Recipient's name: genkischuldich
Disclaimer: standard disclaimer is fine
Warnings: puns, sorry.
Author's notes: Much thanks to my wonderful beta, D, for her support, suggestions, and speedy turnaround time. Genkischuldich, I hope you like the fic. It was a pleasure to write (and thank you for giving me a reason to stick Atobe and Horio on the same team. *g*)
Somewhere around what he thinks is the seventy-fifth or eightieth defeated Hyotei tennis player, Bane yells from the bleachers, "Hey, let's go! The bus is leaving without us!"
Distracted, Davide looks up, and the tennis ball whizzes past his ear. Across the net, the Hyotei pre-regular smirks, but Bane knows Davide is not really paying attention to that because—"But the bus already has us in it"—idiocy always comes first.
Bane's eye twitches and his leg twitches more but he manages to stay in the stands and not leap onto the court to kick Davide in the head.
Davide grins. "I'm almost at one hundred. Give me half an hour."
The pre-regular sputters in indignation. Davide's grin sharpens and Bane looks away so no one can see the answering smirk on his face. Vindication feels great but it is tacky to kick someone when they're down, even if it is deserved.
Today was supposed to be fun, a day-trip into Tokyo for a practice match with one of the best teams in the region. Too bad it doesn't happen. Who knew you had to submit different forms and schedule a time weeks in advance if you wanted to play the regulars and not a random member of Hyotei's two-hundred-member tennis club? Hyotei has some pretty stingy rules. If you want to play someone you should be allowed to play, is what everyone thinks, but Davide is the one to say it out loud.
Which is how Davide ends up accepting the challenge of playing half of Hyotei's entire tennis club for a chance at a match with one of the regulars. Because they have to make sure he is worth the effort before they let their best play. Standard procedure, you know. Nothing personal, don't take it the wrong way. Bane wants to slap the smirks from their faces.
Davide must feel the same because the first few games go by fast, and Bane is hard-pressed not to gloat. (All right, he does gloat, but only a little, and besides, Ryou says much worse than he does.) However, as much fun as it is to watch Davide thrash Hyotei, Bane would rather be playing. He heads off for his own match, to the sounds of Davide's excited shouts behind him. Just within earshot, he hears a chorus of groans and 'will you just shut up and play!' and walks faster in case the wind carries Davide's answer to him.
Davide is a friend, has been since they were kids, but sometimes Bane really wants to slam his head against a wall. Or just slam Davide against a wall but Bane is adamant that today not be one of those days. Today is about tennis, not stupid embarrassing sex dreams about Davide and Davide's hands and Davide's voice--and Bane groans and walks faster.
Saeki gives him a sympathetic smile as he stalks past. "Why don't you take the far court," he suggests and Bane pauses in confusion.
"Okay," he says and adds, "That idiot never learns," when he realizes Saeki thinks he is annoyed at hearing yet another of Davide's puns.
Saeki nods. Bane doesn't like the speculative glint in his eyes and hurries away, determined to concentrate on tennis and only tennis for the next few hours. Hyotei makes this easy to do; they're not the regulars but some of the players are really good. Bane has a great time, and the day turns out to be fun after all.
They stay until late afternoon and only leave because they have to return the rented bus--minibus, actually, because the charter bus is budgeted only for official tournaments--before the end of the day or Ojii loses his deposit. Saeki tells him to get Davide and Bane pretends like he isn't already heading there to do so.
Davide is still playing. Bane can't believe Hyotei managed to put up with him for the whole afternoon. He's sort of impressed. Maybe they're jerks but they are jerks with willpower. Or selective hearing.
"Hey," Bane says again when Davide hesitates. Interrupting when Davide is obviously enjoying himself makes him feel like crap but they have to go. "Everyone's waiting, come on." The minibus is parked far away so it is faint but Bane can hear Kentarou exclaiming over something. Probably asking if he can step on the pedals for Ojii again.
The Hyotei pre-regular smiles. "Don't worry, if you want to quit and run home we won't say anything. Everyone knew you wouldn't last anyway."
Bane scowls. Or maybe they really are just jerks. He drops his and Davide's bags back onto the bleachers, catching Davide's eye with a smile.
"Never mind," he calls. "We'll catch the train."
They're hiding and Bane is only a little ashamed to admit it. He's tall but that one Hyotei guy is big as a mountain and that kendo-judo-whatever kid looks pissed off. Maybe they're joking about payback but two against two hundred are still horrible odds so Bane and Davide wisely take off--but in the wrong direction.
"Did you hear what they called me?"
"Yeah," Bane mutters, the word tasting like sour milk on his tongue, but then he actually looks at Davide. Davide, who hasn't stopped grinning since the last match ended and who clearly didn't hear the same things Bane did because he's grinning like a fool.
Bane knows that smile. The last time he saw it was when Shizuka, the prettiest girl in second year, laughed at one of Davide's jokes. It wasn't even a funny one, not that Bane thinks any of Davide's puns are funny, and she was only being polite but Davide beamed throughout that entire annoying day.
Davide punches Bane lightly on the shoulder. "Someone is jealous he doesn't have a cool nickname, huh?"
Hyotei Hyakuningiri is the lamest nickname in existence, and Davide already has a perfectly good nickname just like everyone else in Rokkaku. Bane punches his friend back, careful not to make too much noise, and whispers, "Yeah, right. Don't get a big head over one stupid name."
Impossibly, the grin splitting Davide's flushed cheeks widens. "If you want to be big, you can't belittle."
Convenient how an elbow to the head works about the same as a kick. Bane doesn't even have to get up. The blow knocks Davide off-balance and out into the open area of Hyotei's basketball courts. Cursing softly, he scrambles back behind the equipment shed. Bane muffles his snickering in his fist.
"Not cool," he hisses, jabbing Bane in the side as he crouches in the shadow of a shed bigger than Bane's room.
Bane shrugs and leans back against the shed wall. Five more minutes should be good enough and then they'll go. He's bored and they have school tomorrow and a train to catch. He shouldn't have stayed. Davide can find his own way home. Bane should have left with the others, but, as it always seems to be happening recently, Bane doesn't do a lot of things he should.
"This is so boring." Davide sprawls on the ground, legs splayed, arms folded under his head. His shirt rides up when he moves. Bane's mouth goes dry.
"Let's go eat," Davide suggests and turns his head to smile at Bane.
He pretends he hasn't been caught staring but Davide has this look on his face, a cross between a smile and a smirk that makes Bane's stomach drop to his feet. Davide knows.
"Seafood okay?" Davide continues, that tiny sly smile growing.
"Yeah, sure," Bane says, not really thinking about it because every thought is devoted to oh shit, Davide knows! He catches on too late. "No, wait—"
"Good, because I'm on a seafood diet. I see food, I eat it."
Bane slaps a hand to his face and groans. He walked right into that one. Through his fingers and his wince, Bane sees Davide curl onto his side, laughing and sounding incredibly pleased with himself. His shirt rides up more.
Thank god for idiots. Bane breathes a silent sigh of relief and is a little more cautious in admiring the smooth and now entirely exposed skin on the small of Davide's back. If he were smart, he wouldn't stare at all but Bane isn't smart. He's a stupid boy with a stupid crush and that perfect line of skin is right there in front of him and sheened in sweat. Bane wants to put his mouth there and lick the moisture off. He slides his fingers up into his hair and yanks. The sharp, sudden pain chases the urge away.
"All right, let's go." Bane stands, grabs his bag, and turns to see Davide still on the ground but with an arm waving in the air. Sighing, Bane grips him by the wrist and hauls Davide to his feet. "Lazy."
Davide smiles and Bane freezes. Too close. He's too close. Bane can see the crinkles around Davide's eyes as he smiles, the dusting of freckles on his nose, the stray eyelash stuck to his cheek. His fingers itch to touch him. He can smell the sweat on Davide's skin, and the heady scent mixed with the waxy odor of hair product shouldn't be arousing but it is. This is what going insane probably feels like.
Then Davide steps back. "Your treat, right?"
Bane sucks in a deep breath, mind reeling. "Sure. Yeah." He doesn't mention he's practically broke and can only afford ramen. Davide can deal. It's his fault for turning Bane into an idiot.
No one has come looking for them which means Hyotei really was joking about retaliation and they can probably waltz out the front gates without any trouble. Except they can't find the front gates so they look for a fence to climb over. And then look for a low wall because apparently fences aren't Hyotei's style.
"This place needs a map," Bane complains, wiping his dirt-streaked palms on his shorts.
Davide lands next to him and picks up his bag. "Where are we?" The other side of the wall is nothing but residential neighborhoods. Houses, more houses, a convenience store, a bus stop, and no restaurants.
"Let's ask someone." Bane walks across the street to the bus stop. The girl waiting in the bus shelter eyes him suspiciously but smiles readily when he smiles at her. "Hi," he says. "We're lost."
She giggles and her lips curve into a teasing smile. "Where are you trying to go?"
"Anywhere with food."
She laughs and Bane grins with her. She's got a cute smile. It's a little like Davide's.
"Well, there's lots of places like that." She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Some place good," Bane says because that will probably make her smile again.
It does, and her eyes shine when she purses her mouth in thought. "For something like that, you really need a local to show you around."
The sudden arm heavy across his shoulders makes him tense but it is only Davide. Bane shifts in place and reminds himself that this is normal, that all his teammates are this friendly with each other and Davide touching him is nothing new so he needs to calm the hell down right now. He tries to stop breathing quite so fast, too.
Something rustles and Bane looks down. In Davide's other hand, the one not brushing Bane's chest and driving him crazy, is a plastic bag from the convenience store. Bane sees a familiar red and white package of chocolate through the flimsy plastic, already opened.
"I asked the store clerk for directions." Davide leans against him, close enough that he can smell the too-sweet, fake sugar scent of Apollo Choco on his breath. Bane turns slightly away, hyper aware of Davide's warm, solid body pressed along his whole left side. His hand clenches on the strap of his bag.
Davide smiles at the girl. "Hi."
"Hello." She's not smiling anymore.
"Bane," Davide says, and Bane refuses to look at him because Davide's face is inches away which means his mouth is inches away and if Bane turns then his mouth will be…
"Yes?" Bane croaks. He starts to sweat and hopes Davide thinks it's because of the weather.
"Our bus is here."
Davide takes him by the elbow and pulls him onto the waiting bus. Bane didn't even hear it arrive. He gets on, then remembers his manners and sticks his head out an open window. "Hey," he shouts as the bus pulls away from the curb. "Thanks for your help!"
The girl waves, cute smile back on her face.
The bus is half full and the seats in the back are empty. Davide sits by the window, tennis bag in the seat next to him, popping tiny cones of Apollo Choco in his mouth. Bane takes the seat across the aisle, glad they don't have to sit next to each other.
After a few blocks, and Bane relaxes once he starts to recognize the surroundings, Davide says, "She was pretty cute."
Bane shifts. "She had a cute smile."
"Yeah," Davide mutters and slouches in his seat. He chomps pieces of Apollo Choco so quickly that not even the muscle jumping along his jaw deters him. He must be starving.
They pass a McDonald's and Bane rings the bell. "I feel like burgers."
Davide follows him. "You're broke, aren't you?"
Bane keeps walking. "You want me to treat or not?" He realizes Davide has stopped and looks over his shoulder. Davide points up a set of long stairs Bane hasn't noticed. "What?"
"I think there are tennis courts up there."
"You're kidding." Bane is incredulous but gamely treks up the stairs after Davide. "You just played a hundred people, aren't you tired?"
"Orange you curious?"
Davide is lucky he's outside of Bane's strike range. "That was worse than normal."
"Just making sure you were paying attention." Davide takes the stairs two at a time.
"I always pay attention," Bane mutters under his breath and has a mini heart attack when Davide turns back to look at him.
But there's no need to worry because Davide only says, "See? I was right." He gestures to the tennis court before them where a doubles match is just finishing. "Let's play, Bane. We didn't get to practice our doubles game today."
The idea is tempting. Playing with Davide is fun and they do have hours until the trains stop running. Maybe a game or two will even wipe that pinched frown from Davide's face. It makes Bane feel weird because it is almost accusing but he hasn't done anything wrong.
"Hey," Davide says, peering at the players. "Isn't that Hyotei's Atobe?"
Sure enough, someone in a Hyotei jersey stands in the center of the court, arms crossed and frowning at his doubles partner, a scared-looking kid with an unfortunate unibrow.
"Maybe you're not entirely worthless," Atobe declares and the kid stops looking terrified long enough to say, "Well, I do have two years—"
Atobe turns away. "Now, I've honored my part of the bargain, for the second time, I might add." He flicks his hair from his face and smiles, looking to the sidelines. "So about that date."
Bane doesn't know who Atobe's looking for but it's probably not the pale, too-pretty boy who stares blankly at him.
"You're looking for An-chan, aren't you?" he asks. "She and Kamio went to buy drinks. They kept asking me to go with them but I wasn't thirsty and besides, I wanted to watch you play. An-chan was sure you wouldn't agree to play doubles with anyone she picked and still win but you're really something, Atobe Keigo. Must be because you're rich. Rich people have opportunities none of us have. It's not fair. Hard work should count more, not money. If I were…"
A raucous blast of music interrupts his rambling and he digs a cell phone out of his bag. "Oh, it's Kamio," he says, as if they need to know although no one stops him from continuing to speak either. His droning voice is strangely hypnotic.
Rambles reads the message on his phone and frowns. He packs his gear and heads for the exit, still mumbling but under his breath now. As he walks by, Bane hears snatches of the monologue. Something about if people are trying to escape they should tell other people directly and not pretend to go buy drinks because not everyone is in on the plan and that's really not fair to assume…
Atobe stomps off the court, snapping his fingers and calling for a Kabaji. When no one answers, he barks at the unibrow kid, "Make yourself useful and carry my bag."
Everyone else ignores the going-ons. Bane wonders if this is a common occurrence and if everyone in Tokyo is slightly crazy. He clears his throat. "Maybe we should just head home now."
Davide slowly nods. "Good idea."
That's the plan but they're starving and it is more than an hour by train until they reach home. Bane doesn't think he can make it, and Davide's stomach gurgles in protest.
"Food?" Davide's forlorn expression reminds him of his dogs at mealtimes except without the pawing and piteous whining that always guilts Bane into giving them extra food. However, Davide pouting has the same, if even greater, effect on him. He caves immediately.
Davide asks some of the players at the sidelines for the closest restaurant with cheap food. The hole in the wall restaurant, when they find it, is almost too cheap. The interior is made up of folding tables and chairs. The menu is a chalkboard hanging from a wall, words dusty and faded. Bane scans it for the cheapest item and settles on plain congee. His stomach informs him he'll be hungry again in an hour and his wallet tells it to shut up.
Davide is still deciding, features thoughtful and bottom lip between his teeth as he reads.
"I'm going to wash my hands," Bane says.
The bathroom is tiny but mostly clean and lit by a bare light bulb. The pipes rattle when he twists the faucet. He washes his hands and his face, scrubbing dried sweat from his neck, and dries himself with his jersey because there's no paper in the dispenser. Lastly, he faces himself in the mirror and orders, "Stop thinking about him."
Davide is at a table when he gets out, chin propped on his palm. Bane experiences a moment of disconnect, unable to reconcile this seemingly cool, beautiful boy with the dork he knows his friend is. The table of giggling girls behind Davide don't have that problem. All they see is the hot guy sitting by himself. He winces, knowing it won't be long until their illusions are shattered.
Bane slides into his seat just as one of the girls says, "Would you like to join us?"
There's an awkward silence. Then she smiles at Bane. "The both of you?"
Davide shrugs and to Bane's surprise, says, "Sorry, maybe some other time."
She pouts but turns back to her friends. They start whispering and glancing over almost immediately. Bane ignores them but it's difficult when there is no conversation in the restaurant other than theirs and he can hear every word clearly. By the third repetition of 'but he's so cuuute! Go ask him again!' he's grinding his teeth.
"What are you getting?" Bane asks, feigning nonchalance and calm and patience and lots of other things that aren't seething irritation. Davide is oblivious, something that confuses him because he knows Davide loves attention. Any attention. Even kicks to the head attention, that masochist.
"I don't know." Davide frowns at the menu. Bane can't believe he still hasn't picked something yet. "Maybe katsudon. Or the omelet. I hear it's egg-cellent." Davide snickers.
The whispering stops. Then it increases three-fold but now it's complaints about how Davide seemed so cool and what a waste it is and how all the hot ones always turn out to be dorks. Bane can't help himself; he starts laughing. He never thought he'd be glad of Davide's awful sense of humor.
Davide stares at him, with the half-smile that is secretly Bane's favorite on his lips. "Bane, are you laughing at my joke?"
Bane shakes his head, incapable of speech. He's laughing at himself because he is relieved. The girls don't want Davide and Bane is relieved. That is so messed up, and Bane thinks maybe he's got it wrong. Maybe it is more than a stupid crush because he doesn't remember feeling this way when Shizuka gently turned Davide down. Then, he was only sympathetic but now. Now, he's glad and feeling superior and thinking things like 'you don't know what you're missing'.
Bane drops his head onto the table with a loud thunk. It's official. He has gone completely insane.
One of the girls whispers, "What the hell is wrong with his friend?" and Bane laughs harder, clutching his stomach.
More than a short while passes until Bane gets control of himself and by then, the girls have given Davide up as a lost cause and left. Bane wipes his eyes and coughs.
But Davide is smiling, happy and uncaring, and says he's ready to order. He knows what he wants.
So does Bane, finally, but damned if he's ever going to say it.
Davide wolfs his food and Bane is little better. His stomach aches afterwards and he burned his tongue, but he feels rejuvenated by the food. Ready to take on the world, or, at least, to get him and Davide back home before curfew.
"Do you need to call home?" Bane offers his cell phone.
"It's fine. My dad has a big project at work so he's sleeping at the office and my mom's visiting my aunt." Davide flings his arms out in a huge stretch and groans. "I'm so full," he announces and cuts himself off with an enormous yawn. "And tired." He rubs his eyes.
The childish act reminds Bane of when they were kids and Saeki had sleepovers. Davide had a strict bedtime curfew at nine o'clock, and it was hilarious watching him try to fight against habit and stay awake to keep playing with the older boys. He usually didn't succeed and ended up slumped on the couch or curled into a ball on the floor. Right before he collapsed, he would rub his eyes in the exact same way.
Bane herds him into a subway station. "We'll be home soon." He's pretty tired himself and a little surprised at how late it is. They spent too much time in the restaurant goofing off and stuffing themselves. Bane had to borrow money to cover their bill and now owes Davide another meal. He doesn't really mind that, and that is both embarrassing and terrifying.
Their train arrives. Rush hour ended hours ago and they easily find seats. Davide takes the window seat and props his tennis bag against the wall. He rests his head on the window.
"Don't fall asleep," Bane warns, taking the seat beside him.
"I won't," Davide mumbles and is asleep before the train leaves the station.
Bane sighs and looks out the window. He is really looking at Davide's profile but no one can tell. He hopes. It takes fifteen minutes to reach the station where they need to transfer to a different train that will take them home. Bane slouches in his seat, leans his head back, blinks at the fluorescent lights overhead. Tries not to think about how Davide's leg is touching his own. He concentrates on the hum of the train instead, and on the rushing air that rattles the doors as they speed through the city. It's peaceful almost. Relaxing. Bane closes his eyes.
And wakes when the train jerks to a stop. He opens his eyes and sees nothing but shades of red. He has fallen asleep on Davide, with his face pressed to Davide's neck and Davide's hair sticking to him. Bane stops breathing. Please don't be awake, he prays.
He sits up so fast his vision darkens from head rush. "Yeah?" He wipes the back of his hand across his mouth. There's a dark spot on Davide's jersey where Bane drooled on him. Classy.
The expression on Davide's face is one he's never seen before. It makes Bane uncomfortable and he starts to blush but then Davide's gaze shifts over Bane's shoulder. "This isn't our stop." Davide jumps to his feet, pulling Bane with him off the train. "How long were we asleep? Where are we?"
Bane has no idea. Normally, his brain takes forever to recover from sleep and it is doubly slow now when all he can think about is how nice and warm Davide felt, even if he smelled like their dinner.
"Uh," Bane says. "We should check a map."
The map helps. The station worker who takes pity on two sleep-mussed and obviously confused boys helps more. But the thing that helps the most is the adrenaline that shoots through his veins when he's told that the last train heading to Chiba will be arriving in five minutes. In another station that is ten minutes away.
Bane has never run so fast in his life. The city blurs around him, lights and people that he doesn't see. His world shrinks down to running and the harsh breathing of Davide at his side until they're the only things he is aware of. It's a little intoxicating, having such a narrow definite focus, and a little surreal.
"We can make it, we can make it," he repeats. "Just keep running."
Davide pants and pulls slightly ahead, dodging around a group of drunk salarymen. "Run like the wind, right, Harukaze?
The effort not to kick Davide is physically painful but even that doesn't ruin the strange high he feels. "I am going to kill you once we're on that train," Bane tells him, failing to sound the least bit serious.
Davide laughs, and it sounds glorious. Bane can't stop grinning.
He checks his watch as they skid into the station. "One minute!"
Davide reaches the ticket gates before he does. "Ticket, where's my ticket?" He jams his hands inside his pockets and turns them inside out. Lint falls on the floor. "Shit!"
Bane catches up just as Davide jumps over the ticket gate and continues running down the stairs to the train platform. "Sorry," he yells.
Bane goes through the normal, legal way and nearly falls on his face sprinting down the stairs. The train is already at the platform and boarding. Davide stands just inside the doorway, waving like a madman.
Bane runs. He's not going to make it. The doors start to close and Davide shoves his shoulder against one door and his foot against the other to keep them open.
"Ow, ow, ow! Stupid door!"
"Move, move!" Bane waves frantically, going too fast to stop.
"I'm trying," Davide yells but it's too late. Bane barrels into him and they crash to the ground. The doors shut with a whoosh and the train starts forward.
It is suddenly very quiet. Reality returns. Bane's breathing sounds unnaturally loud, but the roar of his pulse racing in his ears makes it hard to tell. He is pretty sure his face is on fire, though.
Davide is very still underneath him. Still and staring wide-eyed at Bane, and Bane doesn't know what to say because he is on top of his friend and they're both breathing hard and it is entirely obvious how happy his body is with this situation.
"Sorry," he mutters and rolls off Davide. He thinks he's going to be sick. "Sorry, sorry, sorry. You can slap me if you want."
Davide stares a little longer before sitting up and nodding once. "Okay."
Bane chokes. He doesn't look at Davide. He keeps his eyes on the ground because he doesn't want to see the disgust on Davide's face and he doesn't want to see the blow that is going to end their friendship.
So he misses Davide's smile, although he hears the exasperated laugh, and he is very much aware of when Davide leans in close and kisses him. Bane reels back but doesn't get far because Davide's hand is fisted in his shirt.
"Oh," he says.
"Yeah," Davide answers. His cheeks are redder than his hair. He does not let go of Bane.
Davide's fingers clench and unclench on Bane's shirt. "Yeah."
"Oh." Bane waits for his brain to catch up. "Um, me too."
"Yeah?" The hesitant joy in Davide's face is breathtaking.
"Yeah." Bane's face feels too small for his grin. This is the best moment of his life. Never mind that he's sitting on the dirty floor of a train car and the lone passenger at the back is giving him nasty glares. This is better than winning Nationals.
Well, maybe not that good.
"I really like you, Bane," Davide suddenly blurts.
No, it is definitely better. Bane wants to pump his fists and do a victory dance. He kisses Davide instead. It's a little awkward and Davide's lips are chapped but as far as Bane is concerned, it is perfect. Everything is perfect.
Until Davide says, "Even if this was the wrong train at least we're on the right track," and Bane is forced to slap him upside the head.
But, secretly, he thinks that makes it even more perfect.