Title: Boy and girl?
Fandom: Prince of Tennis
Pairing: Atobe Keigo/Tezuka Kunimitsu
Rating: T (PG13~R)
Genre: AU, romance, comedy
Warnings: gender-bent boys who refuse to act like girls, general craziness
Summary: Atobe Keigo is a man who takes everything in stride and finds solutions to any problems. One night, he receives a very unexpected visit from a certain Seigaku captain, who needs his help. Why? Well... because all of a sudden, he's now a girl.
Disclaimer: I own nothing under the name of The Prince of Tennis. The characters belong to their creators (manga author Konomi Takeshi, the studio that made the anime). I write the story for fun, I make no profit from this.
Atobe Keigo was a hard man to amaze or surprise, and he took great satisfaction in this well-known fact. He had a knack for surprising and amazing others with his undeniable prowess in every aspect of life, but he, himself, could not be shaken easily. He was rather fond of this state of affairs, too.
So he didn't show his surprise when his butler announced the arrival of a rather distressed lady to his manor, a lady who demanded to see young master Atobe immediately, even though she didn't have an appointment, and threatened to break into tears at any moment. It was no unusual occurrence that girls went to great measures just to be able to bask in Atobe's magnificent presence for a few moments, but they rarely decided to be this extreme in their efforts.
Atobe tried to make a mental list of all the girls that he could possibly know, who would not waver before such a reckless act. However, he wasn't able to recall even one female daring enough to come to his home and demand anything of him, not to mention at such a late hour. He briefly thought of Seigaku's Fuji or Rikkai's Yukimura, who both had enough femininity in them to fool even his loyal servants; but he discarded the possibility as too improbable. Neither Fuji nor Yukimura had any business with him, and neither of them would resort to crying as their bargaining ace.
The mysterious lady picked his interest; in addition to being slightly curious, Atobe admitted to himself that he would hate to make a girl cry, whoever she could be. The concept just didn't agree with his gentlemanly soul. So, after a brief moment of considering his options, Atobe Keigo decided to see the desperate girl that needed his presence this badly.
He expected many things when he entered the guest hall, designed especially for unexpected visitors to wait for his father or himself in the most comfortable of conditions; love confessions, marriage proposals, offers to carry his babies and death threats if he refused all went through his mind on his short way to the hall. What he did not expect was the sight he stumbled upon: a girl, a good few inches shorter than him, wearing a Seigaku school uniform – a boy's uniform, to be exact, which by the way was too big on her – with her head lowered and her hair obscuring the view of her face. She was shaking and, Atobe realised, she really was going to cry any time.
Now, what could that mean? Atobe entertained the possibility that the girl could have been attacked by someone from Hyoutei and decided to ask him for help, but that didn't explain the decidedly male uniform that hung from her small form; he couldn't come up with much more before the girl finally looked up at him – she was wearing glasses and her face was awfully familiar – and she said, her voice breaking,
'Atobe... help me,' before tears flowed down her cheeks.
Atobe Keigo wasn't easy to surprise, but right at that moment, he was receiving the surprise of his life and he was unfortunately completely unable to hide it, caught off-guard like he was. Staring at the girl with his eyes widened impossibly, he opened and closed his mouth a few times until finally, he managed to utter one word:
His answer was a nod and a soft sob.
It didn't take very long for Atobe to figure out what happened, although he couldn't deny that the story he heard was hardly believable. No matter how he looked at it, it sounded like something taken out of a bad American comedy for teenagers. Only, American comedy flicks apparently didn't involve Seigaku's Inui, whose presence made everything that much more plausible.
According to the girl – who Atobe assumed to really be Tezuka for the time being – it all started with an innocent practice exercise: hitting the posts with appointed colours with tennis balls. A task simple enough, but Tezuka was still recovering from his recent injury, and so Inui deemed his performance below his usual level; he'd walked up to Tezuka after practice, when they were already back in their uniforms, ready to go home, and forced the captain to drink a new evil concoction he'd cooked up. It had a rather pleasant, pastel pink colour that one could associate with yoghurt or strawberry milkshakes (and it's name, "Ichigo sheeku", seemed to point to that), and Tezuka got careless – he drank the thing to the last drop. It tasted vile, more so than any previous drinks, and before losing consciousness, Tezuka heard Inui's explanation:
'Actually, it's called "I-chi-go shaaku". It's most important ingredient is five drops of blood from a shark's stomach. It's very healthy and-'
He heard no more as darkness consumed him. His last thought was that he didn't want to die before winning the National Tournament with his team.
When he woke up what seemed like hours later in the deserted clubhouse, it was already dark outside. He felt strangely light-headed and out of his skin, but he was a bit used to it after so many years of drinking Inui's inventions that even Fuji couldn't withstand; his vision was blurry, but he got to his feet anyway and shook his head, which helped.
The first thing he saw was that the clubhouse was not deserted after all. Inui was there, standing in the semi-darkness, and when Tezuka moved, he looked straight at him with piercing green eyes that were only this visible in extreme situations. Tezuka felt a sense of dread.
'I don't know how this happened,' Inui said. His voice sounded more confused than apologetic and the captain realized that yes, this was a good moment to become scared. 'It makes no sense. I tested it on myself and there was no such effect, it was safe for others to drink. It makes no sense.'
Tezuka decided not to voice his opinion that there was never a concoction of Inui's safe for humans to consume in existence; he was waiting for Inui to explain what exactly he was talking about. It was getting very late and he should have been home right after practice. His parents were probably getting really worried.
'Inui, it's okay. We all faint from-' he paused. Something was very wrong with his voice. It sounded... much higher. Like Fuji's voice. Or even higher than that. More like... a girl's? Did the drink do something to his vocal cords? He hoped it was going to pass.
'I'm so sorry, Tezuka. I don't know how to reverse it. I'll do what I can, I will withdraw from the club activities and devote my whole time to finding a cure,' Inui promised, only now sounding like he meant it. Tezuka hated to admit it, but now he was scared. This wasn't the dataman's normal behaviour. He was just standing there, obscuring the view of the large mirror behind him, averting Tezuka's gaze, his notebook forgotten – and since when was Inui that much taller than him?
'What... have you done?' The captain asked, trying to be calm, forcing himself to be calm, because surely, getting too emotional would only make matters worse; Inui looked at him again, and then finally stepped away, revealing the mirror, in which Tezuka could see himself.
Only, he was not a "he" anymore.
So he did something very uncharacteristic for him: he panicked and ran, ignoring Inui's calls, scared, confused and unable to act cool.
No matter how far-fetched, Atobe had to admit that the story explained a lot. Of course, some things still remained a mystery to him – like the most obvious question of why Tezuka chose to run to him of all people. He decided not to ask, though, well aware that his rival could pretty much break down again. He was surprised to see Tezuka in such a state of mind, but he figured that, given the situation, it was understandable. He supposed he would have had a slight panic attack as well if he were in Tezuka's place, so someone not as perfect as him (but, in his personal and very heavily guarded opinion, almost as perfect) was completely expected to have a stronger reaction.
While Atobe had no idea why Tezuka came to him for help, he was certain that the choice was most appropriate. He was a man with power, after all, resourceful enough to provide everything the Seigaku captain would need in this complicated state of affairs. But first things first.
'You need to calm down,' the heir to the Atobe fortune said softly, touching Tezuka's shoulder when he saw his rival was shaking again. 'I will order for a hot bath for you, and a cup of warm milk. It'll help you relax. Then, you shall go to sleep in the guest bedroom closest to mine. While you take your bath, I will send one of my loyal servants to explain to your family that we had a practice match which took longer than we anticipated and thus, in order not to let you walk home in the dark, I insisted that you stay at my place for the night,' he never once changed the tone of his voice, which was warm, soft and seemed to have a calming effect on the distressed teen. 'We will discuss what to do next in the morning, with fresh minds.'
Tezuka nodded his head; Atobe's words reassured him quite visibly. Even though nothing got solved, the other captain stopped shaking. It was a start, Atobe supposed. He called for a servant and told her to prepare a bath for the lady. He also explained to her that the girl would be staying at the mansion until further notice and he wanted her in his close proximity, because she was his personal responsibility and he vowed to protect her.
If the servant thought it was strange, she didn't show it. She was too used to young master's dramatic antics.
Atobe sent Tezuka off to the giant bathroom with another female servant (but not before promising to see him again before he goes to sleep, to ensure everything was alright) and set off to make some phone-calls. He was preparing for a long night; many things needed to be done before morning, none of them could wait. This was an unexpected predicament he'd found himself in, but he wasn't going to complain.
Somehow, the awareness that Tezuka trusted him made him happy.
Come morning, Tezuka was back to his own self as much as possible in the circumstances. As Atobe predicted, a good night's sleep worked wonders; when the two teens met over breakfast, Tezuka was as calm and collected as he ever was.
He was also wearing his over-sized school uniform and the ugly glasses that were too big on him in this new form. Atobe decided this wouldn't do, and he decided to break it out to the other captain during the meal.
'I assume you do realize how impossible it is for you to go back to the tennis club right now?' He asked, giving off the air of authority. He would not be questioned on the matter. Or at least he thought so.
'I am still their captain,' Tezuka said as if it were obvious that he was going back, completely disregarding Atobe's opinion. 'Also, Inui might have come up with a solution.'
'He hasn't come up with a solution. He's currently working on it in a facility I have so generously offered him and he will report directly to me if he discovers anything helpful,' Atobe countered. If he still had any doubts that this girl sitting on the opposite side of the table to him was really Tezuka, they have disappeared the moment the other teen opened his mouth.
Even their conversations were like a game of tennis; while Atobe attacked with big words that showed his magnificence – not unlike his exquisite techniques on court – Tezuka chose to keep his comments simple and effective, returning Atobe's arguments and adding a spin to them that made Atobe lose control of the conversation.
Well, not this time, Atobe resolved; this time, he knew he was the one in the right, without even the slightest margin of doubt.
'My team needs me,' Tezuka said stubbornly.
'No, they don't need you. They need Tezuka Kunimitsu, their male captain. Do I need to remind you that your body has undergone some big changes? Not only will your team be weirded out to learn the story of what happened, you will also be banned from playing for your club. Do you know why?' Atobe paused and waited for Tezuka to consider his words. 'Because, as you have probably guessed, the rules do not allow girls to play in clubs for boys. So unless you plan to tell the whole school, even the whole country, that ridiculous story of a strawberry-shark drink that turned you into a girl – which, by the way, would undoubtedly have very amusing results – you have to assume a new identity and cut your ties with Seigaku for the time being.'
The moment his words sunk in, Tezuka opened his mouth to say something, but Atobe shook his head, silencing him quite effectively.
'You came to me for help and I will help you, Tezuka. But it will be on my terms. If you cannot accept it, you are welcome to leave and deal with everything by yourself. However, if you do that, I will not think twice about not helping you again, no matter what happens.' The young heir's gaze was steady as he spoke. He was serious, he carefully chose the words that left his mouth, because after this conversation, there would be no turning back, no matter the outcome.
Finally, after the prolonged silence, during which both captains stared each other down in what seemed like another challenge, Tezuka lowered his eyes at the table, admitting defeat.
'I really need your help with this,' he said, barely above a whisper, clearly ashamed. It was a moment to remember: Seigaku's normally fearless, unshakeable captain was giving up, leaving Atobe in charge of his life from now on, until they could find a cure for his state.
For a second, Tezuka fought the horrible realization that it might had been an irreversible transformation which even Inui wouldn't be able to turn back. It scared him so much, he paled and Atobe, with his famous insight, noticed immediately.
'Don't. Don't, for even a second, doubt that you'll be returning to normal,' he all but ordered, oozing authority and self-confidence. 'If it were anyone other than me, you could doubt them however much you wanted to. But Ore-sama's prowess is not to be doubted.'
Oh, there were times when Atobe wasn't sure of his ability to make everything right. But now, he was absolutely certain, was not such a time.
The plan, in Atobe's not so humble opinion, was just perfect. Tezuka, under a new name, was to enter Hyoutei, where he could stay under the care and protection Atobe was more than willing to bestow upon him. He would attend the same classes Atobe or a regular from Hyoutei's tennis club took, and under no circumstances was he to go visit Seigaku until he was back to normal.
Meanwhile, Atobe would make everyone believe that thanks to his magnificence and generosity that matched no other, Tezuka went to a rehabilitation facility abroad, but would be back before the next match of Seigaku's to lead them to victory as a captain. He was aware that this part would be the most difficult, because frankly, Seigaku didn't trust him one bit; but with some convincing and an authentic letter from Tezuka, he was sure he could pull it off.
He didn't expect that there would be one thing Tezuka would strongly oppose to – that one thing being a girl's school uniform.
'I will not wear a skirt,' the other captain informed him, his steely gaze warning Atobe that this was not up for discussion. The heir paid no heed to the warning, though; he lowered his voice to a low hiss that sounded dangerous enough to scare little children:
'I am not going to repeat myself again, Tezuka. Do as you're told or feel free to leave and not come back,' he paused for dramatic effect. Of course, the other captain wasn't impressed. 'You have to wear a skirt! What's so hard to comprehend in the concept of "wearing a school uniform befitting one's gender"?'
'I am not a girl,' Tezuka protested coolly. Atobe stared at him pointedly and noted, with a hint of satisfaction, that his rival averted his eyes. 'I'm not really a girl. I will not wear a skirt,' Tezuka repeated stubbornly, although this time, there was a hint of defeat in his voice.
In the end, he did wear the skirt, as a part of the school uniform. Atobe noted that he would have to give his compliments to the seamstress who's created the set in perfect size at such short notice. Complete with the contacts that replaced the ugly glasses, the whole outfit looked good on Tezuka's lithe form.
'I look stupid,' Tezuka complained, though, as they were about to leave the mansion. For a reason unfathomable to Atobe, the other captain chose to be unbearable throughout the whole morning. Like a spoiled child... or a girl, Atobe supposed. This kind of made sense.
'No, you do not,' said the heir. 'You look normal. Like your typical junior high third grader. Which is something new for you,' he added after a bit of thought, which earned him a glare from Tezuka. He laughed. 'Don't be like that. This could actually turn out a good experience. Plus, you'll be able to spy on Hyoutei's training routine.'
'I don't need to spy. My team beat you fair and square and we will do so again, come the necessity,' Seigaku's proud captain said, still glaring at Atobe. 'And I fail to see what in this predicament could actually turn out good.'
Atobe just smiled at that and led Tezuka to the limousine that would take them to school.