Title: Not Belonging to Earth
Characters: Hiyoshi, Niou, Atobe, Hyoutei, Yagyuu, Bunta, Kirihara
Warnings: aliens and trickery
Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis is owned by Konomi
Summary: Hiyoshi goes alien hunting with Atobe... or is it Niou?
Notes: Story originally written for a tenipuri fic exchange on livejournal
It was a little known fact that Hiyoshi, avid tennis player, judo expert, abacus fan and young male determined to defeat all those who stood above him, was also a sci-fi junkie.
Not in the way that he would sit and watch Star Trek movies for hours on end. But the type that had a telescope and read magazines about aliens and was positive that in a universe that had no edge, there had to be other sentient beings.
Such a fact could not be hidden from Hyoutei's captain and student council president, Atobe Keigo. He was well known for his insight techniques but even without it, he took pride in knowing all of his team members well. And even boasted knowing all of the names and several interesting facts about all 200 members of Hyoutei's tennis club.
It was, of course, one more thing for Hiyoshi to accept as a challenge and overcome. If Atobe knew three facts about every member than Hiyoshi would know four. This, however, was dampened somewhat by Hiyoshi's different take on leadership and the general feeling of uneasy that lower ranking members in the club got whenever Hiyoshi started quizzing them about their hobbies, family and favourite things.
But as Atobe could not gift Hiyoshi with the proper personality and subtlety for getting to know his teammates more, Atobe instead planned on gifting him an unforgettable experience.
So, with a little help of a friend or two, Atobe studiously researched and funded his project until he had established the perfect chance to stargaze and find a UFO.
"Hiyoshi," Atobe called out his name as he saw him leave his soraban - Japanese abacus - class. He was leaning against the side of his chauffeured vehicle, decked out in black jeans, a pale violet button down and a dark purple scarf. His hair was tousled just so and he looked as if he had stepped out of a magazine or was off to a movie premiere.
Hiyoshi was just thankful that Atobe was not holding roses, spouting ridiculous rhetoric about Hyoutei's strength (yet) or drinking the alcohol-free champagne that Hiyoshi was convinced wasn't always alcohol-free.
"Atobe-san," Hiyoshi said with a polite nod. He wanted to walk by but something made him pause in front of Atobe.
"Get in the car."
Atobe just raised a brow in his arrogant style and to curtail any incoming diatribes about his prowess, Hiyoshi opened the door and slid into the decadent interior.
The first thing he noticed, besides the fact that nobody else was there, was that the alcohol-free champagne was in an ice bottle, a glass already poured and sitting beside Atobe's seat. He really hoped that Atobe didn't manage to get drunk off of it. Before he could check the bottle to make sure it really was 0%, Atobe slid into his seat.
"So where are we going?" If Atobe was going to drive him home, Hiyoshi supposed he would be a little grateful. He had a lot of homework to do and while he enjoyed a nice walk, it would be better to get to work.
Atobe reached for his own glass and took a luxuriating sip before answering, "Mount Mitake," Atobe said. He then picked up an empty glass and poured some wine for Hiyoshi. "Drink."
It was more a command than a suggestion so Hiyoshi took the glass. And then the words Mount Mitake registered and his grip on the glass tightened in shock. "That's two hours away." This was not going to help him get his homework done at all.
"The traffic's good and my driver excels at making good time. No need to worry. Besides, I've arranged for the helicopter to pick us up after and take us back."
"Then why don't we take the helicopter there?" Hiyoshi didn't want to go either way but if he could get it done quickly then he would at least prefer that option.
"Why? Because we need it to be dark for this to work so there's no need to rush. In the meantime, we can do our homework or watch recorded tennis matches. Your choice," Atobe said.
The tennis was tempting but as Hiyoshi didn't know what Atobe had planned or when they'd get back, he had to be responsible. "Homework." And to prove that's what he wanted, he put down his untouched wine and reached for his bag.
"Very well," Atobe said. He picked up a small remote and after tapping a few buttons, Wagner filled the air. This would have been more distracting to Hiyoshi if he hadn't been well used to Atobe's strange taste in study music.
Atobe was about to pick up a book when his phone started vibrating across the seat. He picked it up and slid his finger across with a flourish to answer it before holding it up to his ear. His other hand reached for the controller to turn down the music.
"Atobe," Atobe said and Hiyoshi tried not to eavesdrop too much.
Atobe was currently tied up at a party his father was throwing and couldn't escape fully for another hour or two. At which point he would hop into the Atobe helicopter and meet Hiyoshi and the others at the mountain. But for now, he'd manage to sneak off into one of the side rooms to make a quick call.
He had to make sure that Niou had not only managed to find and pick up Hiyoshi but that the two of them were headed towards the mountain on schedule with Hiyoshi being none the wiser.
He cringed a little when he heard Niou answer as him. There were some aspects of this plan that Atobe was not the biggest fan of, but Niou had the skills he needed and the time available. So if it meant putting up with Niou's horrendous impression of him, then so be it.
"Did you get the package?" He asked.
"Yes. It was easy enough to acquire for someone like me," Niou replied and Atobe could hear the faint powerful chords of Wagner in the background.
"Don't you mean for someone like me?" Atobe drawled back. He wanted to ask other things of Niou but knew that the other would be limited in what he could reply with as Hiyoshi was hopefully truly seated beside him in the car. He supposed he would have to call the driver to confirm that he had indeed stopped to pick up Hiyoshi but that could be confusing as he hadn't actually bothered to inform his driver about his plans.
"Isn't it the same? Now if you have no more questions, I'm trying to tutor a dear kouhai on his math problems," Niou said. Clearly letting Atobe know that Hiyoshi was there and what they were doing without making for any awkwardness in the conversation. Atobe could appreciate Niou's dedication and professionalism to a task even if everything else about the trickster could be frustrating.
"Fine. Just stay on task. We have a tight schedule to keep."
All Atobe got in return was a mocking arrogant laugh before he was hung up on.
"Who was that?" Hiyoshi asked. His first guess might have been Sanada or Tezuka but he wasn't sure either of them were masochistic enough to call Atobe.
"Just a friend who didn't think I was quite as magnificent as I am," Niou as Atobe said as he waved away the question.
Hiyoshi, not that bothered by who it was shrugged and went back to his homework. He wouldn't let Atobe's insane plans make his studies suffer.
"We're here," Niou said with a suitable Atobe-esque flourish.
Hiyoshi looked out the window to the well lit parking area, probably wondering what they were going to do here at this time of night.
"Well, don't just sit there Hiyoshi. Time to get out. We still have a way to go on foot." Niou said as the driver opened up his door. Niou grabbed a couture backpack and slid out of the car, looking back to make sure that Hiyoshi was following and not trying to sneak out the other way. Atobe wouldn't consider it a job well-done if Hiyoshi escaped at this point.
"We're not going to jog up it, are we?" Hiyoshi asked
"Don't be ridiculous. Do I look like Tezuka?" Niou asked with a light chuckle. Little did Hiyoshi know that yes, this Atobe could indeed look like Tezuka. It was so much fun being in on the joke.
"Then where are we going?"
Since Hiyoshi didn't look like was going to be compelled to move by Atobe's charms alone, Niou thought it was time to come clean about their excursion...or well, clean enough.
"Recently there have been reports of alien sightings in the area. It's all been rather hush-hush but of course I was able to catch word of it. So I thought we should go looking for them," Niou said. He made the news of alien sightings sound so matter of fact and started heading toward the trail before Hiyoshi could really think to protest.
"What? Aliens?" Hiyoshi asked, following Atobe to get more information.
"Yes. That's what the reports said. I had contemplated bringing Oshitari along with me but then I was afraid that he would try to flirt with the creature if we managed contact. And I really don't need one of my players accidentally marrying an alien and being dragged off planet or worse, starting some inter-galactic war." Niou could only imagine that such a war would mess with the tennis season and that's something that Atobe wouldn't approve of in the slightest.
"But real aliens? Not just weird fog or weather balloons?"
"Do you really think I would waste my time on weather balloons?" Niou asked raising an eyebrow in the perfect imitation of Atobe. Doing Atobe was fairly easy for Niou, it just required being completely self-absorbed while thinking everything you did was for the benefit of others.
"It could be a hoax?
"I, of course, had my people look into that already. All of the reports were from reputable people and all of the sightings were consistent. Now, take a flashlight and focus on your walking." Niou pulled out two flashlights from his bag and handed one over to Hiyoshi.
As they moved further away from the car park, the trail grew darker and the flashlights were needed not only to make sure they didn't trip on the path as they started ascending but also to make sure that the others knew when they were approaching. It wouldn't be good for the aliens to be caught napping on the job.
Hiyoshi, despite his complaints to Atobe and a bit of a scepticism was actually beyond himself with excitement. They were on the path to meet a real live alien! He wondered when Atobe started taking an interest in the extraterrestrial and why he had only chosen him to bring along. But Hiyoshi decided to not let small details bog him down. Not when at any moment there was a chance of a close encounter.
As they walked, Hiyoshi would move his flashlight from the path into the woods, wondering if he would be able to spot anything unnatural. So far all he had spotted was plant life and a few annoyed woodland creatures who didn't appreciate being blasted with a beam of light.
"Do you know what we're supposed to looking for?" Hiyoshi asked. He hoped the other people who spotted the aliens saw more then a bright light or vague shapes.
"Nothing conclusive. The usual sightings in the sky and lights. Some reported seeing a small moving figure that didn't look like any creature they've seen, but the details were contradictory." Atobe gave a shrug and continued moving on. Apparently he was unbothered by spending the night chasing inconclusive aliens.
Hiyoshi nodded but he still wasn't sure what he should be on the lookout for, other than the usual cliche alien stuff that was. As they continued walking, Hiyoshi thought he heard something that wasn't a woodland creature or Atobe's expensive hiking shoes on the ground.
"Do you hear that?" Hiyoshi asked as he stopped walking. Atobe stopped, too and raised a hand to his face as if his infamous insight on the courts would work in a dark forest.
There was nothing but silence as he strained his ears to listen more closely and then he nearly jumped about a foot off the ground as Atobe's ringtone filled the air. He looked over to both glare at Atobe and to see if he noticed his minor fright. But Atobe seemed not to be shaken by the sudden noise nor bothered by Hiyoshi's glare.
"Atobe," Atobe said as he answered the phone. He walked off a few steps down the path as he continued his call. "I don't see how that's my fault. I did warn you."
Hiyoshi tuned out the haughty voice of Atobe being a know-it-all to whoever was on the phone and instead tried to hear that noise again.
Thinking he heard it, Hiyoshi looked back at Atobe to see him still on the phone before venturing a little off the path and towards what he hoped was a friendly alien.
Realizing that there was a chance that the alien could be unfriendly or that it might be a bear, Hiyoshi set his flashlight on the ground and dug around in his bag for his tennis racket.
Once more armed with his flashlight and racket, he continued a little further from the path.
Kirihara was unimpressed with Bunta's complaint about his snacks nearly running out and leaned in to try and hear what was going on with the phone call.
"I promise to buy you plenty the next time we meet to make it up to you," Niou said followed by a very non-Niou sounding chuckle.
Kirihara felt like that wasn't really helping their situation and leaned in close to Bunta and the phone to voice his own misery. "We're getting eaten alive, too!" Kirihara shouted making Bunta cringe away as his ear was abused.
"Then ask others around you. It's likely they're more prepared than you are and are just enjoying watching you suffer."
That was the problem with talking to someone who was currently 'undercover' as someone else – vague responses. Still, Kirihara and Bunta were both clever enough to figure that one out and looked over to Yagyuu who was in the process of adjusting his glasses, a move that caused them to catch the light and shine ominously for a moment.
Yagyuu then pulled out a bottle of bug repellent from his bag and tossed it at Kirihara before plucking the phone out of Bunta's hand. "Niou-kun. It really isn't polite to go giving away all my secrets."
There was a pause, and despite leaning in Kirihara didn't hear anything.
"Niou?" Yagyuu asked after not getting a response.
"My apologies. My companion seems to have wandered off. I'll talk to you later."
Before either of them could respond, Niou had hung up leaving them with dead air.
"Did he sound a little nervous?" Kirihara asked after a moment.
"Hard to tell. But he didn't say to call this off so we better finish getting ready," Bunta said as he finished spraying himself down with repellent.
"Agreed. It won't be convincing if we do this half-heartedly," Yagyuu said.
Kirihara nodded and bounded off to get the bag of balloons and glowsticks. Messing with other people's heads was so much fun.
Hiyoshi carefully moved his flashlight back and forth, looking for any sign to the noises he heard. There was no telling what it might be, especially if it was an alien. Would it be tall and thin? Super small? Barely humanoid? There were so many possibilities.
Hearing a twig snap, he swung around, racket braced in front of him for defence and to attack if needed but he didn't see anything.
"Hello?" He called out.
No reply. And looking back to where he thought he came, he could no longer make out Atobe's flashlight. Nowhere to go but forward then. He still had his phone, he was sure he could use the GPS to get back or to be found if things became that desperate.
There was a noise again, the one he had heard earlier that had led him off the path. It sounded like a weird trilling noise but not like anything he'd expect in the woods here. "Hello?" He called again a little more timidly.
He moved toward the noise, moving his flashlight in smooth arcs in front of him. He nearly missed the creature on the first pass but then his light caught the creature's eyes and he paused it there for a moment before moving the light a little lower so as not to blind the thing.
"Hello. I'm Hiyoshi. Are you an alien?" He asked as he tentatively stepped a little closer. He wanted to look calm and peaceful but his racket was still held at the ready. He felt as scared as the creature looked.
He was just about to risk kneeling down to be closer to the short little thing when something heavy landed on his shoulder.
He jumped, his flashlight falling to the ground as he whipped around to hit the assailant with his racket.
Niou only managed to catch the racket before it hit him because of how close he was standing to Hiyoshi. Otherwise, he'd be sporting one wild bruise. Apparently Hiyoshi was the type to get easily spooked though he suspected the Hyoutei player would deny it later.
"There you are. I was wondering where you wandered off to," Niou said putting on his haughty Atobe voice again. He let go of the racket once he was sure Hiyoshi wouldn't try to swing again and then bent down to recover Hiyoshi's flashlight.
"I thought the aliens had got you," Niou added on.
"The aliens!" Hiyoshi said coming to life. He grabbed the flashlight from Niou's hand and swung it to the spot where the alien creature had been. "It was just here!" He moved the light around, looking for the trilling creature but didn't spot him. "Did you see him?"
Hiyoshi was looking at Niou with a hopeful expression but all he could do was shake his head in response. "I'm afraid not. My concern was in finding you before you broke anything or became too lost. Did you think to get a picture?"
This time it was Hiyoshi who shook his head. "No. And I wasn't lost. I have more wilderness savvy than Ohtori or some of the other members do."
Not sure if Hiyoshi wasn't as much a hopeless city kid as his teammates, Niou just shrugged in response. "Well if it was here, it's gone now. We might as well return to the path and keep going."
"Fine. But it was here. And it looked more lost than I did."
"If it was an alien, of course it'd look lost. It'd be a long way from home."
Hiyoshi considered the words and thought it sounded a little sad to be lost so far away from home and hoped he could find the alien again and offer it some hope.
"Atobe," Niou said into his phone sounding slightly annoyed.
"How are things going? I think I can slip away sooner than anticipated if things are moving too fast," Atobe said. He was currently sitting on the edge of an opulent jacuzzi tub in a large western style bathroom. He had snuck away from the party with the obvious excuse of needing to use the facilities so he could check in and see how the plan was going.
He had just got off the phone with Shishido who had spent the better part of the phone call listing his and the others' complaints about nature to him. Though despite the complaints, everything seemed to be going according to plan on their end. So Atobe wanted to confirm that things were going well on Niou's side, too.
"No need. I'm more than capable on my own as you know," Niou replied.
While Atobe had to hand it to Niou for capturing his mannerisms so well, it did not make having a conversation with Niou any easier. "Are you really now?"
"Of course." No hesitation in that reply.
"Have you at least had the first encounter?"
"Yes. So there's no need to worry. I'll see you soon enough and we can discuss it all more in detail then."
"Fine. You better hope everything is going as we planned, Niou." Atobe hung up before Niou could hang up on him again. Niou was still the most logical and best choice as an accomplice but it made the man no less infuriating to work with at times. And while he trusted his team to pull this off on Hiyoshi he would feel better if he could be there in person.
With a sigh, Atobe stood and looked into the mirror. Fixing his hair and then adjusting his suit, he gave his reflection a smile before heading back out to charm the masses and hopefully sneak off for good soon.
"You're popular tonight," Hiyoshi said as they kept moving along the path.
"I'm popular every night. I'm the great Atobe Keigo afterall." Though Niou suspected that Atobe spent more time calling his favourite people than they did him. Especially if your name was Tezuka.
Hiyoshi didn't reply to that other than to mutter something under his breath which worked fine for Niou. It was easier to keep up a facade of being someone else by keeping interaction and conversations to a minimum. Admittedly the car ride was the riskiest part of the plan but he had faith in his abilities and the limo had been well planned to distract Hiyoshi with all things Atobe to keep him from focusing too much on the person himself.
And so far so good. Now Niou just had to rely on everyone to make these aliens come to life. And while Niou didn't know if that first encounter was a 'real' one or just Hiyoshi's overactive imagination, Niou thought everything was going quite well.
"Did you hear that?" Hiyoshi asked drawing Niou from his thoughts.
"What did it sound like?"
Niou noted that Hiyoshi was once again brandishing his racket like a weapon. It was both endearing and hilarious and Niou had to work hard not to laugh at him. "Since you're armed, after you," Niou drawled instead.
Hiyoshi gave him a look but eventually headed down the path and toward the noise. It was starting to sound like a mewling noise to Niou but in the chance that it was an alien, he kept silent and followed.
"Well?" He asked quietly as Hiyoshi stopped.
"Cats?" Niou asked as he moved around Hiyoshi to look down at the two kittens who were mewling sadly. "Ahn, perhaps they were drawn out by my glorious presence."
"And now they're desperately trying to escape," Hiyoshi pointed out as the kittens seemed to be backing up a little as they noticed that the two towering men were giving them attention and not their mother.
"They're young still, perhaps they just haven't learned yet," Niou said with a nonchalant shrug. "But we should leave them be. We don't have time to be wrestling with an angry mother cat while we should be hunting aliens."
Hiyoshi looked torn about leaving the kittens where they were but gave in and nodded. "Fine."
Niou would have felt bad about abandoning the kittens but it was only a few more steps down the path when they encountered their mother who hissed at them before moving on to collect her kittens. Niou was thankful he didn't have to wrestle with her and her kittens to appease Hiyoshi. By the time they'd gotten them to the limousine and back up the mountain not only would they be covered in scratches and frazzled but he was sure the aliens would have become rather violent for being forced to wait for so long.
Hiyoshi was a bit disappointed that the second sighting of the creature turned out to be two cute kittens. He didn't think himself entirely susceptible to cute things, but he had felt drawn to the cute duo in the path. If he hadn't seen the mother when they did, he may have been inclined to return to rescue the kittens.
But with them under the watchful eye of their mother, he was free to turn his attention back to the task of tracking down aliens. He was positive he had already encountered one and he wasn't about to give up until he did for a second time.
With Atobe once more in the lead, Hiyoshi could give a bit more attention to their surroundings and kept an ear out for the odd trilling noises the alien made. He figured it would be easier to hear than trying to spot the brown coloured alien in a forest at night.
"You're falling behind," Atobe's called from ahead of him. There was a growing gap between them and Hiyoshi quickly closed it. Just like he would close all other gaps between him and Atobe.
"Did you see something?" Atobe asked once Hiyoshi was beside him on the trail.
"Hnnn well the night is early yet. Plenty of time to find something. I'm sure with my insight we'll find something spectacular."
Hiyoshi made a noncommittal noise that may have been a snort. He respected Atobe as a captain and tennis player but his arrogant persona could make even him want to roll his eyes. When he was in charge of Hyoutei, he would be just as great a leader as Atobe he would just lead the team in his own way. A leader didn't need to be flashy to be good and he was determined to prove it.
Just like he was currently determined to prove that aliens did exist!
And it seemed like no sooner had he thought that then he heard the odd trilling noise.
"Atobe-san," Hiyoshi whispered. He hastily reached out to grab Atobe's shoulder to stop him from walking and nearly banging his head with the racket in the process.
Atobe didn't say anything, just turned his head enough to give Hiyoshi a sardonic look.
"I hear it." Hiyoshi kept his voice lowered as he took his hand back and pointed in the direction it came from.
Atobe tilted his head as if to show he was listening and when the creature trilled again he gave a nod and gestured for Hiyoshi to lead the way.
"Should we corner it?"
"It may find us more threatening if we approach on both sides," Atobe said. "And we may lose it while waiting for one of us to circle around."
Hiyoshi nodded. Atobe had a point and it wasn't like the creature had fled from him upon their first meeting. It had only run off when Atobe had come up to him and distracted him. Well, he wouldn't be distracted this time!
Treading as quietly as they could through the forest, they followed the trilling noise into a small clearing. There, on the trunk of a fallen tree was the creature.
"Wow," Atobe said in awe from behind him. That was the most un-Atobe Hiyoshi had ever heard his captain. It wasn't easy to impress a guy who had everything.
"Stay back. I'm going to try and approach it," Hiyoshi said, his voice still lowered.
"With the racket?" Atobe's eyes darted to the racket come weapon. The look said more than words ever could and Hiyoshi hastily shoved it into Atobe's hands. "Fine. You hold it and if it looks like it's going for my throat, come beat it off."
"Putting my many talents to great use, I see. And if it goes for any other body parts?"
Hiyoshi didn't bother answering since it was clear his captain was teasing him, especially since he already had the racket in hand and was sizing up the creature.
Gathering his courage, Hiyoshi carefully moved to the creature. As he moved closer, the creature looked at him and Hiyoshi once more thought that it was quite cute. Surely it wouldn't be dangerous. Not unless it could spit acid or was hiding razor sharp teeth and an evil personality behind those trilling noises.
"Hello again," Hiyoshi said. He leaned down a little held his hands out open to the side in a gesture that said 'I mean you no harm.' As he got closer, he realized what he thought had been green fur on the creature's short legs was actually little green pants over the fuzzy brown hair covering the creature. So, not a typical woodland creature then.
When he got a trill in return of his little greeting he took it as a good sign.
"Are you lost?"
He got another trill. This one sounded sad somehow, as if the alien understood him and really was lost. He had a sudden flashback to the sad little kittens and then of a very angry mama alien coming and attacking him for getting too close to her baby.
Hiyoshi took a quick look around trying to assess the situation. Atobe was still standing guard, watching not only him but the surroundings. If an alien mother did approach he was sure that Atobe would give him some type of warning before he was maimed.
"Want me to help you?" He asked as he turned back to the alien.
The creature did a small shuffle from foot to foot that looked a bit like a dance before holding up it's surprisingly long arms.
Unsure of what was happening but not wanting to disappoint, he held out his hand and hoped the alien didn't notice it shaking.
In a blink of the eye, the alien had climbed up his arm and was cuddled against his chest, the alien's longer arms wrapped loosely but firmly around his neck. It made a happy sounding trilling noise even as Hiyoshi stumbled and flailed.
Atobe was beside him before he had completely recovered from the fright but fortunately was not brandishing the racket at the fluff ball now wrapped around him. "I see you made a friend," Atobe said. He leaned in close to take a look and the alien turned bright large purple eyes at him and gave a tentative trill.
Niou looked at the alien that was now in Hiyoshi's arms and thought that Hiyoshi was braver than he gave the guy credit for. He doubted just anyone would let an unknown creature crawl all over him.
He also thought that Atobe had gone all out for this prank if the little alien he had made was so lifelike and sentient.
"So what do we do now?" Niou asked.
"I think it's lost. So we should try to find its spaceship."
"I suppose if I were to park my spaceship, it would be on top of the mountain. A larger clearing and easier to reach from the sky," Niou said.
"That makes sense. I hope it doesn't have its cloaking shield on though. We'll never find it if it does."
Niou nearly did a double-take at that but just managed to stop himself. Apparently Hiyoshi really was a sci-fi geek underneath all of that gekokujou-ing.
"Again you doubt my insight, Hiyoshi." Niou tsked and started heading to the path when he realized he was still holding Hiyoshi's racket. "Do you want this back?"
"Do you think we'll be okay without some type of defense?"
Niou considered the racket and then the alien in Hiyoshi's arms that was rubbing its face against the strap of Hiyoshi's tennis bag on his shoulder and making small noises. Apparently it felt good.
"I think we'll be fine." And despite what Seigaku players seemed to think, he wasn't convinced that tennis would help save the day if things did not stay fine.
"Then just shove it in my bag." Hiyoshi turned around and Niou moved to slide the racket into it. It only got halfway before it caught on something. Curious, he pulled the racket out and reached in grabbed what was blocking the racket.
It made a clicking and rattling noise as he pulled it out causing purple eyes to immediately look at him over Hiyoshi's shoulder. Intrigued, Niou gave the soraban a shake; the pieces slid back and forth clacking against each other.
There was an excited trill and a long arm reached out for it. Not wanting to disappoint, Niou handed it over. "I think he likes it," Niou said as the alien trilled merrily and shook the soraban like it was some demented rattle.
"He? And why did you give it to him?" Hiyoshi asked. He got lightly hit on the side of his head in one of the aliens more energetic shakes so Niou could understand Hiyoshi's annoyance.
Niou shoved Hiyoshi's racket into the bag before circling back around and shining the light on the creature. "It seemed rude to call him 'it' for rest of our acquaintance. And it's completely possible that they don't even have gender as we know it."
"Still... why he?" Hiyoshi managed to dodge the next shake that brought the soraban close to his nose.
"He just seems like a he, doesn't he?" Niou asked before pulling out his phone. This time, Niou didn't plan on making a phone call or sending an email, he wanted to capture a short video of Hiyoshi with the cute alien. Sneakily filming, he started heading back along the path. They had to get to the top of the mountain before Hiyoshi got concussed and needed dragging to the top.
With an alien in his hands and having to dodge his soraban every few shakes, their pace was slowed as they continued up the mountain. Atobe, while not helping to control the flailing arms, did at least take the lead and and pointed out any obstacles or rough terrain along the path.
At one point, Atobe got another call but after looking at the caller id, Atobe had hit ignore and shoved it back in his pocket seemingly annoyed at the caller. Hiyoshi placed silent mental bets on it being either Oshitari gushing about the latest romance movie or Shishido just being Shishido. He was sure he'd find out tomorrow as both of them liked to complain about such things in the locker room before club activities.
"Do you think it's a child?" Hiyoshi asked as he watched the alien continue to shake his soraban.
"It seems likely that he is," Atobe said. "He's small, trusting and fairly simple-minded if he's still entertained by your soraban."
Hiyoshi nodded and then realized that Atobe was still calling the alien 'he' while Hiyoshi had called the alien 'it'. Atobe was actually right about something, it did seem rude to keep calling it 'it'.
"He's pretty cute. But stronger than you'd think." The couple hits that he hadn't been quite able to dodge still stung.
"Most kids are." Atobe said that as if he had experience with children but Hiyoshi just couldn't imagine Atobe hanging around small children despite his desire to appear charitable and benevolent.
"How much longer do you think it will take to get to the top?" Hiyoshi asked changing the topic.
"It shouldn't be too much longer now if we keep this pace. Is he heavy?"
"No, he's lighter than I thought he would be." Hiyoshi had thought that the little alien would start to feel heavy around his neck or in his arms but it was a bit like carrying a breathing and squirming teddy bear around. If anything it was the strap of his tennis bag digging into his shoulder because of how the alien was hanging from him that was really causing him the most discomfort. "He wiggles a lot though."
"Do you want me to take him?" Atobe didn't sound overly enthusiastic about the prospect and Hiyoshi wondered if it was because of the alien being a wriggling mass that kept threatening to concuss him with his soraban or if it was the prospect of getting some form of alien plague from the little creature.
Hiyoshi, despite the risks and discomfort was rather enjoying his first encounter with an alien. "It's okay. I got him. Besides, he seems happy so we shouldn't bug him too much."
"Good point. We don't want mama alien to think that we've been abusing her child. I can't imagine that ending well no matter how peaceful the creature appears now."
Hiyoshi looked down at the alien in his arms, it looked up and gave that odd musical trill as if wondering what Hiyoshi wanted. "You're not going to eat me, are you?" He asked quietly so that Atobe couldn't easily overhear him.
The alien trilled and Hiyoshi couldn't help but wonder just what the alien was trying to tell him. Could it understand Japanese and was answering properly? Or were they both just throwing out words without anyone being able to understand them? He suspected since the alien was a child that there was a lot of blind trust going on both sides.
Well, Hiyoshi was determined not to disappoint the little one.
"We should name it," Hiyoshi said after they'd been walking for some time.
Niou had been listening to the quiet conversation that the alien and Hiyoshi had been having not sure if they realized he could hear them. But that question had definitely been directed to him, or well, to Atobe. But since they were currently one in the same Hiyoshi expected an answer.
"If you want to. Even if we asked for his name, I doubt we'd be able to replicate the language," Niou said.
He walked back the few steps to look down at the alien in Hiyoshi's hands and raised a hand to pat it on its fuzzy head. "What's your name?" He asked when purple eyes turned to him.
There was a trill in response, whether it was the creature's name or not was hard to tell. Either way, he doubted Hiyoshi could pull that one off.
"Do you think it sounded like anything?" Hiyoshi asked trying and failing to make trilling noises back to the alien.
The alien made a noise that sounded like laughter to Niou and he couldn't blame the alien if he was laughing. Hiyoshi sounded ridiculous to him, too.
"It doesn't sound like anything in particular to me. I shall leave the name choosing to you." Niou gave the alien one more friendly pat before returning to hiking up the path.
It was a few long minutes later when Hiyoshi spoke up again properly.
"... Maybe just Trill will work," Hiyoshi said.
It was not the most creative of names but since 'Trill' was likely not going to be with them long, it probably didn't matter. "Trill it is."
"What does Trill think of his new name?" Niou asked just as his phone chimed in his pocket signalling an email.
Trill made an attempt to echo the noise of the phone before shaking the soraban with glee once more.
"He likes it. Right, Trill?" Hiyoshi asked the alien and got a flailing soraban in response. He managed to dodge the worst of it though it still grazed the side of his face.
"I can tell," Niou said, though most of his attention was on his phone as he quickly sent a return email to his friends; 'Plan B.'
It took longer than anticipated, but they finally reached the top of the mountain. Trill was now hanging off Hiyoshi's back, enjoying a piggy back while Atobe carried Hiyoshi's tennis bag for him.
"Well, this is the top," Atobe said gesturing to the open area of the summit.
Hiyoshi looked around but didn't spot anything alien or even anything metallic. Maybe they really did have the cloaking device on. But even if they did, they should come out once they notice Trill, right?
"See anything with your insight?" Hiyoshi asked as he struggled to get Trill off his back and into his arms again.
"Not yet. But I think we should head this way," Atobe said. He then headed off towards an observation area that showed plenty of darkness and the soft glow of light from the cities in the distance. But still, nothing alien.
"Trill, do you see anything?" Hiyoshi asked Trill as he was once again cradled in his arms.
Trill wriggled and unsurprisingly trilled at him but didn't seem to be pointing out to anything specific. So he had no choice but to follow Atobe to the side of the clearing.
"Anything?" He asked.
Atobe shook his head slightly and then raised his hand to his face as if his tennis insight would work on alien cloaking devices.
Hiyoshi waited, trying to see where Atobe was looking and if he noticed anything but all he got for his concentration was a bonk to the face with Trill's hand. Which was better than with the soraban but not by much. "Trill, stop that," He chastised gently.
"That way," Atobe said. He shifted Hiyoshi's bag on his shoulders and started down a path that would take them to another clearing on the far side of the peak.
Hiyoshi just nodded and followed and as they drew near, Trill began to squirm more than ever in his arms and make excited sounding noises.
"Maybe you should let him go," Atobe suggested as even he had to lean out of the way to dodge one of the long arms.
Hiyoshi was a bit reluctant since Trill might run off but since he wasn't calming down, he finally put him back on the ground, his hand holding onto Trill's free one.
Trill trilled and tugged Hiyoshi forward as he tried to dash to an innocuous looking spot. Had Atobe really spotted a cloaked spaceship using his insight from the other side of the mountain top? Or maybe it had just been a lucky guess.
As they neared, there was a blinding light that seemed to appear from nowhere several feet off the ground. It was soon blocked by a sillhoutte that looked like a taller version of Trill. Hiyoshi's breath caught in his throat as the alien moved closer. He would have reached for his camera or made some sort of move if he wasn't in such shock.
Trill was too cute and small to really inspire his awe, but this, this was what an alien encounter was all about. Blinding lights from nowhere, an intimidating figure slowly approaching. He glanced over at Atobe and saw that he was standing in a way that expressed casual polite interest.
Didn't Atobe feel awe for anything besides himself?! Or maybe that was just how Atobe covered his shock and nerves. He couldn't think much more on Atobe as Trill started tugging more on his hand.
"Trill, calm down," Hiyoshi said quietly, his voice catching slightly as the figure moved closer to them. The arms looked especially long and dangerous on a body that was closer to Atobe's height instead of Trill's.
"Let him go," Atobe said. "He wants to go to his parent."
Hiyoshi hesitated. Was it really okay to let Trill go? There was a chance that this was a bad stranger coming to take advantage of the situation. But Trill seemed eager to go to them and maybe Aliens didn't have problems with strangers abducting people.
Very slowly, he let go of Trill's hand. The alien dashed off immediately, not stopping until he was lifted up in those long arms.
Two sets of purple eyes turned to them and there was an exchange of trills. High pitched excited ones from Trill and lower more soothing ones from the larger alien. Eventually, the large alien trilled something at them and Atobe, ever knowledgeable in manners if not alien languages gave a small bow.
"It was our pleasure looking after him. We hope you two have a safe journey home," Atobe said clearly.
Hiyoshi was impressed with how smooth and clear Atobe's voice was and he looked back to the aliens to see the parent mimick Atobe's bow. He then noticed that Trill still had his soraban. He didn't feel right asking for it back when it was clearly so enjoyed by Trill. Instead he gave the little alien a smile and gestured to the counting tool in his hands. "I hope you enjoy your soraban as much I do," Hiyoshi said.
He heard Atobe chuckle a little beside him and if they weren't having an alien encounter he might have been tempted to gekokujou him and show him that his math skills were superior because of his dedication to the soraban.
Trill waved the soraban enthusiastically and Hiyoshi could see the older alien looking at intently before poking it cautiously. Seemingly sure that it was harmless, the alien gave another bow, this time to Hiyoshi before turning and heading back to the bright light.
They paused in the doorway, nothing but dark shadows against the brightness, but the wave from both, with their long arms, was clearly visible.
Hiyoshi felt himself tear up a little bit at such a magical and awesome moment of an alien encounter and possibly from losing the cute Trill so soon after discovering him. He gave a manly sniffle and turned from the ship as the light disappeared.
"I hope they have a safe trip," Hiyoshi said blinking his eyes rapidly to keep from crying.
Atobe, fortunately, stayed facing the invisible ship, "I think they'll be okay. Shall we head back?"
"Think they're gone already?" Hiyoshi said finally feeling under control enough to look back at Atobe and the ship. It was hard to tell if it was there and invisible or already gone.
"You could go see if you can touch it. But I think it's best to leave them to their own devices."
Hiyoshi nodded. "Then let's head back. I need to do homework still." And write about this amazing adventure in his journal. He wondered if anyone would believe them since both he and Atobe forgot about taking any video evidence of the event.
As Niou walked away from their encounter with the alien kind, he considered their position on the mountain top. They went left when they should have gone right off of the path which meant they were in the wrong spot.
He looked down at his phone and sure enough there were a couple missed calls and emails waiting for him. Perhaps he shouldn't have switched it to silent but he had been getting tired of Bunta and Kirihara complaining and Atobe worrying about every detail. Though come to think of it now, Atobe may have had a reason to worry.
As another call silently came in, Niou answered it and held the phone to his ear. "Atobe," He said since it was not yet time to reveal that part of the night to Hiyoshi.
"Where are you, we've been waiting for over an hour for you two to arrive and Shishido informs me that you never encountered the blob-shaped thing he is passing off as an alien," The real Atobe said.
"We're on our way now so there's no need to worry. Though I don't think you'll believe what happened to us since you're such a cynic," Niou said. He was aware that Hiyoshi was listening in and had to maintain some Atobe decorum even as he answered Atobe's questions. This time, unfortunately, he couldn't just pass off the concern and questions with vague answers and hang up.
"What do you mean? You two haven't done anything have you?"
"Nothing illegal. Though even if we had, they'd be hard pressed to hold the only son of the Atobe empire, don't you agree?" Niou said. Okay, so maybe answering Atobe properly as Atobe wasn't all bad.
"Who are you talking to, Atobe-san?" Hiyoshi asked giving him a curious look.
"Rest of the team. Apparently Jirou overheard my conversation and rest of the team thought they'd investigate. They're over on the other side of the ridge." Lying was like breathing to Niou. Completely natural when necessary.
"No, I don't agree. And will you just get Hiyoshi and yourself over here. Perhaps we can still salvage the night."
Atobe sounded rather annoyed so Niou figured he should get over there quickly so he could take in Atobe's grumpy face in all its glory.
"I see you can hardly wait to bathe yourself in my glory. We'll be there soon." Niou had the satisfaction of hanging up on Atobe mid-word though it meant he didn't get to hear him arrogantly try to and chastise him.
"Come on Hiyoshi, it seems our teammates our in desperate need of our presence." Niou pointed with his flashlight the direction they needed to go and then handed off Hiyoshi's bag to him before walking.
It didn't take long for them to cover the distance and when they arrived, Hiyoshi half tripped over Jirou who was napping on a blanket on the ground next to a bug coil.
"Wha-Hiyoshi?" Jirou said sleepily as he sat up and gave a large yawn.
"Look who finally decides to show up," Shishido said swinging around a blue glow stick. Ohtori walked up beside him holding a much more practical electric latern. Niou could just tell that Ohtori was worried about his impulsive doubles partner tripping over the uneven ground and possibly go flying off the side of the mountain. Or maybe he was just a nice guy, but it was more fun to think of the latter.
"So sorry you had to wait for us. But we were off encountering an alien. Right, Hiyoshi?" Niou called as Atobe would for Kabaji.
"It's true," Hiyoshi said.
"I find that incredibly hard to believe," Oshitari drawled as he walked over to the nearby picnic bench and leaned against it as if posing for a magazine. Gakuto came up beside him and hopped up onto the picnic table with so much enthusiasm that it wobbled and made Oshitari lose his composure for a second.
"Would some video evidence convince you that we found one of their children in the woods? Hiyoshii gallantly carried it up the mountain to return it to its family. Quite touching. But if you won't believe us, I'm sure the spaceship is still over there," Niou said pointing off to where they had come from.
"But it's cloaked so you'll probably have to walk into it to believe us," Hiyoshi added on.
Shishido seemed intrigued by the development of a cloaked spaceship possibly sitting nearby but the others just looked disbelievingly at them. Except for Jirou who just looked sleepy.
"You really filmed it?" Shishido asked.
"Of course. Where's Kabaji?" Niou asked before Shishido could ask to see it. Because wherever Kabaji was, Atobe was bound to be close by. And the sooner Atobe showed up, the sooner they could reveal their pranks and really be entertained.
"He's right here. Isn't that right, Kabaji?"
"Usu," Kabaji said. He was a tall looming figure in the shadows of the clearing.
"Wait... isn't that..." Hiyoshi started as he looked between Niou and Atobe. "Atobe-san?" He asked before looking back at the Atobe that he had been with the whole night.
Niou was a little curious to know which one he would think as the real Atobe and which one he would likely call an alien.
"Aliens?" Hiyoshi said. His tennis racket was suddenly back in his hand.
Niou's Atobe laughed while the real Atobe stepped into the light with Kabaji towering behind him.
"That's why I like you Hiyoshi. Tennis racket always at the ready," Atobe said. An amused smirk was on his face for Hiyoshi though when he looked over at Niou, it turned into a frown. "Do you honestly expect me to believe that you encountered real aliens tonight, Niou?"
"Niou? From Rikkai-dai?" Hiyoshi said, racket now brandished towards the Atobe doppelganger.
"Puri," Niou said as he dropped the illusion that he was Atobe, even pulling off the lavender button down that he had been sporting to reveal a white t-shirt with a silver skull design on it. It had been fun being Atobe but it was nice to be back to himself, and watching Hiyoshi's reaction was hilarious.
Hiyoshi blinked. Had he really been so easily fooled by Niou? Impossible! Clearly it was only because it was dark. Even if i had been bright when they had first met in front of Atobe's limo he was sure he hadn't thought to question it because the whole scene was just so very 'Atobe'.
"The aliens?" Hiyoshi asked. Suddenly thinking that if the Atobe had been fake, and if the whole team was here, then this was possibly all some kind of elaborate prank.
"Well, they weren't our aliens," Gakuto said. And to prove that they had had aliens prepared, he pulled up a black shadowy marionette that had been resting on the table and gave it a shake.
That combined with Shishido's glow stick explained a little on how they planned on tricking Hiyoshi into believing he had had some sort of alien encounter. Though with Atobe involved, he was sure there was more high-tech aspects to the prank, too. Perhaps so fancy enough to make him believe he was holding an alien or had seen a cloaked spaceship?
"You sure you saw something and this guy wasn't just pranking you?" Shishido asked gesturing to Niou who was just smiling and looking completely at ease despite Atobe still sending him unamused looks.
"But Trill was so real," Hiyoshi said. Even if Atobe had used his pull to get some life-like android he didn't think it could be that realistic.
"Niou?" Atobe said looking to the Rikkai illusionist.
Niou shrugged. "Well, if it wasn't your aliens, and it wasn't mine... I guess we really did have an alien encounter."
Atobe looked frustrated by the answer but instead of throttling Niou like Hiyoshi thought he might, he stepped to the side to allow Kabaji to step more fully into the light. In Kabaji's large hands was a fancy sheet cake decorated like the Hyoutei jersey with the word 'Congratulations' written in fancy letters across it.
"Regardless whose aliens they are, you survived an alien hunt and encounter, that combined with your efforts at the club this year show that you are ready for the next step," Atobe said.
The other members, even Jirou stood up and moved around so that they formed a half-circle facing Hiyoshi. Niou stood off to one side, not quite in the circle but still in the light from it.
"Congratulations on becoming Hyoutei's newest captain. May you lead your team to Nationals and to number one," Atobe finished. The other members joined in with their cheers and congratulations.
Hiyoshi stood there in shock, both incredibly proud and slightly embarrassed by all of the fuss. He blushed lightly when Atobe gave him a smack to the backside to get him moving towards the table where the cake was now set. And then Gakuto and Shishido joined in, hitting him none-so-gently on the shoulders and back in congratulations until Hiyoshi swung his racket at them.
There was much laughter and talking followed by cake. Even Niou took a piece. "Devouring Hyoutei off the courts is nearly as fun as doing it on the courts," Niou said before taking a big bite out of Hyoutei jersey slice he had been given.
Of course, being surrounded by Hyoutei members, it was probably not the best thing to say, since both Shishido and Gakuto moved to him on either side and smashed bits of cake and icing against his face.
"Shishido-san!" Ohtori's voice was heard saying in shock over everyone's laughter, even Niou's.
"Well, I think this might be my sign to leave," Niou said. He wiped a bit of icing off his face and licked it off of his finger.
"Aren't you taking the helicopter back with us?" Atobe asked.
"I have my own ways home. Thanks for the fun, Atobe." Niou turned to Hiyoshi and gave him a grin, "Let's do it again sometime, Hiyoshi." He trilled in perfect imitation of the alien and for just a moment it looked as if Niou had purple eyes before he all but vanished in front of them.
"What was that all about?" Shishido asked as he looked at Hiyoshi.
Hiyoshi however was just staring at the place where Niou used to be standing. That noise was exactly the one that Trill had made and those eyes... was it Niou saying that he had set up those aliens after all or was he saying he was related to them?
He was pulled out of his thoughts by Atobe's laugh. "Enough dramatics, let's celebrate. Kabaji, the champagne."
"Usu," Kabaji said before pulling out the drinks from the ice cooler beside the table.
"You certainly know how to make an exit, Niou," Yagyuu said.
"Where's the fun in just walking away?" Niou asked as they walked down the mountain back to the parking area where a taxi was going to meet them. It would be expensive, but that was okay, Niou planned on charging it to Atobe.
"Less work," Kirihara said adjusting the bag on his back for the fourth time in the past five minutes. It was bulky but it shouldn't have been that cumbersome for the second year Rikkai-dai player.
"It was fun though, wasn't it?" Niou asked reaching over to ruffle Kirihara's hair who immediately batted his hand away roughly.
"It was boring and filled with bugs. And in the end we didn't even need half this stuff."
Niou shrugged. It wasn't his fault that the plans had changed. Though fortunately he was always ready for any circumstances and had prepared a Plan B. It was also good that he knew people that would go along with these plans. It paid to have friends that were sadistic and enjoyed pranking others like Yagyuu, were easy to bribe with sweets like Bunta or were just easy to talk into doing things like Kirihara.
"You definitely owe me a trip to the cake buffet for this," Bunta said as he munched on some pocky that Niou had managed to lift from Jirou's supply when the Hyoutei team had been celebrating.
"Fine. Just don't complain to me when you get a stomachache for eating too much."
"We'll bring Jackal with us."
"So cruel," Niou said. Though at least Jackal would get to enjoy some cake before Bunta complained to him. And after so many years, Niou felt that Jackal was probably immune to most complaining and theatrics from his teammates.
"Are you going to tell us how you pulled off those aliens?" Yagyuu asked as they neared the parking lot.
"It wasn't me," Niou said leaving the other three to wonder if it really was or wasn't, just like he had Hyoutei.
"Hiyoshi is still talking about these aliens," Atobe said on the phone to Niou a few days later.
"You should be happy. It means that your plan to give him an unforgettable night worked," Niou said. He was sitting at a table in the local dessert buffet shop. Bunta and Jackal were currently loading up their plates so he was occupying himself by twirling a coin around his fingers.
"You didn't follow the plans. I'm not sure I should reimburse you this extravagant taxi fare that was invoiced to me."
"So what? It worked better than we planned. I bet even the third years are wondering how we pulled it off," Niou said. He wasn't worried about the threat of not paying. Atobe always paid for things.
"True. I have to say I'm intrigued as well..."
"What? Your insight failing you already?"
"Of course not. I'm sure if I was there I would have seen through all of your illusions."
"The video I showed you wasn't enough? Then how about something you saw... How did I make my exit?" Niou asked wondering if Atobe had figured that one out yet.
"Videos can be so easily fabricated so your so called evidence is severely lacking authenticity. And I couldn't say about your little parlour tricks. I'm afraid I have better things to do with my time then to decipher such common magic tricks."
Niou laughed at that. Leave it to Atobe to be clueless but still find an arrogant excuse about it. "Sure. But if you ever want to use my magic skills again, give me a call. It was fun."
"I'll remember that. But next time, no more aliens."
"That might be hard," Niou said and then gave that alien trill once more before hanging up.
When Bunta and Jackal returned, it was to find Niou chuckling to himself and ignoring his phone as it rang, Atobe's name clearly visible on the caller id.