Many, many, MANY thanks to kestrelsan and to the Boy for listening and suggesting and helping and not telling me to shut up already. It was above and beyond, guys. And Momoshiro, thanks for letting me use you for cheap laughs.
Big in Japan by Halrloprillalar / prillalar
Prince of Tennis, Atobe/Ryoma, R, 5500 words
Being a pro isn't all fun and games.
"How long are you going to be in Japan?" Momo stirs the ice in his drink with his straw.
Ryoma shrugs. "There are three exhibition matches." His mobile buzzes and he flips it open, in case it's his father, who is supposed to be taking care of his cat. Or his friend Adam, who is supposed to be checking up on his father. But it's Atobe, probably something stupid about the match arrangements. Ryoma doesn't answer.
"Get me a ticket and I'll come watch you." Momo puts down his drink. "Make that two tickets -- I'll take my girlfriend. Did I tell you I have a girlfriend?"
"Only about five times." Ryoma pushes his own drink away. The Coke in Japan always tastes different than the stuff in the US, even in the same chain restaurants. It's not what he really wants anyhow. "Is that convenience store on the corner still there?" His mobile buzzes again.
"Shouldn't you answer that?" Momo says. Ryoma stuffs the phone into his bag. Momo grins. "It's not like you ever answered your phone before." He sucks on his straw, slurping the last few drops from the bottom and searching for a few more.
Ryoma hands Momo the rest of his Coke. "It's not like you ever had any manners before."
"Thanks." Momo picks it up. "Do you want to go see a movie?"
"Let's go to street tennis." Ryoma picks up his bag. "After the convenience store."
"Are famous tennis pros allowed to do that?"
"Anyone's allowed in a convenience store." Walking down the sidewalk, Ryoma thinks he would know he's in Tokyo, even if he were transported there blind. There's a quality to the summer heat, the weight of the air that's totally different from LA.
The convenience store is right where it always was, though it's a different chain now. Which really doesn't matter, as long as Ryoma can have the White Cherry Ginger Smile Tea he's been craving since his last visit to Japan. If he closes his eyes, he can almost taste the cherry on his tongue, the ginger flooding his sinuses.
His bag buzzes against his shoulder. He reaches in and shuts the mobile off. And then the car pulls up beside them.
It's a limousine, long and sleek and faintly sinister, like a shark with tinted windows. The window slides down and chilled air rolls out onto the sidewalk.
"Atobe-san!" Momo says, like it's some sort of surprise.
"Echizen," Atobe says. "Don't you ever answer your phone?"
"Air conditioning is bad for the environment," Ryoma says.
"Your irresponsibility is already costing several trees-worth of people's time and attention." Atobe waves one hand and the driver gets out and opens a door. "Get in before you hasten global warming even further."
"The first match isn't until Thursday." Pressure starts to build behind Ryoma's forehead. Four years haven't made Atobe any less annoying.
"Do you think I would really have you come all this way just to play a few matches?" Atobe says. "This is business and you have a contract."
"That stupid old man," Ryoma mutters. No wonder his father said he was staying in LA.
"Get in the car."
Ryoma looks longingly at the convenience store. But Atobe isn't likely to give up.
"Are you leaving, Echizen?" Momo says.
Atobe leans forward. "Unless you'd like to accompany us, Momoshiro."
"Um, no thanks." Momo looks down the street, away from the car. "I have to meet my girlfriend. Send me the tickets, Echizen." He jogs away.
Ryoma gets into the car.
They aren't alone. A young man who looks like some sort of scruffy street musician shares the seat with Atobe.
"Have you been avoiding me deliberately?" Atobe sips at a bottle of water. "Or was it just out of ignorance?"
Ryoma sprawls across the seat. "If I'd known about it, it would have been on purpose."
"You didn't use to avoid me."
"You used to be interesting." Ryoma spots a small drinks cabinet that might very well hold a White Cherry Ginger Smile Tea. He reaches over.
"You don't have time for that." Atobe closes the cabinet door, almost on Ryoma's fingers. He's almost the same as Ryoma remembers him; a touch broader in the shoulders now, hair a little longer. But the calm arrogance in his face, the smooth, lazy voice are just the same. He leans forward and flips the cap off Ryoma's head.
"I can autograph that for you," Ryoma says.
Atobe nods at the musician. "Go ahead." And the musician turns out to be actually a make-up artist who comes at Ryoma with a brush and a compact. To put make-up on him.
"What the hell?" Ryoma jerks away, putting his arm up to fend off any surprise brush attacks. "I'm not your freaking prom date."
"Of course not, dressed like that," Atobe says. "It's for the photo shoot."
"Did you even look at the contract? Echizen, you have already wasted a lot of time and, consequently, a lot of money."
"The old man didn't say anything about make-up. Just the matches."
"That's not my problem." Atobe pulls a stack of paper out of a briefcase and reads off some legalese about commitments. Ryoma doesn't specifically hear the words "make-up" but presumably they're in there in Latin or something.
"Jeez, you're making my head hurt." He lowers his arm, since it doesn't seem like he has much choice in the matter, and lets the make-up guy get to work. "It's what, a few action shots for posters?"
"Stop talking, please," the young man says, and smears some sort of paste over Ryoma's cheeks.
Ryoma stops talking. He tries to glare at Atobe but the non-musician is in the way. And Atobe is ignoring Ryoma now, talking on his mobile and stretching his legs out in front of him. And then the make-up guy starts brushing some purple gunk on Ryoma's eyelids and he has to keep them closed.
The car stops. Ryoma opens his eyes. The make-up guy is getting ready to squirt Ryoma with something. "No scent," Atobe says. "Here." Atobe tosses the cap at Ryoma.
"Finally," Ryoma says. But it's not his cap.
It's not just a few shots of Ryoma holding a racquet. There are clothes -- lots of clothes -- and weird things with his hair and people with lights and lots of yelling and Atobe, watching everything.
"Will you at least explain what's going on?" Ryoma pulls the fourth shirt over his head and hunches his shoulders while a woman fluffs up his hair.
"We're launching a new line of clothing -- sports-inspired streetwear. This is our first campaign." Atobe puts his head on one side. "The green shirt," he says. "This one isn't working."
"I'm not a fucking model," Ryoma mutters into the collar of the green shirt.
"No, a model wouldn't complain about a few simple changes and some hair gel," Atobe says.
"So get one. I'll just play the matches."
"That's not how it works."
"Why me?" Ryoma asks, after the next round of photos.
Atobe shrugs. "You're winning. You photograph well. Your father doesn't know how to negotiate."
"So he sold me out for some cheap porn?"
"Expensive porn." Atobe smiles. "He would have settled for cheap, but I couldn't stoop that low. Now take off your shirt."
Ryoma tosses the shirt to one of the million people hovering around. "Where's the next shirt?"
"You don't need a shirt for this one." Atobe waves a hand and some men move a huge fan in front of the set.
"So, now you're making cheap porn?" Ryoma wonders if he should refuse, just because. But as long as they let him keep his pants on, what's the big deal?
"Fashion, Echizen. Which I hope you will have learned at least something about by the time this is over."
But all Ryoma figures he's learning is how to crouch in uncomfortable poses while people tell him to make strange faces. He squirms, trying to work a kink out of his back. Hopefully the tennis will be interesting at least.
Finally, it's over. "Where are my clothes?" Ryoma rubs his face on a towel but his eyelids will probably be purple until he has a good long shower. Or maybe forever.
"I had them sent to the hotel, along with some other things." Atobe tosses him a stack of clothes. "You'll wear streetFRESH brand for as long as you're in Japan."
"Jeez." Ryoma shakes out a purple club shirt with a lizard motif all down one side. At least it will match his eye make-up. "Can I wear my own boxers at least?"
"As long as what shows has our logo on it, I don't care about underneath." Atobe hands him the cap and now Ryoma recognizes the logo on the front. At least Atobe didn't make him get it branded on his arm. "That's all for today," Atobe says. "I'll have the rest of the schedule faxed to your hotel room."
Ryoma pulls the cap down over his eyes. "Whatever." And he goes out to search for White Cherry Ginger Smile Tea.
Ryoma turns off the TV and drops the remote on the floor. The evening variety programs are starting to come on and they're pretty much unspeakably bad. And it's always weird to watch TV without Karupin. The old man had better be taking care of him properly.
Ryoma flips open his laptop and opens up the web cam page. The picture flicks on and there's Karupin's favourite cushion. But no cat, just a propped-up sign in his father's terrible handwriting: Go! Go! Ryoma-sama!
That idiot. Ryoma pushes the laptop away and yawns. His feet still hurt after three hours of walking from one convenience store to another. And still no luck.
He picks up his phone and makes a call.
"Oh, sorry, Echizen," Momo says. "I can't hang out tonight because I'm out with my girlfriend. Did I tell you about my girlfriend?"
As soon as Ryoma closes the phone, it buzzes in his hand. Atobe again. He thinks about shutting it off, but then he'll probably have a helicopter hovering outside the hotel window, with Atobe lecturing him through a military-grade speaker system.
"Are you calling to ask what I'm wearing?" Ryoma says.
"Do you always answer the phone that way?"
"Only when it's someone obsessed with watching me change clothes."
"I'm not interested in what you're wearing now. But here's what you're putting on: the distressed jeans, the striped tank top, and the track jacket."
"Why do you care what I wear to watch TV?"
"We're going to dinner. Be in the lobby in five minutes."
Ryoma hangs up. He reloads the web cam. He emails Adam to look in on the cat. He checks the mini-bar in case soft drink fairies have visited since the last time he looked. And at the five-minute mark, he picks up his phone.
The door opens.
Ryoma grins. He should have anticipated. It is Atobe, after all. "What if I really had gone down to the lobby?"
"Or slid down a cable from the balcony?" Atobe pulls clothes out of the closet and hands them to Ryoma.
"Let's play tennis instead." Ryoma drops the clothes on a chair. At least nothing is purple today. "We can get okonomiyaki after I beat you to a pulp."
"I don't have time to randomly play tennis with you." Atobe crosses his arms across his chest. "Get changed."
Ryoma sighs and pulls off his shirt. Giving in is pretty much losing but he doesn't want to hear the whole "you have a contract" spiel again. Anyhow, he's hungry. And bored. "But you have time for a dinner date?" The new outfit is more close-fitting than he's used to. He pulls at the tank top.
"This is business. It's about being seen in the right places with the right people wearing the right things. It's part of the campaign." Atobe fusses with Ryoma's jacket collar. "Like this. And always make sure the streetFRESH logo is showing."
"So, you're, what, paying for the pleasure of my company? What does that say about you?"
"I'd be more concerned with what it says about you." Atobe reaches out and draws one cool finger down the side of Ryoma's face, pulling his hair behind his ear. Ryoma blinks, surprised. "Hmm. One more thing," Atobe says. He pulls out his phone and within two minutes, there's a sheet around Ryoma's neck and his hair is being cut. And styled. Probably with something purple.
It doesn't look too bad when it's done, though. "So sorry to make you late," Ryoma says.
"Oh," Atobe says. "We're actually a bit early. I hope you'll like the restaurant."
"Just so long as they have White Cherry Ginger Smile Tea."
But they don't.
The first exhibition game is enough of a challenge that Ryoma's not bored, but not enough that he's satisfied. Plus there's something irritating about the logos on all his clothes and equipment. At least he doesn't have to use a special streetFRESH racquet.
He's drying his hair after his shower, wondering if Atobe is going to spring out of nowhere with curlers and hairspray, when Momo arrives in the locker room, trailing Kaidoh Kaoru behind him.
"Good match, Echizen!" Momo says.
Ryoma shrugs. "It was all right. So, this is your girlfriend?"
"What the hell, Momoshiro?" Kaidoh grabs Momo's shoulder and spins him around.
"No, No! I just told Echizen I was going to bring my girlfriend but then she couldn't make it, so I asked you instead."
Kaidoh huffs and drops his hand. "Don't think all your matches are going to be that easy, Echizen. Next year I'll be out there to challenge you."
"We can play right now." Ryoma picks up his bag. "Hey, I'm taller than you now."
"You can't play right now," Momo says. "Because right now we are all going to a Seigaku Junior High School tennis club reunion."
"I hope I'm not the only one there without a date," Ryoma says and steps behind Momo just in time.
"I can't believe you haven't seen Inui, ochibi," Eiji says. "He's been in America for more than six months!"
"Eiji, New York is a long way from California," Fuji says. "And I'm sure Echizen is very busy."
"Too busy to take the train?"
"It's further than that." Fuji puts his arm around Eiji's shoulders and starts to explain the geographical differences between the US and Japan.
"How's Tezuka doing?" Kawamura asks.
Ryoma takes a sip of what the server promised was White Cherry Ginger Smile Tea and which is almost certainly ginger-ale and grenadine. "His backhand is stronger."
"We can tell that," Kaidoh says. "Since he won that last match."
"But that's just tennis," Oishi says. "How is he?"
"Fine," Ryoma says, since he doesn't really know. Whenever he sees Tezuka, nothing but tennis matters. "And I'll win the next one."
"Maybe Atobe should get Tezuka-buchou for his next idol project," Momo says. "Do you think he'd look as pretty as Echizen on that billboard?"
"Billboard?" Ryoma sips at his Shirley Temple, just in case the ginger-ale will calm the queasy feeling that creeps upward in his gut.
"Oho!" Eiji calls. "Do you know how many girls in my classes want to meet you now?"
"I'm not really sure that was a good idea, Echizen," Oishi says. "I hope you're not being exploited."
"Of course not." Ryoma keeps a neutral expression on his face, even though he has no idea what has everyone so worked up. "It's no big deal."
"If I get some magazine copies, will you sign them for me?" Eiji asks. "I could make a lot of money, selling them to girls."
"My girlfriend says I should try out for something like that," Momo says.
"Oh, you just want to get with Atobe again, Momo!" Eiji grabs Momo around the neck. "What does your girlfriend think of that?"
Momo flushes. "Nothing happened with Atobe! Nothing at all!"
"That's not what I heard," Eiji says. "If Inui were here, he'd have proof or clues or something. Should we call him up?"
"Echizen," Fuji says. "How is it working with Atobe?"
"Annoying." Ryoma finishes his drink.
"He must be working hard."
"Doing what? All he has to do is give people orders."
Fuji smiles. "I'm sure it's not quite that simple. I just thought it would be difficult for him, working for his father and going to university at the same time."
"What do you do about high school if you're travelling so much, Echizen?" Kawamura asks.
"I have a tutor at home," Ryoma says. That damn show-off Atobe. Ryoma's pocket buzzes and he pulls out the phone. Of course. He flips it open. "The black shirt with the red t-shirt. And cargo pants. I think."
"We have a party to go to," Atobe says.
"I'm already at a party."
"This is a real party, Echizen. The car will be there in ten minutes."
"Who was that?" Momo asks.
"My girlfriend," Ryoma says and gets up to go.
Everyone at the party is older than Ryoma, business men and women, a few celebrities that he doesn't recognize, a few athletes that he does.
He threads through the crowd to the bar. "White Cherry Ginger Smile Tea?" he says, without much hope. The bartender apologizes.
"Club soda." Atobe appears beside Ryoma. "For both." While they're waiting, he straightens Ryoma's collar.
Ryoma fidgets. "I can't believe you made me change clothes again. Did you play with Barbies as a child?"
"I was never a child." When they have their drinks, Atobe takes Ryoma's arm, a firm grip above his elbow.
"Afraid I'm going to ditch you?"
"We have to work the party. It will go better if you let me take the lead."
Ryoma sighs. "I hate parties like this. This has nothing to with playing tennis."
Atobe's fingers tighten. "Echizen," he says, all the laziness gone from his voice. "This is how you afford to play tennis."
Ryoma stares at Atobe. Before he can think of a response, Atobe pulls him back through the crowd and introduces him to someone. The name slips into the noise of the party and Ryoma has nothing to say. But Atobe says it for him, directing the conversation so skilfully that Ryoma only has to answer a few questions, and ending it so gracefully Ryoma is surprised.
"That wasn't too bad." Ryoma gulps his drink. "Can I go now?"
Atobe laughs. "We have a dozen more people we need to meet and twice as many who want to meet you."
"Jeez. I deserve a bonus."
"We'll discuss that afterward." Atobe steers him to the next conversation, an older woman who is someone important in fashion. Or maybe media. She gushes over Ryoma. "Everyone is talking about that billboard." She lays her palm on Ryoma's cheek.
Her skin is warm and moist and Ryoma flinches inside. But he can feel Atobe's hand still on his elbow and he doesn't jerk away. "Why don't you get in touch with me?" Atobe says smoothly. "We appreciate your time and attention." He draws Ryoma away.
"You're irresistible," Atobe says, when they're half the room away.
"I'm not working for her!"
"Not unless you want to." Atobe signals for more drinks. "It's not part of our arrangement. Now, if you've recovered..."
They meet more people. Ryoma wouldn't go so far as to say he enjoys it, but Atobe makes it easy for him and Ryoma is frankly impressed at Atobe's social abilities. It's odd, working together with Atobe, instead of challenging him, and it surprises Ryoma how satisfying it feels.
"The rest are optional." Atobe puts down his empty glass. "Shall we?"
"No thanks." Ryoma grins. "I'm not a social butterfly like you."
"Do you think I do this for pleasure?" Atobe runs his fingers through his hair. "This is business."
The satisfaction drains away. "Good luck with your fucking business venture, then." Ryoma turns and weaves through the crowd, avoiding any attempts to catch his eye.
He finds a door and pushes through it to a raised terrace. He's going to jump down to the street, get a taxi and leave.
And then he sees the billboard, huge, floodlit. The streetFRESH logo. And Ryoma.
He's on his knees, back arched, hair tousled, chest bare except for a silver pendant that lies beside his breastbone. His eyes are dark and his skin almost glows and he knows that's just make-up and retouching. But they couldn't have photoshopped that expression onto his face.
His stomach quivers and he grips the terrace railing. It's not like he's never seen sensual imagery before. But to see himself like that. Like there's something he's longing for. Like there's something he knows.
And to have everyone in the city see it too.
The door opens behind him. Ryoma sighs and steels himself to go back to the party. But Atobe just leans on the railing beside him, so close Ryoma can feel the warmth off his body. Atobe looks up at the billboard for long time. When he finally speaks, his voice is low and serious. "That's why it's you."
Ryoma watches Atobe, his face almost silver in the wash of the city lights, and he can tell that whatever Billboard-Ryoma looks like he knows, Atobe knows it too.
Atobe turns his head. When he meets Ryoma's eyes, a tingle chases through Ryoma, like strawberry pop rocks under his skin. "Come on," Atobe says. "I'll take you back to the hotel."
It takes them five minutes to get back thorough the crowd, Atobe making their farewells, guiding Ryoma in front on him with one hand on his back. The party is a blur, the conversations are noise, that firm connection between them the only clear thing in Ryoma's mind.
They settle side by side into the limousine. The car moves into traffic. Ryoma takes a deep breath and turns to Atobe.
It's like someone's passed a cloth over Atobe's face, wiping away all the confidence and arrogance, leaving only quiet and fatigue. He breathes through his mouth, a throaty gurgle that's halfway to a snore. Ryoma wonders if he'd ever admit to it.
Ryoma watches him. Atobe shifts and his hair drops across his cheek. Ryoma reaches out, hesitates. Then he slowly brushes it back, sliding his fingers along Atobe's cheek. The tingle follows, heat sparking underneath his skin, then pooling deep inside him.
He strokes Atobe's face once more. Then he pulls Atobe's head against his shoulder and stares out the window, hands clenched at his sides, listening to Atobe breathing.
Atobe doesn't wake up.
The hotel is connected to a sports complex and in the morning, Ryoma goes to practice. He's off, his form feels awkward, and when the ball machine runs out, he doesn't reload it.
He goes for a run, hood pulled up over his head even in the Tokyo heat. Sweat runs down his back and he breathes through his mouth, panting, until he sucks in a bug and nearly chokes. He stops, hands on his knees, to get his breath.
When he straightens up, there's that fucking billboard again. At night, it looked thrilling. In the daylight, it's nearly obscene. Ryoma's stomach churns and he's sick into some bushes, losing his breakfast and hopefully the bug too. It's too hot to run.
He walks back to the hotel, showers, brushes his teeth. He loads the cat cam and watches the cushion for a while. And he picks up his phone and calls Atobe.
"Echizen," Atobe says. "What can I do for you?"
But Ryoma hasn't thought this far ahead. "Um," he says and his fingers tighten around the phone.
"My class starts in two minutes, Echizen. Do you want something or not?"
"Play a match with me," Ryoma blurts out.
"The second exhibition match is tomorrow. You should be preparing for that."
"Play a match with me."
"You make me so nostalgic," Atobe says. "I'll send the car at four-thirty." He hangs up and Ryoma stares at his phone, wondering how he's going to put in the rest of the day.
The courts are on Atobe's grounds. He's warming up when Ryoma arrives, tossing the ball in the air and serving easily.
"Let's play," Ryoma says and goes onto the court to wait.
"Not even a greeting?" Atobe waves a hand and someone goes out to pick up the balls.
"I'll give you my greeting."
Atobe laughs, they spin for serve. Then they play.
Ryoma can't remember every match he's played. But there are some he's never forgotten. And he lets that match at Nationals underlie his every serve, every return.
It's nothing like the same. Atobe's skills are better than four years ago. But they're not better than Ryoma's; they're hardly close. Ryoma takes three sets in a row and the sweat running down his face is only from the sun.
"Are you satisfied?" Atobe says.
Ryoma drops his racquet. It clatters on the court. "Why?"
"I don't play any more. If you can't take the time to be the best, there's no point." Atobe crosses his arms over his chest. "Is tennis the only way you know to communicate?"
Ryoma wants to leap over the net and grab Atobe by the collar, shake him, push him, push him down and lie with him. He picks up his racquet and turns his back. "I heard about you and Momo-senpai."
Atobe laughs. "What did you hear?"
"He says nothing happened."
"Then I'm sure that's true. Play well tomorrow, Echizen," Atobe says. When Ryoma turns around, he's gone.
The exhibition match is a rout. The opponent isn't any better than the first one and Ryoma plays hard, too hard, and crushes him into dust. It doesn't make him feel any better.
In the afternoon, he takes a taxi around the city, stopping at store after store, looking for a single can of that stupid fucking tea. Nobody has any. The taxi fee is astronomical. He charges it to Atobe's account.
He's lying on the couch, staring at the empty cushion on the cat cam, when Momo calls.
"Sorry I couldn't make it to your match today, Echizen. Congratulations on your win!"
"Momo-senpai," Ryoma says. "What happened with you and Atobe?"
There's silence for a while. "Nothing," Momo says finally. "Almost nothing. And it was just one time, like, a year ago. An aberration. Probably he drugged me or something. Can we talk about something else?"
"Sure," Ryoma says. "Tell me about your girlfriend." He lies back down, phone at his ear, and watches the cushion while Momo goes on about how pretty, smart, and wonderful his girlfriend is.
There's a knock on the door. Ryoma hoists himself up, taking Momo along with him, and opens it. It's Atobe. "I'll call you back," Ryoma says, and hangs up on Momo in the middle of a sentence.
"Congratulations on your win," Atobe says.
"Is there another stupid party?"
"Checking up on my outfit?"
"No." Atobe smiles. "But it's not bad. You might learn how to wear clothes properly after all."
"Well?" Ryoma's gut twists and he hates how out of control Atobe makes him feel.
"I have a proposition for you."
Ryoma remembers Momo and wonders how he's going to say no when he really doesn't want to. "What is it?"
"Representation," Atobe says. "Your father is a terrible manager. If you sign with us, we can get you on-going sponsorship and avoid, shall we say, unpleasant surprises."
"What, so you can get me to take my clothes off in public some more?" Ryoma clenches his fists. "Is business the only thing you care about?"
"This isn't like you, Echizen," Atobe says. "If you want something, take it."
Ryoma stares at Atobe, his heart thudding against his ribs. Then he lunges.
He grabs Atobe around the neck and Atobe chuckles and puts his hands on Ryoma's waist and they look each other in the eye for a moment, so close it makes Ryoma a little dizzy. And then Ryoma leans in and they kiss.
Atobe kisses like he talks, like he does everything: deliberate, unhurried, and well. Ryoma tries to match him. He's never really thought much about it before but now he's embarrassed by his inexperience.
He feels Atobe's hand slip under the edge of his shirt, teasing the bare skin of his back. He shivers, he can't help it, and he twists his fingers in Atobe's hair.
"This is where Momoshiro bolted," Atobe murmurs, mouth against Ryoma's ear.
"I'm not a coward," Ryoma says, and he feels Atobe's laugh roll through both their bodies.
"Come on then." Atobe leads him through the suite to the bedroom. Ryoma hesitates for a moment, but he steps through the door.
"Take off your shirt," Atobe says.
Ryoma feels awkward and it's so strange to him. But he grins. "You do like making me undress."
"I do." Atobe crosses his arms, waiting.
"Just as long as you don't have someone waiting in the next room with eye-shadow." Ryoma pulls the t-shirt over his head and tosses it onto the floor. Atobe reaches for him but Ryoma steps back.
"I thought you said you weren't scared."
"I'm not," Ryoma says. "But fair's fair."
Atobe unbuttons his shirt and drapes it carefully over a chair. "Did you want to do any more bargaining?"
"No," Ryoma says and they fall together on the bed, rolling over until Atobe is on top, pinning him, kissing him, hands on Ryoma's wrists. Ryoma thrashes and they're side by side, Atobe's mouth on Ryoma's neck and Atobe's hand on Ryoma's ass and Ryoma touching Atobe anywhere he can reach. And right now, anyhow, there's something better than tennis.
Atobe flips Ryoma onto his back and undoes his pants. Ryoma lifts his hips and lets them go, lets everything go. He closes his eyes so he can only feel Atobe's fingers stroking him, jacking him, leading him. And there's something expanding inside him, rising too big for his body to contain, and his skin splits and his hips jerk and he comes all over Atobe's hand.
When he opens his eyes, Atobe is wiping his fingers on his handkerchief. Atobe raises his eyebrows. "I didn't know you could blush."
"I'm not blushing." But Ryoma can feel the dull heat all over his body and he closes his eyes again until it ebbs.
Atobe lies down beside him. Ryoma turns to look at him. "Uh...should I..."
"First time's free." Atobe stretches out on his side, head propped up on his hand. He draws one finger across Ryoma's chest.
"Always business with you." Ryoma pulls the covers loose and crawls under the sheet.
"Americans. So concerned about nudity." Atobe rolls off the bed. "I have something for you." He leaves the room and comes back a minute later.
It's a can of White Cherry Ginger Smile Tea. Ryoma pops the top and takes a long drink, cherry on his tongue and ginger flooding his sinuses.
"How is it?" Atobe asks.
Ryoma puts it down on the bedside table. "Not as good as I remember."
"Nothing is," Atobe says. "Except me."
"Prove it," Ryoma says and then it's the second time and Atobe is right. Ryoma does pretty well himself, or at least Atobe doesn't criticize.
Atobe orders room service and they eat on the bed, watching TV. Atobe complains about Ryoma's choice of shows. Ryoma steals food from Atobe's plate.
Atobe says he needs to take a shower and it's the third time, hot water pulsing down on them and skin sliding together.
"I have to go home," Atobe says. "I'll see you tomorrow for the commercial filming."
"Commercial?" Ryoma groans. "I thought that was just another photo shoot."
Atobe laughs. "You should really think about the representation proposal. I'll fly out to LA next month and we can talk."
"Sure," Ryoma says. "I love to talk." His phone rings.
"Tell Momoshiro I said hello." Ryoma rolls his eyes. And Atobe leaves.
"Sorry I didn't call you back," Ryoma says. He drops on the couch while Momo talks about the Seigaku Reunion bowling night he's organizing. The laptop is still open and Ryoma reaches over to close it.
Karupin is sleeping on the cushion.
Comments of any kind are always welcome. :)