TITLE: The Friend's Zone
FANDOM: The Prince of Tennis
SUMMARY: In which two people have a deep and introspective conversation. "We can, uh, be mole buddies, if you'd like." Atobe/Tomoka. Yes, really.
DISLCAIMER: I don't own Prince of Tennis.
DEDICATED TO: Frog-kun. But I call him Lilypad. Uh, this is me saying "Happy (belated) birthday!" and "I'm sorry for never fully registering that your birthday was coming up!"
Kabaji was a very loyal person. He often did whatever his friends needed or requested without question.
But Atobe had been staring in the mirror more than usual lately. In fact, if he did so any more, Kabaji wouldn't be surprised if he suddenly began to ask for the identity of the fairest one of all.
"Kabaji," his friend mourned, caressing his jawbone and angling his face every which way to examine it in the reflection, "I have realized why I do not have a girlfriend."
He was quiet by nature, but even Kabaji was stunned speechless. It was very uncharacteristic of his friend to acknowledge any of his shortcomings.
Atobe paid no heed to the stunned silence.
"I am the embodiment of perfection," he sighed. "I have been scrutinizing my appearance, and have been unable to find a flaw. I am the president of the student body, captain of the tennis club, and am first at Hyoutei in class rank. And thus, I have been able to come up with only one reason for my single relationship status…"
Kabaji prepared for the months of character reform that lay ahead.
"…girls simply find me perfect to the point that it intimidates them from interacting with me."
Kabaji squashed the disappointment that took over his body. He should have known better than to get his hopes up so. Atobe was a good friend, really, but he would never acknowledge his repugnant personality.
And so, he did as he always did.
Atobe believed that he was absolutely brilliant. Oh, he knew women like he knew the back of his hand…
He simply had to make himself seem more approachable, that was all. He had to show some sort of vulnerability and imperfection, which would suck the girls in like flies to honey.
He found a girl who was sitting at a bench. She was younger than he would have liked, but he supposed he had to take baby steps. (Never mind that she was the only decent-looking girl in the area.) She had brown hair, which was pulled up into pigtails. He was pleased to note that she also had a teardrop mole.
He sat down next to her.
"Hello," he said, very politely.
She glared at him. "Go away, Atobe."
Atobe didn't let the glare deter him.
Or rather, he didn't realize that the glare should have deterred him, for he chose to focus on a much more important detail, instead.
"Ah, one of my fans, I see. How else would you know my name?"
"No," she snapped. "I'm Tomoka. I go to Seigaku. And the first time I saw you, you almost ruined Tezuka's arm."
His brain came to a screeching halt.
Well. This would pose as a bigger challenge than he realized. No matter.
"Perhaps," he said sagely, "there is more to me than you realize."
The girl, Tomoka, snorted doubtfully. It really was rather insulting.
Well, he would have to use another tactic, as well, then.
"Are you shallow enough to form your judgment of me based on a few… trivial moments?"
Atobe raised a perfect eyebrow for emphasis.
'Tweezer,' Tomoka viciously thought.
"Even I," he continued, "am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Are you really –"
"Fine, fine," she sighed. "You have five minutes to prove that you're not an arrogant bastard."
He inwardly laughed diabolically. Oh, he had her now. He only needed to show his vulnerable side to reel her in. And what showed vulnerability better than heartbreak?
Atobe sighed pitifully.
"The person I love has rejected me in favor of another."
Tomoka felt her heart go out to him. She supposed that, arrogant bastard or not, a broken heart was a broken heart in need of fixing.
"So Tezuka rejected you for Fuji, did he?"
She patted his back sympathetically, murmuring things that sounded like, "There, there" and, "It's nothing that chocolate ice cream can't fix."
"You think," he whispered, absolutely, positively mortified by the sheer stupidity of it all, "that I'm in love with Tezuka?"
She rolled her eyes. "Well, it was pretty obvious. Your obsession with him would be considered unhealthy if you weren't."
Atobe seethed. "I do not share an unrequited love for Tezuka. He also doesn't love Fuji, by the way. He seems to be asexual."
She cursed. "There goes the five hundred yen I had in the betting pool."
"How dare you assume that I–"
"So who rejected you?"
He tossed his head and proceeded to lie smoothly.
"You don't know her."
Tomoka squinted at him.
It was rather unnerving. It was as if she were staring into his soul.
"It's true," he defended, a bit more feebly.
She continued to squint at him. "Sure it is."
"It's Jirou, isn't it?"
She smiled triumphantly. "It is Jirou! Oh, I knew you had a thing for him."
Atobe was too ashamed to point out that, until about a minute ago, she had been under the impression that he was in love with Tezuka.
She sobered when she saw the somewhat defeated look on his face.
"Hey! Uh, don't worry about Jirou. You'll find someone new."
He drew himself up again. She was about to offer herself to him, the little lamb.
"In the meantime, you can call me if you ever need to chat. We can, uh, be mole buddies, if you'd like."
She took out a pen and proceeded to write ten digits on his hand.
Atobe's spirits soared. Yes, he had managed to get her phone number. He had been right–he'd simply needed to make himself more approachable, after all.
Tomoka noticed a girl with long, braided pigtails approaching them.
"Well, here comes my friend. But don't worry," she said, winking, "I'm sure she won't mind it if we keep you company and take you out for some chocolate ice cream."
His infamous ego was coming back to him again. This would count as a date–with two girls!
Oh, he was good…
The next day, Atobe seemed to be more arro –er, self-assured, than usual.
"Be awed by my prowess!" he crowed, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Oshitari shared a look with Kabaji, who discreetly rolled his eyes heavenward.
"And just why," he said impatiently, "Should we do that?"
Atobe preened. "Just yesterday, I went on a date."
"With two girls."
"At the same time."
Oshitari couldn't understand why Kabaji looked so exasperated, when this was a feat accomplished by only a select few.
"Yes. I made myself seem more approachable by appearing heartbroken, and they took me to a quaint ice cream shop for some chocolate ice cream."
The exasperation hit Oshitari like a ton of bricks.
"One of them even gave me the most adorable nickname. I am her 'mole buddy'."
"Atobe," Oshitari deadpanned.
"You've never heard of the Friend's Zone, have you?"
A/N: Because in real life, Atobe wouldn't be able to get girls.