AN:I am aware that Atobe does not call himself Ore-sama throughout some of the story. He is distraught and not thinking. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would like to preface the story by saying there is a major character death as well as a lot of angst. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I would if I could, but I don't so I won't.

They were sixteen when it happened. It was a normal day, well maybe not so normal. It was one of the few days Jirou was actually awake for more than just a tennis game. He was bouncing around Atobe, begging to go to the chocolate store across the street. Unable to deny Jirou anything Atobe followed the bouncing. It was three o'clock in the afternoon.

Jirou was walking backwards when it happened. He wanted to make sure Atobe was still following him, a smile bright on his face.

Atobe didn't know what the driver of the car was doing, obviously not paying attention. One minute Jirou was skipping across the road, the next he was on the ground. Watching it happen there was nothing Atobe could have done. There wasn't even time for Jirou's face to look surprised.


"Kei-chan? Does it hurt?" The five year-old boy with blond hair asked his companion.

"Does what hurt?"

"Dying." The blond curled closer to his friend. Atobe Keigo smiled at him.

"Only a little," he answered, petting the boy's hair, "then it's not so bad."

His companion nodded and smiled, curling up in his final destination, Atobe's lap, and closed his eyes.

*End Flashback*

There was blood pooling under Jirou's body now, his hair was no longer the blond Atobe remembered. Instead it was becoming red, dyed with a color far too dark for Jirou's pale features.

He heard screams now. Not from Jirou, but at this moment any sound from him would have been welcome. Anything would have been better than Jirou lying broken on the ground, red seeping from his wounds.

There were other voices as well. People yelling for someone to call for an ambulance, to call the police, to do something.

He saw them rushing towards Jirou. This shook him out of his thoughts and brought him back to reality. Atobe moved forward slowly at first, then faster, moving to the fallen, broken body of his friend.

He shoved people out of his way, ignoring their indignant shouts. And then he was in front of Jirou, staring down at his face.

Atobe dropped to his knees, pulling Jirou's head into his lap. The voices and the people fell away once more. Ant it was only him and Jirou.

"Jirou," he whispered, "Jirou." He swallowed. "Open your eyes. Please. I need you to open your eyes." He kept talking to Jirou as people moved around them, his tears falling and washing the blood off Jirou's face.

"You can't go Jirou. The team couldn't take it. Gakuto would be crushed. Otori would be lost. Everyone wouldn't be able to move on. I-" his voice caught and he cleared his throat, "I-I need you Jirou. I love you." He continued speaking, the only thought in his mind was that maybe, maybe Jirou could hear him.

Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. Atobe looked up into the sympathetic gaze of a uniformed Emergency Medical Technician.

"We have to take him to the hospital," he said as the other EMTs began to move Jirou carefully onto a stretcher. Atobe nodded.

"Ore-sama will accompany you," he announced as he stood, not noticing, or perhaps simply not caring, the blood that now stained his clothing.

"I'm sorry, only family can ride in the ambulance," the EMT said as he moved towards the ambulance they were loading Jirou into.

"Ore-sama understands, and will meet you there." He watched as they finished loading Jirou into the ambulance. A small, pale hand fell off the stretcher before they closed the door.

Atobe watched them drive away, unable to get the image of the pale, limp hand out of his head.

He turned and pulled out his cell phone, "Ore-sama needs a car and driver…to the hospital."

Jirou died at four fifteen in the afternoon on April 17, a normal day.

Atobe didn't know what to do after that. He focused on his work and school duties, Atobe Corporations more than doubled their profits in the months before Keigo turned seventeen. His friends didn't know how to comfort him, none of them were Jirou, the only person who had ever been able to pull Atobe out of his stupor when he was like this.

He still played tennis, but not with the same passion he had before. And he never stayed to watch singles two. Many people felt the need to comment on this, calling it disrespectful, shameful even. His teammates just ignored the comments. Even his opponents understood his reasons for not staying. Many of them had known Jirou, and none of them could fault Atobe for not being able to be around something that reminded him of his dead friend.

There was never more than seven members on the Regulars after that. New members to the tennis team commented on this, saying it was unfair that there was not even a substitute. The Regulars quickly hushed the complainers, making sure Atobe never heard their complaints. After all, it wasn't like the team ever needed the substitute. Ever since the accident they never had a need for a substitute. No one ever injured himself, no one ever was late to the matches. All matches ended before a tie-breaker needed to be called.

Soon a rumor began to spread that Hyotei tennis was blessed with extraordinary luck. But the Regulars of the surrounding schools knew the truth, and they would never call it luck. More like a curse. As if fate had given them enough trouble by taking Jirou. But everyone would have traded a few broken bones for having Jirou back.

After high school Atobe got worse. He didn't go out of his way to make contact with his high school friends, they had to make it first. They were quick to have him put them on the list, making sure they would be put through to Keigo no matter what.

They always made sure to get him out of the office when April 17 came around. He couldn't be trusted by himself. It was a battle to make him face a normal life, there was no way they would trust him not to attempt to take his life. Even though he knew Jirou would not have wanted him to the idea of suicide was always in the back of his mind on April 17.

He threw himself into his work. Atobe Corporations never saw the sales reach the same highs as when Keigo was in charge.

He married the woman his father wanted him to marry when he was twenty. A respectable woman of good standing. Her family was interested in making a business venture with Atobe Corporations and decided the best way to influence the Atobes into agreeing was to have their daughter marry into the family. Keigo's father agreed to the marriage.

They had two children. Keigo slept with her twice. He only needed the heir and the spare. He separated himself from his family. It was obvious right away that Keigo did not love the woman he had married. But he kept the appearances expected of him. He was there for all the important events. He never missed a birthday, an anniversary, or a Christmas. When his oldest son joined the tennis team he made sure to attend every match. That was more than Keigo's father ever did for him. He never stayed for the singles two match though. It was mere luck that his son never played this position, instead he found his calling in the doubles arena.

The Hyotei tennis team still kept the tradition of only having seven members on the Regulars.

When Keigo had a heart attack no one was surprised. He was thirty-eight. When his former teammates heard of the attack they smiled and said it was a long time coming. Everyone agreed. He had been over working himself so much it was only to be expected. That wasn't what they meant though. His teammates knew he had been dying of a broken heart long before the heart attack ever happened.

Being Atobe Keigo all of his affairs were in order. He had his will written and everything was defined in a very specific detailed manner. Nothing was left to chance.

His family and friends were all there when he died. Everyone was in the room with him. Everyone.

Keigo lifted his head to look into the clear blue eyes that were looking at him sadly.

"Does it hurt?" He asked the blond teenager. Everyone in the room looked towards where he was staring. There was no one there. Only empty space.

"Father, who are you talking to?" His son asked.

"Only a little," Jirou said with a smile as he reached for Keigo's hand, "then it's not so bad."

Keigo nodded and closed his eyes. A smile on his face and his hand clutching air.

He died at four fifteen in the afternoon on Thursday April 17. A normal day.

Well that was sad. I know. But I read quite a few sad stories this week end and needed to get them out of my system. Please R&R. Any critique is acceptable.

~Scarlet Letters.