"Let's make a bet."
"The loser does what ever the winner wants."
"Che, you eager to get rid of your hair, for the second time, monkey king?"
"You wish, brat."
Fuck! Ryoma leaned on his hands, kneeling on the ground, still clutching his racket. Where the hell had the monkey king been hiding all that strength? It seemed as Atobe had been holding out the whole game, just so he could beat him at the very last moment. And that's probably exactly what he'd been doing, when Ryoma had been playing all out from the beginning.
"Come on." Atobe pulled him up from his arms.
"So I lost." He said.
"What are you going to make me do?"
"Let's talk about that later." Atobe said, and tilted his chin upwards, so he could look at Ryoma in the eyes. "I have other things in my mind right now."
This time they were laying on top of Atobe's towel, that he'd spread on the floor, just moments before pulling down Ryoma's pants. It wasn't long after that when his knees went week, and he was clutching Atobe's shoulders for support.
And it didn't exactly stop there.
He had some explaining to do when he got home, Ryoma thought, after glancing at his clock. He tried to get up, but was pinned down. "Not again! I'm already late. Dad's gonna be pissed! Forget about him! My mom's gonna kill me! I told her I'd be back in a couple of hours."
"I'll drop you off." Atobe spoke, with his mouth nuzzled at his neck.
He tried to push Atobe off, but after failing, he gave up. Atobe pulled him against his chest. "What, you just wanted to cuddle?" Ryoma laughed and let his hand rest on Atobe's side.
"Yes." Okay, he hadn't actually expected Atobe to answer that with out an insult.
Scowling, he tried to wriggle his way out of Atobe's embrace, but the other boy's arms just held on more tightly. "Is it really so terrible to just lie here for a little while?" The plea in Atobe's voice made him stop wriggling, but he was still a little tense in the embrace. Eventually though, when Atobe didn't let go, he relaxed against the other. Tired, he closed his eyes, and was sleeping before he even had a chance to think about it.
Atobe smiled contently, and pulled Ryoma even closer to his chest. He reached out, and pulled another towel over them. He leaned back, using his bag as a pillow.
He might have fallen asleep as well, if the door hadn't opened, and Fuji hadn't stormed in. Atobe stared at him wide eyed; waiting for cries of outrage, or shock, but Fuji just smiled, and stood there. "Well isn't that cute." Fuji chuckled. "Wake the baby up, and get dressed. We need to talk to him."
"We?" Atobe questioned, but got his answer, when Kikumaru entered, followed by Oishi.
"Did you find O'chibi, Fujiko?" The red head's gaze fell on them, and he squealed, "Aaah! I did not need to see this! Oishi, save me!" Kikumaru buried his head on his partner's chest, who had turned beet red. "The evil monkey king is corrupting O'chibi!"
Atobe growled at the last statement. He hadn't known that Ryoma's rude name for him had spread to his former team mates. And he was corrupting Ryoma? Yeah, right. If they only knew… "Be quiet! You'll wake him." He snapped.
"Well, that's kind of the point." Fuji said, while continuing to smile serenely.
Atobe frowned, but began to shake Ryoma, to wake him. "Oi brat. Wake up."
"Not again monkey king. We've already done it like a million times, and I'm too tired." Ryoma mumbled, making Atobe smirk and Oishi's blush grow deeper. Kikumaru squealed again, which woke Ryoma up.
"Kikumaru-sempai, Oishi-sempai, Fuji-sempai." With every name, Ryoma blushed a little more. "What are they doing here?" he asked Atobe.
"How should I know? They're your friends. Ask them." Atobe was amused beyond words and a Ryoma who'd just awaken was extremely cute.
"That makes sense. So, what are you doing here?"
"Ah, Echizen, maybe you should get dressed first?" Oishi suggested, a little blush still lingering on his cheeks.
Ryoma glanced at him self and shrugged, but started to gather his clothes and put them on. "So, you gonna tell me why you're here?" He asked, pulling a shirt over his head.
"We came to tell you that Tezuka's back, and we're all going to meet at Kawamura's." Fuji told him.
"Tezuka's back?" Atobe asked. "What the hell is he doing here?"
"A cousin's wedding, or something like that." Fuji waved his hand, looking indifferent.
Atobe looked at Ryoma and noticed how the boy's face had lightened up at the mention of his former captain, and how much more eagerly Ryoma was gathering his things. He didn't like it one bit. "Don't go," Atobe said, rising to lean on his elbows.
"What?" Ryoma lifted his gaze from his bag to face to him.
"We made a bet. And I'm telling you I don't want you to go see Tezuka."
"I don't believe you." Ryoma looked furious.
"No, I don't believe you!" Atobe snapped and stood, wrapping one of the towels around him. "I have to twist your arm, just to get you to stay with me for five fucking minutes and one mention of Tezuka and you're practically running to him and you're not even screwing him!"
"Oops, looks like we started a lover's quarrel." Fuji chuckled, and lifted his hand to cover his smile.
Ryoma glared at Fuji, but directed it at Atobe in a second. "Fuck you, Atobe Keigo! You have no say in what I do!" He yelled, and stormed out, his bag still half open. He only stopped to snap at Fuji, "And we're not lovers."
"Like hell we're not! This isn't over Ryoma!" Atobe yelled after him, and tried to follow him, but was stopped by Fuji. He stared at the other boy furiously.
"You might not want to follow him, wearing just a towel." Fuji suggested.
Atobe was still fuming but conceded that Fuji was talking sense. He returned to get dressed, but didn't hurry, knowing that he couldn't catch up with Ryoma anymore. The kid was probably on his way to see his precious captain by now.
When he was dressed, he saw that the trio that had started all this, was still there. Oishi and Kikumaru looked hostile, clearly feeling protective of their younger friend. But that wasn't what made him furious. What made him furious was Fuji's expression that looked pitying. He was Atobe Keigo; he didn't need anyone's pity.
Chin up, he walked past them.
Once Atobe had left, Oishi sighed. "I really don't know what to think about all this."
"We just need to let them work it out for themselves." Fuji said. "Although, I feel sorry for Atobe."
"Nya, how could you feel sorry for him, Fuji? He's the one corrupting O'chibi!" Eiji shouted.
Fuji just smiled at his friend. Eiji continued to fuss over things, while Oishi looked at Fuji questioningly. "Oh!" He breathed, after Fuji's words made him see things in a different light.
"He's not coming." Momo said, after he'd putt his phone down.
"Why not?" Taka asked.
"Says he's sick." Momo answered. "But he seemed fine at practice."
Three boys shared meaning looks, that weren't noticed, except for one pair of concerned hazel eyes.
Tezuka waited until almost everyone had gone home, before approaching Oishi. "Oishi, what's going on with Echizen?"
"What do you mean, Tezuka? You heard Momo. He's just come down with something. I'm sure he'd be here other wise."
"I saw the look you gave Fuji and Eiji. There's something else going on, and I want to know what." Tezuka demanded, with a stern look on his face.
Oishi sighed. "It really isn't my place to say anything. I'm sorry Tezuka."
Tezuka frowned after his friend, as Oishi joined Eiji to go home. Soon the only ones left were him, Fuji and Taka of course, since they were at his father's restaurant.
But unlike the last time, Taka was working for his father, clearing tables, and serving sushi for the customers.
Tezuka sat back to his seat at the table, across from Fuji. "You could have asked me." Fuji told him. "I don't mind telling."
"You don't?" Tezuka was surprised. He'd asked Oishi, because he was his closest friend, and he'd never expected Fuji to tell him, and Kikumaru… Well, he hadn't thought he'd get an answer that he could understand out of Kikumaru.
"Well, there really isn't anything we can do about it, but I don't see why you shouldn't know. Oishi is just over reacting, like always."
"You saying something like that make's me think that Oishi isn't over reacting." Tezuka replied dryly, making Fuji chuckle.
"Well, we found out a couple of weeks after the term started, but it's probably been going on for a while before that." Fuji stared at his tea eyes half open, revealing a glint of blue.
"What has been going on for a while?"
Fuji opened his eyes completely and looked at him, before continuing. "Echizen's been seeing Atobe."
Tezuka frowned. "I know that."
"You do?" Fuji looked shocked.
"Yes. Atobe told me they'd played the day before I left, and I asked him to look after Echizen." Tezuka told him, wondering why Fuji and Oishi seemed so worried.
"No, you don't understand Tezuka. I mean Echizen has been seeing Atobe."
If Tezuka had been drinking his tea then, he probably would have chocked on it. "You mean like dating?"
"Well, screwing around might be more fitting when it comes to those two." Fuji elaborated.
This time Tezuka did choke, even if he wasn't drinking anything. "What?" He groaned.
"Well, as far as I know, they meet every Saturday, play some tennis, and then disappear to the locker room. And they spend far too much time there, if they were just changing clothes."
"You could still be mistaken."
Fuji shook his head. "They don't exactly wait until they get out of sight before they start." Fuji told him.
It took Tezuka a few minutes to get his head around the idea, and they spend them in mutual silence.
"Well that explains Atobe's strange behaviour on the flight to France." Tezuka finally ended the silence, now understanding the double meanings behind some of Atobe's remarks.
"So you think it started before you left?" Fuji asked.
"It would make sense, considering how strangely both of them acted." Tezuka sipped his tea.
Fuji frowned thoughtfully. "Now that you mentioned it, I remember that Echizen seemed a bit distracted when we all met here the last time."
"It's still weird." Tezuka remarked. "I mean the two of them. Not a likely pair, is it?"
"Well, I don't know." Fuji shrugged. "Somehow they just seem so perfect for each other."
"Not to me." Tezuka said. "But that still doesn't explain why Echizen wasn't here today."
"It was a bet." Fuji answered.
"Apparently Echizen lost a bet, and Atobe didn't want him to come and see you." Fuji's mouth quirked to a slight smile. "I didn't think Echizen would actually do it. Not after the argument they had."
"They argued?" Tezuka asked. "No, more importantly, why wouldn't Atobe want Echizen to see me?"
"I think he was jealous."
"Of me? Why? Does he think I'm after Echizen?" Fuji could hear from Tezuka's voice that he was shocked of even the mere thought.
"No, not like that. I think he just doesn't like the fact that Echizen would rather see you then cuddle with him."
"Yes, you know, it's when you-"
"I know what it means Fuji, I was just asking how- Wait, don't answer. I don't want to know."
"You didn't even ask anything, Tezuka." Fuji spoke softly, with a hint of smile in his voice.
"I know. Still, don't answer."
"If you insist."
Ryoma stomped in his room, walking from one end to the other. Too bad it didn't take very long to get from one end to the other, since the room wasn't that big. He'd just gotten off the phone, and didn't think that Momo was fooled by his fake cough.
"Shit!" He yelled, and threw his phone, which fortunately landed safely on the bed. But that didn't make Ryoma happy. He wanted to smash something that would make a loud noise when it broke.
Finally he settled on hitting his head on the closet door but stopped soon, because his head started to hurt. Rubbing his head he sat on the floor, picked up a tennis ball that was on the floor, and started throwing it against the door. He stopped that too, when he realized the noise might bring his parents up to his room. He wasn't in the mood to face either of them right now.
He shouldn't even be home right now. Instead he should be at Kawamura's, like everyone else, talking to Tezuka.
Why the hell wasn't he?
He had absolutely no reason not to go.
He squeezed the tennis ball in his fist, until his hand cramped.
Why would Atobe demand something so ridiculous from him, and why was Ryoma doing it?
Ryoma frowned, staring at the floor, and didn't feel like answering the questions he had asked himself. Not yet, and maybe never.
And it really didn't matter if he saw Tezuka today or not. It's not like the other boy had time to play tennis when he was already leaving today. Or at least that's what Momo had told him, when he'd tried to get Ryoma to join them.
"Stupid monkey king," Ryoma muttered to himself, crossing his arms and glaring at the innocent floor.
Bored at glaring at the floor, Ryoma decided to go out. For once, he left his tennis bag home, and headed towards the park. Who knows, maybe some fresh air would make him feel better.
So, he now knew that fresh air didn't help, no matter how many people insisted on its healing capabilities.
"Echizen?" He was startled, when he heard the familiar voice, which he had not expected to hear today, even if he knew that the owner of the voice was back in the country.
"Buchou? What are you doing here?"
"Going home," Tezuka answered, and sat next to him on the park bench. "Besides, shouldn't I be asking what you are doing here? Last I heard you were sick. So shouldn't you be at home?" Tezuka asked with a slight smile.
"Well, I was feeling better, and thought…" He let his words fade, not sure how to explain his absence from Tezuka's impromptu welcoming party.
"It's alright, Echizen. Fuji told me." Tezuka decided to spare to boy from trying to come up with a good lie.
"He did?" Ryoma asked. "Wait. What exactly did he tell you?"
"About you and Atobe. And what happened today." Tezuka answered.
"Oh. Okay." They stayed quiet after that.
Until Tezuka asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Good." Tezuka's voice sounded so relieved, that Ryoma burst out laughing. Tezuka glanced at him, and started laughing too.
"I don't fucking believe it." Atobe's voice cut trough their laughter, and halted it in an instant.
Ryoma stared at Atobe, and looked guilty, like Atobe had just caught him doing something wrong. Which wasn't true, of course. He hadn't even gone to see Tezuka, but they'd met accidentally.
With every thought, Ryoma grew more furious, and he remembered why he'd left home in the first place. It was because he was mad at Atobe. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Don't play innocent! Not only are you here with him, but it looks like you're having the time of your lives!"
"So what! It's none of your business who I hang around with!"
"I ask you for one thing, one thing, and you can't do even that!"
"Well consider more carefully what you ask, and I might actually do it! Who the hell are you to ask me not to meet My Buchou? And to think I actually went a long with it!"
"Sure you did! That's why you're here with him, laughing your asses off!"
"Actually he did. We just met here when I was on my way home." Tezuka felt that he needed to intervene.
"You did?" Atobe asked Tezuka, in a normal voice.
"You didn't have to tell him!" Ryoma yelled, not really sure why. He just felt like yelling at everyone.
"Yes." Tezuka was ignoring Ryoma. "So how's University?"
"Fine. Not that different from high-school, even if it is a little strange seeing Sanada and other familiar faces from former rival schools, at the halls." Atobe followed Tezuka's example.
"Oh, fuck you both!" Ryoma screamed, and stomped off.
Atobe looked after him, and turned back to Tezuka to ask, "So, you probably want some kind of explanation?"
"No need." Tezuka answered. "You're going to loose him, if you don't hurry." Tezuka gestured towards Ryoma's retrieving back.
Atobe smirked at Tezuka, and ran after Ryoma. When he caught up with the kid, they weren't in the park anymore but in a street that was filled with shops and people on their errands. Despite the people around them, Atobe grabbed Ryoma's arm and whirled the other to face him. "Look, I'm sorry, okay?" He said.
"No, it's not okay." Ryoma glared, and pried himself out off Atobe's hold.
"Will you just wait a second?" He shouted after the boy, who had started walking a way from him.
"Why should I? We have nothing to talk about." Atobe was walking beside him now and was glad to see that Ryoma was slowing his pace, even if he wasn't stopping.
"Why won't you just admit that my tennis skills aren't the only reason you come every Saturday? Our lives would get a lot simpler if you did that, don't you think?" Atobe asked, sighing tiredly, not really expecting an answer.
It was a while before he realized he was walking alone. He searched for Ryoma, thinking the brat had run out on him. Instead, he found Ryoma a couple of feet behind him, staring straight a head off him, eyes glazed.
"Ryoma? Ryoma!" He repeated the boy's name, worried.
"Fine." Ryoma finally said. "There might be… other reasons, besides tennis…"
Atobe pressed a hand over his eyes, and drew in a deep breath. "That's really all I'm going to get out of you, isn't it?"
"What else you want?" Ryoma glared, again.
The brat really does like to glare, thought Atobe. "I'll settle for what you said, for now." Atobe said, and wrapped his arm around Ryoma's shoulders. "Look, there's an open coffee shop. Let's go. Ore-sama shall buy you a cappuccino."
"Che. I like latte a lot better."
"What, no ponta?"
"Who drinks ponta in a Café? Mada mada dane, monkey king."
"He's horrible! I can't believe he cheated on me!" The girl cried, clutching on Sanada's shirt.
Sanada patted the girl's silken hair, marvelling on its fruity scent. Never had he expected to get so lucky. Here, in his arms, was the girl of his dreams. "You deserve better, Yoshida-san." Like me, Sanada added in his mind.
"You are so sweet, Sanada-kun." The girl sniffled. She wiped her eyes, and lifted her chin, so their eyes could meet. The girl's brown eyes were a little red and puffy from all the crying, but Sanada didn't mind. She was always beautiful in his eyes.
They gazed at each other; Sanada leaned towards her, the girl's lips parted slightly. The tears still gleamed in her eyes, making her even more beautiful. She leaned in to his touch when Sanada caressed her cheek.
"Ore-sama demands attention!"
Oh no, he did not just say that! Sanada was sure he would have been laughing on the ground because of Atobe's wording, if the diva hadn't just spoiled his first, perfect chance, to kiss the love of his young life.
He glared at Atobe, who was standing in the doorway of the empty classroom, hands crossed across his chest, foot tapping the floor impatiently.
"Atobe-kun!" Yoshida-san shouted and stepped quickly away from Sanada. She glanced at Sanada, trace of tears still present on her cheeks. "Thank you for speaking with me, Sanada-kun, but I must leave now. My next class is starting soon."
She left the classroom, taking Sanada's heart with her.
"Atobe!" There was a dangerous edge in his voice, but as usual, Atobe seemed to be completely oblivious to it.
"I must speak with you, Sanada." Atobe seated himself at the nearest desk. "It's about my precious Ryoma-chan."
When isn't it?"Ryoma-chan? Let me guess. He heard you call him that, and blew up at you?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Sanada. This is far more serious." Atobe flipped his hair arrogantly, but a depressed look that Sanada had began to associate with Echizen Ryoma, crept up on Atobe's face. "He does not love me."
"How do you know that?" Sanada asked, like every other time, knowing he'll end up regretting it. But his curiosity was stronger than his sense of self preservation.
"He wasn't even jealous when I flirted with Fuji!"
"Why were you flirting with Fuji?" He asked, guessing what the idiotic answer would be.
"To make him jealous, of course!"
Ah, there it was. Who else could be so unbelievable stupid, in such an unbelievably predictable way?
A/N: The end, and a fitting one for them, I think. Please review. After all, it's your last chance at constructive or crushing criticism, which ever suites you best.