Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis
Summary: After the death of his fiance (with the tick mark), Echizen Ryoma vows to find the killer. As he searches, he starts to see a blue-eyed man watching him. He's just there... watching... and watching... As if he is waiting. But whenever Ryoma tries to talk to him or follow him, he disappears. Just like that.
Then, one day, the man suddenly approaches him, and utters six words that shattered his life forever. "You don't belong in this world."
A/N: As you see from the information above, this is a challenge from Sweet Obsidian Rain. First seeing it, I was reminded of the movie The Sixth Sense, but I think I strayed from it.
Thank you for the challenge, Rain, I enjoyed writing it. I hope you like how it turned out. And to everyone else, critique would be much appreciated, this is after all only my second attempt on angst.
He couldn't see the name that was carved on the stone, couldn't read it, because of the haze that impaired his sight. He could no longer bring the image of his beloved's face to his mind; all he could remember was what he had felt. When he attempted to remember the face, the eyes, haziness clouded his mind. All he could remember was how much he had loved him, how much he still loved him, how he yearned for revenge on the person who had deprived him of his love.
He remembered that face, face of the one that had taken it away from him. It was a cruel face, uncaring face with eyes that held no compassion; no feeling once the deed was done and the future ripped away from the two young men whose only error had been to take a stroll in the park, after celebrating their anniversary with their friends and family in a crowded restaurant.
The world had faded in to the haze after that. He could not remember how he got here, how he ended up standing beside the grave he knew belonged to his beloved. The one person that made his existence worth anything.
He lifted his hand to look at the gold band on his finger and a gentle smile formed on his lips, a choked cry escaped from his throat. There were no tears. He could not shed them, not when everything he had was absorbed by the hatred he felt for the one that had taken it all from him.
Everything that held meaning to him had been taken with that single swipe of a knife. Now all he had was revenge. Without it, he had no reason to exist, nothing to keep him from fading, disappearing. Without revenge, without the burning hatred and rage he would become part of the haze that surrounded him. Already he felt its call, tugging at his mind, his soul. It whispered of forgetting, of the bliss of oblivion.
Something moved in the haze and he lifted his eyes to behold a man. Standing in the distance, too far that his face could have been seen, the eyes still bore in to his soul.
Such a curious shade of blue.
"It doesn't make any sense!" Momo screamed, tears running down the side of his face. Some part of Ryoma was jealous of him because of those tears. He wanted them to run down his face, feel the grief. "You were… I can't believe it happened, and not to you!" Momo turned to look at where he was sitting in the chair he always sat in their apartment.
He remembered the day they'd gotten it, the pure joy they'd felt when they got their own apartment together, the freedom they felt. Still he could not bring the face or the eyes to his mind, but he remembered the gentle voice, how it soothed him with whispered words.
Momo sunk down to the floor on his knees, his face still distorted with grief. "We all thought you'd last forever," Momo whispered and buried his head in his hands.
"It should have lasted forever," Ryoma answered him, but Momo did not look at him, neither did he move.
Ryoma turned to look from the window and saw the man again. Down in the street, standing midst the people that passed him by, the man stared up at him with his eyes that held Ryoma in their hold. There was something in the blue of those eyes that held his gaze.
A door slammed and Ryoma turned to see that Momo had left. When he looked through the window again, the man in the street had disappeared. No one looked up to him.
He was back at the grave again. Nowhere else to go he had returned. The apartment held too many memories of that sweet voice, of touches and caresses that made his skin burn like no memory should be able to.
The name, he could see it now, but could not read it. It was not important, he did not need to know the name, remember the face or the eyes, all he needed was that voice, the memory of the love he had felt for the other. The love he had felt the other held for him. Names, faces, what were those when you knew the soul?
He was there again, the man with the blue eyes. Ryoma felt him, before seeing him.
Something in him, in those eyes intrigued Ryoma. He began walking towards the man, only to see him fade in to the haze. Ryoma began to run. He needed to speak to the man, could not let those eyes disappear. He did not know why, but they were important, he was important.
The haze rose, surrounded him, suffocated him with its tendrils, wrapped around him, taking the man away. He could still see the man, his lips formed words but Ryoma was too far away to hear him and even if he had stood next to him, the haze had muffled all the sounds in his world now.
Ryoma fell to his knees like he had seen Momo fall earlier. The tears he had envied of Momo came, his cry of despair with them.
The park at night did not look the same as it had when Ryoma had last walked its paths with his beloved. He had laughed; they both had, held hands. He remembered smiling. There was no longer a reason to smile or laugh.
A couple walked past him, the man had his arm around the girl. They stopped and stood in the middle of the path, staring at the ground, at a place that had not been marked in any way. Curious, Ryoma approached them and as he drew closer he felt dread and the haze rose again, but this time he pushed it away with ease, he needed to know.
Ryoma recognized Tezuka and Nanako and kept his distance. Talking to Tezuka had always made him do the right thing. He did not want that, did not wish for the rage that kept him focused on revenge to fade like everything else.
With her long hair and clear features it was easy to mistake Nanako for someone younger, still a girl. The paleness of her face only made it easier to assume she was young and she clung to Tezuka like a child needing to be reassured that the world was not truly as bad as it seemed at the moment. "I can still see the blood," she said in a strangled voice.
"It's seeped to the ground. The gravel needs to be replaced if they want to get rid of it," Tezuka said, his face grim, eyes fixed on the same spot Nanako was staring at. He held Nanako more tightly as if to support her, but Nanako gave him a smile that told she knew he was the one that needed the touch of another human being more than she did.
"Many couples use to come here at night," Nanako said and looked around. For a moment her gaze paused when it reached Ryoma, but then she looked away, tears gathering in her eyes and she buried her head in Tezuka's chest.
"They don't anymore," Tezuka hugged Nanako and buried his own head in her hair, to hide his tears.
Ryoma waited until they left before he approached the spot. From their words he had expected to see it. Dark red, nearly black. Like an old oil stain. His blood on the ground. He remembered how red it had been, gushing from the wound. Nothing to stop it from bleeding. "I will avenge you," Ryoma whispered. "Somehow, even if I do not remember your face anymore, I know that would have pleased you."
The haze rose, its movement warning Ryoma of the presence he had already felt. He rose to lock eyes with the blue eyed man. He stood there, in front of the man he had chased yesterday and all he wanted to do now was run. But it was too late, the man parted his lips and spoke, "You do not belong in this world."
The voice, not the words or the eyes could do it, but the voice. Ryoma shook his head, fisted his hands in his hair and stumbled backwards, away from the man, fear running through his veins. "You want to take my revenge away from me!" he screamed the accusation. "He was taken from me! I will take away the life of the one who took it!"
This time it was Ryoma who disappeared in to the haze, letting it wrap around him, whisper its song of oblivion, keeping nothing but his revenge in his heart. But even the haze could not take away the image of those eyes that saw to the very depths of his soul.
The light that the sun gave was dull, as if obstructed by clouds, though there were none in the sky. It made him feel cold, when he stood in front of the grave, staring at the name he could not read, thinking of the face he could not remember, missing the voice he could no longer hear.
As he stood there a man, an old man, with only a few grey hairs left on his head and a face so covered in wrinkles you would have thought it impossible for someone so ancient to still walk among the living. His hands were thin; the skin hang from his bones and his body shook with the weight of the years he had left behind him.
The man knelt before the grave and brought trembling fingers to trace the name that had been carved in it. "I never knew your names," the man spoke with a harsh voice. "All I cared for then, were the drugs. I shattered lives for my own pathetic needs and I have paid for many of my crimes, but not for the one I committed against you."
Ryoma knelt before the man to see his eyes. There was grief and regret in them.
"I did not know of what I had done until I found this in my pocket a week later," the man said and laid an old wallet on the ground. He opened it so a picture of two young men was shown. Ryoma recognized his own face in the picture; the other man's face was covered under a dark stain. "I… I never washed the blood of it. I have carried it with me ever since to remind me of my crime." There were tears in the man's eyes.
The rage rising in him Ryoma grabbed hold of the man's collar, brought his own face close to his and growled between his clenched teeth, "You are not him! He would have never cried, apologized for what he had done! He felt nothing!" The old man did not even flinch at his words.
"I know nothing I do could give me redemption. I do not expect forgiveness from your souls," the man bowed his head and his tears fell to the ground.
"He was not you. He was not old," Ryoma attempted again. "He was young and cruel, uncaring, not even hatred was present in his dull eyes when he took a life. It is not your blood I wish to see bled to the ground for my love!"
"Ryoma," a voice whispered and Ryoma released the old man, closed his eyes and wished for the haze to return and take him away. He could not bear to hear that voice. "Ryoma, open your eyes to the truth." A hand on his cheek brought back a memory of warmth that he had thought would for ever be lost to him.
"I know the truth," Ryoma whispered back, not opening his eyes.
"Yet you do not see it," the gentle voice continued to torture him, the touch drove away the haze, keeping it a bay, not allowing the oblivion take him. "Please, I beg you, open your eyes Ryoma. You always used to beg that of me. I did it for you; can you not do the same for me?"
Ryoma opened his eyes to see those blue eyes that had haunted him as long as he could remember. "Syuu…" he whispered and choked on his words.
"I called for you, but you did not hear me," Syusuke said.
"I hear you now," Ryoma whispered back and brought his hands to frame the face of his love.
"I searched for you, but you did not see me," the smile on Syusuke's face made Ryoma feel how warm the sun was.
"I can touch you now," Ryoma whispered and looked back at the grave. "I can read your name, Fuji-sempai," he smiled at Syusuke. "Never let me leave you again."