hermiones: (pot // hyoutei)
Cat ([personal profile] hermiones) wrote2008-12-16 07:00 pm

PoT Fic: "Wild Roses" (Atobe/Sakaki) Part Two.

Title: Wild Roses
Pairing: Sakaki/Atobe
Rating: R
Summary: Atobe has a lot to learn about becoming an adult.
Warnings: Some sexual content and rude language. Inter-generational relationship.

Part One.



Sakaki-san,

I'm writing to you to apologise for what I said two years ago. I could put down to the stupidity of a child but I think it was more than that and that you deserve better than an excuse. At the time I was confused and angry and it seemed logical to me because I couldn't tell the difference between emotion and sex. I still struggle with it, to be honest, only now I understand what I saw. I understand that you love my mother but that it's nothing I should be concerned about. I'm all heart and soul, I always have been. I think of love in such strong terms. I didn't see that the way you felt had pace, timing – gentle consideration. Please forgive me my ignorance.

I miss you. My mother misses you. We would both like to see you again. Please don't let my stupidity put you off coming to see us again.

Keigo.

PS – My father thinks you've married a Russian princess. You must come back, if only to dispel this rumour.




For three long weeks, Atobe receives no reply. He throws his weight into his tennis. They're through to the third round of the Nationals, the same place they were three years ago when Tezuka sacrificed his wellbeing for the trophy. His father keeps talking about entrance exams to Keio but the only thing on Atobe's mind are the scouts who attend each and every game.

Oshitari has a girlfriend. So does Shishido. Atobe watches them sometimes and the endearing bumbling way they navigate their relationships. Far from the days of silly affections, they've all realised that being honest and true is the secret to pleasing women. Atobe doesn't find that he's missing out. The one girlfriend he had eight months ago was fleetingly fun but had nothing on tennis. It doesn't strike him as something to worry about.

Occasionally, he watches Oshitari open doors for Akiko and it makes him think of Sakaki, all those years ago.

Instead of being drawn against Seigaku, they're drawn to face Rikkaidai. It isn't what Atobe nor his coach expected and they spend a couple of hours a night after practice watching old videotapes of Yukimura's matches. Atobe knows their chance is slim – three years ago they could have beaten Rikkaidai but they're now so advanced that it seems almost impossible. A part of him is desperately afraid that when he faces Yukimura, he'll look amateur. His last shot at being scouted, lost to the wind.

He's never struggled with confidence before.

Two days after three weeks, he receives a postcard. It's obnoxiously bright and crinkled at one side with being held between thumb and forefinger in the hot sun. On the front are the Austrian alps and the words 'The Hills Are Alive!' in giant orange wavy text. Atobe chuckles to himself and turns the postcard over.

With the sound of music, it reads.

Sakaki.

Atobe blinks, a couple of times. What does that mean?




Atobe's father throws a dinner party a fortnight later. Everybody in the entire country is invited, or so it seems, and Atobe is expected to play equal part in the hosting. He barely remembers now the first time he did this. It's become second nature to him. He's become good at faking interest in the guests and their prosperous children, their dazzling memories of better times than these. Occasionally, he meets somebody who genuinely intrigues him but for the most part, the dinner parties feature the same old small talk from the same old people.

He takes a path around the room as though it's a waltz, as though there's a set routine. In the distance, he can see his mother on his father's arm. For the first time in his life, she looks to him older than she is. Maybe she's worrying or lot or maybe he's growing up, he's not sure. Oshitari is no longer looking at her – his eyes fixed on Akiko, who handles the crowds as deftly as Atobe does, despite having eight years less experience with them. Occasionally, his father's laugh echoes out into the hall, utterly fake.

When he looks up, his mother's face shows surprise. He can't turn around to identify what she's looking at so when he lifts his glass to the the man he's talking to. When the man lifts his own, he tries to see a reflection in it, to glimpse whatever it is that's made her face contort. The vision is muddied by the champagne and he resigns himself to defeat. When the conversation ends and it's time to find a new partner, he turns and sees nothing, nothing that catches his eyes. Too late, the moment has passed.

When he turns back around, he turns straight into Sakaki.

“Fuck,” he hisses, under his breath.

“Well, that's an ice-breaker,” Sakaki says. “Do you say that to all your guests?”

“No,” Atobe says, shaking his head. “No, I'm sorry. You surprised me. I didn't realise you were here and now you're here and I wanted to...not make a total ass of myself and-”

Sakaki just smiles. “A world away from when we first met, aren't you?”

“I hope so,” Atobe says. “I got your postcard.”

“No, you didn't,” Sakaki says.

“Okay,” Atobe says. “I received it, is what I meant, and you know it.”

“Of course,” Sakaki says. “I came back to here you play. Your mother wrote to me and told me. That's what I meant by it.”

“It's just a piano piece,” Atobe says. “My father insisted. It's very Von Trapp and I'm sure it won't be worth the airmiles but I'm glad you're here.”

“I was glad to receive your letter,” Sakaki says. “But perhaps this isn't the time.”

“No,” Atobe says. “Can we talk later?”

“Of course,” Sakaki says. “How's the tennis?”

“Good,” Atobe says. “Could be better. I'm playing Seiichi Yukimura in two weeks.”

Sakaki nods, slowly, taking a sip of his champagne and casting his eyes around the room.

“Well,” he says. “You could try another long game. Or do you feel you've hospitalised enough of your peers?”

Atobe stares at him aghast. “I don't remember you being this rude,” he says, with a laugh of disbelief.

“No, I suppose not,” Sakaki says. “Is it a problem?”

“Not at all,” Atobe says. “Only I think you need to take credit for that match, thank you very much. It wasn't my idea to go for a long game, was it?”

“Mm,” Sakaki says. “I think it appealed to the little warrior in you. Secretly.”

“Possibly,” Atobe says. “Only it didn't turn out the way I thought it was going to. It took me eighteen months to work through my reputation, you know. A lot of the magazines wouldn't feature me after that.”

“Few things in life turn out the way you want them to,” Sakaki says. “I've given up on strategy. On imposing formula. Maybe you're right – maybe tennis is just heart and soul. What's your strategy for beating Yukimura?”

“So far?” Atobe asks. “Praying like hell.”

Sakaki laughs. “Well,” he says. “If anybody can do it, you can do it. I've kept up with your matches. Your father gets gruffer and gruffer whenever I bring it up. Believe in yourself.”

“I do,” Atobe says. “I do. I just – this is my last chance. It feels like my last chance. What if it doesn't happen for me?”

“Then you'll dust yourself off and go to Keio,” Sakaki says. “And when you're at Keio you'll sneak off to practice and practice and practice and you'll send in applications for training schools. You'll have to go to the scouts rather than the other way around.”

“Okay,” Atobe says. “I might be married by then.”

“Mm,” Sakaki says. “Your father has his eye on some little trifle of a girl. Have you noticed?”

“Yep,” Atobe says. “I'm trying to put her off. Ryou thinks I should pretend to have a nervous tick. I'm considering it.”

“You should tell him you're too young,” Sakaki says.

“I thought you'd given up on strategy?” Atobe says.

“It's not strategy,” Sakaki says. “Just honesty.”

“Okay,” Atobe says. “Then honestly? Your plan sucks.”

Sakaki laughs. “Honestly? You're just afraid to try.”

“Honestly,” Atobe says. “I think about you more than I should.”




The entire room is silent when Atobe sits down to play. He wishes that he had a tennis racket in his hand. To his left, his mother stands with her champagne flute pressed to her chest. Her eyes are searching his. Beside her, her father stands with a look Atobe can't pinpoint. And beyond them, hoards of people he doesn't want to play for. Doesn't want to reveal himself to. A churn in his stomach makes him sorry that he agreed to do this – to perform a piece written himself, to allow these strangers a view into his head. His heart and soul.

When he looks further into the crowd, Sakaki stands with his eyes calm and his head tilted downwards slightly. He looks safe. Safe and knowing and like the pieces of a puzzle falling into place. With his hand, he makes a gesture. Turn the first page. So Atobe lifts his hand and does and when he sees the music spread out in front of him he knows what he's doing. Like throwing the ball into the air, suddenly it all makes sense and he can move without thinking about it. He presses his hands to the keys and before long, the piece is over. He's finished. When he looks around the room his mother's eyes are wet and his father looks uncomfortably proud.

When he turns his eyes to Sakaki, Sakaki's eyes are closed. When he opens them, he no longer sees safety, knowing or a complete jigsaw.

Anything but.




He stays in the grounds long after the party has finished. It helps to be under the dark spread of the sky. Somehow, he feels it keeps his thoughts in. Protects him, like being smothered under a great big blanket. When he looks up at the stars he wonders whether the world is ever going to fully make sense to him – and whether or not he wants it to.

He doesn't know why he told Sakaki that he thinks about him all the time. He does, but it hardly seems important or relevant. Or it didn't, until now. That Sakaki had no response tells him all he needs to know. The silly reflections of a child. Every moment he spent watching Sakaki with admiration had nothing to do with admiration at all. The moments he spent looking at Sakaki with his mother tinged with a kind of jealousy he never understood.

He used to think he wanted to be Sakaki. Now that he knows differently, he's not sure that anything will be the same ever again.

When he treks back up to the house, he feels like his heart is so swollen and heavy that it's pushing everything upwards into his head. When he steps into the main hall, he hears the sound of music. His own music. At least, it sounds like his own music, his own piece – played with a new interpretation, played with rises and descents that he didn't write in.

Despite every instinct that tells him not to do it, he walks back into the room and meets Sakaki's eyes.

“It's a good piece,” Sakaki says.

“Then why are you ruining it?” Atobe asks.

Sakaki chuckles. “You never had any taste in music,” he says.

“Shut up,” Atobe says. “My taste in music is just fine. You've been away too long. That's a load of crap – can't you hear that you're ruining it with your heart and soul? You can't hear the timing when you're crashing away like that.”

“Keigo, you're impossible,” Sakaki says.

“You're calling me Keigo again,” Atobe says.

“I am,” Sakaki says. “It seems appropriate.”

“Yes,” Atobe says. “So what do I call you?”

“Sit down,” Sakaki says.

Atobe looks down. There's only one seat. Sakaki moves back and against his better judgment, Atobe slowly fills the void. He tries not to think about the feel of Sakaki's thighs around his own and concentrates on the score in front of him. Sakaki's scratchy pencil marks are all over it. Just by passing his eyes over it, Atobe can hear where the music has thickened, deepened. Where Sakaki has managed to touch the emotion Atobe couldn't express.

“It's beautiful,” he says.

“Play it,” Sakaki says. “Go on.”

Atobe lifts his hands to the keys and notes that they're shaking. Tries not to think about it as he plays, slowly, the first two bars. It comes easily to him after that, with only the slight hitches of transition as he accommodates Sakaki's alterations. Every one has made the piece better – has brought out something that Atobe struggled with, writing it. It's as if Sakaki has walked into his soul and carried out the pieces that Atobe couldn't fit in his arms.

The music is loud, loud enough to wake the whole house, but Atobe keeps playing because the more he does the better and better it sounds and the freer and freer he feels. And Sakaki keeps time behind him, his hands over Atobe's hands, tough lighter than a bird. Feeling the music. Feeling everything that Atobe felt when he wrote this – all those months of solid frustration, of need and confusion and rage.

“Who did you write this about,” Sakaki says, as the music rises to a crescendo.

“I don't know,” Atobe says. “I wrote it a week after the match with Tezuka. A week after that. It's about – I don't think it's about anyone or anything. It's just-”

“Heart and soul,” Sakaki says.

“Yes,” Atobe says, the last few bars quieter and quieter. His ears and ringing. “When you changed it, you made it about you.”

“Yes,” Sakaki says.

“Did you ever think about me?”

“Of course,” Sakaki says.

“Did you ever think about me the way I think about you?”

Sakaki is silent for a long time. “No,” he says.

Atobe flattens his hands on the keys and exhales, hard. He's not sure what to say. What to do. Whether to get up or to stay or to-

“Not until I came here and saw you again,” Sakaki says.

Atobe turns his head over one shoulder and looks at him. Really looks at him – at the face that one was confident, was wistful and open and affectionate and hard, all at once. At the face that had women swooning in his courtyard. At the face that he once tried so hard to imitate. The face that now looks so markedly different.

“You're afraid,” he says.

“Everybody is afraid,” Sakaki says. “Of getting what they want.”

“I'm not,” Atobe says.

“Except you,” Sakaki says. “Always except you.”

To prove it, Atobe leans in and lets his lips open up Sakaki's – lets his mouth sweep a line of need over Sakaki's. And when Sakaki's long fingers touch the nape of his neck, he feels like he can hear music, all over again.

“You can call me Taro,” Sakaki says, his lips forever imprinting the word on Atobe's.




The thing about Sakaki is that Atobe got him both terribly right and terribly wrong. He continues to be surprised by him. In a world full of teenagers and impatient fathers, Sakaki's commitment to patience is both flattering and infuriating. Sakaki insists on not rushing anything. With the match with Yukimura coming up, Atobe has enough to be concentrating on, he says. Atobe isn't sure whether it's just an excuse or whether it's more than that. Whether he's just afraid. Or whether he's waiting for Atobe to turn eighteen or whether-

“Do you want me to watch the match?” Sakaki asks.

Sometimes, they lie in Sakaki's bed without their clothes on. This is just such an example of Sakaki's infuriating patience but Atobe never likes to lose a challenge. He strokes his own throat, his own collarbone, lidding his eyes.

“If you like,” he says, lazily.

“Keigo,” Sakaki says.

“What,” he says.

“Stop being a dirty slut and talk to me properly,” Sakaki says.

Atobe cracks open one eye and just smiles. The moment Sakaki resorts to talk like that, it's game over and they both know it. He's a gentleman, and prides himself as such. He pinches his nose and sighs.

“Fine,” he says. “I won't, then. You can do it yourself.”

“Managed this far,” Atobe says. “Without your coaching.” He slides his hand down his own chest, underneath the sheet. “Oh, sorry – were you talking about tennis?”

Shut up,” Sakaki hisses, turning over onto his back.

“You shut up,” Atobe says, contentedly. Strokes a hand around himself and then tilts his head back with an achingly pleased sigh.

“What was it you used to say about people with good breeding,” Sakaki says, irritably.

“I don't know,” Atobe mumbles. “But Yuushi always says that people with good breeding are pigs.”

“He might be onto something there,” Sakaki says.

“You could be onto something, too,” Atobe says.

“No,” Sakaki says, peacefully. The change in tone makes Atobe suspicious and he opens his eyes. Doesn't stop touching himself, not for the moment.

“Why not,” he says.

“I think it would be more appropriate, given the circumstances-”

Sakaki tails off, eyeing Atobe's hand. He reaches out above the sheet and grabs his wrist.

“Excuse me,” he says. “I'm talking to you.”

Atobe groans, curling his lip. “And?” he says. “I'm listening.”

“Well,” Sakaki continues. “I think it would be more appropriate to use this as a strategy.”

“I thought you'd given up on strategy,” Atobe says.

“Temporarily clouded by lust,” Sakaki says. “Anyway. If you beat Yukimura, I'll happily screw you seven ways from Sunday.”

Atobe jaw drops open. “Excuse me?” he says.

Sakaki just smiles. “Gentlemen don't speak like that in your world, do they not?”

“I,” Atobe says. “I. Well. Wait. Hang on.”

“If you don't,” Sakaki says. “I think we'll have to wait until you're eighteen.”

“That's blackmail,” Atobe says. “That's blackmail, you-”

“Keigo,” Sakaki says. “You're honestly surprised?”

“Yes,” Atobe says. “No. I don't know. I don't like you. I don't want you. I'll lose to Yukimura on purpose.”

“No, you won't,” Sakaki says. “Because I'm going to give you a taster.”

He swats Atobe's hand away and delves his own beneath the sheet. And at the first touch of his firm, deft fingers around Atobe's cock, Atobe's spine dissolves and he gasps melted stars.




Ten days later, Yukimura beats him 7-6.

He's about to go to the stands, where Sakaki is, somewhere – when he's intercepted by a man with a bunch of magazines and a clipboard.

“Atobe Keigo,” he says. “My name is Takahishi Naizen. I'm a scout for the Asian training program of the Weil Tennis Academy. Do you have time for a little chat?”




Later, much later, he asks his driver to drive him to Sakaki's apartment. Once there, he walks into Sakaki's bedroom.

“According to your strategy,” he says. “What do I get for losing the battle but winning the war?”

Sakaki is unbuttoning his shirt. He turns to him, eyes dark and focused and full of lust.

“Get on the bed,” he says. “I want to show you what your weakness is.”

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