Fandom: Prince of Tennis
Type: yaoi... if you read into it
Summary: Gakuto hates losing
Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis is the property of Konomi Takeshi & TV Tokyo
Notes: For the Proprietary Eponyms Challenge. 1hr and 11-ish mins. A little rough. My fingers hurt from typing so hard >.<
"Faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death."
Hunter S. Thompson
Gakuto hated losing the game. He always did.
He’d become used to Gakuto’s fits of depression and self admonishment after a loss. They usually lasted about a week. A week where he would be taciturn and solemn, occasionally pouting and yelling to get his own way, or alternatively having no opinion at all. Atobe accused him of coddling his partner through those times, and Yuushi didn’t deny it. He had only known Gakuto a short while when he realised if he didn’t fuss over the boy, there would be no one else who would.
So he indulged him for a short time. Catered to his unreasonable whims and cajoled him into eating and going to school. By the fourth day Gakuto was usually fine, only holding onto his fit of upset, because it forced Yuushi to spend time with him. So he’d play along in their little charade until Gakuto felt reasonably secure and happy. Then a few days later Gakuto would be back to his old self, cheerful, over-confident and looking to throw himself off the highest cliff.
Maybe to the others on the team it would seem irritating and childish, but to Yuushi it was just a little quirk in their relationship. Often, after a recovery Gakuto would jokingly comment, ‘I always lose the game for us Yuushi, you should find a new partner.’ His smile was always stretched a little too thin and Yuushi knew that he would never change partners.
But their loss at the Kantou Regional Tournament was different.
Sakaki’s harsh words had surprised even him. He felt Gakuto’s humiliation, in the drop of his shoulders, the clench of his fist. A second tier player. He had wanted to take Gakuto away, bundle him off to the clubrooms, where he could meltdown in private. But Gakuto had turned his back to him, and stiffly marched off to the benches.
He was fully prepared for a week of skipping school and watching movies, but it seemed that Gakuto had taken their loss better than usual. ‘Sorry, Yuushi… I promise to work harder, okay?’
And though it was a deviation from their normal routine, he’d agreed.
True to his promise Gakuto was working hard. They once again focussed on the golden pair of Seigaku, working on increasing Gakuto’s stamina and refining his acrobatic skills. Watching his partner work so hard fostered his resentment towards their coach. Yuushi wasn’t blinded by his partnership, he saw Gakuto’s weakness more clearly than any other. Gakuto wasn’t a strong singles player, he never would be, but he had a special skill that made him ideal for doubles play, and that wasn’t something to belittle.
It was Ohtori who had approached him.
Nervous but determined, his gaze occasionally shifted back to Shishido, who turned away. The dissention between them was a sure sign they had disagreed, but Ohtori was a boy with a strong sense of moral conviction and not even a disagreeing sempai would sway him.
‘Oshitari-san?’ he queried. ‘Could I talk with you for a moment…’ Outside the clubroom Ohtori told him what he’d seen.
‘Three nights in a row?’ Yuushi questioned. ‘Are you sure?’
Ohtori nodded. ‘He was in the training room for at least three hours, and last night he was still there when we left. Shishido-san didn’t want to say anything… but—’
‘No. You were right to say something. It’s not the training schedule we discussed.’ Not at all.
For someone who required a daily wakeup call, it was surprising that Gakuto would train three nights in a row. And also a little irritating. As far as he knew, Gakuto had trusted him implicitly to create and maintain their training schedule.
‘It’s nothing, Yuushi,’ he protested pushing his lunch around on his plate and fidgeting in his chair. ‘I couldn’t sleep. I thought it would be better to spend the time training,’ he smiled. It was a genuine smile. Yuushi could always tell with Gakuto, he was terrible at hiding things.
He sat down beside his partner and bumped him with his shoulder. ‘Okay. But we have days off for a reason. It’s counter productive to train everyday. Got it?’ he mock glared at the other boy until he grinned back.
‘Got it,’ he nodded, his red hair trailing over his face.
He was unsettled. Everything seemed normal, but their game was off. He could see that the losses they were clocking up, were starting to frustrate Gakuto. Anger and frustration always made him play worse. With Gakuto all his emotions were directed inward. Even from the base line he could see Gakuto pinching his own thigh, a form of self punishment he’d caught him doing before.
‘You’ve lost weight.’ Yuushi stepped away from the scale to mark the results in his book.
‘We’ve been training hard,’ he replied off hand.
He marked down Gakuto’s weight in the chart. Something was going badly wrong. ‘You’re right,’ he replied, not letting the doubt he felt be reflected in his tone. Gakuto was a bad liar, but it was not an affliction he suffered from. ‘Just watch your diet.’
He sat beside Atobe and slid his notebook over to their leader. ‘What would you say to that?’
Atobe’s long fingers wrapped around the book as he studied the information. ‘Is this Mukahi-kun’s?’
Yuushi nodded. ‘We’ve always had problems keeping his weight up…’
‘You wouldn’t have come to me if you didn’t already think there was a problem greater than that.’
Gakuto had dropped 2.8 kilograms after having dropped 1.5 kilograms the week before. It had always been a little bit difficult to stabilise his weight, he was energetic and prone to being slender. But never had he dropped weight so severely in the space of a fortnight. ‘Does he seem agitated to you?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know, Oshitari. You are the one who knows him best. To me, Mukahi-kun always seems excitable… if there was a difference, only you could tell.’
Gakuto was distracted and irritated with him during chemistry. He’d had to tell Gakuto to sit down and take notes, after dropping a flask. Everyone dropped things. Gakuto was more coordinated than most, but still, everyone dropped things. He’d noticed a slight tremble of his hand as he held the pen. He was flushed and glistened in a fine sheen of sweat. ‘Sleeping alright, Gakuto?’ he asked, noting the dark circles under his eyes.
‘Yes, fine.’ He snapped shortly. ‘Why are you interrogating me?’ Gakuto hissed under his breath.
Yuushi took a moment to regroup. Normally Gakuto loved being fussed over. Especially if he was sick. He loved being the centre of attention. Yuushi had found himself saying, normally Gakuto… a lot in recent days. ‘I’m not interrogating you, it’s just—’
‘Yes, you are,’ he yelled his chair squealing back on the floor. Silence rippled out from their table as other students looked on in surprise. Gakuto just stormed out of the room, leaving his books scattered across the table.
He didn’t see Gakuto for the rest of the day.
He was changing for practice when Ohtori burst through the door, face stricken with anxiety. ‘Oshitari-san,’ he panted. ‘It’s Mukahi-kun. He’s in the bathrooms, I think he’s sick.’
Yuushi felt the attention of everyone in the club rest on him. He nodded to Ohtori and headed for the toilets, all eyes following his trail.
The sound of Gakuto retching was unmistakeable. Yuushi rounded the corner and viewed the row of green stalls. Gakuto’s bag was in the middle of the floor, its contents scattered as if he’d dropped it while running. The stall door was open, Gakuto’s foot sticking out into the walkway. He could hear the heavy pant of his breath even from where he was standing. The strained whimper of exhaustion.
He stepped forward with a unexpected crunch.
He foot lifted up to reveal a silver foil pill packet. He flipped it over. Laevoamphetamine 20 grams. A sickening sensation curled in his gut as he spotted another silver packet that had slid under the sink. Dextroamphetamine 10 grams. His fist tightened around the pills more commonly known as Benzedrine and Dexedrine.
Yuushi grabbed his ankle and dragged him from the stall forcefully. Surprise working in his favor, as Gakuto was too shocked and tired to fight him off. ‘What is this?’ he yelled shoving the tablets in Gakuto’s face, hating the way he flinched.
Gakuto’s bloodshot eyes widened at the sight of his pills and a rage like he’d never seen consumed him. Gakuto caught him on the chin with his flailing arms, teeth snapping together painfully. ‘Give them back, Yuushi.’
‘Who are you getting them from?’ He fended off Gakuto’s wild grabs. ‘Whose giving them to you, Gakuto?’
‘A friend,’ he cried out slamming his body into Yuushi’s, they both tumbled to the bathroom floor Gakuto’s elbow digging painfully into his side as he held the tablets out of reach.
‘They are not your friend, Gakuto. It’s illegal…’ he hissed.
Tears were streaming down his face as he stepped back trembling in anger. ‘I-if you don’t give them back… I’ll never forgive you,’ he spat.
Yuushi stood up straightening to his full height. ‘Never,’ he whispered. Gakuto reached for his bag, but he stepped on the strap preventing him from picking it up. ‘I’ll need to check your bag…’
Gakuto didn’t even wait for him to finish he just stormed out of the bathroom. Yuushi followed him closely, trying not to reach out and grab his arm. The bathroom door slammed back on it’s hinges and everyone in the club room jumped, and looked suspiciously busy.
‘You,’ Gakuto hissed, pointing at Ohtori. ‘Tell me Ohtori-kun…’ he mock whispered. ‘If I bent over and took it up the ass like you, would my sempai do everything I wanted him too?’
The crack that broke the silence was Shishido’s fist connecting with Gakuto’s face. He watched helplessly as Gakuto’s head snapped back and his body crumpled to the floor. He didn’t catch him.
‘Take him home, Oshitari.’ Atobe’s hand rested briefly on his shoulder. ‘Take him home, and it’ll be better… better that we know.’
He was left behind with Gakuto, crumpled upon the floor.
Yuushi slid down the lockers and just sat beside his partner as he cried silently.
‘I f-failed you,’ he whispered brokenly through the tears, snot and blood.
Yuushi shuffled in closer and helped Gakuto to sit up and lean against his shoulder. He was limp and pliable, just allowing him to position his body. Yuushi pressed his school shirt to Gakuto’s bloodied lip. ‘No, that’s not true…’ he whispered gently… just like he used to. He splashed a little water onto his shirt and used it to clean Gakuto’s face.
‘Not good enough,’ he whispered, his eyes closing. ‘Not good enough to be with you.’
‘That’s not true… I should’ve said so.’ Yuushi brushed Gakuto’s fringe away from his face, pressing the wet shirt to his forehead.
‘I hurt Ohtori…’ he sniffed morosely. ‘Shishido will never forgive me.’
He kissed Gakuto’s wet forehead and pulled him closer into his embrace. ‘Probably not,’ he muttered. ‘Especially, since Shishido’s the uke.’
Gakuto laughed painfully, his old smile breaking through for a second.
Note: 'Cross-white bennie' is a common street name for Benzedrine pills...