When Kirihara first joined the tennis team when he was a first year, he was in awe when he saw the three demons of Rikkai Dai play. He had heard rumors about the three; how they were regulars even though they were only first years. After he saw the three play tennis, he made a personal goal to himself. He would beat all three of them.
Yukimura was literally the Child of God. He amazed everyone with his skill, some even thought he was a demon.
Kirihara wanted to be just like him.
Yukimura was a second year when he first met Kirihara. When he saw him play tennis, he was impressed by the first year's talent. He had asked Renji if he had any data on the boy, and he had answered in great detail.
"Kirihara Akaya, first year. Born on September 25, height 157 centimeters, and weighs 58 kilograms. His blood type is O, his worst subject is English, and his favorite subjects are Japanese and PE. He also seems to look up to you, Yukimura, and wants to beat you in a tennis match."
Yukimura smiled a little to himself. It was nice having someone that looked up to him.
Kirihara didn't know when he started calling Yukimura 'Mura-buchou'. The name had suddenly come to him one day, and ever since then he had started calling him that. At first, he only used the nickname in his head, because he was afraid his captain would get mad at him. Until one day, he accidentally called his captain that while searching for his gym clothes.
"Mura-buchou, do you know where my gym clothes are?" When Kirihara realized what he had said, he cringed and waited for Yukimura to explode and start yelling at him.
Yukimura only smiled. "I think they might be at the back, second shelf to the left."
After that day, Kirihara always called Yukimura 'Mura-buchou'.
Yukimura was in awe by how much Kirihara improved everyday in tennis. He made it his personal goal to help Kirihara become a regular. He trained him, and was always ready to kelp when Kirihara had a question.
Yukimura never knew why he had screwed around with Japanese formalities and began calling Kirihara 'Akaya'. He always called him 'Kirihara' when one day, he just suddenly started calling him 'Akaya'. He hadn't even known the first year that well at the time, and when he tried calling him 'Kirihara' again he'd always forget.
It was a bad habit. But he couldn't help it.
When Kirihara became a regular in his second year, he was really happy.
Until everyone started calling him the 'baby' of the team.
He never really cared when Yukimura called him that, because Mura-buchou would only use the nickname every once in a while. And because he was his Mura-buchou, and Mura-buchou could do anything he wanted.
The training that Sanada gave them was hard. He would feel so tired after tennis practice, and whenever he got home he'd fall into his bed and go to sleep, not even bothering with dinner.
He never complained, because he wanted to be just like Mura-buchou. And Mura-buchou never complained.
When Kirihara became a regular, Yukimura was extremely happy for him. He was proud, because becoming a regular on Rikkai Dai's tennis team was hard.
His happiness did not last for long. When Kirihara fainted on the courts one day from exhaustion, he had blamed himself.
He blamed himself, because he believed he was the one who had pressured Kirihara to work so hard.
And because of him, Kirihara had ended up in the hospital.
"Akaya, you don't have to work this hard," Yukimura said gently. "You're doing just fine."
Kirihara only smiled. "Mura-buchou, I want to be just like you."
Yukimura could feel his heart breaking a little when he said that.
After Kirihara was released from the hospital, he decided he would take better care of his body. He started eating more fruits and vegetables, and after a while he didn't feel so tired because of the intense training Sanada gave. He always refused when Marui offered him sweets, because he wanted to improve his athleticism and become just like Yukimura.
He also didn't want Yukimura to worry anymore just because he ended up in the hospital for his stupidity.
When Yukimura had fallen to the ground, unconscious, Kirihara could feel his heart falling with him.
When Yukimura found out about his condition, he didn't know what he had to do. He was afraid of having the surgery, but he was also afraid of not having it. He was constantly debating with himself, but his mind kept on going around in circles and he never could come up with a conclusion.
When Kirihara decided to visit Yukimura in the hospital, he took his captain's hand and squeezed it. "Mura-buchou, the decision's all up to you. Don't worry."
After he said that, Yukimura knew exactly what he had to do. He couldn't disappoint Akaya, because his fellow teammate had looked up to him so much, and he wanted to be able to play tennis along with him.
When Kirihara had found out about his captain's condition, he was afraid.
He was deathly afraid.
Yukimura was strong. To see his captain become so weak, it really scared him.
That's when his tennis started to change. His style became more violent, and he started hurting people. After winning each match he would smile to himself. He was becoming like Yukimura more and more everyday. Both could scare people with their tennis.
When his fellow teammates had expressed their fears about Yukimura's surgery, he told them to shut up.
"Mura-buchou's surgery is going to be successful. Want to know why? Because he's Mura-buchou, that's why."
Yukimura could feel his heart breaking even more when Renji told him how Kirihara's tennis style had changed. In the blink of an eye he knew why Kirihara had changed the way he played tennis.
Akaya wanted to be just like him.
It was because of him that Kirihara started hurting people. Kirihara believed that they both were the same; they both terrified people with their tennis.
Kirihara was wrong. They were not the same.
When Kirihara had lost his match against Fuji Syusuke, he could feel his heart breaking. He had disappointed Mura-buchou; his captain would definitely be angry with his loss. When Sanada had slapped him he felt he deserved it.
When Rikkai Dai lost in the Kanto finals against Seigaku, he could feel his heart breaking even more. He blamed himself. If only he had won his match against Fuji, Rikkai Dai could've won. It was all his fault.
He felt a bit better when he found out Yukimura's surgery was a success. He vowed to work even harder, so that Rikkai Dai wouldn't lose at Nationals.
When Yukimura was discharged from the hospital he was surprised as he observed Kirihara play. The boy had improved drastically while he was away.
He still felt saddened, though, when he saw that Kirihara's violent tennis didn't change.
He wanted so badly to beg him to stop hurting other people. He wanted to tell him that no, they weren't the same. Both terrified people, but they had their different ways of doing so.
He didn't have the heart to tell Kirihara this. He waited, and hoped that Kirihara would find out on his own.
After Yukimura was discharged from the hospital, Kirihara felt happy. He could see his Mura-buchou play tennis again; he could play alongside him.
It was on that day that Kirihara realized that no, he and his captain weren't the same.
Kirihara's way of terrorizing people in tennis was to hurt them.
Yukimura was gentler. His way of terrorizing people was with his skill. He never hurt any of his opponents, but people still feared him.
It was too late. Kirihara couldn't change his tennis style.
He could never be like Mura-buchou.
Yukimura could never understand why Kirihara looked up to him so much. The truth was, Yukimura didn't think of himself as that great of a person. He didn't like how people were so afraid and utterly bewildered whenever they played a tennis match against him. He couldn't help it.
He also couldn't understand why he paid so much attention to the junior ace. He was just another teammate, and yet he always felt he was being unfair, giving Kirihara more attention than he gave to the rest of his teammates.
He wished he knew why. Really, he did.
Kirihara always wondered why he always looked up to Yukimura so much. He wasn't afraid of admitting that he was just a little bit too obsessed with his captain, but still, he wondered why.
He also wondered why he was so worried whenever Yukimura ended up getting sick.
He probably had a problem with his brain. Maybe he had a bit too much of the obsessive chemical in his body. Yeah, maybe that was the problem.
When Yukimura didn't go to school because of a fever, Kirihara was worried sick.
Yukimura hated getting sick. He hated missing school, and he especially disliked missing tennis practice. He loved tennis, and even missing a day of it made him depressed.
He missed his teammates, and wished he could talk to them, but he couldn't because they were at school right now. He was bored, with nothing to do but just lie in bed and wait for the day to go by.
He missed Kirihara most of all. He didn't know why.
Yukimura suspected he had a problem with his brain. Something was definitely wrong with him, or he wouldn't have been this obsessed with his teammate.
When Kirihara had found out about Yukimura's fever from his vice-captain, he had immediately cut class and ran all the way from Rikkai Dai to his captain's house.
He had no idea why he had done such a stupid thing as that. Yukimura would most likely be disappointed and demand that he go back to school. And once he got back, Sanada most likely would kill him for cutting class and demand that he run a hundred laps for being a bad boy.
He couldn't help it. He had to see his captain.
He definitely had a problem.
When Yukimura saw Kirihara standing in his doorway, he was surprised.
He was surprised that Kirihara had bothered to come here in the first place. He was also surprised with the fact that he wasn't angry at him for cutting class.
"Akaya, what are you doing here?" he had asked.
Kirihara stared at the floor guiltily. "I came to visit you, Mura-buchou."
Yukimura looked amused. "Oh? During school hours?"
"I'm really sorry Mura-buchou! I'll never do it again, I promise!"
"It's okay, Akaya. I was getting bored anyway. Want to watch a movie?"
It was after Nationals that Kirihara realized what was going on.
He had a crush on his captain.
Strangely, he didn't feel surprised when he had realized it. It was like he had known about it all along, at the back of his head, in his subconscious mind.
Kirihara thought it was perfectly normal to like another boy. Of course, until he asked Niou about it one day and said boy had looked at him strangely. Okay, so maybe it wasn't normal to like another boy.
But whoever said he was normal?
Kirihara decided he didn't want to be like his captain anymore. Because his Mura-buchou was special, and he his Mura-buchou to be different.
He didn't want to become a copycat. So he went his own way.
It was probably during Nationals that Yukimura had noticed what was wrong with him.
He had a crush on his teammate.
He, of course, knew that it was perfectly normal. He had seen Niou and Yagyuu in the clubroom way too many times. And he knew for a fact that Marui had taken a liking to a certain sleepy head in Hyoutei.
It was perfectly normal. It was happening all around him.
Even though he knew for a fact that he wasn't normal at all.
Still, he was satisfied with the fact that he wasn't the only one.
Kirihara had no idea what to do.
He was getting scared again.
What would his Mura-buchou think once he found out?
What would the rest of his teammates think? They'd probably shun him for the rest of his life or something and never talk to him again, because he wasn't normal.
"You know, you should just tell your 'Mura-buchou' the truth," Niou had said one day.
"What do you mean?" Kirihara had asked.
"Everyone knows you like the captain, bratling. You're just too stubborn and scared to admit it."
"…But it's not normal!"
"Really? Then that means that Yagyuu and I aren't normal."
"Eh? What about you and Yagyuu?"
"Wait…didn't I tell you?"
Okay. So Kirihara was normal.
He still couldn't face Yukimura though. He felt stupid and utterly hopeless, but he couldn't help it.
"Akaya, what's your New Year's Resolution?" Yukimura asked.
"Hm…" Kirihara thought for a moment. "To stop playing violent tennis…"
The Rikkai Dai regulars all stared at him.
"Akaya, you know full well it's not going to be that easy to change your habits," Yanagi commented. "Perhaps only a 40 percent chance at most."
"Somehow, that bratling not playing violent tennis is going to feel weird," Niou muttered.
"You should go tell him."
Yukimura only shook his head. "Sanada, he might hate me afterwards."
"I don't think he will."
"And he might not."
"Well it's obvious he likes you," Niou said to Yukimura. "I mean, he calls you 'Mura-buchou' and crap. He's never argued with you before either."
Kirihara frowned. "MEANIE!! YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO TELL! AND SO WHAT IF I CALL HIM MURA-BUCHOU?! It's just a nickname! At least I don't call Yagyuu-senpai 'Yag-Yag-chan' or whatever the hell you said!"
"Hey! That was a one time thing!! I only wanted to get back at him cause he kept on calling me 'Haru-chan' and it was getting annoying!"
"It's still a stupid nickname!"
"Well 'Mura-buchou' is a stupid nickname too! At least I didn't call him 'Hiro-chan', or that Horio kid from Seigaku might've thought I was calling him!!"
"WELL MURA-BUCHOU'S BETTER!!"
"Whatever. I think you two will get along pretty well."
"But he's Mura-buchou!!"
"And he's your captain. So there. Let's see what his answer is then." And they both turned to Yukimura.
Yukimura had an amused expression on his face.
Kirihara pouted. "You see? HE'S GOING TO LAUGH AND SAY IT WAS A JOKE AND IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!!"
"Well in MY opinion you two should be a perfect couple. Even though Yukimura's too sadistic to be on bottom."
"But he's Mura-buchou! He plays tennis better than me!"
"…That's not what I meant…but okay."
Yukimura had his I'm-going-to-kill-you-smile. "Oh? Masaharu, are you saying that I will always be on top?"
Yukimura smiled his you're-so-dead-smile. "50 laps. Now."
"Jeez…he's even scarier than Fuji Syusuke from Seigaku…" And Niou took off running.
Yukimura turned to Kirihara. "Want to watch a movie at my house again? This time it's Sweeney Todd."
"But that's a scary movie!" Kirihara protested.
"Don't worry. I'll protect you, Aya-chan."
"…That makes me sound like a girl!"
And they both walked off to Yukimura's house, living happily ever after.
"Hey, Yag-Yag-chan! Let's go stalk them!"