Never Ending Promise [00]

The idea to use banners for different stories is not originally mine. I got it from Jeyna Grace. She has a Tom Riddle x OC story up, as well as her own fiction. Visit her page at jeynagrace.wordpress.com and tell her I said hi😉

A/N: Ohohoho…Here I am with the (hopefully) final revised chapters…I’m sorry, I got really caught up with other stuff…

For the new readers, welcome. The story hasn’t been told yet and I sure hope you’ll find this interesting enough to keep on reading. Of course, reviews are greatly appreciated (to the point that they’re the ones used for living XD)

To what I would want to call as the “patrons”, welcome back.

Text – thoughts, flashbacks, phone calls, or emphasis

Text – other language (English, etc.)

Text – techniques, emphasis, or songs

Text – written

Story Prologue

Never Ending Promise

A girl was thrown forward, her short lilac hair brushing against her cheeks. Her lips were still bleeding from the punch she had gotten from those bullies. Already in grade school and still the object to beat up. It was always the same. They would get into large groups, corner her and beat her up until she gave them the answers to that day’s homework.

Which she never did.

That was why she always ended up a bloody pulp. What did they take her for, an idiot? Why would she give them her homework? Not because she was a few years younger meant they could do everything they wanted.

The dastards snatched her bag and emptied it out on the ground. A wry smile played upon the girl’s lips when they only found pens, paper and an extra notebook. One of them saw her and kicked her gut hard. She shut her eyes, willing her tear ducts be inactive but failing.

“Where’s your homework?” their apparent leader asked.

Another wry smile accompanied her curt reply. “It’s what’s holding you up.”

After a few more beatings, she had finally outsmarted them by doing all of her homework at school and leaving them all in her locker. Since she was the sole person with knowledge of her locker combination, the bullies had no access to her homework. Not that they were even smart enough to find out what she was doing.

They grunted and kicked her all the more.

“Get away from her!”

The bullies stopped kicking her, giving the girl a chance to look up at her savior. Standing in the corner was a boy, appropriately aged for his grade level, unlike her. Second grade and a family friend, he assumed it his duty to protect her. His almost feminine features aside, he was pretty strong. After all, he was renowned in the field of tennis. And if the absence of his smile was any indication, he was not too happy about the scene.

The girl tried to sit up. He was enraged when he saw the thin line of blood trickling from the corner of her lips. Letting out a long cry, he tackled the leader of the bullies. It took several minutes for him to wound the big kid, but when he did, the brawny bully cried all the way home. Seeing their leader defeated, the cowards all ran.

The boy helped the girl up. “Are you okay?”

The girl nodded. “Used to it.”

He tilted his head. “Are you sure?” Another nod. “I’m going with you on your way home in case they come back.”

The girl winced as he applied a wet cloth on her face. As usual, they were at the playground where they would spend time just sitting there or, in this case, mending her wounds. They walked toward the swings and sat there, not saying anything until the sun started setting. The girl looked at the sky, crimson, orange and yellow, made a decision and held the boy’s hand.

“Next time you see me near the entrance to the school, I’ll be an entirely different person,” she started, “I won’t be the same kid that they beat up. I’ll be someone stronger.”

He tilted his head in confusion. “But won’t I see you tomorrow?”

The girl disregarded this statement of his and continued. “I’ll be someone you, aniki, and oneesama can be proud of. I’ll learn how to play tennis properly so we can have a decent match.”

“But we’re already proud of you. You’re a straight A student. Besides, every time we play tennis, I enjoy our game, and that’s what’s important”

He was once again disregarded. “I’ll try to be like you, and I’ll get into sports and become a Regular player!”

There was a very long pause, after which the boy made his own promise. He held the girl’s hand in his, saying, “When I do see you again, we’ll have a match as you said. I also promise to protect you and not let you get hurt. Nobody’s going to harm you as long as I’m here.”

The girl took one long look at him, gave him a hug and said goodbye.

He had absolutely no idea that that would be their last meeting in a long time.

 “What’s the name of the school again?” a guy asked the person beside him typing away on the laptop perched on the armrest. He ran slender fingers through violet-tinted blue bangs before tossing them in a carefree manner, eyeing the other all the while. As usual, there little to no expression on the familiar pale face, and it was only the sheer knowledge of that person’s actual sexuality that kept him from wondering about it. Not that he couldn’t say the same for himself.

A plane stewardess was ogling at the pair from a few seats in front, and he unconsciously started flirting. With looks as good as his, it was not surprising that they had attracted more than the usual passing looks. His growth spurt started early, and though his age might surprise people, he had been mistaken for at least a high school student more than once. An exterior not easily fazed, sharp wit, an equally sharp tongue coupled with jawdropping looks fit for a girl’s dream shoujo manga usually warranted other’s admiration – if not idolism. Too bad he was such a cocky bastard.

“Seigaku,” the other answered without even looking away from the screen or keeping the pen away from the file tucked inconspicuously inside the folder sitting on the space between their seats. That person took their dinner from the still ogling stewardess and flashed her a smile, enjoying the blush it got out of the older woman.

If only she knew who it was she was blushing madly for…

Like him, the person beside him was unusually androgynous – either people took that person to be a masculine girl, or, most commonly, mistook her for a very appealing boy with long hair. Sometimes it annoyed him, half the time he was highly amused – and manipulated a lot of people like that, enjoying their reactions when they finally found out the truth. Of course the latter would only happen when they were done having  fun.

And if the usual ‘fun’ was any indication, both of them were also very sadistic.

“Akari-neechan.” The girl looked at her cousin with an inquiring look. “I don’t want to use my real last name.”

“Again?” A smirk. “You really don’t like your real identity being exposed more than necessary, do you?”

“Think of it this way,” he said. “I like it as much as you like being chased by rabid fans.”

The smirk got even wider. “All it took was five years for us to rub off on each other.”

 “What the hell happened to you?” the girl’s then fourth grade brother asked when he saw his sister’s wounded face.

“Watch your tongue,” her half-sister’s (highly attractive) best friend warned.

“Who did this to you?” her brother continued. “Did those kids do it again? I swear I’ll-”

“Aniki, shut it!” Thankfully, her other half-sister, first grade, had seen her imotou’s exasperated face.

“But those kids are too much!”

“Don’t worry,” the girl said. “They’re not doing it again.”

Her eldest sister, a high school freshman, came down from the second floor, surprising her siblings as usual. “Elaborate.”

The girl took a deep breath to steady her nerves. “Remember the scholarship Uncle Tsunashi and Aunt Arzelle offered me?”

“The one where you’ll get supported by them?”

“…The one where you get an allowance, choose your school, have access to everything plus luxury…,” her brother said dreamily.

“ …But you’ll be staying in America, hours away from us,” her half sister pointed out.

“I’m taking it.”

She could remember all too clearly the incredulous looks on her siblings’ faces when she said that.

The eldest sighed through her nose. “Give me three valid reasons and you’re clear.”

Akari very clearly twitched when she saw what was to be their house while they resided in Japan. And while the mansion they had just left in another continent was exponentially more expansive, there was no saying the place wasn’t…

“Such grandiose displays of wealth,” she murmured, giving her cousin a pointed look. The boy raised a delicate brow at her in mock innocence.

“This shack is yours. Don’t look at me like that,” he said in a dismissive tone as he walked – sashayed – into the solid oak doors being held open by his butler.

Shack. She twitched yet again. Pompous, air-headed, cocky, and annoyingly skilled enough to be excused for it. Why did she need to be with two people who were like that? Wait, scratch that. The whole of their group was like that, whether originally or just having been influenced.

Sighing in defeat, she followed her butler. Once they had passed through the ballroom, the grand staircase, and several confusing corridors, the door was pushed open and led to the room she would be using in for the duration of their stay. The same room in which, as he had done back in their old residence, her cousin was already occupying the bed. There was no helping it; it was a habit. They slept on the same bed, despite the many number of rooms in the place. And though they were far from cuddling on a nightly basis (seeing as they slept on opposite sides of the fit-for-seven bed), Akari would always wake up with her cousin only an arm’s reach away from her.

Their respective butlers were already beginning to organize their things. She sat down on the other end of the bed, slowly stretching her horribly cramped muscles and closed her eyes once she was done.

 “Akari-neechan.”

“Hmn?” she asked, blinking open her lids.

“Let’s fix my papers.”

Akari smiled fainlty, seeing his sleepy eyes. “Going to take a bath first. That okay with you?”

When Akari emerged from the humongous bathroom three and a half hours later, her cousin was already sleeping.

“As expected,” Akari muttered, getting her laptop, and beginning the work on their documents. As the files were loading, she combed her bangs with her fingers, letting them just slide due to the gravity when she was halfway through.

It was not until the first rays of the sun peeked through the mountain range that she considered taking a break.

“Morning, Hayato,” she greeted as usual when her cousin rose from the bed.

“You, as usual, did all the work yourself.” Despite his sleepy godlike face, Akari knew that he was itching for work. “Forty-two more hours ‘till you get deranged.”

Akari stood up, stretched and said, “I’m already crazy. Bipolar, remember? Besides, my body’s limit for being deprived of sleep is not one-twenty hours.”

Her cousin smirked and went into the bathroom with some clothes. When he came out, he was wearing a blue-collared tennis shirt and dark shorts. He climbed on the bed and peered over Akari’s shoulder. She was switching windows, applications, documents, and updating profiles on what appeared to be junior high school boys. She closed the file labeled “Shittenhouji” and switched to the remaining document that remained.

“Seishun Gakuen Student Master List. Sub-classification: Tennis Club,” Hayato read aloud. His eyes immediately zeroed in on the captain, sapphire blue orbs narrowing. Akari apparently noticed this and immediately scrolled down to the bottom parts of the file.

“Yamato Rai. Class One, Freshman.”

 “Is he the one who gets into the Regulars’ Lineup?”

“If he gets to beat everyone in his block.”

 “So tell me…” Hayato stood and made his way to the small refrigerator, rummaging for something to drink. “…Just how will someone be in two places at a time?”

“Time management,” Akari answered, smirking. She switched applications and was presented with a picture of a male. Another application switch showed him in full 3D, in profile view.

“The things you can do with computers…” Hayato shook his head. “If you’re up to it, there’s a tennis competition later. I’m in the Juniors’ Division. I think I saw that guy’s name in the Seniors’.”

Akari blinked. “Excuse me?”

His lips curled up to form a sickeningly sweet smile. “You won’t be mad at me for hacking into something without so much as a firewall, would you? The school’s files are surprisingly easy to access.”

Akari shook her head in defeat and headed for the bathroom with her clothes in hand. “I don’t doubt he’ll be there.”

Seated in the middle of a nearly empty train was a raven-haired boy with stoic onyx eyes. His eyes were closed, but he was not unaware of the people surrounding him. A girl sat nervously beside him, her long brown hair covering her face. Several boys stood before them, all of whom were dressed in tan suits with green ties. The boy with orange hair, standing in the middle of the group, held a light blue tennis racquet.

“Idiots, you don’t even know your own grip?” he mocked, swinging his racquet back and forth. Each swing came within centimeters of the girl’s face. “If you want to do topspin, you have to use the Western Grip. This grip is when you hold the racquet like you are shaking someone’s hand, with your thumb in front.”

“That’s why you are the ace at Kitagoe Tennis Club,” one of his friends complimented. The orange-haired boy nodded his head in approval, continuing to swing his racquet, causing the girl to close her eyes in fright.

“You’re too loud.”

The three stopped their racket and looked at the person who had told them off. Sitting not far from where the raven-haired boy was, a rather petite guy sporting a pink jacket, white cap, and tennis bag looked up.

 “I can’t believe I just got told off by a short high school kid,” he said, annoyed. Suddenly, the train hit a sharp turn, causing the entire compartment to shake and the orange-haired boy dropped his racquet. He bent over, cursing, to pick it up.

“If you didn’t know, picking up a racquet is the correct Western Grip.”

“What?” he asked, turning to the other boy, the raven-haired farther away.

“The grip you were referring to is known as the Eastern Grip, or the handshake grip. Some people tend to mix up the two,” both boys answered simultaneously.

The two strangers looked at each other, sizing the other up. The intensity of their gazes prevented the orange-haired know-it-all from retorting. Before anything else happened, the train stopped and the taller raven-haired guy got out, leaving the orange-haired boy yelling behind him.

“Do you know which way it is to KakinokizakaTennisGarden?” the same boy asked fifteen minutes later. Standing at approximately 158cm, roughly five feet two inches, wearing his black cap and a blue jacket, and a black tennis bag on his shoulders with “Yamato R” written on it, he was giving off a pretty good impression on the brown-haired girl he was asking – who was also the same person from the train compartment earlier.

“Oh, it’s you from the train! I’m going to Kakinozaka Tennis Garden too, with my grandmother. Are you playing? This is my first time watching tennis,” the girl with long brown hair said.

“So where is it?” he asked bluntly.

“Ah, sorry. Um…You use the South Exit and go straight,” she said, looking at the orange map for directions.

“South Exit? Thanks,” he said, walking off.

Moments later, another guy, this time with greenish-black hair, a white cap and a red-accented pink jacket with “Ryoma E” written on his black tennis bag, came up and asked the same question. He received the same answer and walked off.

 “You’re late,” the girl said to the lady who had jogged up to her fifteen minutes later. “By thirty minutes.”

“Sorry,” she said. She chuckled at Sakuno when her face turned bright pink in frustration. “Let’s go, Sakuno.”

The old lady led her to the North Exit before Sakuno suddenly stopped. She had begun to look uneasy. “But this is the North Exit.”

“Yes,Kakinokizaka Tennis Gardenis just off the North Exit,” her grandmother said, pointing ahead of them. “Let’s hurry or we’re going to miss some great matches.”

The onyx-eyed boy walked out of the tent, his cap blocking his eyes, disappointed that he lost his match by default. He walked down the main pathway, stopping occasionally when a good point was being played. He decided to lie on the grass and quietly sip some apple-flavored Ponta. Beside him, the greenish-black-haired boy was sleeping.

“Hey, it’s that guy from the train,” came a man’s voice. A soda can flew between the two boys, landing a few feet outside the trash can.

Both boys sat up, finding the three people from the train standing behind them. The one who had shown the wrong grip had changed from his tan-colored uniform and wore purple-and-white tennis shirt with long maroon shorts.

“It looks like he’s ready to leave,” one of the orange-haired boy’s friend said. “He most likely lost.”

The orange-haired boy stuck out his racquet, lifting the other’s cap, revealing his stoic onyx eyes. “I’m seeded in the Seniors’ Tournament, and also one of the people aiming for the trophy.”

“Don’t give me that look of yours,” he said, quickly angered by the onyx-eyed one’s apparent nonchalance. “It’s way too early for a kid like you to talk to me about tennis, you ignorant brat!”

“What do you think you’re doing?” the one with hazel eyes asked in a low, warning tone. He stopped the racquet that the tan boy had swung directly at Yamato’s face.

“Let’s go,” one of his friends suggested. The three older boys turned around and started walking away.

“Did you learn the grip yet?” the onyx-eyed taunted. The older boys turned to see an impression of a smirk on his stoic face. “If not…”

“I’ll teach you what tennis is all about,” both boys said simultaneously.

“Tokime, get dressed,” the orange-haired guy said angrily. “We’re going to teach these brats a thing or two about tennis.”

“Sasabe, you still have matches remaining in the tournament,” the last member of Sasabe’s group reminded, uneasy. He had a foreboding feeling, especially with the way the two younger kids were acting. “Do you think this is a good idea?”

“This will be a good warm up,” Sasabe sneered. “Ready to play?”

“Yes Sasabe,” Tokime answered, having changed into an outfit consisting of a white-and-black tennis shirt and knee-length black shorts.

“I’m going easy on you,” both boys heard the other mutter.

“I don’t play Doubles,” the more stoic of the two said when he saw that the other pair was preparing for it.

“Why? Afraid you’ll screw up and blame it on the other one, like beginners usually do?” Sasabe sneered.

The one with onyx orbs pulled down his cap and began stretching.

“Best of one set, Sasabe to serve,” Sasabe’s friend announced. The match was about to commence.

“You’re both okay with no referee? We’ll self-judge, okay?” Sasabe said. Both boys got ready for his serve. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you a handicap. Here, an underhand serve.”

He did as he said, hitting a slow serve with a very high bounce.

“Play seriously,” the hazel-eyed warned, hitting the ball past Tokime, far into the left-hand corner of their court.

“0-15.”

“So this is where he went off to,” Sakuno’s grandmother said as they watched outside the wire fence. “This certainly looks interesting.”

“Don’t you think you should stop this?” Sakuno nervously asked. “It looks like they’re playing two senior high school students. What if they get hurt?”

“What are you saying?” the older woman asked. “Didn’t you see that boy’s return?”

“Sasabe, maybe you should actually try to win,” Tokime suggested with hints of annoyance.

“Shut up!” Sasabe snapped. “Anyone can ace a return if it is an underhand serve.”

“Yup, there are those who make excuses for losing,” the hazel-eyed said to his partner, making sure it was loud enough for the others to hear.

“You brat!” Sasabe served in the onyx-eyed one’s direction.

“That’s Sasabe’s Bullet Serve!” one of his friends called from the sidelines.

“Much too slow.” He returned the serve back easily, using twice the power.

Sasabe managed to hit the ball back, though he looked very shocked. They started a rally before Sasabe hit the ball towards the hazel-eyed one, who instantly hit an overhead smash, sending the ball directly in between Tokime’s feet, ending the point.

“0-30.”

“I know!” Sasabe yelled to his friend. “Stop keeping count!”

“Amazing…” Sakuno admired quietly from the sidelines as the boy ended the point.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” her grandmother smirked.

The younger girl looked up at her grandmother. “Do you know him, Grandma?”

“The other one is known as the Prince of Tennis,” the elderly lady elaborated.

“Prince of Tennis?” Sakuno repeated, tilting his head in confusion.

“Echizen Ryoma, twelve years old. He managed to win four consecutive Junior Tournaments in theUnited States. The other one, I have no idea of, as of now.”

“0-40.”

“Ryoma is the son of one of my students,” she continued. “When his family and he moved back toJapan, he said he would compete in this tournament even though he isn’t known here. I told him that if he was that strong, he should ender the Junior instead of the Midget Division, but he said he won’t compete unless it was in the Seniors’ Division.”

“Game won by Echizen-Yamato pair.”

“You’re appearing in the finals, right?” Yamato taunted.

“Let’s end this quickly then,” Ryoma said, finishing his sentence. He started to bounce the ball as he got ready to serve from the baseline.

“Echizen Service.”

Ryoma threw the ball and served, sending it speeding in Sasabe’s direction. Sasabe could not even move as the ball flew past him.

“15-0.”

Ryoma served the ball again, this time towards Tokime. The opponent hit the ball back, letting him and Sasabe to rush to the net. Ryoma hit the ball towards Sasabe. He volleyed back, sending the green sphere out of Ryoma’s reach into the alley.

“30-40.”

After Ryoma’s serve, both high school students ran to the net. Ryoma hit a high lob that flew high over their heads and landed right before the baseline.

“Deuce,” Ryoma said, his face unreadable. It was such an impassive face,, it was freaking the two older players.

“Do you think we should stop?” Tokime asked his partner quietly. “If we continue, we will both be laughed at if we lose to an elementary school student and a short high school kid.”

Sasabe gritted his teeth and awaited Ryoma’s next serve. As Sasabe returned the serve, they both approached the net. Like the rally before, Ryoma set a high lob to the baseline. Sasabe ran after it this time, still not reaching it. The ball bounced directly in front of the baseline again.

“Out,” Sasabe called. “Too bad, it was very close.”

‘If there’s something I hate…’ Yamato thought, gripping his racquet tighter. ‘…It’s dirty players.’

“Advantage Sasabe.”

Ryoma served the ball to Tokime, and they both approached the net. Tokime hit the ball to Yamato, who hit the ball toward Sasabe. Sasabe hit an overhead smash, aiming it back at Yamato. The onyx-eyed lobbed the ball, aiming for the baseline.

“Baka!” Sasabe yelled. “As long as I’m judging, all those shots will be out.”

Both boys on the opposite court had smirks on their faces. They watched the ball stop immediately on the baseline, spinning on the ground for a few seconds before slowing down.

“Wh-What happened?” Tokime stuttered. Both high school boys looked equally shocked.

“He’s good,” Sakuno’s grandmother commented. “He added a slice to the lob, allowing it to stop right before the baseline.”

“Hey…” They looked at the half-stoic, half-mocking face of Yamato. “…Was that in?”

Several minutes later, the score reached 3-0, with the Echizen-Yamato pair leading.

“You arrogant brat,” Sasabe screamed. He then did something unbecoming of a tennis player; he threw his racquet straight at Ryoma’s face. The latter had just hit another lob to the far left corner before the racquet made contact with his face. Yamato’s eyes widened a fraction when he heard how solidly the racquet hit the other. Ryoma fell clutching his face, letting his racquet go.

Yamato ran to Ryoma and kneeled next to him. Ryoma was on fours, drops of crimson blood falling on the green court from where they dripped down his fingers.

“Sorry, sorry,” Sasabe apologized with a sneer. He bent over the net to pick up his fallen racquet. “My hand slipped.

“Ryoma, are you okay?” Sakuno, who had just ran into the court, asked.

“Do not come onto the court during a game,” Ryoma dictated. He pushed her away and stood up.

Yamato followed Ryoma’s lead. He stood and looked straight at the offending player. “Your grip is weak.”

“Mada mada dane,” the two chorused, adjusting their caps. Ryoma still had a thin line of blood flowing between his eyes from where the racquet had hit him.

“5-0.”

Ryoma bounced the ball a few times to get ready for his serve. Yamato waited patiently at the net, poised for action. Ryoma crossed his right foot over his left, bent his knees, leaned to the right, and twisted his shoulders as he tossed the ball. He jumped and swung at the ball, sending it flying over the net.

The ball landed in the middle of the service box. It bounced, aimed directly at Sasabe’s face but missing by a few calculated millimeters.

“15-0,” Yamato announced, a small smirk on his face.

“What…was that?” Tokime asked in awe.

Ryoma moved to the other side, using the same serve to aim at the other player. Once again, the ball bounced halfway in the service box before hitting Tokime in his face, leaving a bright red mark.

“Twist Serve?” Sasabe’s friend asked. “Was that the Twist Serve?”

“30-0,” Ryoma called out, bouncing the ball. He served toward Sasabe, this knocking him when the ball hit his face.

“40-0.” Ryoma got ready to serve again, staring straight at Sasabe. “Go to hell.”

“Stop!” Tokime pleaded, clutching his head in the middle of the service box.

“Baka,” Ryoma muttered as his serve bounced centimeters from Sasabe’s face and once over the terrified high school student.

“Game and set won by Echizen-Yamato pair.”

“Fools!” Sasabe spat. “We weren’t playing seriously. We could beat you if we played one more set!”

“Sasabe, just stop,” Tokime very sensibly warned. Both he and Yamato had gotten off the court, leaving Ryoma and Sasabe.

“Don’t you get it, baka?” Yamato asked Sasabe. “You can beat neither me nor him, however hard you try.”

“What are you talking about?” Sasabe asked.

Yamato pointed to Ryoma. “He’s left-handed.”

Ryoma let go of his racquet and caught it with his left. Using his dominant hand, he served and made it land between Sasabe’s legs. The terrified high school student fell over in shock and fright.

“I-I quit!” Sasabe stammered. He and his friends ran to the nearest exit.

“It’s big,” Hayato commented as they stood in front of the junior high building. “I’ll get our uniforms. Stroll around a bit.”

“Meet at the tennis court?” Akari asked and received an affirmative.

As she followed the path to the courts, Akari heard the distant whacking of racquets against tennis balls. She marveled at the number of trees that were older than her, and she could not wait to get to the lake she heard gushing by forty, fifty, yards away.

“…Fuji, Singles Two. Tezuka, Singles One.”

Akari looked up. The person speaking was the same elderly woman from a few days back. She stood in front of a row of boys, whom Akari assumed were that month’s Regulars, based on their number.

Their backs were turned to her so she could not see their faces. Even though, several people caught her attention.

“Talk about growth spurt…” Akari muttered as she looked at them. She herself was only a head shorter than most Juniors and Seniors, but she still had to look up to some people—literally.

“Excited?”

Akari almost jumped. In her astonishment, he had not heard or felt him coming as she normally did. And it unnerved her a lot.

“Sure you can do our task here?” he asked, not quite oblivious of his cousin’s sentiments.

Akari nodded. “My ankle’s not that bad anymore. My wrist is also healing.”

“What idiot would even think of kicking down a two-inch-thick door made of pure titanium alloy?” he asked, voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Well at least we’re alive,” Akari countered.

A moment of silence passed, broken only by the Tennis Club’s activities. Finally, Hayato broke it.

“Let’s go. We have so many things to prepare for.”

“Yeah…and they don’t,” Akari said ironically, smirking, gaining her a raised brow from Hayato.

Notes and Terminologies:

*Names retain their usual order in Japanese: surname first, given name-last.

*In Japan, elementary is from first to sixth grade; middle school/junior high school is from first year to third year; high school is from first year to third year.

*Aniki [あにき/兄貴] means ‘older brother’ in Japanese. It may be attached to a name but can stand alone. I still can’t figure out if this is more formal, casual, or indicates a closer relationship than oniisan [おにいさん/お兄さん] or niisan [にいさん/兄さん] (which is exactly like oniisan, just without the honorific “o”). Although if it’s family relations, I think annue [あんうえ/案上] is the most formal for older brother. Short for aniki is ani [あに/兄] (like niisan is for oniisan).

*Neesan [ねえさん/姉さん], oneesan [おねえさん/お姉さん], aneki [あねき/姉貴], and ane [あね/姉] means ‘older sister’. See above for degree of usage.

*For more casual conversations, you can use <name>-nee/nii

*Regulars are like the varsity players of a certain sport. Called as such because they are the ones who usually participate in competitions and tournaments.

*Mada mada da ne. [まだまだだね。] Ryoma’s catchphrase. It means, “You have a ways to go”, “Not yet”, “You still have lots more to work on” and the like. (Japanese is rather fickle; it’s not too specific, so one sentence can have a lot of interpretations.)

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