Chapter 1: Spawn
Sanada Akihiro, son of Yukimura Seiichi and Sanada Genichirou, was dropped off for his first day at Rikkai Dai Fuzoku. Waving pleasantly to his parents as they drove off, he adjusted the strap of his tennis bag and took a look around. "Sugee......" he breathed out with a calm smile before gripping his school bag and walked off to the nearest school building.
"Out of the way..." a boy muttered from behind him, bumping his shoulders on purpose as he walked inside the campus. “Be even slower and you're going to be late on the first day Akihiro...” he reminded as he stomped off.
Akihiro blinked when the boy moved past him before chuckling and jogging up after him. "Matte yo, Keiji!" he called out after him.
Yanagi Keiji, the son of the known data master, Yanagi Renji, and devil ace, Kirihara Akaya, merely spared his friend a single glance before walking up again. "How the hell did your 'mother' make sure that we were in the same class again?" he asked with a frown. "My dad said I shouldn't be surprised though."
Akihiro moved up alongside Keiji as they made their way to their classroom, smiling fondly, patting him on the shoulder. "Considering your father and his analytical skills I'd agree with him," he pointed out. "And I don't think you should even bother asking how my Kaa-san manages to pull strings anymore. His reputation here is a little.... impossible to refuse," he added with a chuckle.
"Add the fact that your father is who he is....persuasion of anything to their advantage goes from 99.4% to 100%," Keiji told him with a sigh. "Until now their reputations do wonders." Reaching the second floor of the building, they soon found their classroom. "If you get some fanboys and fangirls on the first day here, I will not be held responsible for my actions," he told him. "And as long as you don't sic me at them again, everything will be fine," he added as he slid open the door.
Akihiro nodded. "And as expected you inherited your father's brains, Keiji," he added before stepping into the classroom with him. "And I don't think it would even be possible for me to attract fans so quickly," he argued, quickly sliding the door closed once he was inside the room to stop any cheers from erupting behind them.
"Obtaining fans on the first day...." Keiji said as he stepped aside. "Probability: 89.8%," he told him just before a hoard of boys and girls from all year levels suddenly approached him, opening the door that they had just closed. "And the probability of people trying to approach me...." he told himself before smirking evilly and looking behind him. “82.3%” he finished as he radiated an evil aura that sent chills down everyone's spines, except for Akihiro, causing them to step back from the pair. "After you Aki," he said with a gesture of his hand towards two empty chairs.
"You didn't need to scare them like that, Kei," Akihiro scolded as he picked one of the two seats and set his school bag on top, lowering his tennis bag.'I would have easily done that myself,' he added to himself as he turned to the group and flashed them a seemingly innocent smile. At this, the hoard sans their classmates zoomed out the door and slid it closed behind them, causing Akihiro to chuckle as he took his seat. "That was interesting~"
"I did nothing," Keiji said in defense as he took the seat beside Aki. "The tryouts for the tennis team are later after school. Even if they announced that they're not going to take any freshmen this year, you're still going to try out aren't you?" he asked. 'I don't even need to calculate the chance that he will,' he added in his mind.
"That's about the only reason I brought this along," Akihiro replied, jerking a thumb to his tennis bag. "And there wasn't any announcement like that," he added with a slight frown.
"You didn't read the flyer," Keiji said as he handed a piece of bond paper to his seatmate. "Here...ripped it off the bulletin board that we passed earlier," he said before inwardly smirking.
Akihiro took a moment to read the piece of paper before crumpling it and tossing it into the nearby trash bin. "I'm not worried about that. It can always be arranged," he told his best friend reassuringly, glancing over to him with a calm smile. "That's where you come in, Kei~" he said promptly. "We're going to go hunt down some senpais during lunch break."
Feeling a twitch work its way out, Keiji looked at his friend carefully. "I don't like that smile of yours....." he said before backing away a bit. "You're not going to make me do something weird...are you?" he asked.
"Saa, you'll have to wait until lunchtime," Akihiro said innocently. Chuckling for a moment as the class started settling down, he leaned towards Keiji and added, "You owe me for beating you at tennis two days ago."
"I was hoping that you wouldn't use that against me," Keiji admitted sheepishly before looking up as the teacher called them for introductions. "Percentage that the teacher will cringe once he finds out who you are, 100%," he muttered over to Aki.
Akihiro chuckled mutely before saying, "To you as well."
The introductions commenced as the teacher began reading off the attendance list. "Sanada........" the teacher did a double take on the family name before clearing his throat and starting again. "Sanada Akihiro-kun," he called out.
"Hai," Akihiro replied, rising to his feet and turned to his classmates. Greeting them with a warm smile, he proceeded to introduce himself.
When Keiji's turn came, a deadly silence enveloped the teacher who immediately went pale. "90% chance that you're assuming that my mother is Kirihara Akaya...." Keiji said as he smirked. "You're right," he said deviously.
"Kei, stop scaring the poor teacher," Akihiro scolded with a calm smile. "You might give sensei a heart attack, it’s only the first day of the school year," he added.
"Of course Aki," Keiji said with a chuckle before bowing at their teacher. "Yoroshiku onegaishimasu," he said before sitting back down.
Homeroom period swept by quickly followed by the next few classes. It wasn't until lunchtime that Akihiro and Keiji made their way to the cafeteria and spotted the members of the tennis club. With a calm smile, Akihiro gently pushed Keiji towards them. "Go on then," he instructed.
'It's not like I have much of a choice now...'he thought ruefully in his mind before stepping towards the table of the tennis club members. "Excuse me, senpai-tachi.....but are you the members of the tennis club?" he asked politely.
"Yes we are. Want an autograph or something, freshman?" one of them cockily asked.
Keiji smiled. "Not really. I came here to ask if you could possibly let me and my friend try out for the tennis club later."
"Didn't you see the announcement? We're not accepting any more freshmen starting this year," another of them explained.
"So go find some other club to try out for," a third one added.
Inwardly sighing Keiji smiled sensually. "You don't understand senpai..." he said as he lowered his voice a bit. “We have to get in the club no matter what,” he told them as he leaned closer to the third year that was just in front of him.
The third year, Akasawa Ishi, smirked. "No matter what?" he asked again before looking at his teammates slyly. "Willing to do anything just to get you and your friend a chance to try out?"
Keiji nodded. "Anything."
Another of the seniors, Matsue Kino, smirked and pulled Keiji onto his lap. "Then stay with us for lunch!" he exclaimed.
Akihiro smiled at how things were going, deciding to leave Keiji with things. "Hai, so I'll see you for afternoon classes Kei," he told him before going off to have lunch.
"Ah no fair! Buchou already snatched him up!" Another of the seniors whined.
'So he's the captain,' Keiji thought with a mental nod before waving at Aki as he left. 'I'll just take this chance to gather data on all of you then and trounce you after class,' he told himself before chuckling inwardly, deciding to play along with the seniors.
As soon as the bell that signaled the end of lunch sounded off, Keiji returned to their classroom. Whipping out a piece of paper, he quickly wrote down a few things and handed it to Aki. "The regulars’ roster and their designations. The only all-rounder is their captain," he told him.
"That's disappointing," Akihiro pointed out critically as he took the paper and read through it before handing it back to Keiji. "But that aside Kei, the one from earlier was the captain wasn't he?" he asked. "The one who pulled you onto his lap?"
Keiji nodded before adjusting his glasses. "Matsue Kino, third year section 2. He's been a captain since his junior year since they lacked seniors during that time. He's called the 'Ringleader' by the rest of the regulars for his talent in keeping them all in check," he told his friend. "166 cm. Play style: all-rounder....and despite the fact that he's the captain he only played in the tournament once," he said with a frown. "And to top it off...he seems to be a cocky tennis newbie." Falling silent for a while, he took off his glasses and glared sharply at the head of his classmate in front of him. "Intensely annoying....I want to crush him," he said before grinning manically, licking his lips in anticipation of the match that would take place after classes.
"That explains why Rikkai Dai hasn't been able to beat Seigaku then," Akihiro concluded before watching a slight transformation occurring in his best friend.'I was wondering when he would show that side of him,'he admitted to himself with an inward chuckle. Realizing the classmate Keiji was staring at evidently shivering at the glare, Akihiro frowned and furrowed his brows. "Keiji!!" he scolded in a rough voice.
Snapping out his current state, Keiji brought up a hand to his eyes. "Gomen..." he apologized before slipping his glasses back on. “But yes, it explains why Rikkai hasn't been able to even reach semi-finals for the past years,” he followed up quickly. "It's about time that you live up to your dreams, Aki..." he said before smiling slyly at Akihiro. “The time to make Rikkai rise once again is due.”
Akihiro chuckled. "I believe you mean our dream, Kei," he corrected. "We're going to take Rikkai back to the top. Starting with teaching those senpais just how to play Rikkai tennis," he said slyly, smirking.
Chapter 2: On the Courts
Akihiro and Keiji face off against the current team's best players - their captain and vice-captain. The results of those practice matches could set in motion a plan to reshape the team as they know it.
When classes were over, Akihiro and Keiji had changed out of their school uniforms and into sports attire before heading to the tennis courts where their arrival caused quite a few heads to turn their way.
"Ah buchou, the freshies are here," Akasawa said as he jogged up to the gate and let the two in. "Yo! I'm the vice-captain, and since we're going to be nice to you two today, you can pick who'll be your opponent for the tryouts."
Keiji smiled before looking at Aki. "I'll go first...save the best for last," he told him before walking up. "I want a match...against your captain," he said boldly.
Matsue raised an eyebrow as he approached Keiji, smirking. "Hoooo, you've got some guts challenging me," he said cheekily.
Akihiro chuckled to himself as he moved to the bench and sat himself down.'You have some guts acting tough, Matsue-senpai,' he thought in his mind, but outwardly smiled.
"I'm just returning the favor senpai," Keiji said before removing his glasses and handing them to Aki. "Hold on to these please...Tou-san will kill me if I break another pair," he said before smirking and walking off to one side of the court.
"Okay kid, don't say we didn't warn you," Akasawa said as he handed him a ball.
"Shouldn't we choose rough or---" Keiji began as Matsue entered the court.
"Meh, that's a waste of time. Go ahead and serve," the captain said dismissively with a wave of his hand.
"If you say so...." Keiji said as he took the ball.
Waiting for the captain to go to the receiving area, Keiji tried to keep his anxiousness in check but failed to do so; this being evident in the shaking of his hands.
Matsue grabbed his racket and moved to the other end of the court.
Akihiro stashed Keiji's glasses in a safe compartment in his bag before watching him on the court. Pursing his lips for a moment, noticing the anxiousness emanating from him, he brought a hand up to cup a side of his mouth. "Don't get too serious with him, Kei," he reminded him. 'But feel free to drive him to the ground~' he added as an afterthought.
Keiji chuckled before looking at the ball and throwing it in the air. "No promises this time, Sanada-buchou!" he yelled before serving the ball using something he had learned from his mother: the knuckle serve. Upon hitting the opposite side of the court the ball spun around wildly before shooting upwards, hitting the captain on the jaw.
"D-Did he say Sanada-buchou?" Akasawa said hesitantly before looking at Aki. "And what the hell was that serve just now?"
"T-That serve...." Matsue staggered, rubbing his jaw as he got back to his feet, having been knocked off by the impact.
"I don't think we introduced ourselves properly," Akihiro called out to Matsue and the rest of the tennis club as he got to his feet, his arms crossed in front of him with a smile on his face. "The one you're playing against is Yanagi Keiji, Matsue-senpai. As for myself, I'm Sanada Akihiro," he introduced as Keiji was given another ball. "So we highly encourage you not to hold anything back, Matsue-buchou," he teased before taking his seat again.
"Watch out buchou... I can't really control where the ball goes," Keiji warned before chuckling evilly. "Not that I really want to!" he called out before delivering another knuckle serve towards the captain who didn't avoid it, much like the next one.
"This is...insane...." Akasawa said before looking over to Matsue. "Do you still want to continue with this?!"
Getting uneasily onto his feet, Matsue wiped the blood that was trailing from the side of his mouth. "There's no way I'm conceding to a freshman!!" he shouted stubbornly as they changed courts after the first game. He clenched the ball tightly when it was his turn to serve. "I don't care who your parents are or how good you are... Nobody embarrasses me like that!!" he declared before delivering a powerful serve that quickly bounced off the court and hit Keiji across the face. "Douda?" he called out cheekily.
Akihiro sighed as he leaned back. "That was a bad move...." he muttered to himself.
As the ball rolled away from Keiji, the teen did nothing but hang his head low.
"Oya! You did it Matsue!" Akasawa called out proudly. "See boy! You shouldn't mess with the older kids! Look at him, he's trembli---" the vice-captain was cut off as he heard a faint chuckling.
The court fell silent as the chuckling grew louder. Keiji threw his head back, laughing demonically before abruptly stopping. An evil smile spread on his lips as he looked at Matsue in fiendish amusement, his eyes bloodshot. "You......I'm going to send you straight to hell!!" he declared before laughing out loud once again.
"A-Akuma..." Akasawa said as he stepped back.
"Hurry up and serve!!!" Keiji called out manically. "The sooner you do, the sooner I will see your blood spill!!"
A cold shiver went down Matsue's spine at the threat. 'J....Just who is this kid?!' he proclaimed in his head.
"Matsue-buchou, I believe it would help if I told you his mother is the former Kirihara Akaya. I'm sure you know his legacy," Akihiro called out to the captain, as if reading his mind.
Matsue stiffened almost entirely at having heard this piece of information. "Y....You're kidding...!!!" he stuttered out in reply, pointing his racket at Akihiro accusingly before he moved to serve despite his hand shaking terribly. "That's impossible!!!"
Akihiro sighed inwardly as his smile faltered. 'I did try to warn you....'
Keiji returned the ball with ease, licking his lips in anticipation as he was sent a lob. "This guy is your captain?! What kind of a sick joke is this?!" he yelled before jumping into the air and smashed the ball down, aiming for the side of Matsue's head. "Lights out!" he said before chuckling.
"Matsue-buchou!!!!" a few juniors cried out as Matsue got hit straight on, knocking his sight out as he fell to the ground, his racket scuttling away from him from his fall.
Akihiro lowered his arms and took a racket from his bag before rising to his feet once more. Holding the racket between his body and his arm much like his father often did, he sternly called out, "KEIJI!! That's enough playtime."
Keiji abruptly stopped, fisting his palms he stiffly nodded his head. "Ch....hai Sanada-buchou," he answered before walking up to the other side of the courts. "You don't deserve this..." he told the senior before pulling off his regulars’ jacket and kicking him hard on the side.
"Matsue!!" Akasawa called out as he rushed to his friend and hurriedly called the others to get him off the court.
Keiji glared at him before walking past him towards Aki. "Hai...." he said. “Spoils of the battle,” he said with a smirk before sitting down on the bench and taking out his glasses from Aki's bag before slipping them back on. “The stage is set for you,” he said calmly.
"Arigatou," Akihiro thanked him as he lowered his racket and draped the jacket onto his shoulders, much to a number of complaints from the other non-regular members of the team. Ignoring all this, Akihiro took up his racket once more and headed to a side of the court before setting his eyes on Akasawa. "Would you indulge me in playing against me, Akasawa-fukubuchou?" he inquired with another wide and seemingly innocent smile plastered on his face.
'He doesn't look as dangerous as the other one...' Akasawa thought to himself before taking Matsue's racket from the ground. He looked at it for a while in contemplation before walking to the court. "You're on," he said boldly.
"I don't think it would be necessary for you to know his data," Keiji told Aki from the bench as he leaned back. "He's at a much lower level than their captain was in."
"Why you little....." Akasawa muttered as he adjusted his grip on his racket. "I'm going to teach you brats a lesson!!" he called out before pulling out a ball and serving.
With a calm smile, Akihiro moved to return the service quite easily, the jacket moving along with him but still managing to retain itself draped on the boy's shoulders. The ball zoomed back to Akasawa's side of the court, bouncing on the end line and rolled away. "I should also tell you not to hold back on me, Akasawa-senpai," Akihiro pointed out firmly to the vice-captain as he moved to get into position for the next serve.
"H-Holding back?!" Akasawa said, clearly insulted.
"Aki...he wasn't holding back at all, so it seems," Keiji pointed out as Akasawa positioned himself for another serve.
"Shut up you brat!!!!" Akasawa yelled in annoyance before serving once again, this time aiming for the bench. The ball bounced and instead of going straight it went to the side just as Akasawa intended.
Keiji smirked. "It won't reach me," he said confidently.
In the blink of an eye, the ball heading for Keiji was returned as the slash of a racket whizzed across the air as it made a powerful bounce onto the very edge of the court before colliding with the fence behind Akasawa.
Akihiro, who had gripped his racket with both hands, straightened up and moved back to prepare for the next service. "Strike, like Lightning...." he muttered to himself as he got back into position.
"He's starting Fuurinkainzanrai..." Keiji muttered as he adjusted his position on the bench. Crossing his arms he continued to watch intently.
"What...what was that just now?" Akasawa said before looking back and seeing the embedded ball in the fence. "It was luck...that's right...just luck," he assured himself before serving his last service for the set.
Akihiro returned this one as well with another powerful return ace as he took the set and they changed courts. Glancing over to Akasawa, he prepared to serve before smiling. "Here I go then," he announced before serving.
The two got into a rather decent rally afterwards as Akihiro smirked. Not only was his jacket still on, but his tennis, he inherited from his mother, was already starting to show with each return.
'What's happening?' Akasawa thought as the rally went on. 'I suddenly started feeling detached....' he observed as he returned another ball.
Keiji observed the vice-captain for a while and chuckled. "As far as using that......" he muttered before shaking his head.
Akasawa panted out, as he slowed down. 'Everything...is going dark....'
When Akihiro had sensed that Akasawa was at his limit, he finished off the rally with another of the FuuRinKaInZanRai techniques."Invade, like Fire," he called out before moving forward and smashing the ball onto the court, knocking the racket clean off Akasawa's hands as Akihiro smiled calmly. "Now you know what we’re capable of," he informed the captain who had regained consciousness and was now only watching the game. "Shall I continue to crush your vice-captain in front of you or will you rush him off to the ER already?" he inquired with a cynical smile.
Matsue's teeth grit in annoyance before turning to his vice. "Oi, Akasawa!!! Can you still play?" he called out to him.
"He won't be able to hear you," Keiji said as he stood up. "He has no control over his senses right now so I highly recommend that you go and take him to the ER," he instructed.
"Look for a doctor named Oishi Shuichiro, he'll know what to do with Akasawa-senpai."
“Don't you brats think that we're putting you in as regulars!!!” One of the regulars suddenly shouted. "We said we'd let you in the team but that's all you're going to--"
"Did you hear that Renji?" a voice said from behind the regulars who immediately felt chills down their spines. "They're not letting our son be part of the regulars after taking down their captain...."
"On the other hand none of them are really capable of staying as regulars...and if you add the fact that they're downright rude..." his companion trailed off as he looked at the person beside him. “What do you think, Seiichi?”
Keiji sighed inwardly. "I knew you were going to come here early...the probability of you two doing that was..."
"100%" Renji and Keiji said together.
"I agree. Our son just trounced their vice-captain as well, so it's still a wonder why these kids don't recognize talent when they see it," Sanada Seiichi replied with a chuckle before turning to his husband. "Ne, Genichirou?"
"To think that Rikkai tennis has degraded this much... Tarondoru....." Genichirou pointed out. "They should be thankful that Akihiro and Keiji are here to bring Rikkai back on top!"
"Now, now, no need to get so fired up about all this," Seiichi told him before glancing over to their son and smiled widely. "That regulars’ jersey looks perfect on you, Aki-chan," he complimented.
"Arigatou, Kaa-san," Akihiro replied with a warm smile in return, waving at them.
"Then my first order of business as the new manager is to replace a few people," Renji said as he walked around the fence, followed by the other three, into the court. "We're overhauling the Rikkai tennis team," he proclaimed.
"See Masaharu, we're late because of you," Niou Hiroshi, formerly Yagyuu Hiroshi, accused his husband as he walked up to the troika and the demon ace of the former team, behind them were two silver haired boys wearing identical grins.
"It's the petenshii twins...." Keiji said with a grin as he watched them.
Niou Masaharu strolled into the courts with a grin on his face much like his two sons. "How could I resist pointing a few people astray?" he teased, glancing off to Akaya to which he pulled the same joke on long ago. "It's what I do best, puri~"
"Tou-san made one of them go into the janitors closet, it was so funny~" one of the twins, Mitsui said before chuckling in amusement as he remembered the incident.
"Mitsui," Hiroshi reprimanded.
"Hai!" Mitsui replied before straightening up and saluting.
"A new manager? No way," a regular said in uncertainty.
"Sanada Akihiro will be your captain from this day onward. Be sure to follow his orders; he knows best," Renji instructed. "As for the fate of the current regulars and the appointment of a vice-captain, I will leave to you," he told Aki before stepping back. 'Though there is already a 100% probability that I know just who your vice-captain will be.'
"But he's just a freshman!" one of the junior regulars complained.
"I don't see anybody on this court who could beat him though," Seiichi pointed out in retort to the junior with a smile still on his face.
Akihiro smiled a wide smile quite like his mother before turning to Keiji. "Then it would follow that I'll appoint Kei as my vice-captain," he announced.
Keiji looked at them and sighed before turning his attention to Aki. "I'd do my best to be of assistance," he told him.
Renji nodded. "And for the rest of the regulars?" he asked.
Akaya looked at the remaining lot and smirked. "I want to--"
"Mitsui-kun, Shoichi-kun. Why don't you give their D1 pair a shot?" Keiji cut in, causing his mother to pout.
"You're just like your father," Akaya grumbled.
"'S long as these two take after me in some way I'm satisfied," Niou said, tussling both his sons' hair before pushing them forward. "Go on and show them just whose genes you inherited, puri~"
"Hai~" Shoichi replied alongside his twin as they went onto the court.
"That's something that should be decided with matches, Renji-jii," Akihiro pointed out to him before turning to the twins and sat himself down on the bench.
"We never really saw the Niou twins play yet have we, Gen?" Seiichi inquired as he moved to the bleachers along with the rest of his former teammates.
Genichirou shook his head. "Never," he confirmed. "But considering they're both petenshiis by blood, they might be an indestructible doubles pair."
"Exactly what I was aiming for!" Niou exclaimed as he lounged himself just behind the pair, pulling Hiroshi with him.
Pulling out a notebook, Keiji wrote down the name of the twins as soon as their opponents collapsed on the court.
"A-re? Where are the Marui-senpais?" Akaya asked suddenly as he realized that some were still missing.
Renji chuckled. "They most probably got lost..."
Chapter 3: Tennis Club Reborn
The rest of the second-generation kids come together.
"Considering it's Jackal.... They probably fell asleep on the bus coming here," Seiichi pointed out.
"I'm surprised neither of them bothered learning to drive," Genichirou commented.
"They depend on public transportation that much," Niou teased.
"That's better than getting just one license for the both of them," Hiroshi pointed out before glancing at Niou and patting his boys on the head as soon as they came over.
"Did you see the looks on their faces?" Mitsui asked before chuckling in amusement before exchanging high fives with his brother.
"This leaves...Singles 3 and Doubles 2 open," Keiji said before looking at the rest of the regulars. "Shall we have a ranking match tomorrow, Aki?" he asked their captain.
Akihiro leaned back on the bench. "We'll wait for Hisashi-kun," he pointed out with a calm smile.
"Something tells me they're nearby," both Akihiro and Seiichi pointed out.
And right on cue, Marui Bunta and his husband Jackal were sprinting up to the tennis courts with their son Hisashi ahead of them. "We're here!!" Marui announced in a pant.
"You're late!!" Genichirou reprimanded.
"We fell asleep on the bus," Jackal admitted sheepishly before stopping in front of the group. "Hisa...go and introduce yourself," he told a teen behind him before gently pushing him forward.
"Marui Hisashi...I was absent because Tou-san forgot that this was the first day. Yoroshiku," he told the adults.
Akaya grinned. "That's a bit unexpected, Marui-senpai."
"'Kimura-buchou was right," Niou pointed out with a snicker.
"Wait a minute. We never met Hisashi-kun until now but...." Shoichi proclaimed before he and his twin turned to Akihiro, who was leisurely sitting on the bench.
"We introduced Aki-chan to all of you one time or another," Seiichi provided as an explanation.
"Hisashi-kun can play Singles for now against one of the previous regulars," Akihiro announced, despite some complaints from the rest of the club who fell silent with a glare from Genichirou. "Afterwards we can schedule a ranking match for the last three slots of the regulars’ position tomorrow."
"A tennis club comprised of mostly freshmen..." Seiichi chuckled to himself in amusement. "That's interesting when you think about it. Ne, Gen?"
"It's just like back then," Renji said with a smile. "A sign perhaps?" he offered.
"Mou...I came in a year after all of you," Akaya complained.
Keiji looked at the remaining regulars for a minute. "You over there, you're singles 1 right?" he asked.
"H-Hai!" one of the seniors said.
"Marui-kun, that's your opponent," Keiji said before adjusting his glasses.
"Hai..." Hisashi said with a grin before pulling out a piece of candy from his pocket and popping it in his mouth. "One will do~" he told himself with a nod before heading out to the courts.
"Gambatte, Hisa!" Jackal said proudly as he watched his son play.
Chewing on his usual stick of bubble gum, Marui watched his and Jackal's son play. "It's a good thing he became an all-around player. Between my net play and Jackal's baseline play though, Hisa's more of..." he trailed off as he blew a bubble right on cue when Hisashi performed a cord ball similar to his own. "A serve and volley player," he finished.
"But you have two sons, don't you?" Niou inquired, swatting Shoichi's askew hair down.
"Ah you mean Yuji~" Marui said enthusiastically. "Yeah, he'll be coming along next year. He’s just finishing elementary."
"Just like Sai," Renji said in approval. "At least there won't be just one lower year among them."
Akaya thought for a minute and brought up his hands to count something. "Hey~ the kids are enough to form a team," he pointed out.
"I think that was Seiichi's idea."
Keiji looked at the adults and sighed. "Why am I not surprised?" he muttered to himself before turning his attention back to Hisashi's match which was surprisingly almost done due to the fact that his opponent was almost hyperventilating in exhaustion. "Tsk... Such low stamina...." he said in disappointment.
While the others were not looking, Mitsui nudged his brother and pointed at the team’s water jugs not too far away.
Shoichi smirked before nodding in agreement to his twin's line of thought as they sneaked away to the jugs.
"Count on 'Kimura-buchou to think far ahead like this," Niou voiced out. "It's about time Ouja Rikkai Dai Fuzoku makes a stir in the tournaments this year, puri~"
"I agree. After Akaya graduated, their level of play decreased," Marui stated with a frown as the game finished between Hisashi and the senior. "You'd think the freshmen and juniors we left behind learned something."
"Tarondoru!" Genichirou reprimanded.
"Now, now, control your temper, Gen," Seiichi coaxed his husband.
"Piece of cake," Hisashi said with a grin as he walked back over to the adults.
Keiji nodded in satisfaction as he watched the senior dejectedly walk back towards the other team members.
"Do you have anything to say to them, Akihiro-kun?" Renji asked before hearing a crash and turned his attention to the water jugs where about five seniors have fainted.
"Awesomesauce!" Mitsui snickered before exchanging glances with his brother.
"Mitsui! Shoichi!" Hiroshi reprimanded.
"Yosha~" Niou cheered, grinning to his boys and gave them a thumbs-up for the move.
Shoichi and his brother grinned back at their father before moving up to apologize to their mother.
Akihiro got to his feet, crossing his arms, turning to the rest of the tennis club. "As I stated earlier, we'll have a ranking match for the rest of the members tomorrow afternoon for the remaining three positions on the regulars’ lineup," he announced. "Don't be late else I'll have you run 50 laps around the grounds," he warned.
Seiichi chuckled at this. "That's my Aki-chan~" he praised.
"Just 50?" Keiji asked. "You're going easy on them," he muttered before looking at the captain. "Matsue-senpai, could you email me a copy of the list of our team members?" he asked. "I have to make schedules and matchups."
Renji chuckled and patted him on the head.
"Oh believe me," Akihiro told Keiji with a chuckle. "With the endurance and stamina they presently have they'll be struggling to finish 20," he said cynically.
Seiichi approached his son and patted him on the head. "Good choice~" he complimented.
"It's about time you whip them into proper shape while you're waiting to complete your team," Genichirou instructed him.
Akihiro nodded. "Hai~" he answered with a smile.
"Why don't we all go out to eat dinner for tonight? It's a rare occasion that we're together and has a lot of time on our hands,” Yanagi suggested.
"I second the motion!!!" Mitsui and his brother said together.
"Honestly, we just ate before coming here!" Niou told the two with a grin.
"We, on the other hand, are famished," Marui announced.
Mitsui frowned before adjusting his facial expression to a more pleading one before turning to his fathers. "But I'm already hungry..." he whimpered.
Hiroshi brought a hand up to his face and looked away. "Your call, Masaharu," he said.
"I've been making the decisions all day!" Niou complained to his husband.
"Then I'll save you the trouble and decide for you!" Marui cut in. "And I say you all join us for dinner!"
"Yes, dinner sounds tempting. That way I don't have to worry about cooking tonight~" Seiichi admitted with a chuckle.
"Even though it was my turn," Genichirou corrected with a frown.
"Yosha!" the twins cheered as they pumped their fists in the air.
Akaya grinned at Keiji and patted him on the shoulder. "Tough luck Kei. Looks like you won't be getting to make dinner this time."
"Not that I really wanted to..." Keiji answered before looking at his parents. "Shouldn't we pick Sai up then?" he asked.
"Who's Sai?" Mitsui asked them.
"My little brother," Keiji told him.
"He's already on his way here," Renji assured his son as he showed him a message from his phone. "Even if your brother is a lot like your mother, it doesn't mean he didn't get anything from me," he explained slyly.
"Kaa-saaaaaaaaaan~" came a voice from behind them before Akaya was unceremoniously glomped.
"Sai..." Keiji acknowledged and his brother waved at him enthusiastically.
Spotting the boy, Mitsui blinked several times before a slight blush appeared on his cheeks.
Hiroshi chuckled when he saw this and promptly nudged his husband and discreetly pointed at their son.
Niou glanced down at the indicated son, noticed that familiar look on his face before glancing momentarily to Sai and smirked.
"What about Yuji?" Seiichi asked Marui with a calm smile.
"Ah, he wanted to watch the basketball club," Marui replied. "We should be seeing him in the gy--"
"Kaa-saaaan~" came another voice, running up to Jackal.
"This is Yuji. Yuji, say hi~" Marui instructed his younger son.
Yuji looked up at the other adults and kids before waving. "Hi~" he greeted.
"Hey, he's my age!" Sai said happily before waving at him. "Oh cool, twins!" he exclaimed before looking at the Niou twins and walking up to them.
"He's the hyper side of Akaya," Hiroshi said in amusement.
"And your hair is silver!!" Sai said before moving up close to Shoichi, much to Mitsui's dismay, to get a good look at his hair.
Keiji cleared his throat. "Sai...personal space," he reminded his brother.
"Hai, onii-chan!" Sai said before stepping back, still in awe at the boys' hair.
"Thanks~" Shoichi replied, grinning proudly.
Deciding to give his son a hand, Niou nudged Mitsui forward towards Sai.
"We should get g--"
"Yanagi-kun!" Matsue called out, moving up to him amidst the group.
Akihiro raised an eyebrow at the senior's sudden appearance, his regulars’ jacket still on the freshman's shoulders.
"I wondered if you'd want to go out with me," he asked bluntly.
Genichirou furrowed his brow but held his tongue.
'This boy has some nerve asking Keiji out in front of everybody like this...' Seiichi thought brightly with a chuckle to himself.
Keiji's glasses gleamed before glaring at the senior. "Nur wenn du stirbst und Futtermittel Ihre inneren Organe, die Hunde der Hölle," he said coldly.
"Er....what did he say?" Mitsui asked.
"Only if you die and feed your internal organs to the dogs of hell~" Sai translated helpfully.
"Why didn't he just say that in Japanese?!" Mitsui complained.
"Saying those kinds of things sound better in German~" the younger Yanagi answered.
Matsue was rendered speechless at being rejected - more so in a different language - as the group filtered out towards the gates, all agreeing to have dinner together. Fisting his hands, Matsue turned to them and called out. "I swear I'll have you go out with me, Yanagi Keiji!!!"
Akihiro, who lagged behind with his parents, stopped and turned to Matsue before moving back towards the senior.
"Aki?" Genichirou called, looking around before spotting him moving up to Matsue.
"Yabbe, he seems annoyed," Seiichi pointed out with a chuckle, referring to their son.
As soon as he was a few centimeters from Matsue, Akihiro smiled deviously. "Do you plan to do something desperate to go out with my friend, Matsue-senpai?" he inquired.
"That's none of your business!" Matsue spat back.
The smile remained on Akihiro's lips for a second longer before his eyes sharpened as they focused on the senior, his smile fading. "You so much as talk to Keiji unless absolutely necessary, and I swear I'm going to make you experience hell this year...."
Matsue felt his spine shiver at that glare. '..........W…What the hell...?!'
Akihiro's smile slowly returned. "Are we clear?"
Matsue inched back hesitantly before nodding fervently. "H-H-Hai! Sanada-buchou!" he proclaimed before running off.
Akihiro nodded to himself before turning on his heel and catching up with the rest of the group.
"Well what do you know he got his threatening skills from Seiichi too," Jackal said in amusement.
"87.6% chance that you will need a lift rather than commuting," Renji told the Marui family. "Who's riding with who?"
Sai raised his hand. "Can I ride with the twiiiiiiiiiiiiiins?" he asked hopefully.
Akaya frowned. "No!"
"It's more effective than Gen's," Seiichi teased with a chuckle as Akihiro re-joined the group, taking the time to tousle his hair. "That's my boy~" he added with a content smile.
"We have a van~" Niou announced, pulling out his car keys. "The Marui’s can hitch with us, puri~"
"You sure about that?" Marui inquired.
"Yup. Plenty of space for four more~" the petenshii declared. "Ne, Yaaaaaaaaaaaaagyuu?" he asked his husband.
"They. Have. Spaaaaaace!!!" Sai whined as he tugged on Akaya's sleeve. "Just this once! Onegai!!" he pleaded.
Yanagi sighed before looking at Hiroshi who merely shrugged in reply. "It's fine with me," he said.
"Yosha!" Sai cheered before heading off with the Niou’s.
Keiji shook his head. "Mattaku...." he said before heading to the car.
"We'll lead the way," Yanagi told the group before heading to their car as well.
"Convoy it is then," Genichirou concluded as he and his family headed to their car as well.
"Yosh~ This way freeloaders!" Niou called out to the big group, guiding them to the van.
"Shoichi! It's your turn to ride shotgun! Hurry before kaa-san sits there!!!" Mitsui urged as he pushed his twin forward.
'I'm not even going to bother...' Hiroshi thought as he silently walked at the back of the group.
"Ne ne ne ne, Hiro-jii...the one being pushed forward is Shoichi-nii, right? And the other is Mitsui-nii?" Sai asked.
"That's right," Hiroshi confirmed.
"Yosh! I know their names!"
Niou chuckled as he moved to the driver's seat after unlocking the car.
"No it's not!!" Shoichi complained, trying to prevent Mitsui from pushing him further towards the car.
Yuji kept close to Marui as they followed the other family, tugging on his arm. "Kaa-san, I can't tell them apart!!" he complained, pointing to the twins.
Marui grinned. "There're a few subtle differences between them," he explained before turning to Hisashi. "Can you spot 'em, Hisa-chan?" he asked his older son.
"Sure....the Mitsui guy likes Sai..." Hisashi observed.
Jackal blinked and looked at him strangely.
"E-to...and he has...longer hair?" the older Marui added hesitantly.
"Really? That I didn't notice," Marui admitted, sticking his tongue out.
"Oh yeaaaaaaaah," Yuji said, realizing that fact as well as they all flooded into the back seats of the van.
"I'm not sitting in front!" Shoichi proclaimed as soon as their mother reached the car, pulling him towards the shotgun seat. "You sit in front, Kaa-san!" he urged.
Hiroshi blinked before looking at the twins. "If...you say so," he said before getting in the front seat.
Sai hopped inside the van and sat himself near the window in the first row of seats.
Mitsui paused for a while before pushing his brother away. "Out of the way! I'm getting in first!" he said as he scrambled to get on.
Shoichi shrugged and let his brother in first before boarding the van last and closed the door.
"Yosh, everybody in and accounted for?" Niou inquired, adjusting the mirrors while waiting.
"Hai!" Mitsui said as he took a mental headcount.
Chapter 4: Reunion Dinner
The original team along with their families go off to eat dinner together, as both generations brainstorm over fundraising for the tennis club. Some memories are unearthed and playful arguments ensue.
Soon, they were on their way and Mitsui grew more disappointed by the minute when Sai wasn't showing as much interest in him as he did to his twin brother. 'This isn't fair!' he thought with a pout. Once they reached the restaurant and got out, he jammed his hands in his pockets before following the group inside.
Once they had a private function room rented out and settled into seats around two tables segregated by adults and kids, a round of orders was made by the older group while the kids were left to converse with each other.
Akihiro, who sat himself as usual beside Keiji, patted him on the shoulder. "No more worries about Matsue-senpai," he told him. "I took care of things for you."
"Domo," Keiji said gratefully before removing his glasses and cleaned them with his shirt. "Though I could have also taken care of him on my own," he said with a smirk.
"Glasses on, Keiji..." Renji said from the other table.
Keiji nodded before slipping them back on. "...but I do appreciate the gesture Aki," he told the captain.
Shoichi, who was on one side of Sai's, was talking to the younger boy about fancy dining and table settings.
Mitsui, on the other hand was mentally flailing. 'Why didn't I ever listen to kaa-san when he talked about these things?!' he said.
"Ne, Shoichi-nii, if you like pasta then maybe you can try something that I made myself someday!!" Sai offered.
Keiji chuckled when he heard this. "I suggest you take him up on that offer, he makes them well....na Aki?"
Having been a frequent dinner guest at the Yanagi’s along with his parents, Akihiro nodded his agreement as he turned to Shoichi. "Yes, Sai-kun does indeed make some good pasta dishes," he complimented.
"Thankfully he didn't inherit Akaya's style of cooking," Niou teased from the other table, snickering as he avoided a swipe of the arm from said devil ace.
"Actually, Masaharu...Akaya's cooking has improved," Renji said with a smile.
"Ha!" Akaya said in triumph.
"Renji!!!" Akaya exclaimed, causing the people at their table to laugh.
Meanwhile at the other table, Mitsui was busy moping. "You should try talking to him," Hisashi suggested. "It sure beats just keeping quiet," he pointed out.
Mitsui blinked and looked at him before thinking for a while. He looked at Sai for a moment before spotting something sticking out of his bag, "TENSOUDER!!!!" he exclaimed.
Sai looked at him and smiled widely. "You're a fan!!!" he identified.
Keiji resisted the urge to facepalm.
Shoichi blinked for a moment. "Tensouder?" he repeated before moving around to try and see Sai's bag before spotting the item. "Aaaah, a-re," he identified, pointing at it. "The one from Goseiger."
"Toys like that is trash," Akihiro muttered over to Keiji, making sure Sai and the others who were sitting across them couldn't hear.
"You should see his room there...he has every transformation device from all the sentai series known to man," Keiji said quietly before looking over to his brother. "Kaa-san gets him the stuff. 98.5% probability that Tou-san wants to throw them all out though," he added.
Mitsui held up his finger for a while before reaching in his bag and pulling out a Tensouder of his own.
"Masa.....How and when did he get that?" Hiroshi asked Niou with a glare when he spotted the toy.
"Sou....." Akihiro watched as Mitsui pulled out another Tensouder from his bag before inwardly shrugging, leaning back on his chair.
"Get what?" Niou asked with a frown, finding it unfair that he was being accused of something as he glanced over to Mitsui. "...I didn't get that for him," he stated seriously.
Hiroshi frowned. "Then who...?" he wondered.
Mitsui overheard this and grinned before looking at his parents. "I saved up for it!!!" he said proudly.
"I see," Hiroshi said before looking away.
"Those things are a waste of money," Seiichi pointed out seriously to the adult table in a hushed voice.
Genichirou took a moment to glance at Akaya who was averting his gaze. "Someone doesn't seem to mind it though," he pointed out with a smirk.
"Akaya wouldn't be able to deny Sai-chan's request for them, I'll bet," Marui guessed.
"That would be because he is a frustrated collector of the sentai series merchandise himself," Renji informed them, causing Akaya to look down even more.
Taking pity on him, Hiroshi smiled. "It wouldn't hurt anyway...they are still kids," he pointed out.
"What set did you get? I got Alata's!" Sai said happily.
"I got Agri's!" Mitsui said with a smirk before looking at his brother with a triumphant expression.
Feeling a little left out, Shoichi pulled his out own bag, revealing a Tensouder as well. "What a coincidence~ I saved up for Hyde's set~" he announced.
"They really are twins..." Yuji pointed out to his brother, pointing at the Tensouders.
"Hyde's my second favorite character!!" Sai cheered before looking over at Shoichi. "Can I look at your cards?" he asked hopefully.
"Sure thing~" Shoichi replied, reaching out for his cards and showed them to Sai.
Feeling his jaw drop significantly, Mitsui could do nothing but stare as Sai proceeded to fawn over Shoichi once again.
"It's just like watching Hiroshi and Masaharu fighting over something...though they never did," Jackal observed.
"Hey we never fought about things like that!" Niou defended with a frown.
"Not in front of everybody else, I'm sure," Marui teased.
Keiji sighed heavily before turning his attention fully on Akihiro. "You know Aki...there's also a matter of funding for the club that needs to be discussed," he said. "After the decline of chances to reach even Kanto, the school has dropped its budget for the Rikkai Tennis team. I suggest we have a fundraiser in the meantime while we have not convinced the school to fund us again," he shared. 'Probability that the fundraiser will be a hit if Aki contributes is....100%!!!!'
"What would be a good kind of fundraiser then?" Akihiro inquired with a smile.
"I don't want you participating in those things, Aki-chan," Seiichi called out to his son when he overheard their conversation.
Chuckling, Akihiro nodded. "Hai, Kaa-san~" he replied.
Keiji, having heard what the former captain said, hung his head. "I was hoping you would participate," he said honestly. "Your mother kills my data," he muttered.
"Welcome to the club," Renji told him with a chuckle.
Smile still in place, Akihiro chuckled. "Kaa-san just doesn't want me to do something when someone else like you is more than capable of doing it," he explained calmly.
"Exactly," Seiichi agreed.
"Me doing it?" Keiji asked him with a frown. "That's illogical....we all know that I'm not really one to perform," he said.
"Hey! You were great back in kindergarten!" Akaya told him, causing the adults to chuckle.
"That was in kindergarten..." Keiji muttered. "I'm older now and---"
"More prone to the embarrassment that will last the entire school year, puri~" Mitsui finished for him, having recovered from the shock.
"Don't worry, Sanada-buchou, Sho and I can help in convincing Yanagi-fukubuchou about certain things...right Sho?" he asked his brother with a grin.
"Nii-san's going to present?" Sai asked before looking over at his own brother.
Hisashi chuckled. "Baptisim of fire?" he asked.
Shoichi nodded in agreement with his brother and turned to Akihiro. "Just give us the go-signal and Mitsui and I will think up of something to help Yanagi-fukubuchou along!"
"Baptism of fire?" Yuji repeated his brother's words in confusion.
Chuckling to himself Akihiro turned to Keiji, somehow considering it.
"You'd be surprised what vice-captains do when they need to," Seiichi informed the kids, nudging Genichirou who grunted and turned away in embarrassment.
"A-re? You mean Sanada-fukubuchou went through something like that?" Akaya asked curiously before looking at Seiichi. "Tell me!!! I wasn't around yet when you guys were first years!!!" he pleaded.
"In other words, tradition," Hisashi said before patting his brother on the head, "Well in this case, tradition during the time of our parents."
Keiji looked at the twins and glared. "I will not be pulled into mindless---"
"So buchou~ want him to dance, sing, act or all three?" Mitsui asked Aki, completely ignoring Keiji.
"Sing and dance," Akihiro and Seiichi replied simultaneously to Mitsui and Akaya with similar smirks on their faces.
"We needed to get some extra funding for new tennis balls to practice with since our senpais didn't know how to save them," Niou explained.
"So we put up a little fundraising activity," Marui continued. "And since Yukimura-buchou wanted no part of it..."
"I was forced to participate," Genichirou finished with a frown.
"And he did a solo..." Renji said with a smile before looking at Keiji who was dreading it more by the second.
"I think Bunta and I still have a copy of his performance at home," Jackal said.
"Let me borrow it!! I want to seeeeeeeeeee!!!" Akaya pleaded.
"Sure, I'll have Hisa give it to Keiji tomorrow then."
Keiji in the meantime was muttering things under his breath while Mitsui moved closer to his brother to plot.
"Ne ne ne... Akihiro-nii...can I watch what Nii-san will do?" Sai asked hopefully. "I wasn't around during the kindergarten presentation because I was sick..."
"Of course Sai-kun," Akihiro agreed immediately, nodding to the younger Yanagi. "I'm sure Kei will be practicing in school to save him the embarrassment," he said with a chuckle. "Though I don't think that will help much since Renji-jii will be around as well," he continued.
Seiichi smiled. "Quite like Gen~"
"Since it's a fundraiser, why don't we all go and watch?" Jackal suggested to them, "We might see our old teachers that are still alive and around."
"Please no..." Keiji said before turning around to face them.
Renji chuckled. "No butting in the adults’ conversation, Kei...." he reminded.
Keiji muttered to himself again before glaring at his lap.
"I don't mind helping out with the fundraising~" Niou said animatedly.
"Don't get carried away again like last time Niou," Marui commented. "Last time we had a fundraiser you had all the girls swooning with your impersonation of Yukimura-buchou," he reminded.
"Not my fault they found him terribly attractive," Niou defended.
Seiichi chuckled at this. "Yes, that was quite effective, wasn't it?"
"It still wasn't Sei," Genichirou muttered darkly to himself.
"Then maybe we can do the same!" Mitsui piped up. "Sho and I have wanted to try that trick!!" he told the adults.
Hiroshi frowned. "You boys take after your father too much," he said, causing Mitsui to grin widely.
"Yuji and I can help too, after all, we need all the help we can get," Hisa told them. "I don't expect that the senpais would be very productive if we ask them to help."
Mitsui grinned. "Why not get fukubuchou to ask them? They seem to listen to him if he tried a certain approach," he suggested.
"96% probability that I won't have a choice in the matter anymore," Keiji said in defeat before looking over to Aki. "What do you want me to do exactly?" he asked.
"But you won't need to be doing that with Aki-chan," Seiichi told the kids. "I don't want to see anybody impersonating my son," he warned the Niou twins.
"Sei's protective of Aki that way," Genichirou provided as an explanation.
Akihiro chuckled. "Come up with a song and dance number," he told Keiji.
'The only song and dance I can do is 'Banana no Namida' even if my life depended on it,' Keiji thought ruefully.
Renji looked at his son for a moment before chuckling. "I suggest you ask the twins for help. They're Niou's..." he said.
"We'll help however way we can~" Shoichi stated proudly.
"Anything will do," Akihiro reassured Keiji, patting him on the back as their food finally arrived.
"I didn't notice how long we had to wait for the food," Marui commented.
Keiji nodded before turning his attention to the food.
"I wasn't expecting this...." Akaya said as he looked at the twins who were suddenly acting like gentlemen as soon as the food arrived.
"There was a 98.5% chance that Hiroshi would at least get table manners covered before Masaharu could," Renji told him with a chuckle.
Dinner finished smoothly before the large group split the bill and headed to their separate homes, promising to make more arrangements of meeting one another during the kids' after-school practices.
Chapter 5: Ranking Match
The following day, the rest of the Rikkai Dai team engage in ranking matches to gauge who can stand among the second generation. Meanwhile, the second generation have matches of their own.
The following day, however, shifted their attention from the fundraising back to the ranking match of the Rikkai Tennis Club that the freshmen regulars would be overseeing.
"Hai, these will be the match-ups for today," Keiji said as he handed a piece of paper to the captain. "Tou-san won't be coming in... he ate something that didn't agree with his stomach apparently."
"Oya...why aren't Sho and I in that list?" Mitsui asked with a frown.
"Well neither am I," Hisashi added.
Keiji adjusted his glasses and smirked before pulling out another sheet of paper. "Because we have our own block. I can't put us in a block along with them because if I did that we would all come out as the respective member of the block we're placed in," he explained. "Besides...there's a 96% chance that everyone in this group wants to play against one another already."
"What's the remaining 4%?" Hisashi asked carefully.
"That would be me already knowing the ranking of the five of us and not really wanting to bother with a match.... but it's always fun to watch and play a good game, wouldn't you agree?" Keiji said.
Taking the ranking match tables, Akihiro reviewed them for a while before nodding.
"Sanada-buchou isn't on our list either," Shoichi remarked.
Akihiro smiled when he heard this. "Do you honestly want to play a match against me?" he asked plainly.
"Keiji's name is on the list," Hisashi pointed out.
Mitsui grinned. "Does that mean that if we beat him we get to be vice-captain?" he asked Aki.
"Nobody makes a better vice-captain than Kei," Akihiro pointed out as he glanced over to his best friend with a smile. "It would be interesting to see if you can beat him though," he finished.
"I like a challenge~" Shoichi cheered before grabbing his racket. "Yosh! First match is between me and Marui!" he announced, pointing to the match table.
"This will be fun~" Hisa said with a nod before heading to court A with Shoichi.
"I'm going to own your ass fukubuchou," Mitsui said smugly as he pointed his racket at Keiji.
"I don't even need to take my glasses off," Keiji told him before walking towards the other court where they were assigned in.
"What was that supposed to mean?!" Mitsui asked.
"He doesn't need to be serious to beat you," Akihiro supplied with a smile. "But all the same, try your best, Mitsui-kun," he added.
Mitsui frowned before marching off to the court. "Then I'll just have to make him serious!!!!" he proclaimed.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Keiji warned him.
"Why not, megane?"
"You wouldn't want to get injured."
Akihiro chuckled. "I forget that this is your first time actually playing an entire one-set match against each other," he pointed out matter-of-factly. 'But it would be interesting to see just how long Mitsui-kun can last against a devil-mode Keiji... Especially considering that he's the petenshii and the gentleman's son...'
Soon the matches started.
Hisashi was getting more frustrated by the moment as his opponent made him run back and forth, effectively depleting his stamina. "Tsk. You're making me go all out," he said before pausing as they changed courts. "Give me a sec," he told Shoichi as he removed his power wrist and ankle weights. "Alright...let's do this," he said before moving up to his court.
Shoichi grinned. "So you were giving me a handicap this whole time?" he complained, gripping his racket tighter. "I should probably get serious as well, now shouldn't I?" he asked before he did a speed serve.
Hisashi smirked. "Let's just say I was gauging you," he answered before returning the serve.
In the other court, Keiji calmly looked over at Mitsui who was already panting harshly. "Dammit!!!" the younger twin said as he gritted his teeth. He had been aiming for Keiji's glasses ever since they started, wanting the other to remove them and show this other side that he and Aki were talking about.
Keiji sighed. "98% chance that you won't give up until you actually see...." he said before shaking his head and looking at Aki who was seated on the bench. “We have one set left....may I?” he asked.
Akihiro, who was glancing at the upperclassmen's matches for a while, turned to Keiji and chuckled. "Only if you don't mind me slapping you back to your senses afterwards, Kei," he replied teasingly.
Keiji blinked and frowned. "...Very well then...." he said before taking off his glasses and chucking them to his bag nearby.
"Yosha!" Mitsui cheered before grabbing a ball to serve. "Now let's see what's so special about you!!" he called out before serving.
Keiji was silent as he effortlessly returned the ball.
"Oya! What was that retu--" The younger was cut off when the ball made contact with his arm. "W-What the hell..." he said before looking over to the other side of the court. He froze when he saw Keiji. The vice-captain was smirking evilly at him, eyes bloodshot.
Akihiro shook his head. "This is why we warned you, Mitsui-kun," he pointed out to the twin.
It was a pretty even match between Shoichi and Hisashi, returning each other's shot. "Owari desu! Adieu!!" the Niou twin called out. "Laser Beam!!!" he announced. Shoichi's laser beam took the last point from Hisashi and made the older of the twins the winner of the match.
"That pretty much sucked," complained Hisa as he went over to court B where the match between Keiji and Mitsui was ending.
"Yosh~" Shoichi cheered as he went to watch the other match as well before his eyes widened. "Mitsui!!" he cried out to his twin brother.
"This is what you get for being so cocky you little worm!!!"
"Fukubuchou?!" Hisa exclaimed and ran to the court, coming just in time to see Mitsui take a ball to the gut. "W-What the hell is he?"
"Game set," Akihiro announced as he got to his feet and moved towards Keiji.
"So that's... Yanagi-fukubuchou's tennis...." Shoichi breathed out in slight awe and fear.
Akihiro moved in front of Keiji before raising his hand and used the back of his hand to slap his vice-captain squarely across the face. "Wake up, Keiji!" he bellowed, his brows furrowed in slight anger.
Keiji abruptly stopped as he was slapped. "G-Gomen..." he said quickly before trying to get a grip of himself, "M-My glasses...where are..."
"Here you go," Hisashi said quickly as he retrieved the glasses from Keiji's bag and handed it to him.
Keiji quickly slipped them on and sighed. "Arigatou..." he told Hisashi before walking over to Mitsui. “Are you alright?” he asked as he offered a hand to help him up.
Mitsui took it and nodded. "I'm never playing another match against you for as long as I want to stay alive," he told him.
"I'll go with that," Keiji told him.
Hisa tilted his head to the side in wonder for a while before looking at Aki. "How do you manage to control him?" he asked curiously.
Resuming his smile, Akihiro nodded before walking back to the bench and sat down before answering Hisashi's question. "Saa, I just seem to be able to," he replied freely, chuckling before turning to the other ranking matches with the upperclassmen.
"They're either playing one-sided matches or are committing so many errors it appears to be even," Shoichi pointed out.
Keiji helped Mitsui to the bench before looking at the older twin. "I believe our match is next," he told him.
Hisashi blinked and looked at Shoichi. "Are you pushing through with that?" he asked.
"I need to avenge my brother at the very least," Shoichi said with a smirk, grabbing his racket and turning to Keiji. "Let's go!"
Keiji nodded and went over to the court. "Rough or smooth?" he asked as he adjusted his glasses. 'With my stamina depleted by that last match...I think I may need to--' his thoughts were cut off when he felt the side of his face sting a bit. 'I think I'll just take my chances with fainting...' he finished. "I'm sorry, Niou-kun but I may have to finish this match quickly," he said.
"Rough," Shoichi replied.
Akihiro turned to them when he heard Keiji's claim before frowning. "Kei.... You..." he trailed off. 'I think I may need to call for a stretcher....' he thought to himself before smiling softly. 'Don't be reckless now, Kei.'
Keiji, true to his word, didn't hold back at all, aiming to finish the match quickly. By the last set, he was panting hard. 'Tsk....this is what I get for not finishing tou-san's training menu on time,' he scolded himself before waiting for Shoichi's serve.
"Shoichi, wait," Akihiro called, walking onto the court after promptly scaring a pair of seniors who weren't playing a match to get a stretcher. The captain walked up to Keiji and lowered his racket. "You're not going to last another rally, Kei," Akihiro told him.
"I will if I remove my glasses," Keiji answered. "There's a 100% chance that I'll last this last set if I do that. Besides.....my match isn't over yet," he explained before raising his racket again. "Please step back Aki..." he asked the captain.
"I said you wouldn't last, Keiji," Akihiro stated seriously before smiling. "Do you still plan on continuing if I tell you that if and when you get into your devil-mode you'd faint after returning Shoichi-kun's serve?"
'Probability that I just made him pissed by defying him 100%!!!' Keiji thought in alarm before taking a cautious step back.
"Hoooo...he's actually afraid of buchou," Mitsui pointed out from the benches.
Hisashi nodded. "Buchou must be something if a demon is afraid of him," he pointed out.
Keiji swallowed nervously at the aura Aki was giving out before facing Shoichi. "Gomen but I will concede," he told him.
Shoichi lowered his racket. "E-Eh? Okay..."
Akihiro's smile remained before patting Keiji lightly on the shoulder. "Wise decision. Now go get some rest. You're about ready to collapse," he instructed the vice-captain before moving back to see the progress of the other matches.
"Sugoi...." Shoichi breathed out as he walked back to the bench where Hisashi and Mitsui were.
"Collapse? That's illogical right now since the match is--" Keiji was cut off when his world suddenly turned black.
At the same time, the seniors who were tasked to bring the stretcher arrived. "Fukubuchou!" they exclaimed as they rushed over.
Mitsui blinked. "As expected from the son of the child of god...." he said in awe.
Hisashi stared at Aki. "I'm not even going to ask."
"It's no wonder he's the captain..." Shoichi admitted. "Although, we've never seen him play seriously, have we Mitsui?" he asked his brother.
Meanwhile, one of the seniors came up with two of the three-block results. "Sanada-buchou! Two of the blocks finished early. Matsue and Akasawa won in their respective blocks," he reported.
Scanning the table, Akihiro nodded. "Come back to me with the results from the third block as soon as it's done," he instructed before the senior complied and ran off.
"No need to scare them buchou," a voice said as he approached Aki. "I came out from the third block, Tachibana Kira." He smiled and bowed politely. "I should have known someone would beat me in becoming a captain," he added with a chuckle.
Chapter 6: The Regulars
Tachibana Kira, a second-generation Fudomine offspring, announces his presence as part of the Rikkai tennis club, vying for a spot on the team as a regular. This brings to light just how close Aki and Keiji really are.
"You would have had more of a chance with that position if your parents sent you to their own school, Tachibana-kun," Akihiro told him with a wide smile.
"None of the other Fudomine regulars' kids pushed through with going to Fudomine," Kira explained. "They closed their tennis team after my kaa-san's graduation. Never opened ever since. Hey, what happened to Yanagi-kun?" he asked as he saw Keiji on a stretcher as the seniors brought him inside the building to take him to the infirmary. "Akuma-kun got out of hand again and you had to knock him out?" he asked slyly.
Mitsui blinked as he looked at Kira, "They know each other?" he asked.
"It looks like it...." Shoichi agreed.
"Looks like he'll be a good addition to the regulars if he gets along with buchou," Hisa pointed out.
"The keyword there is 'if'," Shoichi clarified. "By the looks of things Sanada-buchou isn't so keen with chatting with him."
"Sou ka... So that's what happened," Akihiro said before glancing over to Keiji. "And playing two straight games was stressful even for him. Sometimes he doesn't know his own limits, despite him being a data master like his father," he added with a soft smile.
"He never does things accurately when he himself is concerned," Kira said fondly before looking at the other regulars and waved at them before looking at the time. "Hai, I'll just go back to court D now. See ya' buchou!" he said before walking back to the courts.
Akihiro resisted the urge to roll his eyes before heading back to the bench to sit down.
Hisa blinked. "I think...I get why buchou doesn't like him so much," he said as he stroked his chin.
Mitsui mimicked the action and nodded to himself.
"He talks too much," Shoichi concluded from beside his twin brother. "No wonder buchou's annoyed."
After a while, Keiji came back out to the courts, still feeling slightly woozy but just enough to get back on his feet.
"Fukubuchou's back!" Hisa said as he jumped off the bleachers "And..what--"
"What the hell is he doing with that Tachibana kid?" Mitsui finished for him.
Hearing the exclamation from the rest of the regulars, Akihiro turned to Keiji, about to wonder out loud why he decided to come back out so soon. He paused as his eyes sharpened when he realized that he was walking alongside Tachibana. Smiling to hide his annoyance, Akihiro stood and walked up to Keiji. "Are you sure you should be getting up already?" he asked.
"Aa. I have no concussions to speak of and was technically in there to rest," Keiji explained. "I won't be able to rest if I keep worrying about how you're doing here," he told the captain.
"I tried convincing him to stay behind," Kira put in.
"Why are you with him in the first place?" Mitsui asked with a frown.
Kira smiled and merely pointed to his ankle where there was a bandage.
"So is that a sprain? Broken?" Shoichi asked curiously.
"You don't look injured," Mitsui said as he poked Kira's ankle.
"Hey! Cut that out!" Kira exclaimed.
"I'm a little surprised you assume there'll be something bad happening if you're not around me, Kei," Akihiro pointed out with a smile.
"I'm not assuming things, I'm just being careful," Keiji said as he adjusted his glasses before stepping up to his usual spot beside Aki.
Akihiro chuckled, glancing over to Tachibana for a moment. "Kei, I need to speak with you in private," he announced before heading off to the faucets.
Shoichi moved up from Tachibana's other side and poked it too. "Yeah, you weren't limping at all either," he complained.
"I said cut it out!!" Kira told them.
"And I don't think you can get a sprain so easily. Your mother is Kamio Akira, right?" Mitsui asked with a frown. "That rhythm geek."
"Don't call my mother a geek!" Kira said with a frown.
Keiji tuned out the conversation to save himself from a headache and nodded towards Aki. "Alright then."
"You were just looking for an excuse to go to the clinic and see Yanagi-fukubuchou!" Shoichi accused.
"Maybe I was and maybe I wasn't," Kira said with a shrug before stepping back. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get my regulars spot," he said before heading back to the courts.
Once they were away from the courts and from eavesdroppers, Akihiro turned to Keiji, his smile fading. "There's a high possibility that Tachibana will be the winner of the third block. But between him and Matsue-senpai, he's much more of a nuisance," he stated bluntly.
Keiji blinked as he stared at Aki. "What gave you that idea?" he asked before sighing. "Aki, even if they're nuisances we can handle them. Don't worry too much," he assured the captain.
Akihiro glared at Keiji seriously. "You know very well I only use the term nuisance for special kind of people, Keiji," he stated darkly.
Keiji sighed before removing his glasses, hooking it on his Rikkai jersey. "Aki..." he said before smiling softly and hugging the captain. “They won't be nuisances....you know why?" he asked before pulling back. "I only have eyes for you remember? So try as they might there's no way that I'll look their way, okay?" he said.
Looking away, a smile slowly made its way onto Akihiro's lips before the captain brought a hand up to his mouth and chuckled. "Oya, this is the side of you I rarely see, Keiji," he pointed out before glancing over to his friend and smiled serenely. "And frankly I prefer this side of you much more," he continued, taking Keiji's glasses. "Less work bringing you back to your usual self," he finished, slipping the glasses back on for him.
"Then you should see me every morning," Keiji said as he adjusted his glasses. "Kaa-san calls it the Alien mode," he said with a shrug. "Shall we go back to the court? I'm sure the third block has finished with their game," he told Aki. "Maybe after....we can go on a date," he offered.
"Tempting," Akihiro admitted as they started walking back to the courts. "But sure, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't," he agreed.
"Sanada-buchou, the results from the third block are in!" a random senior called out, jogging up to him.
"Is it Tachibana?" the captain inquired.
The senior paused before nodding. "H-Hai..." he replied, holding out the results of the matches.
Akihiro took it and handed it to Keiji. "Tell everyone who lost to run 30 laps around the school grounds," he instructed Keiji. "Regulars gather at Court A in five minutes."
"Right away..." Keiji said before walking over to the waiting upperclassmen. "Bad news for you all, except for Matsue and Akasawa-senpai, the regulars are all first years. That tells you something, doesn't it?" he asked them before adjusting his glasses. "Therefore, 30 laps..." he instructed and almost immediately all of them broke off into a run. Nodding in satisfaction he headed over to Court A where the other regulars were. "Hello senpai-tachi," he greeted Akasawa and Matsue before taking his place beside Akihiro.
Matsue chanced a glance at Keiji before catching Akihiro, sending a shiver down his spine and held his tongue.
Akihiro glanced around at each of the regulars in turn - but making sure to spare only a second's glance at Matsue and Tachibana. "Congratulations to the winners of the ranking match," he started with a small smile before it quickly faltered. "Tomorrow will be assessment day so we can gauge your current levels and design a proper training menu for each individual. That will be handled by Kei and his father."
Keiji nodded before looking at them. "Don't expect that the training menus will be easy. Those will be designed to drive you to the ground," he explained.
Akasawa sweatdropped. "...and further than that I expect," he muttered.
"Indeed," Keiji answered.
Mitsui sighed. "Kaa-san did say that we should expect that," he told them.
"Then how about a celebratory dinner before hell starts?" Kira asked them all.
"Sorry, but count Aki and I out," Keiji said quickly.
"You should really take a break, buchou...fukubuchou," Hisa said.
"We are....we're going on a date after club time," Keiji answered causing everyone to stare at the two of them. "90% chance that you guys didn't realize that much earlier," he muttered to himself before shaking his head.
Akihiro merely chuckled at this. "That will be all for today then," he announced before glancing over to Akasawa. "And Akasawa-senpai, please make sure the rest of the team finish those 30 laps I ordered. If they slink away they'll pay for it with 500 push-ups tomorrow morning," he warned lightly before turning to Keiji. "Shall we get changed then?" he asked before leading the way to the club room.
"I knew they were close but I didn't expect them to be that.....close...." Shoichi admitted as he watched them head off.
"H-Hai..." Akasawa said before tapping Matsue on the shoulder and gesturing for him to come with him before heading towards the other upperclassmen.
Mitsui frowned when he heard this. "At this rate people would be hooking up---"
"So am I assuming that the three of us will go together then?" Kira asked before slinging an arm around each twin.
"What the heck?!" Mitsui exclaimed.
Shoichi glanced at Tachibana in disgust before pulling his brother away with him. "No way! We already have after-school plans!" he stated pointedly. "Let's go, Mitsui!" he said before pausing and grabbing Hisashi as well. "You too!"
Kira blinked. "So much for getting on everyone's good side," he said with a shrug before walking off to retrieve his things and headed home.
In the meantime, Keiji was pulling on his school blazer when he finished texting his parents that he would be home late. After getting properly dressed he turned around to look at their captain to check if he was done.
Akihiro, who was already done changing back into his uniform, pulled out his phone and was typing up a message to his parents informing them of his last-minute plans. Nodding to himself once the message was sent, he slipped it into his pocket before rounding to face Keiji and smiled. "Are we about ready to head off then?" he asked.
"Yes we are," Keiji told him with a small smile before walking with him out of school. "So according to the money in my pocket right now, we can basically afford anything you want. My treat," he told his companion.
Akihiro smiled. "What brought this act of chivalry on, then?" he teased as they headed down the street.
"For getting you pissed at being such an ignoramus," Keiji answered bluntly. "Plus the fact that we have not gone out on a date since a month ago," he added before adjusting his glasses. "So that's why, tonight, I'm spoiling you," he told him.
Chapter 7: Dinner Date
Akihiro and Keiji go off on a dinner date. The others decide to be nosy and stalk them.
"And that is why Kaa-san approves of you," Akihiro intoned softly, taking Keiji's hand and interlaced their fingers, smiling before leading him off to one of his favorite restaurants. "I hope you don't mind a romantic setting tonight," he pointed out. "Candlelight dinners and all that."
"Then let me do the honor of trying to make it as perfect as it can be," Keiji said before promptly removing his glasses and placing it inside his pocket. A smile graced his lips before he gently squeezed Akihiro's hand. "And this time, I'm keeping them off even if we encounter someone we know," he told him.
Akihiro's smile grew wider as they entered the restaurant and asked for a table outside on the balcony overlooking the mountain scenery. There were paper lamps overhead and several candles illuminating the tables. The pair sat themselves down at one of the tables closest to the banister before menus were handed out to them. Akihiro was careful in choosing his food this time around, considering that it was a special night.
Keiji nodded to the waiter as he was handed another menu. The vice-captain read it over and carefully selected a dish that would fit the mood and at the same time be perfectly edible. After a while, he waited for Akihiro to place his order as well.
Finally deciding, Akihiro placed an order as well before handing the menu back to the waiter. Glancing off to the mountain scenery beside them, the teen sighed happily. "It's been more than a month since we last spent time together alone like this," he said conversationally before chuckling. "Without either of our parents spying on us, that is."
Keiji chuckled. "They were being overprotective," he said in defense. "But tonight is our night, so we have nothing else to worry about," he said before reaching over the table to take Akihiro's hand. "Just you and me," he added softly before leaning over to kiss the back of Akihiro's hand.
Akihiro nodded. "That they were, that they were," he agreed before smiling softly. "I have to wonder something though, Kei," he said curiously, stroking the other boy's hand with his thumb. "How exactly did you get to be this romantic?"
"Even I have no clue," Keiji admitted. "It's an illogical side of me that just makes sense if I'm with you...something only you can bring out from me," he told him.
Akihiro nodded his agreement. "Illogical indeed. But at least this way I can be assured that nobody will see this side of you unless they eavesdrop and stalk us," he said in amusement.
Meanwhile, in another table, Hisashi and Mitsui hid from behind menus. "I swear, if I didn't know better I'd say aliens took over fukubuchou and replaced him with that one!"
"But why would they do that?" Hisashi asked.
"To get their hands on buchou too!" the younger twin exclaimed.
"Need I remind you two that they've known each other since they were kids?" Shoichi hissed over to the two. "If you ask me, Yanagi-fukubuchou developed that side of him especially for Sanada-buchou."
"That’s believable," Hisashi said as he looked at the two again.
"Are you ready to place your order?" a waiter asked as they approached him.
Mitsui blinked before looking at the menu. "Man... these are expensive," he said before picking something cheap and ordering it.
"That's what you get for spending all your money on those sentai things," Shoichi scolded before ordering something regardless of the price.
"I can treat you, for now, Mitsui," Hisashi said with a smile. "Go ahead and change your order."
"Really?" Mitsui asked with a wide grin.
"Yes, now go on before I change my mind," Hisashi told him.
"You're a brave soul for offering to treat him to dinner," Shoichi told Hisashi with a pat on the shoulder.
"I suddenly feel that I'll regret my decision tomorrow lunchtime," Hisashi said with an inward groan as he heard Mitsui changing his order.
"Oi Shoichi, check this out," Mitsui suddenly said before pulling out his phone. "Did you get Tou-san's message that he'll double our allowance if we beat our record in making Kaa-san faint?" he asked slyly. "If that happens I can pay you back, Marui-kun," he told Hisa.
Shoichi pulled out his phone and read the message before smirking. "Then I have just the thing to beat that record once we get home tonight," he said slyly.
When Akihiro and Keiji's orders arrived, the former looked over his shoulder and smiled before chuckling to himself. "Seems I was right when I sensed a couple of familiar people around," he said brightly.
Keiji looked behind Akihiro and spotted the other three first years before sighing. "As long as they don't ruin the ambiance and the mood I'm fine with overlooking this," he told his companion. "But that doesn't mean that they're not getting any laps tomorrow."
Akihiro chuckled. "I'm way ahead of you with that," he reassured his boyfriend. "Now let's tuck in. We still have one more thing to do before heading home," he added.
"What would that be?" Keiji asked in curiosity as he placed the napkin on his lap and poked at his food to make sure of some things before starting to eat.
"Have you walked along the beach at night before?" Akihiro asked casually with a warm smile on his face as he ate.
"No, I haven't," Keiji admitted before he started eating. "But I'm sure it would be a nice thing to experience...especially with you," he told him.
"It will be. I can assure you of that," Akihiro said, already halfway through with his meal.
Meanwhile, at the other table of freshmen, Shoichi turned to the other two. "That's pretty romantic, going to the beach," he informed them in a hushed voice in the middle of their own meals.
"I still can't believe they have romantic genes in them," Mitsui said as he forked his pasta. "'Sides, after confronting fukubuchou he really didn't seem the type," he argued.
"You weren't listening to Shoichi about the whole fukubuchou developing that side just for buchou thing were you?" Hisashi accused flatly.
"It's not as though he ever listens to me when it concerns matters about other people," Shoichi pointed out, glancing over to his younger twin brother.
Akihiro raised his hand to call for the bill. "Now would be a nice time to leave," he said in a soft tone, glancing momentarily over his shoulder before smiling over to Keiji. "Wouldn't you agree?"
"Of course," Keiji said as he took the bill from the waitress as soon as it came and placed the exact change inside. "Hai, we're done here," he said with a smile before getting up from his chair and offering a hand to Akihiro.
Akihiro nodded and got to his feet as well before taking Keiji's offered hand as the two of them headed out. Stopping by the freshman's table, the captain smiled and said, "I'll be seeing you all tomorrow morning to give me 30 laps around the school." With that, both the captain and vice-captain took their leave.
Mitsui and Hisashi froze when they heard Akihiro's voice. "H-Hai buchou!" they answered together as they watched the two leave the restaurant.
"Mou...this means we're getting up earlier than usual," Mitsui complained.
"I should probably text Kaa-san about waking us up earlier then," Shoichi said, pulling out his phone as soon as Akihiro and Keiji were gone.
The captain and vice-captain in question were making their way to the nearby beach with the cloudless sky above and a full moon shining down. Akihiro took off his shoes and socks and began walking contentedly along the sand with a satisfied smile on his face.
Holding his own shoes and socks, Keiji walked along beside Akihiro down the beach. "I'm surprised that no one is out here...then again it is a school night," he said thoughtfully.
Akihiro nodded ruefully before looking up at the moon, stopping. "It's a beautiful night tonight~" he pointed out quietly as a sea breeze slowly picked up around them.
"Aa," Keiji agreed as he went behind Akihiro and wrapped his arms around him. "A perfect night just for you and me," he told him quietly before turning Akihiro around and kissing him on lips as the moon continued to illuminate their surroundings.
Chapter 8: Make-Up Laps
The tennis club have their usual morning training, with some added make-up laps following the events of last night.
The following day, Akihiro was dropped in school early to find the Niou twins and Hisashi already there. Walking up to them, he smiled quietly. "I'm glad to see you all got here on time," he said before noting a few non-regulars rushing into the courts. "I assume you all didn't finish your laps yesterday," he stated.
"H-Hai! Gomen nasai, Sanada-buchou!" one of them piped up in apology.
"I'm waiting for those 500 push-ups then. As for you three..." Akihiro turned to the three regulars. "Those 30 laps. Now."
Akasawa and Matsue arrived just a few seconds after that. "Um...should we run laps too since the others are?" Akasawa asked the captain.
Keiji looked at them before adjusting his glasses. "You can just warm-up," he told them. "Especially you Akasawa-senpai...I spot a few bruises on you and a limp."
"A-Ah. It's nothing, don't mind it!!" Akasawa said quickly before jogging over to the side to warm up.
"Matsue-senpai," Akihiro called out to the senior.
"What is it, Sanada-buchou?" he asked begrudgingly, still not used to the recognition.
"Do you know anything about why Akasawa-senpai is limping and with bruises?" he asked.
Matsue shook his head. "Unfortunately I don't..."
Keiji frowned before adjusting his glasses. "Those bruises look like the ones from fistfights," he observed. "78% chance that there are more on his body that's covered by his clothes," he told them. "Weren't you with him last night, Matsue-senpai?" he asked.
"Yes but only for a time," Matsue answered. "We had to separate early since I had some chores to do."
"And around what time was that?" Akihiro continued.
"Around 7 PM."
Akihiro blinked and turned to Keiji. "That makes sense then..." he muttered before gesturing Matsue to go and warm up as well. “7 PM, Kei. My gut is pointing towards one of the other schools....”
Keiji thought for a while before looking at the two seniors. "88% that is was Jyosei Shounan," he told Akihiro. "They're the only school who practices that late," he told his captain. "Besides, they had a run-in with Matsue-senpai before. 97% chance that they attacked Akasawa-senpai to get back at him even if he and Matsue-senpai aren't official yet."
"If that's the case it looks like we have more plans later after club afternoon practices," Akihiro said with a smirk as he watched the non-regulars do their push-ups. "Don't you agree...Keiji?"
"Aa. It's also a good chance to gather more data on opposing schools," Keiji said as he adjusted his glasses and turned his attention to the other regulars.
Akihiro smiled deviously. "Yes, I would have to agree with you on that."
"The one who will come in last will be drinking something that I learned from my tou-san," Keiji told them before bringing out a glass of suspiciously orange liquid.
"Oh crap! It's the killer juice!!!" Mitsui exclaimed before running faster.
"Not drinking it! Not drinking it!!!" Hisashi repeated to himself as he quickened his steps.
"I don't understand why you guys find that drink so vile," Shoichi pointed out but ran faster as well.
"Are you kidding me?!" Mitsui asked his brother incredulously. "The last time tou-san got a hold of that I was out for a whole week, remember?!" he reminded him.
"I thought I was going to die with indigestion...." Hisashi whimpered.
"Last Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap!!!" the two cried out.
Shoichi smirked before making a mad dash past the two after the final curb.
"Looks like both of you are drinking the juice," Akihiro pointed out to the two with a sly smirk. "Good luck with that," he said before glancing off to the non-regulars again. "Come on, 350 more to go!"
"Not quite," Keiji said with a smirk before promptly turning around just in time to see Kira come around the corner.
"Gomen for being late! I was at the library and--what the hell is this?!" he asked as he looked at the glass of orange liquid that was shoved in his hands.
"Punishment," Keiji answered with a smirk.
"You didn't get the memo, did you Tachibana-kun?" Akihiro chided, glancing over to Shoichi, Mitsui and Hisashi. "Did any of you bother telling him about the laps I assigned you?"
"Were we supposed to?" Shoichi asked incredulously.
"Of course," Akihiro replied before glancing at Tachibana. "He was there at the restaurant as well last night."
Tachibana grinned sheepishly before nodding. "Hey, I was interested," he defended. "Never knew you had that side of you, Kei," he said with a wink over to the vice-captain.
"That's Yanagi-fukubuchou to you," Keiji muttered before twitching. "Now drink that," he told him.
"Hai hai~" Kira answered before downing the glass.
"He's going to die...even if he survives that," Hisashi muttered to himself.
After the glass was empty, Tachibana put it down and grinned. "That wasn't so bad," he said.
"Waaaaaaaaaaait for it......" Shoichi muttered to his twin.
"200 more. Come on," Akihiro encouraged the rest still doing push-ups. "Homeroom's starting in an hour," he reminded.
Keiji looked at his watch and started counting down before hearing a crash that was caused by Tachibana fainting. "My prediction was 100% accurate," he said as his glasses flashed against the sunlight.
At the court where Akasawa and Matsue were warming up, they could clearly hear what was going on. "Yanagi-fukubuchou's data is scary," Akasawa said as he reached for his toes as Matsue pushed him down. "Just like his fa--- ite!!!" he cried out before quickly swatting away Matsue's hand that pushed down on a bruised part of his back.
Matsue brought his hands back, frowning. "What happened, Ishi?" he asked in concern as he attempted looking under the other boy's shirt.
"I-It's nothing!" Akasawa said quickly as he hurriedly moved away from Matsue. "I just fell down the stairs...you know me, I'm accident prone," he told him with a nervous laugh. "Ah, we're done warming up, we should go back to the rest of the regulars," he said distractedly.
Matsue pursed his lips as he watched Akasawa moved away from him. 'He's hiding something from me...' he concluded before following.
The non-regulars finished their push-ups before collapsing onto the courts.
"Non-regulars who finished the laps yesterday," Akihiro announced, glancing in particular to Matsue and Akasawa. "Free play. Regulars will be doing volley exercises."
"Finally, something I'm more confident in~" Hisa said before getting to his feet and walked up to Keiji who showed them the order.
Mitsui scratched the back of his head. "We're taking it easy this morning?" he said in dismay.
"Aa," Keiji answered. "The real drills start in the afternoon," he told him. "Before I forget, our Moderator won't be making an appearance for a while; it seems that Kaa-san caused too much chaos at the lab."
Matsue took his racket and pulled Akasawa to one of the free courts.
Shoichi, meanwhile, studied the order for a while before glancing up at Keiji. "Lab?" he repeated. "Just what exactly do your parents do again?" he asked.
Keiji smirked and adjusted his glasses. "They work in a lab that's under classified information, something along the lines of your parents’ works," he said.
"I don't really recall our parents mentioning Renji-jii helping them with their work..." Shoichi admitted.
Akihiro smiled. "Is this your way of getting out of doing your volley practice?" he asked them icily.
"No buchou!" Mitsui said before grabbing his brother and dashing off to the practice area.
Keiji blinked before retrieving his racket from his bag and heading off with Hisashi while Tachibana remained unconscious on the ground.
Akihiro glanced down at Tachibana who was taking up space on one of the courts. Frowning, Akihiro went to retrieve his racket and a ball before tossing it up and pinpointing the shot right at Tachibana's stomach. "You're not supposed to be just laying around," he called out with a wide, devious smile.
"Ite!!" Tachibana exclaimed as he quickly got to his feet and looked around. "A-re? They all paired up," he observed before hesitantly looking at Akihiro. "...does this mean you're going to be my practice partner?" he asked fearfully.
"Prepare to tire yourself out, Tachibana," Akihiro warned before moving to the other side of the court he was already in.
'I'd rather tire myself out with fukubuchou, thank you very much,' Tachibana thought as he walked over to the other side of the court and prepared to receive the serve. "Just volley today, right?" he confirmed.
Mitsui looked at them for a bit and shook his head. "He's gonna die," he proclaimed.
Hisashi nodded in agreement as he returned Keiji's shot with a volley.
"I agree!" Shoichi answered, returning his brother's shot.
"You'll be doing most of the volleys, actually," Akihiro clarified, his jacket perched on his shoulders drifting about in the wind before positioning himself behind the service line. Smiling, he bounced the ball in front of him. "Keep your focus, Tachibana," he warned lightly before tossing the ball up and serving.
'How the hell is that jacket staying on his shoulders?!' Tachibana thought halfway as he struggled to even do one single volley.
Akasawa glanced at their match before shuddering involuntarily. "I never want to be on the receiving end of his service ever again."
Chapter 9: Uncovering
Akasawa gets into some trouble. It falls on the captain and vice-captain to make sure their regulars are looked after. Aki and Keiji prove why they own those titles.
On the side, we see development between our two seniors, as well as a cameo appearance from a particular Silver pair duo.
Morning practice ended quite satisfactory for the club - at least in Akihiro's point of view. Classes came and went, as did afternoon practice. After driving the non-regulars - and at some point even the regulars sans Keiji - crazy with the drills, the captain dismissed them and took a shower, soon waiting for Keiji to finish. They had some work to do that evening with regards to one or two of their regular members.
Keiji walked out of the clubroom, holding his bag in his right hand before using his left to adjust his glasses. "I believe we're scheduled to follow Akasawa-senpai," he said as he saw the senior head out of the gates with Matsue.
Akihiro nodded silently and glanced over to the two seniors.
"I'll be fine, Kino....go on home, I still have to pass by the bookstore," Akasawa urged. "You don't want your mother to ground you again, do you?"
"I don't care if I get grounded," Matsue said stubbornly, grasping Akasawa by the arms gingerly. "Something happened to you yesterday when I wasn't with you, and I want to make sure you get home safely today!"
Akasawa smiled before easing Matsue's grip off his arm. "I'll be fine," he said before stepping back. "See you tomorrow!!" he said quickly before turning around and running off in the opposite direction of where Matsue's way was.
"Ishi, chotto!!" Matsue cried out, frowning before going against his better judgment and running off after him.
Akihiro chuckled. "That's our cue then, Kei," he pointed out before the two followed suit.
Making a few turns and taking a few shortcuts Akasawa easily lost Matsue from following him. "Yosh...." he said before going back to his usual path down the road to reach the small bookstore he was going to.
"Oi....didn't we tell you to stop going back here?!" a voice suddenly said from behind him.
"You haven't learned your lesson, have you?" another spat out with a smirk.
"I'm surprised he managed to lose Matsue-senpai..." Akihiro pointed out, still managing to follow Akasawa the whole way thanks to his and Keiji's combined stealth skills. "Just as you suspected, Kei. Jyosei Shounan," he commended with a smile, noting the familiar uniform.
"Hey, even if your school is within the area doesn't mean you own the place!!!" Akasawa rebutted.
"And you think you do?" the Jyosei regular challenged. "Just because you're in Rikkai doesn't mean that you're tough! For your information Jyosei Shounan ranks higher than you, so show some damn respect!" he said before hitting Akasawa across the jaw.
"No way I'm showing punks like you respect!" Akasawa hollered before aiming a punch at the other regular.
"Oya! You seem to have forgotten about what we did to you yesterday," another piped up. "Maybe we should refresh your memory!"
From behind a wall, Keiji looked at the scene. "Cue Matsue-senpai," he muttered.
"OI!!" Matsue screamed, running from the corner and then threw a punch to the one closest to Akasawa before pushing him back. "Anybody who wants to hit Ishi will have to answer to me!" he proclaimed.
"Oh look it's the pathetic excuse of a captain!" one of the regulars piped up. "Who in the world captains with a tournament record of one measly game?" he scoffed.
"K-Kino?" Akasawa stuttered out as he looked up at his friend. "Didn't I tell you to go home?" he asked in alarm.
"Aww... they're so concerned with one another," the Jyosei regular cooed in mockery before pulling out a switchblade. "I've been dying to do this," he said as he licked his lips before raising his hand.
"KINO!!!" Akasawa exclaimed as he tried to pull the former captain out of the way.
"I-te!!" the Jyosei regular suddenly cried out as a tennis ball bounced innocently near his feet. "Who the hell did that?!" he demanded.
"Sorry... I couldn't help myself," Keiji said as he stepped out onto the scene. "You should really get your facts straight about the captain of Rikkai," he told them as he glared sharply at them.
"F-Fukubuchou..." Akasawa managed to say.
"Yanagi-fukubuchou..." Matsue muttered out in acknowledgment.
"Fukubuchou?! Your fukubuchou is a freshman now?! What a joke!!" another Jyosei student scoffed.
Another tennis ball made its way over and forcefully hit the student on the stomach, knocking him off his feet.
"W-What the hell?!" another regular proclaimed.
"I wondered who damaged my regular member yesterday..." Akihiro slurred out, stepping out as well, bringing his racket up and smiled innocently at them.
"B-Buchou!!" Matsue exclaimed.
"What? Even your captain's a freshman?!" another Jyosei regular scoffed in disbelief. This regular, however, was quickly knocked off his feet by another accurate serve from the present Rikkai Dai captain.
"Just who the hell are you?!" The last remaining Jyosei regular asked.
"Sanada and Yanagi," Keiji said simply as he took the ball that rolled towards him. "Know it...remember it..." he said before removing his glasses, eyes immediately turning blood red as a smirk appeared on his face. “Fear it,” he hissed before sending a Knuckle Serve to knock the regular into a few hours from then. Surveying their handiwork, he slipped on his glasses once again. "Are you alright, Akasawa-senpai?" he asked.
"A-Aa..." Akasawa answered. "Arigatou...."
"We figured something happened with you and thought we'd come and investigate," Akihiro explained, glancing down at the unconscious Jyosei boys. "I was hoping to challenge them to a friendly tennis match to get them off your backs but I doubt they'd listen to reason. Not to mention they'd be more beat up that way," he finished.
Matsue cringed in fear. "Er... This way is just fine, Sanada-buchou..." he said.
"Either way it's safe now. So Kei and I will be heading on our way while you take Akasawa-senpai home, Matsue-senpai," Akihiro urged before grabbing Keiji by the arm and pulling him away.
"You're excused from training tomorrow, Akasawa-senpai! Heal up!" Keiji said before letting himself be dragged away by Akihiro.
Akasawa watched them leave before sighing and looking at Matsue. "G-Gomen..." he said quietly. "I only avoided the subject so that you wouldn't be dragged into the mess..." he explained.
Waiting for the two freshmen to be completely out of sight, Matsue, took Akasawa by the hand and led him away from the carnage off to the former vice-captain's home. "You know how I don't like being kept out of things, Ishi," Matsue said with a sigh. "It gets me more riled up when I don't know what happens to you... I worry about you," he admitted quite bluntly before blushing.
Akasawa looked at their joined hands before looking down in shame. "I knew you would...that's why I didn't want to involve you..." he said quietly as they entered his house which was empty save for him. “If you knew I was in trouble you'll ask me to move out again from here,” he said. "And you know that I really don't have anywhere to go and your parents don’t like me."
Matsue sighed before reaching into his back pocket and pulled out an envelope and forced it into Akasawa's hands. "Take this then," he said quietly. "I've been saving up from my part-time job and the money my parents give me when I do chores... It's enough for you to find an apartment. My father's telling me to go and find one for myself so I can learn to live independently... But I want you to find one. For us," he suggested, glancing into Akasawa's eyes and smiling softly before moving forward and kissing the other boy on the lips.
Akasawa blinked at the envelope in his hands before blushing profusely at being kissed. "K-Kino..." he muttered out before looking at his 'friend'. “Then...then we're looking for an apartment together!!” he proclaimed before dragging Matsue off happily.
"O-Oi chotto!!" Matsue voiced out in protest as he was dragged away. "I didn't mean right now!!!"
"Why not now?" Akasawa called out as he continued to drag Matsue down the road, making a turn at a street with some apartments up for sale or rent. People smiled as the couple passed them, chuckling about the wonders of youth.
"My parents ex---" Matsue was cut off when he saw the street of apartments before quieting down, his mouth gaping at the buildings left and right.
"Sugoi...." Akasawa said in awe as they walked down the street. "A lot of Rikkai students pick out apartments here every year, mostly university students," he told him before spotting a rather spacious one just across the road. "Let's inquire about this one."
"That looks costly," Matsue admitted as they approached the building. "But it looks accommodating...." he added with a nod of approval.
As they approached the unit, Akasawa noticed a piece of paper hanging by its gate. Upon closer inspection, he saw that it was the price of the apartment. "Kino! You're not going to believe this!!" he said as he stared at the price in disbelief. "It's in our price range!"
"Are you sure?" Matsue asked incredulously before moving up to see the price for himself. "You're right..."
"Interested in it?" a voice said before a man stepped out from inside the house wearing business attire. "I have it on suicide sale," he told them.
"A-re...aren't you Shishido from Hyoutei?"
"Hai, but I was in Rikkai University for my masters so I got this place," Shishido explained.
Glancing over to Shishido, Matsue blinked. "I'm not used to seeing people from other schools attend Rikkai but then again I'm not all that surprised."
"It was just because Hyoutei didn't have the mastery course that I was after," Shishido said with a wave of his hand. "So, what is your price range, kids?" he asked.
"E-to..." Akasawa muttered before checking the money in the envelope. "40,000 yen?"
Shishido thought for a while. "Tell you what, since I really just want to get rid of this place I'll give it to you for 10,000 and then the 30 you can use for whatever else you need for it," he bargained.
"Are you serious?!" Akasawa exclaimed.
"Is there a catch or something to that?" Matsue asked skeptically.
"I doubt Ryou-kun would be after anything," came another voice coming out from the apartment, smiling.
Matsue blinked. "Ootori Choutarou from Hyoutei...." he exclaimed.
Choutarou smiled, waving at them.
"I just want to get rid of it, that's all. Choutaro said that I already owned too much property and selling some off wouldn't hurt," Shishido told them before swiping the envelope and taking ten thousand yen from it. "There you go," he said as he handed the envelope back and gave them the keys. "I'll come over next week to sign over the deed," he told them before heading to the car. "Let's go Chouta~" he called out before driving off with his partner.
"Haaaai~" Choutarou called out, following Shishido to the car.
Akasawa blinked at the fast-paced happening before looking at the keys in his hands. "Er...let's check it out?" he asked.
Matsue was stuck glancing over to the apartment for quite a while before shaking his head and turned to Akasawa, nodded. "A-Aa. Let's have a look inside."
Going inside and inspecting the house, Akasawa smiled at the space that was available. "It's like...big enough to occupy the lot behind it," he said thoughtfully before going to the back and sure enough, his assessment was right. "What?!" he exclaimed before checking out the envelope. "He...he only took 500 yen from the envelope..." he noticed before looking at Matsue. “That guy...” he trailed off before thinking for a while. "I guess...things are just finally turning out alright for us," he said with a smile before walking up to his partner and held his hand.
Chapter 10: Secret Agents
We pan over to the first generation regulars for a chapter to find out what exactly they're up to as adults.
A few days later, the Niou couple were busy with their work as CIA agents. Niou was happily humming a James Bond theme as he and his husband were driving off towards one of the locations they were supposed to be investigating.
Hiroshi held up his iPod and activated its camera mode just in case they needed back up. "Akaya's on a day off because of the lab incident, isn't he?" he asked casually before looking at his watch. “And did you remember to give the twins their lunch money?”
Niou chuckled, keeping both hands on the wheel. "Of course~" he answered. 'I didn't forget to give them double for what they managed to do to you,' he added slyly in his head.
"Ah, Mura-buchou is giving us the go signal, looks like something’s happening at the store," Hiroshi said as he noted his blinking phone before looking over at the innocent looking decoration shop just across the street. "Haru...looks like Yanagi-san had an accurate prediction yet again," he pointed out as he noted a few well-dressed men enter the shop.
"Master Renji has never failed us yet, so it's no surprise," Niou stated seriously, watching them enter the store. "We should get moving and take care of things quickly," he said as he got out of the car with his husband as they approached the shop with caution and stealth.
Hiroshi nodded as he got out of the car. "Bunta said we're supposed to take the fire exit behind the shop since the security camera there is busted."
"And for today we only have a round of bullets thanks to you wasting them all the last time. Jackal wasn't able to order a new batch in time."
Niou snickered as they made their way to the back. "We won't be needing much bullets anyway," he said airily. "That's when martial arts come in handy," he said with a nod. "I've been dying to do that kind of thing for a while already."
Hiroshi sighed before pulling out a small metal case and flicked it, causing a series of small metal bars to come out of it. "I think I'll stick to this... Less of getting my hands dirty," he said before pointing a pocket mirror outside once they reached a window and used it to signal Marui who was just outside before signaling to Niou to start the exciting part.
"Suit yourself Hiro," Niou pointed out before spotting the signal. "Yosh!! Finally, time for some fun!!" he called out before leading the infiltration.
When they got in the main room however, they discovered the men in a pile, bleeding and unconscious. "Mura-buchou," Hiroshi said with a sigh as he tucked away his portable metal bar.
Niou frowned as he kicked away a stray man. "Man, I was looking forward to having some fun," he complained.
Hiroshi adjusted his glasses and consolingly patted Niou on the shoulder. "There there, Haru," he said. "We still get to interrogate them," he said in encouragement. "Mura-buchou only took one exciting part away."
"One very exciting part!!" Niou countered with a huff. Moving up to the pile, he squatted down and prodded the one on top.
'Oi! Hiroshi! Haru! What's taking the two of you so long?!' Marui radioed in.
"We're heading out in a while, just let Haru mope a few more minutes. He missed his exciting part," Hiroshi explained before looking at Niou who was still poking the body. "Haru..." he called out.
With puffed cheeks for a moment before quickly deflating, Niou got to his feet. "Hai, hai, I know. Time to evacuate, na?"
"We'll interrogate them once we're back at HQ," Hiroshi offered before heading back out the way they came and casually walked back to their car. "So....are we still going to assume that buchou hasn't joined the agency yet?" he asked as he started up the car.
"You were listening when we tried to invite him to the agency didn't you?" Niou said as he climbed into the car. "He didn't want to be officially involved so as not to pry him away from his motherly duties."
"And yet he finishes most of the missions assigned with much haste and efficiency," Hiroshi said with a sigh. "I think he's just doing it to tease us," he told Niou before he turned around a corner. "And also, concerning fukubuchou... I'm beginning to think that we should start telling him already," he suggested. "I have a very odd feeling he'll die of a heart attack if he finds out on his own."
Niou leaned back on his seat and grinned. "Let him think what he wants. Don't take the fun out of him finding out on his own considering 'Kimura-buchou is out more often than he should be doing our work," he explained with a chuckle.
"If you say so," Hiroshi said before turning on the radio. "I wonder how the day is going for the twins," he mused. "I've noticed that they are yet to try switching," he told his husband.
At this, Niou smirked. "Are you so sure about that?' he teased, glancing mischievously over to his husband.
"Yes...As sure as I am Hiroshi Yagyuu," Hiroshi responded as he adjusted his glasses. "You think that I won't be able to tell them apart, Haru?" he asked flatly.
"Yes you wouldn't be able to," Niou countered before swatting him on the head. "Because you're Hiroshi Niou now!"
Blinking stupidly for a while, Hiroshi blushed before training his gaze on the road. "......I knew that," he muttered out.
"Apparently you don't if you can still coherently introduce yourself as Hiroshi Yagyuu," Niou continued with a frown before slyly smirking. "Looks like I have to teach the wifey a lesson tonight~"
Hiroshi sighed. "I'll call the office and tell them I won't be able to report for work tomorrow because of you again..." he said as he pulled out his phone and sent a message to his team mates. "Well, here we are... interrogation," he said before looking around. "Is that buchou's car in our parking space?" he asked.
Taking a short moment to examine the license plate of the car, Niou nodded an affirmative to the inquiry. "Why it's there, I don't really know," the trickster admitted before pointing to the empty spot next to it. "You can just park the car in that other parking slot for now."
"Niou....that's Akaya's space," Hiroshi pointed out with a frown. Looking at the space for a while he sighed. "Well...I'm glad I'm not the one assigned for inventory once he finds out," he muttered before parking and killing the engine. "Let's go."
"Akaya-shmakaya," Niou said as he kicked the door open and stepped outside, slipping sunglasses on, smirking. "Let's get this done and over with. We're due to pick up the twins from practice."
Checking his watch and frowning, Hiroshi nodded in agreement. "This means we shouldn't play around with our suspects this time," he muttered. "Oh well...come now, Masaharu, we're using our best tactics to make them confess and tell us what we need this time around."
Chapter 11: Devil Mode
Meanwhiile, the tennis club is preparing for a scrimmage match against Jyosei Shounan, and things take a deep dive.
Meanwhile, afternoon set in Rikkai Dai as the tennis club was preparing for a scrimmage with Jyosei Shounan arranged by Keiji's father. All but Akihiro had gathered there as the Jyosei Shounan captain, Nichikawa Daigo approached Keiji.
"You must be that freshman vice-captain my players were telling me about," Nichikawa scoffed with a sly smirk. "You've got some nerve injuring them like that." His eyes drifted over to Matsue. "Just because a couple of wannabe freshmen replaced you in terms of position doesn't mean they're any good, Matsue."
Matsue narrowed his eyes. "Don't act so cocky Nichikawa! We'll make sure to crush you in the upcoming competition!!"
The Jyosei captain let out a laugh. "Your good-for-nothing team winning against us? Fat chance!!"
Keiji frowned and adjusted his glasses before approaching the Jyosei captain, "Excuse me, Nichikawa-senpai...but you only have a few seconds to take back what you just said about our captain," he said, genuinely ticked off.
'Let me at him!!! I'm going to crush his bones!!!' Akuma growled as he struggled to get out and make himself known. Shinshi held him back and frowned disapprovingly. 'Calm down, Akuma-kun...wait until we're on the courts,' he urged.
Keiji sighed as he mentally thwapped the two. 'Relax...I won't take this lying down either,' he assured them.
Nichikawa returned his attention to Keiji, ceasing his laughter immediately, advancing a step towards him. "Really? And why should I, punk?"
Formulating an explanation in his head, what came out though was something he didn't expect. "Because I said so," he said in a flat voice.
Akuma and Shinshi looked at one another in shock before glancing at the vice-captain. 'Keiji?' they asked together.
'I have no idea what came over me,' he told them.
Scoffing, Nichikawa shed off his jacket. "Because you said so, huh? Fine. Then play a set against me and show me yourself just why you think you've got the nerve to be so cocky."
"If that's how you want it," Keiji answered before going off to a free court.
"Yanagi-fukubuchou! This isn't a good idea!! Buchou isn't here yet!!" Akasawa warned him.
"It will be over before Aki gets here, don't worry," he assured the senior.
"I have a bad feeling about this..." Akasawa muttered.
'The sooner the better...come on, Akuma-kun, let's finish this quickly,' he said before adjusting his glasses, eyes slowly reddening.
Shoichi pursed his lips as he watched them get into position. Noting the Jyosei players madly cheering for their captain, he turned to his twin. "Sui, somehow I've got a strange vibe from their captain. He's not like the others."
"That's because he isn't," Matsue confirmed, moving up beside him. "Nichikawa can be cocky because he really has a clean slate tournament record of 20 wins and 0 losses."
Once in position, Nichikawa pulled out a ball. "You better give me your all or I'm going to crush you, kid!" he warned before serving a powerful serve.
"Too cocky!" Keiji yelled, instantly going into devil mode. Much to his dismay, just before the first game ended, Akuma was out in full mode. 'What the hell is happening? It's too early for him to be completely drawn out!' he thought in alarm as he watched Akuma barely return a smash.
'This guy's power is insane!!' Akuma complained. 'I'm almost ready to give out!'
"It's becoming a one-sided match... Yanagi-fukubuchou seems to be struggling..." Matsue remarked.
"Gambatte!!" Shoichi cheered.
"Douda?!" Nichikawa called out triumphantly as soon as he pulled away with a game count of 3 games to love in his favor.
Keiji, panting out, growled in frustration. 'Rest up, Akuma-kun...it's my turn now,' Shinshi told him before straightening up. Signs of fatigue disappeared and Keiji stood up straight once again. All signs of Akuma disappeared except for the glare which intensified. "My turn to play," the gentleman announced.
Mitsui let out a low whistle. "Didn't know fukubuchou has a level thingy," he said before grinning. "Gambatte!!!" he cheered.
"Hooo, omoshiroi...." Nichikawa said, licking his lips in anticipation, sensing the different personality. "But no matter what tricks you pull off I'm still going to defeat you!" he said, ever relenting.
Shinshi managed to scrape one game for them but Nichikawa pulled up two more games, the current game count now at 5 games to 1 in Nichikawa's favor.
"This is bad... At this rate... Yanagi-fukubuchou might.... actually...." Shoichi trailed off.
"Shut up! Fukubuchou won't lose! He can't!" Mitsui told his twin before looking at Keiji as a repeat of the switch happened right before his eyes.
Calmly walking off to the bench he got his glasses and put it on once again.
"This is...this is the real fukubuchou, isn't it?" Hisashi asked as he observed their vice-captain.
Keiji walked back onto the courts, glaring harshly before taking his turn to serve. Playing with the ferocity of Akuma and the calm tactics of Shinshi, Keiji managed to win 4 more games, leading to a tie, effectively depleting his stamina for the effort.
"S-Sugoi...." Matsue muttered out as they reached a tie.
"But fukubuchou seems about ready to faint!" one of the juniors pointed out.
"Shimatta..." Shoichi said gravely, looking off to the gates where Akihiro was slowly approaching. "Buchou's coming...."
Running around the courts with both of his personalities knocked unconscious due to extreme fatigue, Keiji struggled to get the last point he needed to get an advantage. "Just....a bit...more," he urged himself as he returned what would have been a service ace.
Nichikawa smirked as they continued the rally. "I'm surprised you still have stamina in you. I'll give you props for that kid," he called out. "But I'm taking the victory here. The victory... and you!"
The Jyosei captain sent a powerful drive shot, bouncing within the court of Keiji's side as he collapsed, the ball spinning off to the side. Just before the ball hit the ground, however, a racket and a powerful swing later, the ball landed behind Nichikawa, in the very corner of his court before gently bouncing away.
"Nani?" Nichikawa said, hearing the ball and turned around to see it rolling away.
"Oi.... did I hear you correctly?" came Akihiro's rough voice, straightening up from returning the shot.
"Buchou!!" Mitsui called out in shock.
Akasawa looked in awe before shaking his head and running towards the court. "I'll be taking Fukubuchou from the courts!" he announced before picking Keiji up and moving him to the bleachers to tend to him.
"We're going to see a murder here," Hisashi muttered.
"And I'll videotape every moment of it, puri~" Mitsui said before bringing out a video camera.
"......Sanada-buchou... is different than he usually is," Matsue pointed out to the freshmen regulars.
Nichikawa returned his attention to the newcomer.
"B-Buchou!!" one of the Jyosei members piped up, pointing a finger at Akihiro. "T-That's him! That's their captain!!"
Letting out a low 'hoooo' at the information, Nichikawa took the time to re-examine the freshman. "So you're that freshman captain they we--"
"Were you the one who defeated Keiji just now?" Akihiro interjected impatiently.
His pride blooming, Nichikawa rested his racket on his shoulder. "What if I am?"
"Unforgivable...." the Rikkai Dai captain practically growled out, taking Keiji's place on the courts.
"What's this, you want to play against me too, shorty?" he teased.
"Just shut up and serve already!!" Akihiro called out impatiently.
"If you say so," Nichikawa said with a shrug and served. As soon as he did however, the ball was almost immediately returned, the ball rolling lazily by the net on his side of the court. "W-What the hell?!"
"Fast..." Hisashi said in awe before looking at Mitsui. "That better have a slow-mo playback mode!!" he told him.
"It does! It does!!" Mitsui answered before setting the camera on its tripod. "This is a side of buchou we've never seen before," he said.
"All because someone claimed his territory."
"Are you deaf? Serve already!" Akihiro called out again, already positioned on the other side.
"Kuso...! Don't underestimate me!!" Nichikawa cried out, serving again.
This time, they engaged in a rally, but it wasn't long before Nichikawa sent a lob Akihiro's way.
"Invade, like Fire," Akihiro announced, jumping up and performing a powerful Ground Smash, the ball vigorously bouncing off and hitting Nichikawa from under the jaw, knocking him off his feet.
"This is so cool...look at their faces," Mitsui said as he gestured to the Jyosei team who was now silent.
Hisashi nodded in agreement before noticing a regular approaching them. "What do you want?" he demanded.
"Just claiming the spoils of our captain's previous match," he said. "Jyosei Shounan Fukubuchou, Kimagura Yahiko desu," he introduced.
"You can't have Yanagi-fukubuchou!" Shoichi argued.
A ball made its way to Kimagura, hitting him squarely on the cheek, knocking him well off-balance. "NO ONE TOUCHES KEIJI!!" Akihiro bellowed in anger as Nichikawa stammered to his feet.
"What are you, his knight in shining armor or something?" the Jyosei captain scoffed.
"Then I'm upping the ante. If you win at least one game against me, you can take Keiji."
"Buchou!!" Matsue called out.
"Interesting..." Nichikawa admitted, smirking.
"But if I win against you 6 games to love you'll admit your previous assaults to Akasawa-senpai," Akihiro said boldly.
Akasawa blinked. "But....that's going to disqualify them," he said. "Not that I'm complaining," he said.
Hisashi smirked. "Justice is still served," he said before the rest of the Rikkai team, regular or not, started cheering for their captain.
"You better stay true to your word shorty," Nichikawa scoffed before resuming their game, both turning serious - at least more serious than they were moments before.
The pace of the game started to flow Akihiro's way, dominating thus far with a game count of 4 games to love using the various FuuRinKaInZanRai techniques. At this point Nichikawa was starting to show fatigue in the middle of their fifth game.
"This isn't fair! Our captain was exhausted from his previous match!" Kimagura yelled in protest. "That love game is a planted trap!!"
Hisa frowned. "How is it a planted trap?" he asked.
"Because with so much of his strength depleted, there's a high possibility that buchou won't get a game!" Kimagura said. "Rikkai is just cheating their way out of a fair bet!"
"You're wrong there Kimagura," Matsue corrected, watching the game. "Nichikawa has enough endurance to play consecutive sets if needed. The only reason he's not able to win a game against Sanada-buchou is because he doesn't give him the opportunity to."
"Especially not with Yanagi-fukubuchou on the line!" Shoichi added.
"That's right. So you better resign yourself to watching the first loss of your captain, puri~" Mitsui said proudly before looking at Keiji who was starting to wake up.
Hisashi grinned before moving up to him to help him sit up.
"What's going......Aki?" Keiji asked as soon as he got a good view of the courts.
"Strike, like Lightning!" Akihiro called out, applying the Rai technique as the ball zoomed off away from where Nichikawa was.
"Two more points and it's game and match!" Shoichi declared.
Nichikawa, panting slightly now, gritted his teeth. 'Kuso... why the heck can't I win a measly game from this kid?!' he demanded.
"Gambatte Buchou!!!" Mitsui cheered.
Keiji, on the other hand, was still struggling to keep sitting up. He was about to call out to the other regulars when he suddenly felt someone cover his mouth, lift him up and take him away.
"This is exciting isn't it Keiji----Keiji?" Hisashi said as he turned around. "Er...guys..."
"Doushita, Hisa?" Shoichi asked, wheeling around to find Keiji missing. "E-Eh? Where did Fukubuchou go?" he followed up.
Akihiro, picking up this little bit of panicked information, glanced over to the benches to find that Keiji was indeed missing. This turned out to be a vital mistake as Nichikawa somehow regained his strength, returning the ball with a drive volley that hit the Rikkai Dai captain across the face as soon as he returned his attention to the game.
"Buchou!!" Matsue called out.
"Serves you right for turning away from your opponent!" Nichikawa sneered.
Akasawa frowned. "This is Jyosei's work," he said darkly before looking around frantically.
Mitsui growled. "Buchou! We'll go look for fukubuchou! Concentrate on your match!" he called out. "Let's go Sho!" he told his twin before heading out.
Chapter 12: Ante
Akihiro continues the high stakes match with Keiji gone missing. They find him in less than impressive circumstances, and soon realize why no one ever crosses the Sanada and Yanagi families.
I'm adding a NSFW note here because of some graphic scenes that happen in this chapter.
This was a pretty hard chapter to write for us, but we wanted to inject some drama into it.
Rubbing his cheek, Akihiro glared over to Nichikawa, not bothering to reply over to Mitsui as the twins ran out of the courts. "You're paying for that..." Akihiro swore under his breath.
"Did you say something?" Nichikawa called out impatiently.
"Just because I'm trouncing you doesn't mean you or your team has to sink so low, senpai," Akihiro told the Jyosei captain.
Scoffing, Nichikawa pulled out another ball. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said innocently.
Tightening the grip on his racket, Akihiro shook off the jacket from his shoulders, tossing it aside.
The Rikkai team immediately quieted down as they watched the forever present regular jacket that was always on their captain's shoulders, flutter down on the ground. A deadly silence filled with dread enveloped the team as they all backed away.
"This will be very messy," Akasawa muttered.
'Now that I think about it, his jacket never fell off his shoulders until this point....' Nichikawa thought momentarily. "What difference would it make tossing that jacket aside?" he scoffed before getting ready to serve.
"I don't think Nichikawa understood the symbolism of that jacket on buchou's shoulders," Matsue pointed out.
A dark aura emanated from Akihiro at this point. "Unpredictable like the Shadows."
Nichikawa narrowed his eyes. 'I.... can't predict his movement like before....' he thought before serving.
Akihiro was already in position, returning the serve with a massive return ace. The ball bounced gently on the court and rapidly zoomed across, passing Nichikawa's feet.
"It's his funeral," Akasawa muttered before sitting down on the bleachers. "He had gotten Buchou ticked off big time so it's only right that he pays for it," he told Matsue.
The last rally was relatively short; Akihiro effortlessly returned Nishikawa's serve with Rai.
Nishikawa frowned as he watched the ball bounce a second time before relaxing himself. "Fine, I admit I lost bu---" he was cut off as another ball was sent towards him as he got hit in the stomach and pushed back, causing him to grunt out. "W-What the hell!!"
"Just because our match is over doesn't mean I'm through with you!" Akihiro barked out dangerously as he took out another ball.
"What are you talking about?! We had a deal didn't we?"
"Like you care about deals. Your members took my Keiji away!" Akihiro accused before applying Ka to his service, increasing the power even further.
As soon as the ball was nearing Nichikawa, it was returned by someone else.
Kimagura smirked. "Go on and have some fun, Buchou...some of us already had a turn," he said slyly before looking at the irked Akihiro. "I'll be this boy's playmate for a while."
Nichikawa stumbled back and managed a smirk, nodding to Kimagura. "Hold your ground, Kimagura," he instructed before he headed off.
Gripping tighter on his racket hearing this, Akihiro activated his Muga no Kyouchi. "Then don't blame me if you suddenly drop dead, senpai," Akihiro said dangerously.
"Why do I have a sinking feeling that that's exactly what buchou will do to him...?" Matsue muttered over to Akasawa.
"I will buchou. Have fun~" Kimagura said with a smile before looking over at Aki. "You don't scare me one bit, brat," he said with a smirk before activating his own Muga no Kyouchi.
Hisashi blinked. "Big mistake senpai...that gives buchou more openings and reason to turn the notch higher and kill you," he muttered.
Spotting the familiar aura emanating from Kimagura, Akihiro's lips slowly curled into a vicious smirk. "Hoooo.... Kore wa... douda?" he inquired before activating Ten'nimuhou no Kiwami.
"A-A-re? Ten'nimuhou no Kiwami?!" Matsue identified in surprise.
"Ikuzo, senpai," Akihiro called out, his smirk turned almost playful before he served ten times more powerful than before, bouncing off the court and hitting the Jyosei vice-captain on the stomach. The impact of the ball sent Kimagura off his feet and to the fence just behind him.
Wincing at the impact, Kimagura pried himself off the fence and stumbled back on the court. 'Have to...buy some time for Nichikawa....to get that boy away,' he thought to himself before smirking. "Not bad, brat," he scoffed. "I applaud the fact that you still have stamina after having such a long match with our captain."
Another serve later sent Kimagura back to the fence. "Shouldn't I direct that comment at you?" Akihiro called out in return before preparing for another serve while Kimagura was still gathering his bearings. Not waiting a moment sooner, his racket hit the ball, targeting Kimagura's chest, embedding him further into the fence.
Meanwhile, somewhere near the janitor's closet at the back of the school where Keiji was brought to, Mitsui and Shoichi were involved in a little scrimmage, currently fighting with a few Jyousei Shounan members who were trying to prevent them from advancing. While the twins managed to fend for themselves their opponents kept on getting back up.
"They're like zombies or something!!" Shoichi complained, moving back to back with Mitsui.
As the Jyosei members advanced once again, they were promptly stopped by a fury of pebbles that swiftly whizzed through the air with enough force to keel them over.
"What's going on here?" came a deep voice.
"S-Sanada-jii!!" Shoichi recognized as Genichirou walked up to them.
"Sanada-jii! We're looking for Yanagi-fukubuchou!!" Mitsui reported immediately. "Some of the Jyosei team members took him away!!" he said before pointing at the janitor's closet.
"We think they took him there because we saw their captain head there!"
"What? Keiji?" Genichirou said with a frown before glancing over to the said closet. "Head back to the courts," he instructed.
"But--" Shoichi began to complain.
"No arguments!" the former Emperor bellowed out before moving inside.... in time to see the poor boy currently being raped by one Nichikawa Daigo. All hell broke loose from that moment onwards. "Move away from him this instant if you do not want to suffer a painful death," he threatened to the group of Jyosei boys surrounding Keiji.
Nichikawa, who unfortunately had his back turned to the door, continued on deaf ears.
"B-B-Buchou...." one of the other members urged. “I-I think we better stop....” he hissed.
"Why should we?" Nichikawa scoffed, pulling out. "We're just getting started!"
"Are you deaf, boy?" Genichirou asked, advancing into the area as the rest backed away.
Nichikawa wheeled around before feeling the life get sucked out of him as a solid punch connected to his stomach, causing him to collapse.
Keiji was beyond panting harshly. Having been hyperventilating for the past few minutes of agony, pain and panic, the boy's vision even with his glasses still on was blurred. "S-Sanada-jii?" he managed to rasp out. "I...I can't move my arms...." he said in fear as he tried to move them again.
"Sanada-fukubuchou what's----" Hiroshi stopped dead in his tracks once he and Niou got a good view of what was happening inside. His blood froze and his eyes narrowed as he saw the scene. Keiji's arms were soaked in blood from deep cuts and an obvious blow near the shoulders. "Keiji!!" he exclaimed before squeezing inside to examine the boy, causing the Jyosei members minus their captain to yelp and scamper outside. Quickly examining the boy with his knowledge of medicine, Hiroshi frowned. "His arms...are severely damaged," he told Genichirou.
"Don't think you're going anywhere!" Niou chided as he grabbed Nichikawa trying to head out as well by the collar.
Genichirou frowned deeply. "Renji and Akaya won't take that lying down..." he muttered, glancing over to Keiji before rounding on Nichikawa. "Were you deliberately planning to destroy his career, boy?!" he demanded.
"H-He deserved it!!" Nichikawa cried out.
Hiroshi glared at him. "No one deserves his dream snatched away from him," he said icily before gingerly picking Keiji up. "I'm taking him to the hospita---"
"No..." Keiji protested weakly. "The match...I need to see......" he pleaded.
Hiroshi looked at him for a long while before nodding. "Alright......I'll take you to the courts," he said softly before heading outside. "I'll leave you two with him. Please excuse me," he said before passing his husband and vice-captain. Silently, he trudged to the courts, biting his lower lip as he felt the pain from Keiji. Once he reached the area, a deadly silence enveloped each and every one.
The Rikkai members felt flames of anger spark and spread inside them as they saw the state that their vice-captain was in, while the Jyosei team felt as if they were doused in cold water as they recognized who was carrying the injured Keiji.
Hisashi fell silent and Mitsui felt his jaw drop once his mother stepped on the playing court.
"Is this how you play tennis now?" Hiroshi asked them all. "Is this the generation that we all had hoped to see as the improved world of tennis?!" he asked angrily, with silence answering him. "You've taken this sport further back than when our generation first played it," he said in spite. "You're all nothing but ruthless animals if you even had the nerve to do this!!!"
Keiji, on the other hand, was confused about what was happening; his condition not allowing him to process anything, he merely blinked dumbly, wondering what his uncle was talking about.
A resonated silence of shame befell the Jyosei Shounan students, in particular, knowing full well that Hiroshi had directed it more towards them considering the current state Keiji was in.
Akihiro was panting slowly, the ball in his hand dropping to the ground when Kimagura had fallen from continuous pummels to the fence, bloodier than ever before and now lay hauntingly unmoving. The Rikkai Dai captain kept his gaze sharp and focused on the Jyosei vice-captain the entire time as he slowly deactivated his Ten'nimuhou no Kiwami.
"You're all dead once Sanada Seichii gets here," Hiroshi said in closing before heading back to the bleachers, herding Akihiro with him. Gingerly placing Keiji on one of the wider parts of the bleachers, the Rikkai team quickly huddled up around them.
A few brave Jyousei Shounan boys moved up to Kimagura to see if he was still alive while the rest cowered frightfully, wondering what happened of their captain.
Akihiro moved up immediately to Keiji as soon as he was guided away from the court, his eyes affixing themselves to his boyfriend as immediate worry swept over his features. "Keiji?" he called out carefully.
Keiji looked at the general direction of where Akihiro was and tried to reach up to him but frowned when he found himself still unable to move his arms. "Aki..." he mumbled out weakly. "How did your match go?" he asked. "I'm sorry for losing mine...."
Mitsui, upon hearing this teared up and looked away. 'Baka fukubuchou,' he thought before angrily glaring at the Jyosei members who tried to listen in but immediately backed away.
"You shouldn't worry about that right now..." Akihiro said, gingerly taking Keiji's hand in both of his own.
"It seems I was right to come early today," came the voice of one Sanada Seiichi as he thoughtfully surveyed the courts he entered. His arrival struck fear into each and every one of the Jyosei Shounan team.
"'Kimura-buchou!" Niou called out as he and Genichirou arrived as well, the trickster hauling Nichikawa over his shoulder who he promptly tossed over towards the Jyosei Shounan team.
"Buchou!" the Jyosei regulars exclaimed as they caught their captain.
Hiroshi looked up and saw Seiichi approach and obediently stepped aside to show Keiji and Akihiro. Seeing the look on the former captain's face, he knew that Genichirou and Niou had filled him in on what happened, all that was left to do was to tell him his medical assessment.
"Buchou...he...." Hiroshi paused. "...Keiji's out of commission," he said quietly so that only Seiichi could hear.
His gaze sharpening at the assessment, Seiichi slowly shifted his gaze towards the opposing team. "It seems as though your captain and vice-captain have suffered a dire consequence," he told the group with a straight face, his usual smile absent from his lips. "But it also seems that quite a few more punishments need to be carried out."
'This is why nobody crosses the Sanada and Yanagi families....' Matsue thought frightfully.
"...Kaa-san...." Akihiro called out quietly.
With a small smile making its way to his lips, Seiichi turned to his son. "What is it Aki-chan?" he asked.
"Can we bring Kei to the hospital first?"
"WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY KEIJI?!" came a dreadful voice from behind the Jyosei team.
"Akaya..." Hiroshi said in apprehension.
From the top of the bleachers on the opposite end, Yanagi Akaya stood fuming in his full devil mode. "Which among you punks did that to my son?!" he demanded and immediately the students started pointing and blaming each other. A war cry of rage was heard before Akaya started to take them down one by one, not caring anymore about who did it.
"Seiichi....please accompany me to the hospital else I might end up lashing out at doctors," Renji said as he appeared in the middle of the Rikkai group, effectively surprising a few Rikkai members. Gingerly he picked up his son and looked at him sadly. "Keiji...." he said quietly.
"Tou-san...is something wrong...?" Keiji asked.
Forcing a smile, Renji shook his head, "No... Nothing's wrong, son..." he assured him before kissing him on the forehead. "Aki...will you come with us too?" the data master asked.
Akihiro nodded in response to Renji's request. "Of course..."
"Come along then, Aki-chan. We can take my car Renji," Seiichi informed the Data Master as he ushered them away but not after instructing his husband to get Akaya in check once he was done.
"I'm not through with them!!! LET ME GO!!!" Akaya demanded as Hiroshi tried to pull him away. Soon the organization would arrive to dispose of the mess and cover up the incident.
So far, Hiroshi and Niou managed to get the Rikkai team out, sending the regulars to the hospital to give their captain and vice-captain support before trying to drag Akaya out of the scene. Then he remembered Sanada. "Haru, we need to get fukubuchou away," he said before thinking quickly. "Sanada-fukubuchou! Maybe you can haul Akaya to the hospital to calm him down?" he suggested. "Seeing Keiji might ease him up!"
"Oh, right," Niou said, sticking out his tongue as he continued trying to restrain Akaya.
Genichirou nodded. "AKAYA!!" he bellowed in reprimand as he approached him. "I'll take over from here," he told the two Niou's before grabbing Akaya's arm. "Worry about your son for now more than taking revenge," he scolded as he managed to drag him off.
"That's Fukubuchou for you," Niou admitted as their men arrived.
"Naive and effective...you’ve got to hand it to him," Hiroshi answered as he watched some cars pull in. "Let's hand it over to them and follow the rest," he said before adjusting his glasses.
At the hospital, Keiji was immediately wheeled into the operating room while everyone stayed in the waiting room. Akaya was near breaking down and was clutching onto Renji while the other regulars were anxiously waiting in the corner.
The current Rikkai team save for Akihiro were outside, their sheer number enough to fill the hallway as Shoichi took charge of herding them.
Upstairs outside the operating room, Akihiro was with his parents, anxiously waiting as well as his head hung low. Seiichi frowned and gently rubbed his son's back.
Akaya slinked down on the floor and hugged his knees, sniffling a bit as time continued to pass. Soon, even Niou and Hiroshi were there, each holding onto one twin as they waited with the others.
A little over two hours passed and a doctor came out. "He's stable," he told them. The others let out a sigh of relief and held their breath once again as soon as Renji asked a crucial question.
"Will...he be able to recover enough and play tennis?" he asked.
At this, the doctor sadly shook his head.
Chapter 13: Dream
After the doctor's assessment, Keiji's parents do not lose hope and believe that he can play tennis again, screw data. Keiji, realizing his situation, acts out and tests the strength of his and Aki's relationship.
"...Uso dayo..." Akihiro muttered out, clenching his fists tightly.
"Aki-chan...." Seiichi soothed.
"Aki," Genichirou said firmly, holding him by the shoulders.
'No... this isn't happening... If I came sooner...' he began to blame himself as tears threatened to fall from his eyes before his mother pulled him into a hug.
"Don't start blaming yourself Aki-chan..." Seiichi whispered into his ear, strengthening the embrace slightly. "I'm sure Keiji doesn't blame you."
Upon hearing this Akihiro bit his lips as the tears fell unguarded.
Genichirou glanced up at the doctor before getting to his feet. "There... isn't even the slightest possibility?" he asked.
"I'm sorry...but his arms are too badly damaged," The doctor said. "It would be a miracle if he even manages to get back his writing skills."
Akaya frowned when he heard this. "But what about...what about school?" he asked.
"You'll have to ask for a special program for him," the doctor told them.
"There's no need for that..." Renji said. "His friends would help him in the meantime and he can answer all tests orally," he told the group. "He'll have to make do with that until he gets his arms to function properly."
"I'm sorry, Yanagi-san. I know it's hard to accept but all data--"
"Fuck Data!" Renji said angrily. "Keiji's going to defy it all!"
"Coming from the Data Master... That speaks volumes," Niou pointed out.
Seiichi managed a chuckle at Renji's words. "You can say Keiji already has defied any and all data. Ne, Aki-chan?"
Akihiro silently wiped his tears and nodded firmly. "Mm."
The doctor sighed before bowing and heading down the hall.
"Keiji!" Akaya said before dashing in the room in time to see the nurses packing away. Immediately he walked over to him and clearly saw the cuts and bruises on his son's arms. Gritting his teeth in annoyance he looked at Keiji's face and silently vowed revenge in volumes.
After getting the boy wheeled in a room and letting the team see him three at the time, they all filtered out and the ones who were left were the past and present regulars. Akaya eyed the boys quietly as Renji finished filling them in on the details.
"We'll gladly help him, Renji-jii," Hisashi said with a nod of his head.
Akasawa fisted his palms and frowned. "And we promise to get back at those Jyosei jerks at the next possible opportunity."
"...But before all that, how are we going to tell fukubuchou about his situation?" Mitsui asked them as he glanced at Keiji who was still asleep.
"He'll want to resign from the club," Matsue added. "At least that's what I imagine he'd do once he realizes his situation..."
"Maybe... buchou can tell him?" Shoichi suggested as they all turned to Akihiro.
"Will you tell him when he wakes up, Aki?" Akaya asked hesitantly as he looked over to Akihiro.
"That way you can straighten him out too if he does want to resign," Mitsui said.
Akasawa nodded in agreement. "We're not letting him stand down as a vice-captain even if he can't play."
Akihiro nodded in understanding to Akaya. "Mm, I will. I have no intention of releasing my vice-captain under any circumstance," he informed his team.
"Just be clear and say you don't want your boyfriend out of your sight Aki-chan," Seiichi said playfully.
"K-Kaa-san!" Akihiro reprimanded, blushing slightly as he turned away with a huff.
Mitsui chuckled. "Aw, fess up, buchou," he said teasingly. "It's not as if it's a big secret," he added before hearing a pained groan from the bed.
"Kei-chan?" Akaya said as he immediately got to his feet and looked at his son as he slowly opened his eyes.
Suddenly apprehensive with Keiji's arousal, Akihiro slowly averted his gaze towards the injured boy.
Seiichi took this opportunity to plaintively nudge Akihiro closer. "Go on Aki-chan. You can do it," he urged with a calm smile.
Stumbling but quickly finding balance, Akihiro looked over his shoulder to his mother for a few moments before he brought out a smile, shifting his gaze to Keiji as he opened his eyes.
Groaning softly, Keiji opened his eyes. The first thing that registered in his mind was the intense pain in his arms while the second was that he could sense his mother nearby who...wasn’t his normal self. "Where...am I?" he asked.
Akaya smiled and ran a hand through his son's hair. "You're in the hospital, Kei...." he answered quietly.
There was a long silence as Akihiro glanced around the room where the others were looking at him before inwardly sighing and turned back to Keiji. "You... kind of got into a little mishap earlier today..." he started to explain.
Keiji furrowed his eyebrows and blinked. "Mishap?" he asked before looking at them all and realized just how much people were in attendance. He tried to move his arm to adjust his position but found himself unable to. "...Aki...what happened...to my arms...?" he asked carefully.
"They were gravely injured to the point that you had to be operated on..." Akihiro explained roughly. "...Rendering you unable to use them freely for the time being..." he finished.
At hearing this, Keiji felt his blood run cold as he glanced down at the blankets covering his arms. "How...how long are we talking about?" he asked.
At this, Renji sighed. "...the doctor said permanently," he told him. "But Keiji...we know it wouldn't be...you wouldn't allow it, right?" At this the boy went quiet.
"And before it even starts to cross your mind I'm not cutting you off from the team even in your condition Keiji," Akihiro said bluntly, a serious look on his face.
Keiji looked at Akihiro before averting his gaze once again.
"Fukubuchou?" Hisashi asked hesitantly.
Lower lip quivering, Keiji shut his eyes. "...leave me alone..." he said.
Akihiro glanced at Keiji for a long time before nodding to the rest. "We should leave him alone to think things through," he told them, including the parents sans the Yanagi's. "Renji-jii, I'll come by tomorrow to check up on him is that okay?" the boy asked.
Renji nodded. "Of course..." he answered before looking at his son for one last time and herded everyone out of the room.
Keiji watched all of them filter out of the room before breaking down. Akaya and Renji looked at one another from outside with pained looks as they waited for everything to die down inside the room.
The following afternoon, classes resumed as usual at Rikkai Dai. After classes, Mitsui and Shoichi came bounding into Akihiro's room. "Buchou! Buchou!!" the younger twin called out. "Akaya-jii just called!! He said Fukubuchou managed to get out of his room!! They can't find him!!"
Akihiro was already getting up to his feet when the twins entered. "What?" Frowning, he grabbed his bag and dashed off past them and left the school, having some idea where Keiji would have gone to. After 10 minutes of pure running, Akihiro caught his breath as he reached the beach where he saw Keiji sitting on the shore.
Keiji knew that eventually, Akihiro would find him. He always did. With a heavy sigh, he glanced over his shoulder and managed a smile. "You have no idea how hard it is to get dressed without using your arms," he said before looking at the sea. "Hey Aki.......do you remember anything significant that happened here in this very spot?" he asked.
Akihiro nodded as he moved up beside Keiji and sat down beside him. "During the high tide, we kissed under the moon. How could I forget?" he answered quietly.
Keiji nodded. "Yes…and a few months later we started dreaming of the future," he said quietly. "It started with the ones that were more out there like getting married after college graduation until it narrowed down to the dreams we want to fulfill in high school..." he quieted down. "...like being able to play in Nationals together."
Understanding what Keiji had meant by bringing the matter up, Akihiro smiled and gently patted him on the shoulder. "We still will. Maybe not immediately but we definitely will before you graduate," he reassured him.
Keiji gritted his teeth in annoyance before promptly standing up and facing Aki, letting the fading sunlight illuminate the scars he had on his arms. "Look at these scars Aki!" he yelled. "Do you honestly think that these will completely heal?!" he demanded. "I've ran data over and over again in my head! I'm done for!!" he said in anguish. "I can't play tennis, I can't write, I can't even raise them!!"
Despite Keiji's anger, Akihiro managed to smile up at him. "'Fuck Data! Keiji's going to defy it all!' - is what your father told the doctor when he told us about the condition of your arms," he informed him. "I'm not sure if you realize it but for someone who lives and breathes on data to say that speak volumes."
"Oh screw this...." Keiji said before turning around and proceeded to walk out of the beach. 'I'd go tear my hair out in frustration if I could only use my goddamn arms...' he thought in spite.
Inwardly sighing at Keiji's stubbornness, Akihiro got to his feet and slipped his hands comfortably into his pants pockets. "The Keiji I knew wouldn't just quit like this. Just because there's a hurdle in front of you too high to overcome doesn't mean it can't be overcome. If you want that dream of yours to come true, then the only person who could make it come true is you. Through your hard work and perseverance," he pointed out as he glanced out into the sunset. "You did it once before while leveling up your game, Keiji," he added, turning over towards the other boy. "Why don't you put your father's words to heart and defy the data you don't want to surpass?"
Stopping in his tracks, Keiji trembled slightly as a cold wind passed him. "T-That's not it," he said slowly. "It's not that I don't think I can surpass it nor don’t I believe that I could...it's just that," he paused and bowed his head. "I... I'm scared, Aki...."
Smiling gently, Akihiro trudged up to behind Keiji and gingerly wrapped his arms around him in a warm embrace. "There's no reason for you to be, Kei... I'll be here to help you every step of the way... Yakusoku," he told his boyfriend in a reassuring whisper.
Keiji tried to hold back the sudden onslaught of tears that came. He fell down on his knees and leaned forward, trying to draw strength from his lover.
Chapter 14: Promises
A short and sweet chapter about Aki and Keiji and a promise to come back stronger than ever.
From a distance, Akaya watched him sadly. "Will he really be okay, buchou?" he asked his companion.
Seiichi nodded as he watched the two. "Considering that Aki-chan will be with him, Kei-chan will be just fine Akaya," he reassured him. A smile formed on the former captain's serene features. "Just give them time and you'll witness a miracle happen."
Akaya sighed. "If...if you say so then I'll believe in it, buchou," he said as he watched Keiji and Akihiro by the shore. "We have to take him back to the hospital soon though…salt water doesn't go well with healing scars...I should know."
"That's true..." Seiichi admitted, stroking his chin for a moment before cupping a hand and pressed it to a side of his mouth. "Aki-chan, do escort Kei-chan back to the hospital would you?" he called.
Not surprised to hear his mother, Akihiro brought a hand up in a thumbs-up gesture.
Keiji looked up and saw his mother smiling at him and frowned. Realizing that he had tears in his eyes, he hesitantly looked away. "E-to...there's...a handkerchief in my pocket....do you think you could...?" he asked sheepishly as he blushed in embarrassment.
"I've got it," Akihiro said, bringing a hand up and using his fingers to gently wipe away his lover's tears. Once they were clear, he kissed Keiji on the forehead. "But yes, we should be taking you back to the hospital. Staying here isn't going to help you recover," he added.
"Domo..." Keiji said before slowly getting back on his feet, "Tou-san won't appreciate it once he finds out that I still managed to escape the hospital despite being temporarily armless," he figured before slightly shrugging.
"I would think he'd be more impressed than unappreciative," Akihiro pointed out before they started making their way back in the direction of the hospital.
"I'd still get an earful, regardless," Keiji said with a small smile as he walked beside Akihiro. "I'm surprised that my mother didn't get mad at me since I noticed him with yours," he observed.
"He was more worried than angry I assure you," Akihiro pointed out to him, supporting Keiji whenever needed. "Besides, if he was angry it'd be at whoever put you in this state," he added with a faint chuckle.
Keiji nodded. "I considered that too," he admitted. "But still... it's disappointing," he told him. "I feel like a big chunk of me has been taken away," he said sadly.
"Then don't be content with it being taken away; take it back by force!" Akihiro encouraged him. "After all, it's one of the things that define who you are as a person... And that's also the reason why none of us want you to resign because we know you'll be back stronger than ever."
"...Stronger than ever, huh," Keiji repeated before they went over to the waiting car where Seiichi and Akaya were. "...Then I will..." he said. “...come back stronger than ever.”
Akihiro nodded. "The first thing you need to work on is getting the feeling back in your arms. Writing skills first or else your data notebooks will be empty," he said with a chuckle, smiling.
"No need....my back-up files are safe in the best storage system in the world," Keiji said with a grin. "In my head," he said proudly.
After a while, they have returned to the hospital and Keiji was trying to get himself comfortable.
"Anything in particular you need?" Akihiro asked as he sat himself down in the chair next to the bed.
"No, I'm fine," Keiji said with a nod. "Thanks Aki," he said before suddenly frowning. "Akuma-kun's throwing a tantrum though..." he informed him. "Even Shinshi's pissed about the situation."
"It's because they can't do anything for the moment, I assume?" Akihiro figured as he leaned back on the chair, crossing his arms. "Well, it will take a combined effort from all three of you to get those arms of yours to cooperate. The nerves are still connected but they're too weak for the brain to move them," he explained.
"Akuma-kun's already been trying to get a response from them but nada," Keiji informed him before sighing.
"That's because you're not supposed to rush the response," Akihiro scolded. "It's only been a day since the operation. Rest up so you can try it a little at a time," he suggested.
"I'm surprised Aki-chan knows what advice to give," Seiichi informed Renji from outside the room.
Renji chuckled. "Considering he's your son, Seichii, I'm not at all surprised," he told him before glancing at the door.
"I'm back with the sodas~" Akaya said merrily as he approached with a plastic bag.
Nodding his thanks to his husband, Renji took a can before glancing at Seiichi. "Say...when are you planning to tell Genichirou about the organization?" he asked.
"Arigatou Akaya-kun," Seiichi said in thanks to the former ace as he took a can for himself and leisurely opened it. "About Gen... I suppose it would benefit us more if he knew, wouldn't it?" he asked with a chuckle. "On the other hand, Gen not knowing makes my life much easier~"
"Sanada-fukubuchou should honestly learn to loosen up a bit more," Akaya said as he leaned on the wall.
Renji nodded in agreement. "He's bound to go ballistic once he finds out about the circumstances that you put yourself in, Seiichi."
"Not if I tell him myself," Seiichi defended confidently, taking a leisurely sip from his can of soda. "That way I can absorb any 'ballistic' reactions he may end up throwing."
"I'd give anything to see that!!" Akaya piped up.
Renji chuckled. "I'd like to say the same but I'll let the opportunity pass this time," he answered.
"Trust me you would rather not see what happens when I tell him~" Seiichi teased Akaya with a sadistic, knowing smile.
"You know that makes me more curious, buchou!!" Akaya whined.
Renji patted the younger on the head before taking a sip from the soda can. "Though I have a feeling we'll be the ones more surprised if ever we tell him," he said thoughtfully.
"Why is that?" Akaya asked.
"I don't know...it's just a feeling."
"I would have to agree with Renji on that one," Seiichi admitted, chuckling that perhaps there was something more to his husband than they first realized.
Akaya looked at the two of them and frowned, not really understanding what was going on. "Well...it's time to feed Keiji," Akaya said as he lifted the plastic he had that contained some food. "You think Aki'd like to do it or are you taking him home already buchou?"
"Aki-chan would complain if I took him home so quickly," Seiichi replied, leaning back on the wall. "We can go after Keiji's done eating."
Akaya nodded and knocked on the door before opening it. "Kei~ Time to eat," he told his son before holding up the plastic.
"...That better not be chicken..." Keiji said flatly.
"Tough luck kid. It's chicken," Akaya said with a smirk on his lips.
Chapter 15: Guardian
Aki volunteers to look after Keiji in the hospital as he begins the long healing process, still holding on to the hope of recovery. Together, they contemplate on the status of their tennis club.
"Can I feed him?" Akihiro requested, straightening up on his seat.
Seiichi followed Akaya inside and smiled. "We can go after you feed him Aki-chan~" he informed his son, patting him on the head.
"Chicken," Keiji said in distaste but sat up nonetheless. Wincing at the pain and slightly stumbling back in a lying position, the vice-captain managed to get himself upright with minimal assistance.
"That's my boy," Akaya praised quietly as he hid a smirk behind his hand.
Smiling fondly at Keiji's progress, Akihiro took the food and prepared the first serving as he waited for his boyfriend to sit up. "Hai. Say 'aaaah'~" he coaxed.
Obeying his boyfriend, Keiji resigned himself to eating the chicken dish that was as unidentifiable in taste as it was in looks. "Bland," he commented after a bite.
Akihiro glanced down at the food before searching in the bag to pull out some seasoning, spreading some on the chicken. "That should put some flavor and get your appetite savored," he said before taking another serving and offered it to Keiji. "Hai~"
"This appeals to my tastebuds more," Keiji said in approval. "More please."
At this Akaya chuckled. "Aki really knows Keiji inside-out doesn't he?" he complimented. "...and why was he carrying seasoning around?"
"Your husband slipped some into the bag with the food," Seiichi observed as he watched his son feed Keiji. "Aki just happened to notice."
"Renji!" Akaya reprimanded.
"Chances that Keiji wouldn't appreciate bland hospital food 100%!" Renji said in defense.
"They give that food for a reason!"
"...A little seasoning wouldn't hurt, right mom?" Keiji asked suddenly, using the term he only used in the safety of their home.
"The important thing is he consumes the chicken. The seasoning doesn't contain any intoxicants that will disrupt his healing," Akihiro explained, mixing the seasoning into the chicken thoroughly. "Ne mama?" he added with a smile.
Seiichi nodded. "Ee~"
Caving in, Akaya sighed. "Alright then, you guys win," he told them. "But chew thoroughly, Kei!" he said.
"Of course, Kaa-san," Keiji said with a smile.
Once Akihiro had finished feeding Keiji, Seiichi got to his feet. "Yosh. We'll take our leave for the day Renji, Akaya. Rest well Keiji," the former Rikkai captain greeted the family.
Leaning forward and kissing Keiji on the cheek, Akihiro pulled back. "Get lots of rest okay Kei?" he said quietly.
"Aa..." Keiji said before looking up at Akihiro. "Visit me again soon?" he asked hopefully. "I'd really like it if you could," he added. "It'll help me get motivated enough to be able to gather enough energy to leave this place."
"Don't worry. I promise I'll come and visit every single day," Akihiro vowed. "That way your motivation increases."
"Thanks for coming over, Sanada-tachi," Akaya said with a bow with Renji doing the same.
"See you tomorrow, Seii-jii, Aki…Gen-jii," Keiji said with a smile.
Akihiro wheeled around to see his father just enter the room, the car keys in hand. "Hello papa~" he greeted.
"Looks like I came just in time," he remarked.
Akaya grinned. "Punctual as always...Sanada-fukubuchou," he said.
Renji chuckled. "He was outside the entire time, weren't you Genichirou?"
Genichirou nodded in agreement. "I didn't want to destroy the atmosphere," he defended.
"Hai hai...I'll see you at work tomorrow then, Akaya's staying here to watch over Kei," Renji told them.
"Damn right I am," Akaya said with a huff.
Renji nodded. "I'll just pick Sai up from practice," he told the two before heading out with the Sanadas.
Just as Akihiro promised, he came back to visit Keiji every single day after school, and even on weekends. That weekend, Akihiro got permission from both his and Keiji's parents to look after him that night, owing to the fact that the Yanagi's needed to be at work for some important business.
"I'm starting to get suspicious of what our parents do Aki," Keiji told his boyfriend who was currently massaging his arms. "I saw a roster of suspects one evening when Tou-san was asleep," he said skeptically. "There's a 90% chance that they're involved in something shady, and 10% probability that my mind was just playing tricks on me that night," he pointed out.
Akihiro chuckled. "Well, whatever the case may be, I'm sure it's not something illegal," he commented as he continued massaging Keiji's arms. "Otherwise they wouldn't be showing themselves in public so often."
"That's true," Keiji said as he looked down at his arms. "I'm guessing that the lack of bleeding is a good sign," he told his boyfriend. "Two weeks’ time by my estimate, the feeling should come back to my fingertips at the very least."
"Just be sure not to rush it too much Keiji," Akihiro reminded his boyfriend, bringing his arm up and kissed the back of his palm.
"I'm not, don't worry," Keiji said with a smile. "How's the team by the way?" he asked. "I heard non-regulars would be asked to do laps around the hospital if they slack off."
"Minimal improvements from the non-regulars; still complaining about all the laps I give them," Akihiro explained. "The rest of the regulars are still on point with their training so at least there's that. I'm still finding someone to fill in the reserve spot since you're going to be on hiatus for a while among the non-regulars," he added.
"As much as it displeases me and Akuma, I'd suggest you put in Tachibana in the meantime," Keiji suggested. "There's an 87% chance he'll transfer in the middle of the year anyway, giving you enough time to pick out another."
"He completes a line-up but we still lack a reserve player," Akihiro explained. "I'm a little disappointed in the lack of progress with the juniors and even the seniors."
"Aki, there's a negative chance that we'd even need a reserve with our line up," Keiji said with a frown. "You and the others would be enough to take us to the nationals."
Akihiro nodded. "I suppose you're right," he conceded. "We'll make sure that we win the championship. That way... The courts will be ready for your return."
"Aa," Keiji said with a nod. "And once that I do, the already invincible team of Rikkaidai Fuzoku will be unstoppable," he said in determination.
Chapter 16: Determination
A spark of hope reignites Keiji, as he and Aki contemplate on their parent's occupation.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"That's the spirit~" Akihiro cheered with a smile. "Now your arms may still be numb but this might hurt a little," he warned before exerting a bit more pressure at a certain point on Keiji's arm.
"I feel nothing," Keiji said flatly as he looked at his arm. "Seriously this is rather annoy---Aki do that again," he said hurriedly as he frowned.
Akihiro smiled softly and did as his boyfriend instructed him; repeating his action and squeezed his arm with the same pressure.
"Looks like there's really hope, after all," Keiji said with a smirk as he looked down on his arm.
Akihiro chuckled. "And here I wondered when you started to doubt yourself," he teased.
Chuckling to himself, Keiji nodded in understanding. "By the way Aki, Kaa-san said I can go home by the end of the week," he informed the captain.
"That means you can finally say goodbye to these four white walls holding you hostage," Akihiro teased with a chuckle.
Keiji nodded. "Though the walls at home are also meticulously white," he said thoughtfully, wanting to adjust his glasses but was unable to because of his arms. Inwardly sighing, Keiji looked at Akihiro. "Your parents picking you up today?" he asked.
Akihiro shook his head. "I'm staying over since your parents are busy remember?" he reminded him, inching forward and adjusting his glasses for him. "That better Kei?"
"…Right," Keiji said as he smiled at Akihiro. "Thank you, Aki," he said before looking at the time. "I still wonder what our parents do," he said offhandedly. "I mean sure they tell us, but don't you think the information is a little vague?" he asked.
"I think they explain it vaguely for the reason they won't or can't divulge any more than they should," Akihiro assessed. "Of course that's just my take on the matter."
"Then perhaps it's about time to get information from them, then. Directly or indirectly," Keiji said with a smirk.
"And your suggested plan of action?" Akihiro inquired in interest.
"I hate to say this but...the best course of action is to charm it out of them," Keiji said in distaste. "My parents wouldn't admit things during a sit-down conversation, that's for sure."
"Your father alone is difficult. Your mother just needs a little coaxing to start talking really," Akihiro stated critically.
"...Maybe we should make some cookies...you know...the ones with the sprinkles? Kaa-san likes them a lot," Keiji said thoughtfully. "But other than that I guess we could just investigate for ourselves..."
"Well that would mean that I'd be doing most of the investigating," Akihiro said pleasantly before getting to his feet. "May I join you on the bed?" he asked gently.
"Of course," Keiji said as he slowly moved to the side to make space for his boyfriend.
Carefully assisting Keiji with moving his arms, Akihiro moved onto the bed beside him and snuggled up to his boyfriend. "You'll get out of here soon enough. But for now, I'll be sure to keep you company," he promised.
"Having you here means a lot more to me than you can ever imagine," Keiji whispered lovingly as he moved as close to Aki as his condition would allow him.
Smiling gently, Akihiro placed an arm over Keiji and kept him close. "And you don't know how happy I am to hear you say that."
Looking at Akihiro, Keiji inwardly sighed sadly. 'I want to hold you....so much...' he thought as he closed his eyes and willed his arms to move, even just a little. And then he felt it; the slightest hint of the feeling of fabric at the tips of his fingers. Keiji's eyes opened in surprise, thinking for a while if he should give it a try. Concentrating for a while, he gave it a go...and smiled when he felt his fingers move slightly, closing down on Aki's hand that was placed on his palm.
Smiling without having to look down, Akihiro leaned forward and kissed Keiji on the cheek. "You're getting there Kei," he whispered. "I love you..."
"Aa…" Keiji answered quietly as he closed his eyes again to rest. "I love you too, Aki..." he told him. “....so does Akuma and Shinshi...” he followed up.
"I know they do," Akihiro said with a faint chuckle. "Now let's both get some shut-eye. Maybe your arms will be more cooperative in the morning."
Keiji nodded. "They better be," he muttered under his breath before starting to doze off. "...then I can play tennis again..." he mumbled before falling asleep.
Akihiro smiled gently as he watched Keiji fall asleep. Caressing his boyfriend's cheek lovingly, he sighed happily. "Go and defy all the odds, Keiji..." he whispered quietly.
Keiji slept on, his hand around Akihiro's own. He slept more easily now compared to the past days. He was defying data and that was all he needed to know. As he fell back into unconsciousness, Akuma came forth and slowly opened his eyes. He looked at Aki before letting out a sigh. "We'll come back on the field, buchou," he whispered. "That's a promise."
Akihiro smiled sweetly, recognizing the shift and squeezed Akuma's hand. "Aa. Wakatteru," he said reassuringly, nodding. "I look forward to when that day arrives, Akuma-kun~"
Akuma nodded his head before turning his gaze to the window. "You and me both buchou. You and me both…"
This is the last chapter for the series for now! The next chapter will be a flashback focusing on Sanada and Yukimura's love story. We'll be seeing these boys again after we shift focus on the other schools' second generation as well.
Chapter 17: FuuRinKaZan: Sanada and Yukimura's Story
A flashback chapter that focuses on how Yukimura had Akihiro, and why Sanada was kept in the dark for so long. Ultimately a sweet chapter on the second generation kids when they were younger.
The U-17 camp was a hardship for Sanada. He had fought tooth and nail to revive and rejoin the rest of the middle schoolers to continue the intense training. Upon his return, he saw that Yukimura had stepped up his game; he was a cut above the rest. But Sanada wasn't about to let himself get put down because of that. He worked even harder and fought for a spot in the top 20.
The camp nearly came to an end. Sanada was rooming with Yukimura that last night, but no words were exchanged. There were so much tension and confusion that came between them these past few years, singularly because of this camp that Sanada wondered if that spark ever did still exist. To him, it did. But he felt ashamed still.
For Sanada, he constantly needed to prove his skill.
Yukimura attended the U-17 camp for two reasons. The first was to see what was potentially waiting for him after their graduation and the second was to see if Kirihara was ready to take over for them. They would all be graduating, after all, leaving their little ace all alone and who knows what would happen next.
As the camp came to a close, Yukimura fulfilled his two reasons. He had successfully gauged his senpais and had reassured himself that Kirihara would be just fine.
Now they were going to board the buses. A few more minutes and they'd be back at Rikkai and they would be starting to practice their graduation ceremony. After all, Rikkai had always closed school last among the rest so it wasn't such a surprise.
But before they headed back he had to do one more thing.
"Yagyuu," he called out, stopping by the gates of the camp. "Do you have a minute?" he asked.
Yagyuu adjusted his glasses before looking over at Niou and nodding to him so he could go on ahead to the bus. "What is it, buchou?" he asked as he approached the other teen.
"I may be needing your assistance sometime soon."
Yagyuu raised an eyebrow at this. Yukimura asking him for help instead of Renji and Sanada? This was new...if not a little alarming. "With what?" he ventured to ask.
Yukimura's smile merely grew as he pulled out something elongated from his jacket pocket.
Yagyuu almost fainted.
Niou made his way to the bus before taking a detour and ducked behind some shrubs to listen in and snoop. That was his style after all. Straining to hear the conversation, his eyes widened when he saw what the good captain had reproduced from his pocket - a pregnancy test strip. Immediately he jumped up and dashed to catch Yagyuu and hold him steady. He had been talking to the bespectacled boy about future plans and having kids was a sensitive topic for him at that point. "I can help out too buchou," Niou offered. "I can keep Sanada-fukubuchou in the dark if you like puri~"
Yukimura had expected that Niou would be lurking nearby and chuckled as the trickster came out of the bushes to steady Yagyuu. "That would be much appreciated, Niou," he told him with a nod of his head. "Sanada plans to go overseas like Tezuka to pursue a professional career. He doesn't need this.... not now," he said as he looked away sadly. "We also have our own things to organize, don't we?" he added.
Niou nodded his agreement. "That's right puri. Hiro and I will help you out in any way we can buchou," he said in a tone of maturity before smiling. Looking around, he spotted Sanada approaching. "Yabbe. To the bus!" he hissed, urging them to the transportation.
Sanada raised an eyebrow as he saw the three. Eyes locked in on Yukimura for a while before he silently and inwardly shook his head. 'He already knows about my plans... Just wish him luck,' he thought to himself.
Yukimura watched as Yagyuu stiffly walked back to the bus, barely regaining consciousness. He smiled knowingly before turning around to face Sanada. "You're not planning to skip the graduation ceremony before leaving, are you?" he asked playfully as he adjusted his hold on his bag. "Come on then, we need to get on the bus," he said before looking around, spotting some buses already leaving and noted that the Seigaku and Hyoutei buses were still there since Fuji and Atobe were seemingly talking. 'What's this? Looks like I'm not the only one making plans,' he thought in amusement, spotting Fuji's body language.
Sanada walked up to Yukimura and frowned. "Why would you think I'd miss it?" he asked in slight disapproval. "I at least want to graduate properly before I set off for the world," he said quietly to the blue-haired captain.
"I know..." Yukimura said quietly. "Come on then, let's not miss the bus," he urged before walking back to the Rikkai bus where he could see Akaya snuggling with Renji who was seated by the window. Looking away from that scene he soon boarded the bus with Sanada following behind him.
Two and a half years passed since that day. The entirety of Rikkai graduated and settled into high school, all the while starting their little group of elite investigators which was soon recognized underground by all governments worldwide.
Yukimura had Akihiro during all this. The birth was known by a select few...which was really just Rikkai sans Sanada. They were all pretty supportive and in the progress of those two years, the other regulars had kids of their own.
During one fine semestral break, the group decided to take a few days of vacation to watch the championship of the Davies Cup that was being held in France.
Each pair went their separate ways for a while, agreeing to meet at the courts within an hour. After all, they had a surprise to organize.
While going around the streets of France, Yukimura was walking along as he held the hand of the young Akihiro. "Aki-chan, don't let go of my hand, okay?" he reminded the child as they approached an area with a heavy crowd.
"Okay Kaa-san," Akihiro answered with a smile, gripping Yukimura's hand as he too spotted the crowd. He must have sensed his mother's anxiety as he stepped closer to him. After a few minutes of wading the crowd, however, Akihiro flexed his hand and found no hand to hold. He immediately stopped and looked around, panicked but surprisingly kept his cool. "K-Kaa-san?" he called out. Whimpering slightly, he moved off away from the crowd and sat down by a tree. Maybe his mother would see him better there.
Yukimura had a near heart attack when he suddenly felt the absence of his son's hand on his own. It wasn't like him to lose his cool at all but this was a different matter. These were one of the times he wished Niou would randomly pop up. "Aki?" he called out in worry as he moved off to the side hoping to see the little boy nearby.
Akihiro looked around when he heard his name but couldn't find the familiar face. Standing up to hopefully get a better vantage point, he jogged up to the side of the crowd and looked around before hearing some cheers from the courts. Interest piqued, little Akihiro wandered towards it and spotted the players walking out onto the courts to the cheers of the crowd. "Uwa..." he said in astonishment.
"What are you doing all alone little boy?" came a low voice from behind him.
Jumping in surprise, Akihiro wheeled around and looked up to see a man with a black cap cradling a tennis bag over his shoulder. "You're tall," the boy remarked with a chuckle.
Sanada's manager, who was trailing behind him, spotted the boy. "Are you lost?" he asked Akihiro before looking around. "Come here, I'll take you to the security center," he offered before reaching out to take Akihiro's hand. "What's the name of your parents? We'll have it announced."
"I don't know my Tou-san," Akihiro said, glancing tentatively at the offered hand and stuck close to Sanada's legs. "But my Kaa-san is somewhere here." He sniffed, not realizing that his eyes were brimming up with tears.
Sanada glanced down at him and knelt down, taking his hat off and placed it on top of Akihiro's head. "Don't cry now," he cooed.
Akihiro sniffled again and took hold of the huge bill of the cap with both hands to adjust it, looking up at Sanada with a smile. "You're nice," he remarked.
Sanada returned the smile with one of his own. "Now... who's your Kaa-san?" he asked.
"Yukimura Seiichi," Akihiro replied methodically.
Sanada froze, staring wide-eyed at the little boy in front of him.
"Aki! There you--" Yukimura stopped as he saw who was with his son. He glanced at Sanada and his manager before turning his gaze towards Akihiro. He then smiled before walking the rest of the way towards them. "Are you okay? No bruises anywhere?" he asked as he crouched down to check Akihiro over. He held him at an arm's length before pulling him close. "I was so worried," he said before standing up, picking Akihiro up with him. Turning his gaze to Sanada, he chuckled. "We were supposed to meet you tomorrow. I'm a little early," he said in amusement.
"Mm! I'm okay Kaa-san," Akihiro said in reassurance, hugging Yukimura before turning to Sanada as he was carried. "Do you know him?" he asked curiously.
Sanada softened his gaze. "Seiichi...." he breathed, running a hand through his hair due to the lack of his cap that was still nestled on top of Akihiro's little head. “Is he...?” he ventured to ask, confirming his hopefully positive suspicions.
"Mine? Yes," Yukimura answered, avoiding the question that he knew Sanada was asking. He wasn't sure how Sanada would take it. After all, there was still the French Open....there was still Tezuka Kunimitsu that stood at the top. "Aki, give the nice man his cap back," he told his son before kissing him on the cheek. "We need to go back to the others."
Sanada frowned, crestfallen. His heart pained and he wasn't even sure if this was his son.
"But I wike it," Akihiro remarked with a frown, clasping his small hands on the bill protectively.
"Seiichi, I...." Sanada trailed off for a while, pursing his lips trying to make his decision.
"Sanada-kun we need to go!" his manager reminded him.
"No," Sanada finally said, gazing at Akihiro and slowly turned to Seiichi. He tossed his tennis bag to his manager and advanced a step forward and kissed the former captain.
Akihiro, thankfully, had the bill down and didn't see.
Seiichi took a small step back so that Akihiro wouldn't be crushed and returned the kiss, throwing a hint of longing into it but not so much to be carried away. After all, they were out in public and Akihiro was just in his arms. Pulling away, he smiled and saw Sanada's expression. Inwardly he sighed before glancing at the manager who was looking at Sanada in confusion.
"Yes, Genichirou..." he told him quietly. “He's also yours,” he finished before looking at Akihiro, adjusting his hold on the boy. "Aki-chan, you need to ask your Tou-san if you can keep it before you actually do," he scolded lightly. "Go on," he coaxed as he gestured towards Sanada.
Akihiro looked expectantly at the pair, smiling and adjusted the cap. "Can I keep the cap Tou-san?" he asked politely.
Genichirou beamed at the boy and reached out to pat him with it, relief sweeping over him, nodding. "Aa. That's yours," he replied.
Akihiro shared a wide smile reminiscent of Seiichi before reaching out and pushed their cheeks towards each other. "Make kissies and make-up?" he asked.
"The things you pick up from Jackal," Yukimura said with a chuckle before leaning forward. "Kiss and make up then," he said before kissing Sanada on the lips. It was then that various flashes appeared all around them. "Your paparazzi have arrived," Yukimura said in amusement.
"I don't care," Genichirou answered with a calm smirk as they parted from their kiss, much to Akihiro's amused applause. "I already missed enough watching Aki grow up. I'm not going to make that mistake and miss another important milestone in his life. I have family that's more important," he stated family.
"Family~" Akihiro provided with a smile.
This caused Seiichi to chuckle in amusement and relief. Finally, it was time for his little family to come together. "Aa...Family," he said before kissing Akihiro on the cheek. "Come on then, before any talent scouts approach Aki again."
Genichirou furrowed his brow as he took his tennis bag from his manager again and headed off with the pair, away from the crowd of cameras. "Talent scouts?" he asked in surprise.
Akihiro spotted the bag and reached out for it. "Tennis~" he stated happily.
Yukimura nodded. "Talent agencies apparently notice the obvious potential that Aki has if he chooses to go to the entertainment world," he explained as he walked with Sanada. "But I think Aki prefers sports," he said proudly.
Genichirou turned to Akihiro for a moment, holding out a tennis ball he had stowed in his jogging pants pocket which the boy took.
"Tennis ball~" the child identified happily.
"He'll lead Rikkai to that championship that was taken from us," Genichirou said with a smirk.
"You really can't expect anything less from our son, Genichirou," Yukimura chided as he watched Akihiro take and play with the tennis ball.
"After all, Akaya and Renji's child seems to be shaping up to be a possible vice-captain," he added. "He just has a bit of a problem to work on."
"Devil Data is a bad mix," Genichirou pointed out immediately, frowning.
"Keiji~" Akihiro identified, clapping his hands together with the ball in between, not really making much of a sound.
Genichirou turned to their son for a moment of contemplation. "Does he get along with...Keiji?" he asked his husband curiously.
"Keiji is funny," Akihiro shared, giggling.
"Actually...you should see it for yourself..." Yukimura said as he gestured to a boy in the middle of a crowd that was shouting rather colorful Japanese words at the foreigners that didn't understand him. Bloodshot eyes darted around restlessly. In his hand was a toy racket. "Someone got lost..." Yukimura said with a sigh before putting Aki down.
Akihiro walked up towards Keiji, past the legs of people and to the boy, smiling. He reached out and patted him soothingly on the head. "Okay Akuma-kun you can relax. No one's playing with you 'cause they don't know what you're doing," he scolded lightly. "Don't make me take the racket away," he warned.
Keiji - who was currently taken over by his Devil personality - put down his racket and bowed his head. "They knocked off my glasses..." he muttered in his defense as he glanced at the broken pair on the ground.
"Keiji!!" came the frantic voice of Akaya moments later as he pushed through the crowd. "A-re? Aki-chan's here," he said before looking around. "Aaaah! Fukubuchou!" he identified as he saw Sanada standing with Yukimura.
"Here~" Akihiro said, pulling out an extra pair of glasses to the boy. "Your tou-san gave this to me to give to you in case yours broke," he explained.
"It would seem as though Genichirou has chosen a side," Renji chided with a smirk as he approached.
Genichirou nodded to the data man and regarded Akaya in the same manner.
Yukimura chuckled before nudging Sanada. "Now watch," he whispered.
Keiji slipped on his glasses and immediately all tension disappeared. "Chance that you'd find me before my parents....100%," he muttered before Akaya promptly picked him up in case anything else happened.
"Come on, Aki-chan," Akaya encouraged before making their way towards Sanada and Yukimura. "I have to thank Aki-chan again, buchou. If he was any later, Akuma might have used pebbles," he said in distaste.
Yukimura nodded. "It was fortunate that we arrived when we did, isn't it?" he said with a smile before picking Akihiro up again.
"I thought the party was tomorrow," Akaya added as he looked at Sanada.
"I predict a change in the wind considering that Genichirou is not preparing for his scheduled match," Renji supposed. "94%."
"Family's more important," Genichirou said simply, turning to Seiichi and Akihiro, smiling and gently plucked the boy into his own arms.
"Tou-san~" Akihiro said with a sigh, hugging him.
"Then we can have a party earlier~" Akaya said with a happy grin.
"Did someone say earlier party?" a small child that highly resembled Niou said as he appeared in the middle of the adults.
"Mitsui," Keiji pointed out.
"That means the rest of the Niou family is around," Akaya pointed out.
"Puri~" Shoichi simply stated, stepping out from behind his twin.
"There's two of them," Genichirou said in shock.
"Fukubuchou spotted puri~" came a lower voice as Niou came into view dragging his hubby with him. "Reunion earlier?" he asked with a grin.
Akihiro waved at the pair. "Hello~"
"Yes, they had twins," Seiichi answered.
Akaya grinned before looking at the time. "Yabbe, I need to get back to the hotel room," he exclaimed before handing Keiji off to Renji. "Sai should be awake and who knows how long Marui-senpai can keep him amused," he said. "See you later, Fukubuchou!" he called out before running off.
"So then..." Seiichi said. "Shall we get some ice cream before we all head to the hotel?" he asked.
"Ice cream?" the twins and Keiji suddenly asked.
"Desserts before a meal?" Akihiro asked in slight distaste.
"But Aki!!" Shoichi complained.
Akihiro turned to the twin and glared, pointing at him. "Tarondoru!" he scolded with a straight face with the cap in place, much to the shock of Genichirou.
"He's been exposed to watching too many of my recorded club practices," Renji said in apology.
"Dinner before desserts," Akihiro said in conclusion, nodding to himself firmly before he relaxed and turned to his father, smiling.
Genichirou melted immediately. This was indeed his son. He had missed the first two years of his life, but he was not going to let Seiichi raise him on his own anymore. He wanted to watch this boy - his son - grow up and achieve things they never could. He felt a pang of guilt for leaving his family behind, but now that he was back, he clung onto it like a lifeline.