Title: Crack

Rating: M

Genre: Angst

Pairing: AtoRyo

Warning: Very long one-shot. Swearing, semi-graphic smut

A/N: Atobe-muse wanted smut and Ryoma-muse was suffering a bad case of the uke-PMS, thus the angst. That, and the fact that I also refuse to write another PWP. Besides, everyone (including me) has already written crack stuff on canon pairs, so why not try writing non-crack on a crack pairing?

Disclaimer: Not mine. Konomi Takeshi's.

Notes: This fic takes place during Atobe's senior year in High School.

Life went as usual for Atobe Keigo.

Practice went without much incident. Jiroh fell asleep in the middle of a serve. Shishido was a bitch to everyone except Ohtori, whom Shishido had so sweetly assisted in perfecting the already perfect Soul Serve. Kabaji did everything Atobe commanded, much to the annoyance of Hiyoshi who was playing Kabaji at that time. Oshitari and Gakuto tried to talk the whole team into going for a steamy group shower post training, which ended up with a rather violent tug of war ensuing between Oshitari and Shishido with Ohtori as the makeshift rope, while Gakuto attempted to corner everyone else into the largest shower stall. And of course, Ore-sama reigned in order with his irrefutable authority, separating the two bickering couples and getting everyone in separate shower stalls.

Yes, it was a usual tennis practice for the Hyotei High Tennis team. Nothing much had changed, except that they were in high school and perhaps a tad less juvenile. They occupied the same roles, operated in the same monotonous vein, maintained their own distinct personalities. Atobe, predictably enough, regained the captainship and Kabaji was still his faithful follower.

Today, they had a friendly practice match against Seishun High, which, like Hyotei, had the same line-up as it had in junior high, but with the absence of a certain rookie who had flown off to America right after the Nationals.

He couldn't help thinking of this rookie, someone who had beaten Tezuka and Sanada, two of the best and most esteemed tennis players in Japan.

Echizen Ryoma.

The past three years had mostly been a blur of tennis, academics and family affairs for Atobe, but there was one constant thing that stuck out of the rest like a sore thumb.

He found himself paying much attention to Echizen, who was no longer in Japan at that time. Without conscious reason, Echizen occupied his thoughts more often than any other person in Atobe's life, except perhaps himself. He eventually rationalized these strangely obsessive thoughts to his desire to play against the tennis prodigy again. It seemed fair enough, even normal—especially with Atobe's inbred need to beat those he thought to be worthy of his admiration. He rose to this rationalization well and recorded all of Echizen's games, had every bit of information on him updated in his personal computer, and even deigned to fly to America to see some of his matches live.

People who knew about it and found these actions unusual, even fanatical, didn't question him, for Atobe's reasons always sufficed, whatever they were.

He used to do the same for Tezuka. But his interest in Tezuka wavered after he realized how much more he was attracted to Echizen.

Because between Tezuka and Echizen, Tezuka was a much nearer goal. And like most people in this mortal coil, Atobe desired that which was beyond his reach, and there were very few things that did not fall under his power. Echizen was one, the thorn that made Atobe less than the perfect rose he ought to be. Perfect beings didn't want, and Atobe wanted Echizen—for purely ambitious, tennis-related reasons of course.

But one never knew, and Atobe didn't bother to dwell on that particular aspect of his obsession any more than he would bother to play against players with the tennis skills of substandard calibre.

He had a chat with Fuji and Tezuka after the practice match and was informed that Echizen was returning to Japan sometime this week. The exact details were still uncertain but the whole Seigaku team was nevertheless overjoyed at the prospect of seeing their little rookie after a draught of three years. Tezuka gave less than the usual number of laps, Inui didn't bring up that strange juice that the whole Seigaku team was terrified of for some reason, and that redhead chatterbox was even louder than usual. The rest of the players had gone collectively better in their play, which proved to be to Hyotei's disadvantage.

Seigaku won that round but Atobe found himself not caring much. The information of Echizen's return put him in an explicably good mood. And that wasn't all he go; it seemed that the buzz regarding Echizen's career path hit a lot closer to home than what those unreliable magazines claim in their gossip columns.

It was rumored that Echizen would be going for a grand slam when he turned sixteen, and from the games Atobe had seen (and he saw a lot of them, if his library of video recordings was any testament), taking this leap in his career at that early age would no longer surprise anyone, and it wouldn't be a rash move, at any case.

It was that powerful drive to be the best that initially drew Atobe to Echizen. In any other case, he would not even notice the boy, seeing that Echizen was hardly perfect and was in dire need of an attitude adjustment. However, the moment Echizen played against him, breaking his signature unfinished waltz, and nearly beaten him, his views changed, and his interest was hooked. When Echizen defeated Sanada, therefore displacing the formidable Rikkai player from his kingship, Atobe found himself extremely satisfied, and he then decided that Echizen was someone he should take notice of more often.

His fascination was further fueled when he learned that Echizen had beaten Tezuka, right before heading to America. Echizen had stolen his goal, but with it, he unwittingly gave Atobe a new one. And even when his ambitions carried him away from Japan, Atobe's interest in him never weakened. If anything, Atobe found Echizen even more attractive in his elusiveness, simultaneous with his determination to reach his ambitions, whatever it took. Wherever it took him.

Echizen was ambition personified. He challenged anyone whom he perceived to be worthy of his time. On the rare occasion that he was beaten, he would train non-stop to discover what went wrong, sew up all the loopholes and find a solution to it. More often than not, the next time he faced the same opponent, he was a different player, a better player.

And he would win. It happened with Sanada, it happened with Tezuka, and those two players were among the best in their generation.

Echizen had faced the best, had been worthy of the best, and most importantly, had been the best.

And nothing was worthy of Atobe's attention if not the best.

Atobe checked his watch and smiled, discovering that he had one hour before his appointment with a distinguished political science professor from Tokyo University. He had availed of private tutoring services for the upcoming college entrance exams, believing cram school to be substandard preparation for his superior intellect.

He shifted the gear to reverse, backed out of the parking lot, and sped off into the busy streets of Tokyo. Technically, he shouldn't be driving, being a few months short of the legal age but belonging to a powerful, affluent family had certain benefits. And of course, he could just have his chauffeur drive for him, therefore liberating him from all the troublesome legalese but for the moment, Atobe wanted to cease his lucrative behavior, break monotony, and deign to experience the hackneyed humdrums of the common people.

His cell phone vibrated as he was cutting across a slow-moving truck in front of him, earning him a string of furious curses from the driver. Not to be bothered by such trifles, he merely waved his hand with a flourish and went on his way, reaching for his still vibrating phone in the process. However, the sudden burst of speed caused by his bold maneuvering displaced the cell phone from its post and as a result, Atobe accidentally knocked it towards the floor on the passenger side. Clucking his tongue in disapproval at his rare displays of inelegance, he bent down, briefly taking his eyes off the road to retrieve it.

When he got back up, the first unusual event of the day happened.

He distinctly felt the rush of adrenaline as he slammed his foot on the brakes to avoid hitting the guy who had suddenly materialized in the middle of the road. He lurched violently forward as the car screeched to a stop, his heart drumming a furious beat against his ribcage.

Taking in a few gulps of air, he strained his ears, praying he wouldn't hear anything that may prove to be of severe consequences in the immediate future. There was no sound of impact but the squealing of tires could have easily drowned out any echoes of untimely demise.

There was only one way to find out. Steeling himself, he wiped his hands with a handkerchief and quickly got out of the car.

There wasn't any spattering of blood, much to his relief. His eyes veered to the front of the car, where he saw the guy crouched right beside the front bumper, gathering something under it. Atobe's blood pressure returned to normal. The guy was unharmed.

And he was also a bloody idiot.

Atobe's relief gave way to his irritation as he sauntered forward, formulating a few select insults in his mind. He opened his mouth to voice them out when the said idiot stood up, a Himalayan cat in his arms.

To say that Atobe was shocked would be a severe understatement. "You?"

Echizen Ryoma glared at him. "You," he returned, hugging the furry feline to himself.

Atobe didn't mind this less-than-pleasant greeting much, and he quickly covered his surprise with an unpleasant remark of his own. "Echizen, don't you have the common courtesy not to involve anyone else in your suicide attempts?"

Echizen's eyes were unusually accusatory. "You almost ran my cat over."

Atobe's perfectly shaped eyebrows lifted at this and he glanced at the cat in the boy's arms. "I didn't see it."

"Obviously. Unless you have a penchant for accumulating roadkill with your new car, which incidentally, you are illegally driving."

Atobe felt his lips curl into a smirk, not the least bit offended. Impudent as ever, this little brat. Well, not so little anymore, for the boy had grown to almost Atobe's height, having reaped the rewards of daily milk intake. He didn't retain much of a brat appearance either. Echizen's face was more angled, the passage of years sharpening his features, and the sea-green hair, no longer stuffed under a white cap, had grown out just enough to brush against trim shoulders. His complexion, while still smooth, lost any rosy qualities that would have otherwise made him retain a child-like visage. His skin was lightly tanned, which was only to be expected with the amount of time he spent under the sun. The only things that didn't change were, one, his body type, which despite the increase in height, was still lithe and aerodynamic, and two, his eyes, which were still large and heavy-lidded, accentuated by their famous feline attributes.

Overall, despite certain changes, Echizen Ryoma was as gorgeous as ever.

Yes, Atobe had to agree to Echizen's good looks, and if Echizen knew just how difficult it was for Atobe to admit to someone else's attractiveness, then he would be flabbergasted to know how lofty a praise it was. Atobe wasn't blind, he understood perfectly well why the boy was the object of unrestrained adulation of hordes of females—and males upon occasion.

Of course, it was hardly a secret that Echizen never gave the remotest indication of acknowledging such worship. Nobody could capture the boy's attention unless they held a tennis racket and even then, one had to play better than him for Echizen to take notice.

He may have not realized it at that time, but Atobe was about to change that.

The Hyotei captain casually tossed his groomed mauve locks. "Ore-sama is not subjected to plebian whims such as laws," he drawled, meeting Echizen's heated gaze with his own cool one. "Though I forgive you for being ignorant of that fact, seeing as you've just gotten back from your stint in America."

Echizen eyed him with a mixture of disdain and incredulity for a few moments before shrugging. "Whatever." Then he turned around and walked away.

Atobe found himself taken aback by this rude turn of events. "Where are you going?"

Echizen didn't even look back at him. "Home."

"Home? Not even a word of thanks?" Atobe called out, a trace of annoyance in his voice. "Anyone with the slightest inferiority to my perfect driving skills would have had you in a hospital bed right now."

Echizen ignored him and continued on his way, the Himalayan cat purring as if assenting to its master's insolent behavior.

A tick popped on Atobe's head. "Echizen!"

Echizen kept walking away, the slight swagger in his gait almost mocking the glowering Hyotei captain.

Atobe narrowed his eyes, resentment rearing its head in his chest. And Atobe never wore resentment well.

And so, as a product of this sudden fit of displeasure, the second unusual thing occurred.

He found himself following the younger boy, conveniently forgetting how undignified it was for Ore-sama to follow anybody.

As to be expected, his closely trailing presence didn't escape Echizen's notice. Echizen glanced behind him, and upon seeing the storming older boy, his golden eyes widened in something akin to disbelief but he didn't stop walking.

The hot sun took its toll on Atobe, and he felt a trickle of sweat meandering down to his linen collar. It was only then did the absurdity of the situation occur to him. Why on earth was he running around under the heat of the sun? Why was he even following Echizen for that matter? And for what?

His ego answered for him. Echizen insulted him. And no one insults Atobe Keigo and escapes unscathed.

So, armed with this justification, he continued his chase until they reached the front of a large temple. Echizen made a move to push the gate open, but stopped midway and turned to look at Atobe. The cat in his arms mewled as if protesting the delay to enter its home, but one stroke of Echizen's surprisingly gentle hand silenced it.

Echizen's mouth opened a bit as if to speak but he closed it again, as an afterthought, and his lips just quirked into a smirk.

Atobe crossed his arms in front of him. "What are you so smug about?"

"I was about to say that stalking is against the law, but I remembered that you are above such plebian whims, eh Monkey King?"

Atobe felt a smirk of his own forming on his face. "You catch up pretty fast, don't you Echizen?"

"Yes. And you must be very sensitive to have missed obvious sarcasm."

"Ah, that makes two of us."

Echizen's eyes narrowed for a split second before diffusing to its usual impassive state. Without another word, he pushed the gate open. "You have three seconds to invite yourself in before I shut the gate in your face."

Three long strides was all it took for Atobe to enter the temple grounds. "Your little house could use a blessing from Ore-sama's divine presence."

"Che. You haven't changed Monkey King, you're still your biggest fan."

Atobe chose to ignore this remark, not insulted in the slightest bit. It held an element of truth to it after all, he could admit that much, though Echizen's chosen wording could use a little revision. He lived by the philosophy that one should love oneself above all else because all things in the world are founded on self-interest[1]. And Atobe did love himself, as did everyone else in the world, only he was more vocal about it than most others.

They went around the house and entered through the kitchen door, which Atobe found very unusual. Then he remembered that Echizen grew up in America, where such a routine was probably the norm.

Echizen set the cat on the table and headed for the refrigerator. He emerged with some milk, which he poured on a glass bowl and offered to the cat.

Atobe chose a spot in front of the kitchen counter and watched Echizen with carefully disguised fascination. He had never seen this caring, gentle side of Echizen before. Echizen's golden eyes were soft and genuinely concerned, and they crinkled around the corners, giving his entire face a glimpse of the child-like qualities it once possessed, as he fussed over his pet, training-callused fingers running through the grayish-brown fur with subtle affection.

Atobe secretly thought such gentleness looked good on the boy, and wondered if it applied to other people.

He looked around. It was a standard commoner's kitchen – at least that's what he thought to be a standard kitchen, for Atobe had never stepped foot in anything without the aristocrat's seal of approval before- with a U-shaped counter, a kitchen table with four chairs in the middle, a large refrigerator to the right, a stove and oven to the left and cupboards and shelves just about everywhere. The whole place wasn't particularly spotless, but it wasn't messy either, so he only hesitated for a few seconds before deigning to make contact with any of it.

The lack of other people's noise suddenly struck him. "Where are your parents?"

"They're still in America," Echizen answered without looking at him, eyes still trained on his cat. "They won't be coming back til next week."

"So we're alone…" Atobe mused out loud. Now why did that appeal to him?

Echizen looked up at him strangely. "Yes." Then he picked up the milk carton and walked towards the refrigerator.

Atobe observed him still, watching as Echizen replaced the milk carton inside and looked around for his own drink. "When did you get back?" he asked.

Echizen grabbed a can of grape Ponta. "Yesterday." He popped the soda can open and closed the door.

"Why didn't you tell anyone?"

Echizen took a long draught from his soda before answering. "I'll bump into them sooner or later."

Typical. Atobe idly wondered what the Seigaku team would say when they find out that he got to see their boy wonder before anyone of them could, then decided it really didn't matter. They of all people should know about Echizen's anti-social tendencies. Besides, it was not Atobe's fault that his magnetic personality unconsciously drew even social black holes like Echizen to him, regardless of whether it was accidental or not.

The sudden sound of aluminum pounding on wood snapped Atobe out of his thoughts and he looked up to find Echizen, back to his previous spot behind the table, staring him down.

"Monkey King, I don't know why you followed me here but if you have nothing more to say to me, you may leave." His voice was still as cold as ice, but it held the faintest note of urgency to it.

Atobe folded his arms and smiled pleasantly at him, glad for the opportunity to peeve Echizen for once. "I think I'll stay."

Echizen's eyes stormed over, and he leaned forward, pinning his gaze directly at Atobe's. "Get out. Now."

Atobe shrugged, mildly amused with Echizen's unsuccessful attempt to intimidate him. "I don't take orders from anyone."

"This is my house."

Atobe just continued smiling at him, throwing back the silent tactic Echizen had a knack of using.

When it became apparent to Echizen that Atobe had no intention of leaving, he shot Atobe another scathing look before setting down his cat on the floor. "Go to my room, Karupin," he said in the mild, affectionate voice that did not fit the rest of his small array of visible personalities.

Amazingly, "Karupin" nuzzled its head against Echizen's palm as if it understood, and immediately padded out the door. Echizen watched it go before turning his unwilling attention on Atobe.

"So you can talk to animals too, aa?" Atobe remarked dryly. "That's a very unique ability Echizen."

"What do you want to happen here, Monkey King?" Echizen asked, ignoring Atobe's unsubtle dig.

Atobe kept his posture straight, arms still folded stubbornly in front of him. "I want you to stop acting like an ungrateful prick and thank me properly."

Echizen's eyebrows raised, as if appraising the validity of the other's request. Then the usual patronizing sneer took over. "Yeah right." He went around the table and slowly ventured towards Atobe, never quite breaking eye contact all the while. "You know what I think?"

For some reason, Atobe suddenly felt perturbed. There was something in the way Echizen said those words that made them sound… sultry. Or malicious. Either way, it seemed to have summoned an invasion of invisible electric charges in the stifling space of the kitchen, the atmosphere changing from tense to dangerous in the space of a few seconds. He could practically hear the air crackling.

He opened his mouth to speak, but Echizen interjected.

"I think you came here for more than just a thank you— and you can bet your balls there's no way you're getting one from me." Echizen was very much closer now, breaching the tangents of polite private breathing space.

"Then I guess I'll be imposing on your hospitality for a little more," he answered coolly, trying hard not to notice the way his entire body flushed with delicious fright upon Echizen's unwarranted nearness.

"Hn. We'll see about that."

The already low husky voice dropped to a whisper with those last words, but it echoed in Atobe's ear as if Echizen shouted it. Then before he knew it, Echizen was suddenly right in front of him, the folds of his loose t-shirt just barely brushing Atobe's linen school polo.

Repressing the urge to gulp, Atobe reflexively took a step back instead, his back hitting the kitchen counter. "What are you doing?"

"Did you want this?" Again Atobe's query was unheeded, and Echizen leaned in so close, he smelled the watermelon scent of the boy's hair. It was a very pleasant scent, but Atobe found himself inwardly cursing it as he discovered shortly afterward how completely unpleasant its effects were.

His pants were suddenly tight. Very tight. And why was Echizen smirking as if he knew that? Bastard.

He tried to reason with himself that the younger boy was merely doing this to unnerve him, that there was no way Echizen could be thinking what Atobe was thinking—or was NOT supposed to be thinking for that matter- despite evidence to the contrary. It was just like Echizen to play around, to weave electric tension from nothing.

And yet, somewhere within him, in a place Atobe tried to forget existed, he had hoped for this, hoped for a make-shift closure to his fascination with the boy, whatever it took, however it happened, although really, this wasn't the way he pictured it happening.

But that explained a lot, didn't it?

"I don't know what you're talking about." Atobe's hands grasped the cool green tiles of the counter, hardly caring anymore how unbecoming it was for Ore-sama to be cornered like a trapped animal, and with Echizen as the master predator no less.

"No?" Echizen leaned in even closer, if that was possible, golden eyes smoldering into his gray ones with such intensity, Atobe could only stay still. "Perhaps this should clear your mind a bit."

Then came the third unusual thing.

Echizen kissed him.

This wasn't happening.

There was no way this could be happening.

There was no way that Echizen was kissing him right now and there was no way Atobe was possibly reciprocating it.

It was inconceivable, indescribable, so uncalled for…

… and undeniably felt so so good. For once in his life, Atobe found himself desperate—desperate to fight this unexpected onslaught, desperate to quell the most unfitting sounds rising in his throat, desperate to stop himself from submitting to that wonderful, skilled mouth…

And then the damned brat pulled away.

"I thought so." There was a lilt of triumph in Echizen's tone, blending with the implicit arrogance of his husky voice.

Atobe glared at him. "What was that for?" he asked, knowing fully well the answer to it.

Echizen's lips lifted into a half-smile. "You asked for it."

Atobe refused to dignify this remark with a reply and just continued glaring, his mouth set, the look on his eyes determined to defy whatever other tricks the brat had up his sleeve.

However, it would seem that Atobe miscalculated badly in his chosen course of action, for Echizen's expression remained unchanged, clearly unimpressed with the Hyotei captain's rebellious silence. Echizen leaned in, his hands on either side of Atobe's neck, his breath tickling the older boy's earlobe. "So, you're not subjected to a plebeian's whims, huh?"

To that, Atobe had a thunderous answer. But all things told, he wasn't likely to channel it to a verbal scale anytime soon, as Echizen once more claimed Atobe's mouth with his own.

And this time, much to Atobe's dismay, he found himself unable to resist.

Insatiable lips prodded his apart, deepening the kiss, Echizen's silken tongue sweeping inside Atobe's mouth, so that he could taste the potent flavor of grape. Echizen's hands were no longer idle, they had somehow found themselves under Atobe's shirt, fingers stroking, caressing, tweaking him in places touched by no other, strumming pleasure into every nerve. The sensations far outweighed the hundred indignant protests forming at the back of Atobe's skull, as that brilliant mouth and gracefully deft hands flushed out all semblance of coherence out of his mind.

It wasn't long before Echizen ceased his plunder on Atobe's mouth and began trailing feather-like kisses along the older boy's jaw, the intermittent bursts of breath on sensitive skin just teasing enough to drive him to near-madness. He couldn't stop the moan that had pushed itself out of his throat even if he tried. "Echizen…"

"Mada mada da ne, Monkey King," Echizen breathed into his collarbone, as he pressed himself even closer against the older boy. The fluid motion made it evident to both boys how the sexual tension was very much mutual, the stubborn bulge in Atobe's pelvic area brushing against Echizen's. And Echizen just had to emphasize this fact as he ground his hips against Atobe's, arousal pressing against arousal through thin layers of cloth, and it was all Atobe could do to keep his balance, the jolt of pleasure in his groin spreading across his entire body like wildfire.

He briefly wondered how everything came to this, how Echizen was dominating the situation and how Atobe could do naught but succumb to it. In all honesty, he had wanted this, wanted it to a self-humiliating degree, but it didn't help matters just knowing that he was surrendering to this unashamed seduction like a moth to the flame.

Atobe's pants were becoming increasingly uncomfortable. As if sensing this plea, Echizen's hand traveled south and fumbled with the buttons of Atobe's school trousers. Despite the alarming path this bold action would lead to, Atobe couldn't help releasing a sigh of relief when Echizen released his aching erection from its confines.

It shouldn't have shocked him anymore, what with the way things were rising to an almost excruciating pitch, but he was positively frozen when Echizen dropped to his knees, took him in his mouth and oh good god

His hands fell on Echizen's shoulders, torn between pushing the boy off or pulling him in deeper, but then Echizen suddenly gave an investigational lick on his cock and he ceased to think at all.

The satiny tongue darted teasingly on hard wet flesh, and callused fingers caressed his prostrate with such wicked delicacy, firing a million electric sizzles through his nerves. His vocal chords went on an ostensible strike against him, for he couldn't quite curb the sharp timbres of pleasure blending into his ragged breathing.

His grip on Echizen's shoulders was so hard, it was a miracle he hadn't broken any bones yet, but Echizen didn't seem to mind. In fact, Echizen even seemed encouraged, and he continued sucking him, enveloping him in a cavern of sinful ecstasy, leaving Atobe helpless to protest.

It could have been minutes or a matter of seconds- time really wasn't relevant anymore- but soon after, as one final swallowing motion graced the rigid tip of his shaft, Atobe mutedly heard himself uttering Echizen's name in a strangled cry, a blinding white force blanking out everything as he came.

When he finally came around, when things finally came into focus in his eyes, Echizen was already standing up, wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.

Atobe felt drained, and it was all he could do to stop his legs from shaking. The superior smirk on Echizen's face annoyed him to no end , but the cold, hard fact still hit him like a clout to the jaw: Echizen Ryoma, future tennis pro and former Pillar of Seigaku, had just given him the finest blowjob of his life. With his own approval to boot.

Then as if nothing happened, as if Echizen didn't just send Atobe on a three second round trip to Nirvana, Echizen walked back towards the table and retrieved his can of Ponta.

The tension had begun to dispel but before the heat of the past moments could completely pass away, a powerful surge of denial rushed through Atobe. There was no denying the gratifying concupiscence that he consented to— and the realizations that came with it, but Echizen's condescending actions were nothing short of a crime to his humanity. He wouldn't take it. Not when the blood was still freshly pounding in his veins, not when the currents of adrenaline were still ablaze inside him.

So Atobe made an impromptu decision.

Quickly composing himself, he spoke, his voice cutting across the air like a machete. "Stop right there," he ordered, making Echizen turn to look at him. "This isn't over."

"Oh?" Echizen raised one eyebrow at him before walking over towards the fridge, taking a long sip of his soda. "What else did I didn't do?"

Atobe crossed the kitchen towards Echizen, who had instinctively placed his soda can on top of the fridge as he glanced at the advancing older boy warily. "You had your fun, Echizen," he said, his voice smooth but promising much retribution for the remotest show of resistance. "Now it's my turn."

This time, it was Echizen's turn to step back—back against the strategically placed kitchen wall. "No."

Atobe shrugged. "That's too bad, because you really have no choice." Then before Echizen could do anything, Atobe had already grabbed him and twisted him around so that Echizen's back was pressed against the older boy's frame and his front was facing the wall.

The move seemed to thoroughly catch Echizen off-guard. Atobe had years of tango lessons to thank for such a useful skill.

Echizen struggled against the bonds that held him in place. "Let me go!"

"No." Atobe tightened his arms around the younger boy, as one hand sensuously trailed Echizen's lower abs, elegant fingers caressing firm muscles from under the cotton.

"You crossed me, Echizen. For that you shall pay." His fingers finally stopped on Echizen's groin, satisfactorily noting that Echizen's arousal was still as strong as it was a while ago. He applied some pressure, the pads of his fingers digging into cloth-sheathed sex and Echizen immediately stopped struggling. His lips languidly kissed Echizen's earlobe as he whispered the next words.

"And Ore-sama will not be defied."

Echizen went very still, and if not for the almost unnoticeable rise and fall of his chest, one would not think that he was even breathing. Pleased with this reaction, Atobe began his ministrations.

His lips danced along Echizen's nape as his fingers grasped the bottom of the shirt restricting his access to the other boy's flesh. Echizen visibly tensed at this, but he didn't make a sound. He wouldn't stay silent for long though, if Atobe had anything to say about it. Within seconds, the shirt was off and had landed somewhere on the floor.

Large hands investigated Echizen's lean torso, red-hot sparks of heat generating at the intangible friction of skin touching skin. His mouth continued their plight on the younger boy's neck, as his tongue darted out to soothe bruised cartilage caused by an earlier attack of eager teeth and lips. A small breathy sound escaped Echizen's lips, and Atobe smiled against his neck.

Now that Atobe had realized how much he wanted Echizen, and had accepted that want, he no longer held back. Like water bursting out of a broken dam, his desire was the flash flood that rushed out of him, sparing nothing and no one.

Echizen never saw him coming.

He twisted Echizen around to face him again. Rocking his hips against the younger boy's, Atobe stole another kiss from Echizen's lips, which Echizen returned with the same ardor, tongues tussling in perfect synch. Echizen's hands settled themselves on Atobe's arms, his grip tightening with every forceful movement Atobe imposed upon him.

It was only when Atobe heard the distinct rattling of cutlery and the abrupt stop of loco motor movement did he realize that he had been backing Echizen into the table. How that happened, he didn't really know, he dimly recalled being in reverse positions earlier, but really, such trifle matters were better left unknown, especially when Echizen was so delectably flushed against him, golden eyes gone dark with lust. And restriction to motor movement or not, it didn't stop Atobe from devouring Echizen and he continued ravishing kisses on Echizen, from the swollen lips, to the pale column of his neck and to the hard, well-developed chest, leaving many an errant lovebite on random spots.

And to Atobe's credit, it didn't take long before he had Echizen completely surrendering to him, turning the tide on the power struggle where Atobe was once the dominated. Just as Echizen assaulted Atobe's flesh with the untamed eagerness of a vicious predator, so did Atobe play Echizen's body with all the skill of an expert dancer.

He didn't realize it when it happened but by the time he had pulled down Echizen's jogging pants, and practically tore off his own, he was hard again.

And just in time too.

The game must end sometime.

His eyes scoured the kitchen for something he could use, and settled on a bottle of coconut oil, balanced precariously on the edge of the table they had been abusing for the past minutes. Virgin coconut oil, Atobe noted wryly, amused with the striking irony. It wasn't the most tempting of options but Atobe's mind was far too fried with lust to care. He, however, had enough space in his mind to be surprised when Echizen's eyes betrayed a flash of fear as he reached out for it.

That quick flash bothered him. Considering how things had been carrying on, why would Echizen be suddenly afraid of something that was an expected part of this endeavor? Unless…

"Virgin?" he asked, fighting back a smirk, as he screwed open the bottle cap and liberally rubbed the oil in his hands. He didn't know whether to be excited for being the first to break into uncharted territory or laugh, because really, all things considered, of all people to be a virgin…

Echizen glared at him, the earlier fear gone. "If you can't do it, then don't." The slight tremble of his wrists belied his words but Atobe couldn't care less. They had gone too far to turn back now. He wouldn't forget the fact that it was Echizen who started this game, even if Atobe was the one who would, unsurprisingly enough, end it.

"Aa… but where's the fun in that?" He pulled Echizen in for another probing kiss, one hand wrapping around the boy's shoulders, and the other hand making its way to Echizen's bottom.

Echizen gasped against his mouth, hips jerking involuntarily at the intrusion of Atobe's well-coated digits. Atobe kissed him harder, muffling the sounds, his fingers continuing their preparation of the boy.

The ring of muscles finally relaxed, and good thing too, for Atobe couldn't trust himself not to hold back any longer.

"Turn around," he commanded, his voice broken with need, as he withdrew his slick fingers and began preparing himself.

Echizen grunted and pushed him off, swaying a bit before doing what he was told, and bent over, gripping the edge of the table.

He grasped Echizen's hips, positioning himself before entering. Though Atobe was driven by rather powerful compulsions, he didn't hurry and controlled his pace. He pushed himself inside, slowly at first, testing the waters.

He heard Echizen whimper, but did not make a move to escape. Atobe took this as a ready acceptance, so he thought no more and completely buried himself inside the boy.

A choked, pained cry escaped Echizen's lips, reminding Atobe to pause and adjust himself before moving. He was well aware of the fact that Echizen was really hurting right now but that would be remedied in due time.

Then, he began to move.

Taking Echizen was dizzyingly breathtaking, nothing like anything Atobe experienced before, and he was experienced in these matters, mind. Perhaps it was the very fact that it was Echizen under him that made it feel like he landed in a different world, surreal, everything strange, nothing familiar and –god-, he wanted it so much he could lose himself without finding. His other hand went around Echizen's waist and held Echizen's hot swollen length, stroking, massaging, pumping with a reckless abandon, turning the younger boy's vocal chords into a instrument that produced a wonderful chorus of pants, moans, suppressed cries, and the sporadic gasping of Atobe's name.

These sounds, these beautiful heart-wrenching sounds that surpassed any sweet opera music Atobe lent ears to, thrilled him to the point of uncontrol, and Atobe couldn't think anymore, primal instinct taking over, his hips bucking at an even faster rhythm.

It could have been seconds, it could have been minutes, but not too long after, Echizen shuddered beneath him, crying out loud, and the shaft in Atobe's hand jerked stiff with the force of orgasm, the creamy liquid drenching Atobe's fingers and dripping to the floor. Atobe wasn't disappointed that Echizen came earlier than he'd have liked, it was to be expected after all, considering the younger boy had been suppressing his desires longer than Atobe had.

A few moments later, after one final thrust, Atobe gritted his teeth to stifle his cries as for the second time that afternoon, his mind blanked out in the blinding white light of release.

Then just as quickly, it was all over again, and the light shimmered to a blur in front of him. He heard Echizen whimper from under him and he realized he was practically crushing the boy on the table with his weight. Still panting, sweat trickling down the side of his head, he slowly disengaged himself.

Echizen wobbly tried to stand up but his knees caved in, and he nearly collapsed on the floor had not Atobe immediately caught him. He adjusted his hold on Echizen as he slowly sat the two of them on the floor.

It was then that he noticed the damp trail on Echizen's cheeks, indicating the emergence of tears at some point. He felt a small twinge of guilt surface in his heart, and he found himself doubting his actions.

But as far as desperate clichés went, what's done was done, and it was too late for regrets, so Atobe tried not to dwell on it any more.

Echizen tilted his head back against one of the table legs, eyes closed, his breath still coming out in intermittent pants. For a moment, the harsh pants for air filled the silence. Then…

"Fuck." That was from Echizen, and there was a bite in his voice that Atobe didn't miss.

Disturbed by the reaction, but not foolish enough to challenge it, Atobe merely glanced sideways at him. "Are you alright?" he asked. It wasn't the question he thought to ask, but it seemed like the… proper thing to say.

Just what exactly do you say to a guy who swore out loud right after you fucked him?

"What do you think?" Atobe was about to answer to that, but Echizen quickly added: "Actually, don't answer that. Just shut up."

Echizen's cheeky attitude seriously irked him, but Atobe wisely decided to refrain from commenting nevertheless. One had to exercise caution after dealing much damage.

Another long pause ensued. They had already caught their breaths by this time, so the room was very quiet. Atobe fought the urge to shift uneasily in his seat, more out of the grating silence than the fact that the state of the floor wasn't very accommodating, something that should've occurred to him before he parked his butt on it, but didn't for obvious reasons.

"Fuck," Echizen muttered again, cleaving through the silence. "This is so wrong."

Surprised with this unexpected contention, Atobe's brow furrowed. "I beg your pardon?"

Echizen shook his head and stared at some obscure spot on the opposite wall. "This shouldn't have happened. But you're such a moron, it did."

Affronted, Atobe's eyes narrowed and he craned his head to look directly at Echizen. "If I remember correctly, you were the one initiated this."

"Then you should've known better," Echizen retorted, ignoring the eyes boring on the side of his face. "I thought that you, the high and mighty Ore-sama would have the common sense to push me away and get out, but no, you just had to keep it going and screw. Things. Up."

What the hell-? Atobe stood up so fast, he accidentally slammed his shoulder against the table in the process. The loud shattering of a glass milk bowl that followed after barely registered to him. "Are you blaming me for following your lead?"

Echizen stood up as well, albeit shakily, though the look on his eyes was piercing enough to silence lions. "What does it look like? I'm not exactly thanking you, am I?"

"That's it." Atobe's hands curled into fists. "You've gone too far."

"And about time too."

The nerve. The absolute colossal nerve. Without a second thought, Atobe's hand lashed out and slapped Echizen. "I'm not taking any more of your audacity, Echizen," he grounded out, a rush of anger building up inside of him as Echizen stumbled back, knocking over a chair in the process. He watched with mild satisfaction as Echizen grabbed the table with one hand to steady himself, cradling his raw cheek in the other hand, his eyes wide with shock. "You seduced me. I wasn't doing anything to incite that kind of behavior."

The shell-shocked look that previously dwelt on Echizen's face disappeared and gave way to open, unadulterated anger. "You weren't doing anything?" he echoed, stepping forward on pooling milk and broken glass shards. "You followed me home. You didn't leave when I told you to. You didn't listen when I said no. You fucked me. And fuck my kissing you first, you allowed me to kiss you—which was not supposed to happen. You should have bolted out of here when you had the chance. Kissing you and having you kiss me back is the worst move I could have possibly made!"

It was the longest string of words Atobe ever heard Echizen say, it was a surprise his tongue didn't cramp up yet. Again, another side of Echizen was revealing itself to him, another crack in the blank, impassive visage. Golden eyes blazed so fiercely, they could emit spitfire, and his low, ordinarily cold voice brimmed with hot rage. There was an aura to him that burned so that the temperature seemed to go up ten degrees. Echizen was still half-naked, his jogging pants worn extremely low, the crevices of his groin just peeking out from under waistline, and he was holding on to the table to keep his balance. In any other situation the sight of it would almost seem comical, but Atobe had the fresh hindsight of knowing what had happened to cause this ire.

But Atobe was furious too. Furious that Echizen had the gall to throw the blame on him, furious that Echizen could even dare to speak to him in that manner. "Don't you dare turn this around on me, you wanted it as much as I did," he shot back, stepping forward as well, the distance between them shortening to one foot. "And how could my reciprocating your actions be a wrong move? Are you seeing someone?" Now that he mentioned it, he realized he hadn't considered that before, but while the idea was very much possible, he didn't want to entertain it, despite himself. Fortunately, he didn't have to.

"No. That's the point, I don't want to have anything to do with anyone, do you see now?"

Atobe blinked at him. "That's it? That's the point of this?" he asked, his voice rising with every word. He had been willing to bet that Echizen was acting like a recluse because he got dumped or because he was dating some girl and had sudden misgivings about his sexual orientation, but this? "You kiss me, and when I kiss you back, you tell me you don't want anything to do with me? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

"Don't patronize me," Echizen snapped, countering the heat in Atobe's voice with the chill in his own. "Stop trying to understand because you don't. Not by a long shot."

"You tell me then," Atobe challenged. "Where's the rationale behind that excuse?"

"You'll just distract me," Echizen replied simply, as if it was all the answer he will ever need.

"I don't believe this." Atobe shook his head in utter astonishment—although whether it's because of Echizen's brutal bluntness or the fact that he's doing a good impression of the most passionately misguided creature on earth, Atobe didn't know. "Don't you think of anything else other than tennis?"

Echizen narrowed his eyes at him. "What do you care?"

Atobe's jaw very nearly dropped at this, in another fit of disbelief, but he managed to keep it at bay. Just how screwed up was this brat? Did all those victories in America thrill him so much all the winning highs got into his head? Such a ridiculous, unbelievably self-assuming question…

And suddenly, he felt it. A compelling force so intense, it couldn't be contained, emerging from something deep inside of him. Words, thoughts, people, they all just jumbled in his head so he couldn't think anymore and he was unable to keep track of the volley of words that just blasted out of him.

"What do I care? How could you even ask me that? And you call me self-centered? Echizen, do you know, do you have any idea how many people are behind your back, supporting you in your goals, worrying that you may not be getting enough space for yourself because of your obsession with tennis? I talked to your team earlier and I am not exaggerating when I say they were ecstatic to hear that you're going back. That redhead acrobatic player was practically bouncing off the walls. Momoshiro had a perpetual sunny look on his face and he didn't even pick any fights with that other junior. Tezuka likewise told me he was looking forward to seeing how you've grown and he was smiling when he said that. Tezuka! That stonewall captain of yours, smiling! So many people care about you and here you are, back in Japan without even telling anyone, playing tag with your cat in the middle of the highway."

"I wasn't—"

"-Don't interrupt me when I'm talking," Atobe snapped, having every intention to release the flood of sentiments still not channeled. "What if I hadn't stepped on the brakes on time? What if I hit you and maimed you for life so you couldn't play tennis anymore? God knows what your team will do to me. I don't know what I'm going to do to myself, even if I know that such an accident would be the product of your own stupidity. Why? Because—and you'd better listen well because you won't be hearing this from me again—because I. Care. And I care plenty. And unlike you, I don't have a reason to deny anything. I don't have a reason to pretend."

The blessed spots of red still danced in his line of vision, and he could conspicuously feel the blood pounding in his ears at his explosive outpour of words. He took a deep calming breath and looked long and hard at a stunned Echizen, before letting the last words spill themselves from his lips. "So who's self-centered now, Echizen?"

Echizen was rendered speechless, Atobe's outburst striking him as if the older boy just dealt him another slap to the face. The tension in the air was so thick, wrapping around him so tightly, it could suffocate.

A long pause followed, as Echizen averted his eyes towards the wall, pixie face still not losing its wounded expression. Atobe just looked at him, waiting, his heart going at a faster rate than he'd normally allow.

Finally, Echizen broke the quiet, his head bent slightly, his eyes shadowed.


While it certainly wasn't the answer Atobe expected, the uttered profanity lacked any conviction, which was good, because Atobe really couldn't deal with another tirade again without being suffused with the urge to smash a few plates on Echizen's thick skull.

"Will you stop saying that barbaric word?" Atobe reproached, more out of a lack of energy to say anything more substantial than any real desire to tell off Echizen. At least it sounded like something he'd actually say this time. "It's offensive."

Echizen snorted but his expression didn't change. "That's sort of the whole point…"

Atobe shot him a warning look. "Don't start."

"I wasn't about to."

A few moments of silence followed these words, Echizen's blank gaze still burning a hole on the same spot on the wall. Atobe just looked at Echizen, unsure of what to say.

Then slowly, like a washed-over wave receding back to the sea, the volatile atmosphere fizzled, and Atobe felt the tide of raw emotion that had earlier coiled in his gut slowly seep away. He didn't even mind much that Echizen's curt reaction didn't answer anything, for the broken look on his face already spoke volumes.

Then without warning, in a perfect imitation of a deflating balloon, Echizen slowly sank on the floor, knees hitting the ground first before curling up as he pulled himself to a sitting position.

Atobe was astounded at the transformation that seemed to take over Echizen with that one move. He looked so fragile, so vulnerable then, sitting on the floor, knees hugged to his chest, eyes glazed over with a plethora of different emotions—loneliness, confusion, disappointment, and several others that Atobe couldn't identify. For a moment, it seemed that he was looking at the twelve-year old Echizen again, the one who was out looking for a crazy American kid obsessed about him, not knowing what to do and where to go. Confused. Lost.

Then Echizen spoke again. "… You're right. I'm sorry."

Atobe didn't speak, and just watched Echizen, still waiting for an explanation. And Echizen knew that Atobe was waiting and he obediently continued.

"Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I thought I just kissed you because I felt like doing it, to tick you off but I didn't realize it's gonna go so far. And that I'd find myself wanting it. I didn't want to want it… I couldn't… I couldn't control myself. I thought you would stop me but you—"

"—didn't," Atobe finished, having heard what he needed to hear. His heart was ballooning inside his chest at this confession but his outward confidence concealed it. Then, not caring anymore about the dismal state of the floor, he sat down beside the boy. "And why should I?" he continued. "I have no qualms about getting what I want and saying it." He paused before adding, "What are you so afraid of anyway?"

Echizen shrugged. "Nothing. I just never did this before."

The answer was an outright lie but if there was something that Atobe had learned from his duties as captain of several emotionally-unpredictable teammates, it was to realize when to stop questioning and start accepting things that were, and were just that. So he did.

"Ah. If you say so."

If Echizen noticed the underlying meaning in Atobe's tone, he didn't show it, and kept quiet for a while. Then he turned towards Atobe. "Ne, Monkey King."


Echizen tightened his arms around himself. "Everything that happened here won't leave this room, alright?"

Atobe huffed indignantly. "Do I look like the type of person who'd brag about my sexual conquests to anyone who'd listen?"

"Yes," Echizen answered without missing a beat. An objection to that was already formulating in Atobe's mind but Echizen spoke quickly before he could voice it out.

"But that's not what I meant. I meant this." Echizen carelessly gestured at the space between them. "What we have now. I'm not ready to go… public yet, there's still so much I can't understand."

Atobe carefully glanced sideways at the first year, the barest touch of disappointment settling on him, albeit far too inadequate to outweigh the pleasant feelings still dancing inside of him. "So you're just going to keep on hiding…" he clarified flatly. Why was he not surprised?

Echizen hung his head. "Please."

Atobe took in Echizen's hunched up form, the downcast eyes half-shadowed under long lashes, the very pitiable image this whole situation presented, and smiled wryly. Well who could resist that? He rolled his eyes at the ceiling before releasing a resigned breath.

"… You are an idiot, Echizen," he said, reigning in the usual haughtiness in his voice. Though not meant as a bait, he had half-expected Echizen to shoot him his customary glare, but Echizen didn't even flinch, and just hung his head even lower.

Atobe smirked, then he reached out to tip Echizen's chin to face him. Echizen reluctantly raised his eyes. He studied the younger boy's expression for a few seconds before leaning forward, taking Echizen by surprise, and chastely brushed bruised lips against his forehead.

"But I still want you."

Echizen's eyes widened a fraction at this, before closing and accepting the now gentle kiss that Atobe was placing on his lips.

As he kissed Echizen, Atobe vaguely remembered several things he should be taking note of right now. Such as the professor waiting for him in downtown Tokyo for their scheduled tutoring. Such as the car he left in the middle of the road, probably towed away by this time. Such as the fact that he'd be in even deeper trouble later when the police discover his minor status. But such nuisances were but distant worries for the meantime.

He had Echizen Ryoma. For all the good it would do for the two of them.

They broke apart. For a moment, they just looked at each other, eyes conveying everything what words couldn't. He always thought that Echizen's eyes were beautiful but looking at—or through them now, the twin orbs of melted amber and gold totally vulnerable and achingly clear, they were nothing short of enchanting. The type that would make Greek masters weep in their graves for not having the chance to paint them.

Of course, Atobe may just not know any better and it may be those abnormal hormones of his taking over, but he got the feeling that should Echizen give him that look again, he could not refuse him anything.

Then almost in a surreal fashion, the intangible trance was dispelled, when Echizen suddenly smiled, for the first time that afternoon. It was just a tiny uplift of each mouth corner but for Atobe, it was brighter than any sunrise.

Almost hesitantly, Echizen leaned onto the hollow of Atobe's shoulder, arms draping themselves loosely around the older boy's waist. Mildly surprised but by no means complaining at the sudden show of affection, Atobe's heart skipped. It skipped. The word. Ore-sama's heart didn't skip. But then again, nothing that happened within the last hour was something that Ore-sama normally did either.

Oddly enough though, he didn't care. Echizen had disarmed him, succeeding in something where all others had failed in doing, but nothing, not even his own pride, could stop him from wanting this. He felt himself smiling as well and he wrapped an arm around the other's lean frame, pulling him close.

He didn't know what kind of a relationship this delicate chemistry between them entailed, but there was much time to ponder on it later on. If this was the way Echizen wanted it, then so be it. He understood Echizen's lingering confusion and after this incident, Atobe wouldn't even think about forcing anything more than the boy could take. He could wait.

They stayed like that for a long while. Neither felt the need to speak, and nothing much was said for a long time. Atobe took this time to assess the interesting turn of events, and realized with dry humor that he had just taken a giant leap from his ivory tower and had sex in a commoner's kitchen with the boy who just might become the next Wimbledon champion, got into a shouting match with him, gave him the bitchslap of the century, then ended up cuddling on the milk spattered kitchen floor.

Unreal. But even with that, Atobe was no longer surprised. Stranger things have happened.

And just like that, the monotony of Atobe's life was broken like a crack on ice.


[1] Quoted from Fyodor Dostoyevski. Original quote goes like this: "Love thyself above all because everything in this world is founded on self-interest." It's just so Atobe.