Hey there, I'm back for another long oneshot, featuring a new couple that I've never written before: Platinum Pair. Of course, since this is a special day for my debut of another pair, it's pretty long, about 9k worth of words, because I'm too descriptive for my own good. I'm claiming creative licence for this one, because even though it's Future!AU this is still pretty much impossible to do in real life (you'll get what I mean when you read it). But we're talking about Prince of Tennis which has moves which is physically impossible to do in real life, so my argument is pretty much moot.
This is a result of an idea that I've had a few years before but never really had the inspiration to finish completely so excuse if the ending is somewhat sloppy. But I really wanted to finish this. The inspiration for this one is the song Runaway by the Corrs, and if you read my stories, I pretty much recommend you to listen to what I'm inspired with while reading it.
This is a new pair for me, so expect a little OOCness and such. Warnings and disclaimers are the same as always.
He paused and took a moment to assess the man in front of him. The man in front of him was about his height, with straight, light brown locks that was carefully combed and parted to the side. The other's eyes weren't visible, hidden behind, oval, opaque, rimless glasses. He stood upright as what was proper, head raised proudly, but not arrogantly. At first glance, the man gave off the impression of being stoically handsome, the perfect gentleman in his form-fitting, white and black coat and tie.
... It was the first time Yagyuu Hiroshi felt like a complete stranger when staring at his own reflection.
He raised his hand to touch the cool surface and the other man copied his action perfectly, the tips of their fingers finally connecting, separated by the mirror that reflected reality. He was seeing the same body, the same face, for as long as he could remember. But now, at that moment, that man in the mirror wasn't him at all, though their connecting reflections would always prove him wrong.
In fact, he looked a little too much like himself.
The thought made his brows furrow, immediately disliking that idea. A lot of people would like it if they, for the first time, looked like their real selves, but he, on the other hand, completely despised it. The man in the mirror looked too stiff, too uptight. But, then again, Yagyuu wasn't surprised, since now he was going to take a step into a new part of his life.
His wedding day.
Yagyuu honestly thought that the day that he was getting married wouldn't come. Of course, he had hoped for it sometime in the future, but he had never expected it to be this soon. He was just 24 after all, and there were a lot of things that he still wanted to do in his life, like finishing medical school and becoming a doctor, for one. But, like everything else in his family, his future was already set in stone.
He didn't even know what his future wife was like. They've met numerous times before of course, under the strict supervision of their parents, and she was certainly beautiful, skilled and accomplished enough to be a fitting wife for the influential Yagyuu family. But outside of that, Yagyuu didn't know much about her true personality, or if she even wanted to marry him in the first place.
Yaaaaaagyu. It's time for me to pull that stick out of your ass. Puri.
The ghost of an old pain twitched both fondly and painfully in nostalgic remembrance. Yagyuu closed his eyes, willing the pain away, unconsciously grasping his chest as old memories chose to assault him at the moment. They were the best moments in his life; the times were he felt the happiest and most content: his old middle and high school tennis team. Even after years of parting ways to pursue their own dreams, their friendship, their close, tightly-knit bond was still going strong. In fact, almost all of them were now present to witness him take that large step into a full, committed relationship.
And he couldn't be more grateful for their presence. They were his second family, people who accepted him as he was and loved him for it. They were the people who encouraged him to follow his own dreams, despite what his family dictated of him. Joining the Rikkai tennis team in his teens was the first act of defiance he had done. It was the first time he felt so free, so alive, that, in the tennis courts, he was now able to do what he really wanted instead of conforming to the image his family had made for him: the perfect, straight-laced gentleman of Rikkaidai Fuzoku. They were his backbone, his support, and honestly Yagyuu didn't know how many times their friendship had saved him, though all of them were all but compatible in terms of personalities.
Yukimura. Sanada. Yanagi. Kirihara. Marui. Jackal. And...
Ah. His heart twitched more as his thoughts finally rested on him. Yagyuu could see his face all too clearly in his mind, the mischievous teal eyes, the shock of spiky, pale-grey hair sloppily tied up in a rattail, and the perpetual smirk that laced the lips of one Niou Masaharu. It had been so long since Yagyuu had last seen him, and for once in the longest time, allowed his mind to wallow in the thoughts of his used-to-be doubles partner, the former Trickster...
The one person who shook his world, turned it upside down and had forever changed it since.
Even after all these years the teen still managed to affect him so. Right now his chest felt like it was going to be crushed, as fond memories filled his senses. Strong, mischievous, handsome Niou, who forced his way into his mind, into his very heart, in a way no other person had ever done before. The person he shared his wishes and dreams with, the boy he gave his trust, and later his heart and body to.
And pulverized it completely.
He didn't even realize that was crying. Tears blurred his vision, making a wet-streaked path down his cheeks, and he removed his glasses, burying his face into his hands and letting the tightly-chained feelings finally break away and run free.
He regretted. Back then they were so happy, so content in each other, even though they hid their relationship from their respective families. Yagyuu didn't mind, and was in fact thrilled with such a challenge. For four years they were together until high school graduation.
Then... a fight.
Yagyuu wasn't strong enough. That was his largest regret.
"You didn't want to fight for me because your parents think I'm not good enough!"
"That's not it! Listen to me–!"
"Bullshit! Don't think I didn't know, Hiroshi!"
"That's not true! Masaharu–!"
"YOU don't think I'm good enough! I'll never be good enough for the rich, elite Yagyuu family, isn't that right, YAGYUU HIROSHI!"
"YES! You...! You're not good enough, and you never will be, Niou-kun!"
Yagyuu left. He couldn't bear to face the truth of Niou's words, and the complete, total lie of his own. Niou was good enough for him, even deserved better than someone like him who chose to hurt him than fight for what they had. Yagyuu was afraid for him. Afraid of what his family might do to Niou if he had continued to rebel.
He hadn't seen Niou since. He had heard from Yanagi that Niou had moved overseas immediately after graduation, and didn't keep in contact with the rest. Yagyuu didn't even know if he was still alive. He returned back to his mundane life, now simply existing instead of living. Luckily his friends served to be his crutch, merely listening and comforting during the darkest hours of his heartbreak. He clung to them desperately, afraid that they too, might disappear from his sight if he didn't hold tightly enough.
And Yagyuu Hiroshi, even after a decade, will never love as completely, as irrevocably he as did Niou Masaharu.
It was something he accepted to himself. He would move on, but his heart will always belong to the court's Trickster. He knew his friends worried for him, urging him to move on and find another person to love, but he simply couldn't do it. His heart was completely overtaken, something that he always told his friends when that topic of conversation came up.
He was still in love with Niou, always, and forever will be.
"Hiroshi?" A knock on the door startled him, and Yagyuu quickly stood up, smoothing down the crinkles on his suit and sliding his glasses on his face once more, covering his reddened, swollen eyes. This was one of the times he was relieved that his glasses were opaque; it hid his eyes from view, concealing most of his expression and enabling him to act out his role perfectly.
"Come in," He said when he felt that his voice was steady enough. The door clicked open, and his mother came in, as beautiful and as elegant as always. A lot of people told him that he had inherited his mother's facial features whist having his father's air and stature, and he was inclined to believe them, especially when he was closer to his mother than with his father.
"Mother," he greeted genially, allowing himself to be caught up in a tight hug. Out of all the people he didn't want to disappoint, his mother was on the very top of that list. He and his father were so distant, he really didn't care anymore on what the older man would think of him. But Yagyuu knew that it was her dearest wish to see him stable and live a comfortable life with his own family to take care of, and he valued his mother's happiness and pride of him over everything else in the world.
"Oh my, you look so handsome." Yagyuu Masako said affectionately, smoothing over the creases on his collar. "Today is finally the day. Are you nervous, Hiroshi?"
"... No, Mother." He was still too distraught to feel any anxiety. He willed his face to remain blank, to keep his mother from worrying about him. But, somehow, she always caught on to his emotions, because her face changed into an expression of concern.
"Hiroshi? Is there something wrong?" Yagyuu opened his mouth to assure her that no, nothing's wrong, but the words lodged itself into his throat and wouldn't come out. He gasped quietly, swallowing thickly, trying to get rid of the constricting tightness around his neck. He couldn't lose composure now, not in front of the person he valued so much. He settled for minutely shaking his head, trying to keep his feelings at bay. He wanted to run to his mother's arms and exhaust himself crying, to confess that he didn't want this, that he was still in love with someone else after all these years.
But he wouldn't. Couldn't. This was his mother's dearest wish, and he would not be ungrateful and trample over her dreams just for his own sake.
Masako stared at her son, her heart breaking at the sight of him still anguished and forlorn over his first love. All she wanted was for her son to achieve happiness in his life, and only agreed to the marriage because she thought her son wanted it. To see him like this was making her feel that she made a mistake in encouraging him through this.
Hiroshi wasn't aware of it, but she had met him, that boy, just once. She had her initial suspicions already, of course, and she trusted her instincts. They met each other in the street, and sheer curiosity made her ask him to spend some time with her in a small cafe. He followed along willingly enough, also wondering on what brought this on, and if she had caught on to his real relationship with her son.
Niou Masaharu was the very kind of boy her husband would have despised. His blatant disregard of propriety and manners would sufficiently shock anyone who was a part of their world. But Masako wasn't most people. They talked, and she was surprised to learn that he was very intelligent and perspective, and revealed to her a side of her son that she didn't know was there. At first she was offended and rightly indignant for her son, but apparently, that boy had expected that, because he was quick to follow up his words.
Yagyuu-san, Hiroshi is a very selfish person.
And now, she felt that she finally understood what Niou Masaharu meant at that time.
Not because he doesn't give enough, but because he gives so much that he doesn't think of the other people worrying about him.
Her next words were anything but unkind.
"... It's that boy, isn't it."
Yagyuu's head shot up to look at her, completely stunned. The questions rose to his lips in a rush–how did you know–how much do you know–why do you know–what will happen now that you know–but seeing his mother's gentle, knowing look, the words suddenly didn't want to come out. He opened his mouth, only for the sound to come out as a strangled croak.
Somehow, perhaps, she already knew everything. She always did.
"I'm sorry Mother." His voice was barely more than a whisper. "I-I'm sorry... I..." He couldn't believe he was doing this, that he was giving in a little to what he actually wanted. It made him feel ashamed, to do this now on his wedding day, in front of his mother that he was sure to let down greatly. He buried his face in his hands, unmindful of the spectacles that now pressed uncomfortably against the bridge of his nose, trying to stop the prickling at the back of his eyes and ignoring the clear liquid that was brimming over his eyes. He was calm, he was composed, he would be able to do this, he would not cry, he would not break down in front of his mother–
All that came out was a broken murmur. "I can't."
"Oh Hiroshi," He was swept up in a tight embrace, with familiar, soothing fingers running through his hair and rubbing his back consolingly as years of built up pain, hurt and suffering finally broke free from its confines and flowed freely, clutching at the front of his mother's dress and unable to stop the short screams of heart-wrenching agony, too far gone to care about anything else.
"I'm sorry." Masako whispered, devastated at the sight of her now broken son. "I'm so sorry, Hiroshi." And she could only hold him, whispering and murmuring, unable to stop the tears that were sliding down her own cheeks, silently asking for her son's forgiveness.
Yagyuu was sorry too. For not stopping Niou that time. For letting himself go this far only to back out at the last moment. For wanting to do what he wanted, instead of what was told of him.
For still loving Niou Masaharu until now, and hoping that he would still come back to him.
Yagyuu was standing in front of the cathedral doors, already hearing the faint babble of voices inside. The limousine picked him up about an hour ago from the hotel his family was staying in, the ride passing by in silence until he had arrived at his designation. He climbed up the steps to the shrine, the last of the early people to arrive, where they would have to wait for his bride. It was still early, about half an hour before the ceremony would start and as the groom he was obligated to arrive before his bride.
His face was devoid of expression, skin still a shade paler than usual. His suit was still as pristine and wrinkle-free as it was before, hair properly combed and parted, his opaque glasses perched on his nose. Not one thing out of place. Still. Perfect. The gentleman.
His throat was aching, shredded raw, and he was surprised that his voice wasn't hoarse yet, though it was probably close to. His eyes still stung, and quite badly at that. Yagyuu squinted against the sunlight, looking up at the white wash concrete walls of the newly painted cathedral, hoping that the concealer did its job and hid his red, swollen eyes. He was finally here, standing in front of what most would consider the gates to Heaven. It was a picturesque place, immense and made with Gothic architecture, with turrets the seemed to reach for the sky and a bell tower singing its praises for this wondrous day where it would once again witness the joining of two people with the sacred sacrament of matrimony. It was by the ocean, right at the outskirts of the city, on top of a small hill that overlooked the vastness of its surroundings. Of course, nothing but the best for the Yagyuu family.
He was standing in front of the gates of Hell.
The rest of his family were already inside. His mother had gone first, as per tradition, and Yagyuu used the remaining time to return back to the person he saw reflected in the mirror.
All he could feel was a strange stillness. He was spent, exhausted... completely resigned. After bottling up his emotions for so long, everything now just seemed so... empty. He didn't want to feel anymore. He couldn't feel anymore. He was getting married today, whether he liked it or not.
He entered, and found that the inside was already a bustle of activity, the entire place decorated and suited to their supposed tastes. He never really listened in when it came to the wedding plans, tuning them out and putting on a mildly interested expression as they continued to chatter and argue amongst themselves, and nobody bothered to ask for his opinion since he looked to be attentive enough. Everything was decided by his fiancée and her family, and he merely nodded and agreed along with them. The results weren't disappointing–aesthetically, at least.
The theme was, apparently, ivory (not white) and peach. The two colours surrounded him, from the decorations to flowers to the ribbons to the aisle to the altar. Everything was high-class, refined and sophisticated, planned and set down into the tiniest detail.
He hated ivory.
And now he has caught the attention of the guests people came over and congratulated him, made small talk or both. He put on his father-approved polite smile, giving the perfunctory words of gratitude and genial answers they've been expecting of him: Oh yes, thank you very much–yes, I feel nervous but that's quite all right–I really can't wait for it to happen – before hearing a familiar voice behind him that made him turn and smile more sincerely.
"Marui-kun." The former Rikkai tennis team came up, all smiling and grinning at him, taller, older, and more mature but essentially the same people he studied and played with for all his middle and high school years. They all changed subtly in small ways, but he wouldn't mistake them for anyone else. Yagyuu couldn't help but let his expression melt away and turn into a more heartfelt, genuine look. "Everyone."
"Congratulations, Yagyuu." Yanagi was working abroad now, if Yagyuu remembered correctly, in a research facility catering to athletes training and developing sports equipment. He was as tall and as lanky as ever, hair a little longer now and not as straight cut. Beside him, their youngest was grinning madly, holding hands with Yanagi, a professional tennis player who made headlines when he announced his engagement with his male lover of almost a decade the same time he won his very first Grand Slam. "Yeah, congrats on the marriage, Yagyuu-senpai."
"Thank you, Yanagi-kun, Akaya-kun." Even until now Akaya hadn't completely grown out of calling them all that, after all these years, though he had already grown up, towering over Marui and about a few centimetres over Yukimura, but not quite reaching his height yet. Even he wasn't able to stop calling them with such formality, and yet his friends accepted that as a part of him, something unique, but at the same time, familiar. "Thank you for coming, everyone."
"Yeah, I'd never thought I'd see the day," Marui snickered good-naturedly, for once looking appropriately clothed in a proper suit and tie. Marui was a professional pastry chef, his day job, and was doing disk jockeying on the side. At first his parents wanted someone more... reputable, but Yagyuu had requested it personally, wanting something familiar in the midst of something completely different. And he was sure that Marui would do an excellent job of it. "I was really surprised when Yagyuu called me up to do his wedding cake. After Sanada and Yukimura's wedding, I expected that it would be Yanagi who's calling me next." And Marui, Yagyuu was surprised to see, had come alone, but then again the redhead had never really dated anyone seriously at that point. "You're going to love the cake and it's all because of my genius."
"Stop praising yourself, Bunta. It's Yagyuu's day today." Jackal rolled his eyes at his former doubles partner. He was able to make it, to Yagyuu's immense surprise. The half-Brazilian tennis player moved back to his homeland after high school and had taken up coaching and teaching work there. Initially Yagyuu was hesitant to invite Jackal as he was on the other side of the world and he would trouble the man, but when the other man had called and asked why he was the only regular who didn't have an invitation to the wedding, Yagyuu had laughed and sent him the invitation, as well as a pair of plane tickets. And it seemed that Jackal had put them into good use, because he had a beautiful, ebony woman on his arm. Her name was Maria, his long time girlfriend, and it was her first time visiting Japan. After being introduced and finding her pleasant and cheerful company, Yagyuu turned to the last pair of people he hadn't greeted yet.
"Yagyuu, congratulations." Sanada Seiichi, nee Yukimura, enveloped him in a brief embrace, leaning on his husband's arm while Sanada Genichirou shook Yagyuu's hand firmly. They got married three years ago in Spain, the first in their team to do so, and it was what Yagyuu could honestly say the most beautiful event he had witnessed in his life. The former captain wore his hair a little longer now, tied up and curling on his shoulders, blue contrasting with the white tux he wore, while Sanada was in his full military regalia, all the medals and insignias pinned to his chest and shoulders, identical silver sings glimmering on their ring fingers. As always, they wouldn't be seen without the other's company and Yagyuu had to raise an eyebrow at Sanada's choice of clothing. "I'm sorry, it was me who insisted that he wore his military coat today." Yukimura laughed, pressing a quick kiss to the raven's cheek. Sanada merely rolled his eyes in response, also nodding his well wishes while looking fondly and affectionately at his spouse.
At times Yagyuu envied their relationship. It was what one could call the perfect romance: they were childhood friends; they met at a young age, became friends, best friends, and eventually learned to fall in love with one another. They knew each other more than they knew themselves and it was a blessing that they have managed to find each other so early on in their lives. That was to say that they didn't have their own share of troubles, but they managed to pull through and come out of it stronger than ever.
But the discrimination against them was still present. Yagyuu caught a few staring at the couple with not so friendly looks. Ever the conservative family, Sanada and Yukimura almost didn't get an invitation if for not for him who put his foot down and reminding them that it was his wedding, and he would very damn well decide on who got to attend it or not... said more politely, of course. But thankfully they didn't seem to notice, or rather, they chose to ignore it completely on the account of their friend's special day. In hindsight, Yagyuu understood Yukimura's intentions when he asked Sanada to forego the usual formal attire.
"Yagyuu, a quick wedding present." Yukimura, smiling, held out a small box to him, plain white and unwrapped. Yagyuu took it, curious, and opening it he found a corsage, simple but elegant, a single white lily surrounded by teal ribbons and baby's breath. It was almost plain compared to the corsage that he was wearing now, but it held a personal touch that reflected... him. It radiated comfort and strength, the very two things he needed the most right now. He turned to look at the former captain, seeing him smiling gently.
"I plucked it out in my garden today." Yukimura said as Yagyuu lightly traced a finger over the petals in silent wonder. "I know that you might have one already but I couldn't resist. It seemed... fitting, somehow. And it was Genichirou who arranged it to look that way."
Yagyuu was deeply touched. "It's beautiful. Thank you, both of you." He fumbled for the pin that held the corsage he was wearing, trying to get it off. Yukimura, seeing this, slid his arm off his husband's and lightly bumped the brunet's fingers away. He undid the pin more swiftly, chuckling at Yagyuu's suddenly flustered cheeks, taking out the original red rose and replacing it with the lily, sliding it into the breast pocket and pinning it on again. "There. Much better."
Yagyuu touched the corsage now on his jacket, feeling his heart calm down considerably. He took in the smiling and mildly amused expression of his former teammate, and the concern that wallowed in the blue depths. Even after all these years his captain and vice-captain still looked out for him, guiding him and giving him the solace that he needed. Even the simple fact that almost all of them were here to be with him on such a memorable occasion was overwhelming. It served to be what he knew all along, that they would always be there for each other whenever it was needed. He searched their faces, eternally grateful for their presence.
It would have been perfect if all of them were here, but Yagyuu knew better than to hope.
"Oh, the car's here," A voice called out, Yagyuu didn't know whose, and suddenly his heart lurched, his body tensed, and suddenly he knew he wasn't ready for this, that he was going to do the biggest mistake of his life and what was he thinking getting into this in the first place. He was taking a step into a road he wasn't sure he wanted to take and his heart was still not over anyone–someone–him and before he knew it he was trembling and gasping and he couldn't breathe–!
A hand carefully steadied him and he blinked, his vision suddenly blurred and wet as he focused on the nearest person, whose hand felt warm and secure on his shoulder.
"Yagyuu, are you still going through this?" Sanada asked quietly, holding him, and around him the former regulars surrounded him in worry and concern. Out of all his friends, Yagyuu least expected that it would be Sanada who would ask that question out loud.
"Yes." He straightened out his tie, brushed off the invisible lint on his coat, adjusted his cufflinks, mentally preparing himself for what would come. "I have to."
"But you love Niou-senpai." It was said so inaudibly that Yagyuu almost didn't hear it. It was Akaya, he realized with a little incredulity, who looked uncomfortable but determined to say his part. In all honesty, he didn't think that their youngest would notice something like that, with them being so overprotective of him when they were all younger. Despite being older now Akaya was still naive and followed his heart, something that could be seen as childish for someone his age.
He thought that it would hurt to hear his name out loud. It stung, yes, but not as deep as it used to be. Niou Masaharu would always be a part of him, in his mind and in his heart, and once he accepted that he was able to breathe a little easier, feeling the shackles in his heart slowly melt away. He would never be able to move on. Yagyuu smiled softly at the younger man, a little wistful, a bit nostalgic, but not in pain.
"I always will." He answered quietly, ruffling the curly black hair fondly. Yagyuu nodded to the others, offering a small, genuine smile to them. "Thank you. For everything."
"Don't thank us yet, Yagyuu." Yanagi's smile hinted at something else, "Thank us properly later instead." The former data master's words had been cryptic, but Yagyuu was unable to question him further as they made their way to their seats. A bit discomfited at that, he too walked up to the altar, stopping just before the steps and turning back to the aisle, clasping his hands behind his back. The stained glass windows loomed over him, the eyes of God and the angels boring into him, as if seeing through the sin he was committing. It was blasphemous, standing in front of their presence to do a sham of a wedding. Yagyuu could only ask for forgiveness as his bride finally stepped into his gaze, a vision in cream and white.
The wedding march started, prompting the visitors to stand as she walked down the aisle. One could tell that she was extraordinarily beautiful, holding herself with elegance and poise. A wedding veil obscured her face, the big, frothy wedding gown flowing around her in layers. He should be happy that this was happening, that he was going to have a wedding others could only dream of.
Yagyuu felt sick to his stomach, now that she was close enough to see properly. She smiled at him, from what he could see through the translucent veil, and he managed to give a strained smile back, taking her hand into his and placing a short kiss onto it. She took his arm, and both of them ascended the steps to the altar together in front of the priest, who nodded and gave his well wishes before starting the ceremony.
He, for the life of him, couldn't remember anything about it afterwards. He was sure that it was grand and solemn, but the tension inside him made it difficult for him to focus and listen on what was being said. The candles flickered and winked at him, and he found himself vaguely wondering on what would happen if he knocked down the holders and started a fire. The hand on his elbow felt heavy, restricting, and it took all the years of his good breeding to not slap away the offending hand and wrenching away in disgust. Some idiocratic part of his mind screamed that he was betraying Niou by doing this, and he almost laughed out loud at the notion, wondering what his first love would say to that.
They went through the priest's address, the readings, and finally to the ceremony proper, where the officiator, due to the insistence of his family to have a completely traditional wedding, finally spoke out the words that brought him back to reality.
"Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of the Lord and these witnesses, to join the people before me in matrimony, which is commended to be honourable among all men; and therefore – is not by any – to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly – but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together – let them speak now or forever hold their peace.
This was it. The final moment. Suddenly he knew that he couldn't do this. Hard as he tried to convince himself, those words were an eye-opener. This wedding was really happening and he couldn't turn back anymore. The feelings of betrayal tore deeper, more real and he cursed his selfishness, his want to be happy just once in his life. He wanted to be anywhere but here, doing anything but this, to be near anyone but her.
Almost desperately Yagyuu cast his gaze on their audience below, almost willing one of them to speak out, to protest against his marriage when he was too weak and afraid to do so, but there was only silence. Even then he knew that his friends would step up for him had he asked them to, but he had told them that he was going through this, and they wouldn't interfere for his sake.
It was turning out to be the biggest regret of his life.
When there was none, the priest continued on, addressing him first.
"Yagyuu Hiroshi, do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy matrimony, to love her, to honour her, to comfort her, and to keep her in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?"
I..." Yagyuu's breath was suddenly caught in his throat. He looked at his bride, who was staring at him expectantly, aware of the gazes everyone had on him. His chest constricted, as memories suddenly surged through his mind, moments of them together, laughing, crying, spending time together. He remembered the hourly pranks, daily practices, the weekly outings, the monthly celebrations. The walks in the parks, the romantic candlelit dinners, and the first time they made love, the last time they said those three words to each other. A pair of hands cradling his face, a mischievous smile present on the devilishly handsome face, brilliant teal orbs that spoke volumes as he whispered against his lips.
He had to do this. There was no turning back now. And yet... and yet...!
"Hiroshi, I don't say this to anyone. But... I think I love you."
He closed his eyes, a single tear managing to escape his eyes, silently sliding down his cheek.
The sudden noise broke his concentration and he whipped his head back to the direction of the church entrance, blinking. All at once, everyone also turned their heads back, both startled and surprised at the sudden interruption. The church doors were unceremoniously slammed open, a large mass standing against the light, and Yagyuu used the distraction to quickly wipe away the tears on his face, also bewildered by the change of events.
The shadow only remained there for a moment. With a sharp squeal it entered the cathedral, down the red carpet, approaching the altar, but Yagyuu didn't register the action on his mind, withering away when the shadow finally caught light through the colour-stained windows and showed itself for the first time.
A sleek black and silver motorcycle, with flicks of moss green on the sides. It was a beautiful machine, even the most uninterested person would admit to that, but Yagyuu wasn't fixated on the automobile.
It was the rider.
He caught the shade of dark silver, spiky and now longer than ever, starkly visible against the shiny, black leather jacket on his back. His eyes steadily widened as the face eventually became clearer, until he couldn't mistake it for anyone else.
Just as the wheels reached the altar steps the rider stopped and swerved left at the last moment, the motorcycle drifting to a stop just as it touched the first step, making skid marks on the tiled floor. He looked up, met Yagyuu's eyes, and smirked, raising his hand out for the brunet to take.
That voice belonged to only one person. Yagyuu didn't pause. He didn't think. The moment he saw the familiar face robbed him completely of speaking and mental ability. He darted forward, almost not believing what he was seeing, almost flying down the stairs, the blood pounding in his ears, his leather shoes clapping almost as loudly as his beating heart, as he neared... neared...
Warmth. A pair of strong arms wound around him, so achingly nostalgic, firm, familiar lips covering his own, not caring if they were in a church, not caring if everybody could see them, not caring if he was creating the biggest scandal that would shame his family for the years to come. His knees buckled and weakened, his heart almost bursting with happiness while his mind was still trying frantically to catch up to reality, feeling the cracks in his heart quickly mend and heal, as if it was never broken in the first place.
He didn't know when his glasses were taken off his face, but his vision was still blurred. He was laughing, he was crying, cheeks flushed and incredulity rolling off him in waves. Was this really happening?
"Missed me?" Niou Masaharu whispered against his lips, chuckling, his voice deeper, and yet still held the same light, teasing tenor. He had changed as well, like the rest of them, but inside was still the same Trickster Yagyuu had come to know and deeply love.
"You're late, Niou-kun." He couldn't find any words to say, and those were the first things that came out of his mouth. He wiped his eyes, suddenly embarrassed for his tear strained face.
"My bad." Niou sounded genuinely apologetic at that, brushing his lips against Yagyuu's forehead before cocking his head back and placing his hands on the handle bars. "Let's go, we're going to be late."
Yagyuu didn't have to think twice. He quickly straddled the bike, his arms around Niou's waist, and in an uncharacterized moment of weakness, brushed his lips against Niou's cheek, a kiss of gratitude or a kiss of relief, he didn't know. For a moment Niou was still, a priceless, stunned expression on his face, but it was gone as quickly as it came. He smirked widely at the gaping bride, kicking the motorcycle once again into life, and with a sharp throttle and a loud squeal, turned around and proceeded to shoot down the aisle.
The surroundings quickly passed by in a blur. Yagyuu kept a tight hold, his cheek pressed against the soft leather of Niou's back, cool against his heated skin. His seat felt warm, the vibrating motor beneath them a quiet assurance that it wasn't dreaming at all.
"Hold on!" Niou shouted over the roar of the engine, cranking down on the accelerator at full force. Faster, both of them moved with a swiftness that was almost frightening, and yet the brunet merely clung on the jacket tighter, trusting the other man with everything he had. Yagyuu didn't know where they were going, and yet looked up, seeing the large entrance just in front of them. Nearer and nearer, they approached the church gate, already at full speed, time slowing down to a mere crawl as they left the sanctum, and then...!
Yagyuu held his breath as they passed underneath the archway.
... Light. Brilliant, dazzling light. The sunlight blinded him, and yet all he could see was the colour of deep, unending red.
It was the sea.
Yagyuu wasn't able to stop the gasp that escaped his lips, the scent of the ocean breeze suddenly washing over him in tides, feeling the warm, summer wind on his cheeks, whipping and tousling his hair. The church was beside the sea, and yet he wasn't able to appreciate it fully because the limousine's windows were tinted darkly. They were flying, sailing through the air, as they went off the church grounds to bump harshly on the main road.
"Lean with me!" Niou twisted the handle just in time for them to miss the metal railing that would've sent them diving into the sea, their knees almost touching the asphalt before straightening out and running on the winding road before them.
And then Yagyuu seemed to jerk out of his euphoric daze and realized what both of them had done.
"N-Niou-kun! W-Where are we going! We have to turn back!" He shouted, but he was laughing, voice tinged with a hint of euphoric hysteria. This wasn't possible, he must be dreaming, Niou Masaharu should not be here riding on a motorcycle with him and he was not just willingly abducted on his own wedding by his former lover who he hadn't seen for more than six years. "What are you even doing here!" But as he said this his hold became even tighter, trying to cling on to this–whatever this was–for as long as he could. For the first time in a long while, he felt happy, carefree... free.
"Ease up a bit Yagyuu, I'm not going anywhere. Puri." Niou grunted at the almost crushing force applied to his abdomen but he was grinning widely, quickly shifting gears and keeping his eyes on the road, savouring the familiar warmth on his back. He had missed this terribly, taken its presence for granted far too long and it cost him dearly. But in the end, the weeks of planning and coordinating with the rest had made all of this worth it. "And not happening. You're going with me, whether you like it not."
"Niou-kun!" It was so easy to go back to their usual, familiar routine. Yagyuu thought his heart died a little when he heard the familiar catchphrase, didn't think that the other would still use it until now. It was the confirmation he needed, though he couldn't deny that a lot had changed now.
"Yaaaaaagyuu." It was the same as he remembered, only deeper, more mature ... and more serious. The brunet felt the silveret tense in front of him, body straightening for the smallest bit, and it made Yagyuu nervous.
Niou exhaled a slow breath, wondering how he should ask this. He had a lot to think about for the last years, and now that they were already there he couldn't find the right words to say. He thought about his mistakes, his resolve and his hard work, finally culminating in this one moment, and if there was one thing he regretted, it was that he would cause Yagyuu to be estranged from his family. After graduating from high school he went abroad, resisting every urge to crawl back to Japan and beg for Yagyuu's forgiveness. It was, for him, something he had to prove to himself and to others. Their argument became his eye-opener.
So he studied. Studied and worked until he stood where he was now, until he could ask for Yagyuu's hand as an equal. Every day he called and mailed the old team, asking if Yagyuu was okay, was he doing well, what was going on in his life. And, always, before he would hand up, he would ask:
"Does he still love me?"
If they had answered otherwise, he would stop and leave Yagyuu in peace, because he would always value Yagyuu's happiness over his own, even if it meant his heart getting broken in return.
The answer was always "Yes."
That one word was his inspiration, to keep himself from going crazy and forcing himself to focus and carry on until the end. And, just as he had finally managed it, Yanagi called, announcing the brunet's soon-to-be marriage. Realizing that his time was almost up, Niou went back immediately, planning out a way to get Yagyuu back, especially when, after all this time, Yagyuu still loved him as he did before.
And this time, he would keep that love and cherish it for as long as he should live. It was something he swore to Yagyuu Masako, in the split second their eyes met in the church. She looked at him with eyes both sad and happy, then at her son behind him, nodding once, offering a weak, wan smile at him.
Make him happy.
Niou nodded his solemn agreement before facing forward, taking Yagyuu with him to a future they could be in together.
"... Want to stay with me forever?"
Yagyuu stared at the back of the silver head with impossibly wide eyes... and all Yagyuu wanted to do was to laugh. It was so him, so Niou to propose in that way. This day was so overwhelming, filled with a whirlwind of emotions that Yagyuu didn't know what to feel anymore. It was too much, it was crazy, it was insane, but he trusted it more than he trusted himself.
Because it was completely, perfectly them, and Yagyuu trusted them more than anything else in the world.
"As a spring breeze blows across the schoolyard, you stand alone."
"Th- that's from my poetry notebook! You went through my bag didn't you?"
"Oh, white butterfly, if only my feelings would reach that person. Oh ho… so who's 'that person' then?"
"Please stop this now!"
"I thought you just had a stick up your ass, but here you are writing poetry too. Pretty interesting."
Yagyuu managed a chuckle and smiled, sliding closer, pressing his cheek against the soft, warm leather. It smelled of Niou and the ocean, the unbelievably soft strands of moonlight hair tickling his nose and cheek. The rattail was longer than ever, reaching to his back and flowing more freely in the wind. Niou had also filled out, larger... broader now. He could feel that way his abdominals moved underneath the thin white shirt and Yagyuu could feel his cheeks heating up at the thought, already feeling like a teenager all over again.
"Look, you're not half bad. See you later. Puri."
"Niou-kun... He blew in like the wind, and left just the same. He just does things his own way, I guess. But he's a better person that I expected him to be. It's possible we might even be able to get along well from now on."
"... I do, Masaharu." He whispered, closing his eyes and enjoying the ride, quietly watching the sea as the motorcycle hugged along the cliffside. It was close to twilight, the sun slowly sinking to the horizon, a yellow disk that seemed to grow smaller the more it got swallowed by the darkness, it's dying rays bathing the waves in shimmering silver and gold. They both stayed in a quiet, intimate silence afterwards, but Yagyuu could imagine him smiling back, actually smirking now in victory.
Niou's hand left the handle and slid it over his for the briefest moment, leaning back so their heads bumped gently, relishing in their reunion and their rekindled love, telling him more than words ever could.
When they got into a city was already night, Niou navigating through the busy streets with ease. Yagyuu had to admit that he fell asleep during the ride, as dangerous as it was, and yet he felt completely safe, his arms still around Niou when the twinkling night lights awakened him.
"Where are we?" He asked when they finally stopped, the silver-haired man turning off the engine and sliding off his bike. He was shrugging off his jacket and folding it over his arm as Yagyuu followed, still a bit disoriented, looking around for something familiar, when it finally dawned on him just exactly where they were.
"I told you," Niou smirked and grasped the other man's hand, tugging to get his attention when it showed that Yagyuu was too stunned to move. "We need to hurry, or we're going to be late."
They were in Narita Airport.
"But where–Niou-kun, wait!" Yagyuu was jerked back to reality and stumbled a bit, trying to keep up with Niou who was weaving his way through the small crowd, going to the Departures gate. Yagyuu felt terribly lost, but Niou never let go of his hand, keeping them laced together as they checked in with the guards at the entrance and went in. They must've looked strange, a man in a tight, white shirt, low handing jeans and riding boots dragging a tuxedo-clad man with him in a place like this. But the former Trickster seemed not to notice or care, looking at the flight schedule above their heads for a short moment before pulling him in a new direction.
"This way, Hiroshi! Hurry!"
"Wait! Where are we going, Niou-kun!" Yagyuu yelped, feeling his arm ache with how much it was strained with continuous pulling. He had to stop for a moment, or he might just lose an arm if they continued like this. "I don't understand If you just tell me–!"
"Niou! Yagyuu! Over here!" A voice called to them, and Yagyuu's heart almost stopped. He didn't think that he could take any more surprises for that day.
"E-Everyone!" The former regulars of Rikkaidai Fuzoku's tennis club eventually came to light, happily smiling and grinning at the both of them. "How did you–!"
"Rode in a military helicopter." Marui snickered the answer, sending a sideways look at Sanada who looked as if he was close to getting another migraine, unable to believe he just pulled rank just to do something as childish and as juvenile as this. "It's freaking awesome, I tell you."
"Anyway, both of you need to hurry, or you're going to miss your flight." And in a flurry of movements, Yagyuu found himself being wrestled out of his coat by Akaya, the shirt sleeves being unbuttoned and pushed up, going for a more casual look, while on the other side, Niou was getting some luggage from Jackal, a duffel slung over his shoulder and a carry on in his other hand. He flung the keys towards their youngest, who ginned widely and caught it easily.
"Take care of my girl, okay brat? Remember, one scratch on her, and it's your head."
"Sure, Niou-senpai! She's in good hands, I promise!" Akaya answered a little too gleefully, pocketing the keys carefully. He had always wanted to take his senpai's bike out for a spin, and now that it's on an indefinite loan he could use it as much as he wanted to... well, as long as he was going to stay here in Japan, anyway.
"Here's a piece of your wedding cake." Marui came up next with a medium-sized box. "Be sure to eat it during your flight, it's 4 hours long and you might get hungry." He smiled at them, scowling at Niou who took the opportunity to take a jab at his weight. While the two of them bickered like they used to Yanagi moved forward, pressing an envelope in Yagyuu's hands.
"Everything you would need is there." He said with a smile, "Flight tickets, passport and visa. The rest, you can contact Genichirou and he'll take care of it. Expect a visit from Akaya and I when we're in the area, we'll be sure to visit."
"And a last wedding gift, Yagyuu." Yukimura said softly, bringing his hand up, a single, silver key hanging on its holder. He placed it on the silveret's hands, closing Yagyuu's fingers upon it as if telling him to take it without reservations. "Whenever you're in that area, feel free to use it for as long as you want."
So that's how they managed to do all of this, Yagyuu thought incredulously, staring at the packages in his hands. He was really doing this. He was with Niou and they were starting a new life together. Finally they were all complete. But instead of feeling sick he felt anticipant, excited for it. This wouldn't be possible without their help, and he couldn't be more thankful that he had such good people who looked up for them and ensured their happiness. Overcome with emotion he tried to reply, but the words simply wouldn't come, and he felt that any words of gratitude would just fall weak in comparison to their actions.
"I... I don't..."
"You could just thank us, you know." Akaya supplied helpfully, and Yagyuu choked out a sob, feeling the tears come but not making any move to stop them. Let them see him crying. He had no words, no sentences to explain what he felt, that he was just so overwhelmed that all he could do was nod and cry silently, clutching at the gifts as if they were precious treasures.
Then a hand tilted his face up, a warm thumb brushing away his tears. It was Niou, he knew just by the complete familiarity of his touch.
"You all right, babe?" He asked softly, and Yagyuu choked out a laugh, oh we're back at pet names again, nodding. Niou smiled back, the special, genuine smile that was reserved just for him. He rounded back on his former teammates, mock glaring, putting a protective arm over the brunet.
"Hey, don't make Hiroshi cry, you bastards." And they all dissolved into laughter, each holding their significant others, faces light and happy, giving their final wishes and greetings to the leaving couple as the speakers overhead blared out its announcement. Yagyuu quickly hugged all of them, saying his goodbyes, before reuniting with Niou as they all but ran to the gate.
"Thank you, all of you!"
"Take care you two!"
"Yeah, make sure to keep Niou on a leash, Yagyuu!"
"Have fun and be happy!"
This is the final boarding call for passengers Niou Masaharu and Yagyuu Hiroshi booked on flight 828 to Hong Kong. Please proceed to gate 1 immediately. The final checks are being completed and the captain will order for the doors of the aircraft to close in approximately five minutes time. I repeat...
"Niou-kun," Yagyuu started as they quickly checked in and boarded, the flight attendant escorting them to their seats, first class. "Why are we going to Hong Kong?"
"Consider it a stop over," Niou answered, settling back to their seat, tilting his head up to meet the brunet's questioning stare with a smirk. "After a bit of shopping we're going to Spain, then go around Europe."
"To Spa–" And that was what the key was for, Yagyuu realized, digging into his pockets and getting the tiny, silver key. Of course. Why else would former captain give them a key? It was for the villa by the sea, the one that Sanada had bought for Yukimura for their wedding.
The house and the places that Yagyuu had wanted to see firsthand if ever he had the chance to.
"Hey Hiroshi." The tone in which the other man said it made Yagyuu look at him, teal eyes sharpening and staring with a heated intensity that made him shiver a little. "I'll go with you anywhere, even if it means that we'll go to hell for it. I've worked my ass for you, became as rich as Atobe with the face and the body to go with it. I pretty much fucked up what we had before but I'm willing to repay in any way you want. I also gate crashed your wedding and your family will probably kill me for that."
"Niou-kun..." Yagyuu didn't think that his pulse would race with a speed of a tennis rally, as his heart fluttered and butterflies the size of dinosaurs rampaged inside his stomach. "What... are you saying?"
"Well..." Niou smiled crookedly. "I'd give you a ring, but I don't have it with me right now. I'd also get on one knee if you'd like me to, but the space is gonna be a problem. Hiroshi..." His eyes softened, looking deep into golden brown eyes.
"That's pretty much what I'm asking, and if you came with me here, I'm expecting that it's pretty much a yes."
If Yagyuu had a happier moment than right at that moment, he didn't remember it. His face was flushed and he was probably never going to live this down for as long as he lived and yet he radiated happiness unlike he had ever felt before.
"Then why ask?"
His family was going to disown him, and he could see a lot of problems coming for them in the future. They weren't going to have it easy, and would probably be in each other's throats more often than not.
But he had no regrets, and if it was him, if it was for Niou Masaharu, he would do anything. And so he settled for kissing Niou until he was senseless and laying his head on the other man's shoulder, their fingers twined loosely, feeling a pair of lips brush against his hair.
After six years, it was finally the beginning for their forever.
I need your inputs on this one, because I'm not sure if I got their characterizations down flat yet. I take con crit of course, but flames shall be used as fuel for my nonexistent fireplace where a lot of things have happened in front of it and I'm sure that you would want to know the details.
On another note, i just got two messages from one of my supporters: one that is asking for my fics to be translated in Chinese, and the other drawing Rikkai in FFVII style. So yeah, I'm pretty much running on endorphins though I've just crashed now and I need to calm down and sleep. tashatier-san and Blodigealach-san, you have my sincerest gratitude. Thank you very very much for the great honour you've given me.
Here are the pictures, if you want to see it:
Like always, please read and review, boys and girls.