Thanks, Shibataea, for helping me with this; it would have been so incredibly awkward if you haven't.
The annoying jingle of the computer game sounded again, and the screen proudly proclaimed, "You Win!" While Oshitari Yuushi knew that playing computer games on the job was extremely looked down upon, it wasn't as though there was anything better to do.
It would seem that it's true, what they say about policemen, he thought wryly, putting down his glasses and wiping them with a small, red cloth. All they do is sit around and eat donuts.
Being a policeman wasn't at all what he expected he'd do. As a middle schooler, he'd always assumed he'd be a doctor, or a scholar of some sort. As a high schooler, he studied music. In college, however, he began to study law and business—both were random decisions, simply because he'd gotten bored with school.
He'd gotten bored with a lot of things.
For one thing, the tennis team had separated. Oshitari knew it was inevitable; they were children when they met. They were adults when they separated, and so it was to be expected. The group had grown distant in their high school years. Then Shishido dropped out of the club, and Ootori abruptly followed. Jiroh's family moved to another part of Japan (Oshitari believed it was Kanagawa), and that was another regular gone.
By then, the regulars barely kept in touch anymore. Atobe left for England to go to Oxford, and of course, Kabaji followed him. Hiyoshi, Gakuto, and Oshitari were the only ones left. For a while, anyway.
That was another thing. Gakuto left to study abroad in France. It was something about his father, something about law school. When the redhead finished telling him, all he did was stay silent. Gakuto was the one to speak first, asking, "Well?"
"It doesn't seem like you," Oshitari said at last. "Law school?"
He shrugged. "Law school doesn't seem like you either, Yuushi." And that was that. They kept in touch for a few years, if it could be called that ("How's France?" "I miss the natto."), but then the messages got shorter and shorter until they stopped altogether. But he supposed there wasn't much that could have been done about that.
It didn't stop him from feeling guilty. Even if his friend was on the other side of the Earth, Gakuto had made an attempt to keep in touch. Oshitari had to admit, he didn't put nearly as much effort in responding. Maybe it was because he'd sounded so different in his letters, nothing like the person he knew. Gakuto sounded calculating, almost. Oshitari didn't know if it was because of the style of writing or if Gakuto had simply changed, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to.
Oshitari had chosen to stay in Tokyo and study there. Hiyoshi, coincidentally, applied for the same university the following year. They'd both joined the same workforce, eventually.
The former regulars were now scattered across Japan, but only for the moment. Atobe had returned to commemorate the opening of his new company branch in Japan, as had Kabaji. Oshitari had heard that Jiroh was now an intern to some political leader in Japan, and that Shishido and Ootori were still working together, Shishido an architect and Ootori an interior designer. And Gakuto had supposedly returned to Japan for a brief vacation.
He wondered what Gakuto was doing at the moment. He never seemed like the sort of person to end up as a lawyer, but he supposed it was suitable, in a way. Lawyers were stubborn. Gakuto was stubborn. There was definitely a connection there.
It amused him to no end that the Hyotei graduates were now wielding such powerful careers, when none of them had actually graduated from college. As far as he knew, everybody was still balancing school with work, as was he. He wasn't sure if anybody regretted it.
The fact that Oshitari had been so relieved that he'd be working with someone he knew surprised him. He would have thought that after so many years, he'd have gotten used to the absence of his former teammates. But maybe there was something in that, something in clinging to the past . . .
Ah, well. No use in thinking about it now.
Oshitari sighed and put his glasses back on. Most of his colleagues knew he didn't need them—they were a force of habit, just as everything else in his daily routine was. Wake up. Shower, get dressed. Go to work. Drink coffee. Complete the file work, documents. Go home. Go to night school. Go back home, go to sleep. It wasn't nearly as exciting as the work the majority of his colleagues did. They were heroes behind it all, saving lives and the such. Oshitari didn't get to handcuff people or use movie lines. He had a gun, but it was never used.
He supposed "detective" was a far too outdated term to use. He was a criminal investigator—psychology was what fascinated him, in the end. And it was the psychology of things that usually led to his success.
Once in a blue moon, he'd get put on an interesting case. A dead woman, a missing weapon, someone mentally challenged, someone physically challenged, a claimed murder, an unproven murder—but such instances were rare. While Tokyo was a bustling city, it seemed as though the crime rate was low.
Or maybe people just get away with it more easily, he mused wryly.
The door to his office was flung open, and Oshitari looked up in mild surprise. "Ah, Hiyoshi. Can I help you?"
Hiyoshi held an open envelope in his hand. "Che, always straight to the point. I got a letter from Atobe-san. It was addressed to both of us."
Oshitari merely quirked an eyebrow. "Really? Are you certain it wasn't a hoax, perhaps?"
"It was definitely Atobe," he replied with an exasperated huff. "The use of "ore-sama" was quite frequent. It sounded like him, at least. He invited us to a reunion, with RikkaiDai and Seigaku and all those people. "
"A reunion," Oshitari repeated, not quite sure what to make of it.
"Yes, a reunion." Hiyoshi frowned. "Sitting in your office all day is doing damage to your brain, Oshitari-san."
Had it been anyone else, Oshitari might have been offended, but he simply laughed. "I suppose it is," he decided, mirth still present in his voice. "So he wants a reunion, eh? How long has it been? We saw one another last when we were eighteen, I believe. That's three years."
"So you can still do math," Hiyoshi said dryly. "Anyway, Atobe-san said he wants us all to meet up at this big hotel he's opening. And I quote, "Don't be late, and dress sharp. Ore-sama hopes that your tastes in clothing have improved since we last saw each other.""
"That does sound like him," Oshitari agreed. There was silence for a few moments, as Oshitari took a sip of his cold coffee. Hiyoshi looked around his friend's office.
"How can you bear to stay here all day?" he demanded at last. "This room is too dreary. Even for me."
Oshitari glanced around in mild surprise. It was a simple room, with one desk and a swivel chair. There was a potted plant by the window. The blinds were shut, and a small lamp on the right side corner of the desk was lit, despite it being eleven in the morning. "Is it?"
"It's morbid," Hiyoshi confirmed. "Why do you have the blinds shut? And the lamp on? It's a good day today."
He shrugged, not really sure what to say. "I prefer the lamp's light."
"It's morbid," Hiyoshi said again, and made to leave the room. "So are we going?"
Oshitari went back to his computer game, to the repetitive little tune. "I suppose we are."
I should have expected it to be this lavish, Oshitari mused, looking up at the hotel. It either had over a hundred floors or just had very tall walls, and knowing Atobe, it was probably both. Even the décor resembled the former team captain. Everything about it was contradictory. The windows and ledges were elegant, floral, almost, whereas the walls were metallic and glassy. The walls were a soft, dainty white, but the door was an unforgiving black.
"This is so typical of him," Hiyoshi said flatly, and Oshitari couldn't help a chuckle.
The doorman asked to see their invitation when they approached. He examined it, checked it against the light, and scanned it, and it occurred to Oshitari that Atobe's parties must have been very desirable. Probably equally as elusive to the general public.
The two of them entered, and Oshitari wasn't at all surprised to see that the inside of the hotel was as elegant as the outside. "The reunion is taking place on the thirtieth floor," the doorman called after them.
The elevator doors opened, and just in time. Hiyoshi immediately began to examine the number of buttons, and triumphantly declared that there were, in fact, one hundred and fifteen. The ride was quick, brief, and surprisingly smooth. It seemed to be a matter of seconds before the doors opened again, this time to light classical music and the clinking of champagne flutes.
Shishido was the first to notice their arrival. He wore a basic grey suit and tie, and Oshitari realized with mild surprise that he'd grown his hair out again. "Hey, you came!" He fixed Hiyoshi with a long stare. "You haven't changed a bit. You still look thirteen."
"Thank you, Shishido-san," he replied wearily, and excused himself to meet up with one of the Seigaku graduates.
Shishido and Oshitari shared an amused glance. "So, law enforcement?"
He nodded. "Criminal investigator."
"You dragged Hiyoshi in it too, eh?"
"Not into investigating," Oshitari replied defensively. "He's your typical police officer, I suppose." He gave an indulgent smile. "I don't think anyone saw that coming, not even him."
The older man murmured agreement. "We should get you introduced," he said suddenly. "Have you seen Atobe yet?"
He realized that, among a swarm of expensive suits and former rivals, Atobe had been mysteriously absent. "As a matter of fact, I haven't. But it's not something to be made a big deal of," he acknowledged. "He always did like to have a dramatic entrance, after all."
"It's not like him to be so late."
Oshitari gave him a pointed look, and Shishido laughed in reply. "You're late too," the architect reminded him.
He shrugged. "You're right. So who have you seen?"
"Well, I came here with Choutaro," he said thoughtfully. "I think we ran into a few people from Seigaku on our way here, actually. Remember that Fuji guy? He's studying psychology. Crazy, huh? The weird, tall guy with the opaque glasses started his own company, something with health drinks. I was talking to a few RikkaiDai graduates before you and Hiyoshi came. Let's see . . . you know Niou Masaharu's an actor now, right?"
"Who doesn't?" Oshitari murmured. He'd been oddly successful, and it was certainly a career path no one had been expecting, but then again, no one in the room really followed their initial career of choice. "Isn't Yagyuu Hiroshi his manager?"
"And publicist," Shishido added. "You know Sanada and Yukimura both ended up becoming professional tennis players. I heard they're going to have private tutors and then take the test for their degrees separately. Kirihara Akaya, too."
"I'd like to speak to them, actually. It's been a long time; do you know where they are?"
Shishido shrugged and turned away. "Knock yourself out. They're all here somewhere; I'm going to go find Choutaro."
He was right; it seemed as though everybody had arrived. Oshitari spent a few moments making small talk with Sanada, Yukimura, and Kirihara, who were all clustered together and discussing the competition for their next tournament. Niou and Yagyuu were conversing with Marui and Jackal before Niou left to find someone, and Oshitari joined the conversation. They were unexpectedly amiable, and though Hyotei and RikkaiDai had never actually faced off in a tournament, Oshitari had always imagined them to be cruel, arrogant people.
In fact, almost all the people in the room were chatting and conversing. They weren't gathered according to their former schools at all; the Seigaku graduates were just as friendly as those of RikkaiDai, if not more so. A good portion of the party had passed already, and all he'd done was talk. He was just walking away from Inui and his strange looking health drink when someone tapped him on the shoulder.
That voice. Oshitari whipped around and there stood Gakuto, still short, still petite, still with longish hair, still with fierce blue eyes. Except instead of his street clothes, he wore a suit and a bright red tie. His features had sharpened, but then again, so had everyone else's. Still, there was something about his expression—something was different. "Hello, Ga—Mukahi."
Gakuto gave him an odd little look. "I'm Gakuto. You're Yuushi. I'll always be Gakuto, and you'll always be Yuushi. That's the way things are, so don't go making awkward situations where they're not present."
He felt strangely relieved by his friend's comment, and noted that he hadn't changed at all—at least, his straightforwardness was still intact. "Very well, Gakuto. How have you been?"
The redhead shrugged. "Okay. Being a lawyer's not so bad—I just don't like the filing. School's going well, too. And you?"
This time it was Oshitari who gave him a look. The Gakuto he knew would have raved on and on about how evil his teachers were, or how annoying his colleagues were, and would generally have taken the entire night complaining. Instead, he'd turned the conversation toward him, and Oshitari found himself at a loss for words. "I'm a criminal investigator," he said simply.
"Yeah, I know, you're a detective. Just tell me, is it as exciting as they make it seem in those detective novels? Like, Agatha Christie stuff."
"You read?" He arched an eyebrow, fully expecting an offended outburst.
Rather strangely, Gakuto laughed. "Yeah, I read. Agatha Christie novels are my favorite. Is being a detective like that? With all those twists and subplots and antagonists and everything?"
"I suppose. There aren't many criminals in Tokyo," he replied wryly.
Gakuto's laughter faded. "You'd be surprised."
Needless to say, that was a peculiar response, even for Gakuto—especially for Gakuto. But people change, Oshitari thought, and Gakuto is certainly not the same person who left to study abroad three years ago. He couldn't decide if it was a change for the better or worse.
The party seemed to be going smoothly, but Oshitari wouldn't have expected anything less. He and Gakuto had taken to discussing their jobs, and once again, he observed that something about him seemed different. Gakuto noticed his unease.
"Hey, are you okay? You don't look well."
Oshitari shook his head once. "I'm fine. Go on."
He seemed dubious, but continued, "Alright, so then Jean-kun started ranting about how it was within his client's rights to do that, and my client was glaring at me like it was my fault the prosecutor was . . ."
Something was definitely unusual. It couldn't have been his appearance—Gakuto looked almost the same as he did before. Maybe it was the tie; but then again, Oshitari had seen him in formal wear plenty of times back in school. No, it wasn't that . . .
Then Gakuto laughed, and Oshitari realized that the mirth didn't quite reach his eyes.
"Are you . . ." he began, but never got to finish his sentence, for Yagyuu had just raced over to them, looking uncharacteristically panicked.
"Oshitari-kun, have you seen Niou-kun?" he asked. Gakuto and Oshitari turned to look at him. He was breathing heavily, as if he'd been running around the entire hotel, and with a jolt, Oshitari realized that perhaps he had.
"No, I haven't," he answered, keeping his voice calm. "Why?"
"I can't find him anywhere; I checked all the floors, all one hundred and fifteen. He said he was going to meet someone, but he didn't specify who. I should have known—but you never know with Niou-kun . . ." He was rambling now, but Oshitari decided against pointing it out. Clearly the man needed to vent somehow, and to be frank, Oshitari wasn't that worried. Niou always did seem like the sort of person to go at his own pace, and surely he was more than able to take care of himself.
"I'm sure he's fine," Gakuto assured, but cast a worried glance at Oshitari. "He's a capable guy."
"You don't understand, he . . ." Yagyuu began, then trailed off. He shook his head. "Never mind." In a matter of seconds, he was off, asking another group of people if they'd seen Niou.
Suddenly, the room fell silent. All eyes turned to Atobe Keigo, who at last entered the room, holding a glass of champagne, Kabaji at his side. His eyes seemed haunted, hollow, and his expression didn't match the rest of his body. They held a distant, faraway look, and had to clear his throat several times before he could speak into the microphone Kabaji handed him. "Everybody, be calm. I—I have an announcement to make, but you mustn't interrupt."
Atobe never stutters.
"He used 'I' instead of 'ore-sama,'" Gakuto murmured after a moment, and Oshitari wasn't sure which was more bizarre—that he himself hadn't noticed, or that Gakuto had been the one to point it out.
"We found Niou," Atobe said slowly. "The police will be here soon, and I'm going to ask that all of you gather to room 3041 on the thirtieth floor."
The room broke into a chorus of curious murmurs. Yagyuu seemed to anticipate what was coming next, for his face took on a pale, ghostly quality. "What's going on?" someone demanded.
"He's dead. Niou Masaharu is dead; he's been shot, a bullet to the head. We found his body in the room upstairs."
Oh my God, I killed Niou. Oh my God, I'm writing yaoi. I can't help it; Oshitari and Gakuto are just so awesome together.