My apologies for how long this chapter took to be written. I have no excuse really aside from real life things and finally graduating from high school. I couldn't decide on one idea of Pride and the original idea I had for Pride didn't seem to encapsulate much of the word so this idea was what I worked with to the very end. Thanks again to my wonderful beta, shinobee, what on earth would I do without you? Please enjoy this chapter and may I see you again next year for Gluttony!
It was by pure coincidence that he found himself at the old abandoned church off the main road on a stifling and mundane Saturday. There had been no reason for Atobe to be here at such a stifling destination and there were certainly a number of places he could have been. His surroundings were covered in dust, casting the walls with a gray hue. Paint was peeling from the once pristine white walls and general garbage lay strewn over the once holy floors.
Yet there was a certain connection he felt in this establishment to someone he used to see almost religiously. Atobe looked up at the stained glass picture of the Virgin Mary. He could still feel the condemning gaze from her eyes as she passed silent judgement. With a small twisted smirk, Atobe wondered just how many people had joined bodies under her gaze as they sought to fulfil their needs if only for just one moment; one glorious moment where mind became a liquefied pool of ecstasy and emotion.
He had been here once a long time ago, like one of them seeking that one moment. Back when the east wall was still in existence and broken glass didn't litter the grounds. In the heat of the moment, her gaze meant nothing to him with a mixture of perhaps pride and lust that made him uncaring. A hand slowly reached up towards his neck and touched the skin feeling the pulsating heartbeat faintly under his fingers. His memory provided an accurate feel of teeth against his neck and someone's wet seeking tongue against his jugular vein that had made him quiver at the knees.
Closing his eyes, Atobe walked over to the wall where Sanada had roughly pushed him against. He smiled fondly in memory at how quickly the taller man had rendered his shirt into strips of fabric in just a matter of seconds. The echo of buttons dropping onto the floor was still familiar in his ears. Just as the large rough hands that were always seeking, mapping each and every part of his writhing body could still be felt even now under his clothes.
If he closed his eyes, Atobe could still remember the smirk Sanada had on his face. He recalled the dilemma of choosing between losing himself with wild abandon, succumbing himself to the touch and whims of the man that covered him where his upbringing forbid the act of transforming himself to a wanton whore. Atobe Keigo was part of a family that were renowned to be high-maintenance in and out of bed and by no means could Sanada break his schooling with just one lascivious tongue trick. "Don't leave any marks, Sanada," he hissed between parted lips and white teeth, his eyes trained on the top of Sanada's head. The sharp, predatory glance from under dark straight bangs and the taunting smirk carved onto those lips that were gently caressing his exposed collarbone. It was simply impossible to forget such a passionate moment.
The feeling of Sanada's calloused fingers teasing at his shoulder, running along the side of his neck still ran warm along his skin, the trail forever etched in memory. "Oh?" Or else what Atobe? The bastard needn't even vocalise his question, the look in his dark eyes and the confident touch of calloused fingers against his nape asking Atobe just precisely what he would do if he chose to disobey. Their relationship was purely physical and it had taken them a mere few months to learn just which parts to exploit in order to make the other bend to their will. Only that day Sanada had the upper hand early.
Atobe smiled to himself as he wrapped a hand to cup his hip, tasting victory upon his lips still like the kiss he had given to momentarily distort the ever present smirk, just for a moment, a second. It was sometimes hard to compare whose ego was bigger. "People will question and it would be inconvenient," he had said. Sanada hadn't liked that - Atobe remembered the faint flicker of frustration in Sanada's eyebrows before it was smoothed away.
The hair on the back of his neck stood on end and he could feel the warm breath tickle his ear. "Let them question, Keigo. You are mine." A nip was used to emphasise the point; the possessiveness in Sanada, a contrast to the usually indifferent taller man who in Atobe's eyes was always hung up about a certain other love interest. To that present day, Atobe would still doubt the truthfulness of that statement.
After their bodies were satiated, Atobe never heard from Sanada again justifying his doubts. A week turned into a month and then into another. Atobe didn't question it, examinations had come up unsuspectingly amongst the fun between the sheets and he did appreciate the lull in his bedroom life to be able to prepare for them. Despite how effortless it seemed to get top marks for his examinations, there was much effort behind the curtains that no one seemed to appreciate. There were moments between scribbling sample answers and reading reference material when he looked down at his phone, expecting and waiting for the piece of plastic to vibrate to life. He didn't know why he was expecting a message from Sanada and it wasn't long thereafter he had convinced himself Sanada had found someone else.
It had only been a few days after that that Sanada had asked mysteriously to meet up at the Tokyo apartment that Atobe kept for them especially. He was in a terrific mood and had perhaps stocked the refrigerator with Sanada's favourite foods. Although there may never be something more than just physicality in their relationship, deep down Atobe did care how Sanada felt. He should have reminded himself how there would never be anything else. It would have saved him just that little bit of heart he thought he had. It wasn't just another typical day spent lazing about after satiating their bodies. Nor was it calming the pleasure demons for another week.
Sanada wanted to end their tumultuous relationship. They had eaten, said customary greetings and made light conversation. Atobe had enough wit not to pry into the lost months. When they receded back into the bedroom, clothes had flown haphazardly everywhere. Mouths moving against one another as frenzied fingers slid over sweat-slicked skin. Open mouths panted heavily for cold air in an attempt to cool down the hot pleasure that was pooled inside of them. Then once, twice it all ended as it always did.
They laid there on satin sheets trying to catch their breath. Sanada had gotten up minutes later to get some warm towels to clean up the mess they created. He purred softly as the Egyptian towels cleaned away his stomach, feeling much rather like a content cat under warm rays of sun. "I can't do this anymore, Atobe." The statement had baffled Atobe for a second until his well practised facade slid back into place to hide the impact of those words. The bed shifted and Atobe had heard the rustle of fabric, the jingle of the belt and the long sounding zip filling the bedroom. The gold towel lay abandoned at the end of the large bed.
"Take care of yourself, Atobe." Sanada disappeared from his bedroom and Atobe sat up, the sheets pooling around his hips. He heard Sanada put on his shoes and then the front door closed with a resounding click and Sanada had disappeared from his life. His earlier good mood was replaced with an empty void of nothing. The vain part inside of him was urging him to stay in bed and forget that Sanada Genichirou ever existed. What good was the tall man outside of the bedroom? Atobe had agreed with his vanity. Sanada could be easily replaced with another just as experienced between his satin sheets. Though a brave smaller portion of him, deep down was echoing that this was perhaps the biggest mistake he would be making.
Unbeknownst to Atobe, Sanada was outside the church wondering as to the precise motive to what compelled him to visit the place where he had used to meet up with the other boy. Reason seemed to elude Sanada whenever it came to the complex creature that was known as Atobe Keigo. The thing with Atobe – he dares not call it a relationship – was purely based on his bodily needs. There hadn't been any real spark or connection when he had met Atobe during junior high. He was surprised that Atobe had wanted him to stick around for so long now that they were attending university.
Sanada somehow found his way to Tokyo and took to exploring the outskirts of the busy shopping districts. Turning off the main road, he walked into a relative quiet part of Tokyo much preferring the serenity the park offered. Children ran past with kites as their mothers trailed after them pushing prams while engaged in conversation with one another. Being around these bundles of happiness hurt somehow and his feet took him to a part of the park that no one seemed to ever venture into or cared to tend to. With a cynical smirk, Sanada reflected upon how fitting the environment matched with his thoughts and the turmoil that had subsided into numbness inside his stomach.
The small broken swing creaked as a gentle breeze raced past, embracing Sanada in its cold arms. It was times like these that Sanada thought would be rather nice to have something warm or be around something equally so. But it wouldn't be possible any longer. During the months he hadn't seen Atobe, Yukimura had somehow taken up his time. After their examinations were over, they had turned into something short of a couple.
He had tried to be the perfect boyfriend to Yukimura. Chivalrous, courteous and compassionate to each and every one of Yukimura's needs. Things that Sanada hadn't done for Atobe, he was making sure he did for Yukimura. They had at least been happy for a little while, Sanada had been convinced. In all of Sanada's wildest nightmares, he could have never imagined that Yukimura would initiate their separation.
"That won't be necessary anymore, Genichirou," Yukimura had begun, and Sanada could only stop and stare at his now ex-boyfriend who seemed too calm at the time. The words froze him from the inside out, chilling him to the bone. It had hurt when Yukimura declared his love was no longer needed. A love that he was certain Yukimura would need til the sands of time washed away. Yukimura was now happily single and Sanada was now happily miserable.
One thing had led to another and although he had lost Yukimura, Sanada somehow believed he still had Atobe. But unlike Yukimura, Sanada had hoped against all odds that Atobe would run after him when he had left the apartment that night. It would have certainly made him feel wanted and perhaps something that Atobe would have liked to keep around. And now he felt much like the phone upon that bookshelf. His hand brushes against his pocket and he felt the outline of the sleek black number that Atobe had given him, the phone being a convenient way to get in touch; the way of communication to arrange their weekly trysts between the sheets.
Sanada pulled out the phone and stared at the screen, remembering the 42 missed calls and 76 text messages that went unanswered. He had been surprised to see the numbers. But now the LCD screen was blank. No more calls or messages from Atobe ever since he had walked out. It felt awkward now. Sanada felt more of a mere acquaintance. He sighed and looked down at the message his thumb had been typing out. He felt pathetic and deleted the message, just a little disgusted with himself for having this moment of weakness. He didn't need anybody and was certainly not someone who needed sympathy or pity. Calm, solitude and his dojo was where he wanted to be to clear his mind. What good would seeing Atobe do after leaving him?
Torn on the inside, Sanada sat on the nearest available park bench knowing he had to see Atobe in person to apologise properly and if not that, an explanation of what really happened.
A jingle of merry notes startled him out of his reverie and he pulled out the vibrating phone from his pocket. 'Don't you have someone else to please now? You have no reason to see ore-sama.' Sanada stared at the screen, wondering for one moment why Atobe had messaged him instead. A quick shot of panic with a mix of dread flitted through his system. He suddenly developed the sense of unease of having sent his earlier message instead of having deleted it. He quickly navigated to the sent messages with his thumb and instantaneously felt his stomach plummet to the floor. But if Atobe took the trouble to send two sentences, all was not lost.
He went out on a limb and found himself replying. 'Cafe in 10.' Conveniently ignoring the query about Yukimura, Sanada couldn't stop the thoughts of perhaps seeing someone he could open up to even if Atobe didn't feel the same way any longer. Sanada was still compelled to meet Atobe outside of four walls. The cafe was a few minutes' walk from the park and the establishment was a place he used to frequent often with Atobe on weekends. He hoped the short message would generate some form of curiosity within Atobe. They needed to talk properly.
The afternoon found the cafe relatively idle and Sanada sat down in their usual booth. He took the liberty to order their usual afternoon snacks accompanied with a pot of rich white chocolate and coffee blend. Sanada hadn't realised just how much his savoury tooth had missed the concoction that was a trademark favourite of Atobe's. With his back to the door, Sanada sat at their out of the way booth and observed the decor that hadn't changed. That way, no other customers would be privy to his thoughts and the anxiety that was pooling in his gut.
One thing that had changed was the waitress that served them all those months ago. She had streaked her hair with orange and with her usual cheery smile had tried to make light conversation with Sanada commenting about how it had been a long time ago since he had last visited. Something that Sanada blamed on homework, which was partially true as he answered in as less words as possible. She smiled sympathetically, recalling her own days in school and left him alone when she didn't receive a reply from Sanada to serve other customers that had filed in to escape the noisy outside streets.
Sanada found his fingers tracing the ear of the cup and forced himself not to stare at a clock. It made waiting oppressive and seemed all the more longer than it actually was. But he couldn't help the silent counter that was ticking in the back of his mind. One minute became two and that became ten. The grains of time continued to fall and yet there was still no sign of Atobe. It certainly looked like he was not going to turn up. He could tell that the coffee had cooled down. He couldn't bring himself to begin the afternoon tea without the accompanying complaints that were absent. 'If he doesn't show up in 10 minutes, give up.' He thought to himself and knew there were other things to worry about like his iaido and the subjects he was to take that year.
However, Atobe had been outside the shop during that entire time Sanada had been inside. He had watched as Sanada's shoulders drooped from stiff to slumped. Inside, Atobe was willing Sanada to turn around so that he could walk away, but slow enough for Sanada to catch up if he wished. If the taller boy wanted to talk, he would have to come get it and no the other way around. Or at least that was how the mastermind plan of his was laid out to play in this sequence inside his head. Yet it didn't happen and Atobe found himself entering the shop instead, unable to resist the temptation of knowing.
Once he got within earshot, he greeted the waitress perhaps raising his voice a little louder than necessary. He could feel the shocked stare bore into his back which made it easier for him to strengthen the smirk on his face. Turning gracefully around to look at Sanada, he raised an eyebrow. "You called?" Atobe slid easily into the chair, his chair, and folded his arms waiting for an answer.
"Ore-sama is here now upon your request. Don't waste my time. If you are here to gloat ore-sama is not interested in staying." The waitress tactfully, although it may have been more gleeful, provided Sanada ample time to recover from his initial shock at the material appearance of Atobe by choosing that moment to ask if Atobe had anything he'd like that afternoon. Sanada, however, couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that it wasn't his imagination and Atobe who was embodying annoyance perfectly down to the impatient twitch in his foot was sitting in front of him.
Sanada cleared his throat awkwardly and said, "I ordered your usual portion of afternoon tea." He felt shy all of a sudden and found his rehearsed speech fly out the open door as more customers walked in. The waitress left to serve them. He composed himself and drew a discreet deep breath. Sanada Genichirou would not sound like a pathetic boy with a crush on the girl – well in this case guy – next door.
"Why are you here Sanada? Surely you have ... other company to entertain." Sanada winced inwardly, recognising the concealed bitterness which was entirely hard to miss under the extremely displeased tone that Atobe was using. "You made it clear to me that night that you would have nothing more to do with this." It was possible for Atobe to go for on ages if not stopped early and with a soft sigh, Sanada swallowed his pride and apologised.
"It was unfair of me to have done what I did and said what I have. Especially-" Sanada was cut off by an intense glare from across the table, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end at the silent fury under those bright blue eyes. They matched the azure shirt Atobe was wearing that afternoon and Sanada couldn't help admire that a silent, angered Atobe Keigo was indeed a beautiful sight.
"If you're here to gloat, do it. I don't want to hear how well your adventures are behind closed doors. You'd be wasting my time and this time ore-sama will be the one doing the leaving," Atobe declared, feeling his pride rear up in self defence. It was moments like this when in hindsight Atobe would find himself wishing he had swallowed it and listened out to what Sanada still had to say. Occasions where it would have worked out better if he had just accepted and had not acted upon his instincts; now was one of them.
The sharpened tongue was a crushing reminder of why Sanada had decided to leave the insufferable man in the first place. He had left that day convinced that separating with the man made of wit and quick words was for the better. All the fights between would have stopped, there would be no more seeing Atobe and then it would be blissful days with Yukimura by his side. He felt disorientated and with a calm deep voice asked Atobe if he had really meant that.
Sanada was the first to break the silence. "I know you Atobe. Better than you or I can give credit for. But you know the night I left I had almost expected you to come after me. Demanding the way you do to stop walking and return to bed. But you didn't and it was all over. I must have been so easily replaceable in your eyes and have now joined the people that aren't worthy of your time. Is this why Atobe?"
Clenching his hands into fists, Atobe retorted with a disguised poisonous tone, "I guess that is why you left me all those forgotten months ago with nothing. No replies to my messages or no answers to my calls. Simply ignored my existence for that wonderful Yukimura of yours and don't you dare deny that I am incorrect. Oshitari saw you two holding hands. I knew it was over before you initiated it."
Sanada scowled and didn't reply; knowing it was better that Atobe did not think he was hiding behind some excuse even if they were the initial cause to their problems. Having heard no retort or justification from Sanada, Atobe pressed on and spoke, "I had wondered if it was perhaps examination stress that rendered you to the mere state of the Neanderthal that you are incapable of using technology. But two months, Sanada. Not one message to say that you were alive. I suspected that the phone that had been gathering dust in your drawer had only been taken out last night because you had to use your colourful paperclips!"
Sanada was surprised Atobe knew of the whereabouts of his paperclips and recalled that he was the source of the vibrant curled pieces of metal. He remembered the man had given them to him when he had declared his stationary drawer too dull and was desperately in need of colour. Though paperclips aside, he could hear the bitterness in the tone of voice Atobe used and in a moment of insight that greatly rivalled Atobe's skill to read other people, Sanada saw through the facade of arrogance and pride down to the depths within of solitude and loneliness. A man that craved attention that was so much more than mere idol worship could offer. He didn't know what to do and decided the moment would be now or never.
"Yukimura broke it off." Sanada cut in, swallowing the lump in his throat and the urge to crawl into a hole and die. "He, for some unexplainable reason announced that I was unhappy. I wanted to say he was wrong. But do you know why he was right? Because of you. I've missed you terribly." He got no reply and found himself staring at the cup that lay in front of him, wondering when he had become so scared of what was to come. Atobe was but one human, albeit extraordinary, and it was most certainly an honour to have known him for as long as he did.
Sanada looked up when he heard Atobe's chair scrape against the floor; a fleeting panic rose inside of him and with snake-like precision wrapped a hand around Atobe's wrist. Was Atobe really that heartless to get up and walk away? He couldn't bring himself to look at Atobe's face still; his imagination was getting the better of him and he was almost certain the man's beautiful face would be contorted in disgust at the display in front of him.
"Is that it? You're not going to say anything?"
The feeling inside Sanada could only be described as empty. It was tiring and between Yukimura and Atobe, he was drained mentally. All his hopes and dreams crushed by the silence that was in reply to his apology. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry bitterly, maybe even a combination of both.
"Ore-sama was only going to ask them to warm the coffee up. You still have a lot of explaining to do."
Everything was hopefully going to be alright, even if the Virgin Mary would not accept them under her wing.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully it wasn't too confusing for you to understand! I would love to hear what you think, and please if you pick up any grammatical or spelling mistakes please send a review telling me where.