Summary: On a night Atobe truly desires company, Lady Luck smiles down with the most unlikely person.
This was meant to be a Christmas gift for one of my LJ friends, kind of embarassing that it was written in summer...lol.
I shouldn't have come here. Really, when Yuushi had turned him down last minute due to a family emergency, he should have realised that coming here was a very bad idea indeed. The Oval, with its brilliant performances, was infamous for being a place no one ever went to alone. And that was how Atobe Keigo, newly graduate of Tokyo University, found himself – alone.
Not that he really had any problems being alone; truly, solitude was occasionally a very refreshing feeling. And it's not like he was alone without a choice. He could have easily charmed anyone into being his companion for the evening; he could have effortlessly begun talking to groups of scholars about the artistic value of the classical music concert being held tonight. Yet, it was his holiday; he was reluctant to spend time with someone he didn't particularly care for.
Originally he was planning to ask Kabaji, give him a small treat over the Christmas period. But Kabaji's family had been invited by his brother-in-law to stay in America for the holidays; and never one to oppose extra time spent with his sister, Kabaji had happily flew across the ocean with them.
That was months ago, before Atobe had even bought the tickets. Yet it was in his winter schedule to see this concert and so he had asked Oshitari Yuushi. His best friend had always enjoyed anything that involved a violin, and both of them had greatly looked forward to hearing the award-winning orchestra play.
But Oshitari, through no fault of his own, had had to cancel last minute much to the dismay of both involved.
Atobe had considered asking Ohtori but remembered just in time that he was over at Shishido's house trying to impress his beloved's family. Being one who tended to shy away from strangers, Atobe could only hope Shishido's family does not find him too cold and distant for their hot-headed son. Still, Gakuto and himself had given plenty of advice the day before so it should turn out fine.
Of course, Atobe had his own problems right now. Being in The Oval on your own was really not something to be proud of, not when every single other person were with friends, family or even lovers.
I really shouldn't have come here. Not that there was really anything he could do about it right now. It would be a waste to miss the rest of such an outstanding concert. With that in mind, Atobe tried his best to make the most of the evening. He went to the bar.
"What would you like, sir," the waiter asked as he settled down on the tall stool.
"Martini, please. Hold the olive." he replied casually, he wanted something relatively weak. Last thing he needed was to get drunk without any supervision and plenty of opportunity for photographs to be taken. As he waited, Atobe took his time observing his surroundings. People were starting to mingle around, having opted for the complementary white wine (much too dry for ore-sama). Most were in extremely smart evening wear. One level higher and it might as well be a black-tie occasion.
"Here's your martini, sir."
Atobe nodded his thanks and took a delicate sip out of his glass. Such an atmosphere, he sincerely hoped that he will not run into any of his father's clients; or the stock-holders. Imagine, an entire night discussing shares. This is another reason why he should have bought someone with him. It would have been impolite of him to talk about business if he had a guest.
"Baileys, please," a voice said from further down the bar. Usually, such an action would not catch Atobe's attention in the slightest, it wasn't rare for people to buy a drink they prefer rather than take a glass of house wine. However, on this occasion, it did catch Atobe's attention; not because of the action itself but rather, the voice that requested the drink. Atobe haven't heard that voice for over five years.
Glancing to his left he found himself raising an eyebrow at the tall, regal, dark-haired man. Sanada Genichirou.
Sanada hasn't seen him yet, and as he received his drink preparing to return to whomever it was he came with, Atobe made sure that his amused smirk was set upon his face. Sanada's reaction as he turned, and consequently noticed a childhood rival staring, and smirking, at him, met Atobe's expectations very accurately: extremely amusing.
It began with a quick glance, the type that a person gives the random stranger who looks at them, this was quickly followed by a very fast/rapid double-take. Eyes widened the smallest fraction in recognition, just as the mouth blurted out that single word. "Atobe!"
He could tell by the way Sanada immediately clamped his lips together that he regretted speaking. Perhaps he hadn't wanted to talk to him, or he hadn't wanted to be recognised because it will raise inevitable questions. Questions that Atobe had never had problems asking.
"What brings you here, Sanada?" he drawled out in an explicitly relaxed tone. Gakuto had once commented on how it reminded him of the phrase: 'the cat got the cream'. Or something to that effect.
There was a slight hesitation before Sanada motioned towards the far end of the room. "It was…Emily's idea."
Atobe followed Sanada's gaze for it to land on a beautiful blonde girl in a midnight blue cocktail dress that glittered as she moved. The hand holding her wine glass was primped and manicured, her golden hair was tied up into an elegant French Twist and her make-up was absolutely impeccable.
She was also very European.
When did Sanada get a western girlfriend?
As if reading his thoughts and feeling the need to clarify, Sanada continued speaking. "She's my sister-in-law."
"Very attractive," Atobe nodded in approval, though she looks strangely familiar, "your brother has good tastes."
Sanada forced out a smile of agreement, an action that didn't escape Atobe.
"You do not like her." He smirked again as Sanada simply took a drink from his glass, apparently choosing to ignore his question. Perhaps he had hit a sore sport?
"Much too friendly," Sanada suddenly spoke up, surprising Atobe who had assumed they were to settle into companionable silence. "She calls everyone by their first name."
"A true westerner then," Atobe said as he reclined slightly. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sanada sit down on the stool beside him. "Is she German?"
"I've never been to Holland," Atobe suddenly spoke up.
"Netherlands," Sanada corrected.
There was another long pause in which both men sipped at their drinks and watched the rest of the guests. Though his eyes wandered around the room, occasionally flickering over to the Sanada family and the very western in-law, Atobe was thinking about how coincidental it was to meet Sanada again after all these years. They have never spoken to each other outside of a tennis context before tonight.
Atobe still remembers training night and day after their loss in the nationals so that he may win against Sanada and Tezuka when they met once again on the courts. Though this time as high school students. Seigaku did not make it to the District finals during Tezuka's first year, much to the annoyance of Atobe. But he had brushed it aside so that he could focus on Rikkai; he'd play Tezuka next year, at that moment, he had to focus on beating Sanada Genichirou.
However, by the time Hyoutei had reached the Kantou Finals, Atobe found himself facing some nameless third year instead. In fact, Sanada was no where to be seen, not even amongst the cheering crowd.
It was only after he had cornered Yukimura at the ending ceremony that he learned that due to the increase of school work, Sanada had not joined the tennis club so that he could participate in Kendo and archery competitions.
There was no need to explain the blistering disappointment, the livid betrayal, he had experienced.
"So why this particular concert?" Atobe asked again, simply naming a person responsible for being in a certain place does not always explain the reason.
"Emily wanted to come and bought us all tickets," Sanada shrugged as if it should have been obvious. Perhaps it was, Atobe had just never imagined the Sanada household would give into the whim of someone married in to the family so readily. Or perhaps it wasn't so much 'giving in' as accepting a gift.
"I am here to listen to award-winning music of course. Ore-sama never settles for anything less than perfection."
That got a chuckle out of the stoic Sanada, "of course. I guess some things never change."
Pause, and Sanada surprised him by asking him a question this time.
"I must say, I had half expected you to go into professional tennis."
Well…a half question.
"Oh please, do not confuse me with the likes of Tezuka and Echizen. I had never once wanted to become a professional tennis player. I only played tennis for a lack of a hobby. And the satisfaction I got from defeating my opponents. Being a professional would be much too tedious."
"What about you?" Atobe returned, this was as good a chance as he was likely to get, there was no way he'd pass up such an opportunity. "I heard you quit tennis at high school."
Sanada coughed, "Yeah, school, kendo and archery took too much of my time." He could feel Atobe's gaze, and couldn't help but avoid it. They had been rivals; it didn't take a genius to see what it had seemed like to the former Hyoutei captain.
Atobe was unrelenting, and Sanada found himself uncharacteristically mumbling, "It's not like I was running away or anything."
"Of course not." A clipped tone. Sanada was seized by a seemingly chilling drop of temperature.
They watched the crowd in silence…
"You know, if you'd had continued playing," Atobe said after a while, "I'd had invited you to a Latin concert. Maybe work on our doubles playing style should you have qualified for the goodwill games."
Sanada shifted uncomfortably.
"Maybe we could have even gone to a Latin dance club afterwards," Atobe continued, "do you know how to dance the tango?"
"No. I don't."
"Cha cha cha?"
"I don't know any Latin dances," Sanada finally admitted. He would not mention how any attempt his sister-in-law had tried to teach him failed dramatically.
"Ah." Atobe looked almost disappointed.
"Do you?" Sanada asked even though he suspected he knew the answer, it was more out of politeness than anything.
"Well I suppose we could always have gone for dinner instead of a Latin club," Atobe continued as Sanada took a small gulp of Baileys. "Though I suppose your boyfriend would have gotten jealous."
Sanada nearly spat out his drink. "Boyfriend?" He shouldn't have been surprised, it was a common misconception.
Atobe rose a delicate eyebrow, "Was he not your boyfriend?"
Somehow, Sanada knew instantly who Atobe was talking about. A cough, "No, they were just rumours because we were close."
"Oh." And Atobe turned away again, looking as if he'd found out about something surprising. Truth was, he had been angry Sanada had gone off with someone. It was frustrating enough that he quit tennis, but being in a relationship on top of it? Unforgivable.
People were starting to drift back into the concert hall. The twenty minutes were over.
Atobe stood up. "Well, nice seeing you again, Sanada."
Sanada nodded. 'Maybe we could meet up for dinner sometime,' he wanted to say. Since we missed our chance during school. But the words caught in his mouth, and would not leave. And so he rejoined his family at the door.
"Where did you go?" Emily reproached the moment she realised he was there.
"An old tennis rival."
Sanada felt his eyebrow twitch, his sister-in-law asked too many questions. "Atobe Keigo."
"Ooh! You mean that was Keigo? I didn't recognise him."
A sigh almost managed to escape; he should have known Emily saw what he was doing all along, though it was surprising than they knew each other – since Atobe didn't mention anything. All thoughts escaped him however, as music started once more.
After a stunning performance, the audience filtered out the building, and Atobe re-entered Sanada's thoughts. He felt a strange need to apologise, from the chilling glare he had received he could tell Atobe was angry at his seemingly sudden disappearance at high school. And it was sudden, even for him.
No matter, it's not likely for us to ever see each other again anyway. Yet despite his best efforts, there was a slight pang of regret in his chest.
They reached Emily's stretched-out limousine, and they all filed in one by one. Just as his brother was stooping inside, Emily turned around to face him.
"Here," his sister-in-law said, pressing something into his hands. Sanada rose an eyebrow at the crisp white napkin that accompanied the ice-cream tubs available for purchase during intervals.
"What is this?" he asked, climbing into the car after her.
"Think of it as an early Christmas present," she replied ambiguously before cuddling up against his brother.
More out of a duty to look elsewhere than actual interest, Sanada inspected the napkin between his fingers. Turning it over, he found something that nearly made him raise his eyebrows due to pure surprise. There, in the middle of the napkin, was a series of numbers written next to the single word: Keigo.
-- The End
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