River Poetry: All In One

Ebook cover for the arc

Tezuka and Atobe meet off the courts and finally find a way to communicate that isn’t tennis. Expect philosophy, music and fishing, while they balance Atobe’s flamboyance with Tezuka’s subtlety. Also lots of Tezuka/Atobe porn, by and by.

Insight

Tezuka introspective. Drama, I-3

He knew that no one among his peers was credited with greater insight into his opponents than Atobe Keigo. It was a justified reputation. But Atobe concentrated on the physical, and tended to ignore the signs of character that the ball wrote on the face of a racquet. It was the weakness in his strength, because those signs were the ones that told whether a player would or could go beyond his physical limits.

He found it strange that Atobe ignored this when he was one of those people himself.

But, then, Atobe had had years to get used to the idea that he didn’t need to know, that it would never matter, that no one could overtake him no matter how they drove themselves. Old habits were hard to change. No one had driven Atobe, or shown him in the language of his own body how much it could matter.

No one until himself.

And, to his credit, Atobe did watch him for those signs of the intangible, now, when they played. Not that he made it terribly difficult, he supposed. Nothing was very concealed when he played Atobe. When they faced each other the fronts ripped away, Atobe’s affectations and his own reserve both burned to glittering ash in the heat of their contest. He knew it was what kept them both coming back for another unofficial match every few months, carefully stepping around ever having to inform their coaches, for almost three years now.

Sometimes he wondered if Atobe realized just how much of himself he showed, when they played.

Perhaps it still didn’t occur to Atobe that his opponent would see. He knew his own style was somewhat deceptive. It appeared that he forced the game onto his terms, that it was simply the fine extent of his control that caused each ball to come to him as if called. But it was more than control; it was also understanding. He learned the language that the ball spoke to his racquet, and spoke it back, and the ball heeded. But the ball was only a carrier, in the end. The language he had to learn each time, listening through his hands, was that of his opponent.

Atobe’s language was both raw and sleek. There was fury in the power of his techniques, and malice in the way he held his hand until the most overwhelming moment so that he could crush those who dared stand against him, those who dared try to stop him. He used his strength as a bludgeon, and his speed to confuse, and his arrogance to infuriate. Where some balls sang against the strings his screamed.

And when someone sent that scream back, proved that he had heard it, Atobe’s eyes brightened and his smile turned hungry and true.

Tezuka Kunimitsu knew why he kept coming back. It was to hear a desperation and hope and frustrated rage that matched his own.

Sometimes he wondered whether Atobe saw that, too.

End


Backstage – Part One

Tezuka and Atobe meet while out fishing, in the Spring of their third year of high school. Conversation, verbal jousting, poetry, philosophy, angst, dramatics and humor ensue. Drama with Budding Romance, I-3

Well, wasn’t this just a fine thing?

When Atobe Keigo wanted to get away from the duties and expectations of his game, his team, his opponents, he had a particular place to go. An isolated little bite out of the lakeshore where none of those things would follow. And now he saw all of them reflected at him in Tezuka Kunimitsu’s eyes. If the fishing paraphernalia spread out comfortably around this slightly overgrown grove was any indication, his best rival already had the place staked out for a long day. He had excellent taste, if execrable timing. Keigo took a few deep breaths; he would not, he told himself strenuously, scream with frustration. No matter how cathartic it might be just now. He had an image to maintain, even if Tezuka didn’t usually believe it.

Tezuka’s startled gaze fell on Keigo’s equipment and sharpened. He tipped his head to one side.

“Do you come here to fish, too?”

Keigo raised a brow. Too? Come to think of it, he had seen plenty of signs that someone else liked to fish at this place. He hadn’t thought much about it, except to be pleased that their schedules never seemed to overlap. He certainly hadn’t imagined that his unofficial timeshare partner might be Tezuka.

“Yes,” he answered at last, gathering himself to go look for another spot as graciously as possible. It took a fair degree of gathering, and Tezuka beat him to the punch.

“There’s room for both of us, if you don’t mind,” he offered, quietly.

Keigo accepted, stifling his surprise. It occurred to him, as Tezuka gathered his things to one side, that he’d definitely been out-gracious-ed, but he let it slide in the interest of peaceful fishing. Tezuka didn’t seem like the sort to practice competitive graciousness, in any case.

In fact, the edge of competition was completely lacking in Tezuka’s manner today. The absence was a bit jarring, Keigo mused as he laid out his things. He and Tezuka rarely encountered each other except on the court, and their personal competition was everything, there. Keigo loved it. Tennis was almost always entertaining, of course, but with Tezuka… Tezuka’s intensity washed away all the extraneous bits that usually occupied Keigo’s attention. The crowd, the future, the presentation, they all faded, and nothing mattered but the moment and the ball drawing lines in the air between them.

They’d learned, over the last few years, to bring seconds along, even for their unofficial matches. Once they were absorbed in the game only exceptional intervention, such as, say, a car crashing into the court, would induce either one to back down before the final score was decided. It wasn’t uncommon for them to leave so exhausted neither of them could walk a straight line without help.

This present still calm was , ironically, not helping his peace of mind, Keigo reflected as he cast his line out.

And how was Tezuka taking it? A sidelong glance showed him focused on the water as if it were a meditation garden. Keigo decided to take the opportunity to indulge his curiosity, and looked closer.

Tezuka’s stillness was nothing new. The quality of stillness wrapped around him even in the middle of a hard game; it was one of the things that often intimidated his opponents. It was a good tactic, and Keigo smirked every time he saw it used on someone else. There was something, though. Something in the line of his shoulders, and the set of his hands.

After a long moment it finally came to Keigo. Tezuka was relaxed.

Not the waiting whipsnap that fatally deceived so many on the court, but really relaxed. Keigo was not much given to introspection, at least not when he could help it, but one particular conclusion hit him hard enough to knock his breath out.

Keigo came here to find a little stability, a restful, solid time when he didn’t have to worry about balancing the needs and quirks of his team against the ruthless demands of their coach. Here, he didn’t have to deal with the annoyance of some uppity little hotshot after his position. He didn’t have to listen to his father casually mentioning the statistics on how many youthful tennis stars completely failed as professionals, and thank God for Grandfather, that was all Keigo had to say. He didn’t have to be arrogant enough to prop up the egos of two hundred odd mediocre players. He could be quiet. He could be lackadaisical. He could be abrasive or not, as he pleased. He could, in short, relax.

Tezuka clearly came here for pretty much all the reasons that Keigo himself did. It was an insight he really felt he could have done without. Not least because it immediately presented the question of whether the flash of understanding was mutual.

“There’s no audience here, Atobe, you don’t have to stay in character just to play to me.” Tezuka’s voice held a hint of impatience, as he glanced over, and Keigo realized abruptly how much he’d focused on Tezuka for the past few minutes. Of course he’d noticed.

And, Keigo supposed, that answered that question. He turned his attention to his line. He wasn’t sure today would be a relaxed day for him, but at least he was distracted from his regular problems.

Five minutes later he was studying Tezuka again. Fish were less demanding, but they weren’t as interesting.

He had known already that Tezuka used his reserve to conceal his intensity. It now appeared that he also concealed a certain… softness? tolerance? Keigo sighed to himself, because now his curiosity was engaged. And, after his pride, curiosity was probably his second strongest driving force. Well, if he was going to indulge it, he might was well do so with flair. What would be a good approach to stir up some revelations? Hm…

“Do you ever wish you had chosen a different front?” he asked. Tezuka eyed him, and he decided to prod a little harder. “Not that it isn’t an effective one, the stone silence does emphasize your command presence nicely, but don’t you ever get tired of it? Face get stiff?”

One of these days, Keigo told himself as Tezuka’s brows rose, it would probably be a good idea to restrain his sense of humor. It had gotten him in trouble before. In fact, it was the source of most of his bad reputation, including the part that held he couldn’t possibly have a sense of humor because one person couldn’t fit that and his ego too.

Tezuka was not, however, looking offended. He looked, insofar as Keigo could decipher his typically minimalist expression, thoughtful.

“Do you?” he bounced the question back. Keigo read a certain censure in the sharpness of his voice, and snorted.

“If you had as many people to deal with as I do, you would have chosen a front that afforded you some amusement into the bargain, too,” he declared.

“It amuses you to annoy people?” Tezuka inferred.

Keigo smiled. “Infinitely.”

“It amuses you to toy with people?”

“Provided they’re worth toying with,” Keigo specified, leaning back on his elbows. Tezuka reeled his line back in.

“If you want an honest answer to your question, Atobe, give me an honest answer to mine.”

“That was honest, Tezuka. I enjoy frustrating people who don’t realize that I am toying with them. If that fact itself also amuses me, that doesn’t make it any less true.” He tipped his head back to look up through the leaves. “You must know what it’s like. To be the best without a regular challenge. What’s worthwhile then?” Tezuka was silent for a minute before he spoke, in a meditative tone.

“There are times you remind me of Fuji.”

Keigo sat up rather quickly at that.

“I beg your pardon! I remind you of that little blond sociopath of yours? I have never been that unstable!” He glared at his companion.

“Indeed,” Tezuka noted, a bit too neutrally for Keigo’s taste, as he made a new cast.

Keigo slouched back and made a mental note that a relaxed Tezuka, while not significantly more emotive, was a good deal more outspoken.

“I am content with my own choice,” Tezuka stated after a few minutes of silence. It took Keigo a moment to remember the question that this was an answer to. But, then, it was only what he would expect out of Tezuka’s particular inflexible integrity, that he would keep his end of even a forgotten agreement.

“Always?” Keigo wanted to know. Contemplative silence reigned again for a while before Tezuka replied.

“Like your choice, mine has results that please me. Those I don’t wish to deal with don’t bother me. My team obeys me.” Keigo smirked over that last, while Tezuka paused again. “Like you, I don’t like the pressures that originally made me learn these habits. But, like you, I chose something that would let me stand against those pressures. Those expectations. Those denials.”

Keigo had to fight a sudden urge to back away, quickly, from that deep, even voice saying such unexpected, personal, accurate things. A corner of his mind observed that it was no wonder his opponents on the court looked so alarmed when he did this kind of thing himself.

“I don’t recall saying any of that,” he observed in his best languid drawl. The look Tezuka turned on him was not at all relaxed; it reminded him, with unpleasant abruptness, of how Tezuka looked when he played.

“Why do you come here, Atobe?” Tezuka asked. The change in direction gave Keigo a moment of mental whiplash, but he understood what Tezuka was asking. And he was ruefully aware that he’d been asking for this when he decided to prod Tezuka. The real question, now, was whether he wanted to afford his rival, of all people, the kind of frankness that he had previously reserved for such undemanding recipients as the fish.

On the other hand, hadn’t he done that already? What else were their matches, if not utterly brutal honesty written out in every movement? Brutality, in fact, had been their point of contact from the beginning. It was pleasant to have a couple constants in one’s life. And, reputation to the contrary, Keigo had never been one to hand out anything he couldn’t take.

“I come here to trap slippery creatures, reel them in, and then decide whether I want to kill them or not,” he said, making another cast.

A sharp glint of appreciation lit Tezuka’s eye for a moment.

“And you,” Keigo suggested, “come here because the fish understand your sense of humor better than your friends.”

Tezuka picked up one of the sharp, barbed hooks from his tackle box and held it up so that it glinted in the sun.

“Perhaps.”

Several casts later, Keigo remembered something he’d been wanting to ask since he got here. “Why are you here today, Tezuka? You’ve never come on Thursdays before.”

“That’s how my schedule worked out, this spring,” Tezuka shrugged slightly and tilted a brow. “Yours?”

“Likewise.” They both contemplated this fact in silence. “Ah, well. It will add a touch of interest to the conclusion of high school.”

“To say the least,” Tezuka murmured, and set his hook in a hapless fish with a flick of his wrist.

TBC

A/N: I do know that fly-fishing, which is what Tezuka’s hobby, at least, is listed as, is not a sitting still on the shore sort of affair. Since I wanted to boys to talk, though, I took a bit of artistic license.


Backstage – Part Two

Tezuka and Atobe meet while out fishing, in the Spring of their third year of high school. Conversation, verbal jousting, poetry, philosophy, angst, dramatics and humor ensue. Drama with Budding Romance, I-3

Kunimitsu had started approaching his favorite fishing spot a little warily since his schedule and Atobe’s had fallen into synch this spring. Today, however, his caution appeared unnecessary. Atobe was not waiting, with his usual edgy words and mocking smile only slightly blunted by the peace of water and silence.

Instead, he was sprawled out with one arm thrown over his eyes, looking rather rumpled. He hadn’t even set his line yet.

At the rustle of Kunimitsu setting up, he raised his arm for a moment and muttered something that might have been a greeting. Kunimitsu considered his companion as he sorted through his hooks. Atobe was a showman, even when he was relaxing. If he was showing exhaustion, he probably wanted to be asked about it.

“Are the fish particularly tiring today?”

“The fish are the very souls of courtesy,” Atobe informed him. “They’re waiting for me to recover before taking up negotiations.”

“Ah.” Kunimitsu waited, curious to see whether Atobe’s obvious desire to talk about it would win over his habit of misdirection.

“I think some of my team may fail to graduate this year,” Atobe mused. “I’m going to kill them first. Mukahi decided today was the perfect day to provoke Shishido, and told him it was a good thing he was so persistent, as it almost made up for his lack of talent. To which, predictably, Shishido replied that that was better than having a useless talent and no staying power, and becoming a drag on his partner. Which, of course, made Mukahi angry enough to resort to fists over words. You’ve never seen such a catfight.” Atobe ran a hand through his hair. “And that got their partners into it, and thank God both Oshitari and Ohtori have level heads and managed to pull those two apart. Except I’m reconsidering whether Oshitari can really be said to have a level head any more, because he decided the best way to shut Mukahi up would be to kiss him. Not that those two are anything but an open secret, but there’s such a thing as style, not to mention discretion, and I’m just thankful Hiyoshi had the good sense to chase off most of their audience before that.” Atobe sat up at last and reached for his water.

Kunimitsu found himself having to stifle a chuckle at the indignant tirade. The expressive flex and swoop of Atobe’s voice, when he was in full swing, was as good as anyone else’s extravagant gesticulation.

“Did you ever consider theatre as a hobby?” he inquired. Atobe shot him a sidelong look for the apparent non sequitur.

“Not really.”

“You would have been quite good at it, I think,” Kunimitsu told him, blandly. “Aristophanes would suit you. The Thesmophoriazusae, perhaps.”

Atobe choked, and snorted water out his nose.

If Kunimitsu were honest about it he would have to admit that Atobe wasn’t the only one who liked provoking people now and then. It was merely that Kunimitsu restrained himself, while Atobe made an art of flamboyant unrestraint. This place was where they relaxed, though, and perhaps they met in the middle, Atobe less artful and Kunimitsu less restrained.

“Your timing is as good as your humor is terrible,” Atobe rasped, recovering. Kunimitsu let a faint smile show. He didn’t think he had to say out loud that Atobe had no room to complain.

“Your team has stayed remarkably cohesive over the years,” he observed instead. Atobe waved a dismissive hand.

“It’s the doubles pairs that have been stable. Neither of them could be pried apart with a crowbar. Shishido wasn’t a Regular again until Ohtori caught up. Though I doubt Oshitari and Mukahi will continue with tennis after this year. They’re the second rank doubles team, again, and I doubt they can improve much more. At least,” he added, lip curling, “not unless Mukahi gets it though his head that contempt for his opponents won’t automatically let him win.”

“A very bad habit,” Kunimitsu agreed.

Atobe glared at him. He was very easily provoked today, Kunimitsu noted. And, apparently, more out of sorts than was immediately evident, because he declined to rise to the bait.

“In any case, I could say the same of your team. You have that mouthy little brat of yours back again, don’t you?”

“Of course.” And Arai had been deeply irate to be ousted from the Regulars by Echizen’s arrival, despite, or possibly because of, everyone else’s sure knowledge that it would happen. Tezuka shook his head. “Though you could say he never really left. He’s been practicing with us right along.”

Atobe slanted a look at him. “Ah? I wouldn’t have thought you’d bend the rules like that. Some favoritism creeping in, Tezuka?”

“It was in everyone’s free time,” Kunimitsu returned, serenely. Atobe really was off his stride today.

It wasn’t until Atobe jerked his line too hard and lost a fish that Kunimitsu thought it might be something serious. Lack of control was not normally one of Atobe’s problems, even when he was angry. Now, though, he saw a very fine trembling in Atobe’s hands, the kind that might translate into a series of bruising smashes if he had held a racquet instead of a fishing pole. He waited, patiently, for whatever was wrong to emerge.

“What are you planning to do when you graduate?” Atobe asked, at last.

“To play professionally.” Caution made Kunimitsu’s voice expressionless. Where was this going?

“Ah. Has anyone ever told you the odds of good junior players succeeding professionally?” Atobe’s voice was almost as even as his own, but the expression that accompanied it was a subtle snarl.

“No,” Kunimitsu answered quietly. The snarl was becoming less subtle, and Kunimitsu found himself a little concerned what might happen if Atobe gave his rage free rein outside of the court. He considered the problem.

He had observed Atobe interacting with his coach a few times. It was clear they respected each other, and he had thought at the time that Atobe must not be very familiar with support if he responded so warmly to such a cold trainer. He had an increasingly firm idea that someone in Atobe’s family was the source of the frustration and anger that seemed to drive Atobe’s game.

So…

“There’s supposed to be something more important. Something of higher worth,” he stated, cool and certain. Atobe stilled. “But it isn’t the same, and it isn’t enough.”

“Business,” Atobe nearly spit the word.

“Kendo,” Kunimitsu offered in return.

“They don’t understand what it’s like,” Atobe said, low and soft, staring over the water.

Kunimitsu thought about his brat , as Atobe named Echizen. He remembered the morning Momoshiro had come to practice, after finally prying the initial source of Echizen’s tennis obsession out of the boy, and proceeded to hit balls through the fence until Ryuuzaki-sensei had yelled at him.

“That may be for the best, in the end,” he pointed out. Atobe looked at him as if Kunimitsu had suggested he dye his hair orange, and he couldn’t decide which scathing retort he wanted to use first. That was more normal, and Kunimitsu relaxed again.

“That’s better,” he said, turning back to his line. Atobe arched a brow at him.

“What’s better?”

“Your temper. Not that it’s anything to boast of at the best of times, of course.”

Atobe scowled at him before turning away to fiddle with his line. At length he muttered a thank you almost as indecipherable as his earlier greeting had been. Kunimitsu smiled, amused.

“Really, you’re the highest maintenance rival I’ve ever had,” he told Atobe, deadpan.

After one blank moment Atobe laughed low in his throat and lounged back by his rod.

“As it should be,” he declaimed.

TBC

A/N: The Thesmophoriazusae is a play by the Greek comedic playwright Aristophanes; it’s full of low humor and crossdressing and sexual innuendo.


Backstage – Part Three

Tezuka and Atobe meet while out fishing, in the Spring of their third year of high school. Conversation, verbal jousting, poetry, philosophy, angst, dramatics and humor ensue. Drama with Budding Romance, I-3

Spring was starting to warm into summer, and the fish were getting smarter.

Or, at any rate, pickier about what they’d bite. Thursday afternoons had acquired a slower pace. Keigo basked in the mild sun, storing up pleasure in anticipation of the crushing heat to come later in the year. Practices would become downright grueling, then, he knew.

“A little hard to believe this is the last year we’ll be training with our teams,” he murmured, eyes closed.

“Mm.”

Keigo opened his eyes. He was becoming increasingly fluent in Tezuka-speak, which was a very tonal language. That particular tone was more terse than he would have thought the comment warranted. He examined Tezuka’s hands on his pole. He was definitely thinking of something besides the fish. It looked like today would be another challenge to get something out of his companion; that was always good for an entertaining hour or two.

“Too bad the competition will be so poor for the Nationals this year,” he suggested. “With Rikkai still in such disarray after losing a doubles pair and Sanada, both, the only real challenge, besides you, is Fudoumine.”

Tezuka’s mouth tightened for a moment. Ah, getting warmer, then. Something about one of the other teams, perhaps?

“I never expected Sanada to drop out of tennis unless Yukimura did.” Keigo drew a breath to continue, and then let it out silently as Tezuka’s eyebrows dove down. He smiled with great smugness. Got it in one. Now, then, something about Sanada himself, or about his captain?

Of course, judging by the edge to Tezuka’s expression, if Keigo pushed this he might just start returning, and that could get… uncomfortable. Tezuka saw him far more clearly than Keigo was used to. But that had never stopped him before.

“I hear Sanada’s studying the sword, instead,” he mentioned casually.

“Yes. I’ve been told.” Tezuka’s voice was hard and cold, and Keigo sat up to look at him. There were harmonics in that statement that he would have recognized at five hundred meters. The frustration, especially.

Pieces fell together.

“You’re related to that Tezuka family, then?” he asked.

“Through my grandfather,” Tezuka answered flatly. He didn’t mention his father, Keigo noticed, as though his father didn’t enter into the matter. Maybe he didn’t. Too bad they couldn’t trade, he thought, a bit sourly. He might pay money to watch his own father blunt his bluff attitude on Tezuka.

He didn’t suggest that there must be other cousins and such to take up the tradition; in cases of family tradition, especially as famous a tradition as the Tezuka school of kendo, that didn’t usually make a difference. Tezuka stirred.

“I doubt my team will suffer such confusion when the seniors leave,” he said. “Yours, on the other hand…”

Keigo chuckled, accepting the change of topic. Entertainment was one thing, but if he did press Tezuka further on this subject the return was likely to go beyond painful and into deadly. He didn’t want to push Tezuka that far. Not here.

“Unlike your merry band, Hyoutei is used to reforming dramatically each year. Hiyoshi has the experience to hold the new players together.” Keigo pursed his lips thoughtfully. “He might even follow on professionally.”

“I doubt any from my years except Echizen will become professionals,” Tezuka noted, unusually forthcoming with what Keigo rather thought was relief.

“Not even that bouncy power-player of yours?” he asked, a little surprised. “What was his name… Momoshiro. An annoying loudmouth, but he has the talent.” Tezuka gave him a distinct People who live in glass houses sort of look before replying. Keigo smiled.

“For a few years, perhaps, but I doubt he wants to bother with something that cutthroat in the long term. Momoshiro is invested in his team. I won’t be surprised if he becomes the Seigaku coach when Ryuuzaki-sensei retires.”

“What about your socially maladjusted data specialist?” Keigo prodded. “Hiyoshi has been quietly enamored of his determination for years; surely you aren’t telling me he lacks the focus.”

Usually Keigo’s insulting epithets for Tezuka’s team garnered at least a sharp look, promising retribution, but this time Tezuka’s face was a bit distant as he watched the water.

“There was a time I thought he would,” Tezuka spoke at length, tone as distant as his expression. “But I’m not so sure any longer.” He seemed to return to himself and finished, more briskly. “He may choose to become a trainer; he certainly has a knack for it.”

“Hm. I suppose Jirou might take that path, too,” Keigo mused, reeling in his line for another cast. Tezuka quirked a brow, and Keigo was in an good enough mood not to make him ask out loud.

“Shishido and Ohtori will probably go on, too, as doubles specialists,” he speculated. “Oshitari and Mukahi will probably go settle down somewhere and be scandalous.” He shuddered, delicately. He would never admit it, but he envied Tezuka his star doubles pair. They seemed so… calm and undramatic. Hyoutei only needed one dramatic personality, and that was him. “I don’t think I’m going to miss it that much,” he concluded.

Tezuka was still for a moment. “You won’t miss the attention? Being the center of that circus?” he asked, mildly. A crack of black laughter escaped Keigo.

“What a good comparison. Not really, no.” He had become a little… attached to this particular team, but that was no ones business but his. And, perforce, Sakaki-sensei’s. “Being the focus of two hundred little minds with less talent? Being their talisman, so they’ll all focus on one goal?” He bared his teeth. “The annoyance value of acting like an idol is pleasant, but it would have limited utility, professionally. I think I’ll choose something else after this year. Hell, I’ll act like anything that’s called for, including humble, if the sponsors can just break me loose from…” He bit off the end of the sentence. Damn Tezuka’s silence, that invited him to talk without thinking. Relaxation or no, he’d gotten too careless here.

“From your family?” Tezuka finished for him, and Keigo quashed a wince. Wasn’t he supposed to be the one with the marvelous insight? Not, he supposed, that it was such a large leap from some of the other things they’d said in this place.

He thought about that for a minute.

“You… were planning in that direction, too?” he hazarded, not looking at Tezuka. If Tezuka felt trapped by the question he’d never answer it.

“Somewhat.” The deep voice was barely audible, and when Keigo glanced over Tezuka was looking down at his own hands folded on his knees. It looked like a harder thought for Tezuka than it was for him.

On impulse, Keigo leaned over and laid his fingers on Tezuka’s wrist. Tezuka’s head turned toward him, sharply.

“Great minds think alike,” Keigo offered, in English, with a lazy smile.

A corner of Tezuka’s mouth actually twitched, and the bittersweet-brown eyes lightened.

“Ah. In that case I shall look forward to Tachibana’s company as I go about choosing a sponsor,” he said, smoothly.

Keigo gave in at last, and fell back, laughing freely.

TBC

A/N: The idea of Momo becoming the Seigaku coach came from Familiarity by Monnie. It stuck in my head and wouldn’t leave.

I ran across an actual Tezuka school of kendo while out browsing the web. The coincidence of names was too good to pass up, despite the fact that, canonically, Tezuka’s grandfather teaches Judo.


Backstage – Part Four

Tezuka and Atobe meet while out fishing, in the Spring of their third year of high school. Conversation, verbal jousting, poetry, philosophy, angst, dramatics and humor ensue. Drama with Budding Romance, I-3

Atobe seemed to have something on his mind this week. He kept glancing over at Kunimitsu and then away. After the fourth time he did it, Kunimitsu sighed.

“You might as well say whatever it is.”

Atobe really must have been distracted, because he immediately recoiled to his default response of mockery.

“What,” he drawled, “you think you can figure it out if I don’t? Let us witness your great deductive abilities, then.”

Kunimitsu eyed him. Atobe didn’t often fall back on that sort of thing any more. He shrugged one shoulder. “I think that if I wait quietly you’ll say in any case. You might was well say it now as later.” Atobe blinked, and slouched back, grumbling under his breath.

“Just because I know how to use my tongue…”

Kunimitsu smiled. It was too perfect. He couldn’t resist.

“Do you, now?” he murmured.

Atobe’s eyes widened, and he stared at Kunimitsu for several beats before he burst out laughing. There, that was better. Atobe’s mocking humor was a serrated thing, both sleek and ugly, subtle and vicious. Kunimitsu preferred it when Atobe relaxed enough to laugh, instead.

“Innuendo from Tezuka Kunimitsu,” Atobe managed at last, “be still my heart! The world must be ending.” He sighed and looked out over the lake. “I was wondering why you invited me to stay. That first day we were both here.”

The question surprised Kunimitsu. Most of the understanding between he and Atobe was unspoken. He had not expected Atobe to want to change that. Well, how to explain, then?

“The things you say here,” he began, at length, “could you say them anywhere else?” Atobe’s eyes flickered. Kunimitsu turned one hand palm up. “Neither could I. But you aren’t a member of my team, that I have to maintain my authority with. You aren’t a classmate I have to get along with. I have no family duty to you. And there are things you understand.”

Atobe considered this for a while.

“You were so sure of all that at the time?” he asked, finally, not quite mocking but clearly on edge. Kunimitsu’s mouth tightened; he wasn’t sure Atobe would accept the answer, but he had asked for it. And while Atobe might not have noticed it, yet, Kunimitsu told him the things he asked directly. Always.

“We’ve been playing each other for years, now,” he pointed out. “You are very honest when you play full out. And given that key, you aren’t difficult to read at other times, either.”

Tension threaded through Atobe.

“Besides,” Kunimitsu added, after a moment, returning to the original question, “sometimes you quote German poets with a very bad accent. It’s an amusing way to pass the afternoon.” The tension leaked away as Atobe drew himself up.

“A bad accent?” he repeated, in a deeply offended tone. The gleam in his eye undercut his supposed indignation.

“Horrible,” Kunimitsu confirmed, evenly. “You mangle the gutturals.” Atobe snorted.

“Well, if it’s a good accent you want…” He tilted his head, consideringly, and started to recite in what Kunimitsu recognized, after a few sentences, as Greek. He thought the language suited Atobe. The sound of it was sharp, but it had a rolling rhythm, like an avalanche of broken stone seen from far enough away to make it fluid. When Atobe finished, Kunimitsu quirked a brow at him. Atobe’s smile was a bit distant as he translated.

“Imagine the condition of men living in a sort of cavernous chamber underground. Here they have been from childhood, chained by the leg and also by the neck, so that they cannot move and can only see what is in front of them. At some distance higher up is the light of a fire burning behind them.” He paused. “The prisoners so confined would have seen nothing of themselves or of one another, except the shadows thrown by the firelight on the wall of the Cave facing them, would they?”

“Plato,” Kunimitsu identified it. Atobe nodded. It had to be from The Republic, as that was the only thing by Plato that Kunimitsu had ever read. He remembered being irked by the man’s complacence, while appreciating the idea of ability being allowed to lead. On reflection he wasn’t at all surprised that Atobe knew it well enough to quote.

Though what he had chosen to quote today indicated that he focused more on the bleak picture of human understanding than on the bright, brittle vision of a perfected society. That didn’t entirely surprise Kunimitsu either.

“I think I prefer the German poets,” he said quietly. A particular passage from one of his favorites came to mind, and he quoted it in turn. “You know how much more remarkable I always find the people walking about in front of paintings than the paintings themselves. It’s no different here, except for the Cézanne room. Here, all of reality is on his side: in this dense quilted blue of his, in his red and his shadowless green and the reddish black of his wine bottles. And the humbleness of his objects: the apples are all cooking apples and the wine bottles belong in the roundly bulging pockets of an old coat.

Atobe looked at him inquiringly. “That’s not poetry.”

“It’s a poet’s letter about a painter’s work,” Kunimitsu explained. “Rilke writing about Cézanne.”

“You like Rilke enough to memorize his letters?” Atobe asked on a chuckle.

“The philosophy of artists appeals to me,” Kunimitsu told him softly. Atobe was silent, with the rare depth in his eyes that only showed when he was thinking seriously about a challenging idea. Kunimitsu kept his gaze as light as he could. Atobe was… compelling like this. But he didn’t think it would be wise to let his companion know that.

It wasn’t as though his ego needed the assistance.

“Cooking apples, hm?” Atobe murmured. “That’s certainly different from the ideal Form of Apple-ness.”

“Quite,” Kunimitsu agreed, dryly. Atobe leaned toward him.

“But isn’t perfection what we’re looking for? Especially on the court?”

“Yes,” Kunimitsu allowed, “but perfection differs from one player to another. There wouldn’t be a game if it didn’t.”

“You don’t think the final winner would be the one who found the real perfection?” Atobe challenged, dark eyes almost glowing.

“If that were true you and I should be converging toward a similar style.” Kunimitsu noted. “We’re not.” Atobe leaned back with a delighted smile.

“Good point.” Then he gave Kunimitsu a narrow look. “Why haven’t you ever argued philosophy with me before, Tezuka? You’ve been holding back on me.”

Kunimitsu couldn’t hold back a quiet laugh. It was so like Atobe to be irate over something like that. He was just a bit surprised that Atobe also seemed to feel that they had passed from rivals good enough to talk to friends good enough to argue. But perhaps Atobe hadn’t thought it out quite that far. Kunimitsu had rarely observed him applying his quite incisive intelligence to his own feelings.

“I won’t any longer, if you like,” he offered.

“I should hope not,” Atobe admonished him. “So, are you familiar with Theses on the Philosophy of History?”

Neither of them really seemed to mind that they didn’t catch any fish at all that day.

End

A/N: The passages of Plato and Rilke in this story are quoted, with a few artistic inaccuracies, from The Republic of Plato, Oxford Press edition, translated by Francis Cornford and Letters on Cézanne, North Point Press edition, translated by Joel Agee.

For those who may be curious, Theses on the Philosophy of History is a thoroughly cracked-out essay by the German philosopher Walter Benjamin. I highly recommend it. That it appears as subject matter in one of Laurie Anderson’s songs should tell you something about how wonderfully bizarre it is.


Undertow

Hiyoshi’s perspective on a “chance” encounter between Hyoutei and Seigaku, and especially their captains. Drama with Flirting, I-3

Wakashi thought, later, that it started innocently enough, with Mukahi complaining. That was nothing unusual. Nor did it surprise anyone that Mukahi was annoyed that he hadn’t gotten a chance to play against Kikumaru and his partner at Prefecturals this year, and, in the Doubles Two slot, was unlikely to have the chance at Regionals either, even supposing Seigaku and Hyoutei came up across from each other again. Wakashi ignored him, as he usually did. It was nobody else’s problem that Mukahi and Oshitari hadn’t been able to secure a position as the first doubles team.

So it escaped his notice, until long after the fact, that Atobe’s smile had taken on an extra edge, or that their captain had dispatched one of the lesser club members on an unspecified errand. The first anyone really knew of something going on was at the end of practice a few days later when Atobe answered his cell phone and suddenly had the gleam in his eye that meant someone was going to regret his existence very soon.

“Mukahi, you were saying you wanted a chance to play Seigaku’s Golden Pair?” Atobe asked, with a shark’s smile.

“Yes,” Mukahi answered, a bit warily.

“Well, here’s your chance. You remember the courts down by the park?” Everyone nodded. “It seems some of the Seigaku team have gathered there today. Interested?”

Mukahi’s eyes lit almost as brightly as Atobe’s, and he looked over at his partner. Oshitari nodded agreement.

“Definitely interested,” Oshitari replied for them.

“Who all is there?” Ohtori asked, looking a bit thoughtful. Atobe’s smile widened enough to make Wakashi wonder just what he had in mind.

“Kikumaru and Oishi. Echizen. Momoshiro. And Inui.” His glance flicked toward Wakashi on the last name, and Wakashi suppressed a snarl. Atobe’s sense of humor had not been a welcome addition to his ongoing study of Inui Sadaharu’s techniques and play style.

“Echizen, hm?” Ohtori mused. Wakashi had no idea what value Ohtori could see in being steamrollered by Seigaku’s most annoying member, but he must see some. His steel was showing as he glanced at Shishido. His partner grinned back at him.

“I get the bouncy spiky-haired one, then,” Shishido said.

From the expressions Wakashi saw, the entire team was thinking the same thing about pots and kettles.

In the end everyone agreed to go except Akutagawa, who wanted a nap, and Taki, who tended to distance himself as much as possible from Atobe’s little projects. Wakashi wasn’t sure why he went, since he had no intention of challenging any of Seigaku tonight. Certainly not Inui, and definitely not Echizen. Echizen was on his list of people to defeat later. After he caught up to Atobe. And he would.

Maybe it was just his curiosity about what Atobe was doing, he reflected as they made their way to the park. Because he had to be doing something. Atobe didn’t go to trouble without a reason.

Of course, he could just be getting a kick out of putting Seigaku off balance. His expression was pleased enough when the other team stared in surprise at Hyoutei’s arrival. Predictably enough, Echizen recovered his tongue first.

“Slumming?” he asked, eying Atobe.

“Gakuto missed Kikumaru so much we had to come visit,” Oshitari purred. Kikumaru’s eyes narrowed just a bit. He never had liked Mukahi. There were days when Wakashi sympathized a great deal.

“Oishi.” It was just short of an order, and Oishi shot his partner a look both resigned and affectionate.

“One set,” he specified, moving onto the court.

Every time he watched doubles pairs interact Wakashi became more grateful that he was a dedicated singles player.

As he watched the game get going, Wakashi wondered again just why Atobe had arranged this. It should be clear to anyone that, unless Oshitari had something phenomenal up his sleeve, he and Mukahi were going to lose. And then Mukahi would be absolutely unlivable for weeks. He would sulk. He would snap if anyone mentioned the game. And he would drive his teammates insane by focusing obsessively on whatever Oshitari came up with to address… the weakness…

Wakashi chewed on his lip and thought. At last he went and stood behind Atobe’s shoulder. “You brought them here to lose,” he stated. “To lose badly. They won against Inui and Kaidoh, even it it was just barely. You want them to lose badly enough to spur them on.”

“You’re learning,” his captain murmured, without turning his head. There was that about Atobe, Wakashi reflected. He was not what anyone could call nurturing. He didn’t lift a finger or say a word to teach Wakashi how to lead a Hyoutei team. But when Wakashi figured something out, Atobe did let him know whether or not he was right.

It was both annoying and useful. Because, while Wakashi didn’t know whether he could exceed Atobe as a team captain, he was damn well going to keep trying. Anything less was unthinkable.

Sure enough, Oshitari and Mukahi lost. At least Oshitari managed to soothe his partner down from throwing an outright fit. Wakashi had to admit, Kikumaru’s feline grin of triumph probably didn’t help any. Ohtori’s match with Echizen was about as uneven as Wakashi had expected, but Ohtori seemed satisfied. Inui also looked pleased, presumably for different reasons. By Wakashi’s count he’d filled six pages with notes, during the match. Perhaps, he thought, as Shishido and Momoshiro swaggered onto the court, grinning and boasting at each other, Ohtori was using Echizen the same way Wakashi used Inui. As a gauge of his own progress.

With the example and tacit permission of Atobe’s frequent matches with Tezuka, Wakashi had sought out a match with Inui every now and then. If Wakashi had progressed significantly since the last time Inui had a chance to take his measure, then they had a close game. Wakashi had even managed to win one or two. If he hadn’t made enough progress to be a bit unpredictable, then he lost quickly and humiliatingly. It was effective. He couldn’t imagine that it would do much good to play Echizen for such a purpose, but, then, Ohtori had some of the same spark that Echizen did. None of the bravura flare, but the same fine edge and knack for reaching beyond what was reasonable.

Shishido’s game with Momoshiro was closer than Wakashi had thought it would be. Momoshiro’s strength and sharp eye won in the end, but Shishido’s speed and finesse drove through his guard often enough to make it tight. Echizen tossed his friend a water bottle as they returned, and told him he was slowing down in his old age. Ohtori gave his partner the smile he reserved for Shishido, brighter and gentler than the one he kept for everyday politeness.

And that seemed to conclude the evening. Wakashi was quietly relieved that Seigaku’s captain hadn’t shown up. No telling what kind of fireworks might follow if Atobe and Tezuka got into a match with most of their teams… looking… on…

Oh, hell. So much for leaving in time for dinner.

Echizen had noticed, too, and nudged Momoshiro, nodding toward where Tezuka stood just beyond the court, leaning on a lamp-post.

“Buchou!” Momoshiro exclaimed, and then everyone turned as Tezuka approached. Atobe gave no evidence of surprise, and Wakashi was positive he’d known the second Tezuka arrived.

“Tezuka,” Atobe greeted him. “You’re late.” Tezuka didn’t dignify that with a reply, merely nodded to Inui.

“Fuji passed on your message,” he said. Why that should make all the third-year Seigaku smile, Wakashi couldn’t imagine. Inside joke, he supposed.

And then Tezuka and Atobe came face to face. Wakashi had a sudden image of a piece of paper, drifting between them, ignited by the force of those locked stares.

“So?” Atobe asked, softly. Tezuka merely nodded, and dropped his bags, pulling out his racquet. Wakashi’s gaze crossed Oishi’s, the same touch of resignation in both. If their captains planned to go all out…

Sure enough, as Atobe and Tezuka set themselves on the court, a familiar feeling swept out from them like an ocean wave.

Wakashi was never quite sure why Atobe had chosen to ask him along as combination back-up and gofer at his unofficial matches with Tezuka. Most probably because he was the one most likely to keep his mouth shut, and not mention Atobe’s obsession to their coach, who thought Atobe had better things to be concentrating on. Wakashi had as little to do with Sakaki-kantoku as he could reasonably manage, and wouldn’t say anything in any case. They both knew he owed Atobe. They both knew that it was Atobe’s influence that kept Wakashi a regular despite defeat, in the past. Not so much this year, perhaps; even Kantoku didn’t really expect him to win against Seigaku’s Singles Two player. He had kept three games, and, despite his own infuriating surety that Fuji Shuusuke had been taking it easy, that seemed to be enough for everyone who remembered what Seigaku’s wild card was capable of.

But that didn’t erase the first time. Not in Wakashi’s mind, and certainly not in their coach’s. Atobe’s backing had saved him that year, much as it had Shishido. But Shishido and Atobe had been friends for a long time; it was easier for him to accept the help. Wakashi despised being indebted to Atobe. The only thing that made it tolerable was that Atobe clearly didn’t expect it to stop Wakashi from trying to overthrow him.

And he was going to do it. Even watching these games hadn’t dissuaded him, though he realized now that it was unlikely to happen unless he followed Atobe into the professional circuit. Chased him, the way he had realized, years ago, Inui chased Tezuka.

One of the reasons he wasn’t dissuaded was that he wanted to find this intensity, this absolute focus and commitment that resonated between Atobe and Tezuka and covered the court like deep water. He leaned into it as they slashed across the court, returns singing through the air. In fact, everyone was leaning forward, entranced by the passion and precision of the players. The momentum never relented; this game was shaping up fast and hard, with few twists.

Or so Wakashi thought until Tezuka feinted a smash and delivered a drop shot instead. Regarding the ball that rested demurely just his side of the net, Atobe’s mouth curled up and he directed a smoking look at his opponent.

“It isn’t polite to leave your partner hanging, Tezuka,” he admonished. Tezuka raised a brow at him.

“Do you doubt my endurance, Atobe?” he asked, with perfect composure. Atobe threw his head back and laughed, returning Tezuka’s serve with a vicious slice.

The jaw of every single watcher dropped.

“Impossible… they’re flirting!” Mukahi sputtered.

“They are,” Kikumaru seconded, apparently too stunned to notice who he was agreeing with.

“At the very least,” Oshitari murmured, sounding as floored as his partner.

Wakashi exchanged a long, wide-eyed look with Oishi, his fellow witness to matches between these two. This was certainly a new development.

That look caught Shishido’s attention, and he leaned over Wakashi’s shoulder.

“So, Hiyoshi,” he said, conversationally, “how long has this been going on?” Every eye focused on Wakashi, and his spine stiffened in response.

“Ask Atobe-buchou yourself, if you want to know,” he snapped. Shishido took on the look of a man calculating his chances of surviving a jump from a fifth floor window.

“Maybe,” he muttered, dubiously.

“I don’t think I really want to know,” Momoshiro put in, sounding just a bit ill.

Wakashi ignored them all in favor of the game. He was not, actually, all that shocked, though that kind of banter seemed more in Atobe’s line than in Tezuka’s. He’d have thought Seigaku’s captain would have had more decorum, even in the heat of a match. But it really fit well enough with the way these two played each other. The purity of the effort they exerted against each other, the complete, wordless rapport between them, the unspoken agreement that they could and would drive each other to the limit and beyond, it was the kind of thing that easily bled over into other kinds of passion. They were both breathing hard, now, dripping with sweat in the setting sun, and concentrated on each other like the twin mirrors of a laser.

Wakashi had occasionally been disturbed, watching them play, by a random thought wondering what it would be like to go to bed with one or the other of them. Since he would never, under normal circumstances, even consider the possibility, he had stamped out the thought quite violently the first few times it occurred. After a while, though, he realized that it was only the spill-over of the games. Even separated by the length of a court, Atobe and Tezuka were in constant contact while they played, just as much as if they had been running their hands over each other.

They reached a six game tie not long after the street lights came on.

“We’ll be here until midnight if we don’t stop them now,” Oishi said quietly. Wakashi nodded agreement, and Oishi crossed the court to Tezuka, quickly, before he could serve again. Wakashi hopped over the low wall and leaned against it, waiting to see whether he would have to add his voice to Oishi’s. Tezuka tilted his head, considering whatever Oishi was saying to him. He nodded, thoughtfully, and looked over to quirk a brow at Atobe. Atobe looked displeased, and waved a dismissive racquet. Abruptly, Tezuka’s eyes narrowed, and he shook his head. Atobe’s mouth tightened, but after a moment he nodded and turned toward the seats. Wakashi was relieved. Talking to Atobe right after a match with Tezuka always made him feel like he was transparent. Atobe’s focus was slow to widen again, enough to include anyone but Tezuka.

The teams broke up, chattering in the released tension, most of them dissecting the game. Shishido had a one sided smile that suggested he planned to tease Atobe about flirting as soon as some private opportunity presented itself. The gleam in Echizen’s eye indicated he had similar plans, despite his current silence. They drifted off in ones and twos.

Atobe and Tezuka were looking at each other again.

Wakashi sighed. Why him? A quiet word to Ohtori let him hustle both his yearmate and Shishido off, leaving Atobe and Tezuka in peace.

Or as close to peace as the two of them probably ever got.

At this rate, his captain was going to start owing him.

Epilogue

“Atobe.”

Keigo slung his bag over his shoulder and turned an inquiring look on Tezuka. Tezuka didn’t answer aloud, instead taking Keigo’s right hand in his own. He turned it palm up and pressed gently along the lines of the tendons. Keigo knew he would feel the tremors in the muscles. When Tezuka looked up, eyes demanding an explanation, Keigo shrugged his unburdened shoulder.

“I was working with Ohtori on his singles technique today. He’s starting to be able to volley at strength, if someone can return his shots for long enough.”

“And you baited me for a match today, anyway?” Tezuka asked, anger in the lowering of his voice. His fingers moved down Keigo’s wrist and forearm, testing. “And you would have kept going if I hadn’t noticed it.”

“It was a match of opportunity, and don’t try to tell me you wouldn’t have done exactly the same thing,” Keigo said, firmly. Tezuka ran a thumb down the long tendon of his arm, and he sighed faintly. It felt very pleasant. That seminar in sports medicine Tezuka said he had taken last winter definitely had some dividends.

“Perhaps.” The corners of Tezuka’s mouth twitched up. “But considering this I don’t want to hear any more comments on my endurance.”

Keigo’s smile showed his teeth, and he looked Tezuka up and down, slowly.

“We’ll have to see, won’t we?” he purred. Tezuka chuckled softly, and let his hand go.

“See you Thursday?”

“Of course.”

End

A/N: I am indebted, for a good deal of my conception of Hiyoshi, to Ruebert. Particularly the idea that he would be drawn to Inui’s attitude and methods. *tips hat* Doumo.


Transpose

Heat, tennis, sex. Porn With Insights, I-4

Pairing(s): Tezuka/Atobe

Full summer had arrived, bringing Keigo’s seasonal temper with it. It was beneath him to be cranky, but the heat made him restless. This was the one time of year when he genuinely envied Jirou’s ability to sleep through anything, including heat waves.

The outdoor courts in the city became unspeakably muggy and sticky in the depths of summer. Keigo was extremely grateful that, this year, Tezuka had finally seen reason and agreed that their matches would be better held on the court at the Atobe house, where there was fast recourse to air conditioning. It was no great problem to chase off the staff, who didn’t really want to be out in this heat either, though the butler had given him a suspiciously pleased look while commenting on how nice it was that he had a friend who could visit so casually.

On second thought, Keigo imagined that Akihito was probably getting as tired of Keigo’s public pose as Keigo himself was. He’d always supported it cheerfully enough, but after six years it was undoubtedly getting old for both of them.

Besides, he was right. It was nice that Tezuka could visit and give Keigo a chance to work off his summer induced agitation.

Keigo stalked to his end of the court and rounded on Tezuka, waiting. His breathing deepened as Tezuka set himself, and he could feel his focus narrowing. The world ended at the square of chain link surrounding them. Response danced in every fibre of his muscles, waiting to leap out and answer his opponent’s moves. Tezuka cast the ball upwards and Keigo saw the trail it left in the air, was moving even as Tezuka’s racquet finished its arc.

He loved the speed of their games, the immediacy. And, when it came right down to it, the simple, unfettered force. Neither of them would ever hold back, and that release intoxicated him. All the tension he held around himself day by day, and honed to a tool that could shape his future, broke loose and rushed out from him, through him, like a wind storm. Transparent. Overwhelmingly powerful. Terrifying. Uplifting.

In this season, in this mood, it was even more. His restlessness drove him, flying ahead of the storm, seeking to spend himself into calm. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, playing against Tezuka brought him to that calm. Other times he had to settle for the physical lassitude of worn out muscles.

His teeth clenched as he drove back a smash. It seemed that today might be one of the latter times.

It was a long game, and perhaps his edge of desperation was an asset of sorts, because he finally won it. But the restlessness still snapped through him. As he and Tezuka made for their water bottles, Keigo found himself wishing that the match hadn’t ended, that it could keep going for a while longer, even though they were both wringing wet and gasping for breath. As the sunlight glowed on Tezuka’s skin, Keigo found himself wanting, very much, to keep going.

And maybe, he thought suddenly, maybe he could.

The restlessness lifted his hand, and Keigo combed Tezuka’s hair back with his fingers. With his focus still limited to Tezuka himself, it made perfect sense to step in close enough to slide his mouth over Tezuka’s.

And perhaps Tezuka agreed that this was simply a continuation of the game by other means, or perhaps they were just both too tired to bother stopping themselves. After a single breath, Tezuka’s arm curled around Keigo, pulling him firmly against Tezuka’s body. Both Keigo’s hands found their way under Tezuka’s shirt, sliding up the sweat-slick length of his back, palms noting every curve and plane. He tangled one leg around Tezuka’s and breathed in Tezuka’s sigh. He felt Tezuka turning them both, felt the fence against his shoulders, shivered. He closed his hands over Tezuka’s hips and pulled Tezuka, hard, between his legs. His fingers tangled in Tezuka’s hair again, as Tezuka’s mouth moved down his throat. Tezuka’s hips flexed into his, driving him against the fence, against Tezuka’s hands as they slid down past Keigo’s waistband.

“Tezuka,” Keigo whispered, “yes, do it.” He felt Tezuka’s breath draw in against his neck.

“Atobe…”

“Now,” Keigo urged, drawing back far enough to yank down all the interfering cloth and stroke between Tezuka’s legs. The sound Tezuka made was too harsh to call a moan, the velvet voice rough against Keigo’s ear.

And then Tezuka was slipping down his body, far enough to lift Keigo’s legs, and Keigo knew he was going to have diamonds printed into his back from the fence, and he didn’t care. He was still running ahead of the storm, and this, this might be enough to calm him. His hands clenched hard on Tezuka’s shoulders, and he pressed all the tension of his body out to his hands, enough to let Tezuka…

…in. Burning. Stretching him apart. Rough and…

…hot. And Tezuka paused.

“Atobe,” he breathed, questioning.

“Don’t stop.”

“Keigo…”

Don’t stop.

Tezuka’s hand snaked between them, and strong, calloused fingers stroked up Keigo’s cock. He tried to arch into that touch and couldn’t, and then Tezuka was driving into him, hard and deep, and they were both moving, bodies never parting. The burning heat of the air, of the sunlight, of Tezuka inside him drowned Keigo’s senses, twined fire through every vein. He shuddered as the heat built in him, higher with every layer of sensation, pleasure shivering on the edge of bearable. He moved to meet it, as he always moved to meet Tezuka’s focus, Tezuka’s hands, racing, immediate, brilliant, and the fire rushed out, taking his breath more thoroughly than the longest match they had ever played.

They sank down in a loose tangle of limbs, and Keigo leaned his head back against the chain link. He felt Tezuka’s forehead fall to his shoulder. They were silent for several long minutes.

“Shower?” Keigo suggested, at last, with the casualness of exhaustion.

“Good idea,” Tezuka agreed in a similar tone.

It took another few minutes before they actually managed to get up.

Keigo had long ago decided that money wasn’t everything, but having it certainly made some things easier. For example, money, and Grandfather’s indulgence, had provided changing rooms with shower and bath right off the court. He had rarely been happier for them. He pulled Tezuka under the water with him, not least so that he would have someone to lean on if his legs decided to give out. They were considering it, he could tell. He sighed, happily, and stretched up into the spray, relaxed for the first time in days.

Tezuka was looking amused, possibly over Keigo’s expression.

“Hold still,” he murmured, and took the soap to wash Keigo’s back. Keigo was pleased, if a bit surprised. He hadn’t really taken Tezuka for the sort to indulge in affectionate gestures afterwards. He was more surprised to feel Tezuka’s hands on his hips, and Tezuka’s thumbs gently spreading him open. Checking for bleeding, he realized. He snorted.

“I’m fine, Tezuka. I know my own limits,” he said.

“Do you?” Tezuka sounded curious. Keigo waved a hand.

“And affair here and there at the seminars and camps. You know what it’s like.”

“Once or twice,” Tezuka admitted. His arms closed around Keigo. “Feeling better, now?”

Keigo started, and then laughed, leaning back against Tezuka.

“You know me too well,” he accused.

“I know you, period, Keigo,” Tezuka observed. The intimacy of his given name made Keigo pause. He turned his head enough to see Tezuka out of the corner of his eye.

“Isn’t that what I just said?” he asked, quietly.

Tezuka said nothing, just bent his head to place a kiss on Keigo’s shoulder, and Keigo slowly relaxed. It was nothing new. Not really. More like a piece of music, written for violin, played on the flute instead.

They stood together under the water for a long time.

End


Pace

Tezuka convinces Atobe to take things a little slower. Porn With Insights, I-4

Pairing(s): Tezuka/Atobe

Keigo sat in Tezuka’s kitchen and reviewed the circumstances. Tezuka’s parents and grandfather had taken a week’s vacation to visit his aunt, the grandfather’s only other child. So, for a week, Tezuka was in sole possession of the house.

To be perfectly frank, Keigo was nearly slain with envy. He really thought he might sell his soul for the glorious peaceful silence of a house to himself for just twenty-four hours, let alone a full week.

Tezuka, however, apparently wanted company, and had invited Keigo home with him at the end of this Thursday’s fishing. He had offered to cook whatever of their catch was suitable to the purpose, having packed along a small thermal bag to bring the fish back in. Tezuka was currently engaged in poaching the fish with ginger shoots. This otherwise blameless activity was holding all of Keigo’s attention, because the look in Tezuka’s eyes at one or two points during the afternoon indicated to him that his fishing partner had, to put it euphemistically, plans for the evening.

Keigo decided it was about time to test his hypothesis. He leaned back in the kitchen’s sole chair, which he had, of course, appropriated.

“Just ginger?” he asked.

“You had something else in mind?” Tezuka inquired, without turning.

“Just wondering whether ginseng or anything similar was going to make an appearance,” Keigo drawled. That got Tezuka to turn around, and he left the fish for a moment to come and stand over Keigo. He reached out and trailed his fingers down the underside of Keigo’s jaw.

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” he stated, softly. Keigo’s eyes lidded, and he gave Tezuka a lazy smile.

“Perhaps not,” he murmured. Hypothesis confirmed, he decided, as Tezuka returned to preparing dinner.

The fish was excellent.

He accepted Tezuka’s invitation to see his room as demurely as possible, and almost laughed at the tiny smile Tezuka showed him that said, yes, they both knew exactly what was going on, but it was amusing to play out the game of manners anyway. When they got there, though, it was Tezuka’s turn to chuckle, because Keigo immediately made for his bookshelves and couldn’t resist critiquing the collection.

“…and not nearly enough epic poetry. Really, Tezuka, I’m not suggesting you take up Milton, but with your taste for history I would at least expect Virgil.” He paused. “Nietzsche, hm? Now that’s one I wouldn’t have thought of you.”

Even when the mouth lies, the way it looks still tells the truth,” Tezuka quoted in German. Keigo turned to find him lying on his bed, looking at the ceiling. He came to stand beside the bed.

“I suppose it does,” he agreed, looking down. At the moment, Tezuka’s mouth was both soft and serious. Tezuka held out a hand to him, and Keigo took it and let himself be pulled onto the bed. He plucked off Tezuka’s glasses as Tezuka leaned over him. Tezuka didn’t comment.

“Keigo. Will you let me go slowly this time?” he asked, instead. Keigo grinned.

“You want a long game, Tezuka?” He stretched, provocatively. “We can do that.”

Tezuka’s mouth was still soft and serious as he kissed Keigo, and it took Keigo entirely by surprise when Tezuka’s hand slid between his legs and stroked.

“And here I thought you said slow,” he gasped, arching into that unexpected heat.

“I did,” Tezuka murmured against his lips. Keigo shivered.

“Aaaahh… You could have just said you wanted to tease me,” he pointed out a bit breathlessly. Tezuka’s hand stilled.

“I don’t.” Keigo eyed him skeptically, and he shook his head. “The point of teasing is to frustrate.” A wry smile curved his mouth. “That’s Fuji’s forte, not mine. What I want is to pleasure you, Keigo.”

Keigo lay, looking up at the clear, piercing eyes above him. He had never said in so many words that he was a dedicated sensualist, but it wouldn’t have been that hard to figure out from their conversations. Especially not after the three week long debate over Schiller. And this, his rival, his companion, his friend, the one who saw him, and touched him, and understood, wanted him happy, pleased. Pleasured.

Keigo closed his eyes and whispered, “Kunimitsu.”

Kunimitsu’s mouth found his again, tongue curling around his own and drawing him out, and Tezuka’s hand was moving again, fondling him, and this time Keigo gave himself over to the heat without hesitation.

Kunimitsu made fairly short work of their clothes, but missed no chance to stroke Keigo’s skin, trace the lines of bone and muscle. Keigo basked in the glow of those touches, purring as he stretched into the space Kunimitsu’s hands sketched for his body. His gaze followed as Tezuka drew a little away, at last, reaching for the bedside stand.

And then he had to pause and blink.

A diffuser. Normally, the cup on top held water, and a few drops of oil or flower petals. Somehow, as he watched Kunimitsu dip his fingertips into it, he doubted that was water in there now. He laughed softly, and bent one leg as Kunimitsu reached under him, slick fingers slipping between his cheeks.

Warm.

Keigo sighed as the warmth stroked him, not entering but circling, massaging. Languid heat washed over him, seeping out from that gentle touch, loosening his whole body.

When two fingers finally slid into him it pulled a long, low moan from his throat. They passed gently, so gently, over the place the flashed fire up his spine, and Keigo tensed, pressing into it. Kunimitsu leaned down against him, speaking low in his ear.

“Relax. Relax for me, Keigo, and just feel. Please.”

After a long, shuddering moment, Keigo managed to let the tension go again, and Kunimitsu’s fingers moved, slowly, and it was suddenly… more.

Not fire but lava, not a flare but a presence, and Keigo sank down into sensation that didn’t build but sustained. And now Kunimitsu’s tongue slid down the side of his neck, lapped over his nipples, brushed warm and velvety over his stomach. It was all Keigo could do to keep breathing as Kunimitsu’s fingers left him and returned, hot, now, inside him. The silky pleasure was building again, burning again, and Keigo drew Kunimitsu’s mouth back up to his.

“More?” Kunimitsu asked, voice husky. A long, powerful shudder rippled through Keigo’s body.

“Yes.”

When Kunimitsu drew him up onto his knees, Keigo found that he needed to lean against Kunimitsu’s support, behind him, because his muscles were uninterested in holding him up. He let his head fall back with a long, harsh breath as Kunimitsu passed one hand down his chest, down his stomach, to grasp and stroke him. The stretch and pressure of Kunimitsu thrusting into him, slow, slow and hard, drowned his senses again in thick, hot pleasure. Individual sensation was lost. He couldn’t have said immediately what was in front of his eyes, could only hear Kunimitsu’s low moan beside his ear, could only feel heat sweeping up every nerve and Kunimitsu’s body against him, holding him, driving him under…

…the heat.

Kunimitsu’s arms were still around him when Keigo caught his breath again. They loosened when he stirred, but he only turned until he could rest against Kunimitsu’s shoulder, and after a moment the arms draped around him again.

“You’re right. You don’t tease,” Keigo murmured. A wordless sound of agreement answered him. Keigo looked up and surprised a look on Kunimitsu’s face that bore some resemblance to his expression when he won a match. Fiercely satisfied.

Keigo thought about that automatic comparison for a moment, and decided perhaps it wasn’t so automatic after all. Kunimitsu looked like he had succeeded in something that mattered to him, and Keigo didn’t really think that drowning his lover in pleasure would merit quite that expression. A long game, Keigo had said earlier. Was this a longer game than he’d thought? He combed through his memories of recent interactions between them, and then further back, and then still further.

At last, he leaned up on one elbow and brushed Kunimitsu’s hair back from his face so he could look him in the eye.

“You’ve been… courting me,” he asserted. “Since the spring, haven’t you?” Still eyes looked up at him.

“I took the opportunity that presented itself.”

Keigo decided that was as good as an admission, considering the source.

“All for this?” he wanted to know.

“When I saw you, at the lake, I wondered if we could give each other some peace, as well as the balance we already had,” Kunimitsu explained.

Keigo brushed his fingertips over Kunimitsu’s lips.

“Peace?” he asked. Kunimitsu ran his fingers through Keigo’s hair and smiled.

“Yes.”

“You’re completely mad, you realize that, of course,” Keigo told him, conversationally.

“Perhaps,” his lover replied with every evidence of serenity. Keigo laughed, and slid back down to lie against him.

“Kunimitsu,” he whispered.

End

A/N: Ginseng has an old reputation as an aphrodisiac.


Already Are

Atobe watches Tezuka, and reflects. Drama, I-3

Pairing(s): Tezuka/Atobe

Keigo folded his arms on the edge of his couch and rested his chin on them to regard the occupant. Kunimitsu seemed to be well and truly asleep, one hand holding his half-folded glasses against his chest, Keigo’s copy of Faust falling out of the other. His eyes were relaxed, though his mouth wasn’t, particularly.

Keigo didn’t have a great many examples to work from, yet, but he had come to the conclusion that Tezuka Kunimitsu never relaxed completely, even in sleep.

There were reasons, of course. Tezuka had at least as many responsibilities as Keigo, and was quite serious and dedicated about fulfilling them. In addition to the general run of Student Leader Responsibilities, such as keeping the photography club from getting into fist fights with the chemistry club over who got to use the well-plumbed and windowless lab room, there was the stress of keeping the tennis club in line and the team in trim. Keigo entirely sympathized, though it had been a bit hard to convince Kunimitsu of that the time he burst out laughing over Kunimitsu’s description of the taste of an accidental slug of Inui Juice. Keigo knew that Kunimitsu identified far more strongly with his individual team members than Keigo allowed himself to do, and that their advances, or lack of the same, just added to the strain.

But surely, he mused, sleep was the one place none of that could follow. Or should be.

Not, he had to admit, that Kunimitsu hadn’t woken Keigo from a nightmare once or twice when his waking troubles had followed him down to dreams. He had refused to say what it was about, last time, and Tezuka hadn’t pressed him. The memory of walking across a frozen lake, and looking down to see his team, trapped under the clear ice, of reaching down, only to find that he was reaching up, that he was trapped, too… He shuddered and pushed it away. It wasn’t even the images, really, it was the remembered feeling of panic and then helplessness that made his stomach twist. It had happened the evening after they played Seigaku at Prefecturals.

Keigo sighed to himself. All right, so perhaps he was more bound up with his team than it was entirely a good idea for him to be. He was even fairly sure when it had started.

It almost had to have been the day Tezuka had taken his world and tilted it up on one corner, proven to him that he had missed something about an opponent, that he hadn’t seen everything.

Keigo knew his coach was still dubious about the resulting change in Keigo’s approach to his team. A loss was a loss, in Kantoku’s eyes. Keigo insisted, though, that he never defended any player whose failure had not driven him to such improvement that it would not happen again. He had never been wrong about that, and so Sakaki permitted Keigo’s judgment to prevail. He had no doubts about what would happen if he ever were wrong. The rule of Hyoutei still held, albeit modified. The weight of it now rested on Keigo, should he chose to absolve one of his players of a loss.

How, after all, could he still believe that a loss was a loss after that first game? He had won… but he hadn’t. Tezuka had lost, and yet…

And that was what had brought Keigo to take such foolish personal risks on behalf of his team members. Looking at it objectively, he could only shake his head at himself. But it was also undeniable that his team had responded more willingly to his hand, after. Shishido even called him Buchou without it sounding like an insult, every now and then. He smiled, a bit wryly, at the man sleeping under his gaze, and recited, quietly, in German.

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
Going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
It has its inner light, even from a distance –

And changes us, even if we do not reach it,
Into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are.

Keigo raised his head and lifted one hand to brush Kunimitsu’s hair back. “One match, Kunimitsu,” he murmured. “Maybe some day I’ll ask you if you knew what you were doing.” And then he chuckled to himself. “Quoting poetry over my sleeping lover, yet. One of these days I’ll lose my mind completely and actually write poetry for you, I have no doubt.”

He leaned down and kissed Kunimitsu, softly. Drawing back, he was pleased to see that Kunimitsu’s mouth had finally relaxed.

End

A/N: The poem is most of “A Walk” by Rilke, trns. Robert Bly.


Color of the Sea

Atobe and Fuji have a chat about possessiveness. Drama, I-3

Character(s): Atobe Keigo, Fuji Shuusuke

Shuusuke had had his suspicions, but he hadn’t been entirely sure. Not one hundred percent. Not until he walked out the front entrance of the school, listening with amusement to Eiji’s enthusiastic explanation of why Betta fish were fascinating, and spotted Atobe leaning against the wall, waiting. Waiting for him.

Then he was sure.

“Atobe,” he greeted, as Eiji’s exposition cut off in surprise.

“Fuji.” Atobe pushed off from the wall. “Mind if I walk with you for a ways?”

Shuusuke thought about where he was headed today. Not normally someplace he would take company like Atobe. But… yes, it might be a useful illustration. He nodded and touched Eiji’s shoulder.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Eiji.” Eiji gave him a long look, and Atobe a longer one, before he nodded in turn.

“Ok. Have fun, Fujiko-chan.” His friend winked and strolled off humming, and Shuusuke stifled a laugh. Eiji knew him very well.

Atobe fell in beside him as he turned toward his own destination, and Shuusuke spoke softly.

“There was something you wanted?” A pleasingly double edged question to start off with.

Atobe was quiet for a few moments, and when Shuusuke looked at him his expression was edgier than usual.

“You’re Tezuka’s friend, as well as one of his team members,” he said at last. Shuusuke waited for him to do something besides state the obvious.

“Has he told you that we are,” Atobe paused judiciously, as if seeking just the right words, “seeing each other?”

“Not in so many words,” Shuusuke replied, and left it at that, waiting to see what Atobe would make of it. Atobe’s answering chuckle was warmer than he had expected.

“Ah, yes. We are speaking of Tezuka, after all. I should have said, has he indicated. Well, that makes things easier.”

“How so?” Shuusuke asked.

“There was a… precautionary question I wanted to ask you,” Atobe said, glancing at him, sidelong. Shuusuke waited, keeping his expression bland, and Atobe’s expression took on a slightly disgruntled edge. “Well, I suppose I didn’t expect you to make it easy,” he snorted.

Atobe took a deep breath, and when he let it out his bearing changed, less flippant, more focused, closer to the way Shuusuke had seen him at times when he thought he had a worthy challenge on the court. And, yet, more hesitant than that. When he spoke, Atobe’s voice was quieter and more even then Shuusuke had ever heard it before.

“Anyone with the slightest pretense to a brain knows that you’re dangerous, Fuji.” He glanced over, eyes dark. “And I have to say, that smile only makes you unnerving as well as alarming. If you’re actually trying to hide it, I recommend a different tactic.”

So, this was going to be a serious conversation. Shuusuke knew from observation that Atobe didn’t like to speak seriously or let on how much he saw or knew until he could use the information to his advantage. So. Shuusuke let the smile fade, unveiling his eyes from behind his lashes. Judging by the sharp half smile that crossed Atobe’s face, he appreciated both the threat and the compliment of that honesty.

“Anyone with eyes also knows that you’re very possessive,” he continued, quite matter-of-fact. “Your team, your friends, your family,” a pause, “your captain. Anyone who harms any of those comes in very quickly for an extremely unpleasant experience of some sort.” For a moment his expression was typically mocking again. “I imagine Jirou’s delight with your little lesson to him came as a bit of a shock.” A sigh. “But I’m not like Jirou, so it seemed wise to find out now if you have any objections.”

“And if I did?” Shuusuke probed.

“If you objected I would expect it to be because you thought I was a threat,” Atobe said, elliptically. “And if you thought I was a threat, I would expect you to carve my heart out and never lose that smile while you did it.”

Shuusuke gave him the smile he didn’t usually show, the dangerous and delighted one, enjoying this opportunity to show the danger clearly to someone who seemed to respect it for what it was. This was turning out to be very interesting.

“You would be right,” he murmured.

“I didn’t doubt that I was,” Atobe shot back, calmly.

“Didn’t you?” Shuusuke prodded. “What makes you think you really understand that kind of protectiveness?” Atobe snorted again, with more disdain than exasperation this time.

“It’s true I tend to make friends who can take care of themselves, but there have been one or two. One or two pure hearts.” He looked at Shuusuke full on, eyes glinting. “And I know that if I thought you were a serious threat to his peace… I’d carve your heart out with a smile.”

Shuusuke considered. He didn’t really have any particular objections, and, if he had, that last sentence would probably have laid them to rest. But it would be nice to have confirmation, and, after all, Atobe had offered this game. So he let his expression stay cool and sharp.

“What is Tezuka to you?” he asked. Atobe tilted his head, and gave him a question back.

“Do you love him?”

Shuusuke understood that Atobe wanted his credentials to ask such a question, or hear the answer, and he did want to hear it, so he replied as accurately as possible.

“Tezuka is very dear to me.” That seemed to suffice. Atobe’s eyes softened, and Shuusuke was fascinated to see that they actually lightened, turning the color of deep water under a clear sky.

“He is silence that hears,” Atobe said at last, sounding far more casual than he looked. “He is a hand to catch my balance on. He is a drive that matches mine and a mind that can argue against me.” He fell silent, and Shuusuke decided to try drawing out the still unsaid things hinted at by a faint smile that looked remarkably like one of Tezuka’s. He was reasonably sure there was more to this than what could have been a description of a good doubles pair.

“Is that all?”

But, apparently, that was as forthcoming as Atobe was willing to be. His eyes shuttered again, and he raised a sardonic brow.

“Did you really want me to mention the part about an incredible body and hands that know exactly where to touch?” he asked. Shuusuke’s mouth twitched. An excellent deflection.

“Perhaps,” he returned slyly. Both Atobe’s brows went up, and he looked a bit askance at Shuusuke, probably trying to gauge his seriousness.

And here they were, with perfect timing, at the park where Kippei was waiting for him, standing now from the bench he’d occupied and looking rather surprised at Shuusuke’s company. And also, perhaps, to see Shuusuke without his public face.

“Shuusuke?” he asked, coming to stand close in a silent offer of support if it was needed. Shuusuke smiled, softly, up at him.

“Tachibana,” Atobe acknowledged, casually. And then he looked twice, suddenly eyeing the distance between Shuusuke and Kippei. More precisely, the lack of distance. And then he looked very narrowly at Shuusuke, who gave him an amused look back.

“Tezuka isn’t a man who can be possessed,” he noted, by way of explanation.

Atobe was very still for a moment, and in that moment Shuusuke was sure Atobe understood. That he knew Shuusuke had accepted his company on the way to see Shuusuke’s lover in order to flaunt the ease and closeness of their bond. And also to assure Atobe that Shuusuke would not contest him for Tezuka out of jealousy. And to imply that, if Shuusuke did object, it would be because he recognized a good relationship and didn’t think Atobe could supply that.

Shuusuke was, actually, somewhat impressed with the extent of understanding he read in Atobe’s face. And then he was rather surprised when Atobe flung back his head and laughed.

“Ah, very nicely done,” he said, recovering himself. “Perhaps, the next time Kunimitsu compares me to you, I’ll take it as a bit more of a compliment.” And he nodded to Kippei and continued on his way, still chuckling.

“Kippei,” Shuusuke said, gazing after Atobe with pursed lips, “please remind me that I need to have a talk with Tezuka.”

“About what?” Kippei asked, curiously, brushing Shuusuke’s hair back with a soothing touch. Shuusuke looked at him, keeping a tight grip on his outrage.

“Did you hear? Tezuka has compared me to him.” He glared at Atobe’s retreating back. “I have never been that unsubtle!”

End


Feels Like Home

Atobe decides to turn the tables. Porn With Characterization, I-4

Pairing(s): Atobe/Tezuka

One of the things Kunimitsu found most fascinating about Keigo was how changeable he could be. He could be accommodating one moment and utterly intransigent the next. And there was no guaranteeing that either was genuine, not simply a lever to turn his audience to his hand. The only time Kunimitsu was entirely sure of his honesty was on the court.

Or, of late, in bed. Between them, it almost came to the same thing.

Normally Kunimitsu simply had to be grateful for his years of experience with Fuji’s social duplicity, which gave him some preparation for riding out Keigo’s occasional, mercurial enthusiasms with some degree of equanimity. Though he only pointed out that fact when he had some reason to want to rile Keigo. Today called more for bemusement than equanimity, actually.

Kunimitsu had known that Keigo had strong opinions on music. He had known that Keigo enjoyed classical music. He had known that Keigo’s taste had some odd quirks, after coming across his copy of Bach pieces played on synthesizer. He had not quite expected that, upon his confession that he was entirely unfamiliar with American blues and country music, he would be more or less dragged to Keigo’s room and planted on an enormous floor pillow at what Keigo claimed was optimal distance from his impressive array of speakers in order to listen to some of Keigo’s collection.

Upon completing these arrangements, Keigo had promptly retired to his couch with a copy of The Frogs and seemed to be ignoring Kunimitsu’s presence.

Definitely bemused.

He had to admit, the music was interesting. The woman singer had an impressive range, and a powerful voice, clear and throaty by turns. He could only pick out about two thirds of the words, but what he did understand veered between brash and poetic.

Perhaps it wasn’t so surprising that Keigo liked it.

When the music ended, he stayed reclined on the pillow, looking up at Keigo’s ceiling. One verse had stayed with him, echoing in his head.

Now, we have learned to build
Out of concrete, out of steel,
And our buildings stand a thousand years and then
Even they are bound to fall.

But the women cross the river
Never learned to build a wall.

Keigo entered his field of vision, and stood looking down at him.

“Kunimitsu?”

“It’s… good,” Kunimitsu said, quietly. He and Keigo were both very accomplished at building. That song made him wonder what it would be like to not be. Another line returned to him. The women cross the river, they can kill you with their eyes. That he had felt. Perhaps they were closer to living without walls than he had first thought.

When they were honest with each other.

And perhaps Keigo saw his thoughts in his eyes now, because his own eyes darkened. Kunimitsu shifted under the heat of that look, and lifted a hand to Keigo.

Keigo sank down to kneel over his body, and twined his fingers through Kunimitsu’s hair. The force of his kiss came as no surprise; Keigo was an aggressive lover as often as he was playful or languid. Kunimitsu hesitated as his hands found Keigo’s back, though. There was something different this time. Something in the slide of Keigo’s tongue against his, in the hand tilting his head back. Something in the way Keigo held his body over Kunimitsu’s, not touching yet.

Kunimitsu’s breath tripped as the difference slid into focus. There was no hint of pliancy in Keigo’s movement.

In the abstract, he’d known this was coming from the start. It would have been absurd to imagine that Keigo would be willing to give way to him always. In a way, Kunimitsu was surprised it had taken this long for Keigo to decide to turn the tables. But that didn’t really lessen the immediate shock.

Kunimitsu’s effort to rearrange his expectations was caught short when Keigo dipped his head and closed his teeth over Kunimitsu’s throat. His body snapped taut as a drawn bow against the one above him, breath leaving him in a sharp, uncontrolled sound, and he shivered as Keigo drew away, slowly, lips whispering after the sharp scrape of teeth. Kunimitsu lay, shaken, as Keigo cupped both hands around his face.

“You’ve never done this the other way around, have you?” Keigo murmured. Kunimitsu shook his head, unwilling to trust his voice. Keigo’s hand trailed down his chest as he leaned forward to breathe against Kunimitsu’s ear. “You know what I want, though.”

Kunimitsu reflected that Keigo had a significant advantage when it came to these things, because if ever a voice was made for seduction, it was Keigo’s, with a tone like sandwashed silk stroking bare skin.

“I want to see this powerful body spread out under me,” his lover continued. “I want to hear your voice roughen and break because of what my hands are doing. I want to feel you sigh because I’m inside you. And I want you to feel what it’s like, Kunimitsu. What it’s like to let go. To let someone else take trouble for your pleasure.” His hand traced the tension in Kunimitsu’s muscles, and he shook his head a little. “I won’t do anything to hurt you, Kunimitsu. If you don’t trust my gentleness, at least trust my skill.”

That was such a Keigo thing to say that Kunimitsu lost a bit of tension in a smile.

“That isn’t it,” he answered, quietly. “I just… didn’t expect to… like that.” It was the intensity of his own response that shocked him, the rush of heat that had answered Keigo’s gesture of dominance. He had not expected it to arouse him.

He was also surprised to look up and see Keigo regarding him with some exasperation.

“Kunimitsu,” Keigo sighed, “pleasure is pleasure. You can’t give any mind to what lesser people think about giving or receiving it.”

That, too, was so purely Keigo that Kunimitsu couldn’t restrain a chuckle. On the other hand, it did make sense of why Keigo had been willing to receive from Kunimitsu at all. Sometimes, Keigo’s airy disregard of any stricture that happened to inconvenience him did have advantages. Kunimitsu brushed the backs of his fingers against Keigo’s cheek.

“Come, then,” he invited.

Keigo’s mouth covered his again, as Keigo undid the buttons of his shirt and brushed it aside. Kunimitsu let his head fall back, let the shudders run through him, at the sharp catch of Keigo’s teeth against his throat, again, and nipping at the shivering muscles of his stomach, and at Keigo’s fingers drawing light patterns over his shoulders and collarbone. Those long fingers undid the button at his waist delicately enough that they never touched his skin, and somehow that care and control called out a deeper shiver than anything else.

Having dealt with the last fastenings, though, Keigo chose to coax off Kunimitsu’s shirt first. And then, with the kind of caprice that could only be deliberate, rose and slowly stripped off every thread of his own clothing. Kunimitsu wondered whether Keigo was trying to unsettle him, keep him off balance. Or maybe it was the reverse, because the bare line of Keigo’s body leaning over him was familiar. Keigo smiled at Kunimitsu’s faint sigh, and his tongue stroked the hollow of Kunimitsu’s shoulder.

His left shoulder.

Kunimitsu’s hands closed hard over Keigo’s ribs as a violent shudder tore though him. Why was he remembering that first match now?

“Not to injure, Kunimitsu,” Keigo said, low, “but isn’t that how we are? It matters who wins, but it matters more that we play with everything. I don’t want anything more than everything you are.”

It made perfect sense, which was probably why Kunimitsu had sought more from Keigo than the occasional game in the first place. Giving everything. Accepting everything. That was, indeed, how they were. A soft moan rose in his throat as Keigo’s tongue caressed that tender skin again. And then the inside of his elbow. And then the inside of his wrist. Those soft, sliding touches over pulse points tingled, rippling out though his blood, and Kunimitsu was gasping by the time Keigo reached his palm.

Midnight eyes gazed down at him as Keigo took Kunimitsu’s fingers in his mouth, tongue curling around each one and stroking up the sides, teeth nipping at the tips. Keigo drew back only to trace the lines of Kunimitsu’s palm with the tip of his tongue before sucking two fingers in again. One hand drifted down, trailed over Kunimitsu’s stomach, between the open edges of his pants, and drew a thumb down the hard length still covered by smooth cotton, suggesting, promising. Keigo’s tongue sliding over his fingers, and Keigo’s fingers brushing over his cock somehow slid together into a single touch like an electric shock.

Kunimitsu felt like a plucked string, held between those two points of contact, vibrating to a single note. It startled him, and he tensed against it. That only made it strong enough to force a harsh sound from him. Even Keigo’s full weight covering him didn’t damp that vibration completely.

And then Keigo brushed back his hair, and his mouth closed on Kunimitsu’s ear. Every muscle in Kunimitsu’s body seemed to unstring itself at once, and his bones started to melt.

Trust Keigo to go straight for the weak point.

Kunimitsu made a low, soft sound and closed his eyes, turning his head to give Keigo a better angle.

“There, now,” Keigo whispered, between nibbles. “You’re extremely responsive when you’re not thinking, Kunimitsu. I didn’t quite expect that.”

Kunimitsu didn’t bother to reply; he wasn’t sure he could at the moment. He could barely gather the coordination to shift his weight as Keigo drew off the last of his clothing, and didn’t move while Keigo padded briefly into his en suite bathroom to fetch something. Kunimitsu didn’t see what it was, as Keigo dropped it beside them, but given the circumstances he could make an educated guess. Keigo settled between his legs, and suddenly Kunimitsu felt as though a flock of butterflies were fluttering against his nerve endings. Keigo slanted a look at him, and then pressed an open mouthed kiss to the inside of his knee, tongue curling around the tendon behind it. The lips against his skin curved into a smile at the harsh breath that drew out of him.

“Mmmmm,” Keigo murmured. “You let go more easily than I thought you would. Enjoyable, isn’t it?”

He laid a path of kisses down the inside of Kunimitsu’s thigh, and the last one became a gentle bite that somehow turned Kunimitsu’s half-tensed muscles to water. As his legs fell further open a detached corner of Kunimitsu’s mind noted that Keigo was well on his way to getting everything he’d said he wanted. From the lazy smile Keigo wore as he stroked a hand down Kunimitsu’s stomach, he was well aware of the fact.

And then the wet heat of Keigo’s mouth closed over his cock, and detachment fled. Keigo’s tongue fulfilled what his fingers had promised earlier, sliding against him, flirting, slow and sensuous, twining around him and pulling him toward the edge of pleasure, before he drew away, leaving Kunimitsu panting. His breath left him entirely, on a small aaahh, as Keigo’s fingers slipped under him, warm and slick, pressing slowly into him, answering the yearning Keigo’s mouth had roused.

Keigo’s timing was flawless, as usual. The strangeness of the sensation didn’t catch up until Keigo’s fingers stilled, inside him, waiting. Kunimitsu twisted against it, a little, muscles twitching, and Keigo stroked his fingers out just a bit, and then back in. That was better, smoother, and Kunimitsu released a sigh as he looked up into Keigo’s eyes, intense and focused as his lover leaned over him.

“It’s the movement you like, hm?” Keigo asked, not waiting for an answer before he stroked deeper, and Kunimitsu let his eyes fall closed as he rocked into the touch. It was strange, but also… almost soothing. A massage for muscles normally unregarded. A tingling expansion, like the first stretch after waking in the morning.

And then Keigo’s fingers curled, pressing, and fire raced outward from them. Again, and again, and Kunimitsu didn’t bother trying to hold back the sharp cry or stop his body from jerking against that rush of sensation.

“Good?” Keigo purred.

“Yes,” Kunimitsu answered, hearing his own voice husky and breathless. “Yes.”

Keigo smiled, slow and heated, and drew his hand away, lingering, caressing. It moved to the base of Kunimitsu’s spine, rubbing gently, loosening the tension there.

“Ready?” Keigo whispered.

Kunimitsu nodded, eyes holding Keigo’s burning gaze. That gaze held him, steadied him, as Keigo pressed insistently against his entrance.

“Now it’s your turn to relax for me, Kunimitsu,” Keigo said, softly, hand soothing against his back.

Kunimitsu knew this would be difficult, and probably painful, if he couldn’t relax. He rested his mind against the intent of Keigo’s eyes; it would be all right. He pulled in a deep breath, and when he let it out he let all the tension, even that of pleasure, flow from him. And while he was suspended in that liquid moment, Keigo sank into him, opening, stretching, a long, smooth motion until Kunimitsu’s muscles clenched against the intrusion and Keigo halted, a gasp wringing from him. Another breath and he was all the way in, and immediately drawing back a little and rocking home again.

The stretch burned a bit, but the movement soothed it, warmed it, and the slick glide back and forth pressed hard against the place Keigo’s fingers had teased and caressed. Tiny showers of sparks cascaded down his nerves, and pulled a long, low moan in their wake. Keigo’s thrusts started to lengthen, deepen, and his hand moved from Kunimitsu’s back to reach between his legs, clasp around him. Fire trailed after Keigo’s fingers, wrapped around Kunimitsu, flaring with the rhythm of Keigo driving into him.

And Kunimitsu finally let go all the way, not thinking, not anticipating, not worrying. He abandoned himself to the pleasure of Keigo’s touch, so hard, so gentle, arching into it. They moved together, finding a pace that flowed, faster and faster, like running downhill. Running until they didn’t touch the ground, gasping for breath, almost flying with the speed, the sensation, the electric, singing tension building under Keigo’s hands on him, the burning, sleek movement of Keigo so deep inside him, opening him out, out, until the tension snapped like current grounding and he lost himself in the shuddering tide of heat.

When he had recovered himself enough to open his eyes again he saw Keigo, propped on one elbow beside him, regarding him with an expression of great smugness.

“Enjoy yourself?” Keigo purred, spreading a hand over Kunimitsu’s chest.

“It’s a good thing I already knew you don’t have any modesty at all,” Kunimitsu observed, dryly. Keigo arched an arrogant brow.

“What could I possibly have to be modest about?” he asked.

Kunimitsu didn’t trouble to answer. There was no reasoning with Keigo in a mischievous mood. Instead he nudged Keigo’s arm out from under him and pulled his lover down into his arms.

“Yes, I did enjoy myself,” he murmured before Keigo could express his indignation.

“Hmph,” Keigo snorted, but stretched against him, pacified, and carded his fingers through Kunimitsu’s hair.

They lay in the fading afternoon, exchanging slow kisses, and Kunimitsu decided he could let the thinking and worrying that Keigo had taken from him wait a while longer yet.

End

A/N: This story is titled after a Linda Ronstadt album I was listening to while writing it. My Atobe seemed very fond of it; it was the first time I’d ever heard this muse fanboy over anything. The lyrics quoted are from the second to last song on that album, “The Women ‘Cross The River”. The Frogs is a play by Aristophanes, poking fun at the strictures of the stodgy old school of art in the person of Euripides, as always.


Confluence

Mild chaos and vast snarkiness as many paths cross at a music store. Drama With Romance, I-3

Tezuka

Kunimitsu had some misgivings about accompanying Keigo to a music store. Particularly one this large. Music was, after all, one of Keigo’s enthusiasms. He could only hope Keigo had entertained the other people in the train car more than he had alarmed them, holding forth as energetically as he had on the antecedents of jazz. He hesitated to think what would happen if they found a knowledgeable clerk inside for Keigo to chat with.

Blackmail was, however, blackmail, and Keigo had threatened to select things for Kunimitsu’s collection if he didn’t come along to make his own choices.

“So,” Keigo said, looking around with a gleam of avarice in his eye, “where shall we start?”

“Your show,” Kunimitsu told him, evenly, “at least until it comes to my collection. Wherever you like.”

Keigo looked to be in a mischievous mood, to judge by the look of Well, of course that he flashed Kunimitsu before leading the way through the racks. After a brief stopover in Pop they finally fetched up at the border of Jazz and Classical.

“Mm. Akiko Yano, Nunokawa Toshiki, Raphael Lima, Ishmael Reed, now there’s one I didn’t expect, even at this store. And why,” Keigo added in a long-suffering tone, “can’t anyone ever catalogue Gershwin properly?”

“Well,” came a light voice behind them, “surely not everyone can be blessed with your incisively discerning taste, Atobe.”

Kunimitsu turned to see Fuji, Tachibana beside him, smiling with the kind of earnest sincerity that could only be fake. He glanced aside to see how his companion was taking it. Keigo studied the rack in front of him with a thoughtful look for a moment before one side of his mouth twitched up. He wrapped arrogant entitlement around him like a robe and turned as well.

“Of course,” he agreed, carelessly, stance suddenly a pose for admiring crowds.

Kunimitsu caught Tachibana’s eye, full of amused sympathy, and shrugged an eyebrow. Still, it might be a good idea to redirect the two before innocent bystanders happened along and entered the line of fire.

“Similar taste in music, too?” he mused to no one in particular. Fuji’s smile didn’t flicker, but Keigo gave him a cool look.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t seriously be suggesting that Fuji’s tastes run to Zig Noda.” He had drawn a breath to continue when Fuji’s slightly frozen expression stopped him.

“Kose Kikuchi,” Fuji admitted, after a moment.

They turned as one to glare daggers at Kunimitsu, who refrained from responding. Tachibana had a hand over his mouth.

“Similar instruments,” Keigo declared, “do not equate to similar styles.”

“Quite so,” Fuji agreed, stepping toward a different rack. “And it was Roy Hargrove that I particularly hoped to find today.”

“The latest album?” Keigo asked, sharply, discarding his front in face of a possible threat to his program of acquisition. “I hope there are two copies, then, I’d hate for you to be disappointed, Fuji.”

Of course, Kunimitsu reflected, as Keigo strode after Fuji, his genuine behavior didn’t always differ that markedly from his public act. Particularly when one of his enthusiasms was involved. Tachibana leaned against the rack beside him, looking after the other two.

“Shuusuke is still annoyed with you over that particular observation,” he noted.

“I’m not surprised,” Kunimitsu said. “Keigo is, a bit, too.” Tachibana gave him an oblique look.

“If you knew it would irritate them, why did you say it?” he asked. Kunimitsu folded his arms.

“Better they be annoyed with me than each other. Imagine the consequences.”

Tachibana rubbed his fingers over his forehead, suddenly looking a little pinched. “I’d really rather not.”

Kunimitsu looked at him sharply, questioning. After a moment Tachibana shook his head.

“It’s more his story than mine,” he said, quietly.

“Mm.” Still, Kunimitsu had to respect the point. He had entrusted his friend to Tachibana years ago; it was good to know the trust wasn’t misplaced.

Atobe

“Metheny is one step away from elevator music,” Keigo snorted, as he and Fuji made their way back to their respective partners. “Next you’ll be telling me you like Yanni.”

“A narrative format keeps music from becoming meaninglessly abstract,” Fuji countered. He paused long enough to give Tezuka something Keigo read as a vindicated look. Probably because they were disagreeing. Keigo considered weighing in with a smug smile of his own, but decided it would detract from the point.

“Well. Isn’t this quite the congregation?” asked a new voice. Keigo glanced around to see Mizuki Hajime and Fuji’s brother, Yuuta, come around the corner from the next aisle. Something in the quality of the silence beside him drew his gaze back to Fuji, and he almost took a step away.

The gleam of more or less good natured mockery in Fuji’s eyes was swallowed into a flat, icy blue, slick as the side of a glacier. Any hint of a smile fell away like a dropped piece of paper. It wasn’t an expression Keigo had ever seen on Fuji before, not even when he was playing for real. A quick look at Kunimitsu showed enough disturbance in the line of his mouth that Keigo didn’t think he was familiar with this either. Tachibana had closed the distance between he and Fuji, and laid an unobtrusive hand on his back.

“Mizuki,” Fuji stated, soft and flat.

Yuuta looked edgy, but Mizuki merely clasped his hands behind his back and smiled.

“Shuusuke. You’re looking well.”

Keigo was, a bit unwillingly, impressed with Mizuki’s nerve. Or, possibly, his mental instability. A corner of Fuji’s mouth twitched, as though he were suppressing a snarl. Keigo was wildly curious about exactly what Mizuki had really just said; subtext almost dripped from that simple greeting.

Tachibana’s presence abruptly became more noticeable. Keigo, familiar with the ways a person could draw the eye, noted with interest that Tachibana did it without even shifting his body language much. He didn’t step forward, or loom. He simply straightened, and his presence washed out from him, momentarily overwhelming even the intensity of Fuji’s focus, pulling Mizuki’s gaze away from his target. Tachibana gave him a hard look. After a moment, Mizuki inclined his head and opened one hand, palm up.

If Keigo had to guess, he would judge that Tachibana knew what was unspoken between Fuji and Mizuki, and had warned Mizuki to back off from the subject. And Mizuki, for whatever reason, had acknowledged Tachibana’s right to interfere and accepted the warning.

And for some reason that had caused Yuuta to relax. Fuji too, after a stiff moment.

Keigo stifled a sigh, resigning himself to the hell of ungratified curiosity, because, even if Kunimitsu knew what was going on, Keigo knew he would never get the answer out of him.

“You two have fun, then,” Yuuta said, running a hand through his hair, and sounding a bit rueful. “I’ll just be over there.” He slipped back into the other aisle, leaving both his brother and his lover looking after him, the one bemused and the other affectionate. Though it took Keigo a second look to place the expression on Mizuki’s face, before it reverted to a more accustomed smirk as Mizuki turned back to Fuji.

“He doesn’t like listening, when it gets to be about him,” Mizuki told the elder Fuji. That, at least, made sense to Keigo. Everyone who had any contact with either of them knew that Yuuta was a bone of contention between Fuji and Mizuki.

That cold tension was singing through Fuji again, though not quite as intensely as before.

“So many assumptions, Shuusuke,” Mizuki murmured. “Where would be the challenge in that?” Then he practically grinned. “So, what are you here for today?”

Keigo studied Mizuki. Unlike Fuji, Mizuki looked exactly like someone in the middle of a good game: breathing light and fast, eyes wide and brilliant. He’d long suspected that Mizuki liked to do things indirectly, and that his airs and affectations were as much a front as Keigo’s own. He’d suspected that it was done for Mizuki’s own amusement, and that he snickered up his sleeve at everyone who took the flouncing and strutting seriously. This was the first time he’d really thought that tennis itself might only be a medium for Mizuki, not a goal.

Fuji waved a hand at the racks around them.

“We came for music,” he answered, in the tone of someone dealing with an idiot. Mizuki merely smiled.

“Ah. Not the company of friends?” He paused, and Keigo sniffed at the melodrama. “But I suppose not, given the conversation as we arrived. Really, Shuusuke, anyone would think you were jealous.” His glance flicked toward Kunimitsu.

Keigo was about to snort, because hadn’t he and Fuji been over that already? But the shift in Fuji’s weight, the tense and twist of his hands, stopped it. Keigo’s eyes widened. There must be some truth in what Mizuki was saying, or Fuji wouldn’t be reacting like this. From the way Kunimitsu stiffened beside him, he had caught some of it, too.

And that was enough for Keigo to interfere.

“Jealous?” he drawled. “You should check your facts, Mizuki. Envious, now, that’s a bit more likely.” It wasn’t easy to lounge while standing upright, but that’s what talent was for. Tachibana was looking at him with a mix of disbelief and amusement. Kunimitsu was completely poker faced, except for the angle of his brows, which communicated a certain resigned affection to Keigo. Fuji slanted a wry glance at him, appreciating the double edge of Keigo’s intervention.

Mizuki looked at him with irritation before narrowing his eyes. When he spoke, it was to Fuji, every nuance of tone and stance saying that Keigo’s interruption was insignificant.

“You have my sympathy, of course. It can’t be easy to lose such a subtle bond to someone so greedy that he can’t stand not to be the center of attention.”

Now it was Keigo’s turn to suppress a snarl, because he’d be damned before he gave Mizuki the satisfaction. Of course, the delivery annoyed him infinitely more than the accusation, which he’d heard with tiresome frequency. A part of him, however, had to appreciate the precision of the attack. It played perfectly off the manner of intervention he had chosen, and also seemed to touch on a genuine sore point with Fuji. He filed that last observation away for future consideration.

Yes, this was definitely Mizuki’s true game.

Keigo’s own response rallied though, just as for any other attack. That moment after he had spoken, a flash of surprise had shown in Mizuki’s eyes, as if he’d forgotten Keigo’s presence. Combined with his choice of counter, Keigo rather thought it indicated something about Mizuki. It was, after all, easiest to recognize a weakness one shared. He wondered whether Fuji had caught it.

Ah, yes, there was the smile. The dangerous one.

“Perhaps,” Fuji answered in his most dismissive tone, and turned most of the way away from Mizuki to smile far more softly up at Tachibana. Keigo detected subtext again, since Tachibana didn’t really seem the sort to typically touch his lover’s cheek in public the way he was right now.

Mizuki certainly seemed to get it, as his expression turned extremely disgruntled for a moment. Keigo rather thought all four of them were waiting for a classic Mizuki temper tantrum. He, at least, was quite surprised when Mizuki merely nodded, eyes sharp, conceding the game if not the match.

“Another day, then, Shuusuke,” he murmured, and turned to follow the path Yuuta had taken.

Tachibana looked after him, down at the still glinting eyes of his lover, and finally over at Kunimitsu.

“Tezuka,” he said, wearily, “is it one of your requirements for team members, to be pathologically incapable of refusing a challenge?”

Keigo chuckled. “You’re just noticing?”

Yuuta

Yuuta slipped around the end of the cd racks, and nearly ran over Tachibana Ann, who was peering through a gap at the confrontation on the other side.

“Oh, not you, too,” he groaned. She gave him a stern eye.

“Your boyfriend is crazy,” she declared. “What did he do to make Fuji-niisan look like that?”

“None of your business,” Yuuta told her. “And Aniki is my brother, in case you’ve forgotten. You already have one, what do you want with another?”

“Unlike some people, I happen to like big brothers,” she shot back. Yuuta sighed, and leaned against the rack opposite.

“Knock it off, Ann, you’re not that stupid.”

She had the grace to look slightly abashed, as she tucked her hair back. “Well, no,” she admitted, in a less aggressive tone, “but there are really times, Yuuta.” Yuuta glanced aside. Aniki knew that Yuuta loved him. That was all that mattered. Right?

“Aniki and Mizuki had… a fight. Kind of,” he offered. “I think it’s over now, though. Mostly.” Feeling a little nervous at the number of qualifiers his unspoken pact of honesty with Ann forced him to add, he joined her in peering through the racks.

“Ooo, that was a good one,” Ann said, admiringly, of Aniki’s finishing move. Yuuta grinned down at her.

“You can be really vicious, you know that?”

“Good thing, too, otherwise how would I ever deal with you?”

They both sighed, and stepped back, as Mizuki let the challenge go.

“He was actually kind of restrained, today,” Ann noted, thoughtfully. “I don’t suppose he’s been ill?”

“Like I said, things are better. Mostly.” Yuuta shrugged, concealing his own surprise and relief. Ann looked over as Mizuki rounded the corner to their aisle.

“Ann-chan, how pleasant to see you here,” Mizuki greeted her. Not in a terribly good mood, but not fuming either, Yuuta gauged, and relaxed a little more. Ann gave Mizuki a long look before turning to Yuuta.

“He’s still a snake,” she said, firmly. “But I suppose, sometimes, he’s not completely horrible.” And, with that, she took herself off toward the Rock section.

“Charming girl,” Mizuki murmured. “Did you find everything you wanted?” Yuuta couldn’t help smiling at that question, even though it made his boyfriend quirk a brow at him.

“Yes.”

“Good,” Mizuki said, softly, reaching for Yuuta’s hand. Yuuta’s breath caught as he raised it and placed a kiss in the palm, just the tip of his tongue flicking against Yuuta’s skin.

“Mizuki!” Yuuta gasped, biting his lip and glancing quickly around to make sure no one was near. Mizuki gave him a dark look, from under his lashes, his promise to find out, later, exactly what Yuuta had been smiling over.

“Shall we go, then?”

Shishido

“So, who is this guy you’re so excited to find?” Ryou asked, following in his partner’s wake as Choutarou paced down the aisle, casting his eye over the racks.

“Chris Norman. He’s a classical flautist, primarily, but he does a lot of other really neat ethnic music, and he favors a wooden flute. It has a much softer tone than metal. I’ve never found a store that carries any of his albums, before. The first time I heard him was actually in concert.” Choutarou glanced back at him, with a small, bright smile in his eyes. “You’d like him.”

Ryou was wondering just how to take that, when Choutarou stopped short. Only Ryou’s quick reflexes kept him from barrelling into his partner.

“Atobe-buchou,” Choutarou said, voice startled. Ryou stepped around him to see.

And then he almost stepped back behind Choutarou, because it wasn’t just Atobe. It was also Tezuka, and Tachibana, and Fuji. The captain’s club, plus head case. Every club seemed to have one of the latter, and he supposed Fuji was better than Ibu, but Ryou would have preferred Jirou. At least he was reasonably harmless.

“Ohtori. Shishido,” Atobe replied. Ryou swore his eyes gleamed with amusement at Ryou’s discomfort, for an instant, but you could never pin Atobe down about stuff like that. A moment later he was turning back to Choutarou. “Are you here for anything in particular today?” he asked. Choutarou smiled his faint, public smile.

“The store called just this morning to say that they had Chris Norman’s first album in.”

“Chris Norman.” Atobe’s eyes went distant for a moment. “He played with the Baltimore Consort, yes?”

The conversation that followed had very little meaning to Ryou; he liked listening to music, but the details never really stuck with him. So he split his attention between pride in his partner and irritation with Atobe. Both pleasant constants in his life. He could always be proud of Choutarou, of the poise that let him keep his countenance in just about any situation, including chatting with his captain under Tezuka’s gimlet eye and Fuji’s alarming smile, and of a determination to match Ryou’s own, even when it was his own partner he was arguing with. Ryou still didn’t think fraternization between teams could possibly be healthy, but Choutarou had gotten him to admit that it didn’t seem to have affected Atobe and Tezuka’s games. Just personally, Ryou thought that was the weirdest thing of all.

He hauled back his wandering thoughts as Atobe… dismissed Choutarou with a gracious nod. There were really times when Ryou wished they were still eight years old and he could get away with punching the smug bastard. Still, in his own annoying way he seemed fond of Choutarou, and that got him a lot of latitude in Ryou’s book. He sauntered after his partner, exchanging companionable sneers with Atobe on the way past.

“Such a unique leadership style you have,” he heard Fuji remark, genially, behind him. “Do you tell your team members to imagine your face on the tennis ball, or do you trust that it will happen naturally?”

Ryou barely managed not to choke, because he had gotten through more than one practice with exactly that tactic. He’d been right all along. Fuji Shuusuke was creepy.

“Whatever works,” Atobe returned in a careless tone. Ryou could hear the smirk in it, and shot a glare over his shoulder.

“Remind me again why I’m friends with a jerk like you,” he growled, running an impatient hand through his hair.

“Because I’m the only one who would put up with your dramatics,” Atobe answered, promptly and loftily.

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Ryou gave him a look rich with disbelief. “Nice talking to you, Mr. Pot, I’ll just be getting back to my teacups, why don’t I.” He didn’t bother waiting for an answer before turning his back and stalking off after Choutarou. Maybe he’d send Tezuka a sympathy card when Valentine’s rolled around. When he caught up to his partner, Choutarou offered him one of the sample-this-disc headphone sets.

“This is it.”

Ryou had to admit, it was pretty music. It almost sounded like a traditional flute, but not quite; and a lot bouncier.

“Now,” Choutarou added, “imagine the man playing that, standing in front of a formal orchestra, wearing jeans and a bright red knit shirt and suspenders.”

Ryou burst out laughing. “You’re kidding!” When Choutarou shook his head, smile flashing, Ryou had to agree, “All right, yeah, I probably would like him.”

Choutarou’s pleased look nearly made him glow; it was one of the expressions Ryou was especially fond of. He was just considering whether it would injure his partner’s reserve if Ryou ran his fingers through the unruly drift of silver hair, when familiar voices interrupted.

“I mean, really, you need a life, Ryouma.”

“I have a life.”

Besides tennis. Come on, forget the old man and act like a normal person for just one afternoon!”

“And another after that,” Echizen pointed out, inexorably, “and another after that, and…”

“Now you’re getting the idea.”

Momoshiro, Ryou identified the other speaker. No one else had quite the same congenially full-of-himself tone.

“Momoshiro, Echizen-kun,” Choutarou greeted them, turning.

“Hey,” Ryou seconded.

“Ohtori, Shishido-san, how’s it going?” Momoshiro hailed them, easily. Ryou considered him one of the easier players to get along with off the court. The same couldn’t be said for his companion, who just nodded—unusually cordial for Echizen. “Guess this place is attracting tennis players today, hm?” Momoshiro added, grinning.

“You have no idea,” Ryou muttered.

“It’s Tezuka-buchou and the Monkey King,” Echizen observed, peering further down the aisle. “And Tachibana and Fuji-senpai, too.”

Momoshiro winced a little. Ryou sympathized completely. Neither team had been prepared for finding out that their captains had hooked up. Even though Choutarou had said they should probably have expected it. Echizen’s expression sharpened into an evil, little smile.

“We should say hello.”

“Hey, Ryouma, hang on, we… you shouldn’t… Ryouma!” Momoshiro’s snatch at Echizen’s collar missed, as the younger player made a bee-line for the greatest source of trouble available.

Typical.

“It can be troublesome to have a partner who’s so impulsive, can’t it?” Choutarou asked.

“You can say that again,” Momoshiro muttered as he made after Echizen.

It took another minute to catch up with Ryou.

“Choutarou…” he said, drawing it out. His partner made wide eyes at him.

“Yes, Shishido-san?”

Ok, now he was sure, because Choutarou never called him that, anymore, unless he was teasing. He stepped into his partner, backing him against the rack.

“If we weren’t in public,” he said, softly, watching Choutarou’s eyes darken.

“Then, what?” Choutarou murmured. Ryou laughed.

“Grab your stuff, and let’s get out of here. And I’ll show you.”

If the cashier thought it was odd that the customers were grinning silently at each other, he didn’t mention it.

Momoshiro

Momo was an easygoing sort of guy. Which was a good thing, considering. It really wasn’t often, anymore, that he had the urge to whap Ryouma over the head with a racquet. It was much more effective to tickle him until he couldn’t breathe; Ryouma was far too aware of his dignity for his own good.

But whenever Ryouma saw an opportunity to mouth off to their captain he took it, and then it was time for caring friends to restrain him. Possibly with a straitjacket, because he really had to be crazy to tease Tezuka-san like that. The fact that Momo had never once, in three and a half years, succeeded was beside the point. So was the incomprehensible fact that their captain generally let Ryouma get away with it, sort of. If there was any topic that would finally drive Tezuka-san over the edge, it had to be his… relationship with Atobe.

Momo caught up just as Ryouma offered their captain his best insolent smirk.

“Buchou. Out on a date?”

Tezuka-san looked down his nose at his youngest team member with no expression Momo could detect, but Ryouma’s eyes gleamed like he’d gotten a rise out of him. Atobe, after one look, leaned against the racks, silently declaring that it was not his team and not his problem. Momo didn’t know exactly how he managed to get that across just by leaning back and crossing his arms. That talent was one of the more irritating things about Atobe.

Maybe Ryouma thought so, too, because he turned to Atobe next. “Guess there’s no hope for a game today, then. Too bad. Beating you would have been a good way to wrap up the weekend.”

“I’m told it’s good for people to have dreams,” Atobe returned, condescending as ever. “Nice to see you have one that will last you so very long, Echizen.”

Momo’s cautious look at Tezuka-san showed that he didn’t seem upset that Ryouma was ragging on his boyfriend. That was a relief. A sudden thought came to Momo, that Ryouma was challenging Atobe in front of their captain by way of asking permission. Ryouma never directly disobeyed the captain, but he was a master of avoiding being given orders that he didn’t want to follow. Giving the captain a chance to object was as good as asking if it was all right.

Which meant, Momo realized, that Ryouma would take Tezuka-san’s silence for assent, and keep needling Atobe until he got what he wanted. Ryouma was opening his mouth for the next shot when bright laughter cut across him.

“Ryouma-kun, you’re almost as good at ticking people off as you are at playing tennis. And that’s saying something.”

Tachibana Ann appeared from around the corner, grinning when Ryouma raised a brow at her.

“Ann-chan,” Momo exclaimed, relieved. “Are you here with your brother?” She grinned wider.

“Yes, but I thought he’d probably appreciate it if I got lost for a while.” She flicked her eyes at her brother and Fuji-senpai, standing together. “I’ve been exploring on my own; this place has a ton of great stuff!” She waved a handful of plastic cases, and Momo leaned over her shoulder to see.

“Oh, hey, I didn’t know Do As Infinity had another one out, what’s on it?”

“Momo-senpai.” Ryouma’s voice was low, but it got Momo’s attention. Ryouma didn’t sound that sharp very often. When he turned, though, Ryouma just looked at him, sidelong. He seemed irritated. It took Momo a couple beats to figure out why, but when he did he smiled. Ryouma looked away again, not meeting anyone’s eyes, now.

Momo came away from Ann, to stand behind Ryouma and lay a casual hand on his shoulder. “Ready to go bargain hunting?” he asked.

“Sure,” Ryouma muttered, still not looking back at him.

Ann-chan had a knowing smile on as she turned to her brother. “Did you guys find everything you wanted, Onii-chan?”

Occupied with her questions, the other players returned Momo’s goodbyes distractedly.

It wasn’t, Momo thought, as they moved on, that Ryouma was possessive, exactly. And he wasn’t anyone’s definition of clingy. There were just people he didn’t like Momo to pay too much attention to, and Tachibana Ann was one of them. The word boyfriend hadn’t even been breathed between them, yet, except jokingly, but they didn’t often need things spoken out loud.

Momo ruffled Ryouma’s hair, and Ryouma swatted at his hand.

“Cut it out,” he said, sounding sulky. But he turned his head enough to glance at Momo over his shoulder, eyes momentarily softer and mouth curving up at one corner. Momo smiled back, and let his hand rest, briefly, at the back of Ryouma’s neck before falling.

There were easier things than words.

Tezuka

Kunimitsu slung his bag of CDs into a corner, in a rare moment of messiness, and almost collapsed back on his bed. He pressed a hand over his eyes, pushing his glasses up, hoping to alleviate the threatening headache. He’d really never thought a simple trip to the music store would be so harrowing. If he had, he’d have risked whatever musical white elephants Keigo might have chosen for him.

The bed dipped, and he felt a hand pluck his glasses off entirely. “Oh, come along, Kunimitsu, admit it. It was funny,” Keigo chuckled.

Kunimitsu lifted his hand, the better to glare at his lover. Though he couldn’t quite maintain it when Keigo’s cool fingertips pressed across his forehead, driving the tense almost-pain away.

“You’re worried about Fuji,” Keigo observed. Kunimitsu didn’t bother denying it.

“I never expected Mizuki, of all people, to…” he trailed off.

“Lock his interest?” Keigo suggested. “It could be worse.”

Kunimitsu made an inquiring noise, closing his eyes as Keigo’s thumbs stroked the arch of his brow bone.

“Mizuki himself doesn’t seem completely unbalanced about the whole thing,” Keigo told him, thoughtfully. “And I imagine Tachibana will keep Fuji from going too far.”

Kunimitsu was worn out enough to accept Keigo’s judgment over his own fears, though he made a mental note to see if he could get the whole story out of Fuji later. On the other hand, he revised his thought as Keigo’s lips brushed across his, perhaps he wasn’t as worn out as all that. And he really felt he deserved some consolation after a day like this.

He reached up to pull Keigo down against him.

End


Branch: *looks around, slightly hunted* Ok, so, we’ll flip a coin to see which couple gets their smut first, right?

All Muses: *ignore her*

Momo: It’ll be us, first, we’re cuter.

Shishido: You wish! You give her way too much trouble, with all that non-verbal crap. It’ll be us.

Atobe: Speaking of trouble, you have far too much back-story requirement, Shishido. Besides, she loves me best. *preens*

Ryouma: Exactly. You two old guys need a chance to get your breath back.

Branch: *sidles behind Fuji* I’m just glad you don’t like me writing smut for you and Tachibana.

Fuji: *slow smile* Actually, I’ve been considering that.

Branch: *pales, backs away as all muses turn to look at her* Help! Muse Police! I’m being mugged!


Delta

Atobe is rather tired of Tezuka brooding, and decides it’s time for another conversation with Fuji to see if the problem is amenable to a swift kick. Romantic Drama With Occasional Porn, I-4

Watching Tezuka Kunimitsu mope was a novel experience. Keigo couldn’t recall ever having seen anything quite like it before. The moodiness wasn’t terribly obvious, of course, Kunimitsu generally wasn’t obvious about anything. But from close up, Keigo definitely noticed a certain distance in his eyes and a wrinkle of brow that was a bit different than usual.

After two weeks of uninterrupted novelty, though, the brooding was getting old. Keigo was perfectly willing to allow that Kunimitsu had a right to be concerned for his friends. But thinking about other people to the exclusion of Keigo himself, when Kunimitsu was with Keigo, was not something he intended to tolerate. Accordingly, when Keigo decided Kunimitsu had been sitting at his desk and staring at team schedules without blinking for just a little too long, he also decided it was time to take action.

Keigo tossed Kunimitsu’s copy of Elective Affinities, which he had been reading in bits and pieces whenever he came over, on the bed and swung to his feet. He stalked across the room and tugged Kunimitsu’s chair away from the desk, swinging it around. Kunimitsu refocused and looked up at him, startled.

“Keigo, what… ?”

Keigo leaned over and kissed him.

Kunimitsu was stiff with surprise for a long moment, before Keigo coaxed his lips to soften and part. Keigo went about the kiss in a thorough and leisurely fashion, tangling his tongue with Kunimitsu’s, nipping gently at his lower lip, and eventually Kunimitsu sighed and his hands lifted to find Keigo’s hips. Keigo smiled against Kunimitsu’s mouth as he let Kunimitsu pull him down to straddle the chair.

“That’s better,” Keigo murmured.

Kunimitsu gave him a dry look. “Feeling neglected?”

“Unforgivably so,” Keigo agreed, easily. “You’re taking far too long to think about something that’s probably very simple.”

“And you know that it’s simple because…?” Kunimitsu asked, mouth tightening a little.

“That is an assumption on my part,” Keigo allowed. “But I’ll bet a case of Dunlop Abzorbers that complication is an assumption on your part. Have you said more then five words to Fuji in the last two weeks?”

“Yes,” Kunimitsu answered, in a very final tone.

Keigo eyed him. “Let me rephrase that. Have you said more than five words about whatever is actually bothering you?”

Kunimitsu’s gaze darted away and then back.

“Thought so,” Keigo said, smiling.

Kunimitsu’s mouth acquired a very stubborn set. “We’re coming into the hardest part of the tournament season. I won’t risk an upset in the team right now.”

And that was that, Keigo knew. Two things Kunimitsu would never compromise: his game and his team. If he had convinced himself that pressing Fuji would be detrimental to the team, there was vanishingly little chance Keigo, or anyone else, could persuade him otherwise. Clearly, then, this was a case where Keigo would have to get involved directly, if he wanted Kunimitsu’s attention back where it belonged.

Wasn’t it a pleasant coincidence that this would also give him some chance of satisfying his curiosity over what had happened to Fuji lately?

Satisfied with his nascent plan of action, Keigo pressed closer against his lover. “Whatever you want, Kunimitsu,” he agreed, as suggestively as possible, in Kunimitsu’s ear.

A soft laugh told him that Kunimitsu consented to the distraction. “Anything?” he asked, a teasing edge in the low voice now.

“Mm. Anything,” Keigo purred, leaning down to Kunimitsu’s mouth again.


Keigo leaned against the wall of Seigaku’s high school campus, tapping his fingers impatiently. Where was Fuji? He was about ready to start pacing when his ear finally caught a familiar voice, light and sardonic.

“…I’m perfectly happy to help, Inui. Provided, of course, that you’re drinking this stuff, too. After all, any good experiment needs a control, yes?”

“Certainly, but, you see, you are the control for this one,” Inui answered, just a bit hastily, as the two emerged from the school grounds.

“About time,” Keigo interrupted, stalking towards them. “Far be it from me to stand in the way of scientific progress, or the possible death of a rival, but we need to talk, Fuji. Come on.” When Fuji failed to follow him, Keigo glanced back, annoyed. “If you don’t hurry up, he’ll be along, too, and then this entire exercise will have been pointless. I don’t intend to go out of my way for you more than once.”

Inui was looking on with raised brows. They twitched up a bit higher when Fuji, after a long, narrow look at Keigo, turned to him and said, “Will it be a problem if we postpone this particular experiment?”

“Not at all,” Inui murmured.

Fuji nodded, and paced forward to join Keigo. “Let’s go, then.”

“If I recall correctly, there’s a halfway decent cafe about ten blocks on,” Keigo noted as they walked.

“That will do, yes.” Fuji’s voice was very even, and Keigo’s lips quirked. Wary, was he? Fair enough; Keigo had a good deal more leverage in this encounter than he had the last time they’d spoken of personal matters. Keigo was honest enough with himself to admit that this was one of the reasons he had gone to the trouble of coming here today.

And, of course, far be it from Keigo to disappoint expectations; as soon as they were ensconced at a table with their drinks he opened up with both barrels.

“So, Mizuki thinks you’re jealous because my presence interferes with your friendship with Tezuka. Is he right?”

Fuji did not, Keigo noted, twitch; instead he became very still. One breath. Two. “Mizuki is perceptive, but also, you must have observed, rather… warped,” Fuji said at last.

“In other words, yes,” Keigo translated, sipping his tea. “Didn’t we have this conversation once already?”

Fuji looked at him with distinct disfavor. Keigo sighed.

“What on earth do you have to be jealous of?” he asked, exasperated. “You have a lover who, unless I’m vastly mistaken, you’re perfectly happy with, you’re still at the same school with Tezuka, which, I should point out, I’m not, and I find it extremely difficult to believe that he’s paying any less attention to any member of his team, let alone you.”

“That’s none of your business,” Fuji told him, tightly.

“Probably not, but it’s troubling Tezuka and he won’t ask if he thinks the answer might disrupt your team.” Keigo caught a flicker in Fuji’s eyes as they turned down to his coffee, and blinked. Had Fuji not realized that was why Kunimitsu kept silent? Keigo would have sworn that Fuji knew Kunimitsu better than that. “What is going on with the two of you?” he asked, puzzled.

“Nothing,” Fuji said, quietly.

Keigo rested his chin in his hands. Fuji was fond of double talk, even when it came to body language, let alone words. Nothing was happening; so, maybe something should be? “Are you saying that Tezuka really is paying less attention to you?”

This time Fuji twitched, though Keigo would have missed it if he hadn’t been watching closely.

“However much he teases about the two of us being similar, I still have a hard time believing I might be replacing you,” he mused. “We’re different things to him, Fuji.”

He realized, later, that he had misjudged just how much what was happening must have been disturbing Fuji, because the one thing Keigo had never expected was that Fuji might actually snap badly enough to say what he did next.

“You wouldn’t think so, of course,” Fuji bit out, eyes narrow and cold. “You’re going to be staying in his world; there’s nothing for him to hold against you.”

Keigo stared, stunned, for a long moment before he heaved a sigh and leaned back, pressing a hand over his eyes. He couldn’t believe Fuji had misread Kunimitsu that badly. No, wait, he could believe it; after all, it wasn’t as though he hadn’t known plenty of intelligent, talented individuals who where, nevertheless, gifted with the people skills of dried seaweed. It was just that he expected this kind of thing from Ryou, not from Fuji. And if this was the root of Fuji’s skittishness, then what he was really worried by must be… Keigo silently recited his choicest German invective. “And here I’d thought you were supposed to have a good brain to go along with the good reflexes.”

“I beg your pardon?” Fuji said, with the mildness of a green and pleasant mountain just before it explodes and rains burning rock all over the landscape. Keigo ignored the hint.

“It happens, all right? It isn’t your fault, it isn’t his fault, it just happens, and it certainly isn’t because he’s angry at you, you idiot!” he snapped.

Fuji blinked at him, temper temporarily derailed. “What happens?” he asked.

Keigo held up one hand and ticked points off on his fingers. “You’re starting to not have as many things to talk about, yes? And he does not, in fact, treat you any less warmly…” he paused to think about that, and amended, “any more harshly, anyway, he’s just not quite there as much, yes? And when you talk about some things, he just doesn’t seem to connect the way you expected him to. Is this ringing any bells?”

Fuji nodded, slowly, as if he thought this might be a trick question. Keigo snorted.

“We’re growing up, Fuji,” he pointed out. “We’re going in different directions. He doesn’t blame you for not staying with tennis, any more than you blame him for his choice to stay. But talking about things only one of you is deeply involved with is different. That’s all.” Keigo lifted his cooling tea for a sip to conceal his expression.

Not fast enough, it seemed.

“You’re speaking from personal experience?” Fuji asked, gaze sharp.

“None of your business,” Keigo answered, brusquely.

It was Fuji’s turn to lean back in his chair. “It is if you don’t want me to think that entire lecture was a self-serving fiction you pulled out of your ear,” he said, coolly.

Keigo glared, and reminded himself never, ever to play poker with Fuji. The man was downright addicted to maneuvering people. “You and Mizuki deserve each other,” he growled.

Fuji smiled at him, if a show of that many teeth could be called a smile.

“Fine, fine,” Keigo said, wearily. “If you insist on being so mannerlessly uncivil to someone trying to do you a favor,” he ignored Fuji’s snort, “yes, it has.” He swirled the dregs of his tea in the cup. “We’re still friends, even if it’s not the same as it used to be. I go to as many of Kabaji’s poetry readings as I can manage, and he comes to as many of my games as he can fit in. We can still have perfectly good talks. It’s just not exactly the same.” He cut himself off, a little annoyed at having said so much, and looked up preparing a barb to distract Fuji.

Fuji was staring at him as if Keigo had been speaking in Arabic. Keigo raised a brow.

“Poetry readings,” Fuji repeated. “Kabaji? Kabaji Munehiro?”

And it was Keigo’s turn for a toothy smile. Fuji was keeping his composure better than most, but disbelief edged his voice and widened his eyes. Ah, it was too bad he didn’t have a camera handy; Kabaji would have laughed.

“Oh, yes,” Keigo confirmed with an airy wave. “His first collection will be published next year. Really, I’m a little surprised you haven’t heard.” He sipped delicately. Cold tea was a small price to pay for the perfect gesture to finish this play.

And now it was time to be going, before Fuji recovered himself.

“Well, I’m delighted we could have this chat,” he said, rising. “I hope it clears things up, and you stop sulking so Tezuka stops moping. I expect I’ll see you at Nationals; until then.”

As he made it to the door, he heard Fuji starting to laugh, behind him. Ah, success. It was a sweet thing.


Keigo expected to see some improvement in Kunimitsu’s mood in reasonably short order. What he did not expect was that Kunimitsu would arrive, unannounced, at the door of his room, a mere two days later.

“Kunimitsu?” he greeted his lover, a bit surprised he had managed to circumvent the staff.

Kunimitsu crossed to the couch before Keigo could rise and knelt, swiftly, catching Keigo’s face between his hands. The kiss that followed muffled any thoughts Keigo might have mustered under the heat of Kunimitsu’s lips smoothing over his, tempting and offering and demanding. Kunimitsu’s hands stroked down Keigo’s chest and around his back, pulling him tighter against Kunimitsu’s body, and Keigo slid bonelessly off the couch to the floor. His quiet moan was swallowed in Kunimitsu’s mouth. Keigo was just starting to wonder whether the door was locked when Kunimitsu drew back and regarded him with a calm expression and laughing eyes.

“What was that about?” Keigo asked, rather breathless.

“Payback,” Kunimitsu informed him, serenely.

“Remind me what for, so I can make a note to do it more often.”

Kunimitsu smiled. “For baiting Fuji badly enough that he gave you an honest answer; for annoying him enough that he was too busy shredding your character to be reserved with me.”

“And then again, perhaps not,” Keigo decided. “He spoke to you about it?”

“Yes.” Kunimitsu sighed a little. “I hadn’t realized he might think…” He pressed his lips together.

Keigo wove his fingers through Kunimitsu’s hair. “For five and some years, now, he’s been close enough to you to guess what you’re thinking without having to ask,” he pointed out. “For all that, though, I’m betting that Fuji’s never been so good with people that he would have recognized what’s happening now until someone thumped him over the head with it.”

Kunimitsu’s mouth curled, and his eyes were distant. “He isn’t, always, no,” he agreed.

“That sounds like the start to a good story,” Keigo suggested.

Kunimitsu returned to the present and gave him a reproving look. “No.”

“You know, it’s very cruel of you to rouse my curiosity like that and then refuse to satisfy it, Kunimitsu,” Keigo told him in an injured tone.

A familiar gleam lit Kunimitsu’s eyes. “Are you really that disappointed?” he asked, one hand sliding down Keigo’s body again.

“That depends,” Keigo gasped as that warm hand closed, firmly, between his legs, “on whether you intend to satisfy anything else.”

Kunimitsu’s tongue traced a slick path up Keigo’s neck. “Yes, I think I do,” he answered, softly.

A low sound rose in Keigo’s throat and he leaned back against the couch as Kunimitsu’s hand kneaded against him. Kunimitsu wasn’t normally the one who pushed things this quickly. But those were definitely Kunimitsu’s fingers undoing Keigo’s pants, and Kunimitsu’s hands urging him back up to the couch, and spreading his knees apart.

And it was very definitely Kunimitsu’s mouth closing on him, hot and wet and slow. Keigo fell back against the cushions, moaning as Kunimitsu sucked, hard, before his mouth gentled again. Kunimitsu’s tongue flirted with him, rubbed back and forth across screaming nerves, and Keigo tangled his fingers in Kunimitsu’s hair again. The silky spring against his hands somehow felt very much like the the touch of Kunimitsu’s mouth sliding down his cock, and Keigo flexed his fingers against that softness to keep himself from thrusting up into the sleek heat of Kunimitsu’s mouth too forcefully.

That compunction frayed as Kunimitsu slid Keigo’s pants a little further down, and strong fingers reached under him, pressing, massaging. Keigo cried out, sharp and yearning, as that touch pushed into him, almost harsh, almost rough without anything to smooth the way. The contrast with the softness of Kunimitsu’s tongue sweeping over him put an edge like a knife on the heavy pleasure building low in Keigo’s stomach and tensing his thighs. He bucked up as Kunimitsu’s lips stroked him, and Kunimitsu’s fingers drove into him again. And again. And again. Keigo spread his legs wider and arched with the tantalizing, electric promise of Kunimitsu’s touch.

And, just as the raking burn of Kunimitsu’s fingers thrusting into him steadied into a deep, open heat, Kunimitsu’s mouth slid down him one more time and hardened, sucking, the stroke of Kunimitsu’s tongue almost rasping. Demanding. Keigo’s body answered, tensed, shuddered as raw sensation surged through him, wringing him so hard he could barely gasp. Over. And over. And over. Until it dropped him back to the cushions, panting, a little dazed.

Slowly Keigo’s senses resumed their normal proportions, and he stared up at the ceiling while a thought formed in the stillness of his mind. Not that Kunimitsu entirely left him in peace to contemplate. Kunimitsu’s hands, tugging Keigo back down to his lap, were insistent, and Keigo leaned against him, smiling, while he caught his breath.

“You know, when you’ve been worrying over something and finally manage to stop, you tend to break out really quite noticeably,” he said, at last. “I think, perhaps, you need better stress management techniques.”

“Are you complaining?” Kunimitsu asked, against Keigo’s shoulder.

“Certainly not. Just mentioning it, in case you want to fine tune things so as to keep that famous composure of yours better.”

“That matters less with you,” Kunimitsu said, without lifting his head.

Probably just as well, because Keigo was fairly sure his entire expression had turned soft, and it still made him just a touch embarrassed when Kunimitsu actually saw how he affected Keigo sometimes. Keigo rested his cheek against Kunimitsu’s hair.

“Are the two of you all right, now?” he asked.

Kunimitsu nodded.

“Good,” Keigo declared, and put a hand under Kunimitsu’s chin to tip his face up to Keigo’s. “Then I think it’s my turn,” he murmured.

He felt Kunimitsu’s lips curve under his, before they parted for him.

End


Feline

Tezuka coaxes Atobe into an afternoon of relaxation. Written for the Porn Battle prompt: Tezuka/Atobe, languid. Porn with Atomosphere, I-3

Pairing(s): Tezuka/Atobe

It was Kunimitsu’s personal discovery. If Keigo was petted for long enough he unwound, forgot to be driven and arrogant, and relaxed into a languid sprawl of limbs, lounging against Kunimitsu’s chest for hours at a time without protest.

"Mmmmm." Keigo pressed closer as Kunimitsu rubbed the back of his neck slowly. "Keep doing that."

Well, perhaps he didn’t entirely forget about being imperious and demanding.

Keigo opened one eye, looking up at Kunimitsu with lazy suspicion. "What’s so amusing?"

"Nothing." Kunimitsu leaned down and kissed him gently.

"Mmm. Well good," Keigo murmured against his mouth, twining slow arms around his shoulders. "Now make love to me some more."

Kunimitsu laughed quietly. No, Keigo never really forgot to be imperious. "Very well." He stroked his hands down Keigo’s body, slowly, savoring the sleekness of his skin and the solid warmth of him. Keigo arched wantonly into his hands, nearly purring. He was irresistible, like this, openly reveling in sensuality, and the sound he made as Kunimitsu spread his thighs apart went straight to Kunimitsu’s groin.

He kissed down Keigo’s throat, open mouthed, tasting his skin, and Keigo tipped his head back, stretching out against the sheets and making little murmurs of pleasure as Kunimitsu’s fingers gently opened him again.

When Kunimitsu slid into him, slow and slick, they both moaned.

The hot grip of Keigo’s body closed around him and Kunimitsu’s hips found their own rhythm, steady and hard. Pleasure shivered through him and he gasped as Keigo smiled, eyes dark and drowsy, and rocked up into his thrusts. He closed a hand on Keigo’s cock, stroking firmly, wanting the entire pleasure, and watched Keigo draw taut, abandoned to sensation, and moan as his body clenched around Kunimitsu’s cock.

He caught Keigo up, lifting him, driving into him faster, deeper, and Keigo’s lazy purr was the last thing it took to send pleasure burning through him, wild and sweet.

They settled back against the pillows, twined around each other, and Kunimitsu rubbed a slow hand up and down Keigo’s back, soothing him back into perfect relaxation.

If he was careful, they could be here all afternoon. And Kunimitsu tried never to be careless in anything.

 

End