”Ah~” they had finally gotten to a hold. They had been driving for almost five hours and all of the regulars were tired. Emiko had for an hour ago looked like some wild animal trapped in a cage to small, but now when she finally could get out she was way too tired to run around.
“Emi~” Amaya there had been a bit more slow to get out of the bus was going towards Emiko. “How could you just leave me like that?” Amaya looked blaming on Emiko. “You could at least have woken me before you left” Amaya wasn't happy about what Emiko had done “Why did you let Makoto wake me?” Emiko had asked Makoto-kun to wake Amaya, but she had, had the idea that Amaya would hadn't like it. “I was drooling” this was only a whisper and then Emiko understood she then couldn't help it but a smile and a giggle left her. She too tired to hide it. Amaya got a pink shade across her face.
“Stop it” she said, but it didn't help. Emiko knew that Amaya had a crush on Makoto-kun for a long time, but it wasn't something Amaya herself knew until a few months ago. When they entered Rikkai middle school and Amaya saw him play against some of the regulars. It wasn't something new for Emiko so; there wasn't any surprise for her.
“Wow....” instead of looking at Emiko, Amaya had taken a few seconds to look around, and when Emiko looked she could see why Amaya was saying as she did.
They were all standing in front of a big green area, behind it was a big and what somewhat looked like an old but pretty house. It had four floors, and a balcony. They could also see that far to the right were their some tennis courts.
“There’s more tennis courts in the back” Yanagi sensei said while looking at all his students. He had always had that 'only the best to my tennis players' mentality – it was cool, but a lot of it had to come from that the regulars was children of his friends.
“Oh Yanagi-san good to see you” a familiar voice suddenly sounded and all of Rikkaidai turned towards the voice.
“hallo Tezuka-san“ was all Yanagi sensei answered but you could see on the regulars that they were all taken by surprise and it didn't became any better when the rest of the Seigaku regular team came around the corner. They had been out running. Emiko wondered why she hadn't heard their normal 'Seigaku, Fight-o, fight-o' they always called out.
The rest of the day went with the Rikkai freshmen’s without Emiko and Amaya in the kitchen together with the Seigaku's freshmen’s to prepare dinner for all of them. Meanwhile all of the regulars had assigned training matches.
“Oi Tezuka why do I have to play against Kikumaru-chan?” a black haired boy looked and pointed at Emiko. “She's...” he didn't say anymore.
“Kiseki it's alright” one of the others regular placed a hand on his shoulder and Emiko understood why it was a bit difficult for Oishi. Their dad's had been the legendary 'Golden Pair', well known over the most of Japan and some part of the world, and even though she hadn't played with her dad for 6 years she still had the same playing style.
“We all know it” another regular said, and they all looked at her, because, Emiko and Oishi had often played together when they had been younger. Emiko had often been on a visit with her dad when he was still alive. And even though Oishi really didn't wanted to play they had to, and Emiko had won.
"Game and match. Won by Kikumaru, 7-5” the umpire called and both of the players where breathing hardly, but Emiko hadn't collapsed on the court like Oishi had done, instead Emiko had walked to the bench.
“Oi Kiku-chan did it!” Aiko-senpai and some of the other senpai's had gathered around Emiko, but her attention had been dragged against two boys who were seriously late.
They looked alike but their hair color and eye color wasn't the same. One of them having black/greenish hair with brown eyes, the other one had brown hair with golden eyes. Emiko thanked her good eyesight for this knowledge.
“Sorry for being late” the boys said in unison without looking like it did them anything that they were so late. It looked more like they were bored.
“Oh Echizen...” one of the girls from Seigaku whom Emiko was pretty sure was Momoshiro Rima called out. Both of the boys looked at Momoko, that being the nickname Emiko had giving her when she was younger. But the twins didn't say her that much. She had heard the name before, but again wasn't sure from where.
“O-chibiko” both of the boys had suddenly turned towards Emiko and were now pointing at her. She was taking a bit by surprised but then she suddenly remembered.
“Rukas, Masaharu” the flashbacks of endless games towards the Echizen twins suddenly came back to her. She had been beaten so many times by these boys. Their dad Echizen Ryoma had raised them well, and that had annoyed Emiko more than once.
Emiko looked from the Echizen twins towards Amaya, a sudden chill had run down her spine, and she could see why. Most of the schools had been looking at the twins and her.
“Oi, come on” Emiko said while she was looking around “all of you know that I'm Kikumaru Eiji's daughter. I've played against most of you before my dad died” Emiko let her eyes sweep through the crowd of regulars from both schools. She knew she had been younger than 8 when she had been playing against them, but she hadn't forgotten. In the end none of the regulars was surprised by her way of speaking.
On a court some time later
“3-4 Rukas*Niou pair lead” Inui Itaki called. This didn't look good.
“Are you playing with me or with Rukas?” Emiko turned towards her new adopted partner Echizen Masaharu. And she didn't look all to satisfied, but as always Masaharu didn't have any expression of any kind of feelings on his face. Emiko turned again she was really pissed, and without any surprise Amaya could clearly see it.
Amaya looked at Rukas and Masaharu. They had the same expression on their faces and it annoyed her as well, but her team where winning. And as far as she knew she diffidently didn't want to try that Itaki juice, she had only heard bad things about it.
The game continued and Emiko and Masaharu didn't get any points. Emiko seemed more and more mad, and when it was her turn to serve none could return her serve. She had so much power in it, but it was still pinpointed at the line. Amaya didn't dare to be in the way of her serve, she knew just how dangerous it could be. Rukas got to feel it thought because his racket got totally blown away.
“15-0 Emiko to serve” Itaki called
Emiko served again, and again, Amaya didn't go in the way and Rukas' racket got blown away. Suddenly they had gotten a point. Emiko turned toward Itaki
“I'm not going to drink your juice” her voice wasn't as sweet as it had been earlier, it sounded dangerous and sharp.
“So this is the famous Kikumaru Emiko.” The voice was annoying and exulting. Emiko turned to look at Masaharu,
“I thought she had gotten better.” This time it was Rukas talking. Emiko had only lost one game out of the four she had been playing against Momoko. She glared at the Echizen twins but took a deep breath. She needed to stay calm.
”I'm sure she can't win” Aiko-senpai said, but the normal confidence was somewhat missing
“She's not as good as people think she is.” One of the Echizen voices sounded
“No she is way better.” Amaya said now it was her turn to get mad, and Emiko needed to turn towards her best friend, because Amaya didn't have as shorts of temper as Kirihara may have, but when someone was messing with her best friend she could totally loose it.
“Kikumaru, Niou and Echizen 45 laps, for interrupting the games” Kirihara said, knowing his word was just as much justice as their couches. They all stopped whatever they were doing to look towards Kirihara. Emiko was still mad, and she was about to throw her racket. She glared at the Echizens twins. Took a deep breath and placed her racket on a bench. Much more calm than she had been in a long time. Amaya had calmed down to.
“Wait a second Kikumaru, all of you got to have these ones on” she looked at Sanada and saw what he was holding.
“Power ankles!?” Emiko heard Aiko-senpai say with an uncertain voice. None of them liked the power ankles, and diffidently not because it was Sanada's new idea of special training. Amaya and she had started the power ankles, shortly after they got to be regulars. Power ankles and power wrist was one of the first things the two girls got from Sanada.
For Emiko it didn't do much different to be running with Power ankles. She was wearing power ankles and power wrist every day even through school, and every month she got some more weights one, but she could see more of what Sanada was holding.
“More weights?” she asked under her breath.
“It's got to be a punishment right” Sanada said handing her two more weights to her power ankles. She was hiding under her socks.
“This sucks” Amaya was sitting beside her to put the black power ankles on.
“Oh so the little girls can handle it??” Rukas had gotten his power ankles and was sitting beside them to put them on. “I'm sure they can't even run 10 laps with them on” Rukas had always been the most annoying of them, and it hadn't gotten any better in the last few years.
“So let's settle this with a match!” Amaya rose to her feet and the same did Rukas. They looked at each other.
“Well fair enough, tonight after dinner” Masaharu had joined them. Emiko was the last one to get to her feet.
“All of you should better start running or I'll give you 10 more laps” Kirihara's voice was sharp, and the four of them started running.
~ End of Flashback~
“Game, set of match” Itaki called “Rukas*Niou pair win” Emiko sat down on the tennis court breathing hardly.
“That's what I said” Rukas said while laughing. Emiko glared at him but didn't say anything; she had promised Amaya to not do anything. Amaya looked not as wasted as Emiko, but Emiko knew that Amaya and the twins had taken most of their power ankles, while Emiko was still wearing hers, plus the power wrists.
She had been playing the whole game with her right hand. She had still been using her acrobatic play, but wasn't as strong with her right hand as she was with her left. She knew this could be some of the points to why they had been losing but she needed to train her right hand a bit more.
“I'm sorry Haru, but I'm not taking your juice this time” Rukas was laughing while Emiko knew that Itaki went to their court.
“Here you go Emiko” Itaki handed her a glass whose content could be hard to judge, for it was a clear liquid which after she took the glass closer to her nose didn't have any scent. 'He has learned something his dad didn't learn' was in her mind before she saw Masaharu gulping his down. Emiko looked at her glass.
“Just close your eyes and think of drinking water” Masaharu was close to her and Emiko opened her eyes. He took the glass out of her hands; he grabbed her and poured the liquid down. A sudden pain went through her body but that was it. She looked at Masaharu and then at Itaki, what was this?