(A.N: Just a little one shot I thought up the other day. I like picking on Fuji and Eiji a lot. Very evident in this fic. It was inspired by another fanfic 'The Maddness of 'Now' by Doctor Faustus. It's a really good read if you've got time.
Please, read, review and enjoy as always!)
It was nights like these, were darkness crept into every corner and he was left alone, that he felt insanity creeping in on him. He could hear the creaks of his parent's house, or at least the house that once belonged to them. He was reminded with every sound why he was alone.
But sometimes, like that moment, he found himself sitting with his family. He set out tea for them all and smiled as they spoke like nothing had ever happened. He smiled and felt like he could breathe again. It didn't matter anymore if he was sane or everything he felt was an illusion.
He'd go to bed and for the sake of what used to be, he would feel his mother kiss him goodnight and then she'd be gone. He'd fall asleep in comfort, but by morning, the peace had gone and Syuusuke knew he was alone again.
It was days like these, where practice finished and yet he wasn't tired. Tezuka would come up to him and ask Syuusuke if he was alright as he decided to run extra laps just to tire himself out. Just to avoid being alone again. Syuusuke'd say that his parents were out of town and his sister was at her boyfriend's – which he believed was true – and later, he'd invite Eiji to come and stay. Just to avoid being stuck alone again.
Whoever had asked would just look at him with pity and walk away. Sometimes, they would start to tell Syuusuke that his family weren't out of town when he'd protest and walk away like they were the insane one. He could feel the stares, but he knew that everyone stared before because of who he was. But sometimes, he'd feel the stares after they were gone, when he was well and truly alone.
Eiji would be by his side as soon as he needed to be. Syuusuke would never notice the look of sadness on Eiji's face when Syuusuke wasn't looking. Eiji would lay beside Syuusuke as Syuusuke spoke in almost an illusion, like Eiji was someone else.
"Ne, Yuuta. Why don't you move back home? I get lonely with everyone gone," Syuusuke said, not seeming to notice that it wasn't Yuuta in the room with him.
Eiji only held back tears. "I have to finish my year at St Rudolf, Aniki," he'd imitate to almost perfection. "I still have to beat you, yet."
Syuusuke couldn't tell the difference anymore. Insanity was consuming him, the loss of everybody digging deep into his very consciousness.
"You will, one day," Syuusuke chuckled. There were a few moments of silence as Syuusuke began breathing calmly, like he was asleep. "Eiji?"
"Yes?" Eiji croaked.
"Why is no one else here?" Syuusuke asked.
Eiji swallowed, unsure of what to say. But the best thing to tell him was the truth. "They're dead, Syuusuke," he'd whisper and he'd hear Syuusuke cry again like the day they had all died. In the time Eiji had spent with Syuusuke, he'd managed to talk to him on a first name basis. They were best friends after all.
There was no restraint to Syuusuke's tears, like the world had ended once again for the former tensai. Ever since the day he had turned up late to that damned restaurant where his family were shot at for no god damn good reason, he'd been broken on the inside. His game had slipped beyond recovery. There was nothing they could do to bring back that which Syuusuke once had.
"Then why do I see them? How can I hear them?" Syuusuke asked, choking out his words. "Have I really fallen this far?"
Eiji would just hold Syuusuke in his arms as he bit his lip. "It's okay. I can see them too," he lied. It seemed to calm Syuusuke down.
Syuusuke sat down to breakfast, the table set for six again. Eiji would sit down and put on the fake smile he always did, his loyalty to his best friend breaking him apart.
"Saa, Eiji, do you want some more tea?" Syuusuke would ask and smile. He'd speak as if his family were at the table with them, smiling and laughing as if nothing was wrong.
Usually, Eiji would play along. He'd say he could see them and speak to them like they were there. Eiji hated it. That façade killed him on the inside. But, he'd get caught up in the illusion and sometimes, he'd see them too. He'd fight back tears then, not wanting to fall to the same fate as his best friend.
That morning, Eiji couldn't take it. He broke down, the stress of his friend's insanity left on his shoulders. Syuusuke had no one other than Eiji. Everyone else had abandoned him. They would all look at Syuusuke in disgust like he wasn't human. Eiji heard the names Syuusuke was called, everything they said about him while Syuusuke just stared out the window without a care.
"Syuusuke, they're not here! They're dead! They're not coming back!" Eiji cried, standing up and slamming his fists on the table. "They're never coming back."
Syuusuke's smile faded for a minute and Eiji prayed that Syuusuke finally understood. "Eiji, you're joking. Don't worry me like that. They're all here, see?" Syuusuke chuckled.
Eiji cried, sinking to his knees. "I can't, Syuusuke. They're not here. They're dead! They were murdered!" he shouted and his heart shattered. He wanted to help Syuusuke forever, but every day got harder. His family had begun to fear that the insanity of the former tensai was rubbing off on Eiji when Eiji got home and would scrub his hands until they bled. Just to try and get rid of the dirty feeling of lying and betraying his friend out of his system. It got worse; Eiji eventually became less controlled and slipped quite often. He'd broken bones because he couldn't concentrate on what he was doing.
"Syuusuke?" Eiji cried. "Can't you see? They're not here."
Syuusuke sat up straight, almost rid of any emotion. "I see," he said abruptly, like he, too, was broken. But Eiji wasn't broken, he was shattered.
He ran home, well aware of what Syuusuke was capable of doing on his own. All the mistakes Syuusuke had made before out of stupidity. Trying to do things he couldn't. Eiji knew that Syuusuke was going to live through the night at least.
It was those moments of clarity when Syuusuke knew everything that Eiji feared the most.
Eiji sat on his windowsill, crying into his bleeding hands again. He knew what he had to do, to free his friend and to save himself. He had known for a while, everyone had told him the same thing, but he couldn't do it. He would rather see his friend like he was.
But, he had to now. Before it was too late.
The next morning, Eiji smiled his perfected fake smile. He continued through the day like nothing happened as Syuusuke lived in his own little world again, spouting stories of how much fun the night was when Eiji stayed, how Syuusuke's family all loved having Eiji over. He said how his mother had said for Eiji to stay again soon.
Eiji just smiled and nodded. He saw Oishi pass and Oishi's look of concern. They passed without exchanging words.
"Saa… Eiji, did you have another fight with Oishi? You two are meant to be the best doubles players in Japan!" Syuusuke exclaimed. "Were you picking on Momo again?"
Eiji shook his head. "We're just going through a rough patch since I broke my ankle that little while ago, remember?" Eiji said with a fake laugh. "He just wants me to be careful on it for a while."
Syuusuke smiled. "That's reasonable."
"Yeah," Eiji murmured. "Hey, about coming over. Can you help me with some homework? I'm really stuck at the moment."
Syuusuke smiled. "Sure."
Eiji looked away and suddenly had a grim look on his face.
The walk to the Fuji house was the same as always, Syuusuke talking more than Eiji while Eiji faked to be happy. Syuusuke smiled and spoke as they walked inside, Eiji's smile disappearing.
"Eiji, what's wrong? Are you okay?" Syuusuke asked. "Are you sick?"
Eiji felt tears in his eyes already as he stood in Syuusuke's room, his head hanging low. "I'm sorry, Fujiko," Eiji muttered, "I'm just tired, nya…"
Syuusuke came closer, holding Eiji close. "Stay over tonight. We can go to sleep now and then we'll get up super early in the morning and do our homework. Maybe even watch the sunrise," Syuusuke suggested and Eiji nodded, dropping his bag to the floor.
Eiji didn't fall asleep. Syuusuke had been more tired that he thought, falling asleep in a matter of minutes. But Eiji still watched the serene expression on Syuusuke's face for a while longer. It was almost dinner time when Eiji finally got up to get something out of his bag. His hand was shaking as he caressed Syuusuke's hair and kissed his forehead like he did when Syuusuke thought Eiji was his mother.
"I am really sorry, Fujiko," Eiji apologised quietly as Syuusuke stayed fast asleep. Eiji cried, his eyes pouring out tears as brought his hand to Syuusuke's chest. The movement was swift as it could, Syuusuke's breath slowing as blood poured out of Eiji's hands.
Eiji pulled the knife from Syuusuke's chest and got up silently, washing off the blood in the bathroom sink. He still felt it stain his hands as he bit his lip until it bled. He put the knife back in his bag and gently arranged Syuusuke to still look beautiful, despite the blood.
Syuusuke really did look like an angel.
Eiji then left, leaving no trace he had ever been. He had been careful. He didn't go home. He couldn't face his family. They would think he was as mad as Syuusuke had been. He went to Oishi's house instead.
Oishi opened the door to the crying Eiji, understanding what had been done instantly. Not in the time Syuusuke had been insane had Oishi spoken to Eiji. Oishi couldn't face Syuusuke and therefore, Eiji who had stayed by his side.
Oishi wrapped his arms around Eiji's shoulders. "Eiji…" Oishi said quietly. "It had to be done. He's going to be alright now."
Eiji nodded as he looked in his friend's eyes. "I hope so, nya…"
Oishi invited Eiji inside, Eiji giving one glance behind him. He knew that over time, he had seen them, following him. Syuusuke had given up to insanity, but Eiji never would. He denied they existed and they promptly disappeared.
But this time, he saw Syuusuke. Looking at him with a smile.
Eiji frowned, turning to Oishi again and closing the door behind him. He refused to admit that Syuusuke was the cause of all of his pain. Syuusuke was gone now, so Eiji should have been able to cope. Oishi didn't unwrap his arms from Eiji the whole night, Eiji's tears slowing as he fell asleep.
No, Eiji would never admit that it was because of Syuusuke that he too was driven mad.