DISCLAIMER: The characters from the manga/anime Prince of Tennis are owned by Takeshi Konomi. They are not mine. (I do, however, claim ownership for Risaka Hosoakawa and Mei-hua Li, as well as for the plot/story-line.)
Friends aren’t that important. As long as I have one who will be there, that’ll be fine...
Love is a useless feeling; I see no point in it...
I will not open up to anyone except to those I really trust...
I will not let them break the hard wall I built around myself from the world...
Why on earth did I agree to come here...?
“We’re here at last...” Mei sighed in relief. “It’s so clean and beautiful here. Don’t you think so, Risa?” She asked, walking out of the car. Risa’s mom rented the car and she drove them to the house they would be staying in.
Hosoakawa Risaka replied with a yawn, “Let’s see... Hawaii, fairly tall buildings, cars, trees, beaches, houses, schools, it all looks the same, really.”
“You could at least be a bit more enthusiastic about it. You wanted to come, right?” Mei eyed her friend, “Yet, you act all bored. Why is that?”
“Me?” Risa turned to face her friend, “You’re the one whose been going; ‘It’s so dull here, Risa!’, ‘Come on, entertain me, will you?’, and ‘Risa! I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m bored!’” she mocked.
“It’s not that I was bored,” Mei reasoned, “the fun just hasn’t started. And, during the all the time we’ve spent in the airport, in the plane, and until now, you’ve kept on blabbering about how we should be careful, and that we should proceed with caution, be responsible, and that I shouldn’t let my tactlessness get in the way, blah blah blah...! And yet... you were still so unnoticeable,” Risa ignored her for the moment and followed her mom who was calling them to enter the house.
“We really should be wary. We’re not from around here; we won’t know what’ll happen.” She walked, careful not to bump into or step on objects and flowers on the ground. “And, may I remind you that your clumsiness has gotten you into a lot of trouble in the past.”
“Oh really?” Mei followed her friend into the house, “Would you care to state one of the times when I have gotten myself into trouble?”
“Sure,” She replied while looking around the house, “let’s see... Do you remember what happened two months ago in chemistry class?” We we’re supposed to dissect frogs on that day – which I think is really gross, if I may add. Don’t you pity the frogs? I mean, why would people want to cut them open? It’s not like everyone is interested in learning about it. How many frogs do you think have been killed just for that reason? Anyway, back to the point, you were late for class and you came running in. On the way in, you tripped and hit the glass container which shattered into a million pieces, causing all the frogs to fall out. I swear all hell broke loose that day... You’re lucky nobody got hurt.”
“It’s wasn’t that bad,” Mei reasoned, “Besides, it’s their fault for placing the container near the doors. That could’ve happened to anyone. And, chemistry is supposed to deal with the composition, structure and properties of matter. Since when were frogs involved?!”
“Don’t ask me about how we ended up dissecting frogs in chemistry… and you’re right. It could happen to anyone – anyone who has the same level of clumsiness as you, that is. Oh, and please lower down your voice. Not even an hour yet and you may already have people rallying against your screams.”
It was Mei’s turn to ignore her. The two walked silently as they proceeded to their rooms.
The house itself did not really stand out because of its plain light brown – almost peach – colored walls and its red roof, it blended in with the other houses on the street which were almost of the same color. The inside of the house though, was superb. Of course, it wasn’t as grand as something like a mansion. Still it was something you wouldn’t expect at first sight of the house. Mei-hua, being the impulsive and excitable girl she was, was thrilled once she entered, but, Risa, being... Risa, was passive about it.
The two started unpacking as soon as they got in their respective rooms. Risa finished arranging her things in an hour and went over to Mei’s room which was next to her. Mei took a lot longer considering the amount of things she brought. (Most were useless junk, but she brought them along anyway)
“Ne, Mei, since your dad is out of the country, who is taking care of your brother and your house?” Risa asked as she seated herself on Mei-hua’s bed.
“My brother is at summer camp,” she replied, “and my mom is a housewife, remember? She also has the maid to help her.”
Risa shook her head in response, “You don’t care, do you?” She asked, her voice barely audible. She looked around and raised an eyebrow at seeing all the different things her friend had stuffed around the room. “Why did you bring your sowing kit? You brought your crayons as well. I don’t think you’ll fine any time for arts and crafts here... unless of course you plan on staying here for the whole trip.”
“I brought it just in case I got bored.”
“Bored? Then, why didn’t you use them when you were ‘bored’?”
Mei didn’t respond.
Risa peeked in one of Mei’s still unpacked bags, “You carried along some DVDs too. I told you, there’s no player here. Why do always have to be so hard headed?”
“Just shut up already...”
“...What are we doing here?”
“Well, you said you wanted to go out, so here we are!” Mei replied gleefully.
“Yes, I did want to go out, but why the beach?” Risa retorted, “Why couldn’t we have gone here some other day, when the place isn’t so packed with people...?! We’re going somewhere else...”
“No. We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to stay here and have some fun.”
“I don’t see any fun in it since the place is so crowded...”
“That’s what you always say.” Mei pouted. “Fine, let’s try a private beach.”
Risa started walking away, “You’re such an idiot. Why do you think they’re called ‘private’?”
Mei took out her phone, “I have some connections with certain people...”
The two stood in front of an elegant mansion situated at the sea shore. Again, Risa did not care a thing about it and was only focused on getting away from here and finding her way back to the house. Though the fact that Mei knew someone who owned such an enormous yet elegant place was strange, she let it pass.
“Well, this is the address he gave me...” Mei stared up at the mansion with such admiration. She was at it again.
“He? It’s a boy?” Risa asked, her voice shaking. She was not that good when it came to the opposite sex. Correction, she isn’t ‘not that good’, she’s just terrible. The only boys she’s ever really spoken to were her father, a few of her uncles, maybe a little of her mother’s friend’s baby boys, and Mei’s brother. How the heck was she supposed to deal with this now?!
“Yes, Risa my dear, it is a boy.” Mei confirmed, “And I don’t care about what you think of this because it’s too late to go back now! It’s not my fault that you’ve hardly ever spoken to any boys, let alone anyone else. I mean, you don’t even talk to those in our class!” Mei scolded, “Who’s the idiot now?”
“Boys are stupid...”
“Then how did these ‘stupid’ boys end up ruling the whole school?”
“That’s because more that half of the school population consists of boys. And, we also have to consider all the fan girls.”
Before Mei could answer, the gates opened and a man - probably the butler - stepped out to greet them. He led them into the mansion, through the ample hallways that were decorated with classy paintings which spread out from the entrance until the end of it. Coming to a halt after crossing the long lobby, the butler steeped forward and knocked on the great doors in front of them. A reply was heard, but it was unclear to the two girls. “This will lead you to the dining hall.” The butler informed them, “The young master and his friends are waiting for you inside.” He pushed the doors open for the two girls. Mei skipped in it like the house was her own, while Risa followed hesitantly.
“Ohayo, minna-san!” Mei greeted.
“Li-san, we have been waiting for you.”
Risa recognized that voice. It can’t be... It just can’t! She looked up as came to see Atobe Keigo and the rest of his team mates talking with Mei-hua. “Of all the people in the world, she just had to choose them...” Risa muttered under her breath.
Mei turned to face Akutagawa Jirou, who surprisingly, was wide awake, while he would usually be sleeping at this time, “I’m sorry I called all of a sudden. My friend was being very irritable and picky;” She said aloud so Risa would hear, “then I remembered you guys saying something about going to Hawaii, so I called.”
“Jirou did mention that you would be bringing someone along.” Oshitari Yuushi piped in, “Why don’t you introduce your cute little friend to us?”
Mei called Dana over who quietly made her way towards them. “Ohayo.” She greeted, bowing down a bit, and avoiding making eye contact with any of them.
Atobe eyed her curiously, “Hosoakawa Risaka, correct?” She gave a small nod. “Ore-sama has heard of you before. You are one of the school’s most honorable writers. It a pleasure finally meeting you.” He bowed down as well.
“Risa-chan, I suppose you already know them.” Mei inquired, “Anyway, I guess it’s still best if they introduced themselves.”
“But of course,” Atobe stood up straight, towering over her, “Atobe Keigo.” Pointing to a boy who was sitting down on one of the chairs, “That is Hiyoshi Wakashi.” He placed a hand on Kabaji’s shoulder, “This is Kabaji Munehiro.”
“Akutagawa Jirou! Jirou would be just fine. Ne, ne, can I call you Risa-chan as well?” He chirped but ended up being silently scolded by Atobe.
“Ah... Ohtori Choutarou. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Oshitari Yuushi,” he bowed down, took her had and softly kissed her knuckles. Risa, not knowing how to react to any of this, remained soundless.
Mei snickered at the stupidity Risa was showing. She got in between them, “Gomen, Oshitari-kun, Risa’s a bit... shy.”
“Is that so?” He was looking directly at Risa, “It doesn’t seem like it when I see her around school. Come to think of it, whenever I do see her, she’s always with you. Maybe that’s why you seem different. Or, maybe you’re just shy around us...?”
“Yuushi, stop it. You’re being impolite.” Atobe rebuked. “Hosoakawa-san, Ore-sama apologizes for his behavior.”
Mei snickered again.
Risa was about to excuse herself but Mei spoke up first, “Atobe-san, is it alright if we went out to see the beach already?” She asked.
“Well, that is what we’re all here for, isn’t it?” He called over one of the maids to carry the girls’ bags, and then ordered another servant to bring some refreshments to them later on. “Iku ze,” he led the way out. The atmosphere outside was calming as the zephyr wind blew past them.
“We’ll change first, okay?” Mei pulled Risa into the changing rooms, a small cottage situated at shore of the beach.
“Mei-hua Li, what is the meaning of this...?!” Risa prevented herself from screaming and tearing her best friend apart. Sure she’s gotten her into a few parties, but never anything like this.
“Hm? We’re here to change. What’s wrong? Do you want to change in front of them instead?”
“You are such an idiot...” Risa sighed. “Mei, I don’t even have a swim suit.” She complained.
“I sneaked into your room and took your swim suit from your cabinet.” She explicated. “Or would you rather swim in your underwear?”
Risa twitched but did not say anything for fear of exploding right here and now and causing trouble – and trouble was something she did not like. Instead, she took the bathing suit peacefully from Mei and put it on.
When they were done, Mei had to pull Risa out of the cottage for she would not agree to, in her words, ‘go out in this stupid skimpy thing’. As the two emerged from the small dressing room, they were greeted by Jirou who splashed water all over their faces. “Risa-chan, why don’t you take off your robe?” He tugged on Risa’s robe, “Come on, you can’t swim with that thing on!”
Atobe sighed. He could clearly see the torture in Risa’s eyes for he knew very well that she was not a very outgoing person, and was probably just forced into this. He could see Risa slowly take off her robe since Jirou would not at all stop bugging her.
“I don’t think placing her near Jirou is a very good idea.” Yuushi interrupted him from his thoughts.
“Ahn~? Do you think it’s a better idea to leave her with you?” Atobe retorted, “If that’s the case, then Jirou would be a much better companion.”
“Atobe!” Jirou dashed over to them, “Mei-chan said that they’d be here for about a month. Do you think they could come here every now and then? Please?”
Atobe looked over at Mei who had Risa standing behind her, trying to keep herself covered. “That’s fine with me. But, would it not disrupt their schedules?” Mei waved a hand reassuringly, telling him that it was fine. He shrugged, “whatever.”
“Yosh!” Jirou punched the air, “Mei-chan! Risa-chan! We could do lots of cool things! We could go swimming a lot, we could go sight seeing, we could go to the malls, and I heard the food here was good too! Actually, even if we didn’t eat outside, the food would still be good since we’d be eating at Atobe’s!”
Risa listened to them as they made their plans for the coming days, and most really did not appeal to her. She sighed; this was going to one long month...
It’s been two weeks since Risa and Mei arrived in Hawaii, and they spent most of the time at the beach or at malls. To Risa, this was in agony, not only because of that, but also because she would usually be left along with none other that Oshitari Yuushi. Right now was one of those times.
“Stop following me.” Risa grit her teeth, infuriated by the fact that he’d be there wherever she went.
“But I’m supposed to watch over you.” He replied innocently.
“If I needed someone to watch over me, I would have asked someone to hire me a body guard.”
He smirked for he knew that he was already getting on her nerves, but he said nothing.
“Could we go back to Atobe’s cottage and wait for them there?” She whimpered.
He shrugged, “Okay.”
They walked on the way back, considering the fact that they did not have a car. Besides, it wasn’t that far. They were silent as they walked. Risa was still the indifferent girl she used to be, but the change in her was unmistakably noticeable; she was not as unassuming as she used to be, and in a way, she learned how to open up to the others. Even if it was just that, it somehow made them, specifically Oshitari, happy to see the ice around her heart melt.
Shishido and Choutarou were already there when Risa and Yuushi arrived.
Risa made her way to the living room where she could be alone, but there seemed to be a flaw in her concept of seclusion, “Why are you still following me?”
“Hm?” He cocked his head to the side, “is there something wrong?”
“Yes, there is something wrong.”
“And what might that be?” He walked faster and put his arm around her shoulder when he caught up.
Risa shuddered at feeling him so close, “you...”
“Me?” he opened the door to the living room for her. “How did I become a problem?”
Risa clenched her fists. Why did he always get on her nerves? And to make things worse, since Mei was busy hanging with the others, she was stuck with him... again. “I believe the answer to that is obvious enough already.” She sat on the black velvet couch lying in the center of the room, and was facing the plasma TV which hung on the wall. She picked up the book on top of the table in front of the couch and started reading.
Yuushi took a seat beside her, “You haven’t answered by question.” He whispered.
She scooted away, “Get away from me.”
He took hold of her wrist and inched his face closer to hers, “Tell me... Why do you hate me so much?” Their noses touched, “Why is it that you don’t want me near you?”
“Risa!” Mei busted in through the door, followed by everyone else. But, instead of being greeted by Risa, she was faced with the image of Risa and Yuushi sprawled on the couch, their lips almost touching, and with Yuushi on top. The guys’ jaws dropped at the scene before them. Shishido made Choutarou face the other way saying something about him being too young for this, Hiyoshi and Kabaji remained emotionless, Gakuto stared, Jirou and Mei gave each other high-fives, and Atobe wore a smirk on his face.
“Ahn~? What’s this?” Atobe made his way towards them with slow strides, “Oshitari, if you’re planning something, I’d prefer you do it some other time at some other place.” He stopped beside the small table, “I don’t think it would be very... convenient for you to get involved in those things here.”
“Oh?” Yuushi glanced at him, “What makes you say that?”
“Get off me.” Risa pushed him up and broke their previous position wherein she was stuck to him from underneath. She bent down and tightened the laces of her rubber shoes, stood up straight, then fixed her wrinkled clothes. After sending one last glare at Oshitari, she walked out of the room and slammed the door behind her.
All eyes were now fixed on Oshitari. He raised his hands up in defense, “I’m innocent.”
Outside, Risa leaned against the wall breathing heavily and her heart still pounding. She closed her eyes, not knowing what to do or what to think.
I don’t need them;
I don’t need their pity;
I don’t need their friendship;
I don’t need love.
Another two weeks have passed and for Risa, time seemed to pass by slower than ever.
“Did I not make it clear enough last time that I do not want you around?” Risa growled and turned to Yuushi who was following her yet again.
“But you’re leaving tomorrow,” he defended, “I just wanted to spend more time with you before you went back to Japan.”
“Do you mean I won’t be seeing you anymore? Thank goodness...” she riposted, heaving a sigh, before letting out a soft chuckle; something rarely ever heard from the young girl.
She made her way to the balcony and stayed there, watching the crashing waves and the setting sun, and enjoyed all the peace and tranquility it had to offer. Oshitari stood behind her, remaining silent and not wanting to disturb the moment where he could see her pleased; with no look of restlessness or distress what so ever. Twilight rolled over the skies before finally letting the night sink in as it filled the sky with stars.
“Discretion is not gold.”
She looked at him, baffled, “What?”
“You’re too inconspicuous at times; restrained, unobtrusive, and unassuming. Still, you’re also very circumspect and cautious; judicious, prudent, responsible and wise.” He started, “But it doesn’t do any good if you’re too much of it. You’re too careful, too guarded, and too subtle. And based on my observations, Mei-hua is one of the few people you actually open up to. Why is that?” Risa’s gaze was fixed on anywhere but him. “Have you ever tried being a bit more reckless? A bit more obvious? And a bit of foolishness at times never hurt. Have you ever tried being a bit more unguarded? Or maybe, try being a bit less tactful. It’s not good to keep your feelings from showing...” A smirk slowly started to make its way to his face. He turned her face so she was facing him, “And wouldn’t it be such a shame to squander such a pretty face... with a nice pair of legs to match.”
She drove his hand away from her face. Looking away, she remained silent.
“Sometimes, you have too much of something, and too little of the opposite thing.” He continued, “It’s never really a good thing, is it? That’s what’s happening to you. You’re unbalanced. Think of the scale; if one side gets even a little bit heavier, it tilts more to one side. If we were to say that you were the scale, one side would be full, and the other side would be empty.” He started to walk off, “You can think about what I said, or you could just pretend that this never happened. Good night...”
Risa sat down on the balcony’s ledge, watching the waves as they crashed into the sand. Maybe she really was a bit too precautious and inconspicuous... But that was how she was and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. Like he said, she was to either think about what he said or pretend like it didn’t happen. She tried thinking about what he had said and she thought... maybe he was right. She was convinced of that in someway, but now, she felt like giving up. She was at the verge of disregarding the whole thing.
The next day, Risa and Mei dropped by at Atobe’s place to bid their farewells. Risa though did not understand the whole point of doing this for they would still be seeing each other back in school when the summer was over. Mei on the other hand, made it sound like they would never see each other again. And so, they decided that only Mei would proceed inside to greet the others, thank Atobe for accommodating them almost every day of their stay in Hawaii, and finally say good bye.
“Just wait for me here, okay?” Risa waved her hand passively as Mei ran off.
Risa stared up at the sky, before a familiar voice broke her from her thoughts, “Aren’t you going too say good bye?”
“I don’t have to,” Risa replied, not even looking at him.
“Not even to me?”
Risa stared at him before coming to a decision, “No. Not even to you.”
“Why not?” Yuushi inquired.
“Because there’s no need for that,” She looked at him from the corner of her eye and took a deep breath, “...thank you.”
“What did I do that deserves any gratitude?” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close, “Tell me.”
She pushed him away like always, “Because you helped me,” She answered, “in a way, you were right. But that won’t be enough to change what’s in me. Still, thank you.” She hesitated a bit before softly brushing her lips against his cheek. She turned around and started walking away, “I’ll see you in school then.” At the exact same moment, Mei burst out. She waved good bye to Yuushi then headed off with Risa at her side.
Yuushi didn’t do anything to stop them. What happened was enough to satisfy him – now, he knew that she wasn’t as unreachable as he thought she was; now, he knew that she was human; now, he knew that she cared, she never said anything, but that simple action with such complicated meanings said it all for her. No more words needed to be said between them; knowing it was enough for the time being. He would wait until she was ready. She had indeed changed, and that was something not even she could deny.
Life may not be the fairy tale we hoped for where each of us live our own happily ever after. It isn’t perfect, but life also has its own share of miracles. I learned that isolating yourself from the rest of the world will do you no good. No matter how much you’ve already lost before, keep a smile on your face.
Life has its own surprises in store, mysteries waiting to be uncovered.
What good is it if you have to go through it alone?
It’s like going on a joy ride with no one else on board.
Have people to share your memories with. In looking for those people, arduous and endless searching is not necessary. Look beside you, you may have already found the people who will make your life even more meaningful... even though it may not always appear that way.
Author: shadow_labyrinth [Risaka]
Very sweet ^^
I wished you continued on when they met at school again.. ahh pity its only so much.