Author's Notes: This story was originally written for the funpotexchange on Livejournal for WittyPhantom in 2012. Thank you to my beta J who had to correct my horrid grammar mistakes and poke at me to finish the final edits.

It had been two days since Seigaku had defeated Hyoutei and while Atobe hated to lose and hated to see Hyoutei's national run cut short that wasn't what was ruining Atobe's mood. He had waited ages for that moment to face off against Tezuka on the court and to see if he was good enough to conquer this near mythical tennis player. It was satisfying at the time to step onto the court and see the flaws and weakness in Tezuka but somehow, in the end, it was wholly dissatisfying.

Had it been wrong to narrow in on a person's weakness and take advantage of it? Atobe didn't think so. He'd certainly done it before and he knew he would do it again. A person should have to face their weaknesses and overcome them if they expected to win against him. But maybe that wasn't the problem. Perhaps it was that the more he thought about it, the more he wasn't sure he really did win. Tezuka was an amazingly skilled player and while Tezuka certainly didn't lose on purpose it was as if he let Atobe push them into a long match.

Did Tezuka use him to challenge himself? To see if he was good enough to continue leading Seigaku? The thought of being used that way instead of being played seriously was enough to really turn Atobe's mood sour. That combined with the loss against Seigaku had him running the tennis club much more strictly. Shishido and Gakuto had already accumulated nearly a hundred kilometers combined in penalties on the treadmill and Hiyoshi was on his twentieth set of bench presses. Jirou, however, who was supposed to be doing weights for napping on the court was currently napping on the bench. He gave them a stern look that told them to keep up the work and headed outside in the heat to check on rest of the club. They were currently putting all their effort into their routine practices for fear of being sent on laps around the courts, something he had already done to a group of second years who were gossiping.

"Kabaji, water," He said as he held out his hand. A cold water bottle was quickly placed in it. He took a sip and surveyed the courts and decided that while it momentarily helped to soothe his ire it would be unfair to continue taking his bad mood out on his friends and club.

He needed to see Tezuka again, to see if the man had used him and to discuss the chance of a future rematch. Obviously Tezuka would have to heal first but Atobe could wait. When it came to Tezuka he could be very patient... as long as he knew that his patience would be rewarded. Not that he wouldn't accept any other answer.

Tomorrow, Atobe decided, he would take advantage of their day off from club activities and go over to Seigaku to clear up their situation and to extract some promises from Tezuka.

Only, when he got there, he discovered that Tezuka was absent.


From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Absence

I visited your school today. And after finally meeting someone who could do more than snark or threaten I was informed that you were in Kyushuu.

Is this true? Why exactly are you there? And more importantly, why didn't you tell me?

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

Kyuushuu Sports Centre

And please try not to disturb my team during practice.

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Absence

At least your treatment center is severely less dilapidated looking than your school. I worry about Japan when Seigaku is supposed to be a top ranking private school... especially in tennis.

I'm not even sure they were practicing. They seemed to be involved in random games and not real tennis. Honestly, balls against a tree stump?

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

I believe Hyoutei lost against Fudoumine and Seigaku. Perhaps looks aren't everything.

Special training.

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Absence

Not everything, but certainly still important.

Special training for what?

Also, expect a package shortly. I wasn't sure of your needs but I feel the box will cover them all sufficiently.

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

Ask Oishi. He assigned it.

Are you feeling guilty?

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Absence

I'm not that curious.

No. I may have targeted your weakness but you let it turn into a long match. You certainly didn't have to let it ruin you. I can only assume you were using me to test yourself and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.

I want to play you when you've recovered. Our previous engagement left me feeling disappointed and somewhat used.


Atobe looked over at the phone as it started ringing. With a mighty sigh, he set down his sparkling non-alcoholic champagne and reached for his phone. His annoyance at being interrupted in the bath disappeared when he saw a number he most certainly didn't expect to see.

"Tezuka, what a pleasant surprise," Atobe said into the phone as he relaxed back into his bath water.

"Atobe. This isn't a box," Tezuka said. Ever the one to skip formalities and get to the point.

Atobe chuckled. He had realized as he was packing the box that he may have gotten a little too carried away for Tezuka's modest sensibilities. "Of course it's a box, Tezuka. It's just a large box. Did it have everything you need?"

"More than. It did help me make friends, though," Tezuka said and Atobe wondered if that was laughter colouring his voice or just a bad connection.

"How did a large box help you make friends?" He assumed people at the sports center were past the box fort age.

"Because I gave away most of the things to others on my floor. They send their regards." This time there was definitely amusement in Tezuka's voice and Atobe wasn't sure if it made him pleased or not. Though that didn't change the fact that Tezuka was giving all of his things away.

"You gave away the items I especially chose for you?"

"You sent far too much, Atobe. I wasn't going to hoard it in my room when there are others around me who could use it."

Atobe sighed. Tezuka did have a point and he had said he only gave away most of it meaning there were some items he found useful. "So have you thought about when you'll be able to play a rematch with me?"

There was a light laugh down the line, one that Atobe would have appreciated more if he didn't suspect that he was the one being laughed at. Dealing with Tezuka was difficult at times, but he couldn't imagine not wanting to deal with him.

"There're a lot of people who want to play me when I return, Atobe."

"Yes, but none of them are nearly as worthy of your time as I am," Atobe boasted as he reached for his glass to take a small sip. "That's why I'm saying I get to play you first once you've recovered."

"I'm not some court you can rent out after renovations are complete."

"Don't be so dramatic, Tezuka. I'm not trying to rent nor buy you. Just stake my claim."

"Ah, I'm also not unclaimed land."

Atobe couldn't tell if Tezuka was getting annoyed or if he was still amused by it all. He hoped he wasn't about to be hung up on. "I didn't say that either. Will you stop misinterpreting things to get out of playing with me."

"Perhaps I will when you just try asking nicely," Tezuka said.

"Where's the fun in that?"

"The fun in asking is in the results."

Atobe wondered just what type of results those may be but before he could respond there was a knock at his door and a call from his butler. "My apologies, Tezuka. We'll have to finish this conversation another day."

"Alright, Atobe. Have a good night," Tezuka said. And Atobe hoped that the wistfulness in Tezuka's voice wasn't just his imagination.

"You, too. And let me know if you need another box." He hung up before Tezuka could hang up on him and then got out of the bath to see what Michael needed from him. For not getting an answer out of Tezuka about their rematch, he felt oddly light and happy.


From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

I've been given the nickname thief...

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

Why are you a thief?

Also, this is the first time you've emailed me without prompting.

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

I'm not a thief. It's only a nickname.

Should I not have?

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

How is being called a thief a nickname?

You should have done it sooner.

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

Normally it isn't. But it was a misunderstanding. It's been resolved but the name remains.

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

You realize that explains nothing.

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

It's not that interesting.

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

Then why mention it in the first place?

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

I'm not sure...

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

Still, I appreciate the email. It's all very intriguing to me.

Have you given any thought to when you'll be able to play with me?

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

It really isn't.


I heard Hyoutei is being allowed to participate in Nationals.

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

The things I do for you, Tezuka... Will you play with me?

Yes. We have redoubled our training efforts. So Seigaku should expect a challenge.

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]


Good luck. But Seigaku will win.

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

Maybe? All of that and I only get a maybe? What happened to satisfaction in the results?

Hyouei will be the winners.

From: Tezuka [092fjaf-9hva704qjdcjp0vc51s{at}ezweb]

Maybe I wasn't talking about a rematch...

From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Nickname

Not a rematch? Then just what results were you referring to?


Atobe looked away from the practice matches he was watching and down to the phone he was casually sliding out of his pocket. Tezuka still hadn't replied to his last email, and he was starting to think it was no longer a case of having gone to bed and not yet having the time to reply. Since they began emailing, Tezuka would generally reply from anytime between 2pm and 9pm, but it was currently 4:30 and still nothing.

He knew his constant checking of his phone hadn't gone totally unnoticed by his teammates, just as he knew he should be paying more attention to his team. Hyoutei was going to Nationals and they had a lot to prepare for if they wanted to not only defeat Seigaku but take the title. But despite knowing this, part of his mind refused to focus on tennis.

Currently he was testing out doubles pairs. Fortunately many of his players could play doubles but no other combinations seemed to be as strong as the Shishido and Ohtori pair.

They were on the closest court playing against Gakuto and Hiyoshi, which could have led to disaster but seemed to be working surprisingly well. On the other court was the Oshitari and Jirou pair against the Taki and Kabaji pair.

Jirou was currently using his volley techniques that Taki, for some reason, was trying to return instead of allowing Kabaji to do so. Kabaji couldn't copy all of Jirou's moves as some things went beyond talent and were just part of Jirou's natural ability, but Atobe suspected Kabaji would still have more luck than Taki was. Perhaps he should try mixing up the pairs on that court.

"Oshitari," Atobe called waiting for that group to stop playing and look over at him. But just then he felt his phone vibrate and, momentarily forgetting himself, whipped out his phone to see if it was from Tezuka. He turned his back on the courts slightly to check and sighed when he saw it was just the vice-president of the student council.

Deciding he would read the email later, Atobe began returning the phone only to feel a tennis ball collide with his back. "Oomph," He said in surprise before spinning around. He looked over at the courts filled with regulars. All of them were looking at him obviously wondering what he had been doing and what he would do after being hit.

Atobe didn't have to use his insight to figure out who had hit him. It in fact took no more than a glance at the courts and the knowledge of his players to know who had sent the ball at him.

He knew right away that the culprit was neither Ohtori nor Kabaji; the two just didn't have it in them. And neither did Hiyoshi. The boy wanted to best him at tennis, not in some underhanded method. Taki probably dreamed about hitting him with tennis balls, especially after he vouched for Shishido to return to the regulars, but Taki was still trying to curry favours from him. Jirou could be mischievous but he appeared more sleepy than energetic at the moment. Yuushi obviously found the situation amusing but was the type who preferred to watch such things instead of actually doing them.

Which meant it was either Shishido or Gakuto. But as Gakuto was at the far side of the court and his serves weren't that accurate, it left Shishido to be the culprit.

"Shishido, Ohtori, 10 laps around the school and I don't want to see you walking," Atobe commanded. He figured sending Ohtori along to suffer with Shishido would make Shishido feel guiltier than if he had been punished on his own. It would also have the benefit of increasing the pair's stamina.

"You'd have to stop looking at your phone to see if we stopped running," Shishido said as he walked towards the bleachers and his tennis bag.

"Shishido does have a point," Gakuto yelled from the far side of the court. "Just who's so important that you're interrupting tennis practice for them?"

Gakuto did have a point. It was strange to place someone or something above tennis. Though he certainly wasn't going to tell them the answer. His team, though he cared deeply for them, was full of gossips.

"It's none of your concern. Gakuto, I want you to practice playing the baseline against Hiyoshi. Hiyoshi, try playing the net," Atobe instructed hoping to get Gakuto to stop pondering the person he was waiting on. And with luck, having the two play against each other in those positions would help them learn more about their strengths and weaknesses.

"And Oshitari, switch places with Taki." Atobe was confident Yuushi would know how to best utilize Kabaji and that Taki should do better as support to Jirou's net play.

Now that his team was moving again, Atobe gave into temptation and looked down at his phone which was still telling him he had no new emails. He shoved it back into his pocket and then bent down to pick up the tennis ball that had hit him.

He'd push Tezuka out of his mind for now and focus on his team. But he would certainly mail the man later if he hadn't heard back from him by supper time. Perhaps he'd even have to go and visit to make sure Tezuka hadn't taken a turn for the worse or somehow lost his phone and no longer knew how to contact him. Both would be tragedies needing immediate remedies.


From: Atobe [King-of-courts{at}softbank]
Subject: Hello?

Tezuka, are you ignoring me?


Atobe waited one more day for Tezuka to get back to him. After that, he decided that something truly must be wrong with the man and that he would have to fix it in person. He had already informed his butler and plans were being made for the private plane to fly him down. Now all he had to do was inform his team and leave it in someone's capable hands.

"I'm not going to be here next week. So we'll need someone to stand in as captain." Atobe paused and he could see Hiyoshi posturing. But the boy wasn't ready for it, yet. "So, I'm appointing Hyoutei's number two: Jirou."

A gentle snore greeted the news followed by a thud and an 'omph' as Gakuto shoved Jirou off the bench with his foot.

"What's going on?" He asked with a yawn.

"Atobe just made you temporary captain," Shishido explained.

Jirou blinked twice very slowly before the news sunk in and energy infused his body. "Really? Waaa this is so cool!" Jirou exclaimed as he bounced around nearly leaping into Atobe's arms in the process.

He then ran a victory lap around them before shouting something about telling Marui and dashing off. Atobe hoped he remembered he had a phone or at least took the train and didn't attempt to run to Rikkai.

After Jirou had rounded the corner and was out of sight, Atobe looked at the remaining players and gave a sigh. "Shishido, you're the vice captain."

Shishido just muttered something about it being lame but as he didn't dash off the premises Atobe figured it would work.

And with the club sorted out for the time being, although somewhat precariously, he could focus his intentions on Tezuka. The man who had yet to reply to his emails again and in Atobe's mind that meant only one thing - Tezuka wanted him to come and visit.


It hadn't taken Atobe long to register at the center as a visitor. Finding Tezuka on the expansive grounds, however, had taken a bit more time. But eventually he was walking up to Tezuka, looking handsome as ever, training in a well landscaped courtyard.

"Don't you have school?" Tezuka asked, not pausing in his stretches though he did spare Atobe a quick glance.

"According to the records, I'm sick."

"Then you should be at home resting."

"I'm not really sick, Tezuka."

"I know." And there was just the slightest hint of a smile on his face that did odd things to Atobe's heart.

"Well then, are you going to give me a tour?" Tezuka gave a nod and silently headed off. Atobe took that as consent and followed.


"So what do you do after your rehabilitation exercises?" Atobe asked as he fed some money into the vending machine.

"Homework mostly, the teachers were very kind in letting me know what I'll be missing."

"I don't believe you do homework for that long every day." Atobe selected a drink for himself and then one for Tezuka that he handed over.

Tezuka accepted the drink with a soft thank you and nodded toward a bench in the shade nearby. "That's probably because I don't."

Atobe snuck a glance at Tezuka as the other took a long drink from his bottle. Tezuka had a lovely neck. He'd noticed it during their match but certainly hadn't had the time or mindframe to appreciate it properly. Here in the quiet shade of the rehabilitation center he found he had plenty of both. It was a nice and novel experience to have Tezuka all to himself with neither of their teams crowding in around them. "Then what do you do?"

"I learn tennis from a girl," Tezuka answered after a moment. And the way his lips curved up a little at the sides made Atobe instantly dislike this girl teaching Tezuka tennis and want more details. Not knowing how to ask for more without sounding jealous he simply raised an eyebrow in inquiry.

"It's the same girl that called me a thief."

Atobe's other eyebrow joined the first.

"She's 10," Tezuka said clearly enjoying drawing this out.

"You learn tennis from a ten year old girl?"

"We're helping each other."

Atobe thought about that for a moment and wondered just how a young girl could help Tezuka - Tezuka was a highly skilled national level player after all. Atobe suspected there was very little an elementary school student could teach him other than to loosen up and be a little sillier. But then Tezuka already knew how to enjoy tennis.

"Should you be heading there now, then?" Atobe decided that if Tezuka was going to his 'lesson' today, then he would go with him and see just how they helped each other for themselves.

"I think I can skip a day without worry."

"Oh?" Atobe said casually as he took a long sip of his own drink.

"She's been absent the last couple of days."

"Is she ill?" Atobe asked.

"She had a tournament on the weekend," Tezuka started and turned from Atobe to look out over the garden.

"Was she injured?"

Tezuka shook his head slightly. "Yips."

And with that word, Atobe could understand. He hadn't always been a star player and he had to battle himself as much as others on his rise to the top. Thankfully yips had never been a major obstacle for him but he knew about their devastating effects. And those effects could linger long after a player left the court.

"I'm sure she'll come around. Sometimes a person just needs a chance to recover and remember their love of the sport is greater than a little disappointment."

Tezuka gave a nod, clearly sharing the same sentiment with him. "She's a strong player. And she doesn't lack courage or energy... it just seems odd that she would suffer this."

"Well, perhaps when she comes back, you can help her overcome it," Atobe encouraged. Tezuka was the captain of Seigaku, a team with an eclectic bunch of personalities, and if he could raise them to their highest potential then Atobe was sure that Tezuka could manage to do so with one young girl.

"I'll certainly do my best," Tezuka said. He then raised his bottle to his lips, eyes closing as he tilted his head back to finish it off.

Atobe watched his throat work for a moment and then focused on his own drink. There was no reason to be so drawn into the sight of a man drinking, even if it was Tezuka.

"Shall we continue the tour?" Tezuka asked after a moment of comfortable silence.

"Of course. You still haven't shown me the dorms. I have to make sure you're not living in squalour."

Tezuka didn't comment but instead rose and took Atobe's empty bottle from his hands and walked back to the vending machine to recycle them both. "I was thinking the gym next. This way."


"It's getting late. You should probably head over to your hotel room for the night," Tezuka said, head turned to look at the clock on the small nightstand beside his bed.

"It'd be easier to stay here with you." Atobe didn't bother to look at the time. He preferred to keep his eyes on Tezuka.

"I don't exactly have a spare bed, Atobe," Tezuka said, looking briefly at Atobe before gesturing to the bed he was sitting on.

"I'm not seeing that as a detriment, Tezuka. I promise you I don't snore and I doubt I even hog the blankets." He didn't really have anyone who could vouch for him on the latter but he'd certainly shared rooms before with no complaints.

"You may not. But it's not entirely appropriate. And it's against the rules."

Atobe gave a mental sigh. Tezuka was a bit of a stickler when it came to rules and that would likely be the sticking point. But Tezuka had been known to be a little flexible when given the proper counterargument.

"I don't see how it would be inappropriate. And the center would surely understand you sheltering a guest who had no reservations for the night. It would be unseemly to turn a young man out onto the street after dark."

"Because you didn't ask. And you are an Atobe. You probably own a hotel near here," Tezuka said. All traces of amusement and casual smiles were gone. Instead, Atobe was seeing the slightly annoyed face of Tezuka that he was sure his tennis team saw on a rather regular basis.

"Ask to stay? Why should I? It's quite common for two people who are dating to spend the night together." Even if it was going to be a rather platonic night.

Tezuka didn't immediately reply but gave him an even sterner look. Atobe thought it would be quite attractive if he was watching it be directed at someone else. Or perhaps having it be directed at him in a very different situation. But currently it was making him re-examine what it was he had just said that would make Tezuka direct that look at him.

"Tezuka, we are dating, aren't we?"

Tezuka looked at him for a long moment before turning and leaving without a word.

Atobe watched him go, wondering how things had gone so wrong so quickly. Frustrated at the situation he threw his water bottle and felt slightly better until he saw that it had knocked over Tezuka's bag. Giving a heavy sigh he moved to pick it up along with his water bottle. He wouldn't win Tezuka's love by destroying his things.

Really, his teammates would never believe he was tidying up someone else's room. It wasn't something he'd do for just anyone. As he picked up the bag, a few things tumbled out of it. Glasses cleaner, a rather cute Disney mechanical pencil, a planner, a mini first aid kit and gum. Atobe thought the pocket filled with bandaids and the like was very Tezuka. The pencil on the other hand he had to assume was a present from someone. And it better not be from some girlfriend or male suitor. He twirled the pencil around, watching Stitch spin about before putting it back in the bag. If Tezuka had bought it himself and had some fondness for the blue alien perhaps they could go on a date to Tokyo Disney. Or maybe Disney World if he could get Tezuka to agree to a trip to America.

Atobe was placing the other things back in when his hand paused while holding Tezuka's planner. He would never invade the man's privacy so much that he'd read the diary he knew Tezuka kept. But surely a planner wouldn't disclose anything too private. And it would be intriguing to see what else besides homework and tennis made it in.

Atobe flipped open the planner and saw the expected with a few extras such as club bonding activities. Bowling? Beach volleyball in Chiba? A few get togethers with friends or his grandfather. At a fishing pond? Atobe approved of that past time. Perhaps they could on a fishing trip one weekend. Maybe to Canada during a school break. They had plenty of fish and mountains to keep Tezuka happy. They could rent a cabin...

Atobe pushed those thoughts aside. Apparently Tezuka didn't feel that way for him so it would be foolish to go that far in his planning.

He smiled to himself as he flipped through to October, wondering if Tezuka was the type to mark his own birthday and if he had plans yet.

Looking at the monthly view of the calendar, Atobe's breath caught. Tezuka hadn't marked his own birthday but he had marked Atobe's. He flipped to the day views and saw it again. But there was no need to get excited. He probably did it for everyone. He flipped to the start and began looking at the monthly views. He let out a long breath when he reached the end. He now knew when all of Tezuka's family members celebrated their birthdays but not when a single Seigaku member did. He was the only non-family member. What did it mean?

He idly flipped the planner open and closed wondering what to do with this information when a few papers fell out. he knelt down to scoop them up and decided they fell from the flap in the back. A get well card from his team, a couple of receipts and a newspaper clipping. He opened it up and closed it immediately, tucking it safely back into the planner.

Perhaps he'd been wrong. A planner did seem to have private thoughts in it. He placed everything back in the bag, took his water and left Tezuka's room.

Why did Tezuka have his birthday written down? And why did he have a newspaper clipping of their match, complete with picture?


"Oshitari, I need your advice?" Atobe said not bothering with a returned greeting when Oshitari answered the phone.


Atobe looked around the secluded park area he had wandered to; there were a couple kids playing on the slide but nobody that would bother to listen to what he was talking about. "Love," he confessed finally.

"Ah, well then you've called the right man," Oshitari said. And Atobe hoped it was true. He'd never been the type to ask for or need advice but he was coming to the conclusion that Tezuka was a complicated man not easily impressed by his prowess. It would be best to get some extra advice to know how best to proceed.

After 20 minutes of questionable love advice, Atobe was starting to wonder if he had indeed called the right man. Perhaps Shishido would have been better. The advice may have still been questionable but it would have at least been short.

"Yes, thank you very much, Oshitari. I shall remember that all," Atobe said. Cutting in when Oshitari paused to chuckle at one of his own anecdotes involving the seductive qualities of grip tape. "But I'm afraid I must be going."

"Really? But I was just getting to the best part. A well timed rescue from life and death situations has remarkable -"

Atobe took a page from Tezuka's book and hung up on Oshitari with no further words. He doubted Oshitari would have heard them anyway. When the man got going on topics he was passionate about there was really no stopping him.


Atobe was sprawled on a luxurious king bed, staring up at the ceiling of his hotel suite. Tezuka had been right, his family did own a hotel nearby, and it certainly didn't take much to get one of the executive suites booked, but he'd much rather be staying in Tezuka's tiny dorm styled room tonight.

Even his usual bubble bath earlier hadn't helped calm his mind or ease the tension in his body this misunderstanding with Tezuka had caused him. Probably the only thing that would have done so was if the man himself had joined him in the tub. Interesting imagery but nothing that was helping him figure out what he'd done to anger Tezuka when they had enjoyed such a nice day together.

It had been somewhere in his suggestion that he stay the night with Tezuka and if they were dating. Had he somehow misread the situation and Tezuka held no interest in him? He didn't think that was the case at all. He had felt that connection with Tezuka and was sure that Tezuka had, too.

He let out a loud sigh and turned on his bed so that his face was pressed into a pillow. He was Atobe Keigo, he shouldn't be stumped like this. He just had to think and remember what they'd been talking about recently. Why would Tezuka get so mad at him for reminding him that they were dating and that sharing a bed would be fine?

As Atobe lay there, he thought back to their talk about tennis, rehabilitation, nationals, their teams, music, more tennis, food, tennis rackets, fishing, even more tennis...

Several hours later, when Atobe woke up again, haunted by an odd dream of Hiyoshi dressed as a samurai trying to play tennis with a sword while Gakuto juggled pocky boxes behind, he was no closer to discovering what he did to anger Tezuka. He groaned as he sat up, both in frustration at his situation with Tezuka and at the continuing image of Hiyoshi slicing through tennis balls with a sword. Would Shishido think him any stranger for asking if Hiyoshi was using a racket at tennis practice than he already did?


Atobe had the morning free since he had to wait for Tezuka to finish his morning training. As loathe as he was to admit it, Tezuka's recovery was more important than a conversation with him. Especially since Atobe wanted to play Tezuka at full strength and without such weaknesses.

So it gave him a chance to walk around the town and further consider what he could do to make things up to Tezuka.

Atobe wandered down the street and paused outside the large display window of a local florist. He remembered what Yuushi said about the classics never going out of style. And he did like to consider roses as something of his trademark.

And he imagined that Tezuka would appreciate roses much more than being put in a life and death situation so Atobe could save him. Even if Yuushi assured him it was a sure fire tactic.


Atobe checked his appearance in the glass of the lobby as he waited for Tezuka to come down and meet him. He knew that if Tezuka were a normal person there would be no way for him to resist him. As it was, he hoped that his carefully chosen outfit and bouquet of roses would help soften Tezuka toward him.

"Atobe," Tezuka said quietly as he walked up to him. He looked at the roses but didn't comment on them, "Let's go to my room."

He turned around and walked off leaving Atobe to catch up to him, something he wasn't used to doing. Most people followed him or at the very least waited for him. But he wasn't upset, a lot of people thought that because he was proud and rich that he was an arrogant and horrible person. Not at all, though he could be to people he didn't like and who didn't deserve his patience and friendship. Fortunately for Tezuka, he was someone he respected and so he followed along silently until they were in his room again.

"These are for you. To apologize for angering you yesterday," Atobe said with a flair as he presented the bouquet.

"And do you know what you did to anger me?" Tezuka asked, obviously seeing through Atobe's attempt to apologize for his unknown transgression. But as Tezuka still accepted the roses he decided that the other couldn't be too upset with him still.

"Not exactly. But it doesn't mean I won't make it up to you," Atobe said with confidence that for once he didn't fully feel. He watched as Tezuka smelled the roses for a moment before placing them on the desk. He wondered what the other man would use as a vase and chastised himself for not thinking to bring one.

"I'm sure you'll do your best."

"How was your training?" Atobe asked as he looked around the room that was mostly unchanged from the day before, the bag he had knocked down yesterday now tucked in a different corner of the room.

"Fine. I'm making good progress." There was a hesitation in Tezuka's words that had Atobe curious about how the progress was really going. Was there some new damage that would take longer to heal?

"If you need a better specialist, I could arrange for one to meet you. Or you can meet them. I hear they have some really advanced techniques in Germany."

"No need. They're doing their best here," Tezuka said giving his head a shake, probably at the thought of such excessive spending.

"But their best may not be the best. It's really no problem. If you give me your current doctor's name, I'll get some other specialists to contact him and consult on your progress." He could set his butler on it, who had to be bored without him there to take care of. He'd probably appreciate the challenge of finding shoulder and elbow rehabilitation experts around the globe.

Atobe was just pulling out his phone to give Michael a call when Tezuka put his hand over his.

"Why must you always assume or command things to be a certain way? " Tezuka asked.

"What do you mean?" Atobe considered himself a smart man but he didn't get where Tezuka was going with this.

"I told you, I'm fine where I am. I don't need a new doctor and I don't want one. Yet..." He trailed off and gave Atobe's phone a pointed look. It was enough and Atobe put his phone away.

"It's only because I'm invested in your recovery. And I don't see how one time is always assuming and commanding."

"You asked if we're dating yesterday, but you've never asked me to date you."

Atobe stared blankly at Tezuka. Was that why he was always harping on about asking for things? Atobe wondered if perhaps he had stopped asking because nobody ever said no to him. Still, he supposed common courtesy dictates that some things should be asked and not assumed as he had made the mistake of doing.

"Will you go out with me Tezuka?" Atobe asked intently, hoping it wasn't too late to make amends.

"Maybe," Tezuka said with a smile that Atobe couldn't tell if it was just teasing or was perhaps seductive.

"Only maybe?" Atobe asked hoping for clarification. He didn't understand how he could only be getting a maybe, especially since it was pretty obvious, to him at least, that they would make an ideal couple.

"You have caused me a great deal of trouble lately," Tezuka said with that damnable half smile on his face that made Atobe curse in his head.

It was true that he may have caused Tezuka some trouble with the injury and being forced to come to Kyushu to check up on him. But Atobe hardly thought he was the only one to blame for either of those things. "Well I think it's only fair seeing as you've also caused me trouble. I do have a team I should be training for Nationals but instead I'm here checking up on you."

"I didn't need checking up on, Atobe."

"I really beg to differ. I'm not sure you can be trusted on your own if you can't even answer emails in a timely manner. Not to mention that horrible habit you seem to have of pushing yourself past your limits."

"Atobe," Tezuka said, but Atobe wasn't sure he had quite finished telling Tezuka how difficult he could be at times.

"And then instead of using words to explain something you make people jump through hoops. One cannot communicate in body language alone, Tezuka."

"Atobe!" Tezuka said louder, causing Atobe to be quiet.


"Ask again," Tezuka said taking a step closer to him.

Atobe, feeling he had nothing to lose by asking again, did so, "Tezuka, will you go out with me?"

This time, Tezuka said nothing but closed the final space between them and gave him a kiss that answered a very definite 'yes'.

"Body language isn't all bad, is it?" Tezuka asked in a teasing tone as he stepped back. Atobe had never really heard that sort of voice from Tezuka before; he rather liked it.

"I don't know... I may need another example," Atobe said, possibly pushing his luck but wanting another kiss.

Again, Tezuka said nothing and leaned in to give him a kiss, and if kisses could speak this one would clearly be saying 'you're incorrigible'.

"Does this mean I can stay the night, now?" Atobe asked as Tezuka once again stepped back. If Tezuka thought him incorrigible, there was no point in stopping now.

"It's still inappropriate."

Atobe was just opening his mouth to object when Tezuka continued, "But you may like to know that I have permission to be off campus this weekend."

That was an unexpected, but not unappreciated, turn of events.


"I told my parents a friend was coming down to visit," Tezuka said with a small casual shrug of his right shoulder. Atobe wondered if that was a habit picked up while his left was badly injured or if his recovery really wasn't going well and it still hurt to move his left. But he could find that out later. Since apparently he was getting the chance to have the elusive Seigaku captain all to himself for the weekend.

"You already told them? But we only just made up." Atobe was very intrigued.

"You're smart. I knew you'd get there in the end."

"Why thank you for that vote of confidence, Tezuka."

"But Atobe, no lavish excursions, no expensive restaurants or shopping outings. Just a normal casual weekend," Tezuka warned and numerous fantasies and plans popping up in Atobe's head suddenly shattered.

"What about the hotel suite I'm in?" That was lavish and extravagant by most people's standards.

"I think I can tolerate that," Tezuka said and moved over to grab his bag from the corner and then the roses. After a moment looking at them he handed them back over to Atobe.

"You don't like them?" He asked, the roses back in his arms.

"They're fine. But you can carry them."

Atobe detected the slightest trace of pink on Tezuka's cheeks and decided it would be wise to not comment further on who was carrying the roses. "Since we're dating now, does that mean I get to play you first when you've recovered? Don't think I'll go easy on you just because I want to kiss you."

Tezuka just shook his head and gestured for Atobe to get out of his room, "I'll think about it."

"I'll take that as a yes, then," Atobe said. He gave Tezuka a saucy wink and then headed out of the room so the two of them could start their weekend together.