305 The Way It Should Have Been

An exercise in rewriting canon, in cooperation with Kizu. Atobe does it himself. Drama with Mild Crack, I-2, manga continuity

One

Keigo watched with dazed detachment as the world faded back into arm’s reach. He took a slow breath and blinked hard a few times, pulling the court back into focus.

And then he almost regretted it, because Echizen was trotting toward him with a smirk, waving an electric razor in one hand. “You lost,” Echizen announced with insolent cheer, and flicked on the razor and held it out.

Keigo regarded the buzzing implement with a sneer. Unfortunately, a quick look at the scoreboard showed that Echizen was telling the truth. Keigo had lost. And he had also made a deal.

And Atobe Keigo did not go back on his word.

Keigo plucked the razor out of Echizen’s hand, loftily ignoring the brat’s grin. He lifted it and then paused. There was something missing, here. He considered it for a moment, lips pursed and head cocked and slowly turned to regard his club members. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it his way.

“Why,” he quietly asked that sea of wide eyes and pale faces, “aren’t you cheering?”

Oshitari’s brows vanished under his bangs while Mukahi choked. Shishido sat down, hard. “Atobe, have you stripped a gear?” he asked, weakly.

Keigo gave him a cool glare. “Certainly not.” He waved a hand at the club and snapped his fingers imperatively.

“A… Ato… be…” a voice in the crowd faltered.

Well, it was a start. Keigo nodded graciously and ran his fingers through his hair, lifting it so it wouldn’t matt in the clipping edge.

“Atobe…” a few more voice breathed.

Keigo carefully ran the razor around his ear, working up in sections. No sense doing this in a haphazard, un-classy manner. He shook strands of hair off his fingers, taking a certain satisfaction in the way they shimmered, blowing away in the sunlight.

The voices of his club picked up momentum and volume. “Atobe! Atobe! Atobe!

Keigo ran a hand over his head to be sure he hadn’t missed any spots, which would be unsightly, and nodded with satisfaction. He tossed the razor, flipping it through the air, and caught it again, and raised it fisted in his hand. His club roared.

Echizen’s smirk, when Keigo looked, was as wide as ever, but there was a faint, grudgingly impressed, crook to it. Keigo smirked back.

“Better luck next time.”

Echizen blinked. “I won,” he pointed out. “What do I need better luck for?”

Keigo caught his coat as Shishido, mouth twisted ruefully, tossed it to him, slinging it over his shoulder with a stylish flair. He looked back at Echizen, head high. “You won once.”

Echizen snorted, and eyed Keigo, and the chanting club, and Keigo again. And then he laughed.

Keigo strode off the court and tossed the razor to Kabaji. Echizen wasn’t getting it back, not after making such a nuisance of himself over it. That razor was, by damn, going to be Keigo’s trophy of this match. “Pack that up, Kabaji.”

For once, though, Kabaji didn’t acknowledge his instructions. Instead he looked, for a long moment, at the razor in his hand. Then he clicked it on.

The chanting of the club faltered on the first pass, but as Kabaji calmly made another and tufts of black dropped to the clay, the cheering swelled again, louder than before.

“Hyoutei! Hyoutei! The winner will be Hyoutei!

It was Keigo’s turn to laugh, throwing back his now-bald head and lifting a hand to conduct the cheers.

Two

Ryouma shook his head, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he strolled back to his team. Seeing the monkey king bald was pretty satisfying, and all of Hyoutei bald should be even better. He’d have to see. He grinned at his teammates as he approached. Oishi-senpai still had a faintly horrified expression, but Momo was laughing so hard he had to lean on the fence and the corners of Fuji-senpai’s mouth were curled up.

Tezuka-buchou, on the other hand, had his arms folded and shook his head. Ryouma tucked his chin down just a bit, looking up from under the brim of his cap as he rejoined them. Okay, so it hadn’t been very nice. Or gracious or any of that stuff. But Atobe had been the one to bet, and Ryouma had won. And Tezuka-buchou wasn’t actually frowning. He actually looked just a little pleased—just a quiet little bit, as he watched Ryouma and Atobe.

Who looked to be directing a riot by now.

Ryouma took a long drink of water and jerked his head toward the other team, where half the club was flocking down to line up for a turn at that razor. “They’re all crazy.”

Inui-senpai adjusted his glasses, suspiciously straight-faced. “I believe the phenomenon is commonly called mass hysteria.”

Momo-senpai finally managed to catch his breath and slung and arm around Ryouma’s neck. “Only you!” he laughed. “Only you would get a whole club to shave themselves bald!”

“That part wasn’t my idea,” Ryouma pointed out, trying not to be pulled off his feet.

Momo-senpai considered that. “You’re right. Only Atobe,” he corrected himself.

Tezuka-buchou made what might have been a snort of agreement. So Ryouma didn’t bother hiding his grin as they watched the breeze blow strands and puffs and tufts of hair away from the Hyoutei tennis club.

Omake

Shishido grumped as he fumbled with the back of his head. “Can’t believe I’m cutting my hair again for this damn club…”

Atobe sniffed. “No one asked you to.”

Shishido growled at him direly, and then yelped as the razor nipped the skin at the back of his neck.

“Here, Shishido-san, let me,” Ohtori offered in a soothing tone, taking the razor. “You missed a spot in the back.”

Shishido hmphed but sat still while Ohtori finished him off.

Mukahi ran a hand over his head thoughtfully. “Actually, you know, this is kinda nice. It’s a lot cooler for summer, that’s for sure.” He rubbed at his head again. “Feels kind of weird though. Hey, Yuushi, let me feel yours.”

Oshitari caught his partner’s reaching hand. “Later,” he murmured.

“Doubles pairs,” Hiyoshi said, very quietly, handing the razor back to Kabaji, who packed it away with what might have been a tiny glint of satisfaction.

Atobe looked over his, now largely hairless, team with something like affection. “All right. Time to be going.”

End