Title: A Dance in Four Steps
Fandom: Tenipuri
Pairing: Royal Pair – Atobe Keigo x Echizen Ryoma
Genre: Humour
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,235

Step #1: Irritate

His reflection glared back distastefully when Atobe tried to smooth out the rough ends of his hair. Ever since his mop of naturally fair hair grew back into place, he found it hard for him to manage it properly like before. All he wanted was his old hairstyle which in his opinion gave him a sense of authority and confidence regardless of Shishido's constant irrelevant comment that his old, perfectly stylish hairstyle made him look like an old man.

Atobe had tried everything; he had paid for numerous ridiculously expensive hairdresser to get it back to its original style, but nothing seemed to be working. When he smoothed his hair down completely, he almost vomited at the similarity of the style to Oshitari's hair. When he tweaked the ends a bit, the fair version of Tezuka's hair glared back at him, causing him to almost jump in shock and immediately ruffling his lock of hair to its messy state.

On the seventh day of Atobe's unsuccessful attempts to regain his previous hairdo, he ran into Echizen, who smirked and made a witty comment about his hair before leaving him fuming on the street.

Ryoma's 'You look less like a monkey' comment was not nearly an insult, and definitely far from a praise. But Atobe found the comment insulting anyway. He wanted so much to wipe that irritating smirk plastered on Ryoma's face. The younger boy acted like Atobe's current hair problem had nothing to do with him.

He reminded himself to never make a bet with the little terror again. Ore-sama does not make mistakes twice, he thought.

He met the boy again two days later. Atobe did not know how the boy managed to coax him into playing tennis at the most undignified low-class public court, but decided later that it was fun anyway. Not that he'd tell Ryoma, of course. Whenever Atobe brushed back the lock of hair that fell in front of his eyes, Ryoma snorted, much to Atobe's irritation. If Ryoma insisted on getting him irritated everytime they met, he supposed he could too.

Two can play at this game.

Step #2: Taunt

Ryoma's eyebrow twitched. Atobe had just commented on his height. It was not like it was his entire fault that his body decided to stay as small as it was. Maybe it was a bad idea to irritate the Hyotei captain after all. Since their little game at the street court, Atobe made sure to corner Ryoma at least twice a weak for a game of tennis after school. If Tezuka knew anything about it, the captain must have decided to keep it to himself. He caught the emotionless captain staring suspiciously sometimes, as if he knew who, he was meeting after class. Ryoma's suspicion was only confirmed when Tezuka stopped him one day before going back, telling him to not let his guard down even though Seigaku conquered the Nationals.

Honestly, why would you warn someone to not let his guard down when said someone was only heading for his home after an exhausting club practice?

Sometimes, Ryoma suspected Atobe had threatened Tezuka into telling him about Ryoma's day in Seigaku. How else would he know about Ryoma being late to practice the other day? Unless Atobe had stooped so low as to stalk him, spy on him or send a private investigator after him… Impossible.

A lime-green ball zoomed pass him with a swooshing sound.

'Yudan sezu ni ikou!' Tezuka's voice reprimanded him for his carelessness in his head.

Atobe smirked. Ryoma expected him to say his famous yet revolting line about him and his supposedly awesome prowess. Instead, the older boy said he missed the ball because he was too short to reach it even with his racket.

"How lame, coming from someone who agonizes over his uncooperative hair," Ryoma retorted with a smirk of his own. Atobe's smirk transformed into a sharp glare as he glowered at the smaller boy standing across the court. He was clearly irritated, which only made Ryoma wanted to taunt the other boy more.

Atobe could taunt him all he wanted. Ryoma would just taunt him back.

Step #3: Chase

Ryoma did not appreciate Atobe showing up at the school gate when he was done with school and practice. The first time he saw the older boy at the gate, his teammates had been rendered speechless. Tezuka was the only one who showed no reaction, as Ryoma expected. Ignoring Atobe was proven useless for when he tried to walk pass the boy, he was hauled over the boy's shoulder and thrown into the car. The next Ryoma knew, they were in some kind of exclusive sports arena owned by Atobe's family.

They played tennis as usual. Atobe's butler and his maids called him Ryoma-bocchama. It made him feel like puking at being called as such. His over-imaginative brain conjured up images of him and Atobe, a ridiculously large house and a wedding reception, and housemaids bidding good morning to Keigo-bocchama and Ryoma-bocchama.

Urgh! What the hell was he thinking?

He was slowly getting used to the girls squealing with delight at Atobe's presence in the evening, waiting for him to get into the car without being hauled. The shameless boy had the nerve to give out roses to the swooning girls as he waited for Ryoma. The amused giggles his teammates produced when Atobe gave a rose to Tezuka was horrible to Ryoma's ears, but nothing was worse than their catcalls when Atobe gave Ryoma a large bouquet of fresh, red roses.

After being presented with roses for the tenth time the month after, Ryoma jokingly asked the proud boy if he was flirting with him. Atobe's smirk following Ryoma's question made him regret asking.

"What if I am?"


Step #4: Give

On the Spring day of his senior's graduation day, Ryoma got Tezuka and Fuji's second topmost button of their school uniforms. He never knew both of them were that fond of him, especially with Tezuka keeping quiet most of the time and Fuji's unnerving smile often directed his way. Fuji practically threatened to castrate him if he did not try to contact him every once in a while. When Ryoma thanked Tezuka for his guidance throughout the year, he was awarded with a nod and an apology. The captain never told him what he apologized for, though. Somehow, Ryoma thought he knew.

When the graduation ceremony ended, Ryoma walked to the gate to find Atobe waiting for him in his sophisticated Hyotei blazer. His hair had finally returned to its previous glory, swaying elegantly, fitting with the falling petals of cherry blossoms in the background. When Ryoma approached him, he held out his red school tie. Ryoma frowned, thinking that Atobe might have gone insane or something until the older boy explained to him about Hyotei's tradition of giving out their school ties to juniors as good luck charm upon graduation.

Ryoma's frown deepened. "But I'm not your junior."

For the first time ever since Ryoma met Atobe, the latter smiled. Not a smirk, but a smile.

"You're something more."

Petals of cherry blossoms smiled as they twirled in the air. As Ryoma took the offered tie, he was not surprised to find himself smiling as well. When they realized how awkward the atmosphere had suddenly become, both snorted.

And then they laughed.