Title: The Imperial Palace Chapter 13

Setting: Strip Club AU.

Rating: THE SEXY ONE.

Reason: Because tennis outfits are that sexy.

Pairing: Alpha Pa- Just kidding, it's Royal Pair.

Warnings: Uncreative content, possible OOC-ness, ACTUAL TENNIS, they bicker too much, I still can't write royal pair, but I don't care, etc.

Disclaimer: PRINCE OF TENNIS ISN'T MINE.

~o~o~o~


Atobe had arrived back at his condo late and had slept a meagre two hours when his phone rang. It jolted him awake, causing him to start uncharacteristically swearing under his breath. He didn't even have the willpower or strength to pick up the phone, deciding instead that it was sleep-time and that whoever was calling him would have to leave a message.

At least that had been the plan until whoever was calling decided to call back three more times in a row.

Growling, Atobe reached for his nightstand. He prodded around until his fingers clutched the phone. He brought the irritating device back to his ear. "What?" he snapped at whoever was on the other line.

"I'm waiting for you outside. Are you ready to go?"

Atobe rubbed his eyes. "What?" he repeated.

"Our date, Monkey King."

There was no mistaking that amused, cocky tone. It was the last thing Atobe wanted to hear this early in the morning.

"Call back in ten hours," Atobe said and rolled over to go back to sleep. He barely had ten seconds of peace before the phone blared out again. Atobe briefly considered suffocating himself under his pillow but ended up answering again.

"Aren't you a bit too early for our date?" snapped Atobe.

"I said Saturday at five. I'm perfectly on time," said Echizen.

A quick look at the clock told Atobe that it really was five o'clock. In the morning.

He sat up, groggy and angry. "It's the crack of dawn. I had assumed you meant five in the evening like any sane person would."

"Well now that you know, do come down so we can be on our way. I made reservations and we'll be late if you don't hurry," said Echizen.

"You're crazy if you think I'm coming with you at this ungodly hour!"

"Do you want me to come get you? You're on the top floor, right?"

Damn him. Atobe gritted his teeth in frustration. Even if he shut his phone off, he was ready to bet that Echizen would come upstairs and knock on his door until Atobe agreed to come along. Atobe rose from his bed and pulled the curtains away from his window. The sun wasn't even out yet. He looked down, seeing near empty dark streets. The only light was coming from a car parked in front of his building with a small figure leaning casually against it. Although Atobe could not see the person clearly, he was willing to bet that it was Echizen.

"Give me a minute," said Atobe.

"Don't keep me waiting for too long," responded Echizen and hung up.

Even after he had showered and put on his best shirt and dressy shoes, Atobe looked very tired. He glared at his reflection in the mirror, seeing the dark circles under his eyes and the pale sunken look in his cheeks. There wasn't much he could do about it. Really, this was Echizen's loss as the tennis player would be unable to gaze upon Atobe's usual perfection because of an early morning date. Atobe grabbed his jacket and left.

The moment he exited his building, he was met with camera flashes.

Great. Now he was going to look less than perfect in whatever magazines these damn photographers worked for. Atobe blinked against the flashes, shielding his eyes from the light. These were some dedicated photographers to be waking up this early to get the latest dirt on Echizen's life. Granted, tennis season was just around the corner and soon Echizen would be the bigshot once again, so long as he won the championships of course.

The car waiting for him was an ordinary black model, probably meant to drive through the streets unnoticed. Echizen now sat in the driver's seat, waving at him with an amused expression.

Another flash went off, making Atobe see spots. He was very not amused.

Atobe entered the car and Echizen started driving before Atobe had even completely shut the door. Sighing, Atobe relaxed back into his seat. "You're in a hurry," he observed.

Echizen didn't take his eyes off the road. He drove quite fast so it was a good thing there was hardly anyone on the road at this hour. "I'm on a tight schedule," said the tennis player, zooming past another car. "And I did say we have reservations."

"Where are we going?" Atobe asked and closed his eyes. If it was far then maybe he could get some sleep on the way.

And then Echizen started blasting the radio. The shrill voices of some pop girl band assaulted his ears.

"It's a surprise," said Echizen and Atobe considered strangling him for a second but then remembered that it might put him in danger considering they were now on the highway. Echizen hummed along to the song and lurched the car forward like he was trying to impress him or get a speeding ticket, or both at the same time. The way Echizen was zigzagging the car around didn't permit Atobe to sleep even if the music wasn't slowly killing his eardrums.

"Slow down will you?" said Atobe, irritated.

"I told you I'm on a tight schedule," said Echizen. "Besides, driving slow makes it easy for those photographers to keep up. That wouldn't be much of a challenge then, would it?"

They drove for only half an hour, but it felt like the longest half hour of Atobe's life. He could only imagine how tired he was going to be that night, trying not to fall asleep at his club. Hopefully he would be able to sneek back in his office and take a nap. When the car finally pulled up in a large parking lot, Atobe blinked rapidly in the dark to see where they were.

The look Atobe gave Echizen was the definition of You've-got-to-be-kidding-me.

"You brought me to a tennis sports center," said Atobe. Really, the tennis world champion bringing him to a tennis court. Either Echizen was an idiot or just that uncreative. If Atobe was in a better mood, he might have laughed.

"I reserved Court B," said Echizen.

"A tennis court," Atobe repeated, still in disbelief. "I admit, you've impressed me. Never in a million years would I have thought that a tennis player would bring me to a tennis court."

Echizen rolled his eyes at Atobe's sharp sarcasm. "You really aren't a morning person, Monkey king," he said and got out of the car.

After getting out his phone and quickly texting a message to his driver saying where he was, Atobe followed Echizen out and into the large facility. The place was empty save for a man in sweatpants who handed Echizen keys and a large sports bag containing the proper equipment. Surely Echizen wasn't serious about playing, right? Atobe was wearing designer pants and classy shoes and it was far too early for exercise.

There was no way in hell Echizen would make him play.


~o~o~o~


Twenty minutes later, wearing borrowed sports pants, running shoes and holding a navy blue Wilson racket, Atobe was forced to conclude that Echizen really was going to make him play.

The sun was finally coming up, casting a golden pink glow on the clay court.

"Why are we playing on clay?" asked Atobe, sounding just a bit whiny.

"Because the Roland Garros is coming up soon," replied Echizen.

"Then shouldn't you be playing tennis with another pro, or with your coach?"

"Monkey King, go stand on the serving line. I'll let you serve first."

Echizen threw the ball at him. Atobe caught it easily, still not happy with this development. His shoes were squeaky and smelled bad. If Echizen had told him where they were going beforehand, then Atobe could have brought his own equipment. It wasn't like he was a stranger to tennis. He had once played it like a religion, back in high school. Everyone used to look up to him back then, the mighty captain of the boys tennis team. He still played once in a while with old friends when he had the time, but not nearly as much as he would like.

Still, he wasn't some simple novice ready to be utterly humiliated by that cheeky brat. He wasn't a pro either, but he had some tricks up his sleeve.

"Do you need me to show you how to serve?" asked Echizen, smirking from across the court. The smaller man was crouched in stance, racket in his right hand amd looking every bit like the pro he was.

Atobe's lips twitched in response, his old tennis flare coming up. Now that they were doing this, Atobe wasn't ready to go down without a fight.

"I think I got it," said Atobe and threw the ball in the air.

He hit a sharp overhand serve. Echizen caught it, hitting it back. It was a short rally, ended when Echizen shot a curved ball in the far corner out of Atobe's reach. Looks like Echizen was playing full force, thought Atobe.

Atobe retrieved the ball. He served. The next point went to Echizen too.

"Maybe I should go easy on you," said Echizen, taunting.

Atobe didn't respond. This was part of the plan. He had little chance of victory, but he could at least make Echizen work for it. He was going to start slow, to get the feel of the court and to get familiar with Echizen's play style. And when Echizen let his guard down, he would strike hard and fast.

The first game went to Echizen easily enough. Echizen was noticeably slower in the second round. He still got every point, but he wasn't taking Atobe as seriously anymore, not hitting the ball as fast as he could. When the third game arrived, Atobe was ready. Echizen's guard was down from winning the first two games without difficulty. Now was the time to strike!

"Tannhauser Serve!" Atobe shouted his best move and strained his arm forward, fast as lightning.

The stunned look on Echizen's face was worth it all. The ball shot to the other side of the court and instead of bouncing back up, it rolled off at a frightening speed. Echizen was powerless to stop it, looking like he couldn't believe that he had lost a point.

"Be awed by my prowess." Atobe gleamed, sparkling in the morning light.

"That's no amateur move," noted Echizen.

"I never said I was a newbie," Atobe said and served again.

His serve remained unbroken for another two points. On the third time, Echizen managed to return it, but Atobe had run on the offensive and backhanded the ball to the opposite corner, earning Atobe his first game.

"Two-to-one," said Atobe. "The first of many."

"Don't get too cocky, Monkey King," said Echizen. "It's my serve now."

Echizen was back to full power and maximum strength. Atobe too played at his best, managing several spectacular returns, but the gap between them was more obvious than ever now. Still, Atobe didn't go down without a fight. His old spark returned to him full force as he sprinted to hit the ball again and again, harder and harder each time, never once pausing to rest. He won his second game as Echizen won his fifth and Atobe felt like he was a cascade of sweat and burning muscles. Echizen didn't appear as exhausted, but he was breathing hard and Atobe kept him on guard. Now he could see why Echizen was a pro.

The game ended fast. With Atobe not being as fit as he used to be back in high school, he found his arms and legs growing tired and heavy until it was a chore to hit the ball back. That was when Echizen finished it with a spectacular drive, so fast that Atobe barely saw it.

Atobe remained standing, panting heavily, but not willing to sink down on the floor no matter how much he felt like collapsing. His empty stomach was growling, his throat parched for water. Atobe saw Echizen approach and realized that the tennis player had switched to his left hand during the game.

"Good game," said Echizen. He extended out his hand and their sweaty palms met in a handshake. "I assume you aren't up for a second match?"

Atobe coughed, his lungs burning and leaving him breathless. "I'll pass."

Echizen chuckled. "You were better than I expected. You play often?"

"Ah, I was the high school captain and played a bit back in college."

"That explains it." Echizen looked at his watch and suddenly gasped. "Oh no. The match took far longer than I thought. Looks like I will be late after all."

"Hm? Late for what?" asked Atobe. He did remember Echizen saying he was on a tight schedule earlier.

"My flight to Paris," said Echizen like it was no big deal. Atobe blinked at him, thinking that Echizen was not very smart at all to be missing his flight over a little tennis match.

"We could have rescheduled the date if you already had something planned, you know," said Atobe. It wasn't like he had even wanted to come today. "If you miss your flight, getting another one last minute isn't a pleasant thing to do."

Echizen shrugged. "I couldn't reschedule. I was busy training and I'll be out of the country for several weeks," he said. "Still, I'm just about certain to miss my flight now... Hopefully they won't disqualify me."

Disqualify? Atobe stood in silence, thoughtful for a good ten seconds before it hit him like a brick. He pulled out his phone, checking the date and gaping when his suspicion turned out true.

The French Open started tonight.

And Echizen was standing there idly like he wasn't supposed to be playing in one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world later that day.

"You idiot! When does your flight leave?" Atobe cried out.

"In a little over an hour," replied Echizen, completely nonchalant.

There was no time. They would have to drive super fast if they wanted to get there on time, and the luggage and parking the car…

Atobe looked out and saw Echizen's car. Next to it was a long black limousine, the one Atobe had called earlier before the match. His driver was standing next to it, waiting for him.

"Is your luggage in your car?" asked Atobe.

"Yeah."

"Good. Get it in my limo and hurry. I'll drop you off at the airport."

Echizen didn't ask questions and just did as Atobe said. Atobe ran to his driver and explained the situation quickly, emphasizing that they were going to have to drive extremely fast if Echizen was going to make his flight or else the French Open was going to be really upset that one of their star players was missing in action.

That idiot, why would he even be on a date when he was supposed to be across the globe!

Once the luggage and tennis equipement was in the trunk and Echizen and Atobe in their seats, the limo flew out of the parking lot, faster than Atobe would have thought possible. The car veered to the side sharply, zipzagging through the streets at a scary speed.

Atobe lowered the dark glass separating the driver from the passengers. "Whatever you do, don't stop the car," he told his driver.

"Of course not, sir," the driver answered.

"You might hear strange noises. You are only to interrupt if we arrive at the airport," explained Atobe.

"Y-Yes sir," said the driver, visibly flushing. Atobe let the separator fall back in place, leaving him alone with Echizen once again.

Echizen was busying himself with looking through the many hidden compartments in the limo, finding snacks and a scary amount of wine bottles and then pressing an assortment of buttons multiple times, turning on various lights, windows and the radio.

"Stop that," snapped Atobe when Echizen turned the radio off for the seventh time. He approached closer, sliding to the same seat, his eyes roaming over the smaller's body. "It's a shame our date ended so early. I suppose we could skip to the best part and-"

A tune went off. Atobe thought Echizen had turned the radio on again but the sound was coming from Echizen's pocket. Echizen dug through his tennis shorts and pulled out his phone.

"Yeah?" he said, flipping his phone open. Echizen jolted suddenly, holding his phone out at arms length as whoever was on the other line screamed and shrieked. Atobe caught the words "late", "irresponsible" and "negligent" among a series of more colourful abuses.

"I know, sensei. I'm on my way," said Echizen once he had the courage to bring the phone back to his ear. "I was busy helping a pregnant lady to the hospital. ...I know. I'll be there soon." He hung up the mobile, sighing as he pushed it back in his pocket. "Sorry about that. My coach overreacts at times."

Atobe didn't even want to know how the coach would react if Echizen actually missed his plane.

"You seem to love giving everyone a hard time, don't you brat?" said Atobe. "Me included."

Echizen smirked, turning towards Atobe. "Is this about the photographers following you around again?" he asked "You brought that upon yourself. You should've been more cautious of who you take as partners." Echizen's leg slid around Atobe's waist and he pulled himself up on the man's lap, leaning slightly forward as to not hit his head on the ceiling of the car. "Was taking me that time worth the hassle?"

Atobe's hands slid up along the tennis player's hips, moving up to skim along the inside of his shirt. The warm skin was still sticky with sweat from their match. Echizen's breath hitched.

"Still sensitive, I see," commented Atobe. "I do feel like you owe me for giving you a last minute lift."

"Do you now?" Echizen leaned closer. "What can I do to thank you, I wonder?"

"I can think of a few things," whispered Atobe, licking his lips; a slight motion to provoke Echizen into making the first move. "Perhaps if you make it up to me, then it will have all been worth it."

"Again, it is your fault the photographers are stalking you," said Echizen. "I didn't force you into having sex with me last time. You chose that of your own accord."

"My fault? Who was the one provoking me and practically begging for it?" asked Atobe, more calm and self-confident than he had any right to be with a definite hardness growing under the weight of Echizen's body. "Although I will admit you make some marvellous faces with a good cock up your ass."

"And I do admit you made some nice noises last time too. Perhaps you've finally found your calling as a professional man-whore," said Echizen.

"I take it to mean you were quite impressed with my prowess."

"Impressed might be an exaggeration. Maybe satisfied would be the more proper term," said Echizen.

It was a stalemate. Both of them mere inches apart, hot and eager, yet neither willing to be the one to give in first. Atobe's hands circled along Echizen's lower back and Echizen pushed slightly down with his hips, a movement that caused Atobe to grind his teeth when his crotch fell victim to the motion. Atobe breathed in sharply when Echizen repeated the action.

"You look like you want to say something, Monkey King," said Echizen innocently. "Is everything all right?"

"Fine," gritted out Atobe through clenched teeth. He got his revenge when he let his hands roam down and squeeze the tennis player's tight ass. Echizen showed no reaction until Atobe slid a finger lower, trailing down his crack and pushing right where he knew his hole was through the material of the shorts. The noise Echizen made was barely audible, but it was enough.

"Is this where you want it?" asked Atobe, his confidence sharply shifting back up, his smirk boastful. He pressed again, circling his fingers along that sensitive area.

"H-aah!" Echizen's gasp was like the sound of victory for Atobe. Echizen's head craned lower, resting along Atobe's shoulder as Atobe continued his ministrations. Atobe could smell the sweat in his dark hair and salt of his skin.

"Nghh... don't t-tease m-me, Monkey King," said Echizen even though he sounded a mere hairbreadth away from begging.

"Perhaps I will take you, little brat. God knows you want it badly enough," said Atobe. "Would you like me to take you like this, with you bouncing on my lap? Or maybe you wish to be under me again since you enjoyed it so very much last time." His voice dropped to a low, dangerous growl. "You'll be so sore and senseless once I'm through with you. I'll make it so good you'll feel it burning inside you during your plane ride. You'll think of me during your tennis practices and you'll remember the pleasure I give you during every match you play for the rest of the tournament."

At that last word Atobe pressed his mouth to Echizen's jaw, his teeth moving up and finding an earlobe to suck on. Echizen's legs splayed open on either side of Atobe. "That's what you want, isn't it?" He whispered into the younger's ear, feeling Echizen shiver in response. The movement caused Atobe to buck up, pressing both their clothed erections together. They shared a groan and suddenly both their self-controls snapped. Atobe went to capture those succulent-looking lips for the most breathtaking ki—

The limousine stopped so quickly that Echizen would have fallen had Atobe not been groping him so personally. There was a knock from the driver's window.

"Sir, we've arrived, I'll get the luggage," said the driver and Atobe was a second away from telling him to keep driving, plane to Paris be damned. Either they had spent too long bickering or his driver was just that fast.

The kiss Echizen pressed to Atobe's lips ended up being fast and unsatisfying. Echizen too hesitated, not looking too eager to leave despite the fact that he should be racing to catch his plane at the moment.

"Well… thank you for the ride," Echizen said finally. He slid off Atobe just as the driver opened the door to let the tennis player out. "I'll see you in a while I suppose."

"I still expect you to make it up to me," said Atobe.

Echizen smirked that cocky, infuriating grin. "Seeing as I now have to sit in a plane for ten hours in sweaty clothes and a hard-on, I think we're equal," he said and closed the door.

Atobe pushed his hair back, sighing. What a waste of a day.

Still, as Atobe looked through the window at Echizen's retreating ass, he found himself staring far more than he should. Those shorts certainly did justice to Echizen's behind, that much was certain. When they had been playing too, those shorts and shirt had often flown up to reveal a delicious amount of skin.

The inspiration hit Atobe like a hammer to the head. He pulled out his phone in a flash, speed-dialing the designer in charge of all the outfits his employees wore at his fine establishment.

"Good morning, Atobe-kun," answered Mizuki, sounding grouchier than usual. "Isn't this a tad early to make a call?"

"I have a new request," said Atobe, not even bothering to apologize. "For the next set of uniforms, I was thinking something along the lines of athletics. What do you think of tennis outfits?"

It had been a whole five days since Atobe had last changed the outfits back at the Imperial Palace. They usually changed every week anyways; they would just be changing earlier than usual this time. Atobe had been feeling less than inspired lately, but now he felt like this was the greatest idea he's had in a long time.

"Hm?" Atobe could practically hear Mizuki perking up from the prompt, his imagination swirling into action. "Yes… tennis. Sweaty boys, tiny shorts, oh yes. Would you prefer with rackets?" asked the designer.

"Yes."

"Mm, of course, your boys are creative. Even with a tennis racket, they could—"

"Just make it work, Mizuki," said Atobe. "I want the outfits by tomorrow."

"Consider it done. Ciao, darling."

A wave of exhaustion came over Atobe after the call ended. The little amount of sleep he had combined with the tennis match had exhausted him. He ordered the driver to bring him back home. He must've been more tired than he thought as he fell asleep barely five minutes later.

~o~o~o~