Pairings: None really thus far, though a few hints at Sana x Yuki, Niou x Yagyuu
Warnings: mentions of violence, some language
Notes: Done for the fanfic100 challenge on livejournal. 100 linked drabbles. Covers Kirihara's entrance to Rikkai up until the anime and beyond.
Episodic Spoilers: None thus far.
He watched them through the mesh fence, hands tightening into claws around the thin bits of metal. They were undefeated, strong. Godlike in their world, a world he would soon be a part of. That was what he wanted. That was what he needed. The power. The speed. The recognition. The acknowledgment. He wanted all of that and more, and he would get it.
He would take them on; learn from them, crush them and then crumble them to dust under his foot. That was the way he knew, the way of life, the way of Rikkai. The strong beat the weak and rose up, and he would stand above them all.
He released his grip on the fence, ignoring the sharp twinges of pain coming from where he'd torn his skin on the metal, and walked away. Soon, he'd be recognized. They would all know and fear the name Kirihara Akaya.
Word Count: 152 / 152
He fell to his knees, bracing himself on his hands in the dirt. He sucked in harsh gasps of air, feeling dizzy and not just a little faint. He knew he'd overdone his training, but there was no other way around it.
He'd been beaten; thoroughly defeated by all three of the demons. He was weak; unworthy. Yanagi-sempai had graciously allowed him to win a game – most likely to get more of his precious data – before trouncing him into the ground. Sanada-fukoubuchou steamrolled through him, squashing him six games to love without pause. And Yukimura-Buchou...
Yukimura-Buchou had stopped the game at three games to love and told him to go clean up, in that soft voice of his. That voice of pity. Kirihara squeezed his eyes shut, refusing to let even a single tear fall over his losses. Only weaklings cried. He was a survivor. He would not be weak. He would not give up; there was no middle ground for him. He would walk the hard road to victory even if it killed him.
Kirihara forced himself to stand up, ignoring the aches and pains of straining muscles, and staggered off into the night to do another set of laps.
From their concealed spot next to the clubhouse, Yukimura and Sanada watched with narrowed eyes. Their eyes met briefly – a look passed between them, and they both nodded firmly.
Kirihara was coming along nicely.
Word Count: 239 / 391
Marui snapped his bubble gum absently as he watched the first year matches. The little hell-raiser – what his name, Kiri-something – was mopping the floor with his current opponent. No one had been able to score a single point on the brat, not even some of the second years who'd dared to try.
The kid was something else. Tiny, skinny, but bursting with energy, and raw power and man did he have a temper. Marui shuddered – those red eyes were creepy.
"So what do you think of our little Aka-chan, Marui?"
Yukimura-buchou's gentle voice drifted past his ears. Marui often wondered how his captain could make himself sound so harmless, when in actuality, he was a terrifying monster with demon-enhanced tennis playing abilities.
"He's good," Marui shrugged. "Damn good. Whose getting the boot?"
"Mitsake-kun has been...slipping," Yukimura murmured.
Marui nodded. The idiotic third year with sub-par skill had had a crush on Yukimura since first year, and it was only getting worse. Sanada was probably close to killing him. Dropping him from the Regulars before that happened would be like a mercy killing.
He stood there with his Buchou, watching as Sanada strode across the courts, Yanagi-sempai in tow, to inform Akaya of his new Regular status. The red-eyed kid had a weird look on his face that gave Marui the chills.
He had a feeling things were going to be interesting from that point on.
Word Count: 245 / 636
He'd made it. He'd made it. He was a Regular. Okay, so technically he was an alternate, and not likely to see any official match time anytime soon, but he was still a Rikkai Regular.
Kirihara held up the jersey that Yukimura had presented to him during the Regulars welcome party they'd thrown him in the clubhouse. He ran his fingers along the soft material, memorizing the feel, inhaling the scent. His. All his. He'd done it. Part one of his plan to become the best player Rikkai had ever seen was complete, and the proof was sitting right there in his hands.
Outside of his bedroom, he could hear his mother and father shouting at each other. His father was leaving tomorrow for another lengthy business trip. He didn't even know that his son had made the Regulars – Akaya hadn't told him. Either of them. There was no point. They'd never cared about anything he'd done before; he had no reason to believe that this time would be different.
Kirihara brought the jersey back up to his nose, rubbing his face against it like a purring cat, and wondered if this was what acceptance felt like.
Word Count: 197 / 833
Yukimura stood at the edge of the courts, clipboard in hand. The sun was bright, making it necessary to shield his eyes with his hand as he kept watch over the first years.
He turned and neatly caught the sunglasses his second-in-command threw at him. "Thank you, Sanada."
Sanada grunted and moved up beside him, glaring across the courts. "They are weak."
"Not all of them," Yukimura mused thoughtfully. "Akaya is doing well."
"He loses his temper far too easily. He lacks discipline and focus."
"Which is something we'll just have to teach him then, won't we?"
"It will take time, but I believe it can be done." Renji joined the two of them, notebook in hand. "He is doing much better then he was at the beginning. He only injured two of his three opponents during practice matches, and he used thirteen percent less force on the second one. I believe he is finally beginning to acclimatize."
"They don't like him very much," Yukimura pointed out. "He's not welcome among the other first years."
"He is a Regular," Sanada said gruffly. "He will be treated differently, regardless of how he plays. He's better off playing at full-strength, all the time."
Yukimura nodded, but still looked a bit troubled.
"I surmise that Akaya has had numerous difficulties in life," Renji said quietly. "I've gathered a lot of interesting data from him, and from what I know from my psychology texts, is that violence continues in a cycle. He picked up those tendencies from somewhere. There is an eighty-nine percent chance of it being from his immediate family."
They digested his words. "He'll learn from us," Yukimura said after a minute. "He's young. And he fits in with the rest of us with little trouble."
"That could be due to the fact that several of us could technically qualify as legally insane, or with severe sadistic tendencies," Renji said dryly.
Sanada snorted. "I hope you're referring to Niou."
The data specialist chuckled. "Of course."
"He'll learn," Yukimura repeated softly, bringing them back on topic. "And in the meantime, we have work to do." His eyes glinted, like light off the edge of a blade. "Let's get to it."
Word Count: 372 / 1205
Kirihara had a habit of practicing long after the others had finished. After they had gone home, he could usually still be found against a wall somewhere on the school grounds, slamming away at the ball relentlessly, trying to drive away some of the restless energy that plagued him. He didn't want to go home – he was a lousy cook, and it was doubtful there was anything prepared at home. His mother was the queen of take-out, and he hated the food she brought home.
If he went home now, he'd have to cook. That meant spending time in the kitchen listening to his mother verbally bash his father, and look to him for agreement. Even ramen noodles took three minutes of time he'd rather spend improving the new serve he was slowly developing. He squeezed the ball tightly. 'Knuckle Serve' – that had a nice ring to it.
Throwing the ball high into the air, he smashed it again.
Word Count: 160 / 1365
Jackal wondered about Akaya. He wondered and he worried. Having been appointed as the brat's unofficial caretaker, he felt he was coming to know the kid fairly well, and what he was learning disturbed him.
Kirihara had just finished a match against some second year in record time. It was supposed to have been a practice match, but the second year had won a game off Akaya, and had made a joking remark about Akaya's ability to handle being a Regular.
Jackal didn't know how else to describe it – it was as though Kirihara had gone blank for a minute, until an undeniably evil-looking smirk grew on his face. His eyes had actually gone red, for Buddha's sake! That was not normal.
Kirihara went on to not only demolish the second year six games to one, but severely bruised his arms and legs too. Jackal knew that only Yukimura and Sanada's admonishments to the first year to not cripple his teammates, kept Akaya from targeting those oh-so-vulnerable joints. Then his eyes had cleared, and he stood there for a minute, watching his opponent crawl away, a hint of confusion, residual anger, and something else left on his face.
Briefly, he wondered if he should say something to someone - say, Buchou, for instance. Then he turned his head and saw Yukimura-Buchou and Yanagi-sempai watching Kirihara, and he relaxed. If he had noticed something was amiss with the first year, then they had definitely see it too.
No doubt Yanagi-sempai would have a plan to deal with Akaya's burgeoning temper drawn up and ready to execute, in the days to come.
Word Count: 275 / 1640
Sanada pulled the brim of his cap down as he watched over his team. While there had been much improvement over the weeks, there was still room for much more. Marui was still consuming far too much sugar then was healthy for him, even if it did help his stamina. Sanada was going to prescribe more running drills. On a treadmill set to a very high level. Preferably with a steep incline. There was just no excuse for requiring half of an entire cheesecake sprinkled with chocolate just before a match.
Niou and his new partner Yagyuu were coming along nicely. Their ability to mesh together almost as one player on the court was racking them victory after victory. Sanada was willing to overlook the strange behaviors and conversations they were exhibiting after matches lately – something about wigs, and no, he really didn't want to know – as long as they kept their levels up.
Jackal was proceeding as expected, according to Renji's elaborate graphing system. More weight training was going to be the focus next term for him. Being half-Bazillion, he possessed a bigger, stronger frame and he would do well to take advantage of the gift genetics gave him.
Even Akaya was doing well. There was still his alarming habit of blanking out during a match, almost 'turning feral', as Niou put it. Renji had consulted the numerous physicians in his family and had deduced that the redness of Akaya's eyes was due to high-blood pressure brought on by stressful situations and poor anger management skills. This was not entirely healthy, particularly over the long run, but for the time being, it served as a deterrent to his opponents, and a barometer to his teammates.
Sanada was not concerned with either his progress or Renji's. Both of them knew their strengths and weaknesses and had a set schedule of training tailored specifically for them.
No, his concern was for Yukimura, who had been looking rather pale lately. Too pale for an athlete who spent the bulk of his time training under the sun. According to Renji, Yukimura had lost weight too. This was unacceptable. He planned to confront Yukimura after practice the next day to discuss it.
Until then, he still had a team to run.
Word Count: 384 / 2024
Kirihara didn't understand why everyone was so excited. Who else was going to be the National Champions? He'd known for months that no other school could hold a candle to Rikkai. His sempai were super-scary tennis demons that ate schools like Seigaku and Hyoutei for breakfast. Well, okay – Tezuka from Seigaku? Kirihara was willing to admit he had some skill. And Hyoutei had that girly freak Atobe who kept staring at Sanada-fukoubuchou and Yukimura-buchou like he was thinking thoughts he shouldn't be. Didn't matter – they still lost out to his sempai, like he knew they would.
As an alternate, Kirihara hadn't gotten to play. He had known the odds of him getting game time were rare, but that still hadn't made it easy to just sit there and watch. But that was alright. He'd get his turn some day. And no one would be safe when he did.
That was his way.
Word Count: 155 / 2175
When Yukimura collapsed on the court during a routine practice, Kirihara felt his whole world come to a stop. His racquet slipped from numb fingers as he watched Sanada break land speed records to get to their Buchou. It seemed everyone was running over but he couldn't get his legs to move. A thousand pounds worth of weights were strapped to his feet, keeping him still.
Across the courts, he could see Sanada's mouth moving, presumably calling for an ambulance. Niou had his cell phone out, already dialing. Kirihara tried again to move, to do something, but he couldn't. His mind was filled with racing thoughts of what life would be like without Yukimura.
Yukimura, the leader of the demons whom he had yet to defeat.
Yukimura, who protected him from the wrath of Sanada whenever he pulled a prank.
Yukimura, the one who talked gently to him when he was in one of his red-eyed rages, calming him faster then anyone else had ever managed.
Yukimura... the big brother he'd never had before. The big brother he wasn't ready to let go of yet.
Akaya saw the wash of red and blue lights play over the court and thought maybe he'd aged a hundred years in the span of a few seconds.
Word Count: 214 / 2388
More to come shortly. Feedback greatly appreciated.