Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis

A/N: No beta, so please forgive the possible grammar/spelling mistakes. Review, please?

"Che, ponta," came the answer, and the waitress left to bring their orders.

"We are in a high class restaurant, and that is what you chose to order?" a disbelieving voice asked.

"It's good."

"You could have ordered anything. Wine, champagne, even water would have been more suitable then, ponta."


Older of the two men sighed. And wondered for the first, but definitely not for the last time, what had he been thinking in allowing Fuji Syuusuke to set him up on a blind date. Tezuka's warning glance should have been enough to warn him that something like this might happen.

But Atobe had thrown caution to the wind, tired of searching for a partner, and had gladly allowed someone else to do the searching for him. In his most terrifying nightmares had he not imagined that the result would be him, and Echizen Ryoma sitting in a high class restaurant, waiting for vintage red wine, and a glass of ponta to arrive in front of them.

They sat in silence until the waitress had arrived with their drinks, and disappeared again, giving them time to decide what they would order.

Atobe was surprised when Echizen was the first to start the conversation. "So, what did he have on you?"

"Excuse me?" Atobe asked, confused.

"What did Fuji-sempai blackmail you with? He told me that unless I go on this ridiculous date with you, he won't let Buchou play me."

"I find it difficult to believe that Fuji would have such control over Tezuka. Since you both play in the pro circuits." Atobe responded dryly.

"You obviously don't know Fuji-sempai." Echizen answered just as dryly.

"I'm beginning to suspect that." Atobe muttered, earning a delighted laugh from his 'date'. He was surprised that the sound pleased him.

"You didn't answer the question. What did he blackmail you with?"

Atobe shrugged. "Nothing." He answered simply.

"Wait, you wanted to go on a date with me?" Echizen was clearly shocked.

"Of course not!" Atobe shouted, a little too loudly, judging by the looks he got from the other patrons of the restaurant. He composed himself and elaborated. "Fuji offered to set me up on a blind date, and I agreed."

"And I thought you were intelligent, Monkey King." Echizen snarled.

Atobe opened his mouth to answer the brat, but in light of their situation, decided to keep quiet, for he knew that if he answered, they would eventually get in to a shouting match, and Atobe did not appreciate the prospect of having been thrown out of one of his favourite restaurants.

So he settled on simply taking a sip from his wine, which he found acceptable. Not as good as the ones in his private wine cellar, but that was to be expected.

"I don't blame you though. He's done it before." Echizen continued.

"What do you mean?" Atobe tilted his head, intrigued.

"Set random people up." The boy said. "Last time it was Sanada and Oshitari."

Atobe nodded his head in agreement, until a realization hit him. He lifted his gaze to meet Echizen's, and found the boy's eyes just as wide as his.

"So, did you get the invitation to their wedding?" Atobe asked him.

Echizen gulped. "Yeah."

They avoided each others gaze for awhile, until Atobe finally set down his glass, and spoke in a determined voice. "Just because Fuji got lucky once, does not mean, that the same will happen to us."

"Yeah, you're right." Echizen answered, a bit of relief audible in his voice. But then another thought hit him. "Then there's Mizuki and Kirihara."

"A fluke." Atobe waved the statement aside.

"Marui and Hiyoshi."

"Just because they've adopted, doesn't mean they are going to be together, forever."

"Of course not." Echizen agreed. "But you can't deny that Oishi and Saeki seem pretty content."

Depressed, Atobe gave up, trying to find some flaws in Fuji's matchmaking abilities. "So do Momoshiro and Kamio." He drew circles in to the table's surface with his fingers. "But there's always an exception to the rule!" He added optimistically.

"Never been one to believe in statistics, anyway!" Echizen cheered him on.



Silence between them seemed to stretch, until it came too much even for Echizen, who was almost as famous as Tezuka for valuing his words, like precious stones. "This is ridiculous, Monkey King!"

"Oi, do not call me with that crude name, brat!"

"It suits you." Echizen smirked. "Monkey King." He stretched the words, and horrified, Atobe caught himself shivering. And not from the draft.

Perhaps the best option would be to end the night quickly, thought Atobe.

The fact that his thoughts resembled too much like running away, did not escape his notice. So instead, he decided to continue as planned. He would not fall victim to Fuji's plans, whatever they were.

Echizen had buried his head on the menu, and Atobe followed his example, deciding quickly on what to order. He set his menu down, only to discover that Echizen was scowling deeply at the menu. He did not understand what could possibly have caused the brat to feel so displeased, considering they were at a high class French restaurant, one of the most prestigious in the city.

Only after Echizen muttered, "Stupid French." under his breath, did Atobe understand.

"You don't speak French." He noted.

"Of course not! Who else, but an absolute snob would want to speak French!" Echizen glared at him.

"The French." Atobe answered, amused. "Let ore-sama, order for you brat. What would you like to eat?"

"Fish." was the simple answer.

"Very well, I shall order you fish. Be awed by my linguistic prowess." The statement earned him another fit of laugh that made Atobe's smile even broader. Really, how could an insufferable brat like Echizen, have such a pleasant laugh. He decided that he would like to hear it more often.

He set the menu down, and with a wave of his hand, informed the waitress that she could approach the table. He gave her their orders, and she, after asking if they would like new drinks, and receiving a negative answer from both, made her way to the kitchen.

"By the way, where's Kabaji?"

"Kabaji?" Atobe frowned at the sudden question. "With his family, I would imagine."

"Hnh." Echizen huffed. "Just strange to see you without you're usual shadow. Or posse for that matter."

"Posse? My, my Echizen, what a strange vocabulary you have. Besides, we have long since graduated from junior high. And for that matter, I do not see a white cap on your head, either." He remarked.

"Like you said, were not in junior high anymore." Echizen answered. "I still wear the cap at matches, though." He muttered the last part, but Atobe still managed to hear it. It made him smile, although the existence of the cap was no surprise to him. Even if he did not play tennis frequently anymore, he still followed the sport. And you could not mention professional tennis, without mentioning Echizen Ryoma, at least once in the conversation.

"Speaking of tennis,"

"When were we talking about tennis?" Echizen frowned, again. The boy did like to frown, Atobe mused, almost as much as he liked to glare.

"You seem to be doing pretty well these days." Atobe continued, as if Echizen had not interrupted him rudely.

The boy just shrugged his shoulders, as if the continuous wins and sponsorships were not worth mentioning. "Where the heck's the food?"

"We just ordered. You can't expect them to have it done in a minute. It's not like they just stick it in the microwave."

"Why not?" Echizen asked in a serious tone, and Atobe stared at him disbelievingly. It took him awhile to realise the brat was joking.

Echizen smirked at his expression. "You should see your face, Monkey King." He laughed. "You actually thought I was being serious."

"Well, I wouldn't put anything past you, brat." Atobe countered quite weakly.

After awhile, the food arrived, and despite all his misgivings, Atobe found himself enjoying the brat's company.

Perhaps he would not strangle Fuji.