The Heart of a Snake
(a Prince of Tennis future fic)
Disclaimer: Not mine – damn!
Kaidoh rolled over
and sighed, gradually sliding from asleep to awake
in the early morning light filtering through the curtains. Just one minute more.
cold and damp touched his leg and he sat up with a yelp of surprise,
now fully alert. His eyes fell on the culprit and Kaidoh sighed.
“Stripes… stupid cat!”
The very cute, half grown kitty
Kaidoh felt his resolve crumple as his cat butted its head against his
hand. “You want food, huh?” he grinned and got up from his futon,
scooping the cat up with one hand and tickling it affectionately under
the chin. “Always hungry…”
Yawning, Kaidoh padded to his
kitchen/dining area and, setting Stripes down, started to put together
breakfast for himself and his companion. He smiled down as the cat
weaved between his legs. Just six months ago, Stripes had been a
pathetic bundle of fur that he rescued from the river and now, it was a
happy, healthy cat that adored him. “One happy ending for you,” Kaidoh
put down a bowl of food and then snagged some natto for himself. The
smell from the bowl was obnoxious as usual, but he reminded himself
that it was a healthy breakfast and besides, it tasted FAR better than
any of the noxious juices Inui had ever dreamed up.
through his bowl of sticky natto, a knock sounded at the apartment
door. Grumbling a little to himself, Kaidoh stalked to the door and
“Hazue?” Kaidoh blinked at his
younger brother. “What…?”
have some training this morning,” Hazue Kaidoh stepped inside and
kicked off his shoes. “Thought I’d stop by and thank you for helping me
the other day.”
Kaidoh frowned at Hazue’s back.
all he had done was help Hazue by lending him his bike and that was a
normal thing anyway, this seemed like a feeble excuse. However, he
wasn’t unhappy to see his brother and therefore decided not to question
him. “You’ve had breakfast?”
“Yeah,” Hazue wrinkled his nose at
the half-finished bowl of Natto. “Ugh. You’re still eating that?”
“It’s healthy,” Kaidoh defended his
choice of breakfast.
“It stinks,” Hazue bent down to
stroke Stripes. “Bet you miss Mum’s cooking now.”
come round enough not to miss it too much,” Kaidoh shoveled the rest of
the natto into his mouth and gulped it down, helping the process with a
gulp of water. “Besides, they’re the one’s who got this place for me.”
“True,” Hazue spun on his heel and
face his brother, his expression remarkably like Kaidoh’s in its
intensity. “So who is she?”
Kaidoh almost spat out his drink.
“Wh… wh… what?”
girl you took to Kawamura’s sushi restaurant,” Hazue raised an eyebrow.
“I went there late last night with Mitsuru and Kawamura-san told me you
had dinner with a pretty girl.”
Shit! Kawamura and his big mouth!
Kaidoh swallowed. “Uh, she… she’s just… Ryoma Echizen’s cousin… I met
her at the tournament,” he glared at Hazue. “She’s nobody I’m seeing
“Oh,” Hazue looked closely at his
brother’s red face. “Good thing I didn’t mention her to Mum then.”
gulped. His parents had been dropping steady hints for the past year
about how he should start to think about his future and the ‘nice girl’
he should settle down with as a responsible older son would do. “Yeah,”
he agreed, more fervently than he meant to. “Good thing.”
that it wouldn’t be a bad thing for you to have a date, big brother,”
Hazue smiled. “There’s nothing wrong with living life,” his fingers
brushed along a white scar that marred his forehead. “Especially when…
you don’t know what’ll happen next.”
Kaidoh looked down at his right
hand and heard the squeal of stressed tires again in his memory…
only had his license for a month and the car for just two weeks. It was
a present from his father, but it came with the condition that Hazue
would have part ownership when he got his license and in the meantime
Kaoru was to drive Hazue when needed. He didn’t really need to be
asked, he was used to helping out his little brother.
night he picked Hazue up from a concert. The rain was coming down hard
and it was dark, but with few cars on the road there didn’t seem to be
much danger. Hazue was talking about the concert and Kaidoh nodded at
the appropriate times, his eyes on the road.
The oncoming car
seemed to come out of nowhere, swerving madly along the road and
heading on a collision course with them. There wasn’t much time to
think. To stay on course was suicide, but there wasn’t much space to
move, so Kaidoh took the only option he could and turned the car
sharply away from the other one.
Tires squealed madly. Hazue was
yelling and then there was a sickening crunch. He blacked out for a
while, but it couldn’t have been for long. When he came to, Hazue was
unconscious, blood all over his face and the car was crushed and
crumpled in the front. Kaidoh didn’t stay still for long. Getting his
brother out was the only thing on his mind and somehow he managed it.
Laying Hazue down, he heard the screaming and turned to see the other
car – also a mangled mess – on the other side of the road. The driver…
Kaidoh couldn’t (or didn’t want to) remember much, but he knew the
driver was dead. His passenger was very much alive, but trapped and she
was screaming, desperately trying to get out and away from the corpse.
didn’t think, he simply acted to save her. The door was stuck, but he
wrenched it open and yanked her out. As she sank to her knees, he heard
the sirens and then an even better sound: Hazue’s voice.
“Kaoru… Kaoru… your _hand_!”
glanced at his right hand and as he saw the bloody mess was aware of a
screaming, acute pain that adrenaline had suppressed until now.
Thankfully a blissful oblivion took him and as he tumbled down to the
ground he was barely aware of Hazue catching him.
“Of course if you DID have a
girlfriend then it would really take the pressure off the both of us.”
blasé comment jerked Kaidoh out of his memories and he shot the
teenager a sharp glance. “I don’t see you actively dating,” he
responded curtly and Hazue smirked.
“But you’re the oldest, Kaoru…”
“So who is she?”
nearly jumped five miles straight up when Inui popped up behind him and
spoke. As it was, his drink rocked violently and would have spilled
over his tray had he not caught it in time. “Inui-sempai!” he looked
reproachfully at the tall, spiky-haired young man. Inui had once
organized his training and terrorized the club with his juice and was
now studying nutrition at Kaidoh’s college, which meant they frequently
had lunch together.
“Sorry, sorry,” Inui didn’t sound
very apologetic. “So, who is she?” he repeated, his glasses glinting in
gaped at him. How many people had Kawamura talked to? “Nanako Echizen,”
he said finally as they sat down at one of the cafeteria tables,
knowing that Inui wouldn’t give up until he gained his ‘data’. “Cousin
“Ryoma Echizen,” Inui nodded
knowingly. He pulled out a
small black book and flicked through it. “According to my information,
she took a degree in medicine and now is a nurse at a local hospital.
Still resides at the Echizen home,” he paused and gave Kaidoh a long,
considering look. “Quite a pretty young woman.”
“Feh, what do I care?” Kaidoh bit
savagely into his bread roll, trying to pretend that his ears weren’t
“Care about what?” a calm, mildly
questioning voice intruded and Kaidoh’s blood chilled.
Fuji,” Inui greeted the former tennis prodigy turned psychology
student. “Kaidoh claims he does not care about Ryoma Echizen’s cousin,
“Oh~?” Fuji turned to regard Kaidoh
who was wishing
that he could just disappear, right now. Having Inui on his case was
bad enough, but Syusuke Fuji as well was a horror to even contemplate.
was a bet!” Kaidoh burst out, crumbling beneath their stares. “We made
a bet and she won. That’s ALL!” he stood up abruptly. “And I doubt
we’ll meet again. Excuse me!”
Fuji and Inui watched him stalk
off, radiating irritation, and then looked at each other.
“He seems to be protesting a bit
much,” Inui observed.
“Indeed,” Fuji smiled and rested
his chin on his hand. “This may prove to be very interesting.”
a lousy day,” Kaidoh pushed aside his books and leaned back,
stretching. Curled up on the couch beside him, Stripes lifted his head
and mewed, almost as if he was asking a question. Kaidoh sighed and
gently stroked the kitty, finding the action soothing to his frazzled
nerves. “Kawamura-sempai must have told the entire neighbourhood, not
to mention most of the tennis club!”
He picked up his book and
tried to study again, but for some reason Nanako Echizen’s face kept
springing to his mind, distracting him.
“Fsssuh!” Kaidoh hissed. “Why? It’s
not like anything would happen even if I wanted it to happen anyway.
She’s older and…”
The phone shrilled sharply,
interrupting his list, and he snatched it up. “Kaoru Kaidoh.”
“Oh, thank goodness!”
He almost dropped the phone.
“Yes. Oh, Kaidoh-san, I’m so sorry
to call you like this, especially when it’s so late…”
“That’s… all right…” How did she get my number?
“But I really don’t know who else
She sounded almost near tears and
Kaidoh felt a chill run through him. “Are you all right?” he asked
“Yes… no… oh, Kaidoh-san… I need
To be continued...
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