Title: Emptied Life
Pairing: Dirty Pair, some Silver Pair, Sweet Pair, and Platinum. I might add some others later.
I have decided that this story will be the best one I will ever write, because I'm going to put in lots and lots of effort into it and like, thrice check it each time. Because I feel like it. So meh. XD
And no, I will never own Prince of Tennis. Ever.
"In my nightmares, I'm always the coward who runs away."
Mukahi Gakuto breathed in the fresh, misty air that was all around him, and enjoyed the warm breeze that was coming at him. Summer was his favorite season, because it was the warmest time of the year, and the wettest. It had been so long ago since he had been on this strange, small island, and he had missed it. It had been three years. Three long years, and yet he had come back once again.
Any normal human would wonder why he had taken the ridiculously big chance of coming back. It was too much of a risk, and yet Mukahi was the only person alive stupid and headstrong enough to do it. Maybe it was personality and hormone issues. He didn't care. He had come back to get something done. He didn't care if that happened to him, because all he had to do was tell his friends the truth.
Tell them the truth. Tell them why he had disappeared without a word, without even saying goodbye to them all.
The problem was, he didn't exactly know how.
It had seemed easy at first. All he had to do was barge into Atobe's mansion, unnoticed and rant at them for oh, say, about twenty minutes, and then leave it at that. But now he was just moments away from confronting them, and he didn't think he could make it.
"I'm seriously a big fool. I mean, what do I expect from them anyways?" the red head muttered to himself, shaking his head.
He eyed Atobe's tall, luxurious mansion and smiled. "That guy probably hasn't changed a bit since the last time I saw him."
As he approached the big double doors that were looming over him, he could feel his heart beating faster and faster. Really, what was wrong with him? He had planned this confrontation for months, and yet he still felt nervous.
One of the two guards noticed him. "Name?" he asked, face unperturbed.
"Mukahi Gakuto, one of Atobe Keigo's former teammates from Hyoutei's tennis club," Mukahi answered immediately.
"Your business here?"
Mukahi shrugged. "Just visiting."
The guard eyed him suspiciously. "Wait here. We'll inform Atobe-sama of your arrival."
"Atobe, stop looking at yourself in the mirror and just tell us why we're here already," Shishido grumbled. He really didn't appreciate being dragged from his house at 8 o' clock in the morning just because Atobe decided to give out another speech. And on the last day of summer, no less. "If you aren't going to tell us then we'll leave."
"Shishido-san, you shouldn't be so mean," Ootori said, looking worried. "It might be something important."
"Actually, Ore-sama has found an interesting piece of information that I'd like to share with all of you," Atobe replied, never taking his eyes off the mirror that was on the table in front of him.
Shishido waited. Atobe didn't say anything after that, and he rolled his eyes. "Yeah? Go on, we're listening."
Atobe didn't reply back immediately. He continued examining his face and hair for about a minute or two before looking up. "Are you sure you all want to hear of this? It might be quite a shock to you all, ne, Kabaji?"
"Usu," the tall boy answered.
"Atobe, spit it out already, or I'll take your guts and sell them at the fish market," Shishido growled.
"Shishido-senpai, it's not good for you to get so uptight on the last day of summer," Hiyoshi cut in. "Calm down a little. You haven't been calm ever since Mu-"
"Don't you dare say his name." Shishido was glaring at Hiyoshi now. "One more word out of you and I'll hate you as much as I hate Atobe."
"Gekokujou…" was all the reply that he got.
Atobe coughed a little before resuming his little speech. "As Ore-sama was saying-" he was interrupted by the phone. Shishido rolled his eyes at this sudden interruption and Atobe ignored him as he reached for the ringing object. "Yes? What is the matter?" He listened for a few moments before nodding. "Ore-sama understands. Send him up right away."
As Atobe placed the phone back onto its receiver he smiled. "Well, speak of the devil." He chuckled a little.
"Who was that?" Shishido demanded, clearly losing his patience.
Atobe smiled even more. "Apparently our missing red-headed acrobatics player has decided to come and play."
And all the while Jirou was still sleeping on the couch, the same sloppy grin plastered on his face.
The hallway around him was filled with valuable and priceless items, and yet Mukahi ignored them. He couldn't not when he was this nervous. Really, what had possessed him to come flying over all the way from Malaysia? He had spent eight freaking hours in a plane, and what for? To come bursting in Atobe's mansion, rant about his problems, and then just leave?
Mukahi had to admit, he had problems. Especially with his mind.
Shishido was right three years ago. He was stupid.
But it was too late to turn back now. Mukahi something he had to do, and he would make sure that he'd finish it.
"Atobe-sama, the guest has arrived," the butler announced, opening the door.
Mukahi kept his eyes fixed to the ground, not wanting to look up. Of course, he knew he had to look up eventually, but right now he was too afraid to. He imagined the looks on their faces; surprise, probably, and shock. Maybe even hatred, or anger, on Shishido's part. He took a deep breath and raised his head slowly.
His eyes scanned the room quickly. He was right; Shishido was glaring at him as if he was the devil himself. Ootori looked surprised and shocked, but he could see a slight look of happiness in his eyes. Atobe was smirking like always, and Kabaji just stood there, unmoving, motionless. At least that guy hadn't changed at all while he was away. Jirou was sleeping on the couch, just like before.
Hiyoshi was there too, reading a book. At least, he was, until Mukahi barged into the room. As he looked up his eyes were the same, as if he wasn't surprised at all about the mere fact that the boy who had disappeared for three years had come back.
It was Atobe who broke the silence first. "Well, look who we have here. Ore-sama was not expecting such a visit at this early in the morning."
Shishido glared at him. "And I wasn't expecting to be hauled out of my bed this early in the morning either, Atobe."
Atobe waved his hand in a shushing motion at Shishido's direction. "So, Gakuto, what brings you to town all of a sudden?" He was acting as if Mukahi hadn't really disappeared off the face of the earth; that his visit to Japan was to be expected. Really, Atobe acted as if he expected everything, and nothing could surprise him.
Mukahi shrugged, trying to look as if he wasn't on the brink of a nervous breakdown. "I came back," he said.
Shishido rolled his eyes and made a face. "The kid says 'he's come back'. Oh, lovely way to start up a conversation, isn't it? After what, three long years, and we weren't even informed you were going to leave until we were notified by the principal. Real courteous of you, Gakuto."
Mukahi tried to keep his cool. He knew that this was going to happen; Shishido was sometimes so predictable. He didn't blame him, really. It was he who had left so suddenly; he didn't even bother to say goodbye. "Well, my stay here in Japan is permanent. I'm not going to be leaving anymore."
Shishido shook his head. "And how are you expecting us to react to this? Go down on our knees and say 'Gakuto!! Don't leave us again, do you hear? Or else we won't forgive you!' or some other crap, probably."
"You don't have to be so bitchy about this, you know," Mukahi said, wincing at Shishido's melodramatic voice.
"Oh, I don't have to be so bitchy about this, right? Who the fuck do you think you are?!" Shishido suddenly stood up.
"Shishido-san!" Ootori said, taking Shishido's arm and preventing him from moving any further. "Can't we just talk this over quietly?"
"Choutaro, don't you get it?!" Shishido shouted. "He's the one who left us all those years ago without even telling us. He just upped and left, just like that. He threw us away like trash, and yet you're still being nice to him!"
"Ore-sama does not appreciate such rude behavior to our guest," Atobe reprimanded from his seat.
Mukahi frowned a little at this. He was just guest, not a friend anymore. Not to any of them, anyway.
Which was to be expected. Really, Mukahi didn't blame them. He didn't blame them at all. It was then that he noticed the missing person that was supposed to be here. "Where's Yuushi?" he asked.
Shishido rolled his eyes for the third time. "Oh, brilliant, now he's asking where his beloved Yuushi has gone off to. I guess that's the only thing he cares about right now, just Yuushi. Yuushi this, Yuushi that, blah blah blah."
"No, seriously, where is he?" Mukahi's voice was rising. "Did something happen to him while I was away?"
"'Did something happen to him while I was away?'," Shishido mimicked.
"You shut up!" Mukahi snapped, glaring at Shishido. "You don't even know the reason why I left!"
"Which is exactly the reason why I'm so mad at you right now!" Shishido snapped back. "After all, you just disappeared out of thin air. Who wouldn't be worried. You never bothered to tell us. Well, that clearly shows me the friendship we had all those years ago; it was nothing to you, nothing at all."
"Oshitari-senpai didn't make it to the meeting today," Hiyoshi called out, never looking up from his book.
"Well no shit he didn't make it to the meeting, he har-"
"That's enough, Shishido!" Atobe said firmly. Ore-sama demands that you get your attitude straightened out, or I'll be forced to kick you out of the regulars!"
"Eh? You've gotten into the regulars now?" Mukahi asked. "That's pretty good."
Shishido let out a bitter chuckle. "Don't underestimate me so easily, shorty," he said, sitting back down. Ootori, seeing that the argument was settled for now at least, sat back down with him.
It was then that Mukahi noticed how tall everyone had become. Of course, Ootori didn't really grow that much, maybe about one or two centimeters. Shishido had grown a lot, and now he wasn't really that much shorter than Ootori now. Hiyoshi had grown some too, and so had Atobe.
Okay. Mukahi felt really short now. He himself had only managed to grow about six centimeters in the last three years.
"So what if I'm short?" Mukahi muttered. "Anyways, what high school do you guys go to now?"
It was Ootori who answered. "Fukagawa High."
"Really?" Mukahi gave a little smile. "I'm going there too. What a coincidence."
Shishido stared. "Oh, so now you're stalking?"
Mukahi frowned. "No, I just happened to enroll in the same school as you guys."
"Ah? So your parents didn't enroll you?" Atobe asked, raising his eyebrows.
Mukahi shook his head. "No, I did it myself."
Atobe gave him a suspicious look, fiddling with his glass of iced tea. "That is so…out of character for your parents. Don't your parents usually plan out your life for you? And to think that they would allow their son to run away from home."
Shishido shot Atobe a questioning look. "Atobe, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Ah, Ore-sama was about to explain until Gakuto showed up. Ore-sama has found out some information regarding to Gakuto's disappearance. Apparently, his parents stayed in Japan while Gakuto was somewhere out in the world. Even his parents didn't know his whereabouts. Basically, he went alone."
Mukahi winced. Damn him and his stupid nosy attitude. "Yeah, I went to Malaysia, so what? It's not that big of a deal, I've been on an airplane by myself before."
Shishido looked shocked. "You went all the way to Malaysia?"
Oops. "Yeah…I did, why?"
"And your parents didn't even know?"
"Uh…no, they didn't." Shishido looked at him strangely, and he added hurriedly, "But they do know I've come back. Man, you should've seen them. They were yelling at me like crazy."
"And do you care to enlighten us by what has been going on these past few years?" Atobe asked.
Mukahi paused, then shook his head. "Sorry guys, I have to go now. I'll tell you all…someday, I guess." He turned towards the door, and as he went past Atobe he bent down and whispered something into his ear. Atobe's eyes widened slightly and he frowned, a confused look clearly plastered onto his face. Mukahi, looking satisfied, straightened back and walked out of the room.
"That was…enlightening," Atobe commented after Mukahi had left, the said boy's words ringing in his head.
It was then that Jirou had decided to wake up. As he rubbed his eyes he looked about the room. "Eh? Shi-kun, why do you look so mad? Kei-chan, what happened?"
"Apparently Gakuto decided to pay us a little visit today," Atobe answered.
"Eh?! Really?! SUGEE, HE'S COME BACK?! But why didn't you wake me up?!"
Atobe didn't seem to hear. What did he mean by that?
"Mukahi, we have something important to tell you."
"Don't baby him. He's an adult now, he can take whatever we have in store for him."
"God, I'm such an idiot," Mukahi muttered to himself, staring at the ceiling of his small apartment. "I could've told them then, but I chickened out because I was too scared. Ugh."
Then an odd thought occurred to him. Maybe I should just forget about telling them at all. He shook his head.
I already knew this was a one-way trip. There's no turning back now…
For the first time in Atobe's life, he didn't know what he had to do. After Mukahi's sudden and startling appearance, and what he had whispered in his ear afterwards, he really didn't know what he had to do.
"Ore-sama commands all of you only one thing. Don't mention Gakuto or anything about him to his parents," Atobe said, eyeing each of them carefully. "Do you all understand?"
"Why the fuc-" Shishido started.
"No questions," Atobe snapped, pointing his finger at Shishido. "Do I make myself clear?"
He really wished why Mukahi had made such a confusing request.
"Whatever you do, don't mention anything about me to my parents, you hear? If you do all of you are going to be screwed for life. Got that? Tell that to everyone for me."
Perhaps his parents were still upset about him going missing for three years, and Mukahi didn't want them to see his parents snapping. Maybe.
Atobe frowned. Something was not quite right…
He couldn't put his finger on it, but he knew that something just wasn't right.
And it was seriously bugging him.
"You never bothered to tell us."
"Well, that clearly shows me the friendship we had all those years ago; it was nothing to you, nothing at all."
Mukahi sighed, fiddling with his pillow. "They haven't changed a bit, have they?" he whispered to himself, lying on his bed.
Really, his comrades hadn't changed at all. Shishido was still as bitchy as before, and like always, Ootori would keep on trying to defend all his friends at once. Jirou was still sleeping as he was talking to everyone, and Kabaji just stood there, no expression on his face whatsoever.
Kabaji. He was the only one who didn't change; his height was still the same, and so was his personality. He was probably still saying 'usu' all the time too. Atobe still was a stupid, idiotic narcissist. Sometimes he hated that guy, with his knowing smirk and nosy attitude. Atobe just seemed to want to know everything, and he wasn't satisfied until he reached his goal.
"Stupid ass," Mukahi grumbled.
And then there was Hiyoshi, who couldn't care less. Mukahi bet he still wanted to 'gekokujou' Atobe or whatever, just like before.
He was lucky that everyone hadn't changed as much as he thought they would. It was still the same as before. Kind of.
He just wondered why Oshitari hadn't shown up that day. Mukahi shrugged. "He probably couldn't make it to Atobe's stupid meeting."
At least, that's what he hoped the issue was.
"At least meeting them wasn't that bad. Not as scary as it should've been…"
"Shishido-san, it might be best if you get some rest," Ootori said worriedly, watching Shishido stomp around the room. "We do have school tomorrow, you know."
They had been sharing a dorm ever since they started high school, all those years ago. Ootori could clearly remember the events as if they had happened just yesterday.
"Choutaro, do you want to share a dorm with me?" Shishido asked.
"You know, cause I can't exactly pay for the whole rent, and so the dorm manager suggested that I find a roommate. I don't know anyone else to ask."
"That guy is a total jerkass," Shishido grumbled, still keeping up with his pace.
"Shishido-san!" Ootori reprimanded. "Don't be so mean! Mukahi-san might have a good reason for disappearing like that, you know."
"Fine. The guy's a jerkhead. Still, I won't be satisfied until he tells me why he ran off without even telling us."
"He might not be able to tell us," Ootori said quietly, looking at his hands.
"Whatever." Shishido sighed, finally settling down and sitting on his bed. "We have school tomorrow. Ick."
Ootori nodded, and waited for him to continue. But Shishido never did.
Not a word was passed between them when the lights were turned off.
As he lay there in his bed, his mind was constantly looking back at the day's events. Ootori had to admit, he was really surprised when Mukahi had made that sudden appearance. After three years, he had come back.
But not as surprised as he should have been. Because, in the back of his mind, somehow, he always knew Mukahi would come back.