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Ghost Racket

Ghost Racket
Date: 2007-11-07 03:33
Subject: [johnston]
Security: Public
by dynastic

+ + +

It’s Saturday.

"Yuuta-kun… We’re going to Rikkaidai today," Mizuki says as he bursts into Yuuta's room at ten o'clock in the morning.

"… Huh?" Yuuta murmurs sleepily, shying away from the disruption.

"No excuses." Mizuki slams the door shut.

+ + +

"Mizuki-san?" Yuuta asks suddenly after a few hours of simply sitting there.

"Yes, Yuuta-kun?" Mizuki answers distractedly, not turning around to face his kouhei.

"Why are we are we in the Rikkaidai locker rooms again?"

"To collect their data, of course. Why else do you think we’re here?" Mizuki quirks an eyebrow at his favorite kouhei and rests his camera on his lap.

Yuuta makes a face and puts his binoculars down. "Mizuki-san. I thought we had all of Rikkaidai’s data."

"We do, Yuuta-kun. This is just some - some fine tuning of the data I’ve already collected."





"What if someone comes in while we’re in here? We are in their locker room. I mean, isn’t it against the rules or s-"

"It’s not against the rules," Mizuki says abruptly, obviously lying.

"But what if they come in?"

"They won’t."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. Do not question me."



"Are we just here to see Rikkaidai shower or something?"

Mizuki does not answer him.

Five minutes pass and Yuuta becomes impatient.

"Mizuki-san. I have to pee."

No answer.

"Mizuki-san. It is five o’clock. I have to go home for dinner. Nee-san is making pie. I really, really want to have some pie, Mizuki-san."

A hand waves in front of Yuuta‘s face, "Not right now, Yuuta-kun."

"Mizuki-san," Yuuta whines as he furrows his brow at his sempai.



"Quiet," Mizuki tells him as he waves his free hand again in front of Yuuta’s face.

Yuuta scowls at this and is about to brush the older boy’s hand away when suddenly the door to the locker rooms slams open, banging into the wall with a loud clatter. Several people hurry inside with their tennis sneakers slapping on the hardwood floors; Yuuta feels his blood rush to the bottom of his feet.

Mizuki sits up on his knees with the binoculars poised over his eyes. This is all very exciting to him, watching people in their natural habitat - inside the tennis team locker room. He holds his breath as one by one, players find their respective cubby holes and start to strip off their sweaty tennis uniforms.

Yuuta looks away from the group of now-naked Rikkaidai players. He smells the sweat and hard work permeating off their bodies. How Mizuki-san can sit and watch a bunch of guys change is completely beyond Yuuta; vaguely, he wonders if his presence is absolutely necessary as Mizuki seems to be doing all the work in their "investigating."

The locker room door opens again and someone new walks in. Yuuta squints to see the newcomer

Suddenly, Yuuta hears Mizuki gasp and shift hastily in front of him, blocking his view. Yuuta frowns and slides back so he leans against the wall.

"Yo!" A voice calls out, resounding throughout the room.

"’Sup, Aka-chan?" Someone responds with a twinge of amusement in his voice.

"Don’t call me that!"



"Ooh, someone learned a new insult. Too bad he doesn‘t know how to use it."

"Shut up, Niou-sempai."

"Niou-kun, don’t insult Kirihara-kun - he doesn’t know any better."


Silence. Yuuta frowns a little more as he tries to remember who the heck is on the Rikkaidai regulars; he knows Mizuki has droned on and on about the various members and their interesting lives to him on a number of occasions. Yuuta is not surprised that he cannot remember anything Mizuki told him about Rikkaidai; it is not as if he listens all the time to him.

"Yuuta-kun," a voice hisses at him.

Yuuta turns around and looks at Mizuki. "What?

"We have to-"

"Oh ho! I do believe I have just found more than just dirty laundry," says an amused sneering voice.

Yuuta looks up and a silver haired person stares back at him with a large smirk on his face. Oh shit, he thinks to himself. He blinks but doesn’t respond to silver hair‘s statement.

"Oi, Sanada-fukubuchou! I think we’ve got some spies in here," the silver haired boy calls out.

Glancing frantically over at Mizuki, Yuuta gives him a "you-had-better-have-a-good-plan-to-get-us-out-of-here" look. Mizuki does not look back at him; instead, he is staring rather amusedly at the group of people now surrounding them.

Someone yanks back the laundry cart and Yuuta tries to pretend he is invisible. Better yet, back in his dormitory room, nestled in his bed and sleeping like a little baby.

But, oh no, he’s sitting on the floor of the Rikkaidai locker room with his crazy sempai - who’s just gotten themselves caught by some of its tennis team members - and he’s got a massive wedgie in the back of his pants from sitting on the hard floor.

Although, Yuuta would rather inhale Yanagizawa-sempai’s stinky tennis shorts after practice than admit it can be worse. It can always be worse.

The silver haired boy stoops down to their level and asks Mizuki, "Which school sent you guys?"

Mizuki says nothing and grits his teeth, obviously trying to think of a clever (or not so clever, as Mizuki’s plans tend to backfire) plan to get them out of here without dying an early death.

"Oh, not going to talk, are ya?" Silver Hair asks them rhetorically.

"They’re from St. Rudolph," a kid with bubble gum pink hair answers, pointing at the school emblem on Yuuta’s shirt.

Yuuta nods at this, feeling as if he could already sense the sinking pain of the consequences for their actions to come.

"I hope you realize that both of you are technically trespassing onto Rikkaidai school grounds. And into an area reserved for people belonging to the Rikkaidai tennis club," another person says.

"Tch," Mizuki murmurs while biting on his thumb and still trying to think of a plan.

"Stand up," the hat guy commands, obviously irritated by Mizuki and Yuuta’s presences.

Yuuta stands up and looks sheepishly at the floor. Really, this had not been his idea. He glances at the tall guy in the hat and figures it’s probably Rikkaidai’s captain.

"Heh. So, what do we do with these goons?" A boy with messy black curls with a large smirk on his face says to the taller guy wearing a hat.

"Let Yukimura deal with them," the tall guy says as he looks down at them with a face of utter annoyance.

Yuuta does not know who Yukimura is, but he hopes he is not a teacher or a coach. Or someone who has a connection with the nuns back at St. Rudolph and willingly tells them of his and Mizuki’s escapade.

"Deal with whom, Sanada?" A confused voice asks. Then, a blue haired guy steps out of the shadows with a white towel around his waist and a green headband in his hand. He stops a few feet from Mizuki and Yuuta, looking at them before saying, "Oh. I see we have some visitors. Or better yet, some trespassers."

Yuuta thinks that this must be Rikkaidai's captain. Judging by his appearance, he doesn’t look very scary or very threatening - especially if one considers who brought him there in the first place - and Mizuki-san can be really creepy when he wants to be.

Then Yukimura smiles at them, as if the whole situation entertains him. "You," he nods at Mizuki, "with the goofy perm. You’re Mizuki Hajime from St. Rudolph’s tennis team, yes?"

Mizuki blinks at Yukimura before giving him a simper of an answer. "Oh, so you know of my fame, Yukimura Seiichi?"

Yukimura raises an eyebrow at Mizuki. "Oh, I’ve heard of you alright, Mizuki Hajime-san." He glances at the guy in the hat for a moment before sliding his gaze back to Mizuki. "I’m not surprised you’re here, actually."

Mizuki folds his arms over his chest. Yuuta silently prays that Mizuki does not do anything remotely stupid at this point; he really, really does not want this sort of trouble on his near perfect permanent record,.

"Oh, is that so?" Mizuki asks Yukimura innocently.

Yuuta sees Mizuki reach into his pocket for a small slip of paper. He gulps and looks nervously about the room full of tall, muscled tennis players. They could kick my ass, Yuuta thinks, these crazy freaks.

"Yes, it’s very so, Mizuki-san," Yukimura says sarcastically. "Now, I assume, the infamous Mizuki Hajime-san knows the rules for trespassing on Rikkaidai grounds, hmm?"

Mizuki opens his mouth and then promptly closes it before giving Yuuta one of those looks. "I have a reason to be here, Yukimura-san," Mizuki says, his eyes focusing on a row of lockers nearby.

"Oh, really?" The hat guy asks them as he takes a step closer. "Then would you mind telling us so we don’t have to report you?" He looks at Mizuki with curious, yet suspicious eyes.

"I have a cousin who goes here," Mizuki states matter-of-factly. "He’s-" Mizuki clears his throat. "He’s in the tennis club - I was merely looking for him."

"What’s his name then?" the curly haired kid asks Mizuki.

"His name?" Mizuki repeats, sliding his eyes to look at the curly haired kid. "Ah, yes." Mizuki chews the inside of cheek and glances at Yuuta again with a surprisingly calm expression on his face.

Yuuta simply stares back at him, the desire to walk out of there pressing harder at him. The Rikkaidai people probably will not care that much if he just leaves and never comes back. Although, and Yuuta knows this, Mizuki-san will drag him back sometime or another in the future - regardless of Rikkaidai’s no trespassing policy - which may or may not actually exist because the Rikkaidai players probably made it up just so they’d leave and - okay, he’s thinking too much about this entire situation. After all, wasn’t it easier to grab Mizuki and drag him right through that locker room door?

"Well?" Curly Hair leans in to hear Mizuki’s answer; there is a smirk on his face and Yuuta can tell he is just waiting for his captain to throw them out. "Did you forget his name, princess?"

Mizuki raises an eyebrow and laughs coldly. Yuuta knows he knows that nobody calls his sempai a "princess" unless the unlucky bastard wants a death wish clearly; Curly Hair wants a death wish.

Mizuki clears his throat and gives Curly Hair that look before moving his gaze over to Yukimura again. "My cousin’s name is Hamada - Hamada Genki. He’s a third year," Mizuki says, his tone deadly sweet and firm.

Yukimura looks Mizuki over as if he is trying to decide whether he is lying or just passed gas - Yuuta hopes it is neither. "Oh?" He says quietly. "Hamada Genki is his name you say?" Yukimura turns to Hat Guy. "Sanada. Do we have a Hamada Genki in our club?"

Hat Guy ¾ Sanada adjusts the brim of his hat and then shakes his head. "Not that I can recall, Yukimura. Shall I have Renji check?"

"That will not be necessary, Sanada." Yukimura waves a hand. "I think Mizuki-san is lying anyway," he says with a sadistic smile.

Yuuta pretends that he’s asleep in his big, warm bed back at the St. Rudolph dorms…

+ + +

Yuuta opens his eyes and the Roger Federer poster stares back at him in an alien, omnipotent way. Sunlight streams in through the window and music blares from beyond the door. Something pokes him in the side and he looks over - Kaneda’s wide eyes look down at him.

"Oh, you’re awake," Kaneda says, quirking a smile. "Mizuki-sempai said you passed out on the return bus ride."

"Huh?" Yuuta blinks, then he recalls his location - his room back at the dorms. He glances around the neat room and wracks his brain, trying to remember how or why he made it back to St. Rudolph in one piece - he remembers Mizuki-san’s hand reach for his own and sitting together on the bus - but nothing else.

"Where’s Mizuki-san?" He asks the first thing pops into his head.

"I think he went back to his room." Kaneda moves away from him and plops down into his desk chair across from Yuuta. "He dropped you off and told me to watch you until you woke up." He shrugs and then swirls his desk chair around, facing his work desk instead of Yuuta.

Yuuta sits up, heaving a sigh. "Oh, then I’ll see him at dinner or something." He rubs his head and glances out the window. The dorm room he shares with Kaneda is on the third floor; there is not a whole lot of scenery aside from a few buildings in the distance and the blue-grey sky.

"Are you worried about something, Yuuta-kun?" Kaneda asks, his back still to Yuuta.

"Huh? No, no. I’m fine," Yuuta says, getting up from his bed and walking over to his closet. "Why do you ask?" He opens the door, pulling out a fresh pair of track pants and a clean t-shirt.

Kaneda just shrugs and opens out his biology textbook. "No reason."

"Right." Yuuta yanks off his uniform pants and puts on the track pants, struggling for a moment because he puts them on backwards at first and then finally he puts them on the proper way - tags in the back, dumbass. He puts the t-shirt on properly, though, and straightens himself in front of the door-length mirror hanging on the wall next to the closet.

"Going out?" Kaneda speaks as his eyes glance over at Yuuta, a pencil poises in his hand and he looks curious.

"No," Yuuta says, sitting back down on his bed. "What’s with all the questions, Kaneda-kun?" He asks the other boy, wrinkling his forehead in confusion.

"No reason, Yuuta-kun." Kaneda shrugs again and turns back to his homework.

Yuuta flops back onto his pillows and sighs inwardly - his t-shirt is on backwards.

+ + +

It's Sunday.

Yuuta stumbles into the school cafeteria. He’s starving and the smell of pancakes wafts from the school kitchens and God, he’s really hungry. He sits down at one of the tables and yawns languidly - Sundays are his favorite day of the week because on Sundays he does nothing all day long and he’s perfectly fine with doing so, unlike his sempai, who thinks it’s¾

"Good morning, Yuuta-kun," a voice behind him says.

Yuuta’s thoughts dissipate as he glances over his shoulder and his eyes widen for a moment.

"Good morning, Mizuki-san." He almost groans knowing that Mizuki-san will make him do something productive today when he’d much rather lie around on his bed and eat pie.

"How’re you today?" Mizuki’s voice is cheerful; his wakeful blue eyes focus in on Yuuta’s sleepy grey eyes, as if to urge him to wake up more.

"Sleepy, Mizuki-san," Yuuta answers groggily, wanting to fall back asleep again, but his hunger drives prevents him from lying his head down on the table and closing his eyes.

"I see," Mizuki remarks, resting his hands in his lap. His eyes move away and he looks out the window.

Yuuta sits in silence beside him, unsure of what to say to him. His own eyes wander and his stomach growls, his thoughts lingering on how once he gets food, he’s going to lie on his bed for the next solid twelve hours and watch re-runs of Hana Yori Dango.

Idly, he recalls yesterday’s situation and wonders if Mizuki-san feels bad for the mishap - highly unlikely, considering Mizuki-san probably got the data ¾ if they were even there looking for data in the first place. Yuuta begins to think they weren’t. He doesn’t ask Mizuki-san, though.

"When is your history project due?" Mizuki asks.

Yuuta looks over at him. "Tuesday - I think."

Mizuki nods. "I assume that means you are going to work on it today - yes?"

Hesitation. "I wasn’t planning on doing it, no." Yuuta looks away. "Probably tomorrow or something."

"Oh." Mizuki’s voice becomes lower. "Procrastination isn’t a good habit, Yuuta-kun."

"Mizuki-san, you’re not my mother," Yuuta says gruffly. "I’ll get it done." His stomach grumbles and he can’t stand it any longer, so he gets up from the table. "I’m going to get breakfast," he mutters as he passes by Mizuki and gets into the breakfast line.

Yuuta shoves his hands into his track pants pockets and yawns again. The smell of pancakes gets stronger and his nose is overwhelmedwith the scent. His thoughts about Mizuki-san disappear as he picks up a lunch tray and slides it along the counter, while he tries to decide whether he wants orange juice or apple juice. He knows that Mizuki is watching him as he slowly skates down the breakfast line, the smell of pancakes more prominent than ever.

"Pancakes?" The breakfast woman asks him as he slides in front of her.

Yuuta nods at her and she puts three large slabs onto his plate while he grabs a little package of butter and a mini-container of maple syrup. He turns and faces the half-filled cafeteria; Mizuki’s vibrant purple polo shirt sticks out like a sore thumb and Yuuta hesitates before walking back to the table.

"Did you get me some?" Mizuki asks when Yuuta sits down.

Yuuta blinks. "You didn’t ask me to get you some, Mizuki-san," he answers confusedly.

Mizuki sighs and looks away in mock-frustration. "Whatever, Yuuta-kun."

"Mizuki-san…" Yuuta begins. He looks down at his tray of steaming hot pancakes, orange juice, and milk, then shoves the tray in front of Mizuki carefully. "Just have it. I wasn’t hungry anyway," he lies as he gets up from the table.

"I’m going to finish that history project now," he says with his back to Mizuki, heading for the exit.

Mizuki watches Yuuta leave the cafeteria out of the corner of his eye; the plate of warm pancakes in front of him sit uneaten.

+ + +

It’s Wednesday.

"Yuuta-kun, we’re going to Hyoutei today," Mizuki says during breakfast.

Yuuta almost chokes on his bacon. "What? Why?"

"No excuses." Mizuki resumes looking over his math notes.

+ + +

I really wish I peed before we left, Yuuta thinks as he and Mizuki-san creep past the security guards, cameras, and hounds into Hyoutei’s pristine school grounds.

Fountains, cherry trees, and neatly trimmed bushes line the various gyms, playing fields, swimming pools, and of course, tennis courts. Yuuta knows that they stick out because of their St. Rudolph uniforms - another thing Mizuki seems to forget about whenever they go anywhere - yet, nobody approaches them as they stride (Mizuki walking proudly in front) together towards Hyoutei’s locker rooms. He wants to ask why they’re even here to begin with, but Mizuki told him not to ask questions.

Instead, Yuuta stays quiet as they (Mizuki, really) pick the surprisingly complicated lock to the Hyoutei locker rooms, walking inside the freshly scented, large room. He looks around and notices the floors are buffered and shiny, no wavering stench of smelly tennis jerseys or even a speck of paper on the floor. Yuuta looks down at his beaten sneakers and hopes they don’t make marks on the nice, clean floor.

Mizuki’s spotless white sneakers flop quietly against the parquet squares floor. "Yuuta-kun, this way."

Yuuta looks up. "Um, I’m coming," he murmurs, speeding up his feet to catch up with Mizuki. "Mizuki-san, why are we-"

"Shush," Mizuki says, holding up a hand to quiet his kouhai. He crouches behind several identical laundry carts near the gleaming blue rows of lockers as the door to the clubhouse swings open.

Yuuta freezes up despite the fact that he’s crouching down beside Mizuki. He fondly remembers their last excursion to a rival school and he sincerely hopes Hyoutei won’t confront them so hostilely.

"They’re coming in," Mizuki hisses to Yuuta, tugging at his shirt sleeve. "Where are the binoculars?"

"Err." Yuuta grabs his school bag and rifles through it, trying to recall if he even brought the binoculars. "Hang on, I know they’re in here, Mizuki-san," he says, his frustration mounting - he knows that Mizuki will be angry if he doesn’t find his binoculars, the ones that his parents bought him for his fourteenth birthday.

"Yuuta-kun," Mizuki hisses again, finally looking over at Yuuta. "Where are my binoculars?"

"Why do we need them anyway?" Yuuta asks, still digging through his school bag. "We’re in close enough range to see them, aren’t w-"

"I’m flattered you want to see me up close, but visiting hours are after five o’clock," a amused voice interrupts.

Yuuta looks up and there’s the infamous Atobe Keigo standing three feet away from him, arms folded over his chest. He opens his mouth to respond but promptly closes it.

"May I ask why you’re here, Mizuki Hajime and Fuji Yuuta?" Atobe asks them.

Mizuki laughs, he laughs and stands up, brushing off his clothes even though there is no dirt on them. "No, you may not ask why we‘re here, Atobe Keigo," he says, trying not to smirk about his own impertinence.

"Still the same smartass from the prefecture tournament, aren't you? I don‘t date smartasses, Mizuki." Atobe says, moving the laundry cart from out in front of them. "Get out of here before I call security."

Mizuki looks venomous; his eyes narrow at Atobe, his fingers flex into fists, and he leans forward ominously (or not). He says nothing, just simply looks at Atobe with the most threatening face he can make.

Atobe stares back at Mizuki, their eyes lock in a maddening battle of The Blue Eyes. Mizuki doesn’t blink and neither does Atobe.

"There are scuff marks on my floors," Atobe says.

"They’re not your floors," says Mizuki.

"I paid for them." Atobe stares harder at Mizuki.

"I’m sure you did," Mizuki answers, his gaze refusing to falter against Atobe’s.

Yuuta can’t do anything else other than stay quiet - not that staying quiet won’t keep him from getting in any more trouble, despite the fact that this is all Mizuki’s doing. He wants to pipe up and say that they should just leave before Atobe’s personal body guards take them out. His school bag sits at his feet and he wants to pick it up just to distract himself from the situation for a minute.

"Well?" Atobe says, raising an eyebrow at the pair. "Why are you still here?" He refolds his arms over his chest, looking more impatient than before.

Then the locker room door slams open and several pairs of sneakers flip-flop across the floor - the rest of Hyoutei arrives at the scene.

"Oi, Atobe. What’s going on?" Shishido Ryou says, walking up to the three of them with Ohtori, Oshitari, Kabaji, and Mukahi behind him. He stops when he sees Mizuki and Yuuta. "Oh, it’s St. Rudolph," he sneers.

"Yes, it’s St. Rudolph, Shishido and they were just leaving," Atobe tells him, glaring in his direction. He turns his eyes back to Mizuki and Yuuta. "Aren’t we?"

Mizuki remains silent, blissfully silent, with his hands at his side.

Yuuta wishes that he’d simply stayed his bed that day and ignored whatever stupid, stupid thing Mizuki-san wanted him to do. Yes, if he had stayed in his bed, none of this would have happened. What’s worse, Yuuta thinks, is that Mizuki-san isn’t doing anything and-

"Kabaji, escort them off the premises."


+ + +

Yuuta collapses on his bed after he staggers through the door, exhausted from the trip to Hyoutei. His limbs ache and it is dark inside the room when he collapses on his bed. There is no sign of Kaneda at all and for a moment, Yuuta is glad that his roommate is not there.

He groans and rolls over onto his side, closing his eyes. His legs ache from walking home since he and Mizuki ended up missing the bus to get home after Kabaji-san escorted them off the Hyoutei grounds. He re-opens his eyes, sighs and looks out his window, the diminishing sunlight falling behind the horizon.

Today could not have been more embarrassing, Yuuta thinks. It’s embarrassing to go out with Mizuki-san; it’s embarrassing to be kicked out of places with him. Why do I have to go with him anyway? It’s not like any-

There’s a knock on the door and Yuuta sits up immediately. "Who is it?" He calls out to the door.

"Oh, Yuuta-kun, do you need to ask?" A voice answers impatiently.


Yuuta sighs. "No. Come in, Mizuki-san."

The door opens and Mizuki steps inside the dorm room. He smiles pleasantly at Yuuta and then closes the door behind him. Mizuki is wearing his purple track suit, the one his sister bought him for last year‘s Christmas. "Are you ready for your night training?" He asks Yuuta; a finger in his hair twirls a lock of his black hair.

Yuuta blinks; he doesn’t recall anything about night training. "Umm, what night training?"

Mizuki frowns. "The night training you said you would start doing - we spoke about it when we were in lunch the other day, Yuuta-kun. Surely, you must remember this."

Night training, Yuuta forces himself to think, when had Mizuki-san said anything about night training? He sighs inwardly; the past days’ events blur in his mind and he figures that Mizuki-san probably had brought the idea up casually, only to never mention it to him again.

"Well? Mizuki asks him, tapping his foot. "We have to start now before the gym fills up and-"

"Mizuki-san," Yuuta begins, "we just got back from Hyoutei. Can’t we take the night off?" His eyes look hopeful and tired, wishing his senpai would just leave him alone for once.

Mizuki stares at Yuuta as if he told him to go jump off a bridge or eat dog poop, annoyed that anyone would suggest such a thing to him. "Take the night off? Take the night off?</i>" He sighs sadly as he stops twirling his hair. "Yuuta-kun, we’re burning daylight by sitting here. We have to train for the next season now that we have data on other t-"

"Mizuki-san, please."

Mizuki shuts his mouth, tightening it into a single line. He sucks in a breath and turns around to leave. "Fine. Be that way, Yuuta-kun," he murmurs, opening the door again and leaving the room. The door slams hard when he closes it behind him.

Yuuta sighs and flops back down onto his mattress, listening to it creak underneath his weight, when he notices that he’s wearing his t-shirt backwards. Again.

+ + +

Yuuta receives a note and a wrapped box on Thursday afternoon.


I apologize for acting so hostile towards you yesterday. Are we still on for Friday’s night training? See you tomorrow at practice.



P.S. I hope you liked the homemade raspberry icing on the cupcakes.

The cupcakes taste better than his sister’s homemade pies - but only by a little bit.

+ + +

It’s Saturday.

"Yuuta-kun, we’re going to Seigaku today," Mizuki says casually during lunch.

Yuuta doesn’t answer him this time and just stares into his soup. There’s only one reason why they’re going there: Aniki.

+ + +

Yuuta remembers the last time he was at Seigaku - it was his last day there before he left for St. Rudolph and he had half-hoped it was his last time at Seigaku for possibly the rest of eternity.

He knows they’re only traveling to Seigaku to see Fuji Syuusuke, the tensai - his older brother. He dreads this meeting as he rides on the train with Mizuki. He doesn’t know what Mizuki wants to do when they get there and he doesn’t want to know.

They get off the train together, only a block from Seigaku’s grounds. It’s a quiet, sunny day - a perfect day for tennis - and Yuuta still dreads this.

Mizuki leads them to the front entrance of Seigaku, dragging them around to the back of the grounds to where the tennis courts are located. Practice for Seigaku is in full swing and Yuuta knows their appearance might not be welcome. Mizuki brings them over to a line of bushes.

"Now, Yuuta-kun, just wait here," Mizuki tells him, crouching down behind the greenery. "First of all…"

Yuuta tunes him out; instead scanning the area for his brother. Several matches are in progress, freshman practice their swings and collect balls, Tezuka-san yells orders at the regulars and then there’s his older brother; he stands there at one of the end of a court, ready to return a ball from the Echizen kid.

"Are you listening to me?" Mizuki asks, poking Yuuta in the side. "We have to create a diversion," he says.

Yuuta turns to look at him, his eyes blink in confusion. "A diversion?"

"Yes, a diversion." Mizuki nods at him. "So, here’s what we’re going to do…"

Yuuta tunes him out again as his attention focuses on the courts - his brother is gone. He frowns and scans the rest of the tennis courts. "Mizuki-san," he begins to pipe up, trailing off once he realizes that his brother probably went to go play on another court. He lies down on his back and looks up at the sky as Mizuki continues to ramble on in the background. His eyes close.

There’s an island - a snow-covered island. He’s walking along a white path lined with frosted palm trees that sway in the sweeping breeze. The smell of sand - snow-covered sand - rushes to Yuuta’s nose. It’s cold, so very cold and Yuuta shivers. Large piles of coconuts sit beneath the palm trees, their brown shells stand out against the icy ground. Yuuta shudders, the cold air trembles through his body and he sees a small figure isolated in the background, near the edge of the snow-covered shore. He stops to squint at the blurry figure - when something brown and hard flies towards him at an unstoppable speed…


It’s a familiar voice - are the coconuts talking to him? Yuuta asks himself. There’s a break of light, Yuuta’s eyes burst open and in front of him sits his older brother. "Uh…Aniki…" He begins, sitting up.

"Hello, Yuuta," Syuusuke smiles down at him. "What’re you doing here?" He asks Yuuta, kneeling down beside him like a mother caring for a little child.

Yuuta rubs his eyes and looks at him properly. "Er, I was here with-"

"Me. He’s with me," someone finishes for him.


"Oh?" Syuusuke turns around and faces Mizuki.

Yuuta face palms; a battle, he knows, will soon begin. Or more likely, Mizuki will do something embarrassing and Seigaku will kick them out in hopes that they never show up again. Yuuta wishes for the latter.

"Fuji Syuusuke," Mizuki purrs madly as a grin spreads across his face.

"Mizuki-kun, wasn’t it?" Syuusuke asks politely.

"Ah, that would be me, Fuji-kun." Mizuki twirls a lock of his curly, black hair.

"Yuuta, why are you here?" Syuusuke turns toward Yuuta, smiling his classic, enigmatic smile.

"We’re here to see you, obviously," Mizuki answers immediately before Yuuta can say anything.

Syuusuke raises an eyebrow, lip twitching. "And why is that, Mizuki-kun?"

"I want to play a re-match, Fuji-kun," announces Mizuki.

"The first time wasn’t enough?" Syuusuke’s eyes open for a moment, revealing his vibrant blue eyes, before closing quickly again.

"I’d like to play you again if that’s acceptable." Mizuki stares right into Syuusuke’s face, his confidence rides on his sleeve. "In fact, we should play now."

Syuusuke considers this, switching his gaze from Yuuta to Mizuki to his teammates playing happily in the background. "Alright, Mizuki-kun, I’ll play you."

The next twenty minutes are a blur to Yuuta. He remembers watching his older brother keep his serve against his senpai. He remembers his senpai promptly hitting a double fault and then losing his serve. He remembers the rest of Seigaku’s cheers boom through the entire court and he remains silent, routing for Mizuki inside the sanctity of his mind.

When it’s all over, Mizuki’s on his knees and his racket lies beside him on one side of the net, utterly defeated. Syuusuke stands on the other side of the net, composed and cool.

Yuuta waits for Syuusuke to say something impolite to Mizuki but he never does.

The rest of Seigaku watches as Mizuki rises from his knees, grabs Yuuta’s hand and walks away from the courts - leaving the binoculars by the bush.

+ + +

The train ride home is quiet and strangely peaceful. Yuuta sits besides Mizuki with his school bag on his lap. He looks out the dirty window at the passing city scenery, trying to find something interesting; he doesn’t find anything, though. Then some fat guy blocks his view, crowding rudely in front of him. He glances at Mizuki, just so he can look at something much nicer.

Mizuki is silent, oddly silent. Yuuta wonders if Mizuki is in one of his thinking moods, but he’s not twirling his hair or rubbing his chin in thought, so he’s not sure what Mizuki is doing. He’s just sitting there with a blank expression - something Yuuta doesn’t see very often with Mizuki.

Yuuta looks forward again - fat ass stands in front of him still - he sighs and fixes the school bag sitting in his lap. He wants to go home, sleep and pretend that he never got up today. And then possibly never look at his brother ever again.

Or perhaps he’ll move to Antarctica and live with the penguins in an igloo - alone.

The train stops for a minute and more people pile on, squishing into the tight confines of the car. Yuuta holds his breath and plays with the zipper on his school bag anxiously, as if he’s just waiting for something - a sign, something that will break this silence.

"Yuuta-kun… I want you to come home with me during winter break," Mizuki says suddenly, breaking the silence between them finally. He’s looking at Yuuta; his blue eyes are soft and serene, unlike any other look he’s ever given him.

Yuuta stops and looks over at Mizuki. For just a moment, his heart speeds up and he knows, he knows that this isn’t an order - it’s a request, an invitation.

Then it really hits him. Yuuta realizes something as his heart races a little and the train bumps along its track - he realizes that his senpai simply cares; he cares enough to let Yuuta watch him embarrass himself in front of others; he cares enough to help Yuuta when he needs help; he cares enough to apologize to him because their friendship means something. Yet, it takes over five thousand words, three rival schools, ten cupcakes, a history project and two backwards t-shirts for Yuuta to realize this. Yuuta wants to say "yes" to his senpai. It’s an invitation to continue their friendship and after all, nothing could be worse than having - no, nothing could be better than having Mizuki-san as a senpai.

"I’d like that, Mizuki-san," Yuuta says, meeting his gaze finally.

Mizuki smiles at him. "I knew you’d say ‘yes,’ Yuuta-kun."

Yeah, Yuuta’s sure that no matter how many embarrassing things that he and Mizuki do, how many times they get into trouble, or how many tennis matches they lose, there really is nothing worse than Yanagisawa’s smelly gym socks after tennis practice.

Okay, maybe there’s the apocalypse, but Yuuta figures that won’t happen for a while and Mizuki-san will keep him company through it all anyways.
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my journal
September 2008