ALONE, adj. In bad company.
In contact, lo! the flint and steel,
By spark and flame, the thought reveal
That he the metal, she the stone,
Had cherished secretly alone.
--The Devil's Dictionary
When one saw Niou Masaharu walking around Rikkai Daigaku Fuzoku's tennis courts hanging out with his friends, they would never think of him as being 'alone'. No, to normal, everyday humans, being alone meant that you were abandoned from everyone. You had no friends, no one to talk to; no one noticed you nor did they ever care about you. This was the ideal definition of being alone.
No one ever suspected that even if you were with people, you could be alone as well.
Ever since Niou was little, he had always felt alone. No, it wasn't as if the people he lived with abandoned him or anything and left him there alone in the house for the whole day, it was nothing like that. It was just that his parents and never bothered to pay attention to him. All his mother did was tell him when it was time to eat their regulated meals. His father? He worked at a company from seven in the morning and didn't come back until eight at night.
Of course, Niou didn't blame them. He understood that his mother just wasn't the type of person that could express their kindness and generosity. And he understood that his father was too busy with his work. Work had to come first, before the family.
Things didn't change when he was in elementary school. He was surrounded with people, of course, but they only talked to him because they thought all his pranks and tricks were cool.
That's why he was so popular. Because of his tricks. His name 'Niou the Trickster' was known all around Tokyo. He was famous, yet he still felt alone. Because no one really knew what he felt on the inside.
Nothing changed during middle school. He was surrounded by his teammates from tennis club. Sanada always reprimanded him because of a new trick he did. Yukimura just smiled. Kirihara complained the whole time like a spoiled little brat and never actually asked Niou what he felt, or how good his day had been. Jackal, well, he was just Jackal. The quiet guy. Marui droned on and on about some new flavored gum he had found while surfing through the internet. Yanagi just took notes on him for his beloved data notebook.
And then there was Yagyuu. His beloved doubles partner. Even he didn't know what Niou felt like, nor did he know what he was thinking the whole entire time. Sometimes he came pretty close, but he never reached beyond the borderline.
It was the same as it had always been. He was surrounded by company, but he still felt alone.
If anyone's wondering what the heck the Devil's Dictionary is, it's a collection of dark/bitter definitions for common terms, written by Ambose Bierce. They're actually pretty interesting.
Meh. For twenty-six words I'll have to write twenty-six chapters. What have I gotten myself into? So many unfinished works now...but I WILL finish them.