Title: The Imperial Palace Chapter 17.

Setting: Strip Club AU.

Rating: M FOR MASTURBATION.

Is this real life?: yes, I updated this thing yes.

Pairing: MOTHERFUCKING PERFECT PAIR(-ISH).

Warnings: Uncreative content, possible OOC-ness, Fuji, drunk!Fuji, more Fuji, etc.

Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis isn't mine and it's not yours either.

~o~o~o~


The Imperial Palace looked completely different in the light of the morning. It was strangely quiet, without a soul in sight. Tezuka creaked the door open, pausing to lock it behind him and then surveyed his workplace.

Well… it was now his old workplace, he supposed.

The dance floor looked large and ordinary without the dim lights and bodies of dancers. The place almost looked like an abandoned building, only a lot neater. It was amazing what some music, some flashes of colourful lights and strippers on stage could do to completely change the mood of the place at night. Tezuka had finished his last shift only a few hours ago, but it already felt like he had left for ages.

He paused by the bar, running a hand along the smooth mahogany. Every glass and every bottle was in perfect place for the next person to take over. Tezuka at least hoped the next bartenders would keep things clean and in their rightful place.

His footsteps echoed in the room as he made his way to the hidden door leading up to the boss' office. That was where he found Atobe, asleep on the couch with an open, barely drunk bottle of champagne on the floor beside him and a novel open on top of his face.

Tezuka cleared his throat loudly. Six times.

Atobe finally shifted as he awoke, a groan leaving his lips as the book slid to the floor with a thump. He looked at his watch and clearly didn't like what hour it was.

"Make it fast, I still have a lot more sleep left in me," said Atobe.

Tezuka stepped forward and put his neatly folded uniform on the desk. "I'm only here to return my uniform and key. Thank you for everything, Atobe-san," he said and bowed rather formally.

Atobe yawned. "So that's it? You're not going to reconsider?" he asked. Tezuka resisted the urge to sigh. Atobe had tried to get him to stay several times already. "You're good at your job, you know. I could easily give you a raise. The speed you work at is worth three regular employees."

"Thank you, but it's not about the money, Atobe-san," said Tezuka.

"Hm… or I could hire you as a dancer." Atobe winked at him. "You have the looks for it."

Tezuka felt his eye twitch. After so long, he was getting used to ignoring his boss' jabs. "No thank you. I'll be taking my leave now."

"Hn. Good luck with school or whatever it is you're doing now," said Atobe, waving him off and promptly falling back asleep.

And that was that. Tezuka bowed his head again on his way out, even if Atobe was back to snoring before Tezuka had even exited the room. He walked slowly down the steps, thinking about how this was his last time in the Imperial Palace as an employee. It had been a good job, he thought, despite the horrendously late hours. He had met some nice people and the tips were always top notch. He would miss it, he supposed.

He heard the sounds of footsteps before he reached the landing. Tezuka normally wouldn't be bothered by someone else being there, but he hadn't counted on seeing Fuji there of all people.

Fuji was up on the main stage, his leg wrapped around the pole, stretching. Parts of Tezuka's mind told him to run, or hide, or do both. He didn't do either of that. Instead he found himself approaching the stage, dutifully aware of Fuji spotting him in the corner of his eye. Fuji was obviously about to practice. He wore sweats and had a speaker attached to his MP3 on the side of the stage.

"Good morning," said Tezuka, stepping up the steps leading to the stage. His voice felt loud and echoed in the wide room.

"Is it?" asked Fuji. "I'm feeling absolutely rotten this morning actually."

Tezuka had nothing to say to that. It was the first time he had spoken to Fuji in over a week. Tezuka knew why.

"I used to practice so hard in the mornings," said Fuji. "And I would always look forward to finishing a new routine, just so I could see your reaction to it. Silly, isn't it?"

Tezuka's eyes hardened. "I meant to tell you I was quitting-"

"Oh, did you?" said Fuji, leaning on the pole. "What a relief, I was afraid I had ruined all your plans by finding out myself. Please, go on, I'm dying to know what your excuse is."

"I don't have one," Tezuka admitted. "You have every right to be angry."

Fuji surveyed him as if looking at a strange new creature. As awful as the situation was, Tezuka wasn't about to lie about this. He had no good reason for his silence save for his own hesitation. It was the very same feeling of reluctance that showed its ugly head whenever Fuji teased him or stole a kiss during work hours. It was a queer feeling he got that made him question his actions, asking himself where this relationship was headed, and Tezuka never had an answer. He knew nothing about Fuji, nothing at all.

Tezuka would be lying if he said this wasn't hard, but he had decided it was for the best. Fuji was absolutely stunning. Fuji was so beautiful and graceful that anyone would have to be blind not to notice it. Fuji could have anyone he wanted, man or woman, in the blink of an eye. Fuji was in a whole different league of his own. Yes, Tezuka had been unable to resist in the past for the exact reasons being that Fuji was so attractive, but how long would he be happy with mere infatuation? Every time Fuji smirked at him and laughed at his reaction, Tezuka could only feel like he was being toyed with.

They had never seen each other outside of work. They had never exchanged numbers. But mainly, they had never sat down for a conversation without having it escalate to full-on flirting or more. Perhaps that was all Fuji really wanted. Perhaps Tezuka was nothing more than a way for Fuji to pass some time at work. Certainly Fuji hadn't shown any hints to suggest he wanted something more serious out of this.

All that hesitation had gotten him nowhere and ended in Tezuka remaining silent about his plans to leave the Imperial Palace.

"I see," said Fuji, tapping his lip thoughtfully. Tezuka met his eyes, his gaze then slipping down to those supple lips. He could easily recall the hot breathtaking way that mouth tasted. "I was wondering why you were acting so cold towards me lately."

"I did try to tell you," said Tezuka. He had mentioned it in passing a while ago.

"At least answer me this, Tezuka," said Fuji. "Do you like me at all?"

"Yes."

Fuji spun once around the pole, regarding him some more. "Only one word, huh?" said Fuji and sighed. "You are the most infuriating person I've ever had the pleasure to meet, Tezuka Kunimitsu. I've known you all this time and yet I feel like I've made no progress with you. You're still an oyster cooped up in its shell." He laughed humourlessly.

Fuji's tone became melancholic, his anger gone just as sudden as his mirth had appeared. "I do wish you luck in your studies," said Fuji. "Go on then, I'm sure you have lots of things you'd be better off doing than standing around here watching me practice a routine."

Tezuka did not generally have urges to do sudden actions. Even as a teenager he hadn't been a particularly impulsive person. But now, at that moment, he really wanted to kiss Fuji. He wanted to hug him and apologize and ask if he could come back. He considered for a split second that maybe Fuji wouldn't be against the idea of getting coffee together. However, Tezuka didn't do any of that. Fuji twirled around his pole again and suddenly the dancer felt as distant as if he were standing atop a mountain surrounded by impenetrable walls.

Tezuka turned around and left, entirely too frustrated with himself.


~o~o~o~


All of Fuji's will to practice left him the moment Tezuka stepped out of the Imperial Palace. Fuji tightened his fist around the pole, fighting back the urge to punch something. Instead, Fuji went off to bother someone else with his problem.

Fuji slammed the door to Atobe's office open with a groundshaking slam. Atobe jumped awake, looking exceptionally startled with his blond hair in disarray.

"I swear to god if another person wakes me up today, that person is going to find themselves without a job-"

Fuji ignored his boss in favour of searching through Atobe's private liquor cabinet. It was well-stocked. "Atobe, what's the strongest thing you have in here?" Fuji asked.

Atobe rubbed his eyes and took a good long minute to answer. "Cognac. The bottle on the bottom left."

Fuji found it quickly enough. It was unopened and Fuji clawed at the lid with his nails until it finally came loose. He drank it immediately, smelling the strong liquor and feeling the burn of it run down his throat. He wanted to drink the whole thing.

It wasn't after the fourth long swing from the bottle that Fuji realized Atobe was staring at him. Fuji moved and the room swayed dangerously. He lowered the bottle from his lips, not realizing how much he had drank until now that he tried making his way to the couch.

"Should I even bother telling you the price of that bottle?" Atobe asked.

"No. Anything you buy has too many numbers for my liking," answered Fuji. "If you kept the cabinet downstairs unlocked, I wouldn't have to come up here and raid your fridge." He held up the bottle once more, contemplated it for a long time and then decided that his throat was due for another burning slide of the alcohol.

Atobe kept on staring. Fuji held out the bottle towards him.

"No thank you," Atobe politely declined. "Not this early in the morning."

"Pity."

Atobe was still lying there without a care in the world. Fuji felt like he needed to hold on to something so he gripped the armrest. Fuji only meant to stabilize himself, but then he somehow began crawling up along the length of the couch. His knees bumped against Atobe's thigh. As graceful as Fuji usually was, he was anything but elegant as he swung one leg over Atobe's frame, straddling his boss.

Atobe's eyes held only amusement. His hands went up to rest on Fuji's hips. "You're a lightweight, aren't you?"

"How do you know I'm not doing this of my own accord?" Fuji asked. He lightly rolled his hips, performing motions he was all too familiar with. Atobe was pleasingly solid underneath him. It would be almost easy, Fuji thought, to pretend that Atobe was Tezuka and just continue this scenario. Tezuka and Atobe had such similar body measurements…

"Yes, your services are as lovely as I've heard," said Atobe. "Nothing less than I'd expect from my finest employee."

Fuji threw his head back, licking his lips. He felt so hot. "Atobe, have you ever slept with one of your employees?"

Atobe smirked in response. "I haven't. I'm very professional when it comes to my job."

"Hm, so even someone like you is faithful," said Fuji, his tone gone glum. "Even if your boyfriend is out of the country."

The room suddenly went spinning. It took a moment for Fuji to realize Atobe had flipped them over. Atobe lay over him, his arrogant smirk plastered on his face and for a second he looked ready to take Fuji up on his offer.

"I don't have a boyfriend," said Atobe slowly. "If you had taken your own relationship seriously and hadn't teased Tezuka to his limit, then maybe you wouldn't be up here offering yourself to your boss while being half-drunk early on a nice Saturday morning."

Fuji stretched nicely, bringing one leg up around Atobe's waist.

Atobe growled. "Boy, you are out of your league on this one," he said and detached himself from the couch. "Is this how you work? You offer yourself to people and chase after the ones who pull away?"

"I do not."

"You do," said Atobe. "You've been working here a long time. I've seen your conquests. All you want is a challenge and Tezuka was your biggest challenge yet. Is this the first time you've lost at your own game, Fuji?"

Fuji opened his mouth again only to close it an instant later. He rested back on the soft leather. The haze in his mind made it hard to think. He thought about Tezuka for a second but that was painful to do so he stopped.

"I'm a genius, you know," Fuji said suddenly. "A lot of things come easily to me. You can't blame me for seeking a challenge once in a while."

"I'm aware," said Atobe. "I was there when you began working here, remember? You had no experience, yet you mastered the pole in a day when most people take months of classes to look even half as graceful as you do."

It wasn't only the pole he had mastered. Fuji thought back to before all this, to before he had this job. He remembered mastering the piano when he was a small child and doing schoolwork meant for children five years ahead of him. He remembered getting his college degree when others his age were finishing high school. He remembered… other men, and women too, a lot of them... too many of them. They had all eventually given in to him and some had even fallen in love. Most importantly, Fuji remembered how fast he would grow bored of it all.

Fuji laughed bitterly. Perhaps karma was catching up to him. His heart ached when he thought of Tezuka. Fuji didn't want to think he loved Tezuka, but what else could his horrible ache be? Was this how all the others in the past had felt when Fuji had left them?

"I'm the worst," Fuji muttered.

Fuji looked over at Atobe, now glad that his boss had chosen to ignore the dancer's temptations. That could have resulted in a regretful mistake.

"Don't feel bad. I'm sure another man will come along for you to torment and tease to your heart's content," Atobe replied.

Atobe was an asshole, Fuji decided. "Now, Atobe-kun, would you care to tell me the real reason why you refused my offer?" Fuji asked. "I didn't realize you had become so attached to that boy, the tennis player."

Atobe laughed dismissively. "I know what you're implying, Fuji. That's not it."

"Hm… then you should explain it to me. I've seen you and that boy all over the gossip magazines lately."

Atobe's eyes narrowed. "You've now overstayed your welcome, Fuji. I do expect you to be sober for tonight and ready with a new routine by tomorrow." He grabbed the half-empty bottle out of Fuji's hands. Fuji stood up, a wave of dizziness washing over him. He let Atobe escort him to the door.

"You've got a big case of denial, don't you Atobe-kun?" Fuji asked. Atobe shut the door in his face.

Fuji couldn't help but feel angrier when he returned to the stage downstairs; only this time, his anger at Tezuka was mixed with anger directed at himself. His vision was blurry and the ground swayed. Fuji thankfully still had the common sense to conclude that he should wait a few hours before he attempted practicing again.

Damn it, this whole thing was stupid. At the very least, Tezuka ought to have mentioned the fact that he was leaving his job. Everyone in the whole damn place had known before Fuji. Even if Tezuka was not interested in him anymore, it would have been a polite thing to do! Fuji nodded to himself, deciding that he ought to tell that to Tezuka. Yes, Tezuka definitely needed to know how rude he was to have done this.

But when Fuji pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts, he realized he didn't have Tezuka's number. Fuji stared down at his phone for a good long minute in dismay.

He pulled down one of the barstools to take a seat, thinking that maybe Atobe had been right about him this time.


~o~o~o~


Fuji had a throbbing headache later that evening and the pain relief meds weren't working. In the changing rooms, Fuji tried to smile and act as normal as possible as he pulled on his new uniform while Yukimura and Shiraishi fixed their hair in front of the mirror. Muffled music could be heard and already that was making Fuji's head throb. He didn't even want to imagine how much his head would be pounding when he actually went on to the dance floor.

As usual, Shiraishi chose to forsaken half of his attire in favour of his personal artistic opinions. Besides the skin-tight medical-blue briefs, the stethoscope was the only other thing on his body. Yukimura did put on the doctor's white vest (if it could even be called that. The vest was white but it was far shorter and tighter than a real one), as well as thin glasses that gave him a more intellectual appearance.

And, as usual, Atobe had given Fuji a far more feminized dress code. It was not the worst thing Fuji had ever worn and okay, it was true that Fuji did look very good in women's wear. So Fuji pulled up his stockings and donned the skimpy nurse dress with the stupid little headpiece without a word of complaint. Fuji could definitely say that he at least looked a bit more sexy than hungover.

"You seem rather down today, Fuji-kun," said Shiraishi. "Don't you like the new uniforms? I think it looks good on you."

"No, the uniforms are fine," muttered Fuji. "I simply have other things on my mind."

Yukimura and Shiraishi stared at each other for a long minute but didn't meddle.

Fuji hoped his mood would change once he got to work, but once his shift started, working hardly did anything to distract him.

The night passed by at a snail's pace, with each minute fueling his frustrations and his headache. His new dance routine wasn't done, much to Atobe's annoyance. Fuji got to avoid the stage that night, which in turn annoyed some of the regular clients - the ones who often came to watch Fuji's performances and were always generous, if not touchy about their affections.

He could go for any of them, he thought. Fuji knew he could have any person he wanted in this club. But Fuji had zero interest for anyone that night. A tall dark haired man tried his hand at flirting and Fuji had no patience for it, no matter how handsome the man was. Fuji knew who he wanted and that person had stepped out of his life that morning.

He thought the night would never end. He wasn't the only one exhausted by the end of it; uniform changes always came with a more enthusiastic clientele in the beginning. At least Atobe was pleased enough with the client's positive feedback that he left Fuji alone. Instead it was Yukimura who came to him.

"I heard what happened," said Yukimura. "I had no idea Tezuka-kun was so important to you. We can go out for tea if it will make you feel better."

Fuji shook his head. "No thanks. Of course Tezuka is important, even if you and Atobe-kun don't seem to think that's the case." He scowled, his tone darkened with anger.

"Well..." Yukimura paused, as if contemplating what to say. "I always thought that was a major reason why we got along, Fuji. Both of us were rather... similar. I never sought out a serious relationship before and neither did you. We both went after some people in the past and encouraged one another. I'm sorry if I offended you."

Fuji released a long breath. "Sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you, Yukimura. I'm happy you and Sanada-kun are together again and... it's true that I've never really been involved in long-lasting relationships," he admitted. He gave a wry smile. "Maybe I'm just a bit jealous. Sorry, Yukimura, but I would like to be alone for now."

Fuji was in no hurry to get home. He let Shiraishi and Yukimura change first. Yukimura was in a hurry to go meet up with Sanada and Shiraishi was happily humming a tune without a care in the world. Fuji envied them. He wished he had someone's arms to return to and he wished he could carelessly whistle his worries away too. He was left alone, staring at his reflection in the mirror for a long time.

By the time he allowed himself to change clothes and exit the dressing room hallway, he was the last person left in the building. The stage had been cleaned, the floors were sweeped and the bar stood in the corner all neat and without a speck of dust. Everything was quiet except for Fuji's echoing footsteps.

He went towards the bar and glared at the changes he saw. The multiple glasses and bottles were still there, but already they were in different places.

Fuji thought about Tezuka and ran his hand along the dustless countertop, remembering how Tezuka had often swept his own hands along the very same place. Fuji imagined how Tezuka would have reacted had he been here today to see the new uniforms, and then Fuji thought about all the things he had fantasized about doing with Tezuka right here at this very bar.

Fuji had thought of these things before, many times, and he had even indulged himself in a few. The bar itself was a frequent fantasy of his. It was where he had most often imagined kissing Tezuka and pushing him against the counter and then pulling him down to devour him against the floor. The counters of the bar would hide them, but not too well. They would easily be discovered if someone were to hear them, but that was what made it so exciting. Fuji's fingertips wandered up his chest, brushing past his nipples and up his neck. He sighed, closing his eyes and imagining different, much broader hands.

"Tezuka," sighed Fuji through parted lips. He slipped his finger into his mouth, sinking down to his knees. He shouldn't be doing this, he was far too exhausted for it, but it had been so very long and he was so frustrated, both with himself and with the object of his affections.

He lapped at his fingers and let his other hand delve under his shirt, pinching one stiff nipple and then the other. He was acutely aware of how loud his breathing sounded in the otherwise empty room. Not that it stopped him from continuing.

He sank to the floor, his back against solid wood. He spread his legs, pushing his pants down impatiently. He rubbed the inside of his thighs, teasing himself with feather light touches. Tezuka would tease him, Fuji thought. Only the teasing wouldn't be on purpose. Tezuka wouldn't know what to do; he'd touch and then look to him for confirmation. Tezuka would be so clueless yet so perfect in his touches.

"Te… zuka…" Fuji said.

He imagined Tezuka standing there, at the opening to the bar and staring at him, completely still with his gaze fully focused on the area between Fuji's legs. Fuji shivered, gasping as he slid two slick fingers into himself. He felt angry and bitter, though he didn't sound it as he threw his head back and let out an unrestrained moan. He worked himself open, scissoring and hissing at the stretch. God, it had been far too long.

Even if Tezuka were here, he probably wouldn't do anything to help. That infuriating prude, thought Fuji. After all the times he had pleasured Tezuka, Fuji thought he at least deserved some kind of reward. No... that wasn't it. On the contrary, he had liked pleasuring Tezuka; that had been its own reward. Fuji had liked getting on his knees and teasing him until Tezuka was ready to burst. He had liked drawing out the other's heavy cock and tasting the saltiness on his tongue. Fuji knew he would do it again in an instant if given the chance.

Fuji stared at the spot in front of him, imagining Tezuka's tall figure coming closer, still doing nothing except watching him through those thin lens. Fuji pressed in deeper with his fingers, hitting that really good spot. He cried out and canted his hips. His own cock was leaking pre-come, but still Fuji didn't want to touch it. He let Tezuka's gaze burn through him some more.

"Tezuka... It's shame you weren't here today. I had a nurse outfit, with the sort of dress and the high stockings you like. I would've danced with you, and grinded on you so hard you'd come in your pants, right in front of everyone." Fuji paused to lick his lips. He moved his fingers faster, faster and faster, assaulting his prostate so good his legs shook. "You would have loved it... you pervert."

He wanted more than this. He wanted something bigger. He wanted Tezuka to throw away his stoic attitude and just take him right there and now. But the real Tezuka wouldn't do that… No, Tezuka would start off gentle and as unsure as always, then maybe he would gain confidence over time. A guttural moan slipped out of Fuji's mouth. The dancer had to grip the base of his cock to prevent himself from climaxing. He continued riding his fingers as it became harder and harder to ward off his orgasm.

"Tezuka. Tezuka, please," gasped Fuji. His wrist was growing sore, fingers crooking hard inside him. The hand grasping the root of his erection stroked up, swiping a thumb over the wet tip. Fuji choked, throwing his head back as his climax tore through him. He pleaded and frantically whispered Tezuka's name over and over as spurts of white polished his hand and dirtied the floor underneath him.

The intensity of his orgasm rendered him limp and speechless for several minutes. His whole body tingled with the good sensation. He attempted to catch his breath as he wiped his hand on the hem on discarded pants. Fuji had been right; it had been far too long. He now regretted not having done more with Tezuka when he still had the chance. Fuji looked up, blinking the fantasy out of his traitorous mind.

Fuji knew he should be putting his clothes back on and cleaning the evidence of his deed. Instead he curled up into himself, laying his head against his knees as tears prickled along the corners of his eyes. The final wisps of his fantasy slipped from his mind as the first tears slid down his cheeks.


~o~o~o~