile, some particularly loud fangirls seemed ready to intervene and create a scene…ahem….a bigger scene that is. They were silenced by a warning glare from a pretty brunette who was the only girl that had smiled and taken the sudden and surprising interaction between one of the most popular boys and the transfer in stride. She looked around and found a kindred spirit in a pair of blue eyes that seemed to be equally bemused. They belonged to the only boy in class, apart from the regulars, who did not appear to be disappointed to see the beautiful new student in the arms of Marui. All eyes snapped back to the pair who seemed to have mutually decided to ignore their audience and turn back to each other despite Kirihara's interruption.
Bunta had finally placed Rihomi down and she couldn't help but voice an observation that had fleetingly passed through her head earlier and had been strongly reinforced by the hug. '' You must have been playing a lot of tennis over the years,'' she stated. Startled, Bunta asked, '' Well, yes I have….but what makes you say that?"
Rihomi couldn't help but giggle at his adorably confused expression. Of course, she could read him well enough to detect the subtle inquiry in his tone and the hints of wariness in his eyes. Bunta knew her too well to think that her statement had been an innocuous comment. Riho didn't make careless remarks. Most of her innocent sentences often had a deeper meaning or they were deliberately designed to lead to the conversation in a specific direction. Both of them were extremely aware of this i.e. Rihomi was aware of the fact that Bunta knew this.
Rihomi's face took on a teasing expression as she told him, '' Well, I somehow doubt that you could have stopped consuming ridiculously large amounts of sugar everyday. Pigs would fly before the day comes when you don't consume inhumanely large portions of sweets. So the only logical explanation is that you have been playing tennis for you to have developed this body." She gestured toward his perfectly fit body as she said that.
Bunta finally realized where she was going but it was too late to stop her. She was deliberately giving their spectators a chance to misconstrue her words and make false assumptions. It was just like her to purposely use vague words to convey one thing to him and deliberately mislead the listeners into believing that she was flirting with him, strengthening any wrong ideas they must have already developed about the romantic nature of their relationship. Honestly, he didn't really mind that too much; it would be a welcome reprieve from some fans that had been quite overzealous lately. It was his own reaction to her words that irritated him. He couldn't completely stop the embarrassed blush blooming on his cheeks, provoked by her words despite the fact that he knew exactly what she meant.
She was actually making a veiled reference to his childhood. He knew that the last time they had met, his physical appearance had been drastically different. Unbidden, an image of a short, plump red-haired boy with a piece of cake in his chubby hand, holding the hand of an equally short black-haired girl with a tennis racquet, came to mind. Their smiling faces had been perfectly captured by the camera. That picture was one of his favourites and had taken permanent residence in his bedside drawer. He dispelled the image before it took him on a long trip down memory lane in favor of focusing on the present.
In conclusion, he knew exactly what Riho meant and the impression she was quite successfully attempting to give, but that did not stop him from being surprised by her next move.
Rihomi was having way too much fun to stop although Bunta seemed to have caught on, and made a move bold enough to startle him. She made an obvious show of slowly dragging her gaze over him from head to toe before commenting, '' Well, I always did tell you that tennis could do wonders for your body, but this is amazing! I must admit that even I am a little surprised with the results." She emphasized her point by poking his biceps and abs, making it hard to misunderstand what she was talking about.
The entire room was filled with an amused ( Yukimura, Yanagi, and the previously mentioned brunette as well as the blue- eyed boy), shocked (Jackal, Kirihara) and scandalized (the fangirls and other classmates) silence before Niou gave into his nagging impulse and burst out laughing.