Mature subjects: drinking, smoking, abuse, and more
I do not own any of the people, places, or things mentioned in this piece of fanfiction. All of that belongs to the series creator, Konomi.
Also, I am looking for someone(s) willing to beta a story I am currently writing. It is a very long story though, currently over 125,000 words. If interested, please leave a review saying so. Email's are fine as well.

Tessa E. Harrison

One would have thought that a Hyotei class reunion would have been more festive than it really was. Oh, sure, there were groups of people who were laughing, catching up with old friends who they hadn't seen in years. But it was much quieter than one would have expected.

Off in a corner, though it had no sign or anything like that to indicate what it was, a couch, two chairs, and a table were left completely alone.

An hour later, a group of four men found themselves drawn to the spot. One, a tall, dark haired man, sat down at one of the couch, joined by a shorter man with dark hair as well. In the chair to the left, a blonde man with a large smile sat. Across from him, the world famous actor with reddish tinted hair.

"Someone want something to drink?" Shishido Ryou asked as he stood up from the couch. The blonde man declined but the other two nodded in agreement. A few minutes later, Shishido came back, three beers in hand.

"Where's Atobe?" Oshitari Yuushi wondered, looking around.

Those words caused Shishido Ryou to turn to his beer, gulping down a large portion. "He won't be showing up."

"Why not?" Oshitari wondered. Shishido just shook his head. "Not now, maybe later."

Silence reigned over the group for a few moments. Oshitari broke the silence once again. "Gakuto's missing, too."

"He won't be coming either." This time, it was Akutagawa Jiroh who spoke. The smile on his face had vanished.

The fourth guy looked at Oshitari. "Mind, if you will, telling us what you've been up to? You haven't come to any of the past reunions."

"What's there to say? I haven't had the time;" Oshitari answered, taking a sip of drink. "Besides, I heard you haven't come to any of these things either."

"True," the fourth said with a shrug, "I've been too busy with my acting career."

"And how's that working out for you?" Oshitari shot back. "I see you in the tabloids all the time."

"It's publicity," the other answered, "and besides, it's all just rumors."

"What kind of tabloids have you been seeing?" Shishido wondered aloud at the same time. "He hasn't been in any of the ones around here."

"I live in the U.S. now, Shishido."

Shishido sighed. "Guess you're pretty successful now, too, aren't you?"

The men drank their beers. And a few hours later, the table in front of them was littered with ashtrays, empty glasses, and plates with half-eaten food.

"Anybody hear what happened to our three kohai?" Taki Haginosuke asked.

"Hiyoshi inherited his family's dojo," Jiroh answered. "He seems to be doing pretty good for himself."

"Kabaji's happy," Shishido answered. "He's got a job with one of the Atobe businesses."

"Speaking of Atobe," Oshitari began, "you guys have never explained why he won't be showing up."

Shishido took a long, deep drink of his beer. "What about Ohtori?" Taki wondered. "Anyone know what happened to him." And now, Shishido's beverage was gone. "Life's a bitch," was all he offered.

"That it is," Oshitari raised his glass in agreement.

Jiroh shrugged. "It isn't all that bad. I mean, they're getting close to finding a cure for childhood leukemia."

Oshitari shot the blonde a strange look. "How would you know that?"

"Didn't you know?" Taki began; "he's been donating money to help find a cure for years."

"Ever since my nephew died," Jiroh nodded in agreement.

"More death," Shishido snorted. He had another beer in his hand by now. "Everyone seems to die."

"Well, yes, Shishido, that's part of life," Oshitari answered. He looked around. "It's too quiet with Atobe and Gakuto."

"They're dead," Jiroh said softly. Oshitari's eyes widened in shock.

"Atobe's been dead for years," Shishido added. "And Choutarou's gone, too."

Quiet reigned over the four guys. "How?"

Shishido just shook his head. "Life's a real bitch."

"How, how did they die?" Oshitari wondered as Taki came back with more drinks.

"Gakuto's only been gone for a few years," Jiroh answered. Taki nodded. "He overdosed on pain medication," the actor added. "He was sick of the bullshit."

"Didn't he run away from home?" Shishido wondered, adding his voice in the conversation. Taki nodded again. "Ran away and joined a circus as an acrobat."

"He always did love leaping through the air," Shishido mused.

"It wasn't like he was always unhappy though;" Taki went on, remembering what had happened to his friend. "There was a two-year span when he was on top of the world."

"What happened?" Oshitari pressed, thirsty for knowledge.

"His boyfriend was hit by a drunk driver. And after that, it was basically a stream of one-night stands for the next few years," Taki continued.

"There must be more than that;" Shishido spoke up as he lit a cigarette.

"Those are bad for you," Jiroh warned. To that, Shishido just rolled his eyes, blowing the smoke towards the blonde man.

"Well," Taki said hesitantly, "there is." He sighed heavily. "He met this guy and they were pretty good together. However," he paused, not wanting to really say it but knowing he had to, "his boyfriend had a bunch of mental problems and thought that Gakuto made a good punching bag."

"No," Jiroh let out. "He didn't hurt him, did he?" Taki just nodded. "It went on for almost three years."

No one really knew what to say after that.

"Was it quick?"

Again, it was Taki who just nodded a reply.

"Wanna tell us what you've been up to?" The question was directed towards Shishido. The man snorted, adding, "you'll need me to be a whole of a hell drunker before I'll spill."

With that, three faces turned towards Oshitari, expectant looks on their faces. Realizing that Shishido wasn't budging, the man decided to ask about Atobe.

Shishido shook his head. "It's your turn."

Oshitari glowered at the shorter man and sighed. There was no getting out of it. "I left the country to write my novel."

"The one you were always going on about?" Jiroh wondered. The taller man nodded. "How'd it turn out?"

"Never started it."

"Oh, and what happened?" Taki leaned forward, hair falling like a curtain around his face.

"I found myself in the U.S. Some buddies of mine took me to a party," Oshitari paused, taking a drink, "met this chick, slept with her, found out she was pregnant a few months later."

"Let me guess," Shishido broke in as he stubbed his cigarette, "you did the 'right thing' and married her, didn't you?"

"It was boy," the other man continued, paying no mind to the question, "barely scraped by. Eventually I got a couple of jobs as a Japanese teacher. Tutor on the side."

"How many kids you got now?" Shishido wondered.

"Four." The word was practically spat out, the tone it was spoken in filled with disgust. "Three boys and a girl."

Jiroh looked at Shishido. "Don't you have a daughter, too?"

"Yeah," the man answered, lighting another cigarette. "Her mother dumped her off with me." He gave a dry laugh. "At least she looks like me and not like her uncle."

"And who's her uncle?" Taki questioned, lighting up a cigarette of his own.


Eyes widened at that.

"What'd he think about that?" Oshitari finally asked the question they were all thinking. Shishido laughed again. "I don't know. By then, he hadn't spoken to me in years."

"Why? What happened between you two?" Jiroh pressed. "You guys were such good friends."

"What didn't happen?" The dark haired man asked. "It was all my fault anyways."

"Oh?" Oshitari looked at the guy, eyes looking for an answer but not finding it.

Shishido finished his fourth beer. "It took him about a year to come to the conclusion that guys dating wasn't wrong and that it wouldn't send him to Hell."

"How long were you guys together?" Jiroh munched on a handful of pretzels as they all looked at Shishido expectantly.

"We lived together for awhile and his career started taking off. Soon, he was spending maybe a night or two at home a month." He stopped and sighed, going for his drink when he realized it was gone. Leaning over the table, he grabbed Jiroh's, which hadn't even been touched. The blonde never protested.

"Keigo and I started hanging out more and more while Choutarou was gone."

"And you slept with him." It was a direct, and correct, accusation.

"Choutarou found out and left. Hell, he moved out of the country," a broken laugh that was really more of a sob came from Shishido. "Lived in New York City and killed in a robbery about a year later."

"What happened to Atobe?" Oshitari asked.

"Kidnapped," the three others said at the same time. "The bastards killed him, mutilated his corpse," Shishido added. "That was a fucking hilarious day."

"Why?" Taki brushed his hair out of his face.

"The day that Keigo was found was also the day that Choutarou died. And a year later, the brat was born on that exact day."

Finishing Jiroh's beer, Shishido stood up.

"Life's a real bitch."