Atobe didn't understand what was going on, didn't understand what he was seeing. He hesitated, something he never did, before lifting a hand to his face.
"Insight," he whispered softly.
He saw two people in love with each other, showing their love by a passionate joining of the lips, curious hands seeking. Atobe lowered his hand; he had seen enough. He picked up his racket from where he'd dropped it in a moment of surprise, of weakness. He walked, not away as most in his position would, but toward the couple. He had known he wasn't in a 'real' relationship with Yuu-Oshitari, had known Oshitari wasn't going to give up Mukahi…That one little part in Atobe's mind that had been foolish enough to hope for the impossible was now crushed.
Many people that day saw nothing strange; they simply saw Oshitari kissing his boyfriend Mukahi on the immaculate Hyoutei tennis courts. However, one sleepy singles two player opened his eyes long enough to see a sight that no one ever saw. Jiroh was just in time to see a single tear make its way down a certain Ore-sama's face before being wiped away hastily.
Jiroh looked away, feeling guilty as though he had seen something he ought not to have. People weren't supposed to see behind Atobe Keigo's meticulously set mask. It unnerved and shocked many when they found the confident buchou of Hyoutei had feelings. That is, besides arrogance.
Jiroh shook his head. He had been one of the few to know Atobe was seeing Oshitari behind Mukahi's back. Oshitari probably hadn't seen through Atobe's perfect mask (for which he really couldn't be blamed since people weren't supposed to it was there, let alone see past it) and hadn't known Atobe's feelings for the tensai were real.
But Jiroh had known. He often watched his buchou with intensity similar to the way Atobe watched Oshitari. This knowledge made his chest hurt for reasons he didn't want to examine right then.
He watched Atobe straighten and walk forwards. He picked up a tennis ball with his racket, tossed it high before harshly serving into the court where Oshitari and Mukahi were still entwined. The ball whisked by their heads, barely missing Mukahi's ear. A warning. A demonstration of control and power and what might happen if they didn't cut it out right that second.
"If you don't mind," Atobe said, his voice seemingly normal, if a little sharp. "This is tennis practice. Save that for when you're off my courts."
The couple turned, dazed. Atobe felt like snarling. Or alternatively, smashing his racket into both their faces. Damn his reputation.
"Oh..Atobe..I..." started Oshitari. He stopped when he saw the look on his captain's face.
"We're here to play tennis, if you'll remember. While I'm captain of this team, there will be no making out on the courts."
Atobe sounded like his usual self. No one but Jiroh noticed his left hand was clenched in a fist. "Twenty laps around the school and I'd better not see you disgracing the courts like this again."
Other regulars and underclassman observed. It was always fun to see Atobe chew others out, as long as it wasn't you.
Mukahi opened his mouth to protest but promptly closed it again when Oshitari touched his arm.
"Let's get started," Oshitari said gently.
They both took off running, feeling the pointed stare of their captain.
"Practice is over. First years get the balls. Practice tomorrow at seven am. Dismissed."
If anyone had been unsure before, they weren't now; Atobe's mask was back fixedly in place.
Jiroh hated that mask. People tried to see beneath it, but they couldn't. It wasn't for lack of trying either. Tezuka had tried and Sanada had tried, and indeed, both had come close…and yet, it had been all in vain. Atobe was brilliant at defending his team, protecting them, so naturally when it came to himself, Atobe had put up walls that were damn near impossible to impenetrate. The purpose of his mask was to protect himself from those who wanted to use and abuse him.
So far, Atobe's lovers hadn't understood the captain well enough, hadn't been able to see behind the dark eyes, and by default, had used the captain. Oshitari had, albeit unknowingly, wronged Atobe in the worse fashion imaginable.
Jiroh hated what was happening now. He knew it would take forever for Atobe to even think about reaching out again. He knew Atobe was lonely and longed to comfort him. But Atobe won't--can't-- seem to let down his guard, relax and let his feelings override his decisions.
No one except the select few Atobe took into his confidence knew the reason for Atobe's strange behavior that day, but all were left wondering why their buchou looked like he was going to cry.
Jiroh knew but offered no explanation. Unlike Oshitari, he would never betray Atobe. He just wished Atobe would use his Insight on Jiroh for a change, for then he would realize he had been chasing the wrong Hyoutei regular.
Atobe had only started hooking up with Oshitari because he had thought the tensai was the one who left him the letter. The letter…Jiroh could still remember writing the words painstakingly deliberate, trying hard to figure out how best to let his captain know about his feelings but also not give too much away.
We are not strangers,
You and I.
You know the dangers,
Of learning to fly.
You know caution well,
But I'm willing to chance
Because from the time I fell
All I wanted was a little romance.
I am not one of your fan girls;
I'm not trying to score.
You make my thoughts whirl,
Please, claim me as yours.
- Your secret admirer