The Heart of a Snake

(a Prince of Tennis future fic)


By Orla


Part Two



Disclaimer: Not mine – damn!



Author’s Note: Apologies for a couple of name misspellings in the first part. That’s what happens when I write at 2am! Hopefully there aren’t any in this part. Although I’m not using any Japanese in this fic, I am keeping the honorifics such as ‘-san’ and ‘-sempai’ since it gets a bit tricky using the English equivalents!

In regards to characterization: Obviously this is seven years after the series, so everyone has grown and matured. Therefore Kaidoh is not exactly the same as the 13-year-old Kaidoh in the anime and Nanako is also a little different (not that the anime gives me much to work with in regards to her!). However, I’m doing my very best to stay true to their characters!

For those wondering about the other Seigaku regulars, don’t worry. They will be in the fic at some point! But this is a Kaidoh centric fic, so naturally he’s getting the lion’s share.



Seated on the bench, a very pleased Kaidoh watched the doubles one match wrap up with a rousing victory for Seigaku. Of course anyone looking at Kaidoh would never have guessed he was pleased since his expression was his usual grim one. However, a close observer would see the slight upturn to his lips and the gleam of satisfaction in his dark eyes. The current Seigaku doubles pairings might not be in the same league as Oishi and Kikumaru, the legendary ‘Golden Pair’, but they were miles better than their opposition. Kaidoh had seen some weaknesses though and made a mental note to go over their training later, but for now he just issued gruff compliments as the sweat-soaked boys approached.

“Go and get a drink,” he advised them. “And put a compress on your wrist, Honda.”

“Yes, coach!” the boys bowed quickly and rushed off, grinning and slapping each other on the back.

Kaidoh slid his gaze to the coach of the opposing team, a man in his fifties with grey hair. The man had also finished talking to his doubles and sent them off, so now he turned and looked at Kaidoh. “A good pair you have there.”

Kaidoh jerked his head in agreement. “Thanks,” he paused and then added. “Yours had a few good moves.”

The older man chuckled. “Fine praise from Kaoru Kaidoh!” his eyes twinkled with amusement and Kaidoh stiffened, wondering if he was being laughed at. He was still not one hundred percent with his position, especially when many of the other coaches were considerably older than him.

“Uh,” he answered eventually, not really sure what else to say. Luckily it was time for singles three and the Seigaku player, a bright-eyed second year named Hayao Yamada, approached the bench. Hayao was a recent regular and clearly felt nervous.

“Someone told me Akira Mitsuichi is really good,” he said, darting glances towards his opponent, a tall second year with longish hair.

Akira. The name twanged in Kaidoh’s memory as he glanced over at the boy being prepped on the other side. Nanako Echizen! He looked around and saw her standing behind the fence directly opposite him. She spotted him looking at her and waved with a cute smile on her face. Kaidoh choked and Hayao looked at him in alarm.

“Coach?”

Kaidoh pulled himself together and scowled in Nanako’s direction before turning his attention back to Hayao. “Just do your best,” he said. “Remember you’re a Seigaku regular,” he added, to bolster the boy’s confidence a bit more.

“Yes, sir!” Hayao drew in a deep breath and smiled. He certainly looked a bit more confident as he walked out onto the court. Kaidoh was reminded a little of Kawamura and the way he used to act until a racket was thrust into his hand. I should stop by and have some sushi there sometime…

The game started with Hayao serving. The boy had a good strong serve and managed to get three by Akira at the very start. Behind Kaidoh the rest of the team cheered loudly. Kaidoh glanced at Akira. The tall boy didn’t seem at all upset and instead had a rather thoughtful look on his face. For some reason Kaidoh felt an uneasy feeling stir in the pit of his stomach.

However, he was able to thrust it aside as Hayao went on to win the first game and continue to show strength in the second. In fact Kaidoh was starting to wonder what drink he should ask Nanako to get him when Akira started his serve.

“Yay! Akira’s twist serve!” a girl squealed from the other side and Kaidoh stiffen.

“Twist…?”

Pow! The ball slammed into the ground in front of Hayao and spun madly, shooting past his face. Kaidoh gaped and stared at Akira who was preparing to serve again. He’d seen this before, MANY times before and been on the receiving end more than once. Akira Mitsuichi was doing Ryoma Echizen’s twist serve! He glanced in Nanako’s direction and once again she waved cheerfully. Kaidoh’s scowl deepened. He was beginning to have the distinct feeling that he’d been had.

Indeed as the match went on, it was clear that Akira knew most (if not all) of Echizen’s special moves and proceeded to wallop poor Hayao soundly. The game ended with Seigaku losing, six games to two.

“Sorry, coach,” Hayao panted miserably.

Kaidoh was rather distracted by Nanako who was making a drinking gesture with one hand. “Huh… uh… no, you played well, Yamada,” he said in a slightly abstracted tone. “We’ll work on your defense later…”

“Yes, coach,” noting that his coach was looking at something beyond him, Hayao glanced over his shoulder and saw Nanako. “Who’s the lady?” he whispered to his teammates later.

“Don’t know, but she seemed really friendly with coach this morning,” one of the others held up his pinky finger. “He denies it but girlfriend, maybe?”

“Shush! If he hears we’ll be running fifty laps or more!”

Apart from singles three, the rest of the match went in Seigaku’s favour and therefore Kaidoh’s mood had improved considerably by the time he’d sent the boys home and was on his way.

“Kaidoh-san!” a breathless voice halted him and he turned to see Nanako running up to him.

“You’re not running away from our bet are you?” she asked once she had her breath back and Kaidoh felt his face heat up.

“N-no, of course not!” he looked around for a vending machine. “Uh… what do you want?”

“Nothing from a vending machine!” she said and then blinked. “Is that what you thought I meant?”

Kaidoh’s mind did a rapid backpedal although his expression remained impassive. “Of course not,” he kept his tone even, but inside he was beginning to panic. Where was he supposed to take her for a drink? He’d never taken a girl out for a drink!

“So where shall we go?”

“You… you want to go now?”

“Of course!”

“Ah…” Shit.

“Ooh… perhaps we should get something to eat as well, I’m awfully hungry…”

“Eat…” Kawamura! Sushi! Food! Drink! “Do you like sushi?”

“I love it!”

“Come with me then,” Kaidoh turned abruptly and walked off, slightly startling Nanako who had to run a little to catch up with him.

“That was a good set of matches,” she said cheerfully. “I’m so pleased Akira did well… although… your player wasn’t upset?”

“Yamada will be fine,” Kaidoh glanced at her and saw genuine concern for the loser in her eyes. “He needs to work on his defense so this was a good lesson for him.”

“Oh good.”

Kaidoh couldn’t contain himself any longer. “How did he know Echizen’s attacks?” he burst out. “The twist serve… the split step…”

“Oh, Akira lives close by our house and he came by a few times and did a bit of practice with Ryoma,” Nanako said off-handedly. “Ryoma says Akira will probably do well since he picks up things quickly, even by observation.”

He stared at her in flabbergasted rage. She knew! When she made the bet she knew that this kid would be using Echizen’s lethal attacks. He’d definitely been had. Kaidoh hissed softly and thrust his hands into his pockets.

“Kaidoh-san? Are you all right?”

“Fine,” he said shortly. Damn woman…

“So are you studying at a college?” Nanako asked as the silence stretched between them.

“Yes.”

“Studying…?”

Kaidoh stared steadily at the ground before him. “Veterinary science,” he mumbled, feeling his face heat up again and bracing himself for her giggles. “I’m in my second year.”

“Oh that’s lovely,” Nanako said softly and he stared at her.

“You… you think so?”

“Yes,” she said firmly, meeting his gaze with no hint of derision. “There aren’t many people, men or women, who care enough about animals. I think it’s great that you’re studying to be a vet.”

Well, he could hardly be angry with her NOW. “Thanks,” Kaidoh said. He still wished the ground would open up and swallow him, but he didn’t feel so bad all in all. Ask her what she does, a little voice nagged in his mind, strike up a proper conversation, you idiot! Kaidoh swallowed, opened his mouth and then ended up hissing again, unable to break through his natural reticence.

How the hell was he going to make it through a meal with her?

xxxx

“Thank you very much for taking me to the restaurant and escorting me home,” Nanako bowed.

“It was nothing,” Kaidoh bowed in return. “Er… Good night,” he took a few steps back.

“It was lovely meeting you, and Kawamura-san,” Nanako said smiling, one hand on the front gate. “I really enjoyed our conversation.”

But you did most of the talking… along with Kawamura… “Yes,” Kaidoh stepped back even more. “Good night,” he said again and his face burned.

Nanako laughed. “Good night, Kaidoh-san,” she waved and went inside the gate, her quick footsteps soon fading away.

Kaidoh stood there for a while and then blinked. What an odd encounter. Echizen’s cousin, of all people… He shook himself and turned his face towards his own home. Well, it wasn’t likely that he’d be meeting her again.

Strange that the thought would make him feel so… down.

xxxx

End note: Originally I had a scene where they’re in the sushi restaurant with Kawamura, but it got chopped because it really just started to waffle and there wasn’t much point to it in the end. Sorry to all those who wanted to see Kaidoh suffer through his dinner!



Go on to Part Three

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