by Midorino Mizu
Hiyoshi Wakashi's first rival was Hiyoshi Yoshimitsu, his older brother, and the first in a line of handsome, charming people who seemed to be good at everything they tried, seemed to make everything they touched beautiful. Hiyoshi remembered thinking when he was no more than eight that his parents would have done better to name his brother Kin, instead, because if anything in their house was golden, it was the eldest of the Hiyoshi children. Measuring up to that kind of talent was infuriatingly impossible.
He still hadn't defeated Yoshimitsu in kobujutsu yet, and he hadn't tried in the longest time, but Hiyoshi was confident that someday he would; this was one arena where his brother's formidable natural talent would not defeat his own determination. And when that day came...Hiyoshi always smiled at that thought, a curve of his lips that was very nearly a grin.
But Yoshimitsu wasn't quite so bright and blinding and there in his mind anymore; since he'd entered junior high, kobujutsu had faded from being most important, and another rivalry took precedence. When Hiyoshi entered junior high, he joined the Hyoutei Gakuen Chuu tennis club and finally met someone whose star shone more brightly than his older brother, and he finally had a new rival.
Atobe Keigo was only a single year older than Hiyoshi himself, but Hiyoshi could feel emanating from him the same supreme self-confidence and charm that Yoshimitsu had; Atobe was brilliant at everything he did, and he knew it. He was the perfect focus, in Hiyoshi's mind; the one single unbeatable member of the Hyoutei club, who Hiyoshi would one day beat. The perfect rival.
The shame of it was that Atobe didn't feel the same way; Atobe had his own rivalries to consider, with Tezuka Kunimitsu and Sanada Genichirou, and with those on his mind, Hiyoshi was certain he didn't have time to consider the boy trailing doggedly behind him on his own team. But sometimes that was the best way – Hiyoshi had the advantage; he could catch his captain unaware.
A one-sided rivalry was still a rivalry, after all.
"Atobe-buchou!" he called out, and his voice had the sharp, loud tone he used when he helped his father teach some of the younger students at the dojo.
Atobe turned his head, flipping back silky light brown hair and skimming his gaze over the boy behind him. "What is it, Hiyoshi?"
"Play a match against me."
Atobe's icy blue eyes flickered and his lips curved in a smirk. "Very well, Hiyoshi," he drawled. "Meet me on court A in ten minutes."
Hiyoshi's lips curved in a thin, sharp grin and he twirled his racket in his right hand, just a single revolution before he stilled it again. This was just like with Yoshimitsu and the kobujutsu, he thought as his dark eyes followed Atobe's departing figure; it was just like every other rivalry he had ever undertaken.
The first step was acknowledgment.
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