On Hyotei:
Atobe Keigo

1. He was forced into tennis.

He had not wanted to take up a sport. After all, he was Atobe Keigo and if he wanted to sit around the house all day doing nothing but lounging in his family's luxury, he should be allowed to do so.

But though his nannies eventually had to defer to the irrefutable force that was Atobe Keigo when he said 'No. I do not want to go out and participate in this plebeian activity of 'exercise'. It will make me sticky and sweaty and ruin my complexion. Imagine if I get a freckle! If you bring it up again, I'll get mother to fire you' His father did not, however, have to bow down to his son.

So, when his father had heard of Atobe's brattiness, he had gone to his then six year old son (idly, he wondered where Atobe had learned the word plebeian and the anxiety over his complexion. Eventually, he blamed Atobe's socialite mother. He was right.).

He told Atobe in no uncertain terms that if Atobe didn't get his ass out into the sunlight and take up a sport, Atobe could say goodbye to his normal pocket money and be introduced to the commoners' amount of pocket change a week.

(Atobe was horrified. Only 2,000 yen a week? Imagine the horror! He would have to eat at commercial food outlets. To this day, the thought still sends shivers down his spine.)

So, grudgingly, Atobe went to the elite sports center near his house where the young and the very loaded went to learn sports.

He scoffed at equestrian sports (I am not getting on that disgusting animal. It is not worthy of being graced with my magnificent weight.).

He simply raised his eyebrow at racing yachts. (Why learn how to sail a yacht when I have twenty different servants available for it? He blatantly ignored the difference between a sailing yacht and a racing yacht.)

Eventually, he came up with an excuse for every sport there and managed to thoroughly exasperate his father who eventually closed his eyes, spun around and marched Atobe to the nearest sport.

That was tennis.

Atobe threw up a huge fuss about it, saying, 'I will not run around in tennis shorts with a racquet in hand to chase after a fluorescent yellow ball. The aesthetic value is non-existent! Not to mention, it will make me sweaty and sticky and simply smell horrible. I will burn-'

His father sighed and cut him off, "Remember what I said about the pocket money, Keigo? Well, if you keep this up, you're not getting any at all. You will also not be allowed into the family theater, the family kitchen, the family arcade, or anywhere other than your room. Got that?"

Atobe opened his mouth in indignation, and for the first time in his life, no words came out.

But despite all the fuss and bother Atobe caused in the beginnings of the pursuit of the sport, he put his heart into it. As he said, "If I will be forced to partake in a sport, the least I can do is do it well and look good doing it."

His father shrugged and decided that it was a job well done.

And though Atobe never said it, he was more thankful to his father for this than anything else he's ever done for his son, even the truckloads of money.

Because though money gives Atobe luxury, tennis gave him a purpose for the first time in his life.

2. He is ambitious.

Ambition is the reason that he tries so hard and has taken up so many positions such as Captain of the Tennis Club and Student Council President. Both positions were won through diligence and charisma and not-a-single-bribe.

However, he was not originally so. In fact, before his father literally threatened him into tennis, he was a lazy little brat who was content to live on his family's money for the rest of his life.

But then, he was introduced to tennis, and was beaten soundly by one of the older seniors.

Atobe being Atobe, and still in his spoilt I-should-get-everything stage, he threw a calm tantrum and said that he would make the boy regret it.

Though he meant it in a different way (as in, he was going to hire a chain of spies to find out every secret that his family had), the way the boy smirked and said, 'Make me, brat.', changed his mind.

He was going to learn this 'tennis', and he was going to do it well, and he was going to pummel that smirk off the boy's smug face.

And he did. For the first time, Atobe felt the thrill of success, for getting something through effort, and not just waving his wallet around, and felt a sense of purpose and ambition coursing through him.

That was when he decided he was going to be the King of this sport. He was going to become a star player of this sport that brought about this sweet feeling of victorious satisfaction.

And of course, being Atobe, he tossed a smirk at his defeated opponent, struck a pose that would later become known as his 'Atobe-being-a-victorious-prat' pose, and said, 'Be awed at the sight of my prowess!'

His opponent felt like punching the boy in his face.

And over the course of the next few years, he wasn't the only one who felt that way.

-0-0-0-

Atobe feels a perverse sense of glee at the unconcealed outrage on his opponents' faces and tries to make them more and more enraged by exaggerating various movements. (This is the origin of the Hyotei chant.)

Let it never be said that Atobe didn't act like a prat. In fact, he takes pride in his ability to irritate people. He knows they think him ridiculous, but it's just so funny.

(Kabaji thinks that Atobe has the most twisted sense of humour he's ever seen.)

3. He does not think of Kabaji as a servant.

Many people think that Kabaji is a simpleton who exists just to do Atobe's bidding.

They think that Atobe is exploiting Kabaji's simple-mindedness by treating him as a servant.

Quite a few believe that Kabaji is Atobe's servant.

This is, to be frank, utter bullshit.

Kabaji Munehiro is neither stupid nor poor. His family is in fact the owner of the premier medical equipment developer in Japan.

His results are excellent too, well up to par with Hyotei's high academic standards.

Rather, he speaks only the word 'Usu' simply because he has a problem with his vocal chords that makes it painful to speak.

As you can see, Kabaji has no reason to act as Atobe's servant. Rather, he helps out his friend because he wants to, because he knows that Atobe often takes up too much.

Atobe has been friends with Kabaji since his spoilt brat days, and values his friendship more than all his rich and beautiful acquaintances who are as shallow as dirt. (In fact, every person that has insulted Kabaji has found themselves either in a financial crisis or with a broken bone.)

Kabaji is the earth that grounds Atobe's fiery tornado of ambition and ego and diligence. (He is really the one that gives Atobe the metaphorical kick-in-the-ass to reform his ways and start trying harder, because A) it made him a lazy poncy brat who had no real use in the world, B) he was his father's son, and Kabaji knew that Atobe respected the man, and did he really want to let him down? And C) Did Atobe really want to live his life as a good-for-nothing? Atobe realized then, that the answer was No.)

('Be awed by the sight of his prowess,' becomes his trademark and his motto. To strive to be good enough to use that line; to be awed by other's prowess, and improve himself for it.)

Kabaji is the first person who became friends with Atobe because of his personality, not his status as rich kid among rich kids or captain of Hyotei's tennis team. (The rest of the Hyotei team became friends with Atobe through various hilarious and/or deep moments that involved everything from guns to ferris wheels.)

Kabaji is the person who listens to Atobe's worries, because Atobe doesn't worry about looking omnipotent in front of him. (Atobe feels that he needs to look strong, because he is the heir of the Atobe empire, and many eyes are on him, to see if he can live up to his father's weighty name.)

Kabaji is his crutch, his best friend, and anyone who thinks otherwise can (excuse his language) go fuck himself.

4. He does have a heart behind all his ego.

He might act holier-than-thou and seem like he thinks you're not worth his time.

He might act like an utter bitch that is all vanity and tennis prowess and nothing else.

But that is just a guise to shield his heart from exploitation.

Once upon a time, a nanny took advantage of a three-year old Atobe Keigo's innocence and adoration to learn the family safe's code and steal all the money (a good million dollars in US currency).

Atobe was crushed. He had honestly adored that nanny with all his heart, and it hurt to be used in that way.

So, he formed his egoistic personality to keep everyone at arm's length.

But despite the many years of holding up this façade of jerkiness, he is still the same kind loving boy he used to be deep down inside.

That is why he tells Sakaki to let Shishido back into the team, because something in that boy's sweat and tears struck a chord in the heart he has frozen away from everyone but Kabaji and his family.

That is why he throws the huge extravagant party for Kabaji to cheer him up, because he can't bear to see someone he loves sad.

And gradually, when Hyotei stops becoming a team, but a circle of friends, they thaw out the warm heart that Atobe has hidden away, and Atobe smiles truly, not a smirk or a smile to inspire confidence, but a smile straight from the heart.

(He still acts like a prat, but it's okay, the important people know it's not the only thing to him.)

5. He likes strong-willed girls.

He doesn't like the gushing girls who fall over at his feet (magnificent though his feet are).

He doesn't like the swooning ladies who just gush and gush and gush and gush.

They are so shallow, and Atobe knows they do not like him for him, but for who his father is.

When Atobe falls in love, he wants it to be with someone who will argue with him, slap him up the head when he acts like too much of an asshole and is not afraid to be herself around him.

That's why he first made a move on Ann. Sassy, strong willed, and looked like she was willing to punch any boy who got on her wrong side, just his type.

He hadn't expected such a violent reaction from the two boys with her, I mean, he was just teasing her. (But that Momoshiro's and Kamio's faces were a hilariously brilliant shade of angry red)

Well, okay, maybe not just teasing, because Atobe's always had a thing for strong-willed girls, but he really had not meant to offend Ann so much.

But then, Atobe has sadly always been a bit lacking in the romance department.

He is too used to girls falling for him straight off the bat, and knows how to charm the socks off lovesick girls.

He does not, however, know how to charm a girl who will slap him if he acts all otherworldly and holier-than-thou.

Sure, he likes girls like that, but that doesn't mean he knows how to talk to them.

Kabaji is the only one that knew that Atobe was serious about trying to get Ann to date him. Oshitari does suspect however, after all, he is a genius.

Atobe has sworn them both to secrecy.

Oshitari is amused by the confirmation that did not require any prodding at all.

6. He does not see anything wrong with how he defeated Tezuka.

He had wanted to defeat Tezuka for a very long time. It had been his main goal for many years.

Tezuka is akin to a perfect player, like Sanada and Yukimura and of course, himself, and something about Tezuka ignites a competitive spark in Atobe.

So he sees no indignity in using all his strength to defeat the Seigaku captain, because his insight is his strength.

That is why he continues to push Tezuka, even when the other's arm obviously burns.

He ignores the hostile stares that are aimed at him. After all, if Tezuka couldn't play, he could always surrender.

But of course, Tezuka doesn't. Atobe doesn't know whether to be happy or sad at that. Happy, because that stubbornness and determination (pigheadedness) is what makes Tezuka such a worthy rival.

Sad, because even though he wins, it feels hollow.

So he raises Tezuka's arm, and honours his sacrifice, but leans down and whispers, unheard and unseen to everyone, "I look forward to challenging you at full power, Tezuka."

Yes, he sees nothing wrong with how he defeated Tezuka, but he feels cheated of a great match all the same.

7. He is remarkably astute.

Well, this is obvious, what with his infamous Insight that is both feared and admired.

But he had not originally meant to play as an analytical player (though he is a famous all rounder, it is undeniable he is primarily analytical), but he had noticed that he often observed weaknesses in his opponent's form or swing or stance or…)

His mind turned, and he realized that this could make him an even better player.

That is the birth of his Insight.

But his famous insight is not restricted to the playing field. He notices much both off and on the courts.

He uses this talent to be a better captain, helping to mark down the faults in his subordinate's play.

(In fact, a bi-weekly habit of all Hyotei players is to check the list that Kabaji puts up on their mistakes. They greatly appreciate their captain's hard work. Other schools can think what they want about Atobe, but his team knows that he is an awesome captain.)

He watches his team silently and often unknown to them.

He watches Shishido train every night with Ohtori, eyes narrowed and mentally jotting down every improvement in the boy's movement. That's why he can so confidently tell Sakaki let him into the team, for even if he did respect the boy's hard work, it is his nightly observations that so firmly convinces him that Shishido deserves a second chance, but only if he doubles with Ohtori. (Because while Shishido has improved as a singles player, but not enough to merit a permanent placing. His rapport with Ohtori, however, did.)

He will observe, and he will do what he can with his findings.

The people he helps do not often know, Atobe has helped many people. (Gakuto is still confused as to who sent him a treadmill to work on his stamina. Oshitari knows, but keeps it to himself because Gakuto's confusion is so amusing)

Atobe feels pleased with himself.

(Be awed by his kindness!)

8. He is their egoistical but somehow lovable captain.

Yes, Atobe oftentimes irritates the hell out of his teammates, but somehow, they still adore him like Seigaku does Tezuka and Rikkai does Yukimura (though with less dramatic sunsets).

Oshitari is Atobe's best friend next to Kabaji, and knows a lot about their dramatic captain. He knows that Atobe is a normal guy underneath all his pomp and arrogance, and Oshitari likes him, really. And this might seem like an unremarkable thing, liking someone, but it isn't, because Oshitari does not genuinely like people often. (He sees too much).

Jirou finds Atobe to be a challenge. He is the only person in Hyotei that truly wakes him up, because Atobe is a fascinating puzzle to play against, both in tennis and in real life. Atobe is a constant change, switching from hot to cold, kind to ice, gentle to bitchy in seconds, and Jirou finds it fascinating.

Shishido respects Atobe, because he sees a lot of himself in Atobe. Both are vain, and though Shishido needed a brutal cut down to realize he wasn't all that great, Atobe didn't. Or rather, doesn't need one, because Shishido has come to realize that Atobe doesn't think he is infallible at all, but endeavors to be so.

Gakuto flits around like a hummingbird, and never stays too long to consider someone, but he too has built up a liking for his captain. He appreciates Atobe's twisted humour, and likes the fire he emits. Gakuto thinks his captain is, quite frankly, bat shit crazy, and is all the more likable for it.

Ohtori admires his drama-queen captain. He admires his determination and prowess and all-too-obvious-no-matter-how-he-tries-to-hide-it care for his team. He likes his captain because it was Atobe that suggested him for a position as a Regular, as he was the only one that really saw the steel behind all of Ohtori's smiles. Ohtori likes that Atobe was the first to notice.

Hiyoshi thinks of Atobe as an obstacle, someone to be challenged and defeated on his way to becoming number one. (Gekukujyou) But somewhere in his conquest of victory, Hiyoshi has developed a healthy dose of respect for his captain. Hiyoshi admires Atobe's easy charisma when Hiyoshi has always had a hard time being noticed. He likes Atobe's determination that burns parallel with his own.

And of course, Kabaji likes Atobe, and is quite frankly the most loyal of them all to their erratic captain. They are all loyal to Atobe now (after much rough and tumble and near-fist-fights in the beginning), but Kabaji will forever be Atobe's number one supporter and friend.

Yes, Atobe can be highly annoying, but somehow, they like him anyway.

9. He is bitter with Yukimura for stopping the match between him and Sanada.

He has always liked the Rikkai captain, ever since they met in an upscale party when he was ten. (Yukimura's father often does business with Atobe's.)

The boy is kind and gentle and sadistic and determined. Atobe finds him very fun to be around.

But Atobe is still angry with Yukimura for making him stop the match with Sanada. It had been meant to just test out his World of Ice, but somehow, it had evolved into a dance, a tango of wills between the pair of them, and Atobe gets his first true taste of the Rikkai fire mixed with Sanada's will, and Atobe wants to keep fighting, to tear it down with his own power and the Hyotei ice.

But Yukimura steps in, and says, in that powerfully quiet way of his, "This is enough. Stop."

They stop, but Atobe burns with a fire that will meet with Sanada's again one day, and just tells Sanada, "We will get to finish a match one day, Sanada."

Sanada simply chuckles and says, "I hope so."

So Atobe swears, old friend or not, if Yukimura ever stops another match between he and Sanada again, he is going to kick Yukimura's ass. (He will be the first person to ever do so. In fact, he is the first person to even think about doing so.)

10. He is the fire to Hyotei's ice.

Hyotei is the infamous ice school. The coldest of all the schools with its selection and manner of picking and dropping Regulars in an instant.

Atobe fits in with this, coolly dropping disappointing trial members without a thought and calmly crushing the hopes of others. (Secretly nice or not, he still wants to win, after all.)

But at the same time, he doesn't fit; he is fire, a ball of fiery ambition and will and pure enjoyment of the game itself.

He burns with a desire to fight and defeat strong players.

He burns with a wish to carry Hyotei to their first National placing as Number One. He did not succeed, but fire is not so easily vanquished, and he will continue this dream in high school.

He had to share his magnificence with the rest of the world, after all.

His an eternal fire, and will not burn out so easily.

-0-0-0-

I'm back! Suddenly, despite my writer's block, I was inspired to start, so here you go - Atobe!

The egoistical brat of a captain that I absolutely adore. He's somehow so lovable, despite his arrogance...

I poked a bit of fun at him in the Ann bit, because I felt it needed an explanation. It's not romance at all, it's just a teenage boy being an idiot as usual. XD And I'm not a shipper of AtobeAnn, but I felt it deserved a mention, being a canon thing and all. (If only for one episode. I don't think Atobe even glances at her after that again.)

(Total Tango Pair shipper anyway.)

Will I ever continue To Be Brutally Frank With You? I don't know... There's just no inspiration... But if I ever get inspiration, I will certainly continue it.

...

I wonder if anyone still remembers me?

Haha...

Next up: Oshitari Yuushi OR Akutagawa Jirou OR Kabaji Munehiro.

I would normally continue with the vice captain, but Hyotei doesn't have one... So, you decide! (No matter how Yuushi seems like one.)

Go Hyotei! (Go Rikkai too!)

Much love,
~FO