I finished this a year ago and I really don't like how it's morbid and twisted for no reason except for the fact I have this thing with a depressed Ryoma. Plus at this time, I really didn't know what to make of Tezuka; I mean, now, we see him as the reluctant captain who sacrificed shit after shit for his team in ShinTenipuri and suddenly being selfish LIKE A NORMAL BEING, but back then he was a martyr, and I found that….meh. But, I craved some angst for myself, so I'm tidying this up and sending it out to the world. For this part, I've mixed the past and present tense (I don't know why I even tried that—major epic fail) so follow the tenses if you get confused. Muddled and distorted, you know my writing style by now :)

Middle school, Keigo recalls. Middle school was when this happened. It happened on fantasies build with delusions, with passion fueled with sweat mistaken for love.

"What is he to you?" Keigo had asked once, his face slicked with sweat, after one exhilarating match. Summer heat was just coming round the corner, and Keigo had to wipe a thin sheet of sweat layered on his forehead as he waited for an answer. He watched Echizen from the corner of his eye, the boy's lanky figure lazily walking towards the bench. He stopped in mid-drink as the hazel eyes turned to him. They glittered in the sunlight.

"Who?" Echizen asked, his eyes narrowing slightly.

Keigo shrugged, his shoulders flexing causally. "Tezuka, he said, his drawl pronounced by an intended lazy touch. "What is he?"

Echizen had looked at him like he was stupid. "He's my captain," he said, as if the answer was obvious. He cocked his head to one side, snatching a towel from his bag. "What did you want to hear?"

"Nothing," Keigo said, taking out his cell to phone his driver. "Curiosity."

Those eyes twitched. "Fine, then, what's he to you, Monkey King?"

Keigo laughed. He shook his head and shouldered his bag. "He's tennis," Keigo said, and didn't wait for Echizen's answer.

To Keigo, Tezuka was tennis. To Echizen, Tezuka was his world.

"No cigarettes," Keigo says sharply, trying to take away the offending white roll, "Echizen, give me that."

Echizen rolls his eyes, his lips twisting. "I like it," he says, smirking. His long fingers roll the cigarette from one digit to the next, "Why can't I smoke?"

"Because," Keigo snaps, his hands finally successfully taking hold of Echizen's wrists, "You already have too many shit up in your system to be bothered with another."

Echizen laughs, but it isn't a cruel one. It could have been even labeled as playful. "What's one more shit going to do to me?" he asks, and searches for a lighter just to be obnoxious.

They fingers curl around the roll. They flex, they bend. Keigo watches with a sick fascination.

Echizen won Wimbledon when he was seventeen.

It was all over the news. The media had a field day over it; the screams of Japan could be heard and bounced all around the world. 'The new era of Tennis' some labeled it. 'The Legend Continues,' other reported. What was important was that Echizen was following his legendary father in his footsteps, establishing Japan as a tennis-ranked power country for the first time in many years.

"Is this what you had in mind?" he drawled to Tezuka. They were both watching the news, his phone dangling between his two fingers, as he watched the screen. It was filled with the boy's face, still young, smirking. It wasn't the carefree smile that formed when he had won the National's; no, this face was more jaded, more resigned to the things he had witnessed during his pro years—the taunts, the racist remarks, the cruel silence that followed after. A skinny Japanese boy daring to take away what had been a Westerner's game.

"Yes," Tezuka said; even his telephone voice stoic and resolute, "Yes. Of course."

"Of course," Keigo echoed, "you knew the boy would win it?"

"Perhaps," Tezuka admitted, "Just a small expectation."

Keigo repressed a snort.

"After this, he'll go to the French Open," Tezuka said.

Keigo raised an eyebrow. "Does he know about this?" he asked.

"I plan to tell him tonight," Tezuka said, "He's plane is arriving at eight." He hesitated slightly, then added, "It's not something that I would have to tell him—I expect that he already signed up already."

Keigo looked out his bedroom window; his face reflected in the glass, his eyes cold and his lips curved. "Really."

"He was born with this," Tezuka said, and as if he was reading Keigo's mind, he added in wearily, "But you don't think that, do you."

"I did," Keigo said, and it wasn't altogether a lie.

"Why not now?"

Keigo was about to start, but he decided he would be wasting his time. "I still might," he said lightly, walking over to the windowsill and touching it thoughtfully, "If the boy keeps on winning like this."

"He will," Tezuka said, and hung up after saying his goodbyes.

Keigo's lips twisted. "He will," he agreed thoughtfully, now into the beeping phone.

He will, because you commanded him to.

You're insane, he had told the boy once. You don't even like tennis anymore.

The boy had looked with him with contempt, but Keigo didn't back out. It's true. You're just doing this because—because what?

You wouldn't know, the boy had harshly whispered, You wouldn't know, alright?

And why wouldn't I? he questioned.

You have this life planned out for you, Echizen sneered, All this perfect little Atobe empire. I don't have anything.

So a pity party for yourself. How cute.

The boy had looked at him, wide eyes, hazel, too dark and muddled up that Keigo wanted to mistake it for brown. Muddy and dirty, and not at all something Keigo should waste his time with.

I love him, he had whispered, and laughed. Oh, fuck, I'm so fucked up. He wants this, Monkey King, and he loves this—he gestured to his racket, the courts—like I love him.

Echizen is morbid. When he becomes morbid, it irritates him, because a depressed Echizen means an Echizen that wouldn't rise from the bed.

"Echizen, get up," Keigo snarls, irritated, "It's three."

"Mmmmgth," Echizen mumbles into the covers, "In the morning?"

"Noon, idiot," Keigo snaps, yanking off the covers, "And time to have a life."

Echizen groans and rubs his eyes. He stares at Keigo blearily. "Don't you have other people to torment?" he asks.

Keigo rolls his eyes and takes one of Echizen's arms. He hauls the boy to his feet. "Unfortunately, no," he says, and pulls Echizen bodily out of the bedroom, "And believe me when I say that the job isn't up for grabs."

Echizen's eyes are dark, his face is white. His mouth is like a dead fish.

The most unexpected place where Keigo would find him was a bar. The lights were dim with an eerie glow (possible from the dusty lightning), the air stank of foul alcohol, and the floor was caked with grey grime. Keigo lifted his nose (he couldn't help it) and crossed his way towards the bar stools to find the brat.

But Echizen wasn't alone.

He was slouched on the bar stool, his waist hunched forward, as a sleek-haired man sat next to him. "Another drink," the man said, throwing an appreciative glance at the boy. "You don't mind, do you?"

Echizen grunted irritably. The man laughed, his hand resting up on Echizen's shoulder. "You're not much of a talker, are you," he observed causally, another hand coming up to brush away some stray hairs out of Echizen's face. Keigo could see hazel eyes blinking up at the man. They were foggy, too many drinks.

"You have strange eyes," the man breathed, and that was when Keigo shoved the last of the drunken tables and stood in front of them.

"Right, excuse me," he said curtly, slapping away the man's wandering hands and hoisting Echizen up from the stool, "We better get going now."

The man looked startled, and then his face dissolved to a snarl. "Hold it kid," he said, grabbing Keigo's suit sleeve; Keigo looked at him distastefully. "Look, I had him first. Find yourself another date."

Keigo allowed a cold smile to creep up to his face, the one he reserved for idiots and fools who didn't know what hit them. "He is my date," he said icily, and shrugged off the grip, and led Echizen out of the bar.

"My fucking King," Echizen muttered, and Keigo could just hear the sarcasm splattered across the damp alleyway.

"You're drunk," Keigo told him, his legs staggering to steady a drunken Echizen. It wasn't that the boy was heavy, but the way he was swinging to his sides was unnerving him and tipping him off balance. "For the love of God, Echizen, quit moving around."
Echizen hiccupped and let his arms fall to his sides, his eyes glazed and his hair tousled. "I'm drunk," he agreed quite cheerfully, his eyes betraying his sullen mood. "I am so drunk."

"You're sounding stupid too," Keigo added in helpfully, dragging Echizen over to the front desk of the hotel. "A double deluxe, please."

"Pervert," Echizen accused him, his lips curving into a smirk, Keigo ignored him, but he did grip Echizen's waist tighter in warning.

They made their way to the elevator, where Echizen wiggled out of Keigo's grasp and started to sway his way down to the floor.

Keigo groaned and hoisted him up before Echizen fell down. "Echizen, at least until we're in the room."

Echizen snickered (a reaction so very un-Echizen-like that Keigo was tempted to ask if this was Echizen's twin) as he looked up to meet his eyes with Keigo's.

"That," he proclaimed dramatically, "sounds so wrong on so many levels."

Keigo smacked his arm and made sure to kick his legs. Echizen lost his balance and cursed. "You read too much into too little things," Keigo told him dryly.

Echizen laughed. Keigo really wished he wouldn't. "Humor me."

Keigo rolled his eyes and steered Echizen into the waiting elevator, down the hallways, and finally in front of their hotel suite. "No, I really think that would be a bad idea," he said seriously, kicking off his shoes and struggling with Echizen's as he negotiated with the knob. He inserted the card key and the lights came flooding into the room. "Remind me again why I decided to pick your sorry ass out of the bar?"

"Because," Echizen nearly singsonged, his lips curving the first hints of danger and pain, "You wanted to fuck me." He gave a smirk when Keigo raised an eyebrow at him. "Well, you did want to replace that guy. He was my date."

Keigo gave him a flat look. "Don't tempt me," he muttered, throwing the ungrateful boy down on the huge bed. Echizen gave out a small yelp and bounced before splaying out like a rag doll. He sighed and raked up his hair while loosening his tie. "I should have let the old man take advantage of your pathetic state. How old was he? Thirty?"

"Not that old," Echizen drawled (oh, so the boy still has some sarcasm left in him, good for him) "And I would've done fine. You're not my dad."

"I thank the heavens every day I'm not," Keigo grumbled, before giving Echizen a pointed look. "You have some authority issues, I swear."

Echizen smiled a haunting smile that sent chills down Keigo's spine, and shrugged. He refused to deny it.

Keigo took off his blazer and tossed it carelessly on the nearby armchair. He was tempted to take off his shirt too, but Echizen might get the wrong idea and start a chain of events that made Keigo's head ache from just imagining them. "You're going to sleep here today, and tomorrow when you wake up, you're going to be sorry you ever went near whiskey again," Keigo said, sitting down on his own bed and turning his back on Echizen. He felt Echizen's wide eyes studying his figure, raking down his back and up again. He didn't know how he knew it, but the uneasy feeling, the tension, was all too present to be dismissed as an illusion.

"You're not going to fuck me?" Echizen asked again, and when Keigo turned to look at him with the full intention of saying, of course not, what the hell do you take me for, he stopped short at Echizen's raised eyebrows. "I thought that was the whole purpose of this little room." He waved his hands around in emphasis, although the room could be called anything but little. He was drunk; Keigo overlook this misled fact and decided to concentrate on the more damaging quote here instead.

"Believe me when I say I have better tastes than have sex with a drunken kid," Keigo deadpanned, his hands already itching to pull on the bed sheets. He was tired, he was irritated, and this bizarre conversation was going nowhere. Just because he liked the boy didn't mean he was going to make out with him when the most favorable opportunity arose. He wasn't an idiot.

Echizen's face changed then; his smile vanished and there no longer was the glazed, stupid expression he had worn the entire night. The change was so sudden that Keigo was thrown off for a moment. "Don't call me a kid," he hissed, his hands balling up into fists and scrunching up the bed sheets. His eyes looked wild then; it was as if his cognitive mind was replaced with animal anger.

"No, you're not," Keigo agreed warily, "Just...Echizen, go to sleep. You're going to feel horrified come tomorrow."

Echizen sneered. He leaped up from his bed and quickly staggered over to Keigo's side. "No I'm not," he said, his arms coming over to grip Keigo's shoulders. "I know what I'm saying. Or are you scared?" He gave the familiar taunt, the same gleam of his eyes, but something was different. Keigo searched for the what, but all he met was the infuriating smirk.

Keigo slapped those arms away. He looked at Echizen gravely. "Echizen," he said slowly, trying to regain some sense of sanity in the boy, "You're drunk. You're tired. Go to sleep."

Echizen's smirk only grew wider. "You're becoming like him," he said.

Keigo didn't need to ask who the him was. Of course he knew. Who could be the only one who had shaped this brat's life for six goddamn years? "I'm sure your dear captain would have said the same thing," he agreed.

"But you're not him," Echizen said.

Keigo gave him another searching look. "No," he agreed finally, "I'm not."

This somehow made Echizen's eyes light up (danger, danger) and made him straddle Keigo's lap. "So," he purred (drunk, dangerous, what the fuck was up with the kid), and his hands reached out again to fleet across Keigo's cheek. Keigo gave him a wary look.

"Echizen-" Keigo started, but the boy's lips were already closing on his own.

Echizen's lips were soft. His breath tasted of foul alcohol, but his mouth was hot and warm and entirely too pleasant for all the wrong reasons.

Keigo tried to twist away, but who was he to turn down something the boy was all too willing to give?

"Echizen, stop. Stop," Keigo muttered, but soon he was kissing the boy back and it went all a downhill from there—his hands on Echizen's waist, Echizen's hands already unbuckling his pants.

"Keigo," Echizen whispered, and it had such a pleasing tone engraved into it, almost as if Echizen had loved him for the past four bizarre years he had chased after Tezuka.

Keigo swallowed back a curse.

Where is Tezuka now? Keigo doesn't care. Conquering Germany, Europe, becoming posh in the outskirts of London. All he knows is that Tezuka left behind hopes and failed to fulfill them. He left them in the hands of a boy who meant to shatter everything.

Sometimes, Echizen whispers his name and Keigo wishes he wouldn't do that. He feel like he holds the boy's life in his hands and he doesn't know if he wants that burden.

"Keigo," Echizen sometimes whispers, when he thinks Keigo is asleep, "Keigo." His name sounds broken and fragile, and he feels a cold finger touch his cheek, gently. And the pressure is soon gone. Keigo knows the questions Echizen asks himself, and he is wondering, when would this end, when would Keigo give up like Tezuka had.

To prove him wrong, or to spite Tezuka, Keigo doesn't know, but he wishes Echizen would understand someday, that Keigo never thought Echizen's tennis was amazing and glorious like Tezuka had. He thought, and still thinks, that the boy always had luck by his side and played like shit.

Tezuka kissed Echizen on a warm spring day.

Keigo really didn't give a shit back then, but it was best to indulge the drunken boy, and he had been down this road before, in dank alleys and empty hotel rooms, smoking cigarettes and marking the boy with burnt edges.

Echizen was drunk, like all the other times, before Keigo forced him to move in like now. He was slouching in a chair across from him, his eyes bloodshot and his fingers dangling a cigarette, and in his other hand, a Black Russian. He remembers because it was on his bill and he has his credit statements to show for it.

"The blossoms were sprouting their shit," Echizen sneered, "God, how fucking cliché. Who knew captain was such a romantic."

Keigo didn't answer him, preferring to caress the boy's ankle that was perched on his lap. He eyed the jeans Echizen wore. Back then it was a sparkle of interest fueled with desire, not poisonous addictions to save the boy and make himself a saint. (Keigo sometimes misses those days).

"It wasn't even a kiss," Echizen continued, not caring that his listener was too busy eyeing him and imagining him naked, "It was—it was a tingle, like he was chaste or something, like, like—god." Echizen glared furiously at his drink and gulped it down.

"Careful, that drink is strong," Keigo said half-heartedly. "And of course Tezuka would kiss like a girl. I'm surprised you expected a passionate one to begin with." He tugged at the hem of Echizen's jeans. "You should take this off, you know."

Echizen shrugged, not thinking for a minute of what his action might lead to, and doffed off his jeans. He flung it over the side of the room and all he wore were his underwear and a flimsy T-shirt. The way he would treat his body!

Even back then, Keigo was pretty sure he was disgusted by the way Echizen would so willingly come to him to let him be destroyed, not even picking a fight or salvaging his dignity. Yet he was always a master when it came to transforming his disgust into heated desires.

"Why the hell did he do that?" Echizen asked miserably, and he looks like a child. Keigo didn't answer; he was waiting for the boy to finish his drink so they could fuck. Or make him shut up. Anything but this Tezuka talk.

When Echizen finished his drink, Keigo grabbed him and pushed the staggering boy towards the bed, where his shirt was discarded and they fell, in a tangle of limbs and kisses.

When he had taken the bite of the things Echizen offered him, well. He would have been a fool to refuse it a second time. Echizen wanted this after all.

Wanted him? Or wanted him to destroy?

It would be two more years before he grows out of his own primitive urges and petty revenges, but by that time it's too late.

Hopefully I'll polish the end of the next chapter by next week...this week is suddenly a depressing-Echizen week for me, I wonder why.

Reviews are greatly appreciated!