Your Guardian Angel
Disclaimer: I don't own PoT or the title of the story (The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus owns the song, Konomi Takeshi owns PoT).
Warnings: Possible OOC-ness, though I actually tried not to with this one. Unbetaed except by me. Established relationship. Character death…perhaps a bit cliché (or a lot…honestly I tried to avoid it).
Author's Note: This would be set in Ryoma's first year of high school, so he is approximately 16.
Also, it is very highly recommended that you Youtube the song that this chapter is themed on.
Summary: Death happens. We just have to learn to stand up and move on.
Theme: "Your Guardian Angel" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
He dreamed of him and Keigo.
It was a memory of the two of them, lying in bed together with the sunlight from the partially opened curtain streaming in. The sunlight lit up his lover's body, made it glow, and he ran his fingers over sleep-warmed skin, trying to capture the peace he felt in that moment.
His lover turned then, slung an arm low around his waist. The long, elegant fingers stroked his naked hipbone soothingly, and the sleep-rough voice muttered at him to go to sleep.
Ryoma buried his face in Keigo's throat and did.
"Aren't you going to eat something honey?" Rinko asked as she watched her son pick at his Japanese breakfast. "It's your favorite."
"I'm sorry mom. Thanks for the meal," Ryoma mumbled, pushing his plate away and standing stiffly up from the table. The newspaper lying on the table near the front door caught his eye.
It was open.
His body froze for a moment, staring at the headline that was old news to him, but in the next second he turned and walked out the door. He knew he had forgotten to change his bandages and that his mother would fuss. He knew that Momo-senpai would be offended that Ryoma wasn't here when he came to pick him up. He needed the silence. He needed to avoid the questions he knew would be lining up on his senpais' tongues.
The newspaper article lurked in the back of his mind, and he forced his sore, tired legs to go faster.
Ryoma had managed to avoid seeing his senpai so far, and it was already noon. He went through the mechanics of getting lunch without even realizing what he was doing, and then once he noticed, he dumped it in the garbage and left the lunchroom.
He found himself wandering up to the roof, and when the door opened and the wind whipped his hair, he let out a sigh of relief. School was stifling. He picked out a secluded spot and put his back to the safety bars at the end of the roof, sitting down on the sun-warmed cement.
He tilted his head back to rest on the metal bars, and didn't think.
"Are you seriously telling me this right now?" Ryoma asked angrily. His hands gripped the steering wheel until the knuckles were white.
"Ryoma, you're sixteen years old. Just because you're angry that I have to cancel our date tonight doesn't mean you can act like a child," Atobe muttered calmly from the passenger seat.
Ryoma said nothing. Keigo sighed.
"I'm sorry that I have to cancel, I know this is our two year anniversary." He sounded resigned. "I can't help it. You know I can't. When my father asks me to help him with company business, I have to do it and that's that. You knew about this when you entered into a relationship with me."
Ryoma whipped his head around and glared at his lover. "Don't go all Atobe-Corporation-my-father-is-God on me right now, Keigo. There is such a thing as saying "no.""
"Goddamnit Ryoma! I'm going to be taking over that company when I graduate and it has to come first!"
Ryoma stared at his lover incredulously. "First?"
Atobe put a hand to his mouth and took a breath. "I'm sorry Ryoma, I didn't mean –"
Ryoma stared straight ahead and drove on.
"I fucking hate you."
He could hear the whispers.
"Did you see the paper this morning?"
"I heard on the news —"
"What were they doing in the same car, anyway –?"
He could feel the glances. Some were sad, some were suspicious. It was the pitying ones that he despised the most.
Still standing at his locker, he dug out his cell phone to call his mother.
"Mother? Yes, yes I'm fine. I know. I'm sorry. I know. I just wanted to let you know . . . that I'll be late home tonight. I'm going to visit Atobe. All right, mother. I'll be careful, I promise."
He closed his cell phone with a click and slid it back into his pocket. He stood silent for a moment, feeling the bustle of the students in the hallway rushing off to their next class but not paying them any heed. Finally he plucked out a single piece of paper from his locker and slipped it gently into his bag. Then he turned and headed to tennis practice.
Tires squealed. There was a sound of seatbelts snapping tight and the earsplitting crunch and shriek of metal on metal. Glass splintered in on them and the world tilted, turning and turning and turning until it finally came to a rest upside-down.
Ryoma dangled in his seatbelt. He felt the blood trickling down his face and arms, but couldn't feel much else. His eyes were open wide, but he could only see mangled metal. He smelled gasoline, blood and grass. The steering wheel dug into his legs. In the back of his mind he registered the smell of flame and smoke.
A groan, and then Ryoma remembered that there had been someone else in the car with him. He turned his head to the passenger seat and stared.
"Keigo," he whispered, voice grating out of his throat like sandpaper. He tried to reach out and stroke that beautiful, soft, bloodied light brown hair, but his arm didn't work.
The bloody body next to him stirred. He watched his lover wake up, watched his eyes widen as panic and realization began to set in.
The fire was spreading.
"Keigo, look at me –"
Blue eyes met his.
"Nya, Ochibi! Were you two really in that car accident that was in the newspaper? The one that happened over the weekend? Your name was mentioned in the article. What were you even doing in the same car? Ne, is that why you weren't at practice this morning?"
Ryoma stopped, and the world spun for a second. The questions were too much. Denial was lined up on his tongue, wanted to burst out of his mouth, but he held it in. He sort of wished he'd told his teammates about his relationship in that instant but dismissed the notion. Instead he closed his eyes, counted to ten, didn't turn around to face them.
"Yes, it's true."
Tezuka-buchou came out of the clubhouse then, Oishi-fukubuchou and Ryuzaki at his sides.
"Echizen. Are you sure?"
Ryoma looked up, wished he hadn't. Tezuka-buchou's gaze burned through him, and Ryoma thought that the man knew more than he was letting on. Oishi-senpai looked like he wanted to say a million things at once, but Tezuka said nothing. He and Ryoma had never really needed words to communicate. A few moments passed by, and then Tezuka nodded. Ryoma closed his eyes and turned to leave, ignoring the confused murmurs of his senpai.
Tezuka closed his fist around the piece of paper –the doctor's note and resignation Ryoma had given him earlier –creasing it, and said nothing.
The wind rustled the leaves in the trees. Ryoma took the cap off his head to keep it from blowing away and allowed himself a moment to wish that his father was here with him. He reached into his tennis bag and pulled out a grubby looking ball that had two three-digit numbers sloppily penned on it.
He fidgeted for a moment and then sat down in the grass, cross-legged, and ran his free hand through the tiny stalks. They tickled his palm.
He pulled his hands into his lap and hunched, staring at the grass before continuing.
"It's only been a few days, but I. . . I miss you. A lot."
He felt something drip onto his hand but didn't try to figure out what it was or where it had come from.
"I wish we could have told people we were dating. I wish. . . A lot of things. I wish I could have told you that I lov—"
He let his breath shutter out of him, didn't finish the sentence.
"Today was . . . really difficult," he whispered, choked. His fingers tightened momentarily around the tear-stained yellow ball in his hand, but let it go in the next instant. It rolled along the grass and came to a stop against an unadorned stone. Ryoma pulled his knees up to his chest and stared ahead, lost in the memory of light brown hair, blue eyes and smirks.
He could feel the sobs bubbling up from deep inside of him, and he let them come.
Hands reached in through the shattered side window and pulled him out. He felt his back sliding over shards of broken glass and twisted metal. He fought like a champion. What were they doing, someone had to help Keigo, someone –
But his legs were useless, bruised and sore from being trapped, and he gave up. His rescuer left him lying in the grass and went back for Keigo. The man made it two steps when a terrible roar rent the air. The world flashed bright and hot and then it was over. Ryoma saw the pandemonium that swept the paramedic team, but all he could hear was a ringing silence and the sound of his own screams ripping his throat open.
Quietly, "I wish I would have died with you."
He buried his head in his knees and let time pass.
I will never let you fall.
I'll stand up with you forever.
I'll be there for you through it all
Even if saving you sends me to Heaven.
It's okay. It's okay.
TG © February 2011