Title: The Imperial Palace Chapter 12

Setting: Strip Club AU.

Rating: Mature-ish.

Reason: My lovely followers were asking for this chapter, so ta-da! I feel so awful for making you all wait this long. Knis has been very bad. ;_; I'm sorry.

Pairing: P-E-R-F-E-C-T pair. And that broken!Alpha Pair Problem is back.

Warnings: Uncreative content, possible OOC-ness, SexualFrustration!Tezuka, WorriedTsundere!Yukimura, EvenMoreWorried!Fuji, etc.

Disclaimer: do you honestly think I own prince of tennis? Sorry I'm not konomi-sensei in disguise.

~o~o~o~


Over the course of the last several days, there was a distinctly different atmosphere at the Imperial Palace.

It wasn't the workplace itself or the odd costumes that had changed (although all the exotic dancers were now garbed in short skimpy togas and elaborate jewellery that mimicked those of Greek gods), but rather it was certain employees that were acting very differently. It was something Tezuka noticed right away.

The lead stripper, Fuji, always made a habit of visiting Tezuka during his breaks, winking at him from a distance and meeting his eyes during his famous dance numbers. While Tezuka was often too busy to stop and respond to Fuji's words, he had never found it to be a nuisance; in fact he liked it when Fuji came to see him. It was only now that Fuji had completely stopped visiting the bar that Tezuka realized how uneventful his job was. Without Fuji visiting him, Tezuka had nothing to look forward to during his shifts.

At first Tezuka had thought back and wondered if he had done anything that might have hurt or offended Fuji in any way. Surely Fuji was not avoiding him for no reason. However, it quickly became obvious that the problem was not Tezuka nor Fuji but something else entirely.

He had first heard about it from Oshitari a few nights ago.

"Yukimura's been looking down lately," Oshitari had said while draining his third glass. "I heard he dumped his boyfriend. What a waste, don't you think?"

Tezuka had said nothing in return. Yukimura's personal life was none of his business, but he did wonder what had happened, especially since he still saw Sanada sitting in the club every night.

But soon Tezuka grew aware of Fuji sticking very close to Yukimura, whispering to him during their breaks and constantly shooting him worried glances. Whatever Fuji was telling Yukimura seemed to aggravate the bluenette more and more with each passing day. Tezuka then realized that Fuji was preoccupied with his friend and that was the reason Fuji wasn't hanging around the bar area as often as usual.

The strange new tension between Yukimura and Fuji reached a peak after a week. It was only lucky that the club had just closed its doors for the night when it all erupted.

"I keep on telling you not to meddle, Fuji!" shouted Yukimura at the top of his lungs, looking angrier than Tezuka had ever seen him. Tezuka paused in his cleaning, seeing that all the other employees were looking at the center of the dance floor where Fuji and Yukimura were facing each other. Yukimura had his arms crossed and looked absolutely frustrated.

"I just think you are making a mistake, Yukimura," said Fuji gently.

"Don't think I don't see what you do every night! I see the way you are encouraging him, telling him that he still has a chance with me when that is not true at all!" yelled Yukimura. He pointed an accusing finger at Fuji. "You're the reason Sanada keeps on coming back night after night, aren't you? Do you think it's fun to meddle in my love life for your own amusement?"

"That's not it, Yukimura," said Fuji. "I admit, I may have spoken to Sanada-kun but he is not giving up on you and that has nothing to do with what I've been telling him."

Yukimura stormed off in a flash and Fuji followed him to the changing rooms, slamming the door behind him. The murmuring resumed between the other employees as they gossiped about what they had just witnessed.

Tezuka frowned. He accidentally hit a glass with his elbow, making it fall down and shatter on the floor. He looked down at the glass shards blankly for a few seconds before bending to pick them up, being careful not to cut himself in the process. He had hoped Fuji would have come talk to him today. He enjoyed Fuji's company, although the dancer did say things that make him stutter sometimes, but that was not the reason he needed to see Fuji right now.

This… thing they had between them… Tezuka wasn't quite sure what to call it. There was a definite attraction between them but they had yet to see each other outside the club and they didn't even know each other's phone numbers. However, regardless of what their relationship was, Tezuka only had a few days left and he was fairly certain that leaving without telling Fuji was not at all a bright idea.

Tezuka had given his notice to Atobe weeks ago. His boss hadn't been too happy with the news, saying that Tezuka was the best bartender they had had in a long time and had even offered Tezuka a raise, but Tezuka was decided. He had accumulated enough money over the last year to last him till the end of his schooling. Now that he had a thesis paper and internship to do, he was fully prepared to focus on school without letting work distract him.

Now if only he could find the proper time to tell Fuji… and maybe hint towards meeting outside the club once in a while. Tezuka wasn't confident that he could flirt and ask someone out, but maybe Fuji would be able to read his intentions once he knew Tezuka was quitting his job soon.

Tezuka had just finished cleaning up the last of the glass shards when Yukimura and Fuji came back out of the dressing rooms. Everyone else had already left by then. Yukimura didn't even say goodbye; he just left out the front door without so much as a glance at Tezuka or Fuji. Normally Tezuka would feel slightly anxious about being alone with Fuji in the club but today Fuji was simply staring at the door with a sad expression on his face.

The stripper sighed. "He's mad at me," said Fuji. He looked so sad that Tezuka paused, feeling ready to go console him. Fuji was back in the jeans and shirt he usually wore when he wasn't working. Even with the baggy shirt and pants, anyone could see Fuji was a stunningly beautiful person. Tezuka could look at him forever and never grow bored.

"Give him time," said Tezuka in response.

"I suppose…" Fuji walked towards the stage, looking up at the lone pole standing in the center of it. "I've been so worried about him that I didn't practice my new routine today."

Tezuka heard the clacking of shoes stepping up the stairs to the stage. The sound echoed in the near-empty room until Fuji was standing in front of the pole, touching it with his hand.

"Mind if I practice?" asked Fuji.

"Go ahead," said Tezuka. He wasn't done cleaning yet anyways.

And so Fuji moved and Tezuka found that he couldn't look away.

Even if Fuji was fully clothed and had no music to guide him, it didn't stop him from moving fluidly around the pole like he had been born to do that job. Tezuka was vaguely aware that he had some cleaning to do but all he could focus on was Fuji, bending lower and rubbing the pole along the cleft of his ass. Tezuka swallowed thickly and Fuji just continued, not paying attention to the stares coming in his direction. Fuji wrapped his legs around the pole, grinding, climbing and twisting and caressing it so that Tezuka couldn't help but be jealous of that piece of metal.

Tezuka mentally shook himself free from Fuji's spell before he could mount the stage and give Fuji something better to rub himself on.

Tezuka caught Fuji's eyes after his next spin. He could see that Fuji's mind was elsewhere, his forehead furrowed with worry. It was then that Fuji stopped, the pole trapped between his thighs.

"I know I shouldn't meddle but I worry about him," said Fuji, his hands forming a fist. He wasn't quite in the mood for dancing as much as he felt like being comforted. "Yukimura's all alone and he's hurting himself. I just know he's making a mistake but nothing I do is helping."

Tezuka put down his cleaning rag, immediately seeing that a bit of consoling was in order. He joined Fuji on the stage, letting the slighter dancer lean against his chest. Tezuka delicately cradled Fuji, fingers shifting through the stripper's soft hair.

"Yukimura's an adult," said Tezuka. He was proud that his voice didn't waver and that his hands didn't wander despite how aroused he felt; Fuji's dance had cerainly taken its toll on the bartender. "I'm sure he can take care of himself."

"Yes, but sometimes he needs to let others take care of him. He needs to open up and let people in," said Fuji. "At this rate, he's just going to continue hurting himself."

No one would have wanted to be in Tezuka's shoes at the moment. Tezuka's body was screaming for more contact, to release some of that pent up tension and to satisfy the urge he's had all night from watching Fuji perform for a group of lucky men. Tezuka had been ashamed to realize that he had been slightly jealous of Fuji's clients today. Then there was Tezuka's very rational mind, telling him that Fuji was very visibly worried and upset about this whole Yukimura dilemma and that Tezuka would definitely be doing the right thing by rubbing Fuji's back soothingly and listening to him talk. Smearing his crotch against Fuji's would not be the polite thing to do at the moment. Regardless of the road he picked, Tezuka was sure he wouldn't end up winning in either situations.

Still, Tezuka had never been one to be controlled by his urges, so the decision was quite obvious. Besides… Tezuka reminded himself that he did have something quite urgent to discuss with Fuji about his fast approaching leave from the Imperial Palace.

"I don't think there's anything you can do without angering him at this point," said Tezuka. "You are a good friend and care for him a lot so don't beat yourself up over it. Over time Yukimura will come to see that you meant well."

"Hm, I think that's the most words you've ever said to me in a row," said Fuji, his sad expression curving up at the edge of his lips. "But thank you, Tezuka. Thank you for listening."

And then Fuji pressed himself even tighter against Tezuka for a grateful and very much innocent embrace... or rather, it was meant to be innocent. Tezuka stiffened, his breath catching in his throat as he felt the whole line of Fuji's body alongside his. He was certain Fuji could feel him just as well, along with the lump hidden in his pants.

Fuji's eyes shot open in an instant. He stayed in position, as if making sure that he wasn't imagining it.

"Tezuka?"

"Hn?"

"Are you aroused?" asked Fuji curiously.

"I... didn't mean it- I-I was just..." Tezuka sighed, giving up and answering the question with a muttered, "Y-Yes."

For a brief second, Tezuka wondered if Fuji was angry. He opened his mouth to apologize but ended up yelping as Fuji reach down to cup him through his pants.

Fuji licked his lips, his worried expression disappearing in a flash. "You do know how to cheer me up well," said Fuji and then leaned up for a kiss. Tezuka kissed him back, letting Fuji's dexterous tongue slide inside his mouth. He soon became aware of Fuji unbuttoning his shirt and Tezuka would have paid it more attention if Fuji wasn't currently sucking at his tongue like it was the most delicious thing in the world.

Instead of throwing Tezuka's shirt away, Fuji pulled until only Tezuka's arms were still trapped within the sleeves. Fuji broke the kiss, carefully pushing Tezuka back until the bartender could feel the metal pole along his back, the same pole Tezuka had been so jealous of mere minutes ago. Before Tezuka could have time to wonder what Fuji was up to, the dancer flitted behind him, tying Tezuka's arms behind him with the shirt until his arms were completely immobilized around the pole. Fuji stepped back to admire his handiwork. Tezuka tested it out by pulling, but sure enough he was well restrained. He didn't dare pull harder in fear of ripping his shirt.

It had taken a few times for Tezuka to notice the pattern. The pattern was varied and used different materials and methods, but without fail, Fuji always managed to tie him up in one way or another when they were intimate. Tezuka didn't mind and he didn't ask the reason for it either; he simply assumed Fuji had a preference for it. But after the last few times, the urge for more started growing inside Tezuka. He wanted to touch Fuji's skin as well, feel it shift under his fingers and drawing out gasps and moans from those pretty pink lips.

Fuji returned to his first position to kiss him again. Tezuka shivered, pausing and trying to regain some of his senses, hazily recalling that he was supposed to be telling Fuji something very important.

"Fuji," Tezuka began with a gasp, seeing Fuji's head dip lower. "You know, I've been – ah – working here for a while."

Finger rubbed along his chest, pausing to massage his nipples until they were stiff. Fuji paused in the middle of kissing the skin just above Tezuka's navel. "Hm, yes, it has been a while," Fuji muttered idly. He resumed tracing Tezuka's skin with his tongue, dipping down dangerously low. Tezuka gasped again and bucked his hips.

"Y-Yes, and as you know, I'm due to start writing my thesis and…" Tezuka paused to swallow, looking down at where Fuji was unbuttoning his pants and drawing him out slowly. "I-I just recently accepted an internship."

"Hm, well I'm not worried for you. You are a smart person and very dedicated to your schoolwork," said Fuji.

"That's why I- Ohh!" Tezuka let out longest, loudest moan when, without warning, Fuji suddenly licked up his cock, tasting the base and sucking along the tip. Fuji covered it with sucking kisses, flashing a coy smile up at Tezuka and grinning even wider when he got a reaction. Tezuka flexed his hips for more and Fuji soon obliged, taking him into his mouth all the way to the hilt without any apparent discomfort. Tezuka briefly wondered just how much practice Fuji had gotten to be this good when Fuji bobbed his head, steadily letting Tezuka fuck his mouth, and then the bartender officially had no more room left for rational thoughts.

The movements were ceaseless, the friction unbearable. Tezuka felt ready to explode, his legs ready to give out when Fuji pulled back, releasing his cock with a soft pop. Tezuka's arms fought against his bindings, not knowing whether he should be sighing in relief or frustration. Luckily he didn't have to worry about it for long. Fuji's tongue was back shortly, tracing the large vein along the underside, playing along the crown of the swollen head and then roaming back up to lap at the leaking slit. Tezuka knew he wouldn't last long at this rate. He could hear himself in the quiet room, embarrassing moans spilling out one after the other uncontrollably. He heard a wet slurping noise and he was once against surrounded by Fuji's blissful throat as it hummed around him.

A deep guttural cry was Fuji's only warning before tangy white essence coated his lips. He could taste a bit with the tip of his tongue. The rest of the plentiful liquid spurted over his chin and cheeks. He let Tezuka finish and only then did he work on licking away the remnants from Tezuka's sensitive cock. Tezuka twitched feebly in place.

Fuji licked the last from his lips with an approving sound, stuffing Tezuka back into his pants. Tezuka vaguely noticed Fuji standing back up, reaching up for a kiss. The kiss was sloppy and tasted bitter. When Fuji untied his hands, Tezuka slumped back against the pole for support. His shirt was so rumpled that Tezuka didn't want to wear it anymore.

"You were quite eager today. What brought this on?" Fuji chuckled.

Tezuka grunted, trying to get his voice to function again. "You can't expect me to feel nothing after having watched you dance all week without release."

Fuji hummed thoughtfully. "I suppose it's my fault then. I haven't spent much time with you lately, what with my concerns getting the better of me."

"No, it's alright," said Tezuka. "I understand. There is no need to apologize. Your concern for your friend is important."

The dancer sighed in relief, flashing him a grateful sort of smile. "Hm, well I did like this eager side of you," said Fuji. "Perhaps I should pay less attention to you more often. The results at the end of the week would be worth it, especially if it gets you to be more forward with me, Te-zu-ka."

Tezuka cleared his throat, fighting back the blush threatening to appear on his cheeks. He buttoned up his rumpled shirt and pushed his glasses back up his nose.

"And as I was saying before, you'll do just fine in school. You have no need to worry about it," said Fuji, beaming happily and then kissing Tezuka a final time.

It was once Fuji had left that Tezuka mentally berated himself, assigning himself extra reading work tonight as punishment for Fuji still was not aware that Tezuka would no longer be working there in a few days time. He was still going to have to tell him, preferably sooner than later. It was hard… Tezuka had doubts about it. Tezuka knew it was ridiculous, but there was always the chance Fuji had no interest in seeing him outside of the Imperial Palace. Maybe Fuji was not looking for anything serious... maybe that was why they had never seen each other outside the club...

Tomorrow I'll tell him, thought Tezuka. Tomorrow for sure.


~o~o~o~


Sanada didn't show up the next day.

Yukimura was acting extremely distracted throughout the whole night. The bluenette kept on looking at the entrance and then shifting his gaze around the room frantically. All the other dancers noticed quickly. It didn't take a genius to know who Yukimura was searching for.

"He's not here today?" asked Shiraishi, surprised. It was strange. Sanada came every single night no matter how angry Yukimura got or how many insults Yukimura hurtled at him. Without fail, Sanada was always there.

"Well I don't see him," said Yukimura, looking at the entrance again. Anxiety was radiating off of Yukimura today. There was still a bit of time left for Sanada to show up. The club closed in an hour… but Yukimura had the feeling that Sanada was not going to come today. Sanada would have been here by now.

Yukimura could only think of one major reason as to why Sanada wasn't here today: Perhaps Sanada had finally gotten the message through his thick skull and gave up on him.

A pang of pain shot through Yukimura at the thought. Not having Sanada here was strange. Knowing that Sanada was not vigilantly staring at him felt strangely empty. Despite the curses and insults Yukimura had thrown at Sanada over the weeks, Yukimura had been certain that Sanada would always return to him without fail, night after night.

Damn it... this was exactly what Yukimura had wanted and yet here he was, not at all happy. He was alone again and it truly felt isolating. Damn, why was he acting this way? He wanted Sanada to move on and give up on him! He didn't want Sanada nipping at his heels, insisting that he loved him despite everything. If Sanada had given up on him then it was a good thing! It was what Yukimura had wanted all along...

"Do you think something happened to him?" asked Yukimura suddenly. Shiraishi shrugged. They were both leaning back, the rush of clients having just gone now that the club was getting ready to close. Both dancers were sweaty and lacking a large amount of clothing, but the number of tips in their pockets was worth it.

"Like what?" asked Shiraishi.

"I don't know, but isn't it strange?" said Yukimura. "He was here yesterday pestering me as usual and today he's suddenly gone. This isn't right. He's not the type to give up easily."

"Well with the string of curses you've been hurling at him lately, I wouldn't be surprised if Sanada-kun's finally had enough," said Shiraishi.

The words stung but Yukimura was certain that it wasn't it… or at least, that's what he kept on telling himself.

"No, I know something isn't right. Something must have happened to make him unable to come today," said Yukimura. What if Sanada had gotten hurt or injured or in a car accident or a bus accident or choked on something or got cut during kendo practice? Yukimura's thought whirled in place, increasing his anxiety by the second.

"I'm sure Sanada-kun is fine," said Shiraishi.

They went back to work after that but Yukimura's thoughts were still elsewhere. For the next hour, Yukimura continued staring with increased desperateness at the door, silently hoping for Sanada to walk in and put his worries to rest. Yukimura was so tempted to call Sanada and demand to know why he was absent today. It took Yukimura's greatest self-control to put his phone down.

His sense of unease peeked high when the night was over, the doors were closed and still Sanada had not come. Something was definitely wrong. Sanada always showed up. Sanada would not simply give up on him like that!

Yukimura changed back into his regular clothes after work all the while looking at his cellphone again and again. He should call, he thought, just to see if Sanada was alive and okay. Just one press of a number, Sanada would answer and that would be all Yukimura needed. Yukimura first waited until Fuji and Shiraishi had cleared the dressing room before his picked up his phone and pressed, very hesitantly, on Sanada's number.

His heart raced, faster and faster with each ring. There was nothing for the first few rings… then it continued, again and again, ring after ring until finally there was a robotic female voice telling him that the number he had dialed was not available and to try again at a later time.

Frowning, Yukimura dialled again but there was still no answer. How strange. Had something really happened to Sanada?

No. Sanada was just fine. Something had probably come up… friends, family, school, anything that would make him too busy to come today. Nothing bad had happened. Yukimura told himself that he was just imagining things. Sanada would be back tomorrow and everything would be back to normal. Right?

...

...

...Fuck.

Yukimura cursed, grabbing his jacket and bolting out of the Imperial Palace as fast as he could.

The air outside was cool compared to inside. The buses didn't run very often this late at night so Yukimura knew he would have to get to Sanada's apartment on foot. Despite it all, he didn't pause to think and simply ran in the right direction.

His lungs burned before he even made the halfway point but still he continued, worry gnawing at his chest.

Yukimura reached the apartment building later than he would've liked. He panted, nearly collapsing on the floor as he struggled to regain his breath. When he had gathered enough energy to approach the building, Yukimura looked up, seeking out Sanada's window.

He found the window, hard to see because it was all the way up on the fifth floor. The window was dark. Either no one was home or Sanada and his roommate were fast asleep. Yukimura bit his lip, wondering if he should ring the bell and risk waking them up to see if they were home. Maybe he could ring the doorbell and run away to see if anyone would respond. Yukimura certainly didn't want to have to confront Sanada directly. But what if Sanada really wasn't home…?

"Yukimura?"

Yukimura turned around in a flash, facing the voice that had called out his name. Already he knew who that voice belong to. Sanada stepped out of the darkness, carrying a small bag and wearing a casual shirt and jeans. Yukimura's heart constricted painfully but the relief was so great that he sighed loudly.

The moment of surprise passed and a surging anger took place inside the bluenette.

"Where were you?!" Yukimura demanded. "You didn't show up and I thought you had been kidnapped!"

"Ah, it was my mother's birthday. My parents, ah, they live out of the city and I just got back now," said Sanada. He was still staring as if he couldn't believe that Yukimura was really there. "Um, why are you here?"

Fuck. Now he'd done it. Yukimura mentally slapped himself for having jumped to the worst conclusion. Now he was in a real mess. He quickly racked his brain for excuses about why he was at Sanada's apartment in the middle of the night but no good ones came up in his mind.

"I-I left something at your place the last time I was there," said Yukimura.

There was a pause. "No you didn't," said Sanada with a slight frown.

"How can you be sure?" said Yukimura, forcefully sticking with his lie.

"I would have noticed. What did you forget?"

"I-It was…" Yukimura paused for a second too long.

"And even if you did leave something here, why come get it now? It's the middle of the night," said Sanada, crossing his arms and slowly realizing that Yukimura was giving him a very obvious lie.

Yukimura averted his gaze, staring determinedly at the floor. "I... It was..."

"Did you come to see me, Yukimura?" asked Sanada in a low whisper.

"D-Don't be stupid!" snarled Yukimura. He was glad it was night so that his reddening cheeks could easily go unnoticed. "I'm leaving," he announced and made to leave before Sanada could question him any further.

"I'll come see you tomorrow, Yukimura!" Sanada called out before Yukimura had gone too far.

Yukimura didn't reply. He hung his head forward and dragged his feet away, telling himself not to look back. The matter had been resolved but Yukimura felt far from at ease. Now he had a long trip to make to get back home. A really long trip in the dark and cold night in which Yukimura would be able to maul over what had just happened while berating himself for his lousy decision. Really, he couldn't have simply left the matter alone and gone home? Why had he let his worries take over? Yukimura would be asleep in his own bed by now had he not meddled. Of course Sanada would be busy some nights! Yukimura was a fool to think Sanada would devote his every night to him.

But even if Yukimura knew it had been a bad idea, he felt relief for he knew he would not have been able to sleep well had he not gone to see Sanada with his own eyes.

~o~o~o~

Also, MERRY (late) CHRISTMAS/HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL! :D

I actually spent my Christmas at a casino... so much for holiday spirit. D; I hope you all have fun holidays with your family and friends while not losing any money! :P