Escape from Ennui

disclaimer - Not mine! I don't own PoT. Le sigh.

notes - Ahaha, I'm so behind in posting fics here. Anyway, this was written for a Christmas exchange last year. Tango Pair (Atobe/Sanada), rated R! Enjoy!

If there was one thing Atobe was good at, it was making the best out of a bad situation. Like when he'd been forced to hack off most of his hair in front of a huge crowd of people, for example. He'd done it standing tall and smirking, even managing to remain completely poised as he took carefully controlled steps to the nearest public bathroom, and only when he was safely locked inside a stall did he proceed to have a minor breakdown. Shishido had dragged him out half an hour later, and after a few snips with the scissors and a lot of hair gel, Atobe had felt like the rest of the world might be worthy enough to be graced with his presence again.

Now, with his team out of the running for a Nationals title (and thus out of the spotlight), Atobe refocused his efforts into planning an end-of-season party for all of the schools (that would be so magnificent and spectacular it would hurdle Hyoutei back into the forefront of every tennis player's mind). He was sorely tempted to accidentally misplace the invites for Seigaku, but then Rikkaidai pulled ahead and claimed first place for the third year in a row, so instead he sent Seigaku's out first, done up elegantly with extra glitter and a lavender ribbon.

Again, as stated before, he was good at this sort of thing. He'd turned his loss to Echizen into an excuse for a new and better hairstyle, hadn't he? Clearly he was on top of things.

The party started off well enough, which was to be expected. He stayed up in his room until he decided enough time had passed for him to make a fashionable appearance. Unfortunately his timing was off and Rikkaidai was apparently late as well, so he walked into the room just as there was a mass rush for the door.

Tch. Maybe he should have misplaced their invites…

He hovered on the stairs for a moment, pointedly ignoring Gakuto's snickers, and then decided to go find some unfortunate soul that needed to be awed with his presence.

He found Tezuka by the drinks table, looking as moody and irritable as ever, and decided finding someone more unfortunate than that was unlikely at the moment.

"Tezuka," he said, smirking a little as he walked over to stand beside him.

Tezuka spared him a glance, and nodded. "Atobe."

"I see you're not greeting the newest arrivals like the rest of these brainless followers," Atobe said, taking the drink a nearby staff member offered him.

Tezuka frowned behind his own cup. "I'll have to talk to them eventually, but I see no need to be at the front of that crowd," he said. "They'll find me."

Atobe arched an eyebrow. "You sound bitter, Tezuka."

"I'm not bitter."

"But you sound it."

"I'm not." He glanced at Atobe again. "Nice hair."

Atobe almost scowled, but then remembered that is was nice. "Thank you," he said imperiously. "Ore-sama decided to try something new."

Tezuka snorted into his drink. "So that's not the result of you shaving half of it off when you lost?"

Damn. "Of course not."


Atobe would have had a comeback for that, but at that moment the proverbial sea of tennis players parted, and Rikkaidai appeared.

"This place is so cool," Kirihara was saying, practically bouncing up and down as he took in his surroundings. Atobe hoped they had him on a leash, but it became apparent that they didn't when he dashed off suddenly. He nearly bowled over St. Rudolph's manager, who'd been busy feeling up Seigaku's second-years, from what Atobe could tell.

"Hey, watch where you're going!" he – Mizuki? – snapped.

"Sorry, sorry," Kirihara said sheepishly, hand behind his head, but he stopped abruptly when he saw who he was apologizing to. Mizuki froze as well.

"What're you doing here?" they said simultaneously.

Sanada sighed. "Jackal," he said gruffly.

"On it."

"My apologies," Yukimura said, smiling. "He's very easily excited."

Tezuka frowned. "Yukimura," he said levelly.

"Tezuka," Yukimura returned, and then nodded at Atobe. "Atobe."


There was an awkward sort of silence for a moment, during which Atobe thought he should say something as the host, but then Tezuka spoke again. "Congratulations on your victory."

Yukimura smiled again. "Thank you, Tezuka. It was a hard fight, but I was certain we would come through."

Tezuka's hand tightened around his cup. Atobe was trying to figure out if that was some sort of backhanded compliment or not.

Yukimura stood there for another moment, before nodding again. Then he turned and continued on without another word. The rest of his team followed.

Like a bunch of puppies, Atobe thought, frowning. "Sanada," he said suddenly, and waited for the boy to turn to him. When he did, Atobe continued, "We have a match to finish." Sanada merely nodded, and then turned back to mutter something to Yukimura as they disappeared into the crowd. Atobe's eyes narrowed.

"Smooth," Tezuka said.

"Shut up," Atobe muttered, and then gave Tezuka a look. "How did you lose to him?"

Tezuka frowned, looking straight ahead. "He is a very talented tennis player--"

"He's fresh out of the hospital--"

"He had enough time to recover--"

"He was bedridden for months--"

"He's one of the most dedicated players in the circuit--"

"He just had surgery!"


Atobe huffed and rolled his eyes. "I could beat him."

"No, you couldn't."

"Excuse me?" Atobe arched his eyebrows. "Ore-sama beat you."

"Thank you for reminding me." Tezuka glowered into his empty cup and turned back to the table.

Atobe peered at him, suddenly noticing his flushed cheeks. "Are you drunk?"

"I believe Oshitari spiked the punch," Tezuka said flatly, and then filled up his cup again. Atobe paused in the middle of taking a sip, and then shrugged and downed the rest of it.

"Tezuka," another voice said, and Atobe glanced over to see Fuji standing there. "Have you seen Yuuta?"

"Nfu. Fuji-kun." Oh, and wonderful, now Mizuki was here. Just like a moth to a flame, really. Mizuki spared the other two a glance. "Tezuka-kun, Atobe-kun." He turned back to Fuji. "Yuuta-kun and I saw your match against Shiraishi--"

"I'm sorry," Fuji interrupted, tilting his head to the side a bit. "Who are you?"

Mizuki suddenly looked like he might strangle the first neck that got anywhere near his hands, so Atobe, being the ever-gracious host that he was, decided to step in and help him out a bit. "Mizuki…kun. You're enjoying the party, ahn?"

Mizuki glanced at him, eyes flicking up to his hair, and smirked. "I suppose it's adequate, yes."

Atobe frowned. Right, never mind. Fuji could tear him apart for all he cared.

"Yuuta's over there," Tezuka spoke up, pointing to the far side of the room where the boy was sitting with some other members from his team.

Fuji beamed. "Thank you, Tezuka," he said, and then made his way over without another glance at his shadow.

Mizuki all but growled. "Excuse me," he said peevishly, and then stomped after him.

Atobe sighed and decided that it was probably time to go bestow his presence onto other people. "Don't spend too much time wallowing in self-pity, Tezuka," he said, pushing away from the table.

"I'm not wallowing," Tezuka said.

"You're being completely unsocial," Atobe pointed out. Tezuka gave him a look, and Atobe snorted lightly, rolling his eyes. "Right, forgive me. That's nothing unusual."

Tezuka waved him off. "Go do your rounds or something."

"You should drink more often; it really brings out a much more favorable side of your personality."

"It's not like I'm drunk," Tezuka said. "I've only had four glasses."

Atobe frowned. "You said Oshitari spiked it?" he asked, arching an eyebrow.

Tezuka nodded. "I saw him doing it before you came down. Mukahi was supposed to be on the lookout, from what I gathered. He sort of fails at that, though."

"And as a fellow captain, you didn't think it might be a good idea to stop them?"

"They're your team, not mine," Tezuka said, shrugging. "Although Inui did try to bring some concoction of his own, which I forbid, so you can thank me for that."

Atobe wasn't sure what that meant exactly, but he'd heard rumors. Ignoring it, he plucked Tezuka's cup from his hand and set it down on the table, where one of his servants immediately picked it up and ran a dry towel across the surface it had been sitting on for approximately half a second. "If it was Oshitari, then you're probably already three sheets to the wind. Here, have a cookie instead," he said, shoving one into the other boy's hand. Tezuka blinked down at it. Atobe rolled his eyes and put a hand on his shoulder, steering him over to a nearby couch where half of Fudomine was hanging around. "Sit down," he said, and then nodded toward the other captain. "Tachibana."

"Atobe," Tachibana returned, eyeing Tezuka.

"Watch him," Atobe ordered, ignoring Tezuka's annoyed protests. "We wouldn't want him trying to jump off the fourth floor terrace or something."

Tachibana arched an eyebrow. "Right," he said doubtfully.

"What's wrong with him?"

Atobe straightened and turned, finding Sanada standing behind him. He smirked. "He's thoroughly depressed that your team had the gall to beat his."

Sanada blinked. "Is he really?"



Atobe chuckled and headed toward another part of the room. "You seem to have lost your other half," he said when he was sure Sanada was following him.

"Yukimura is trying to keep Kirihara distracted," Sanada said flatly. Atobe wasn't sure if he should be amused or not that Sanada seemed to know exactly who he'd been referring to.

"He looks like he's doing well."



"Of course he is," Sanada said, straightening his cap. "We were all sure he would make a complete recovery."

Liar, Atobe thought, and then resisted the urge to tell Sanada that hats weren't allowed indoors. "I was serious about the match," he said again, finding an empty couch and sitting down elegantly, one leg crossed over the other. "I want to play until an actual outcome is decided."

Sanada sat down at the opposite end, leaning over and resting his arms on his knees. "Rikkaidai doesn't allow unscheduled matches."

"Technically you're not even on the team anymore."

"Yukimura wouldn't like it."

Atobe arched an eyebrow. "Do you always do what he says?" he asked exasperatedly.

"No," said Sanada, frowning. "But I don't deliberately go against him either."

Atobe scowled for second, and then smiled. "It's alright, I understand. You're just scared, ahn?"

Sanada gave him a flat look. "Hardly."

"You lost to Echizen, and then to Fuji. It's perfectly fine to be intimidated by Ore-sama's greatness."

"You lost to Echizen, too."

"In a tiebreak of about a million to a million-and-one," Atobe snapped, uncrossing his legs and leaning forward. "The brat cheated."

"Nice hair, by the way."

"Everyone has been saying that tonight," Atobe said, ignoring that Tezuka had been the only other person. "It must be more fabulous than usual."

Sanada snorted, and they fell into silence for a moment. Atobe used the time to survey the room. It looked like everyone was enjoying themselves – not that that was surprising, of course. Seigaku's Momoshiro and Kaidoh were either in the middle of an argument or about to start making out. Atobe was hoping for the former; it would cause less of a scene. Shishido and Ohtori probably were making out. They were sitting suspiciously close together and apparently trying to hide themselves in the corner. The large potted plant in front of them wasn't helping much, though. Yamabuki's Sengoku was…flirting with one his staff members, from what Atobe could tell. Odd. And that scary, lanky kid also from Yamabuki was…smoking? In his house?

Atobe frowned. Normally he would deal with Akutsu himself, but… He snapped his fingers. "Kabaji."

The taller boy appeared out of nowhere, and Atobe had to stop himself from laughing at the way Sanada jumped a little. "Usu."

"Go tell him to stop smoking in Ore-sama's home," Atobe ordered, pointing across to where the other boy was tapping ashes onto one of the ice sculptures. There was some Echizen-sized kid hanging around him, too. Atobe vaguely wondered who the hell he was.


"It's easier this way," Atobe said when Sanada looked at him with raised eyebrows. "I didn't want to cause a scene."

"…Sure," Sanada said doubtfully.

"I'm not scared of him."

"Of course not."

"Glad you agree."


There was a sudden crash from the opposite side of the room, and then Kirihara came backpedaling out of the crowd, arms held out in front of him and giggling like a maniac.

"I didn't mean to!" he cried, waving his hands. "Accident!"

Mizuki came storming after him, wiping what looked like the remains of a cherry pie off the front of his shirt – which Atobe was suddenly very glad he had not bought when he'd seen it at the store that one time. "You are so dead, Akaya! DEAD!"

"Oh yeah?" Kirihara said, still giggling. "What're you going to do, Haji-chaaan?"

"I'm going to TELL YOUR MOTHER!"

Kirihara gasped and looked like Mizuki had just announced he had the power to drag him to hell and back five times over.

Sanada sighed. "Excuse me," he said, standing.

"I'm not forgetting about our match."

Sanada rolled his eyes but didn't reply as he went to sort out his kouhai. Atobe watched him go and then grinned slightly.

He needed to throw parties more often.

- - - - -

With the tennis season over, Atobe found himself with more free time than he knew what to do with. He spent some of it studying, but his grades were good and he was inherently smart, so there was no reason to overdo it. He had the occasional mini tennis tournament at his private courts, inviting all of Hyoutei's graduated regulars. And every so often he stopped by the rest of the team's practices, but he didn't want to seem like he was undermining Hiyoshi's authority as the new captain, so he kept that to a minimum.

A lot of the time he was bored. He wasn't used to not having practice every morning and every afternoon, and Kabaji wasn't around as often anymore either, because he was still on the team. Even upping his self-training regiment didn't really help.

By the beginning of October, Atobe thought he might be going slightly mad. Third year was supposed to be hard, wasn't it? Why didn't he have more schoolwork to do? Why did third years have to graduate from their sports teams? Why was everyone else always busy?

In an effort to alleviate some of the boredom, he got tickets to a concert in downtown Tokyo. He'd enjoyed the last one he went to, and it was something to do, at least.

He wasn't exactly expecting to see Sanada there again.

Last time they were accidentally at the same concert together, they'd both ignored each other. Sanada seemed to be doing the same thing this time around, so Atobe made a point of waiting for him in the lobby after whole thing was over.

He leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms and watching the crowds of people pour out until he caught sight of the other boy.

"Sanada," he called.

Sanada froze, turning slowly to face him. "Atobe," he said, slightly warily.

"Come with me," Atobe said, heading for the doors. He paused when he noticed Sanada wasn't following him. "Something wrong?"

"I'm not going with you," Sanada said, looking annoyed that Atobe had even ordered him to.

"Why not?"

"Did it occur to you that I might have other plans?"

Atobe blinked. "Not really, no. Do you?"

"…No," Sanada admitted.

"Well, now you do." Atobe pushed through the doors, not even looking back this time. "Come on, I thought I passed a coffee shop around the corner."

"I don't even drink coffee. It stunts your growth," Sanada said, but at least he was trailing after him.

"They have other beverages that should be to your liking, I'm sure. I'll pay."

Sanada scoffed. "I don't need you to--"

"Ore-sama will pay," Atobe interrupted, giving the other boy a look. Sanada rolled his eyes.

"Fine," he said, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Whatever."

They found the coffee shop, but it turned out to be too small and grubby for Atobe's tastes, so he decided to go find another one. The second one didn't have an adequate pastry selection, though, so they didn't stop at it, either. The third one only had coffee, the fourth one had a shifty looking guy at the cash register…

"How about you come to my home instead," Atobe said, after the fifth coffee shop turned out to be too crowded for his liking.

"It's too far away and I don't have that much time," Sanada said, glancing down at his watch.

"Alright, we'll go here then," Atobe said, stepping into the next restaurant that he saw.

"…This is a McDonald's," Sanada said flatly, eyeing their surroundings in distaste.

Atobe perked up. "They have food here, right? I was getting hungry anyway."

"If you want to call it that, then yes, they have…food." He glanced at Atobe out of the corner of his eye. "You've never been to a McDonald's before?"

"I think Shishido tried to drag me to one once," Atobe said absently as he scanned the menu, "but there was an Italian restaurant across the street that managed to change his mind. Jiroh comes here quite often though, I believe."

Sanada frowned. "So does Kirihara."

That brought Atobe up short. "…Oh," he said, looking around the restaurant in a new light.

"That doesn't mean it's bad," Sanada said, pushing Atobe lightly towards the counter. "It's just not a place I frequent very often. Or ever."

Atobe gave Sanada an affronted look for daring to touch him, but ultimately ignored it and looked up at the menu again. "Order for me, Sanada. I don't know what anything is."

"They're hamburgers," Sanada muttered. "How difficult is that?" He ordered for both of them anyway and Atobe paid, looking in fascination at the multi-colored wrappers the burgers came in.

"We get French fries, too?" he asked.

Sanada gave an exasperated sigh. "Yes. Typical McDonald's meal."

They found seats by the window at the front of the shop, and Sanada dug into his food like someone who hadn't eaten in a good week or so. Atobe followed more carefully, glancing around for silverware until he saw Sanada pick his burger up with just his hands.

"That's so plebian," he said absently, watching in amazement.

"What is?"

"Eating with your hands!"

"It's not a big deal, everybody does."

"Ore-sama has never eaten without utensils befo--"

"Atobe?" Sanada interrupted.


"Shut up."

Atobe blinked, his eyes widening a bit, and then harrumphed and picked up his own burger. He took a bite, chewing it carefully, and then his eyes widened some more.

"It's good," he said faintly, after he'd swallowed. "Certainly not up to par with what I'm accustomed to, but it's not the worse thing I've ever had the misfortune of eating."

"Try the fries," Sanada said flatly. "They make everything better."

Atobe sampled one. And then another. And then two more. "Indeed," he said, snagging another three.

"So why did you drag me out?" Sanada asked, reaching for his soda and taking a sip.

"Do I need a reason?"

"I guess not, but I'm sure you have one."

Atobe shrugged, wiping his fingers off on a napkin. "I was bored, you were there. End of story."

Sanada arched an eyebrow. "We were at a concert, how were you bored?"

"Before the concert," Atobe said, waving his hand absently. "I went to the concert because I was bored." He glanced up at Sanada. "What did you think of it?"

"It was alright," Sanada said, shrugging. "The other one was better."

"I agree. Although the third piece they played today was quite entertaining."

"I liked the finale myself."

"You're a fan of the more modern selections, ahn?"

"You could say that."

Atobe finished off his burger, turning his attention to the remaining fries. "You still owe me that tennis match."

Sanada frowned. "I told you, we don't--"

"Oh, that's right," Atobe cut in. "Yukimura-buchou says it's against the rules." He smirked at him.

"…Yukimura isn't my captain anymore," Sanada said after a slight pause. "We've retired from the team."

"So then we can play." It wasn't a question.

Sanada sighed. "I don't have my equipment with me," he said.

"Neither do I, of course," Atobe said, reaching up to flick some of his newly grown hair back. "Are you free next Monday?"




"…Sanada," Atobe said, frowning.

Sanada rolled his eyes. "Thursday is good for me."

"Thursday, then!" Atobe crossed his arms, smirking. "You remember where I live, yes?"

"Why do I have to go all the way over there?"

"Because Ore-sama has his own courts, that's why. The bus ride isn't that long."

"Fine," Sanada said. "Thursday."

"Be prepared to be awed by my prowess."

"We'll see," Sanada said, slightly exasperated. He glanced at his watch again. "I have to go."

They stood, taking their trays over to the trashcan, and then headed back outside. The streetlights had already come on.

"Do you need a ride?" Atobe asked, glancing up at the darkening sky. "I could get my driver--"

"I'm perfectly capable of getting myself home," Sanada said flatly, turning to walk down the sidewalk. "I'll see you later."

Atobe blinked. "Bye," he said faintly, watching the other boy go.

If he didn't show up on Thursday, there was going to be hell to pay.

- - - - -

"McDonald's?" Shishido repeated, slamming his locker shut. "You want to go to McDonald's?"

"Yes," Atobe said simply from where he was leaning on the row of lockers beside Shishido's. "I'm hungry, I'm bored, you're here, let's go."

"You've never been to McDonald's before in your life," Shishido said, shouldering his bag. "Why the sudden urge?"

"I have too been there," Atobe said, as if Shishido had just greatly insulted him. "I went over the weekend."

Shishido's eyebrows rose. "With who?"


"…Rikkaidai's Sanada?" Shishido asked incredulously.

Atobe gave him a flat look. "Do you know any others?"

Shishido scowled. "Well, no…"

"So you'll come?"

"Can't," Shishido said. "There's no tennis club practice today, so Choutarou and I are gonna meet up and play."

Atobe frowned. "Ohtori can come…"

"Tennis," Shishido said, glaring at Atobe a little. "We're playing tennis." Atobe knew that glare. It either meant leave me the fuck alone, or don't bother me, I'm with Choutarou. Atobe had managed to get that glare when on the phone with the other boy, which he always thought was impressive. Not many people could fully employ such a look with just their voice.

"ATOBE!" somebody else suddenly cried, and Atobe had about two seconds to brace himself before Jiroh slammed into him from the side.

"Jiroh," he said flatly, once he was sure he was still standing.

Shishido looked amused. "You could take him."

"What? Take me where?" Jiroh asked, looking excited. "I slept through all of my classes after lunch, I am SO AWAKE right now. Where are we going??"

"McDonald's," Shishido answered before Atobe could change the topic of conversation.

Jiroh's eyes went wide. "I like McDonald's!" he exclaimed, grabbing Atobe's arm. "Can I come?"

"Who's going to McDonald's?" Gakuto asked as he and Oshitari caught up with the rest of them.

"Atobe and Jiroh," Shishido answered promptly. Atobe glowered at him.

"Awesome!" Gakuto said, grinning. "Yuushi and I were going to get ramen, but McDonald's works, too! Right, Yuushi?"

"Whichever is fine," Oshitari drawled.

"Shishido," Atobe growled.

Shishido grinned and held up two fingers in the shape of a V. "Gotta run," he said cheerfully. "Choutarou's waiting."

"Che, boring," Gakuto said, watching the other boy practically flee down the hall. "What a sap. Come on, let's go! I'm hungry!"

Atobe sighed, glancing up at the ceiling, and asked himself why it was only Monday.

- - - - -

Thursday morning arrived and then Thursday afternoon took another eternity to get there, but eventually Atobe got himself home and into his tennis uniform. Why he was looking forward to this match as much as he was, he wasn't sure. Maybe because it had been awhile since he'd had a truly challenging opponent, or maybe because he and Sanada had never actually played each other until the end before. Whatever the reason, he couldn't help hovering in the foyer as he waited for Sanada to show up. Then he realized that might look a bit pathetic, so he entrusted his butler to bring the other boy out to him when he arrived, and instead decided to go warm up on the courts.

Sanada got there fairly quickly, especially for having had to take the bus.

"I had my stuff with me," he explained when Atobe pointed this out. "So I didn't have to stop by my house after school."

"Eager, were you?" Atobe quipped, smirking.

"No, I just don't like to waste time," Sanada said. "Are we playing?"

"Of course."

They played well into the evening, longer than Atobe had anticipated they would. They were pretty well matched, each giving games and taking them in turn, but the final score went to Atobe, 7 games to 5.

"I want a rematch," were the first words out of Sanada's mouth as they shook hands across the net.

Atobe grinned, dragging his free arm across his forehead. "I think we can arrange that."

Sanada nodded, still shaking Atobe's hand. "Next Thursday again?"

"Don't beg, Sanada, it's most unbecoming."

Sanada scowled, stepping back. "I'm not begging, I'm suggesting a date."

"You swing that way, then?"


"…Nothing." Atobe coughed discreetly as they moved off the courts. "Next Thursday should be fine."

"Good," Sanada said, as he packed away his racket. "I should probably go."

"You could stay for dinner," Atobe said suddenly, and then added in a more casual tone, "Since it's already late. That way your family won't have to wait for you."

"That sounds fine," Sanada said slowly, without looking up. He glanced back at the house. "Will your…parents be joining us?"

Atobe snorted. "It's unlikely," he said. "I'm not even sure if they're in the country this week."

Sanada blinked at him, startled. "And you have no brothers or sisters?"

"No siblings," Atobe said. He smirked. "I was perfect enough that they didn't need anymore children."

"…I'm sure," Sanada said flatly. He stood up, turning towards the house. "So. Dinner?"

"Ah. This way."

- - - - -

They met for tennis again the following week. Their match went well into tiebreak this time, before Atobe pulled ahead and won, 7 games to 6.

"Another match," Sanada said, panting. "Next week. Same time."

Atobe ignored him and draped a towel over his head, sprawling out on one of the benches. "Sanada, do you have a girlfriend?"

"No," Sanada said bluntly, reaching for his water bottle. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Do you have a boyfriend?"

Sanada choked on his water.

"Shall I take that as a 'no'?" Atobe asked, smirking as Sanada tried to cough up a lung. The other boy shook his head rapidly. Atobe looked amused. "No, it's not a no? So yes, you do?"

"No," Sanada hissed, still coughing. "No I don't have a girlfriend and I definitely don't have a boyfriend."

"So you're single?"


"And you and Yukimura never…?"

"What -- NO!"

Atobe arched his eyebrows. "Oh," he said.

Sanada's brow furrowed. "Why would you ask that?"

"Simple curiosity," Atobe said, shrugging. "I was just wondering. Are you staying for dinner again?"

"…Sure," Sanada said, after a slight pause. "I…told my mom I would be."

"Next week we should play on Friday," Atobe said as he led the way into the house.


"Because there's no school on Saturday."


Atobe glanced at the other boy. "So you wouldn't have to worry about going home."

Sanada stopped walking abruptly. "Are you asking me to sleep over?"

Atobe frowned slightly. "If you want to call it such a juvenile thing," he said, turning his face away because he could feel his cheeks going warm. "Ore-sama is much too old to be having slumber parties, I merely thought it would be more convenient for you-"


"-but if staying in my house overnight is in anyway beneath you and your esteemed self, then by all means, feel free to--"

"Atobe!" Sanada snapped.

Atobe stopped talking. "…What?" he asked, trying not to sulk.

"Shut up."

Atobe's eyes went wide. "Excuse me, I was only asking--"

"It's fine," Sanada said sharply. "I'll sleep over."

Atobe blinked. "Oh," he said. "Well…good."

Sanada started walking again. "I'll beat you next week."

"You'll try," Atobe said with a smirk. "They all try. Not many get a second chance, though, much less a third."

"I'll improve," Sanada said.

Atobe grinned. "You'd better."

- - - - -

By Tuesday of the following week, Atobe was already bored. Thursday was too far away, much less Friday, and he was suddenly regretting the decision to push their tennis match back a day. He was debating whether or not he had the energy to ask Jiroh to go to McDonald's with him again, when an absolutely brilliant thought occurred to him.

He and Sanada didn't have to play tennis all the time. They'd been to McDonald's together before, surely they could go again.

Struck by the sheer genius of this new plan, Atobe breezed through the rest of his classes, and as soon as the final bell rang, he whipped his phone out of his bag and dialed a number that, for some reason, he'd already memorized.

"Hello?" Sanada said from the other end of the line.

"Sanada," Atobe said, smirking even though there was no one around to see it. "Are you out of school yet?"

"Classes just let out," Sanada said slowly. "Atobe?"

"Who else would it be, ahn?"

Sanada sighed heavily. "Because of course you're the only person who would ever call me."

"Of course," Atobe agreed. "Which is why I'm confused that you apparently didn't have my number programmed into your phone."

"I'll add it when I hang up. What do you want?"

Atobe frowned. "Sanada, I know you're overjoyed that I called, but please try to control yourself," he said dryly. "Your enthusiasm is completely overwhelming me." Sanada didn't say anything, but Atobe could have sworn he could hear him rolling his eyes. "Let's go see a movie," he said abruptly, and then wondered where that had come from because the plan had originally been to ask him to get food.

"A movie?" Sanada repeated, sounding vaguely incredulous. "Like what?"

"I have no idea," Atobe said. "I don't pay attention to what the theaters are playing." He paused slightly. "I have a theater at my house?"

"…I'll meet you at the one by the concert hall we were at last time. You know it?"

"I believe so. Can we go to McDonald's, too?"

"You'll get fat if you keep eating there."

"It's not like Ore-sama doesn't exercise."

"…Right. Can you be there in an hour?"

"Of course."

"Alright. See you then," Sanada said, and then his phone clicked off.

Atobe blinked down at his own, and wondered whether or not this qualified as a date.

- - - - -

On Friday, Sanada won in the tiebreak, 7 games to 6.

"I had three tests today," Atobe said after they shook hands. "I'm tired is all."

"Is that an excuse?" Sanada asked, sounding amused.

"No," Atobe retorted, crossing his arms. "It's not an excuse, it's a justifiable reason for my game not being quite up to my usual standard today. You won't be so lucky next time."

"And when is this 'next time'?" Sanada said as he led the way indoors.

"Next Friday," Atobe replied. "Or…earlier. If you want."

Sanada considered this. "Let's play on Tuesday," he said. "And then on Friday you can come to my house."

Atobe caught up to Sanada and smirked at him. "Introducing me to your parents already, ahn?"

Sanada blinked. "Yes," he said simply. "My brother will be home, too."

"You have a brother?"


"Older or younger?"

"He's older."

"Ah." Atobe frowned. "I've had bad experiences with older brothers," he said, remembering the one time Shishido's brother had locked the two of them in the closet for three hours when they were seven (they would later both vehemently deny that this had ever happened).

Sanada shrugged. "We get along for the most part. My mother has always wanted a daughter, though."

"Once she meets Ore-sama, she'll be blinded by all my perfect qualities and realize that after having me in her life, there's absolutely no need for anyone else." Atobe grinned, running a hand through his hair and puffing out his chest.

Sanada rolled his eyes. "Yes, I'm sure you'll fulfill her wishes for a daughter wonderfully," he said flatly. "You could go shopping together."

"I like shopping…"

"I rest my case."

"Sanada, we could go shopping."



- - - - -

November came and with it the weather grew steadily cooler and the days shorter. On days that it was too cold to play tennis, Atobe brought Sanada to his personal gym, partly to show off the impressive facilities, but mostly to show off his impressive self. They weight trained together and made use of the indoor courts as well, and there was one occasion where Atobe managed to convince Sanada to go swimming in the heated, Olympic-sized pool.

About halfway through November, Atobe called Sanada on a lazy Wednesday afternoon, and for the first time he could remember, Sanada didn't answer. He frowned down at his phone, and then shrugged and decided to call him later.

Except Sanada didn't answer later. He didn't answer at all the next day either, nor Friday morning. When he didn't show up to Atobe's house after school that afternoon, Atobe began to get annoyed. When he didn't call him at all the entire following week, Atobe began to get worried.

"He didn't answer my voice mails, either," Atobe muttered to himself as he searched around in his closet for a jacket and a scarf the following Friday. He was not going to stay home and be bored again just because Sanada had decided to kick him out of his life.

Oshitari's phone was turned off when Atobe called, and Kabaji didn't answer his either. Jiroh's line was busy. Atobe was beginning to wonder if everyone else in the world had decided to have a party without telling him. He trudged down the street, going through all the numbers on his contact list, but no one really jumped out at him. He debated calling Tezuka for about two seconds, and then remembered that the last time he had seen the boy was at the party he'd had, and he'd dumped him onto Tachibana without giving an explanation and then disappeared for the rest of the night, so maybe that wasn't the best idea.

He ended up outside Shishido's house somehow, even though he wasn't aware that's where his feet had been taking him. Shrugging, he walked up the front steps and rang the doorbell.

"Atobe?" Shishido said when he answered the door, eyes wide. "Why are you here?"

Atobe pushed past him, unwinding his scarf from around his neck. "I thought you might be bored," he said, shaking his jacket off. "So I came to alleviate your pain."

Shishido scowled, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Except I'm not bored," he said, looking past Atobe into the kitchen. "Choutarou's here."

"Ah." Atobe grinned. "Of course. Choutarou."

Shishido's cheeks flushed and he shot Atobe The Glare™.

"Shishido-san, who was -- Oh. Atobe-buchou!" Ohtori paused uncertainly in the doorway, looking back and forth between the other two.

"Ohtori," Atobe said amiably. "You can drop the buchou, you know. I'm not exactly your captain anymore."

Ohtori grinned. "Right. Sorry, Atobe-san."

"How's tennis been?"

"It's been alright, Atobe-san. I'm still trying to get used to playing with a different partner." He looked across at Shishido when he said this, whose cheeks went a little bit darker.

"Well, that's to be expected," Atobe said. "But you're a strong player." He tipped his head in Shishido's direction. "You showed this guy how it was supposed to be done. After that I'm sure you can handle anyone."

"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" Shishido snapped.

Atobe smirked at him. "Nothing for you to worry about." He took a closer look at him. "Your hair's grown."

Shishido rolled his eyes. "You see me every day; you're only just now noticing this?"

"Because I really pay that much attention to the state of other people's hair."

"Yeah, I know you do, that's why I'm confused." Shishido grinned.

Atobe lifted his chin a bit. "Ha ha," he said flatly.

"Yours has grown, too."

"Mmm." Atobe ran a hand through his, thoroughly enjoying the extra length around his ears.

A loud timer suddenly sounded from the kitchen.

"Shishido-san, the oven," Ohtori said, glancing over his shoulder.

"Oh, right." Shishido moved forward, waving for Atobe to follow. "Come on, we're…ahh…"

"Baking cookies!" Ohtori piped up cheerfully.

Atobe arched an eyebrow, and Shishido scowled, ducking his head. "My mom suggested it," he mumbled. "And there was nothing else to do."

"I didn't say anything," Atobe said, smirking. "Cookies are good."

Due to the lack of any other more favorable options (and because he actually really did enjoy baking, even if he would never admit this), Atobe decided to go out of his way and share his supreme baking skills with the other two. He helped them out with the next batch of cookies. And the next. And then the batch after that, as well.

He'd been there for about an hour and they had graduated onto pies when his phone started ringing.

"Oh," Atobe murmured, up to his elbows in raw eggs and flour that he was trying to knead into dough.

"Who's that?" Shishido asked.

"How should I know? My hands are sticky, I can't answer it," Atobe said, glancing down at his pocket. "Check it, would you?"

"Where is it?"

"Front pocket."

Shishido gave him an incredulous look. "I am not reaching into your pocket, Atobe."

Atobe rolled his eyes. "I'm giving you permission."

"Atobe -- No."


"I'm not doing it!"

"Why not?"

"Because it's weird!"

"It isn't weird and it could be an important call!" Atobe said. "Now check Ore-sama's pocket!"

"I won't!"

Atobe opened his mouth to say something else, but Ohtori cut between them just then, reaching forward and plucking Atobe's cell phone from the front of his jeans. He handed it to Shishido with a flat look, and then went back to mixing the fruit filling without another word. Atobe and Shishido blinked at him.

"Well?" Ohtori asked, rolling his eyes. "You said it might be important."

Shishido glanced down at the phone in his hands and scowled. "It's Jiroh," he said, holding it up so Atobe could see. "Clearly you have to answer it right this very second."

Atobe shrugged, looking away, and ignored the sudden deflated feeling swooping through him. "Well, it might have been something urgent," he said. "Put it down, I'll call him back later."

Shishido set the phone down on the counter and went back to measuring out more flour.

It rang again about two minutes later.

Atobe sighed. "Fine, fine, I'll talk to him. Hold it up for me."

Shishido gave an aggravated sigh and grabbed the phone again, absently checking the caller ID. "Actually, it says it's Sanada this time," he said, arching an eyebrow. "And he has a smiley face next to his name."

Atobe's eyes went wide. "What?" he asked, giving Shishido a startled glance. "Sanada?"

"Why does he have a smiley face?"

"Shit," Atobe muttered under his breath, looking down at his hands. He dove for the sink. "Answer it, would you?"

"Do I get a smiley face?"

"No!" Atobe snapped, frantically rubbing his hands under the water.

Shishido pouted, more than a little exaggeratedly. "Why not?"

"Because you have a star, now would you answer the damn phone?!" Atobe looked around for a towel. Ohtori handed him one with an amused grin.

"Stars are cool, I guess," Shishido said, and flipped the phone open. "Hello, you've reached Atobe Keigo's personal sex slave hotline. Keigo can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name and number, we'll be sure to have a sex slave contact you as soon as one becomes availab--"

"Give me that," Atobe snapped, yanking the phone out of Shishido's hands and pushing him away. He fell against Ohtori and the two of them burst out laughing. Atobe ignored them. "Sanada," he barked into the phone, turning away. "Sorry about that, I'm volunteering at a shelter for extremely mentally handicapped children today," he said, giving the other two a dark look. Shishido stuck his tongue out at him. Ohtori merely looked slightly apologetic.

"…So in other words, you decided to hang out with Seigaku for the day," Sanada said, sounding slightly amused.

Atobe laughed, and had the pleasure of watching Shishido's and Ohtori's eyes go round with shock. "Close," he said. "I'm with Shishido and Ohtori."

"Ah. Your doubles pair, right?"

"That's right. Not next year, though. Ohtori's only a second-year."


There was an awkward sort of pause for a moment, and then Atobe spoke again. "So. Where have you been?" he asked, sitting on one of the chairs by the counter. "You haven't been returning my calls."

"No, I haven't. I did get all sixteen messages you left though, so thank you for taking up an extra hour of my day while I listened to them all."

Atobe smirked. "Anytime."

"…I've been at the hospital, mostly."

"What?" Atobe's eyes widened. "What happened?"

"Yukimura had a relapse. The doctors think he's going to be fine, though. It's not as serious as it was the first time around," Sanada said.

"Oh," Atobe said, for lack of anything else that seemed appropriate. "Well--"

"You don't have to say anything," Sanada interrupted. "I just wanted to let you know. He's doing alright. Practically kicked me out of the hospital today and told me to go do something."

"So of course you called me," Atobe said, grinning slightly.

"Actually, I called Renji first, but he was busy."


"…I'm kidding."

"I was trying to figure out why you wouldn't have just asked him at the hospital, actually," Atobe said. "Because I assumed he was there with you."

"True," Sanada said.

"Ore-sama can't be fooled."

"Of course not."

There was another pause. Atobe leaned forward over the counter, absently tracing patterns with his finger. "So, let me see if I understand you correctly," he said after a moment. "I don't hear from you in two weeks, not one word to let me know you haven't died or something, and now you're calling me up to ask if I want to do something?"

"…That's basically it, yes," Sanada said. Atobe could hear the grin in his voice.

He smiled. "Where are you?"

"On the bus. I'll be there in fifteen minutes."

Atobe blinked. "Well aren't you the efficient one," he said, chuckling. "I'll meet you at the bus stop. Are you staying over?"

"I wasn't sure, but I have my stuff just in case."

"Wonderful. See you in fifteen."


Atobe snapped his phone shut, staring at it absently for a moment, and didn't notice when Shishido sat down in the chair beside him.

"What the hell was that?" the other boy asked, giving Atobe a curious look.

Atobe glanced at him. "A phone call, I believe," he said flatly. "I have to go."

"Bullshit," Shishido said, following him to the door. "What's going on with you two? Have you been hanging out with him a lot or something?"

"Every week," Atobe said, stepping into his shoes and reaching for his scarf.

Shishido blinked. "What… Are you two…?"

"Are we what?" Atobe asked, arching an eyebrow.

Shishido scowled. "Never mind. Geez, lame. We'll just finish the pie by ourselves, then."

Atobe smirked, glancing over at Ohtori. "It's a huge hassle, I'm sure," he said dryly, and was amused when they both turned red. "Bring some of those cookies to school on Monday, though. Later." He stepped out the front door and walked calmly down the path, tightening his scarf around his neck.

He made sure he was a good distance away from Shishido's house before he broke into a run.

- - - - -

Towards the beginning of December, Atobe very nearly messed everything up.

"Go with you where?" Sanada asked, setting down the book he was reading.

"To a concert," Atobe said, not looking up from his magazine. They were in his room, Sanada on the couch and Atobe sprawled out on the thick Persian carpet in front of the fireplace. "It's on Christmas Eve, so I wasn't sure if you already had plans or not."

"What sort of--"

"It'll be mostly American holiday music, I think. I went last year and was fairly impressed."

Sanada looked like he was thinking it over. "And you have no one else you can ask?"

"I don't have any other friends interested in this sort of thing," Atobe said, ignoring the fact that just last week Ohtori had been clamoring about how he wished he could have gotten tickets to this exact show.

"I'm not sure my mother will let me out on Christmas Eve," Sanada said.

Atobe smirked. "Ore-sama could talk to her. She'd listen to me."

Sanada rolled his eyes. "I'm sure."

Atobe pushed himself up to his knees and turned to fold his arms across the seat of the couch by Sanada's head. Sanada glanced at him. "I want you to go. It could be fun."

"Atobe, I'll ask, alright?" Sanada said, arching his eyebrows. "Just don't expect any miracles. I don't even think my brother is allowed out on Christmas Eve."

Atobe's cheeks suddenly felt quite warm as he continued staring at the other boy. He blamed the fire. "But it's for a worthwhile cause."

"It's for a concert."

Atobe frowned slightly. "It's for a night of magnificent entertainment and we get to dress up and look fancy and impress the rest of the city with our prowess." And no, he was not pouting, thank you.

"What does prowess have to do with dressing up for a night?" Sanada asked, turning back to his book.

"Anything to do with Ore-sama has prowess involved. And lots of it." Atobe smirked, tossing his hair back.

"I'll leave it to you, then. I don't think mine quite compares."

"It doesn't, of course, but one can only hang around the awesomeness that is me for so long without at least some of it rubbing off." Atobe reached forward without really thinking and brushed some of Sanada's hair out of his eyes. Sanada blinked, looking back at Atobe again, who promptly flushed. "It was bothering me," he said loftily, even though he usually considered explanations for his actions unnecessary.

"…My hair was bothering you," Sanada said faintly.

"Because it was in your eyes," Atobe explained. "Probably distorting your view of me. Most problematic, that."

Sanada rolled his eyes and shook his head almost indecipherably. Atobe kept staring.

"What?" Sanada finally asked, laying the book across his stomach and crossing his arms.

"What?" Atobe repeated, sounding startled. His eyes widened a bit. "Nothing. I was just…contemplating whether or not I actually liked the color of this sofa. It kind of clashes with the carpet, don't you think? It might be time for another one."

"I like it, though," Sanada said, shifting slightly as he spoke. "It's comfortable."

"Oh," Atobe said. "Well, never mind then."

Sanada gave Atobe a suspicious look. "What's going on?"

"Nothing's going on. Why would something be going on?"



Sanada sighed. "You're acting funny."

Atobe looked affronted. "I am not. I was simply trying to figure out if this weird mauve sort of color disagrees with the purples that are in the carpet because I can't have clashing colors in my bedroom, and have you ever kissed anyone before?"

Sanada blinked. "What?"

"…Kissed," Atobe repeated, suddenly wishing he could melt into the floor. "Have you ever kissed anyone?"

"…My family?" Sanada said after an uncomfortable moment of silence. His eyes were wide.

"Because obviously that's exactly the answer I was looking for," Atobe said flatly.

"No, then," Sanada said gruffly, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. "I haven't."


"…Have you?"

Atobe smirked. "Of course!" he said, and then when Sanada arched his eyebrow at him, added, "Well…once. Sort of. It was kind of an accident on Ore-sama's part…" He didn't elaborate. Sanada didn't ask him to. "It was a girl, though."


"Ahn." Atobe met Sanada's eyes again and held his gaze for a few unnaturally long seconds.

Then he leaned forward and kissed him.

It wasn't the most romantic of kisses. They both had their eyes open and Sanada's had gone round with shock. He'd tensed up, too, nearly every muscle in his body going stiff. Atobe pulled back, drawing his lower lip into his mouth, and Sanada's gaze seemed to follow that motion. Then he turned brilliantly red and quickly sat up.

"What was that?" he snapped, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth.

Atobe frowned. "A kiss, I believe. I may not be very experienced, but generally when one person does that to another, the exchange is usually termed--"

"I know that," Sanada interrupted exasperatedly. "I meant why?"

"You should have asked why then, as it has a completely different meaning than what--"


Atobe went quiet. "I don't know," he said softly. "I felt like it."

"And you always do whatever the hell you feel like doing?"

"Basically, yes," Atobe answered, as if that was the dumbest question in the world. "You hadn't figured that one out yet?"

"Shut up," Sanada said, leaning over and digging a hand into his hair. "I want to know why you did it, and because you felt like it isn't a good enough answer!"

Atobe sighed. "You have to have noticed that we've practically been dating these past couple of months."

Sanada made a choked sound. "What--"

"I've been wooing you," Atobe said matter-of-factly. "I was rather hoping you would catch on at some point, but either I'm not being near as frank about it as I thought I was, or you're just more dense than I ever anticipated." He paused. "I think it's the latter, personally."

"Wooing?" Sanada spluttered, and Atobe rolled his eyes and was very Not Surprised that the other boy hadn't managed to hear past his first sentence. "Who even uses that word anymore! What -- I don't -- Atobe!"

"I take it this means you don't want to go to the concert…"

Sanada looked at him in disbelief, and then abruptly stood up and stumbled over to his overnight bag. "I'm going," he said, shoving his book into it and pulling out a sweatshirt and his hat.

Atobe's eyes widened. "It's almost midnight, you can't go! The buses don't even run this late!"

"Then I'll walk," Sanada said stiffly.

Atobe felt very cold all of sudden, despite the fire in the fireplace. "You can't leave," he said.

"I need to think."

"There are a million rooms in the house that you can go think in."


"It was just a kiss! I wasn't aware it would completely upset your entire universe!"

Sanada sighed and stood up, shouldering his bag. "I'll call you. Maybe."

Atobe deflated a bit, pressing his lips together and reaching for his phone. "I'll get a car to take you," he murmured, hitting a random speed dial button, and then a couple more after that as he listened to the automated message.

Sanada pulled his cap down over his eyes. "Thanks," he said gruffly.

"It'll be out front."

"Right. See you."

Atobe waved him off absently, but didn't watch him go. The dying flames were suddenly much more interesting.

- - - - -

Sanada didn't call him at all the following week, or the one after that. Atobe only called him once, and he did it during school hours because he knew Sanada would have his phone turned off. It didn't make much sense to call when he knew the other person would not be picking up, but for some reason it made him feel a little better.

Atobe tried to keep himself occupied. He spent more hours in the gym and bothered Shishido some more at home. He went with Oshitari to the movies – which he reminded himself not to do again every single time they went because he always got roped into seeing the sappy, romance films – why did he never learn? Kabaji even came around a couple of times, and he went out to McDonald's with Jiroh once or twice.

It all sort of worked, but he still found himself glancing at his phone more times in a minute than could possibly be considered normal.

It was already December 16th by the time Sanada finally decided to talk to him again. It was pretty late in the evening, and Atobe had been lounging in his bed reading when the phone rang. He reached for it lazily, checked the caller ID, and then sat straight up as his eyes went wide.

He flipped open the phone quickly. "Hello?"



There was a pause. "I'm… I thought you might like to know that Yukimura was released from the hospital today."

Atobe didn't say anything for a moment. Then he sighed and fell back against his pillows, his eyes sliding shut. "Thank you for informing me," he said eventually, a tad stiffly. "I hope things turn out better this time than they did the last."

"He seems to be doing well."

Atobe clenched his teeth. "Give him my best wishes."

"I will." There was another pause. "Are you…" Then a frustrated sigh.

Atobe blinked. "What?" he asked quickly.

"How…have you been?"

"…Alright," Atobe said after a moment. "Bored."

"You're always bored."

"Well." Atobe grinned. "There is very little that can sufficiently entertain Ore-sama."

"It's because you're so high maintenance," Sanada said.

"Someone has to be. There are enough low-class ruffians in the world."

"Of course," Sanada said, sounding amused.

Atobe tossed his book to the side, making himself comfortable under the covers. "So," he said. "There's a slight possibility that I might've been wallowing in self-pity for the past two weeks. I expect a complete explanation for why it took you so damn long to call."

Sanada chuckled. "It's because I'm cruel," he said. "I enjoy making you suffer."


"I was actually expecting about thirty messages from you. When I didn't get any, it was kind of a shock."

"Did you feel unloved?"

"Oh, very," Sanada said flatly. "Not even one phone call. For shame."

"I did so call you once," Atobe said. "I started to leave a message, but I was in the middle of my Greek class and my teacher didn't seem to understand that I had more urgent matters at hand."

"Oh, that's right. I did see that on my missed calls list…"

They talked well into the night, the topic of conversation jumping around in such a way that Atobe would never be able to properly recall what exactly was so interesting that he didn't make it to bed until four in the morning.

And even if he dozed through all of his morning classes the next day and had to deal with Shishido pestering him about it, it was worth it.

- - - - -

Sanada invited Atobe to his house that Friday. Apparently his parents were going out, he'd said, and even though Atobe wasn't entirely sure what that implied, because he didn't want to look too far into things, it was still hard not to get his hopes up.

They shared a bowl of popcorn while watching a movie, and then when Sanada's brother dashed out of the house saying he'd be back later, things very suddenly got quiet. It wasn't like they'd never been alone together before. It wasn't like they'd never shared popcorn before either. So why their hands seemed to keep brushing when they reached for the bowl was beyond Atobe. He'd actually tried this tactic before, but the other boy had been completely oblivious about the whole thing so he'd given up fairly quickly. Tonight, though, he wasn't even trying. If anything, he was actually making an effort to avoid the bowl whenever Sanada reached for it. Still their fingers would manage to touch, and then Sanada would yank his hand away and his cheeks would flush.

It'd be cute, if Atobe didn't feel his own face going hot each time as well.

"Are you doing that on purpose?" he finally asked, snatching the nearly empty bowl away and tossing it onto the small table in front of the couch.

"No," Sanada said quickly, pulling his hat down over his eyes.


"I am not."

"You're blushing."

Sanada went an even darker red. "So are you," he mumbled.

"Ore-sama does not blush," Atobe said instantly. "I'm merely slightly overheated."

"You were complaining that you were cold earlier."

"Well, obviously somebody turned the heat on."


Atobe grinned, shuffling around until he was leaning against the opposite arm of the couch. Then he swung his feet up and rested them in Sanada's lap.

Sanada frowned. "What're you doing?"

"I needed to stretch."

"So stretch elsewhere!"

"Mmm, no. I'm comfortable now." He glanced at Sanada. "You don't mind, ahn?"

Sanada sighed. "No. My purpose in life was obviously to be your footstool."

"You could make yourself even more useful and be a foot massager, too," Atobe said, wiggling his toes. He'd meant it as a joke and knew Sanada would take it as one, so when he felt a hand on his foot after a couple of minutes had passed, it startled him at first. "What--" he started to say, his eyes wide.

"Shut up," Sanada muttered, pressing his thumbs against the arc of Atobe's foot. He was wearing socks, but he could still feel the heat of Sanada's touch seeping through to his skin. Sanada kept his eyes on the movie, moving his hands expertly. He dragged one thumb down Atobe's sole, making his toes curl and flex in turn. His other hand rubbed down behind Atobe's ankle, fingers dipping beneath his sock and pressing gently against his skin.

The whole thing was sending odd tingles up Atobe's spine, and he swallowed nervously several times, trying to figure out when his throat had gotten so dry. He shivered slightly, bringing his knees closer together without trying to seem too obvious about it.

He almost threw a pillow at Sanada's head when the other boy smirked.

"Am I worthy of your approval, oh great one?" Sanada asked dryly, switching to Atobe's other foot and pressing his thumbs down again.

Atobe bit back a moan. "Your hands might be," he said, shivering again. "Not quite sure about the rest of you."

"Oh?" Sanada arched an eyebrow. "You seemed to feel differently not too long ago."

Atobe blinked, looking over to find Sanada staring at him. And smirking. And still wearing his stupid hat.

He didn't really remember moving, but suddenly Sanada's hat was in Atobe's hand, which was wrapped around the back of the other boy's neck, and they were kissing. Both of them. Atobe almost pulled back in shock when he realized that Sanada was kissing him back, and eagerly at that, but Sanada's arms tightened around his waist, pulling him closer, and when had he decided straddling the other boy would be a good idea?

Whatever. Too much thinking. Atobe groaned, his knees pressing in on both sides of Sanada's thighs as Sanada slipped his hands up the back of his shirt.

Atobe gasped, pulling back a little. "So this is a very different reaction than what I got last time," he noted, panting slightly.

"Things change," Sanada said, pressing a quick kiss to Atobe's lips. "I might have been too hasty that night."

"Obviously," Atobe said, rolling his eyes and letting his head fall back when Sanada's mouth trailed down his neck.

Sanada moved suddenly, dipping Atobe down and pushing him onto his back on the couch. Atobe tightened his arms quickly, bringing Sanada down to his level, and kissed him again.

"It's really kind of sudden, though," Atobe said when they broke apart again.

"I've been thinking about it nonstop for two weeks," Sanada said flatly. "It's not sudden."

Atobe blinked. "You should have called sooner then."

"I almost didn't call at all," Sanada admitted. "I'm not… This isn't…." He huffed, looking annoyed with himself. "I've never done this before."

"Neither have I," Atobe muttered. "I told you that."

Sanada sighed. "Point," he said, leaning down to kiss him. Atobe kissed him back, mouth sliding open beneath the other boy's. Sanada leaned into it, pushing Atobe's shirt farther up his chest and brushing his hand along Atobe's stomach. It made Atobe's breath hitch, his muscles jumping underneath his touch. He groaned again, hooking his leg around the back of Sanada's thighs to pull their hips closer together.

Sanada pulled back slightly. "It'd be kind of pointless to remind you that I have no idea what I'm doing, right?"

Atobe shook his head. "This works," he said breathlessly. "Just…keep at it. Don't stop."

Sanada nodded. "Right."

Things kind of started to blur together from there. They moved more frantically against each other, Atobe running his hands down Sanada's sides and dipping his fingers past the waistband of his jeans. Sanada made a choked sound and thrust blindly downwards, which had Atobe gasping and pressing his hips up to meet him. He clutched at Sanada's shirt while Sanada buried one hand in Atobe's hair, and they met each other kiss for kiss as the heat coiled and spread throughout Atobe's body.

And then the front door creaked open and slammed shut, and the sound of footsteps echoed loudly through the room.

"Shit," Sanada muttered, tearing away lightning quick and trying to straighten out his hair. Atobe sat up just as fast, making a vain attempt to get the wrinkles out of his shirt.

They were only about halfway presentable by the time Sanada's parents entered the room, but luckily they didn't seem to find anything amiss. They simply announced that they were going to bed, and then wandered out again, leaving their son to his own devices. Atobe and Sanada didn't say a word until they heard the bedroom door shut upstairs. Then they both released a collective breath.

"Next time," Atobe said, flicking some hair out of his eyes and nudging Sanada with his foot, "we do this at my place."

- - - - -

The day before Christmas was bright and sunny and ridiculously cold. Atobe cursed, rubbing his hands together as he waited for Sanada at the bus stop. He knew he should have gotten one of his drivers to take him. Actually, it wasn't too late to call…

"What took you so long?" he snapped when Sanada stepped off the bus, pulling his scarf tighter around his neck.

Sanada arched an eyebrow. "I haven't gained control of the public transportation industry yet," he said. "You'll have to forgive me."

Atobe rolled his eyes. "Well come on," he said, turning and hurrying off down the sidewalk. "It's freezing out here. Are you wearing nice clothes?"

"I have a suit on," Sanada said dryly, catching up and walking by Atobe's side. "I hope that will suffice. Because I've never been to a concert before, you know. This is all brand new to me."

"Are you actually attempting to have a sense of humor today?" Atobe said, grinning a little.

"Maybe." Sanada smirked. "Why, is it working?"

"Barely. But it is noticeable."

"I'll have to try harder, then."

Atobe grinned, pressing his shoulder against Sanada's. Sanada glanced at him and pressed back.

They went to a restaurant not far from where the concert hall was, something that wasn't too fancy for Sanada, but high-class enough that Atobe didn't feel the need to complain and drag them elsewhere.

"So did your mother give you a curfew?" Atobe asked after they'd placed their orders. "How did you get her to let you out?"

Sanada shrugged. "Apparently concerts are an educational experience. She was all for it, really." He glanced up at Atobe. "And she said as long as I'm home and in bed by the time she wakes up, she won't ask me what time I got in."

Atobe smirked. "Have I told you lately how much I adore her?" He took a sip of his water. "My parents usually show up for the holidays. Maybe you'll finally get a chance to meet them."

"Where have they been?"

"Somewhere in Europe, I think," Atobe said, frowning slightly. "I wanted to go, but you know. School and all."

"Ah." Sanada looked amused. "School. Of course."

They finished dinner and then headed to the concert hall. The seats they had were amazing, which was to be expected, of course, but Sanada still looked impressed.

The entire evening went over well. Atobe could tell that Sanada had enjoyed the concert just from the look in his eyes, and if Atobe had spent at least half the time watching him instead of the musicians…well, he'd never admit it.

Afterwards they wandered through the streets, drinking hot cocoa they'd gotten from a nearby coffee shop and marveling at how big the crowds still were.

"Last minute shopping, probably," Sanada said, blowing the steam off his cocoa and watching it melt into the night.

"Procrastinators," Atobe said, wrapping both hands around his cup in an effort to warm them up. "All of them."

"Cold?" Sanada asked, glancing at him out of the corner of his eye.

"Just a little," Atobe admitted. "Want to go back to my place?"

Sanada paused. "I'm not sure if you meant that the way it sounded or not, but yes, absolutely."

"I'm calling one of my drivers," Atobe said, grinning a little as he whipped out his phone. He was about to start dialing when something small and white landed on the screen, melting instantly and blurring the text a little. Atobe glanced up at the dark sky.

"It's snowing," Sanada said, holding out his palm and watching as the snowflakes melted into his glove.

Atobe snorted. "Typical," he said, and slid his phone back into his pocket. "Of course it would start to snow on Christmas Eve just when I was about to call a car to take us home."

"Someone obviously has a sense of humor," Sanada said, looking towards the sky.

"That, or they think they're being clever and are actually just failing miserably."

Sanada smirked a bit. "I like the snow," he said simply, watching as the steady fall grew even heavier.

"It's getting my hair wet," Atobe complained.

Sanada unzipped his coat, digging around in one of the pockets inside of it. "Here," he said, and unceremoniously plopped his hat down on Atobe's head.

Atobe froze. "Do you always have this thing with you?" he asked faintly, pulling it off and looking from it to Sanada and back again.

"I'm nothing if not prepared."

"You mean you're obsessed," Atobe said. "It's unhealthy, Sanada." He glanced down at the hat again and then shrugged, putting it back on and pulling it down over his eyes. "Mada mada dane."

Sanada gave a short bark of laughter. "Good lord," he said. "Don't do that."

Atobe smirked. "Che. That brat. He's so…"


"…I didn't say anything."

"No, but you're thinking it and I agree."

"You've developed telepathic powers then, ahn?"

"I've always had them," Sanada said. "I just never mentioned it before."

"It's the hat, isn't it? I bet it's magical or something."

Sanada struggled to keep a straight face. "Indeed."

"I'm going to have hat hair now," Atobe said as he adjusted the cap.

"We don't have to walk back, you know."

Atobe shrugged and tossed his empty cup into a nearby trashcan. "I'm fairly certain there's an unwritten law somewhere that states that in the event of snow on Christmas Eve, all couples are supposed to frolic hand-in-hand down the sidewalk."

"All couples?" Sanada asked, sounding amused.

"Yes," Atobe said. "Couples." He pulled the hat down over his eyes again, beginning to understand how wearing such a thing could come in handy at times.

He started when Sanada reached for his hand, and shot the other boy a questioning glance. "Wouldn't want to go against the law," Sanada said simply, curling his hand around Atobe's and squeezing lightly.

Atobe felt his cheeks go hot. "No, getting arrested would probably ruin the evening," he said absently. He squeezed back.

They walked all the way back to Atobe's house, the snow slowly piling up around them.

"If I could feel my hands, I'd be tempted to throw a snowball at you," Atobe said, even though his hands were perfectly fine – especially the one that was still in Sanada's grasp. He leaned slightly against Sanada as they made their way up the path.

"If you did, I'd push you into a snow drift."

"I'd pull you down with me."

"Then I'd shove snow down your jacket."

"I'd shove snow down your pants."

"I'd rub it in your hair."

Atobe gasped dramatically, bringing his free hand up to cover his mouth. "Such a low blow, Sanada."

"I fight dirty," Sanada said flatly.


They stripped out of their coats and scarves once they were safely inside, letting the on-duty staff members take them away to dry. Then Atobe led them up to his room, where a fire was already blazing in the fireplace.

"You changed the couch," Sanada said, looking at the new burgundy monstrosity that was taking its place.

"I told you, the colors clashed."

Sanada arched an eyebrow. "They're practically the same."

"Ah, but practically is not exactly, is it?" Atobe said, smirking.

"I liked the old one."

"You can have it, if you want."

Sanada blinked as he started loosening his tie. "You're going to give me a couch?"

Atobe tossed his suit coat onto the bed. "Merry Christmas?" he said hopefully, tipping the brim of the hat up.

"Wait, you're serious?" Sanada's eyes went wide. "I don't -- Well. It does match the curtains in the living room…"

Atobe smirked. "I noticed."

"You can just give me a couch, Atobe," Sanada said.

"I think I just did."

"I haven't accepted it yet--"

"It was delivered to your house earlier today." Atobe crossed his arms, lifting his chin a bit. "I win."

Sanada rolled his eyes. "It wasn't a competition," he muttered.

Atobe shrugged, walking over to the other boy. "It's hard to accept a loss to Ore-sama, I know," he said, grabbing the front of Sanada's shirt and pulling him forward so he could kiss him. "You'll become accustomed to it eventually."

"If I recall correctly," Sanada said, stepping backwards towards the couch and bringing Atobe with him, "we're pretty evenly matched. I've won some games, too."

"I was mentally exhausted from all those tests the one time," Atobe said, grinning into another kiss. "And the other time I had just played a match against Oshitari before you came over."

"Excuses, excuses."

"Justifiable reasons."

Sanada pulled Atobe in close so that they were almost nose to nose. "Same thing," he said, and then kissed Atobe again. His hat fell to the floor.

Atobe wrapped his arms around Sanada's neck, tilting his head to the side a bit so that he could get better access to the boy's mouth. Sanada returned it, sweeping his tongue into Atobe's mouth and tugging his shirt out of his pants. Atobe groaned, his hands fumbling for the buckle of Sanada's belt just as Sanada began unbuttoning his shirt. He tossed the belt off to the side and shook his shirt off his shoulders before helping Sanada out of his own.

Then they paused, eyeing each other up and down.

"Again," Sanada said, his gaze heavy even though this certainly wasn't the first time he'd seen Atobe without a shirt on, "I don't--"

"Know what you're doing. We've been over that," Atobe interrupted, waving it aside. "Just don't stop here."

Sanada shook his head. "Wouldn't dream of it," he said, and then he grabbed Atobe around the waist and pulled him down onto the carpet.

They fumbled around trying to get each other's pants off, mostly because Atobe was wearing his best dress pants and didn't want them to get wrinkled. Then once his were off he felt too exposed compared to Sanada, so they pulled his off, too. When they were both down to their boxers, they paused again, staring at each other.

"And now…?" Sanada asked helplessly, his cheeks red.

"Just…go with the flow," Atobe mumbled, and then cursed himself for being so inarticulate. He let Sanada push him onto his back, his heart pounding unbelievably loudly all of a sudden. He was certain it must be echoing throughout the room or something.

The feel of Sanada's chest against his own as the other boy leaned down to kiss him sent all sorts of shivers running up and down Atobe's spine. He gasped, his back arching off the floor. His legs locked around Sanada's thighs, pulling his pelvis down to his, and Sanada jerked and shuddered when both of their now very prominent erections brushed against each other.

"Atobe," he grunted, burying his face in Atobe's shoulder.

Atobe clutched at his bare back, his skin slick with new sweat. He dragged one hand around front, slowly tracing it down Sanada's chest as he drew the boy in for another kiss. He could feel him shudder as he brushed across his abdomen, and then when he reached the top of his boxers, Sanada went still.

"Alright?" Atobe asked, damning the waver in his voice. He felt Sanada nod.

"Yeah," Sanada said, his voice just as shaky. Atobe swallowed nervously, and slipped his fingers beneath the waistband of Sanada's boxers.

Atobe was no stranger to other boys' cocks. He was an athlete, so he was in and out of the locker rooms often enough. He showered with the rest of his teammates, just like anyone else, and though he wasn't necessarily looking, per se (most of the time), it was hard to avoid seeing what everyone else was sporting.

He'd never held another one before, though. It felt…odd. Like his own, except backwards, maybe. Sanada was hot and heavy in the palm of his hand, unfamiliar and yet almost comfortable all at the same time.

Atobe glanced up, meeting Sanada's wide-eyed gaze, and grinned. "Still alright?" he asked, feeling his confidence gradually coming back as he slowly started to move his hand up and down.

Sanada shivered, biting his bottom lip slightly, and nodded. "Yes," he gasped, hips jerking forward. "Better than--" He gasped again. "…alright."

"Ore-sama no bigi ni yoina."

Sanada shuddered again, and laughed somewhat helplessly. "Sure," he said, kissing the other boy. "Whatever you say, Atobe."

"Whatever I say, ahn?" Atobe smirked, and grabbed Sanada's hand, placing it on his chest. Sanada watched, his cheeks flushing pink as he splayed his fingers out. Atobe moved his hand down slowly, swallowing as he did. He paused briefly at his stomach and then, taking a deep breath, moved Sanada's hand over the obvious bulge in his shorts. "Touch me," he said, holding Sanada's gaze.

Sanada released a long breath, looking down to where his fingers were gently rubbing Atobe through the thin material. Atobe's chest hitched, his toes curling as he tried to remain still. "Touch you," Sanada repeated softly. "I can do that." He, very regrettably, moved out of Atobe's reach, sliding down the length of the other boy's body until his face was level with Atobe's crotch.

Atobe blinked, propping himself up on his elbows. "What're you--"

"Shut up," Sanada interrupted, not looking up. Atobe huffed, but Sanada ignored him. He swallowed again, releasing another breath, and then leaned forward to touch his tongue to the tip of Atobe's cock. Atobe's boxers were already damp with precome, but that didn't Sanada from wetting them even more.

Atobe made a strangled sound in the back of his throat, falling back down onto the carpet and staring wide-eyed at the ceiling. Sanada dragged his tongue over the material again and Atobe's hands splayed out against the carpet, looking for something he could grasp to anchor himself. "S-Sanada!" he gasped, hips jerking upwards, desperately seeking that wet heat. "That -- You don't have to -- Nggh!"

"What was that?" Sanada asked, peering up at Atobe and smirking a little. "I don't have to what?" Having this sort of affect on someone did wonders for one's confidence level, apparently.

"I--" Atobe tried again, but Sanada decided to get a little more daring before he could say anything else. He slipped Atobe's boxers down, making Atobe's eyes go wide, and promptly leaned down and swallowed as much of Atobe's cock as he could get into his mouth. Atobe cursed, a spew of nonsensical words falling from his mouth as he thrust up, and Sanada instantly gagged and backed off again. "Sorry!" Atobe said, voice muffled by his hands as he covered his suddenly bright red face. His chest heaved up and down.

Sanada slid a hand down Atobe's thigh. "S'okay," he said, pressing a kiss to Atobe's stomach. "Stop hiding."

"I'm not hiding," Atobe said, peeking through his fingers. His face was still red.

Sanada grinned. "Of course not," he said, running his tongue up Atobe's cock. Atobe vaguely wondered how he could do that. Didn't it taste funny? Then the thought drifted through his mind that perhaps it did taste funny and Sanada was just too nice to say anything, and he was instantly horrified. When was the last time he'd bathed? Just that morning, right? Was that too long ago??

Sanada took him into his mouth again and Atobe twitched, biting back a groan. The other boy's movements were clumsy and his teeth accidentally scraped against Atobe's sensitive skin once or twice, but in the end it only took about three-and-a-half minutes before Atobe was gasping and spluttering nonsensically as he buried his hands into Sanada's hair and jerked his hips upwards a final time.

Sanada's eyes went wide as he pulled back, one hand covering his mouth. Atobe blinked up at him from where he lay panting on the carpet. "What…" he started to say, and then suddenly Sanada's face contorted, his nose wrinkling, and he lowered his hand. "Did you swallow it?" Atobe asked, his eyes widening. Sanada nodded slowly, and Atobe felt his cheeks burn again. "That's… Sanada."

Sanada shrugged. "It wasn't that bad…"

"I'm not kissing you after you just…" Atobe frowned.

"You say that like you have a choice," Sanada said, and then leaned forward and captured Atobe's mouth with his own before the other boy could make any move to stop him.

It was possibly one of the weirdest things Atobe had ever experienced, tasting himself on Sanada's tongue like that. Not bad, just…different. He delved into it, kissing him back eagerly and wrapping an arm around Sanada's neck to pull him closer. His other hand slipped between them again, finding Sanada's boxers and sliding beneath the waistband to finish the job he'd started earlier. Sanada jolted and then moaned loudly without breaking the kiss. His hips starting thrusting forward into Atobe's grip almost unconsciously. Once, twice, three times, and all Atobe had to do was tighten his hand and add a slight twist at the end and Sanada was shuddering, hips jerking a forward again as he came.

He collapsed against Atobe's chest when he was spent, panting heavily. Atobe wiped his hand absently on the carpet and made a mental note to clean that before the maids got to it.

"So," Atobe said, shifting slightly so that he could pull his boxers back up. "That wasn't completely awkward and horrible."

Sanada chuckled and rolled off to the side. "Oh no, we have a ways to go and plenty of opportunities to do worse than that, I think."

Atobe smirked, feeling around with his hand until he found the knitted blanket draped over the arm of the sofa. He yanked it down and spread it over he and Sanada before settling back down. "I look forward to it," he said, turning onto to his side and propping himself up with his elbow.

Sanada grinned a dopey, sated grin, and Atobe decided that seeing how many times he could put that expression on Sanada's face was now his new goal in life. "I do, too," Sanada said. He frowned slightly. "What time is it?"

Atobe glanced up at the clock above the fireplace. "Nearly one in the morning," he replied. He looked back at Sanada and smiled. "Merry Christmas, lover."

Sanada snorted. "Lover?" he repeated.

"It's my new nickname for you," Atobe said matter-of-factly. "I'm going to call you that every time I see you from now on. Especially if the rest of your team is around. And I'm going to reprogram my phone so that it says Lover Boy instead of Sanada Genichirou, and I'll change the smiley face to a heart--"

"Atobe, stop," Sanada said, and he had the decency to look a little horrified.

Atobe tried to hold back his laughter. "Fine," he said simply, rolling onto his back. "It's obvious that you don't appreciate my efforts. I see that this relationship is going to go nowhere."

Sanada rolled his eyes. "Start calling me Lover Boy and that's exactly where it will go."

"…I'm still changing the smiley face to a heart."


Atobe glanced over at the other boy. "You didn't wish me a Merry Christmas," he said, crossing his arms behind his head. "That hurts, Genichirou."

"God, don't call me that either."

"You're no fun," Atobe said, pouting more than a little exaggeratedly.

"Alright, fine. Merry Christmas, then," Sanada said dryly.

"What'd you get me?"


"You did get me something, right?" Atobe asked, arching an eyebrow. "I gave you my old couch, if you recall."

"You didn't pay for it."

"I paid for the new one."

"You didn't give me the new one."

"Do you want it? Because I could get a third…"

"No," Sanada said flatly. He flipped onto his stomach, looking around for something, and then grabbed hold of it once he pinpointed its location. "Here," he said, turning back around and pushing his hat onto Atobe's head again. "Merry Christmas."

Atobe blinked, reaching up to touch the brim of the cap, and glanced at Sanada. "You're giving me your hat?" he asked, eyes a little bit wide.

Sanada shrugged. "It's not like I don't have four more at home," he mumbled.

Atobe ignored him in favor of adjusting it more tightly over his head. "I'll treasure it forever," he said, smirking. "Really."

Sanada frowned. "I can take it back if you don't want it..."

"No," Atobe said quickly, and then coughed. "I mean, it's better than nothing, ahn?"

Sanada smiled a little and pulled the blanket further up his chest. "The fire's warm," he said absently.

"Well, fire usually is."

"…" said Sanada. He gave Atobe an exasperated look.

Atobe tried to look innocent. "What?"

"This is going to be an adventure, isn't it?"

"What is?"

Sanada gestured vaguely between them. "This. Us. Whatever the hell we're doing."

"Oh, that." Atobe fiddled with the brim of his cap some more. "Of course it is. Every day with Ore-sama is an adventure."

"You're impossible," Sanada said, unable to stop himself from grinning.

"And I'm sure what you meant to say was that I'm brilliant, right, Sanada?"

Sanada sighed and shook his head a bit, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like, "Unbelievable," under his breath. He crossed his arms behind his head, letting his eyes fall shut.

Atobe blinked. "…Sanada?"


"Sanada, are you ignoring me?"


"Sanada! Ore-sama doesn't like to be ignored!"





Sanada opened his eyes and stared at the other boy for a moment, the corner of his mouth tugging up into an almost indecipherable grin. Then without warning he reached across and pulled Atobe forward, kissing him soundly on the lips and sweeping his tongue into his mouth.

Atobe gave him dazed look when he pulled back. "What was that fo--"

"Atobe?" Sanada interrupted.

Atobe huffed. "What?" he said, looking slightly put out at being cut off yet again.

Sanada smiled. "Shut up," he said.

And then he kissed him again.


Thoughts and comments are very much appreciated! Thanks for reading. :D

- Maxine