Disclaimer: I wouldn't have this there if I owned something, now would I? -.-

Warning: Grammar/spelling mistakes, missing words/letters. Characters are probably going to be OOC. Possible yaoi in the future.

Pairing: Royal Pair [Atobe/Ryoma]

Side pairings: We'll see, we'll see… *evil grin*

I Cry For The Last Time

Chapter one: Shattering of Souls

The moment Ryoma's fingers released the red tennis racquet from the bone breaking clutch and it clattered on the ground, the silence shattered and the crowd roared in joy, happiness and excitement. They had won. Seigaku just took the golden trophy from Rikkai Dai's hands and won the Nationals.

The nicknamed 'Child of God' Yukimura Seiichi stood in front of the short boy wonder of Seigaku and watched as Ryoma's face displayed emotions, one after another; surprise, doubt, realization, joy. In the short period of time that he could catch a glimpse of the boy before his teammates surrounded him and hid from everyone's eyes, Seiichi saw the boy smile. Not the challenging smirk that enrages the opponent and rubs the defeat in his face. A real smile, so innocent it could have belonged to a five-year-old.

Ryoma himself can't describe in words what he feels now. He's lifted up from the ground and strong arms start to toss him up in the air, chanting his name and singing songs, congratulating him or just smiling a small smile that says more than any words could have.

It's like a dream to him.

But as we all know, all dreams come to an end and only a nightmare comes after them, to make a way to new, better dreams.

"Good job you brat! I knew you could do it!" a pat on his shoulder.

"Nya~~~ O'chibi!" a hug.

A small nod.

A smile.

A click of the camera.

A yell of encouragement. "Great-o! Burning! You did it, Echizennn!"

Ryoma sees his father, smiling to him before disappearing in the crowd that comes crashing down the stairs; all wanting to take a picture of the victors and congratulate them. Ryuzaki-sansei gives him the thumbs up and laughs.

After all that dies down and almost everyone, except the Seigaku regulars and a few random people here and there, a member of a team they had beaten on the way to this match stay Tezuka gives them all a 'good job minna' speech. It's a small one, but still so powerful and they all feel the happiness leaking from it.

As they all leave the courts and start to walk through the dark and cool corridor, leading out of the big building Momo suddenly starts to rummage around in his bag. Everyone stops to wait for him, but after more searching and dropping all his stuff on the floor he sighs in defeat and looks with pleading eyes at Ryoma: "Nee~~~ Echizen. Can you get my jersey from the locker room? Please? I'll buy you burgers."

"Fushuu… You stupid peach-butt! Forgetting something so important again!"

Momo's eyes turn from pleading to angry in mere seconds: "What did you say you stupid Mamushi?"

They grab each other by the collar and raise a fist in the air, ready to start a fight right there and right now. Oishi, as always, steps in to calm them down, with no results, as always,

"Haah… There they go again…" Taka-san only shakes his head, a small smile playing on his lips.

Fuji chuckles a bit as he turns to look (as much it's possible with his eyes closed) to Ryoma. "Go get that jersey Echizen. We'll wait for you."

The small boy pulls his hat over the gold-colored eyes and mumbles a quiet 'Hai sempai' before turning around and walking in the direction of the locker rooms. There are a few pairs of eyes watching him leave, but Ryoma ignores it, interpreting it as a way to make sure he doesn't get lost while they still can see him.

But he's wrong about that.

Just when he turns at a corner the noises quiet down and everyone looks at Tezuka, eyes questioning about their next movements. The bespectacled teen looks as emotionless as usual before letting the somewhat cruel smile appear on his face, bangs are covering his eyes from the rest of the boys.

"What do we do now… Tezuka?" Oishi asks in a hushed voice, afraid that someone might hear.

Kikumaru looks somewhat sad, but he still speaks: "We should just get it over with. I mean, end it quicker before…" he doesn't finish.

Tezuka is still quiet, not answering the question or giving suggestions.

Fuji reveals his eyes lightly, the usually present smile gone from his face as he leans against the wall: "I don't know about you, but I'm tired of this stupid fake caring towards that little pain." He looks at the corner where Ryoma disappeared just moments ago, "We should just end it quick, like Eiji said and live on."

Momo and Kaidoh had stopped fighting and were now looking at the gray floor, too full of guilt to speak up. Inui is also quiet and for once his ever present notebook in nowhere to be seen. It's actually Kawamura that breaks the uncomfortable silence: "Let's just go and think about it later. Ok guys?"

"No need." Tezuka suddenly says and turns to walk away, "I made sure that he will know by now. Let's go."

They exchange nervous glanced but follow Tezuka anyways, not really wanting to object and feel that cold glare fixated on the one who had disobeyed. It wasn't like they hadn't known that this day would come, but somehow it felt a bit more painful than they had imagined before. At least some of them felt like this; those who were happy about getting rid of the bratty boy were openly smiling and talking as if nothing had ever happened.

Someone slipped out of the shadows that pillars created clashing with the ghostly white light coming from the lamps, hanging in thin metal threads, attached to the ceiling. A disgusted look in his eyes and fingers curled up in firsts at his side. Something like a growl escaped his lips before he turned around and disappeared in the shadows again.

Ryoma stands in the silent locked room paralyzed. His tennis bag long since fallen on the ground with a loud thud and was now lying forgotten on the wooden floor.

His hands were clutching a piece of paper, words in black ink written on it in a beautiful handwriting that could only belong to his buchou. What he would consider something like an honor in other occasions, in the past, is now a sharp dagger that stabs in his heart, opening a wound that will probably never heal. The small piece of paper is trembling and soon falls out of the numb hands and lands on the floor, next to Ryoma's feet and stays there, as if mocking the young boy.

But no matter how much it hurts Ryoma no tears come out. It's like he's forgotten how to cry in the small amount of time it took for him to read that about three hundred word note. He's numb; the feeling in his arms and legs is gone. But it's a different kind of numb than the one that Yukimura had used on him just about an hour ago in the tennis game. It's a numbness that paralyzes him and makes the pain intensify, making the invisible wound more painful and makes the cracks in the mirror of his soul appear.

He vaguely hears the door open but doesn't react to it. Even when he hears someone picking up his tennis bag from the floor and grabbing him by the hand to pull out of the room, into the ghostly corridor lights, Ryoma does nothing but juts blindly follow whoever is guiding him.

"Stupid brat, you are stronger that this damn it!" a voice he knows.

Finally Ryoma looks up and stares up at the sempai from another school that he knows well. He has helped him before, made him find himself again, made him realize his own stupidity and regain the will to fight and crawl out of the swamp of depression.

"Akutsu… why ar-"

The next thing he knows he's pushed into the wall, the bones on his back shooting stinging pain all over his body and Ryoma's lungs refuse to work for a moment because of the sudden collision. Once he can breathe again, after a wave of coughing, Ryoma tries to glare, but instead when he looks up at Akutsu his vision is blurry and from what he can make out the older teen looks like he's about to burst and yell at the abandoned boy.

"You are stronger that this Echizen. Fight." He tells Ryoma and starts to drag the boy again.

They don't speak anymore, but Ryoma feels not so alone anymore. Strangely Akutsu's presence reassures him that maybe, just maybe he's not as alone and abandoned as he thought. Even if the person that came to his aid is someone he didn't really communicate much and was more of a bully than a friend or at least someone he could have a chat with.

Ryoma has no idea how the older ones where he lives, but Akutsu drags him to his own house. They hear the faint sound of the temple bell ringing, probably a courtesy of Nanjirou and stand next to the fragile looking wooden gates, not saying a word just like during that way here.

"Brat, listen to me." Akutsu starts, "I'm on your side, even if it doesn't seem so."

"My side?" that's something new to Ryoma, but somehow he feels like he understand what the delinquent is talking about.

Akutsu glares at him: "Anyway, I'm on your side, so I'll try and… help you as much as I can. But…" He forces the word help out of his mouth.

"It's better if I leave Japan for a while, is it?" the shirt boy choke out, his vision blurring again.

He nods and lights a cigarette, leaning against the stone wall that separates Ryoma and his family. Ryoma stares at him for a while, inhaling the smoke that makes his throat itch and then opens the gate to walk inside. Before he has the chance to even take a step Akutsu says in a quiet voice behind him: "Be strong brat."

It doesn't take a long time for everyone in the tennis teams to find out that Echizen Ryoma has left the country and probably won't be back for a long time, if he decided to come back that is. It also doesn't take long for them to get to know that the only who has any kind of connection to the said Samurai Junior is, surprisingly, Akutsu Jin not the Seigaku regulars.

Rumors start and some get suspicions that something is not right with how things have turned out. There are speculations about Ryoma's sudden leave, but those are only wild guesses. It's a mystery that only Tezuka and the other share with Echizen and accidentally Akutsu too.

And even after five years the rumors haven't died down and everyone still wonders why did Ryoma leave and why hasn't he come back. Even after five years when Ryoma finally returns to Japan the pain is still there and as fresh as it was before.

But maybe, just maybe, there is someone that can sew it together and numb out the pain?

A/N: I know, I know… I have too many ongoing fics already, but, but… I couldn't resist, I really couldn't. My fingers were itching to start writing this and I just couldn't hold out any longer.

*sigh* I hope it's not too horrible of a start and the Akutsu part isn't too… I don't know.. Stupid? Well… Anyway, I'm glad that I finally wrote this. :3

P.S. Just a reminder, my poll is up till the end of September, vote now and decide the fate of my fics! *insert dramatic music*