Author's Note: Ok I hope I've redeemed myself. This is the last chapter all. I hope you all enjoy it. I really enjoyed writing it. Anywho… not much else to say. This is it. This is all. This is the whole enchilada.
Disclaimer: not mine and never will be. So there.
The phone buzzed silently until the owner picked it up. "Aa," came the quiet voice.
"Hey! Ryo! Are you heading this way?" Takeshi's excited voice nearly shouted from the phone.
Ryoma quickly pulled the phone from his ear to save his poor eardrums. "Yes, I am."
"Great! Did you know that everyone is healed? Oishi and Eiji look like they used to and act like they used to and I just got beat up from a walking Mamushi!"
Ryoma allowed a small smile to grace his face, even though Takeshi couldn't see him. "Yes, I knew."
"WAAA! How could you have known before me! You're so mean, Ryo-kun," Takeshi yelled exaggeratedly over the phone.
Ryoma rolled his eyes and pushed a strand of long black hair from his face. "Ok, I'll admit I didn't know." He paused for a moment and then went on. "It was more hope than anything. I did know in Fuji-sempai's case because I was there."
"Hmm, I remember that. I really want to see you dress up in drag again. It was amazing that even I didn't recognize you." Ryoma could just imagine the smirk on his lover's face. "So, how'd you know where and when all those people would be?" Takeshi asked.
Ryoma sighed. "You remember when I took a month off of work?"
Takeshi was serious now. "Yeah, I remember."
"I took our private jet to all these places and checked them out. A few weeks before, I hired a very highly recommended detective to find out what was wrong with our friends. When I heard what he found, I couldn't sit still. I actually happened upon most of the people. When I heard their stories, I asked them for help and gave them the descriptions of our friends and told them to tell their stories to them. They agreed."
A chuckle made its way over the phone. "Besides you, of course. That was just brilliant."
Ryoma sighed and leaned his head on the window. It looked like Takeshi wasn't going to be letting him forget that one anytime soon.
"One thing's bothering me, though," Takeshi said, no hint of laughter in his voice. "All those years ago at Atobe's Christmas party, you said you were going to pay him back for him making you dress like a girl. Everyone here thought you'd be getting him back when you fixed everyone. I don't see anything like that, though."
Ryoma chuckled evilly. "Oh, you all were right." He glanced at his watch. "In fact, it should be any second."
Jack Tofferman loved hiking. It was one of his lifelong hobbies. He'd hiked all over America and now he had a chance at Japan. He'd asked all the locals, and they all told him that this was the most beautiful hiking spot in all of Japan. He'd gotten out here by hitchhiking, and the car left a long time ago.
He took a look around him and had to agree with the locals. This was going to be a memorable hike. The forest nearly glowed with life. It was the kind of untamed beauty you couldn't find in America.
He took a deep breath and was about to let it go when he heard a blood-curdling scream. He hacked and coughed and looked wildly around him. He looked toward the sky, and flocks of birds were taking off in different directions. Thousands of birds. He estimated that the scream had come from really far away and scared miles worth of birds to the sky.
Jack shivered at what could have made a human scream that loud. He nervously made the cross sign. He took one last look at the direction of where the scream sounded from and then resumed his hike.
Atobe's butler and Kabaji took the stairs two at a time to get to the room where Atobe had screamed from. They threw open the door and rushed in.
"Master?" The butler panted.
Atobe wasn't looking at them. In fact, he didn't even seem aware that someone else was in the room with him. He was staring at the paper in front of him.
Shishido, Gakuto and Yuushi rushed in right then.
"We thought we heard Atobe-sama scream," one of them said.
Atobe was shaking with rage. In his hands, he held a newspaper. Curiosity got the better of all five people, and they all ran down to the kitchens and grabbed the paper that a maid was reading. She had a shocked and horrified look on her face, as did all the rest of the people in the kitchen.
Shishido plucked it out of the maid's hand, and his eyes immediately went to the picture. On the front was a large picture of a woman wearing a spaghetti strap red dress with slits up the sides. She was wearing black fishnet leggings and expensive ruby red high heels. The face was to die for. The makeup accented every little trace of beauty in that face. But it was the face that they recognized that nearly killed them. The dark purple hair was done up with ruby clips and looked like it was done by a professional.
There was no mistake; this was Atobe-sama they were looking at. The headline was enough to send Shishido and the others gagging. Whether it was to interrupt the coughing or the laughing, no one in the kitchens knew. The headline read: WANT TO HAVE A DATE WITH ME? IF YOU DON'T MIND THAT I'M A CROSSDRESSER, CALL 555-777-9988. That was the direct number to Atobe-sama's house.
They ran upstairs again to see that Atobe-sama was already burning the paper in his hands with a twisted smile on his face. Right then, the house phone started ringing off the hook.
Atobe-sama picked it up and they all heard. "GET AWAY FROM ME! NO, I DON'T WANT A DATE WITH YOU!"
He slammed it down but, not a second later, the phone started ringing again.
Atobe slammed the phone into the wall and screamed, "ECHIZEN!"
Again, birds took flight for the second time that day.
Ryoma could tell that Takeshi was curious, and he reached down into his bag and brought forth a newspaper.
"Trust me, love, when I say that I think I got Atobe back very nicely." The evil grin made the stewardess gulp and walk by very fast.
"Awwww," Takeshi moaned over the phone. "You're not going to tell me. You're so mean, Ryo."
Ryoma chuckled again. "I'm the type of person who holds grudges, Takeshi. Remember that."
"Aa. I already know that, Ryo. Why do you think I never make you angry?" There was a deep love in that voice, and Ryoma smiled sweetly.
"Then I'll show you when I get to San Francisco. Okay?"
"Maa, guess I'll have to settle for that."
Ryoma hung up the phone and tapped it idly against the armrest of his chair. No, no one angered Ryoma, and that was for a really good reason. He figured that by now, Atobe would have every single newspaper burned in that little town where his cottage was located. The thing he would find out very soon was that Ryoma didn't only put it in that town's newspaper. He had made sure to put it in the newspapers all across Japan.
Again, that evil grin returned. Oh, he was enjoying this bit of revenge very nicely. Next was to build up his future competition. That was the whole point of healing his friends. He would have done it anyway, but the only ones who could give him a fight were his former teammates. The building would take years. By then, he would have conquered the world.
He fingered the phone and then dialed a number. It only rang once before it was picked up.
"Hello?" A feminine voice rang out.
"Hello Tomo." He said in the way of greeting.
"Ryoma-sama!" He winced at the scream. "How are you?"
"Much better." He tried to cut small talk. "Thanks for the favor." He said.
"Anything for Ryoma-sama." She gushed.
"Ja." He hung up the phone with a grin.
Tomo, he'd found out, had gone on from high school to become a reporter. She'd done so well that she had a lot of influence in the news business. It wasn't hard for him to ask her to do him the favor of putting a certain photo and caption on the front page. He nearly laughed.
Looks like he had cured his boredom. From now on, he'd have to watch his back for Atobe's revenge. Ryoma picked up his phone and dialed a number. So much to do, and so little time to enjoy revenge. That's what being famous was like. He grinned again.
10 years later
The world was stunned at the appearance of eight new tennis stars. Their talent rivaled that of the famous Ryoma Echizen himself. Rumor had it that these eight were even trained by Echizen himself. People debated over that information for years, saying that it was impossible. Why would Echizen want to have competition? It didn't make any sense.
Yet, these eight players blew through the pros at a very fast pace and began making headlines for themselves.
First, there was Kaidoh Kaoru. The amazing snakelike player that wore his opponents out. Even if the opponents found out they were being manipulated, Kaidoh's amazing stamina never failed to move viewers. He never lost to fatigue. There was a rumor that this player had once hurt his legs badly in a car accident but there were no signs of it so most people blew that information off as a rumor.
Second was Momoshiro Takeshi. The rumors surrounding this player were the most interesting. It was said that this player was in fact Ryoma Echizen's lover. It was true that spectators saw him and Ryoma together quite a lot, and they'd seen these two together for over fifteen years. The possibilities were high that that rumor was true. Momoshiro was an amazing player with the ability to hit a shot called the Dunk Smash. It was a play that could never be returned and so powerful that it left holes in the ground afterward. But he wasn't remarkable only because of that. He had a great strength and pinpoint accuracy to go along with that strength, so that he knew where and when that shot would hit. More often then not, he won his games without using his Dunk Smash, but with his great strength alone.
Third was Kawamura Takashi. This player stunned the world with his split personalities. Like Momoshiro, he had great strength and totally relied on it. The muscles in his arms were rumored to be over 9 inches in diameter. He was called the 'Wild Ball' behind his back because 9 out of 10 times he would injure an opponent due to their stupidity in underestimating him. But when the racket was out of his hand, he'd always rush over and fawn over the fallen victim. He was called the 'Wild Ball' because no one really knew what he was going to do, when or where.
Fourth and fifth were the doubles pair, Oishi Syuichiroh and Eiji Kikumaru. No doubles opponent had ever beaten these two, and high stakes were being placed on them never losing. Companies called them all the time to sign contracts with them and wanted to sponsor them.
Sixth was the data-collecting Inui, who was absolutely scary to go against. It was as if he knew the opponent's moves even before they themselves did. The audience was kept captive with his beautiful, almost art-like, playing.
Seventh was Syusuke Fuji. His triple counters kept the opponents on their toes and the audience coming back for more. His gorgeous looks held the female portion of the world captive and made him the recipient of fan mail and death threats alike. Poor Fuji Syusuke.
Eighth was the mysterious Tezuka Kunimitsu. Not only were his plays as beautiful as art, but his talent was at keeping the ball in his zone and under his control. Not many opponents scored a single point off of this player. Sponsors were plentiful with this player, and he had to actually turn many of them down.
But with all of these amazing players that stunned the world with their abilities, Ryoma Echizen could always been counted on to come to their games. Each and every one of them. So perhaps that rumor of him training these talented players wasn't so off after all…