Xiana: Sorry for the slowest update ever -__-;; I couldn't think up an omake for this chapter for about five months. Sorry. I'm really sorry. The title of this chapter comes from Ryoma, and it's called "Realize." It's not really relevant today, however!
Chapter 4 Poll Results: A lot of people don't care so long as it's slash! A couple people have more discerning tastes, however :D
Chapter 5: Realize
"That was certainly an experience," Niou said, dusting himself off. After landing, he'd gone off in search of his partner, whom it turned out had a bit of a problem with heights. Though they looked, they hadn't been immediately able to find any of their other teammates and decided to finish resting and continue searching in the morning.
Yagyuu's glasses glinted in the morning sun as he jumped down from a tree limb to land beside Niou. He still looked slightly green. "It was an experience I do not care to repeat anytime soon, Masaharu."
"Better than dying, though. Should we get back to searching now?"
"We certainly should." The two started off into the forest, snacking on rations as they went. They looked for traces of any human presence, in the form of trampled or destroyed vegetation or the highly visible blue parachutes everyone had used. But no matter where they searched, they found no signs of anyone.
"I would've thought that we'd find someone by now… Akaya-kun was right behind us, and it took you so long to jump that there was a huge line waiting behind us," Niou eventually ventured.
"Hmm. As it recall, it also took a few seconds before you were able to follow me," Yagyuu said, still a little annoyed that Niou was making fun of him for just a little bit of nervousness with heights. After all, he didn't jump out of airplanes on a regular basis, so he had a right to be a little apprehensive.
"It did indeed, unless you would have preferred me to land directly on top of you. That can certainly be arranged next time."
Yagyuu hated when Niou started winning arguments against him. It almost always meant that he was going to have to do something stupid or dangerous. That wasn't exactly the case this time, but it still made him feel bad about himself. He decided the best solution was to just ignore Niou for a while.
Of course, when Niou realized this, he started trying anything he could to get Yagyuu to pay attention to him again, eventually whining "Hiroshiiiiii…" over and over until Yagyuu finally couldn't take it anymore and smacked him upside the head.
"Cut that out. If you keep that up, some jaguar or something is going to think that you're a wounded animal and attack you."
"And you don't think I could take 'em?" Niou grinned. Yagyuu didn't reply, which forced Niou to use his secret weapon. He fumbled around in his backpack for a few seconds before pulling out two objects. "Hey, Hiro', look at what I managed to grab. I was thinking ahead, so I brought a bunch of stuff in my backpack. It has some snacks, and some funny pictures I've been meaning to show you for the longest time now, but best of all, I brought… these!" He tossed one of the objects to Yagyuu, who caught it and automatically began placing it on his head before he realized what it was.
"My 'Haru wig?" Yagyuu asked.
"Yep. And my Hiro' wig." Niou slipped his over his head, giving the impression that the two were twins.
"I've never understood how you're able to fit all that hair of yours under that thing," Yagyuu thought aloud. He stopped and turned to face Niou, crossing his arms over his chest. "Wait… So you're telling me that when those alarms went off, you just jumped out of my bed and grabbed that straight off, before you thought about anything or anyone else?"
"Um, yeah, I guess?" Niou said, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. He removed his wig and stuffed it back into his backpack, worried because things weren't going exactly as planned and because he had somehow managed to dig himself into an even deeper hole with his partner. "I figured you and everyone else could take care of yourselves, but if we were going to be able to switch around afterward, we needed these… Don't be mad at me, Hiroshi."
"Mad?" Yagyuu snorted. "I think you're a reckless idiot who needs to get his priorities straight, but I'm not mad." He sighed. "Only you, Masaharu..."
Niou smiled to himself. He knew Yagyuu couldn't stay mad at him for long. Maybe it was his charming personality? Still, if they were going to be stuck in a jungle together, especially if they didn't find anyone else right away, he wanted to make sure that their relationship had stabilized again. He rummaged in his pack again and pulled out a stick of Yagyuu's favorite strawberry Pocky. "Friends again?"
"Why do you have that with you? You hate strawberry," Yagyuu said suspiciously.
"Because I love you?" Niou said innocently.
"More like you're trying to butter me up," he scoffed, but took the proffered Pocky anyway.
"Yeah, that too." Niou squeezed Yagyuu's shoulder affectionately, and they continued their search for other survivors.
"Everyone, don't let your guards down!" Tezuka ordered.
"There was a 100 percent chance that you were going to say that," Inui and Yanagi said in unison, then grinned at each other and wrote something down in their notebooks. Tezuka found it hard to believe that they were that certain about what he was going to say; while it was his favorite line besides "20 laps," he certainly didn't use it that much. He found it entirely too easy to believe that while he had barely had time to grab his glasses before he was running down to the stadium and gathering his team in preparation for their evacuation, these two had taken the time to gather their entire data libraries and bring them with them. Admittedly, they only had three books each, but that was still six books more than Tezuka would have found the time to take along.
They had broken camp and were setting off on a general search for their teammates and whomever else they might stumble across. "Renji, how did you come to be in such proximity to our group rather than to your own team?" Inui inquired, pen hovering over the page as he awaited the response.
"Well, Sadaharu, you and Tezuka-san were among he last to depart from your team and I was one of the first from Rikkai. I was unable to rendezvous with the three that preceded me, much as you were unable to meet up with Fuji-san, who preceded you. I would not be overly apprehensive about this, however, as they are perfectly capable of defending themselves, with the exception of Marui-kun, and as I believe Seiichi made it a priority to watch over him, you should not worry unduly. I estimate an 80 percent chance that Genichiroh, Seiichi, and Marui-kun are together, and an additional 75 percent chance that Fuji-san has joined them."
Yanagi kept talking for a long time after that, but Tezuka stopped paying attention after the first five minutes of so, preferring to focus on where they were headed. Once he was finished, it seemed to be Inui's turn to explain his own conclusions, and while Tezuka tried to listen more carefully to this, since it was more likely that Inui would have some information directly relating to Seigaku, he just could not seem to focus on what he was saying for more than a sentence of two at a time no matter how hard he tried. He supposed it was more due to the exhausting day yesterday that he was having trouble staying awake, but couldn't shake the feeling that Yanagi and Inui didn't realize how incredibly boring they were.
It was a bit of a relief then, when they stopped talking and Inui offered them both a refreshing beverage to quench their thirst. Tezuka wasn't in the habit of accepting drinks from Inui, as that tended to be an unwise decision, but it appeared to be nothing more than a can of Echizen's favorite, Ponta. After opening the lukewarm soda, he took a careful sip and was relieved to find that it was, in fact, Ponta, and not some creepy "Inui Remix" version. It was a little frightening that Yanagi refused the drink, opting instead to pull out a small pitcher from somewhere and pouring frothy, radioactively green liquid into a thermos.
"So you were unable to sample the Midorizu until now?" Inui asked his old friend, preparing to take notes.
"Unfortunately, yes. I hadn't had time to test it, so I was planning on performing the taste test this morning at breakfast. Unexpected complications forced me to abandon that plan, of course, but since I was well aware that you had prepared the drink specially for me, I took it along with me." Yanagi downed half the cup and considered the taste for a moment, rolling it around on his palate like a fine wine before swallowing, gasping happily, and draining it. "I really think you've outdone yourself this time, Sadaharu."
Tezuka shifted slightly away as the two began discussing the ratio of ingredients he had never heard of before and which sounded quite toxic. He was rather relieved that he didn't have to drink any Midorizu, which was ironic in that he had been accidentally consuming it all yesterday.
The discussion of the drink's properties was broken off when crashing sounds came from the distant foliage. Immediately, the three started running towards the source of the commotion, which seemed to be approaching them as well, until a figure barreled around a tree and crashed directly into Tezuka, causing them both to topple over onto the damp, soft earth. Immediately, this person got up and would have kept running if it hadn't been for Inui and Yanagi, who restrained him so that Tezuka was able to see his face and determine that it was Hyotei's Oshitari that had collided with him.
Oshitari briefly attempted to struggle, but quickly fell limp in their grasp. Tezuka got up, brushed off his clothes, and approached the captive. "Why were you running?" he asked, not bothering with pleasantries.
Oshitari straightened and did his best to appear calm and presentable, though his rumpled clothes and tangled hair told a different story. "I don't see how that's any of your business," he said in a passable imitation of his usual, confident drawl.
"It's all of our business as fellows survivors to take care of one of our own," Tezuka said firmly. Inui and Yanagi nodded from where they stood beside Oshitari.
Oshitari took a second to compose himself. He seemed to be wrestling with whether to explain his actions or not. To tempt him into making the right decision, or perhaps just to be cruel, Yanagi held up the pitcher he had gotten from Inui, which still held a respectable amount of Midorizu in it. Oshitari gulped and began to turn a color similar to the juice, which, had they not witnessed it with their own eyes, the other three present would not have thought possible.
It took a second to recover his normal hue, and another before he could get the first few words out, but after he managed that, the whole story came pouring out. "…I lost control, and I hurt Gakuto really badly… and then I couldn't take what I had done. I left him there."
Yanagi had been taking lessons from his fellow Rikkai demon and slapped Oshitari. Oshitari glared at him, but Yanagi said calmly, "I believe that it you truly regret your actions, you would go back to Mukahi-san and take responsibility for what happened."
Oshitari was in no mood to argue, and he already felt guilty enough without an additional lecture. Therefore, he simply nodded and led the way back through the battered underbrush he had emerged from back to the clearing where he had left Gakuto. It took probably twenty minutes to get there, though it would have been shorter if Inui and Yanagi had not been walking very, very slowly, trying to ensure that they got down all the data from the sudden change in the usually sly and sarcastic Oshitari. This frustrated Oshitari so much that he finally broke away from the group, running ahead. Tezuka let him go, figuring he was only concerned about the welfare of his injured teammate and was no longer selfishly fleeing from his mistakes.
When they caught up with him, he was almost in a frenzied panic again, yelling Gakuto's name over and over. But the only signs of the redheaded acrobat were scraps of black and white fabric and a puddle of rapidly drying blood.
As it was Atobe's airplane, Hyotei regulars had precedence over anyone else when it came to evacuation. This wasn't the fairest policy, but Atobe felt that since he had spent millions of yen on the trip and had generously invited everyone else along, a little bias in such situations might be forgiven.
Thus it was that, while Seigaku was still midway through evacuating, they were forced to stop to allow Kabaji, the guest of honor, and Taki, who was just tagging along, to get out. Taka was a nice guy, so he was happy to let them go in front of him. There was still plenty of time, after all, and he was one of the last from his team to depart, so he rationalized that they might as well go sooner rather than later. From behind him, Momo immediately started complaining about how unfair that was, and Kaidoh, in a rare moment of agreement with his rival, began hissing quietly. Echizen just muttered "Che" from the back of the line and folded his arms crossly. Taka still couldn't see what all the fuss was over, but could understand that they all probably just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Therefore, he made a point to exit as quickly as possible once the Hyotei players were out of the way.
So it was that he, Taki, and Kabaji formed a miniature group. They initially began looking for others, but it was too dark to see much of anything, and it was all they could do to keep from getting lost themselves. Eventually, they temporarily gave up on that and started moving in the direction the increasingly lower-flying plane was headed. By silent agreement, they had decided that the best thing to do would be to be nearby and help out anyone that hadn't evacuated in time, or at least forage for supplies to use to escape the unfamiliar forest.
As they walked, they munched on some of the tropical fruits that they had picked, fruits that Kabaji assured them were completely safe, as Atobe imported the rare delicacies on many an occasion. The others understood why, as the sweet, spicy, mango-like fruit was like nothing they had ever tasted before. They were so busy eating it that they didn't talk much, although of course they weren't the most talkative bunch to begin with.
Eventually, Taka ventured, "So, you think everyone else made it?"
"Probably most of them," Taki decided after a suitable pause. "Atobe always has a plan, and I can't see him failing… I guess a few people might have gotten lost or confused in all the chaos, but really, I'm sure that most of them were able to make it out okay with the system he had in place."
"Usu," Kabaji said in his usual agreeable way, but his dark eyes, barely visible in the starlight, betrayed his worry for his other friends. They had barely seen Oshitari and Gakuto leaving, Hiyoshi was just a little ways behind them, still putting on his parachute (as he was finding it rather hard to put his book down), and Atobe, when questioned, told them that he was planning on making his exit upon ensuring that the entirety of Hyotei, at least, was safe. But they had no way of knowing what had happened to any of them, or even whether they had made it out safely or not.
For now, though, they redoubled their pace as a thick wall of heat raced past them and the largest explosion they had ever heard echoed sickeningly around them. They simply kept going. All they could do now was hope.
The last thing Jirou could remember was a nice dream in which he was playing a match with his most beloved Marui-kun. Then he vaguely recalled someone bursting in the door of his mini-room and leaping on top of him, but after that, nothing. It was just a blur of darkness. He never thought he'd wake up from the darkness that had engulfed him.
But wake he did, and scrambled around under a foreign weight in a panic before realizing happily that it was only Atobe. "Ne, Keigo! What was that just now? And what are you doing falling asleep on me? You have your own bed upstairs, remember?" He wriggled out from under him and shook him gently, eventually rolling him over. "Ne, Keigo, wake… up?" On closer examination, he found that Atobe was lying unnaturally still and that the most likely cause was a deep gash in his forehead. Jirou panicked for a moment, but calmed down upon realizing that he was still alive and was most likely only temporarily unconscious. Jirou sighed in relief and got back in bed, cradling Atobe's head in his lap.
Atobe woke not long after, and his first thought was for Jirou. Once he had ascertained that the other boy, who was just nodding off when he regained consciousness, was safe and completely unharmed, his second concern was for his head. Jirou, satisfied that he was alive, left the bed to find a bathroom, but stopped immediately after opening the door. Heedless of Jirou's weak attempts to keep him from moving too much, Atobe got off the bed and made his way to Jirou's side, leaning heavily on the shorter boy as he gazed over the wreckage of the Hyotei room. Pillows were ripped and strewn about, tables and couches were haphazardly scattered, lying upside down or on their sides, and a support beam had collapsed, spearing through the elevator like a dagger in the back. Atobe reeled at the sight, and Jirou practically had to carry him back to bed.
After a second or two of thought, he climbed in beside him. Atobe didn't bother to protest, as his head really ached and Jirou had always been suspiciously lacking in self-consciousness and probably didn't even realize that there was anything odd about his actions. They lay next to each other silently until Atobe decided he had recovered enough and perhaps he should do something before Jirou fell asleep again. He went over to the window and looked out over the destruction outside, finding that the room was now located on the first floor, right over the lobby –or rather, the wreckage of the lobby and the first fifteen floors. The skiing mountain, made almost entirely of ice so as to be eco-friendly, was already half melted in the morning sun, and the surrounding area was quickly becoming a sinkhole. Twisted wreckage from every part of the plane littered the landscape.
"See if I ever hire that construction company again," Atobe muttered to himself in a vain attempt to make himself feel better.
He decided that the best thing to do was to get out of the building immediately, as there was no guarantee that the already mutilated building wouldn't collapse, and planned to gather as many useful items as possible on the way out. After quickly waking Jirou (really, to think that he could still fall asleep even in the midst of a crisis of this magnitude as if he hadn't a care in the world), they searched the immediate vicinity for supplies, eventually deciding to take the box of matches next to the fireplace, some blankets and a pillow from the bed, and a duffel bag that they put all this into. Jirou also insisted on grabbing a battered table leg that had splintered off an equally unfortunate table, as he claimed it would help if they needed to fight off any wild jungle monsters. Atobe suspected that there weren't any living animals within a five kilometer radius of the crash site, as they would have either fled or been killed upon impact, but he decided to indulge Jirou, as it might come in handy as a lever if they needed to shift some rubble out of their path. They then returned to Jirou's room and exited via the window.
It was slow work climbing down from the wreckage, and it didn't help that Atobe's head injury seemed to be adversely affecting his sense of balance. He had to keep stopping until his vision cleared and his legs stopped shaking. The ever-agile Jirou would wait patiently, but still beat him to the ground by a good five minutes. The wreckage closest to the bottom was particularly unstable and Atobe found himself spending entirely too much time just trying to remain standing. When he finally made it, he collapsed gratefully to the ground. The gash in his forehead had begun to bleed again, and Jirou ripped off a strip of a blanket and wrapped it gently around his head.
They rested there for a long time. The sun rose higher over the clearing. Here and there, a brave bird would start singing, only to quickly stop as it hurried to escape the foreboding crater that had once been fertile rainforest. The silence was comforting to the two boys, who jumped every time a bird started chirping or some of the rubble settled. After some time, it began raining lightly. The cool water felt good on their skin after the scorching sunlight, but Atobe remembered previous trips to the rainforests of Central America, where light, soothing rain had quickly become a downpour. He dragged himself out of the little hollow he had been resting in and managed to gather the strength to pick up Jirou (who was sleeping again) and run for the nearest shelter he could find.
The structures had been reduced to piles of rubble everywhere he looked until he paused under the twisted remnants of a blackened tree and caught sight of an unremarkable building made noteworthy only by the fact that it was almost completely intact. The small building looked to have been part of the shopping and dining area that had been set up, though Atobe couldn't even begin to guess which particular establishment had rented out that location. He began walking towards it as the rain began to intensify, which finally managed to wake Jirou. Atobe paused long enough to set him on his feet and then continued to stumble towards his destination, weaving unsteadily through the piles of debris.
"Wai! Look at that building over there, Keigo! Looks freaky, dunnit, rising out of the landscape like the lone survivor of the apocalypse or something! Pretty cool, huh?" Jirou cheered, running at full speed towards it. Atobe ignored him and focused on walking as steadily as possible so that he could get out of the rain. He arrived shortly after Jirou and slammed open the sliding door to find himself in a deserted but somehow still cheerful sushi bar. The large banner in front of the store read "Kawamura Sushi," so Atobe was finally able to recognize it as being run by the Seigaku power player, Takashi. He automatically crossed the room and took a seat on one of the bar stools before realizing that of course there would be no one to take his order. But it was comfortable and inviting, and so Atobe remained sitting there while Jirou flopped unceremoniously on the floor. When Atobe swiveled around and gave him A Look, he shrugged and smiled. "Hey, nobody here to complain, no one but you to mind. And I stopped caring what you thought of me a loooooooong time ago."
"Fair enough," Atobe said, leaning his head back against the cool counter. On closer inspection, it turned out that the room had not remained entirely intact, as there were several small holes in the roof and one window was shattered, but it was still in better condition than everything else they had seen thus far.
"Heeeey… Ne, Keigo, we're in a sushi bar, right? So 'zat mean we can eat somethin' here?" Jirou got up without waiting for an answer and, after a running start, dove over Atobe's head and onto the other side of the counter.
"I don't know… Since the electricity's out, the fish might have gone rotten, and sushi is a chancy business anyway, if it's not properly prepared…"
Undeterred, Jirou said, "Then let's build a fire and cook the fishies! I'm sure they can't all be bad yet."
"Where are we going to make a fire? In case you've forgotten, it's raining and-"
"Aha!" Using his stick-weapon, Jioru pried up some boards that were sticking up from the floor. "Tada! One fire pit, and dry firewood as well!" Scraping up the top layer of mulch revealed pure soil and provided kindling. Atobe got up, hopped the counter slightly less gracefully than Jirou had, and tossed him the book of matches.
"See if you can get it started, but if it's not working, just wait for me and I'll do it for you," he commanded, ducking into the back room.
"Where are you going?" Jirou asked innocently.
"Well, it's not like I trust you to know good-quality fish. I daresay you slept through any tours of your father's fish farms," Atobe said dryly. He opened the industrial-sized freezer and was greeted by the cheerful sight of dead fish floating in water, though he was relieved to find that the water was still cold, at least. He pulled the upper-most fish out into the light and discovered that it was a tuna, and more to the point, that it was already spoiled. Fortunately, the next fish, a salmon, was in better condition.
"Behold! I have created fire! I am Maaaaaaan!" Jirou yelled excitedly from the other room.
"That's great, Man. Want to come in here and help me clean out this fish?" Jirou came obediently, but yelped at the sight of the fish in Atobe's hands and the rejected corpse of the one Atobe had disdainfully tossed to the ground.
"Eek, creepy. I don't know, I can't cut up any fishes that still have their heads on," he said, skittering back into the other room. Atobe sighed and grabbed the nearest pair of gloves.
"Why oh why must I be lowered to such common endeavors?" he pondered aloud, taking the largest and sharpest knife he could find off the rack and bringing it down heavily on the fish's head. It took three tries to get it all the way off, but when he was done, he threw the salmon head and the tuna into the nearby garbage bin and called Jirou back. Jirou set to happily slicing and gutting the fish –he even knew which knife to use for each task. Atobe left him to it and began sorting through the rest of the fish in the freezer. Of these, he determined that almost half were still edible. He dumped the rest in the garbage and tried to figure out how to keep the rest in fair condition until it came time to eat them.
"Heyyy, I've got an idea!" Jirou said when Atobe asked for advice on the subject. "If the rain's calmed down a little, you could go on a quest to the ex-skiing mountain and bring some ice back for the other fishies." He continued to attack the salmon, and having already disposed of its innards, was removing bones and slicing the meat up. "You can leave this to me and once I've got it all ship-shape, I'll cook him up. It'll be delicious!"
"I suppose I'd be willing to leave it to you, if you're that confident in your cooking skills," Atobe responded.
"Yup, more confident in my skills than I am in yours, Mr. Puts Toast In The Microwave."
"Che." Atobe decided not to say anything more about that particular incident, lest it lead to more undeserved ridicule. He exited the sushi shop and was relieved to find that the rain had mostly stopped, though ominous dark clouds still hung over the clearing. Lightning flashed in the distance, and the thunder wasn't far behind.
Atobe shivered involuntarily and looked for the nearest manageable chunk of ice, so that he could quickly recover it before the storm intensified. As he grabbed a solid slice, bending down to gather it into his arms, the area was suddenly lit by a blinding white light and his ears were assaulted by a horrific crashing, louder than anything he had ever heard. It continued for an eternally long five seconds.
Atobe was left momentarily deaf and temporarily frightened that the lightning had struck him, but the shrieking clash of metal on metal allayed both of these fears. It had instead hit the remnants of the "hotel" which even in its destroyed state was the tallest thing in the area. The strain of a second trauma was too much for the ruined structure, and it began collapsing in on itself. Atobe watched blankly as it fell into a heap of worthless scrap metal and bad memories. He was torn between wanting to say "Good riddance" and wanting to burst into tears.
He did neither when he noticed something on the ground. Automatically dropping the ice, he approached slowly, but upon realizing it was what he thought it was, he dropped all pretense and raced towards his personal bag, ignoring the wave of pain that resonated in his head from such exertion. Somehow the building's collapse had ejected this precious item perfectly so that it was directly in front of him. He would have muttered a quick prayer of thanks if he was convinced that a god besides Ore-sama existed, but since he wasn't, he merely smirked and grabbed the one thing that could save them all.
His swift return surprised Jirou, who nearly dropped the fish into the fire. "Where's the ice?" he started to ask, but Atobe interrupted, not even noticing in his excitement.
"Jirou, Jirou, look what I found! My bag!" He briefly performed a short celebratory dance and then presented the Hyotei-logo bag to him.
"That's really nice," Jirou said without much enthusiasm. He didn't take the bag, instead rotating the fish so that it would cook evenly.
"Yes, it is," Atobe said importantly. "I happen to carry at least 5 phones with me at all times, and one of them is the new satellite phone, able to connect to anywhere from anywhere, thanks to an orbiting satellite. It's expensive, of course, but fortunately I thought to bring one of mine along for the trip."
"Really? That's wonderful, then!" Jirou exclaimed, handing a portion of the roasted salmon, ignominiously impaled on a scrap of floorboard, to Atobe, who accepted it gratefully and started eating voraciously. He noticed how exhausted Jirou looked and set his fish down on the counter. In a rare touchy-feely moment, Atobe hugged Jirou tightly. "Thank you for cooking. Let me set up the blankets and things for you. I'll watch the fire while you get some sleep."
"…Thanks, Keigo," Jirou whispered, entwining his arms around Atobe's neck and dangling there like an over-sized and very unfashionable necklace. Atobe did his best to ignore him while he made up a rough bed on the other side of the counter. Once he was finished, he lowered Jirou into it, peeling his hands off of his neck and tucking him under the covers.
"Well, uh… have a good rest, I guess," Atobe said slightly awkwardly. A sleepy groan was the only response he got, and he saw that, as per the usual, Jirou was fast asleep.
He quickly got up and retrieved his bag, opening it and shaking the contents out onto a cutting board. Out of habit, he checked his other phones first for messages or missed calls. After checking to see that there was, in fact, no reception on any of them (apparently, phone companies hadn't yet exploited the untapped market consisting of the aboriginal peoples of the Amazon), he carefully turned them each off and returned them to the bag.
Finally he picked up the satellite phone and hit a number on the speed dial, which corresponded with his father's emergency line. He took a deep breath, ready to hear his father's voice, ready to save everyone… and was rewarded by an automated female voice.
"The number you have tried to connect to is currently in use. Please hang up and dial again."
"Damn," he muttered, and set the phone down, turning it off as well so as not to drain the battery. He briefly wondered what could be so important that it would have his father on the phone this early in the morning, but didn't spare it much thought, as he still needed to bring in the ice.
Atobe Shigeru was awakened at 4:27 a.m. by a call to his emergency line. "Yes? This had better be important," he growled into the phone.
"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. It's just that we've stopped receiving signals from the aircraft your son took… and we've also received reports that an airplane has recently crash-landed into the Pacific off the coast of Peru. They… think it's his plane, sir."
Shigeru swore under his breath.
"Forty percent chance Oshitari got lost."
"Ten percent he ran off again."
"Forty-five percent he memorized the way back despite being in such a panic."
"Four percent he secretly hated his partner all along and was using this as an excuse."
"...I would say less than three percent, given his appearance when we first encountered him."
"But it could very easily be an act, considering the person in question, and since the two left together, people would get suspicious if Oshitari reappeared without mentioning anything about Mukahi."
"That is true, but I found the emotional response he displayed at that time so convincing that anything more than three percent is simply illo-"
"Inui. Yanagi. Please hurry up. The situation is quite serious."
"...Eighty percent chance Tezuka stopped listening to us twenty minutes ago."
"I believe we can confirm that."
"Then please do so."
"Fifty-eight percent chance Tezuka and Oshitari plotted together to kill Mukahi because they were secret lovers and Mukahi was blackmailing them."
"...One hundred percent chance Tezuka stopped listening to us," Inui and Yanagi concluded together.
Xiana: Omake, grrr. Luckily, I know exactly what I'm going to write for the next chapter's omake, so the next one should be up much sooner than this one was. Sorry again! I really don't mean to let this story die, and in fact I'm still writing it on a semi-regular basis (I was just writing chapter 13 yesterday) so there is really no excuse other than I am bad at coming up with omake for this chapter. It just... wasn't that funny :o
Today's Poll Question is: What type of Tenipuri story do you prefer to read? If you are like me and prefer post-apocalyptic type stories in which dazed and confused tennis players wander around Tokyo desperately trying to survive... please click the "Other" option :)
Please review, even if it's just to yell at me about being a slow updater. If I forgot to respond to anybody's review, please let me know and I will do that right away!