A/N: PLEASE READ As some of you may know, I kind of swore off AtobeOC fics after My Kouhai, Your Kouhai, just because it was hard to pair Atobe with anyone other than Ayaka – but I decided to give another AtobeOC a chance, to explore some different sides to Atobe's character, and I ended up pairing him with an OC completely different from Ayaka. It's gonna be a little funky, I suppose, and I know you may get the impression of a terrible cliché from the summary…
…and that's absolutely true. I shamelessly admit, I'm the queen of terrible clichés. HAHA. But I'll be hoping to put my own 'coffeelatte spin' on it, and make it enjoyable for those who decide to give this read a chance.
But please read and leave me a review as to your thoughts, because I'd really like to know how this comes across as, especially after my most recent fics, MKYK and Rising Ambitions. Bahaha!
Disclaimer: I do not own PoT.
Hyotei Gakuen was an academy recognized on the national level for its sheer prestige – known as a school for the wealthy, by the wealthy, it was an elite school on all levels: academia, athletics and everything else in between. Its students were more often than not privileged beyond compare and those whom had had the fortune – or misfortune – to meet a Hyotei student always, always had one common thing to say: "They're…different."
And different, indeed.
Hyotei students were, despite a life of splendor and powerful financial backing, amongst the most competitive scholars to be found in all fronts. They lived in a different realm than those of most others, with different standards and far different expectations than the average Japanese teenager – and the school accommodated them in such a fashion.
For Suzuki Nanao, that meant being enrolled in a foreign languages class such as Greek, rather than the 'English' that most students took – because, apparently, in Hyotei Gakuen, it was an expected precursor that students knew that language. And for Nanao, the phrase 'it's all Greek to me' was literal, because, well- she was horribly, terribly helpless at the subject. Which was terrible, given that she wasn't used to a class where she did so horrendously that the teacher even came to abhor her presence.
Of course, she also had the luck to sit next to Atobe Keigo, star student on all fronts, and a particular favorite of Takamura-sensei, the Greek teacher. Atobe, who spoke seven different languages with fluid ease and knew the nuances of Greek grammar even better than the class's teacher. It wouldn't be so bad, sitting next to the boy that most girls would die and give their organs away to sit next to, if it weren't for the fact that she paled terribly in comparison to his reading skills.
Takamura-sensei often had them open up their Greek literature textbooks and read aloud, paragraph by paragraph, row by row; sitting next to Atobe Keigo meant reading right after Atobe had, in his flawless accent and pronunciation. Nanao, for a lack of a better term, sounded like a moron in her broken, pathetic attempts at the language.
Ah, there he was now, standing up with an elegance unparalleled by any boy she'd seen, one hand holding the book deftly up to his eyes:
"The wrath sing, goddess, of Peleus' son, Achilles, that destructive wrath which brought countless woes upon the Achaeans, and sent forth to Hades many valiant souls of heroes, and made them themselves spoil for dogs and every bird; thus the plan of Zeus came to fulfillment, from the time when first they parted in strife Atreus' son, king of men, and brilliant Achilles."
Perfect pronunciation, enunciation, rhythm, dictation- the Greek flowed forth from his tongue as though from a native, in lurid syllables and beautiful sound. French may be the language of romance, but Atobe's Greek was the language of beauty.
"Suzuki-san." The teacher commanded her entry with a swift, sharp look, and Nanao felt her cheeks paling as they often did in class.
Atobe slid smoothly back into his seat beside her, and resumed observing his nails as though this class required hardly any of his attention at all. Nanao found herself torn between envy and awe and pathetic desperation as she observed him out of the corner of her eyes – he glanced up at her, then, and Nanao looked away in a hurried blush.
"Any time now, Suzuki-san," the teacher sighed loudly.
Nanao flushed, and grappled with her book. A few snickers swept through the class.
"Who the- the… then of the gods was it that bring- brought these two together to contend? The son of Leto and Zeus; for he in anger against the ka- king roused throughout the host an evil pestilence, and the people began to perish, because upon the priest Chryses the son of Atreus had wrought dishonor-"
Nanao stumbled over the words, brows constantly raised in a show of cluelessness; how any of these symbols made sense to anyone was beyond her. Why any of them were required to take this class, too, was beyond her knowledge. Her words were spaced apart to allow time for her to process the next series of alien characters, and in that awkward silence, students whispered distracted conversations amongst themselves.
Nanao peeked up to take a glance at Takamura-sensei, and her heart sank when she saw him cover his eyes in exasperation.
"For he had come to the swift ships of the Achaeans to free his-"
"Suzuki-san, please, stop- at this rate, the remainder of class time will be spent on you learning to read the Greek alphabet all over again as you attempt to decipher this particular passage."
Red crept over Nanao's cheeks.
"Atobe-kun, if you would please?"
And as Nanao crept into her seat, Atobe rose with a flourish and hardly a bat of an eye.
"For he had come to the swift ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, bearing ransom past counting; and in his hands he held the wreaths of Apollo who strikes from afar, on a staff of gold; and he implored all the Achaeans, but most of all the two sons of Atreus, the marshallers of the people: Sons of Atreus, and other well-greaved Achaeans, to you may the gods who have homes upon Olympus grant that you sack the city of Priam, and return safe to your homes; but my dear child release to me, and accept the ransom out of reverence for the son of Zeus, Apollo who strikes from afar."
"For the love of all things holy, that girl would make the Greek gods want to commit suicide." Gakuto accentuated his comment with a dramatic roll of his eyes and a loud huff, dark red hair fluttering in the breeze as he gave an entertaining leap onto the chair. From beside him, Oshitari spared him a momentary glance from his latest romance novel, amusement dancing in blue eyes.
"I'm rather surprised she made it all the way to Greek III with those verbal skills," he commented, though his voice was idle; his attention, after all, was captured by the plight of poor Ginta-kun in his conquest for Amari's affections in the raving tale of The Dark Rose.
"I seriously want to scream whenever she's picked on to read – don't you think, Atobe?"
At last, Atobe looked up from his cup of coffee, brows temporarily lifting from their continual frown. His cup of formerly-fresh brewed coffee had lost its steam by now, untouched, in front of his idle hands on the cafeteria table. He blinked at Gakuto, before: "Ahn? What was that?"
Oshitari looked up from his book. "You're distracted today," he observed quietly, and pushed his glasses up his nose with his third finger.
At that, Atobe's lips curved into the familiar smirk most had already long-since memorized. "Nonsense, Yuushi."
"As I was saying," Gakuto continued loudly. "I'm bringing a pair of earplugs to the next class, because if I have to hear her attempt to read the Iliad again, I'm going to stab myself."
Oshitari's eyes remained focused on Atobe.
Hyotei Gakuen's boys' tennis club was always something worth seeing. A club with well over four hundred members, not including the official fanclub on campus, it was easily one of the best teams in the nation, ranked somewhere between third and fourth every year across Japan. Each day during club practice hours, the courts were swarmed with a sea of raving girls – and some guys – pressed against the court fences, eyes wide and lungs shrieking out various names of the tennis regulars. And over all the names screamed out by avid teenage girls, one name seemed to be the general consensus: Atobe Keigo.
A figure stood at the top of the massively tall bleachers, eclipsed by the brilliant sun, a jacket billowing from his shoulders. One foot stood propped on the seat, and one foot firmly on the flooring of the bleacher levels; an arm was raised, fingers poised to-
Ah, there it was.
Immediately, the cheering stopped in an impressive display of obedience.
"The winner will be…" the figure drawled, languidly, as though the entire dimension of space and time were waiting upon his precious, precious words. A thrilled anticipation hung in the air despite the fact that these words were the very ones he repeated every day without fail-
The area erupted into cheers and screams even louder than before.
From just one level down, Shishido raised a bewildered gaze to Atobe's smirking figure, and rolled his eyes in disbelief. Seriously; he'd been the captain of Hyotei Gakuen's tennis team since their middle school years – didn't these girls know by damn heart what he was going to say? The line never fucking changed – it was always "The winner will be Hyotei," or some variation of it containing Atobe's lines.
How Atobe got the entire female population of the school to scream and keel over as though they had just been exposed to some hallucination drug every day with the same words was beyond him, but hey-
"Don't those girls have a life?"
Shishido's eyes flitted to Hiyoshi, who was in the midst of grumbling quietly to himself as he tied his shoes. After five years of hearing thousands of girls scream every day, without fail, to the same line had its downsides – like exasperation, for one.
"It's like they've never seen a self-absorbed, grey-haired boy before," Shishido added-
-and was rewarded with the prompt drop of Atobe's jersey jacket upon his head until it covered his eyes. Shishido threw it off with a splutter and a: "Atobe!"
Atobe deigned him with a haughty look and a sniff. "Oh, Shishido – Ore-sama didn't see you there. He makes it a point not to acknowledge whining plebeians."
Shishido's eyes flattened, as did his lips, into a thin line. One would expect that after five years of friendship, and starting on the sixth, the guy would have a little more respect for them; apparently not, if his continual usage of the 'Ore-sama' term wasn't letting up. On that note, Shishido would like to ask the universe in what sane world was a teenager allowed to go around calling himself Ore-sama and not suffer extreme social consequences?
In fact, the whole 'arrogant bastard' thing seemed to work out pretty well for Atobe, if his hoard of screaming fangirls was any indication. The guy even had stalkers.
"When has Atobe's popularity ever been anything new?" Oshitari's voice floated into the fray, nose still wedged between the pages of his book. That too, Shishido wanted to point out, was fucking weird. He still didn't understand how a blue-haired kid with a strange accent and an obsessive affinity for romance novels managed to maintain the level of popularity with the female population as Oshitari did, either.
In fact, he didn't understand how any of the regulars on the boys' team was so popular to the point where they all received over three large bags of Valentine's chocolate whenever the occasion arose.
Jiroh was hardly awake long enough for the girls to hand over their chocolate – and when he did, it was hard to tell when he was still lingering in his dream or not, so it was more like dealing with some half-drugged up child than a sane, normal teenage boy.
Oshitari had such a flirtatious nature that he could probably tell you the body measurements of all the pretty girls in the school, and was more interested in the next romance novel from his library than from anything else.
Choutarou, he could kind of understand, even if the boy had a tendency to stutter and insist that the chocolate was too kind of a gesture for him to deserve and accept.
Hiyoshi was- well, Shishido was rather sure that he would grow up into the kind of guy who'd glare even at the girl he married, muttering about "Gekokujo" no matter what the situation.
Kabaji…Kabaji was Kabaji, and his entire vocabulary consisted of 'Usu' – his life's goal, in addition, was the pleasing of Atobe's every offhanded whim.
He really didn't understand Atobe's popularity, despite the boy's delusion that he was possibly the greatest gift from the Heavens to mankind, and his attitude that reflected said belief.
In fact, Shishido determined as he watched the regulars frolic around the field in another display of their strange, vile tendencies – he wasn't even sure why he was friends with them.
Oshitari Yuushi had known Atobe for a long time – and he was no fool. It wasn't exactly easy to discern Atobe's specific mood at a given time when the other boy was quite the talented actor (possibly from a childhood under the strictest father Oshitari's ever heard of), but after five years, Oshitari thinks he's gotten it down to the point where he could tell if Atobe had something weighing on his mind. Like the way he did now.
In fact, even those who didn't know him as well as Oshitari did could have been able to discern this with a little attention. Atobe, after all, didn't often insert seven teaspoons of sugar into the Earl Grey tea he usually preferred with just one. Nor did he ever pass up an opportunity to insert himself into a conversation with a quip of his everlasting glory, but so far, Oshitari had counted up to four possibilities, none of which Atobe had taken.
And that was usually a good indicator that his mind was preoccupied.
Oshitari placed his chin in his hand, and with that mild smile of his, presented a friendly expression to Atobe. "What's on your mind, Kei-chan?"
Atobe raised a brow at him, the corners of his lips momentarily twitching. "Don't act cute with me, Yuushi. It's disturbing."
Oshitari smiled back. "A penny for your thoughts?"
Ah, that had Atobe paying attention. The male straightened in his seat, the bottom of his chair scraping lightly against the concrete. "Ore-sama's thoughts are worth far more than a mere penny, Yuushi."
Atobe swirled the silver spoon in his delicate china cup once, twice, three times, and until the spinning whirl in the liquid had become so strong as to move the spoon around on its own. He sighed, then, and the sunlight filtering in from the greenhouse's glass ceiling struck him in such a fashion that he'd have loved to have the moment photographed.
"Father says it's time to select a marriage partner."
The admission was so uncharacteristically quiet of Atobe's normally confident, clear diction that Oshitari nearly missed it. He raised a sharp brow. "Already?"
Atobe's lips pursed. "It wasn't supposed to happen until after perhaps a year or two in college, but- you know how he gets. The Hanazonos already selected a partner for their son, apparently, and father so does hate to lose in such trivial matters." Another sigh, a half-hearted glance at perfectly curved nails.
Oshitari returned a level gaze. "And you…"
"…will not disobey Father, if that's what you're implying," Atobe finished neatly, a look in his eyes that spoke of his disapproval. After all, Oshitari should have known him better by now.
Atobe was a terribly willful person, but he was obedient towards his father, if no one else. He possessed wealth beyond that of even the top one percent in Japan's high society, and though he was often portrayed as an impossibly spoiled teen, it was only because he deserved it. His father had always raised him in a 'success-and-reward' basis, after all; excellent grades and brilliant achievements lent themselves to bottomless wallets and sparkling castles under his name.
A single drop in rank resulted in proverbial lock-down (because Atobe's didn't do such a common thing as grounding, heaven forbid) until the results were raised to their former spotless perfection.
Oshitari Yuushi may be a tensai, but Atobe Keigo was an Atobe, and even he had only managed to overcome Atobe in school-wide rankings a handful of times.
"It's not the marriage that's bothering me – it's not as though I'd ever had any delusions about selecting my own partner. It makes sense to select a partner based on financial and social requirements, given my standing; most marriages don't work out as happily ever after, anyway."
Oshitari begged to differ, but he supposed that Atobe wouldn't appreciate his bringing the plight of courageous Ginta-kun and Amari-chan into his reality.
"I'd just thought I'd have a few more years before having to act as an engaged man."
Ahhh, there it was.
Oshitari should have guessed earlier. Atobe, after all, for all his frivolities and dramatizations, had always been an Atobe. And though people may not see past the sparkles and silken shirts, it was hard for Atobe to forget the weight of his own name – he had been groomed to be the man who would take the lead reigns of what was perhaps Japan's largest company. In fact, Oshitari couldn't think of a business venue the Atobe's didn't have their hands in – travel, hotel chains, department stores, real estate-
And Atobe would be the king of such an empire following a prestigious college education. His name was, essentially, his identity.
But at least for now, he had the excuse of youth to account for complete freedom in activities, so long as it didn't interfere with his spotless image. A marriage proposal would, he suppose, change all that in an easy snap.
For Atobe, a marriage really would be a ball-and-chain, Oshitari noted, not without some level of amusement. But again, he didn't think that Atobe would appreciate his taste in humor, so-
"Class, we have a new project."
Immediately, the class of twenty-four drowned in a chorus of identical groans. Takamura-sensei rolled his eyes from the podium, silencing the teens with a swat of his arm. "It's a partner project, you lazy bums."
The groans morphed into cheers.
"But I'll be selecting your partners – randomly."
Nanao sat in her seat, wide-eyed and heart fluttering with anticipation. Oh, please, please, let her have a smart partner who was not in danger of receiving below a seventy-five percent in the class! If karma had any hold over the universe, Nanao figured that she'd have some luck in this random draw; for the love of god, she was a good Samaritan, and a straight-edge student who followed all the rules. The universe wouldn't, she pleaded, as Takamura-sensei rattled off names one after the other, be so cruel as to-
The entire class held their breaths in an anticipation to avoid being paired with the girl who infamously butchered the Greek language to the point where Takamura-sensei had shed tears that one class-
"-and Atobe Keigo."
A deathly silence seized the room.
Nanao turned bulging – and fearful – eyes to the boy sitting beside her. Atobe hardly spared her a glance, or for that matter, hardly twitched in his overall countenance of calm. Instead, he languidly extended an arm to snap, and at that, a random student sitting in the front row rushed to snatch the assignment guidelines from the teacher's offering hand, and ran it back to Atobe's waiting one.
His eyes scanned the text. "It's surprisingly simple," he drawled.
With that line, everything crashed back from its previous suspended position in Nanao's body – her stomach, her guts, her heart. Relief, overwhelming relief, and a dizzying sense of elation filled her head. There was a strange tug of apprehension to be working with the legendary Atobe Keigo (despite her having known him since her first year in middle school, it was more like that of a normal citizen knowing of a celebrity), but the relief that she'd gotten paired with the top student in the class washed over it all.
Karma was good, after all!
"Ore-sama has practice until four, but he shall see you at his estate promptly at four-thirty. Ore-sama prefers not to dawdle or procrastinate on projects; be on time."
Nanao hardly had time to register the words before Atobe's attention was diverted by Oshitari, who sat on his other side. She nodded vigorously anyway, and she caught Oshitari's amused glance when he saw her nodding to nobody in particular past Atobe's head.
Suzuki Nanao wasn't poor, or anything – she was average, she supposed, on Hyotei's standards. Her family was well-known in the upper crust circles with more prestige to their name than wealth, but it wasn't as though her father's chain of popular hotels was anything shabby, either. Of course, compared to the likes of Atobe or Oshitari, she didn't really measure up, but even then – she was in the upper half of Hyotei's student population.
It was hard to notice past her usually quiet demeanor, but she was a pretty girl, too. She had surprisingly light-colored hair for a Japanese (even then, it was nothing like the strange colors of the boys on the tennis team, though – just more of a dark auburn), waved in large, rolling curves towards her elbows, and a constant wide-eyed look to her features. When she smiled, she was rather girlishly pretty, though she fell rather short in terms of her goals for reaching 5'4.
She was, as people would describe her, an 'eager student.' She followed the rules, unlike Atobe – who practically made the rules at Hyotei. She usually had straight A's, and her priority was often studying above all else – as well as student council duties, as the Vice President this year. She'd been secretary last year, when Atobe had been President, though she doubted Atobe remembered her (he'd chosen not to run again this year, because apparently some hellish first year brat was due to enter the high school tennis circuit this year and he had to focus on his team – whatever that meant). Nanao was the bubbly kind of girl one would expect to be in charge of welcoming new students, far too enthusiastic about school and school-sanctioned activities.
With her over-involvement in school activities and as a part of the student council, Nanao could be called mildly popular; of course, next to practical legends like, again, Atobe and Oshitari, she rather paled.
After all, the boys' tennis team regulars weren't 'popular,' for such a term was too weak to support such a massive frenzy that the students of Hyotei seemed to have for them.
In any case, Nanao was by no means poor, or even average – but she had a difficult time keeping her jaw off the floor upon being ushered into the Atobes' sitting room by a well-aged butler dressed in a formal uniform (who looked like the stereotypical 'Sebastian' household staff). Luxury spewed from every nook and cranny in the elegant abode, which she was sure was at least four times the size of her own home; five-star hotels, in fact, appeared modest in comparison.
And it wasn't furnished in the kind of gaudy, in-your-face sort of luxury, either. It was more of an understated, regal style, where those who really knew the value of extremely high-priced objects would be able to identify the true price of such a home.
Shortly after, Atobe arrived at his own house, followed shortly by Oshitari, who apparently spent many afternoons in the Atobe estate due to its library's wide selection of romance novels. He had the librarian to thank, for she, too, shared his love of such literature-
-and yes, the Atobe estate did have its own private library, and employed a full-time librarian to take care of all the precious bindings within.
Atobe had paused by the doorway, mild approval flitting through his glance. "Ore-sama approves of your promptness," he declared in a tone fit for a king speaking to his reverent subjects.
Nanao wasn't quite sure how to react – so she only nodded enthusiastically, and offered a smile. Atobe swept past her to seat himself on the sofa, long legs coming to cross over one another. Oshitari smiled in amusement at her obvious awe, and moved past her, too, to sit beside Atobe, book in hand.
"So, Atobe-kun – it's quite a lovely house, you have," she began, bright, cheery, and for a moment, Atobe paused to stare at her.
"Of course it is," he replied, and Nanao faltered for a moment.
Oshitari almost snickered. Most people weren't quite sure how to handle Atobe's forwardness, after all, and his manner of almost expecting compliments. Then again, most people weren't exactly sure how to handle Atobe, period.
…Nice legs, Oshitari glanced at her figure in a matter of seconds. He was the master of assessing a girl's body measurements in but a single glance, as he was quite proud to claim.
"U-Um. So. I actually drafted a few possibilities for the project, because, you know, I really wanted to contribute, even though I'm really bad at Greek. I drew out diagrams and plans out here-" A shuffle of papers. "-and if you would look through them, you could pick one – or I mean, I could come up with a new one-"
Eager girl, Oshitari noted. He inserted himself into the conversation smoothly: "Ah, sorry Suzuki-san, but Keigo and I were in the middle of discussing something; would you mind terribly if we finished it up?"
Nanao froze, before: "Oh, sure! No problem – I'll just be reading over the assigned text, then."
That will take you a while, Oshitari noted in his head, before turning to Atobe.
"So. As I was saying. If you really don't want to, then there are always ways-"
Nanao turned to a page in her textbook and attempted to decipher the series of characters. Of course, it rather caught her off guard that the two continued to carry on what seemed to be a rather private conversation with her there, but then again-
-perhaps she wasn't even a presence important enough to be considered. After all, the Hyotei tennis boys had always seemed to be in a world of their own. The rest of the school were simply spectators invited to look into their glass dome, and they were separated from their peers by a roaring abyss of-
Nanao wasn't sure what it was. Impossible popularity? Confidence? Charm? Looks? It was, most likely, a combination of all three.
The boys were, as she often observed (in that strange way of hers), so confident in who they were, in their very positions in society, that they hardly ever had to entertain normal modes of social conduct. They were free to be themselves, in their freakiest, strangest, quirkiest of ways, and society accepted that as the standard of 'cool,' and they, in turn, were free of having to change their behavior even in the slightest in an attempt to match what was normally deemed sociably acceptable.
They, in short, set and created the guidelines for what it meant to be 'cool' and 'popular,' not the other way around, as it most often was.
They were so staggeringly confident as a result of this, that when one shared a room with one of the Hyotei tennis boys, one had to remember – that this was their stage, their kingdom, and that the rest of them were simply jesters invited to entertain the kings in their court.
It was a rather frightening thought, but, well, Nanao had a tendency to like to observe and analyze things a little too much for her own good. And in her past five years of experiencing being the boys' peers, this was what she'd reached as a conclusion.
"Yuushi, I'm fine. It simply caught me off guard a little, that's all."
Nanao caught the 'I,' and marveled at how close they must be for Atobe to drop the all-famous 'Ore-sama.'
"It's clearly bothering you-"
"I think I'd know what bothered me and what didn't."
Nanao heard Oshitari sigh, then the faint rustlings of paper as a book was opened. "Suit yourself, Keigo."
Oshitari chuckled quietly to himself. "You know, I did read a book the other day about a man getting a fake girlfriend to escape the clutches of some-"
"That's not such a bad idea, Keigo."
Nanao was trying very hard, now, not to appear as though she were actually listening in.
A snort. "That has got to be the silliest suggestion I've ever-"
"Why not? It's not as if your father will make you marry the girl, Keigo; he's strict, but he's not cruel. He'll understand it's a passing teenage fancy, but he'll at least push the date back to after high school graduation, when he assumes your relationship will end."
"That's completely absurd. I don't need a fake girlfriend – do you know who I am. I'm Atobe Keigo, Yuushi."
"Yes, my five years' experience in being in the same class as you has enlightened me to that particular fact."
"Don't get cheeky with me. The idea of Atobe Keigo with a fake girlfriend in it of itself is insane-"
"Is it? Because, god forbid you ever like anyone but your own reflection-"
Nanao almost burst out in laughter.
"Well it's not my fault that I'm clearly overqualified to be anyone's match."
"That's not the point. You don't even have to really date her; just pretend to. It's not so bad – I'm sure there are floods of girls who would be willing to."
"Of course there would be."
"But she'd have to be at least qualified enough so that you father wouldn't make you put an end to it because she was disgraceful."
"Pretty. But not too pretty, else it attract too much attention – you know, Hyotei's 'golden couple,' as the silly people have a way with coming up with silly nicknames for everything."
"Yuushi, any relationship I'm in is far above the level of gold. Platinum, perhaps."
"Good family. Wealthy, of course. Respectable standing in both society and school."
"That's a given."
"Well then – why don't we go through a list of the senior class girls?"
"…I did not agree to this."
"Oh, Keigo, it'll be fun."
"My idea of fun is a tennis match."
"The last 'fun tennis match' ended with you having your head shaved by Echizen."
"Do not bring up his name to me."
"I'm just reminding you, Keigo dear."
"Cheekiness is unbecoming on you, Yuushi."
"Why ever not? There's nothing to lose, really. As long as it's not a random tramp off the streets, the media won't hound your reputation. And your father will most certainly at least prolong the inevitable until the end of high school, wouldn't you agree?"
"Of course – my father is most generous, as I am-"
"See? Nothing to lose. It's a simple calculation of cost-benefit analysis. I'm sure economics must have taught you that much."
"Don't attempt to goad me."
By this time, Nanao's eyes had grown impossibly large. Was this the nature of most of their conversations? Why, just a mere ten minutes into the lives of Atobe and Oshitari-kun, and she was already reminded exactly how different from the average teen they were.
Fake girlfriends – my, my, their lives must really be exciting, and all!
"…Perhaps it's not such a bad idea."
A flash of pearly whites. "You may have me bested in school-wide exams, but I'm still the tensai."
"Right. So is Seigaku's Fuji."
"That tensai is a right sadistic maniac – don't group me in the same category with him. There are two kinds of geniuses: the brilliantly mentally endowed, and the manic. He's of the latter."
"And which one are you?"
A pointed stare. "In any case – this shall be quite fun, no?"
"Not fun. Beneficial."
"So. How about her?"
"The girl sitting conveniently in your sitting room."
At 'the girl sitting conveniently in your sitting room,' Nanao wondered if it could possibly be her they were talking about. She took a furtive glance around in the room – and upon confirming that yes, she was indeed the only female sitting in the room, snapped up with wide eyes.
"Ah – she was listening. Excellent. No need to bother with wasting time on explanations, then?" Oshitari smiled widely at her, and Nanao swore she saw a strange glint in his glasses.
"Certainly not her – her murder of the Greek language is most foul," Atobe sighed dramatically, as though even the memory of her attempting to read the Iliad physically pained him.
Nanao had the decency to blush.
"Ah, but; I don't think there are many characters whom one could trust to remain levelheaded about being the girlfriend of the great Atobe Keigo. Given that she hasn't thrown herself at your feet and asked to bear your children, I think she's one of the few, Keigo."
"Oh – that is true. The women do quite love me, don't they?"
"They do," Oshitari replied in a strangely indulgent voice.
"She's also on the student council, you know – rather respectable, don't you think?"
"Ah – is she?"
"I believe she was the secretary last year."
"Oh, I do think I remember her now, faintly."
"See? Familiar, too. A well-rounded choice. Besides. There's an easy incentive for her cooperation and pledge to silence."
At this moment, Nanao entertained the idea of speaking up. After all, unless she was mistaken – which she doubted she was – this was her they were discussing. And, well, Nanao wasn't- She wasn't quite keen on the idea of being Atobe Keigo's fake girlfriend; in fact, those four words alone were wrong on so many levels she couldn't even count them all.
"I, um. I- I'd rather not, please," Nanao managed to say, eyes flickering between Atobe and Oshitari.
"Nonsense," Atobe countered smoothly, as though her words were of no consequence whatsoever.
"Don't you have a seventy-eight in the class, Suzuki-san?"
It was Oshitari who had spoken – there was an eerie tone to his voice, one that implied that he knew something she didn't, one that was all-too sure that the outcomes would be in his favor. At that, Nanao chilled.
"How did you know-"
Oshitari pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Oh, it's not hard to find such trivial matters out."
Her grades were not, she wanted to say, trivial matters. But then, who would ever say otherwise to Oshitari Yuushi? Instead, she kept her mouth shut, obediently silent.
"You do know that this project accounts for nearly ten percent of our overall grade, Suzuki-san?"
Nanao nodded – of course she did. Why else would she have been so elated at her partnership with Atobe Keigo, who was sure to get a hundred percent? It would raise her into the furtively safe 'B' zone, and-
"You do have an intent on keeping your honor roll status?"
"Well. As you know, Keigo has well over a hundred percent in the class; and, well, losing ten percent won't do much to his grade, seeing as how he could easily raise it within a few weeks, anyway."
"But a ten percent deduction to your grade, Suzuki-san, would be quite unfortunate, wouldn't it?"
Nanao's eyes widened. There was no way. They couldn't be- He wasn't threatening her, was he? That was insane. In fact, the entire situation was mad as anything could be-
"Now. I'd say that the cost-benefit analysis for you would most certainly be in the favor of participating in our little play, don't you think?" A kind, benevolent wide smile from Oshitari's lips, and Nanao had to fight back shivers.
"Are you- I don't- Are you threatening me?" Nanao finally managed, jaw slacking, eyes widening even more.
"Threaten is such an ugly word, Suzuki-san."
Nanao's eyes darted to Atobe – who was busy observing his reflection in the teacup before him, as though none of this were of any importance at all.
"You can't do that!" she finally said helplessly, palms upturned.
"Ore-sama can do anything," Atobe inserted, placing his teacup down with a gentle thud. "Besides, who would be crazy enough to reject the chance to be the fake girlfriend of Ore-sama?"
Did anyone in this room realize how wrong that statement was, on how many levels, beside herself?
"It would be utmost wise of you to agree, Suzuki-san," Oshitari added with a brilliant smile.
Just do it, her mind whispered. Who cares? It's your grade.
Was that what she'd been reduced to? Selling herself for her grades?
Stop being dramatic. You're not selling yourself, just pretending to.
But it was insane – this sort of thing didn't even happen in dramas!
You always said your life could do with a little more of drama. For the love of god, the biggest thrill you get out of life half the time is when you manage to finish your schoolwork before nine.
Oh, that really was sad.
See? Besides, it's Atobe Keigo. Think of it as something you can put on your resume.
She probably could, couldn't she? After all, it was Atobe Keigo.
You moron, accept it before they think you're braindead-
…What had she just said?
A/N: So? How was it? Okay? Terrible? Painful? HAHAHA. No, seriously. Please review and tell me how it is because I have no clue. BAHAHA.