Prince of Tennis, Kawamura/Akutsu, PG, 1600 words.
"Take it," Akutsu says. Kawamura doesn't want to be impolite so he takes the cigarette and holds it between his fingers, halfway to his mouth. The smoke curls up into his face. It's the same brand as his father's.
"I have to help out at the shop," he says. He wants to hand back the cigarette, but he can't quite make himself and his hand jerks a little, as though he has a palsy.
"What's the matter with you, Kawamura?" Akutsu leans in, pale face, pale eyes, teeth showing between his lips.
Kawamura puts the cigarette in his mouth. He sucks the smoke, keeps his throat closed, blows out again.
Akutsu reaches out and Kawamura hands it back. Akutsu takes a deep drag, holds it for one, two, tips back his head as he lets the smoke free.
"I have to go," Kawamura says again. "I'm sorry." And this time Akutsu lets him go, looking away, stretched out against the wall of the alley.
Kawamura works in the shop and does his homework and eats his dinner. When his father comes upstairs after closing and lights up, Kawamura goes to his room and lies on the floor, staring at the ceiling until Fuji calls to remind him about morning practice.
"What's your hurry?" Akutsu says, his hand tight on Kawamura's arm, his light hair dull in the early sun.
"I have practice." Kawamura stops. Akutsu doesn't let go.
"You have time," Akutsu says. "Have a smoke."
Kawamura swallows. "I'm in training," he says. "I can't."
The tip of Akutsu's cigarette glows sun-red as he inhales, the smoke drifts out like the clouds in the summer sky. "Ditch practice."
The day is warm and starting to turn lazy. Kawamura looks up into the sky, blue sky, past the power lines. "I can't," he says again, feeling his voice soften, holding up his palm against the cigarette.
"You're weak," Akutsu says, and pulls himself up in a slow fluid motion, as though the air were water, and grabs Kawamura's shoulder, and pushes him hard against the alley wall. "Be a man."
Kawamura's heart beats like he's diving for a shot and Akutsu pulls in smoke and holds it. "I have to go," Kawamura says and Akutsu moves in, straight and fast, covers Kawamura's mouth with his own, blows the smoke down Kawamura's throat.
Kawamura chokes on the heat, the dirt in his lungs where air should be. He surges up, pushing at Akutsu, breaking the wet seal between them.
Akutsu laughs. He flicks the cigarette into the street and walks away. Kawamura wipes his mouth on the back of his hand. The cigarette is still smouldering on the pavement. He puts it out with his heel.
"Have you been smoking?" Fuji says, in the clubroom, fingers on the third button of his shirt.
"No," Kawamura says, and hides his face under his jersey.
"Have a drink," Akutsu says, and holds out the can of beer.
Kawamura shifts in his seat, looks around the room. "Is Yuuki-chan at work?"
Akutsu shrugs and presses the can against Kawamura's cheek, just hard enough to hurt. The condensation wets Kawamura's skin. He takes the beer.
He drinks. He's had beer before and while he doesn't quite like the taste, he doesn't quite dislike it either. It's thin and bitter and even a swallow sends a thin line of warmth stretching between his belly and his brain. He drinks again and Akutsu pulls the can back from him, eyes gleaming in the dim and his mouth as near a smile as makes no difference.
"There's more," Akutsu says, then drinks, his throat working, and passes back the can, sliding it along the table, long arm not even unbending all the way.
Kawamura finishes the beer. There are four more and they share those too, slouching closer to the floor, closer to each other so it's less work to pass the can. Kawamura's mobile rings and Akutsu laughs at the pop-song ringtone. Kawamura turns it off and stuffs it in his bag.
Akutsu stretches out on the floor, lights up, holds the cigarette out to Kawamura. Kawamura shakes his head. Akutsu closes his eyes, blowing plumes of smoke up to the ceiling. Kawamura watches until Akutsu's breathing grows heavy and the cigarette slips through his fingers. Kawamura rescues it before it burns the floor.
He holds it between his fingers, watching the smoke twist up into the air, watching Akutsu breathing in his sleep. When the cigarette is burned down, Kawamura gathers up the cans, quietly, throws them away, and lets himself out.
He forgets to check his messages.
Akutsu steps out of the alley, in front of Kawamura, so Kawamura has to stop. "Hey," says Akutsu, and pushes his fist into Kawamura's face, a punch in slow time, knuckles hard against Kawamura's cheekbone. Akutsu moves back into the alley and Kawamura follows him.
"I'm bored," Akutsu says. "Let's cut school."
"I can't do that," Kawamura says. "And I have morning practice."
"You're always working," Akutsu says, "but are you getting any better?" He looms over Kawamura and Kawamura backs up until he hits the wall.
"I am," Kawamura says. "Come see our matches this weekend."
"That's lame." Akutsu puts his hands on the wall, on either side of Kawamura's head. "You're lame, Kawamura."
Kawamura turns his head. Down the alley, there's a cat, picking its way along the pavement, leaping onto a dumpster. Its ear is torn and its tail waves in the air.
"Lame," Akutsu says again, and Kawamura can feel the words hot on his face. He turns back and Akutsu is so close their mouths almost touch.
"I know I am," Kawamura says, bricks against his back and heart against his ribs, beating so hard it rocks him forward, just a little, just enough. Slow time again, Kawamura's lips pressing against Akutsu's, warm and dry, clinging briefly as Kawamura lets his weight fall back onto his heels.
Akutsu grabs Kawamura by the collar, long fingers twisting in the cloth. A button tears away and clinks onto the ground. The cat runs off. Kawamura flinches. Akutsu yanks him in and their mouths bash together, they overbalance, stagger back until Akutsu is the one against the wall and Kawamura is leaning against him, chest and belly and thighs, kissing him as well as he knows how, heat rushing through him and Akutsu's hands curling around the back of his skull.
At lunch, Fuji comes to Kawamura's classroom. "You missed practice," Fuji says. He fingers Kawamura's collar, where the button used to be. "Is everything okay?"
"It's fine," Kawamura says, rubbing his knuckles where he scraped them on the bricks. He's fine, he's floating through the day. "Something came up."
Fuji smiles and touches Kawamura on the arm before he leaves. At practice, they play doubles against Momo and Kaidoh and win 6-2. Fuji holds out his hand and Kawamura presses his against it, their palms still hot and tacky from the over-grip.
"I have to leave early," Fuji says to Oishi. "Something came up." After he's changed, he waves to Kawamura through the fence.
The cat is the alley on the way home. Kawamura stoops to stroke its fur and it hisses at him. He goes home and works in the shop until it's time for dinner.
In the morning, Kawamura takes fish for the cat. He drops it on the ground and moves back. The cat sniffs it twice, then gobbles it down. Kawamura waits around until he's nearly late again, then runs to school.
Kawamura rings the bell three times before the door opens. "Go away," Akutsu says, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. He holds the door halfway and looks at Kawamura, they watch each other, and Kawamura feels as though he's eaten a stone and it's sitting on his diaphragm, indigestible and sickmaking, heavier than the bag on his shoulder.
"Akutsu," Kawamura says and puts his hand on the door. "Can I come in?"
"Go away," Akutsu says again, and his eyes slide past Kawamura's face, into empty space. "Fucking queer." He jerks the door shut and Kawamura barely gets his fingers out of the way in time.
Kawamura is nearly home when his mobile rings. "Do you want to get together to study?" Fuji says. Kawamura can't even think of an excuse so he just says no and rings off. He feels badly after but he doesn't call back.
He sneaks one of his father's cigarettes and takes it into his room. He lights it up and watches it smoulder. Then he puts it in his mouth and inhales. He struggles not to cough. He's a little dizzy, a little sick. He lies back on the floor and takes another shallow drag. He manages half the cigarette before he has to stop.
Kawamura gets up early and goes to the alley. He brings fish to the cat and watches it lick its whiskers when it's done. He leans against the wall. He lights a cigarette. When Akutsu passes, Kawamura steps out in front of him and grabs him by the arm.
Akutsu shakes free. He stares at Kawamura and Kawamura looks away, the sick weight still lodged inside his chest. He wonders if he should cut and run. "Moron," Akutsu says. He knocks the cigarette out of Kawamura's mouth. "Those things will kill you." Then he pulls Kawamura into the alley.
"I'm not smoking," Kawamura tells Fuji.
"Not yet," Fuji says, lacing up his shoes.
"Not while there's still tennis," Kawamura says and heads out to the court.