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31 October 2005 @ 11:45 pm
[RP log] Atobeckingham Palace  
Characters: Atobe Keigo & Saeki Kojirou
Timeline: June, just before the first training camp
Rating: G
Summary: The boy from Chiba experiences the splendor that is "home"

"Game, set and match."

Saeki gave the last call, watching the final point fall once more to Atobe and he couldn't suppress the grin that fell across his features. He hadn't played this hard in...he couldn't remember when. The last time that came to mind was that fateful game against Fuji and Kikumaru in his junior high years.

Leaning on his knees, Saeki wiped the sweat from his face, his blue eyes filled with excitement. The game had ended 6-3, in favor of Atobe. He wasn't really surprised at the end result, though he was rather proud of himself for taking three games on the other player. Atobe was a singles player, and it showed in how he performed. Saeki was primarily a doubles, and it astonished him how well he kept up. Perhaps he had improved more than he'd thought.

The country bumpkin actually held his ground rather well, though the final score was to be expected for the former Hyoutei captain. Quite honestly, he was not sure what to make of the boy's playing style. Of the three games Saeki managed to capture, the first one was a giveaway, which Atobe had used to gauge the other's skill. The other two had actually been rather close games, which intrigued him. Perhaps the silver haired youth from Chiba was more than just lip. And as captain of the Waseda team, he probably had some leadership tendencies as well... despite his occasional social blunders.

Walking up to the net, Atobe extended his hand toward the kneeling boy. With a warm smirk, he said, "Not too bad at all...Saeki."

Taking the hand, Saeki shook it firmly, belying the tiredness that he felt. "Good game, Atobe." Well, if the other was doing away with honorifics, why not join in? "Your reputation precedes you. It's been a long time since anyone ran me into the ground like that."

It was true and he rather enjoyed it. It had been a long time since he'd enjoyed a match like this. He stood up and ran a hand through his hair as they made their way off the court.

As he approached the bench where he had left his tennis gear, Atobe reached down to snatch his towel from his bag. He threw it over his shoulders, taking the ends of the towel and dabbing it against his sweaty forehead. June in Tokyo could get quite humid, and today was no exception. But he was glad he came out here on this Saturday afternoon, for the workout was much needed...particularly in preparation for the upcoming training camps.

Slinging his tennis bag over one shoulder, the gray haired diva glanced over at Saeki as he said, rather earnestly, "Perhaps you would not have been so 'run into the ground' as you say, if you took your singles game more aggressively. I sensed some hesitation in your play. You don't usually play singles, do you?" It was a leading question asked matter-of-factly, as though he already knew the answer.

Going over to his own tennis gear, Saeki took a towel, drying his neck and face before putting his tennis racquet away. He looked up at Atobe as he spoke, blinking in surprise. He grinned and shrugged, standing and shouldering his own bag.

"I can see your Insight serves you off the court as well as on," Saeki shifted his bag on his shoulder until it was more comfortable. "You're correct. I do not usually play singles, but doubles."

"Hm," Atobe responded with a nod of his head, as he turned to walk out of the courts.

The tennis courts at Tokyo University were located besides the recreation center that housed various other sports team practices during the week. Though a scattering of teams came out for practices during the weekend, the grounds were relatively quiet in comparison to the weekdays as the two of them walked cross-campus toward the front gates of the university.

There were actually a few things Atobe had to take care of that afternoon, one of which involved a trip home, to his family mansion. Since moving to an apartment in the city with Oshitari, he had not returned home as often as his parents probably would have preferred. It was not as though he was adverse to the idea. But sometimes, going home almost felt like a step back into a comfort zone that took away from his sense of independence.

He took his car keys from his pocket and triggered the automatic door locks to his Audi. Turning to face Saeki, he said, "Next time you play me, come at me with a singles mentality... Your doubles game may be good, but it holds you back." He opened his trunk and tossed his bag into it before he finished, "You don't seem to hold back off the court, so keep that spirit within the court, and see where that takes you, mmm?" He smirked.

"I shall definitely give it a try," Saeki replied, eyeing the car with a raised eyebrow. Then again, he'd always known that Atobe was rich. A pang of jealousy hit him and he stomped it down. Not everyone was graced with such a life, and it didn't do any good to be jealous of what you didn't have. "I have to admit, since coming to Tokyo when some of my other classmates had chosen to stay in Chiba, it has been difficult. Even after being here for three years, I am not...all that used to the large city."

"Is it difficult?" Atobe smiled amusedly. "It is just a city. I suppose the crowds can get rather overwhelming at times, but this place has its moments enough." He wondered to himself why he was trying to make the boy feel more at ease. Perhaps it was the odd look with which Saeki eyed his silver sports car. It was a look Atobe had seen before...

"Regardless of how you find the city, your hometown is but a little ways off, is it not?" he noted. "My own place is just a few miles north from here. A quick weekend trip home should sustain you enough through the week, I should think."

"Hmm...very true. It's a little over an hour by train," Saeki admitted, running a hand through his hair. He thought about it and realized he probably should go there and get things set up for the field trip at any rate. "Is that where you're headed now?" It was probably rather forward to ask, but for some reason he seemed rather fascinated with this man.

Snorting softly, Atobe replied, "You wish to know where I am headed?"

Tossing his gray locks proudly from his face, he gazed over at Saeki with an arched eyebrow. A curious question, especially coming from someone he wasn't very well acquainted with. But he figured it was just an absent question that one would usually ask in small talk situations. Nevertheless, he chose to pause for a moment to find how the other would respond to his inquiry.

Had he screwed up again? Saeki gauged Atobe carefully and mentally sighed with relief. He didn't seem to be upset...and to be truthful, he wasn't even sure himself why he'd asked. He'd enjoyed their time together during this little game, and for some reason was loath to part company. Atobe was fascinating and intriguing, all the same time.

But should he say that, and risk bringing Atobe's ego up any higher? But then, Saeki was always an honest person, to himself and to others. "Ahh...forgive me if my words offended or were overly forward, Atobe-san. I have to confess that...well you intrigue me. I've never met anyone as self assured as you are. At least not someone who wasn't putting on a fabulous facade, which you obviously do not."

Atobe almost laughed out loud by this absurd response he had induced from Saeki. Did he just say that he didn't put on a "fabulous façade"? Anyone who had seen Atobe in action during his pre-match antics never would have suggested anything as preposterous as this. Though Rokkaku was not a school he had played against personally, Atobe was sure that Hyoutei's reputation - and his reputation - was quite well known throughout the Kantou region. This boy was more country than he expected. His naiveté could almost be described as cute.

He held back his barely contained amusement that threatened to burst out from his quivering lips as he uttered, "Intrigue? That is something I excite from most people. And I realize you meant no offense. As I said, you need to apply your forward nature to the courts...it may serve you better there."

Pausing for a moment with his hand poised to close his trunk, Atobe shot a glance at Saeki and chuckled, "To answer your question, I am indeed heading to my family estate this afternoon. Perhaps, if you are not otherwise engaged, I can humor you with a tour." His deep azure eyes flickered mischievously.

Saeki blinked. Atobe had just invited him to visit his home. Now that was a stunning turn of events if ever there was one. He quirked a smile and arched an eyebrow upwards. "I would be honored, Atobe-san." He noted the mischievous look and wondered just what it meant, but chose not to think on it too deeply.

The boy was taking him up on the offer? This was a surprising turn of events. Atobe had actually extended the invitation in a half mocking tone, and had not expected an affirmative response. But he supposed that he had already awed the other with his tennis prowess... why stop there? In any event, it wouldn't be out of his way at all...

"Very well, then," Atobe replied with a mild chuckle. "Throw your bag in the trunk." He stepped away and walked over to the driver's side and reached down to open the door

Taking the cue from the other boy, Saeki dropped his bag into the trunk and closed the door before going to the other side of the car. This was going to be an interesting adventure. For one, he wasn't really used to cars. He'd always had to take public transportation. Not that he minded; he loved taking the bus. It allowed you see all manner of variety of people.

Sliding into the slick leather seat on the driver's side, Atobe shut the door firmly after him and started up the car. This was some unexpected company for sure. The boy had held his own to some extend during their match, but Atobe was uncertain what type of social company he would keep. Was the Waseda captain truly being naïve, or was he being insincere? Perhaps a conversation would soon reveal this.

After Saeki buckled himself into the passenger side, Atobe pulled the Audi into the street, heading north. The sun was peeking through the tall skyscrapers about the city, shining brightly upon the silvery car as it made its way through the busy streets. Atobe addressed his passenger while keeping his eyes fixed upon the road in front of him, "I understand my former teammate Shishido is your vice captain. He's a bit of spitfire, but quite reliable and focused. I'm sure he'll be a great asset to your team..."

"I noticed that about him myself," Saeki couldn't help but grin, remembering the talk he'd had with Shishido after they'd been informed that they would be the captain and vice-captain for the Waseda team. The Waseda team was very unlike Rokkaku, so he'd had to change his normal mindset about how to handle things drastically. Usually they all just did their own thing and followed Oji's coaching. But he didn't have Oji here to help him; he had to do it all on his own.

This was why he found Shishido's help to be immeasurable. Shishido came from a school that had a tight bond and leadership. He was able to use that to enhance his own leadership abilities. "We've had a few talks and I think he's going to be an incredible asset. I'm very lucky to have him on our team."

"Aaaahn? Noticed what? That he's a spitfire? Or reliable and focused?" Atobe replied, chuckling in amusement. He was rather curious how Shishido was handling himself, now that he was in college and heading a team of his own. Thinking back to their years at Hyoutei, he realized that it never would have come to pass that they could serve together as captain and vice captain. No, Shishido had a streak in him back then that always caused some head butting between them. They had been known for their heated arguments and bickering, for Atobe knew that both of them could be quite stubborn when they wanted to be.

Thoughts from the night of the reception suddenly flashed through Atobe's mind. Yes, the boy had changed, indeed, though some things were still the same. He smiled in recollection...

"But I'm glad you find him to be an asset, Saeki. He'd be pleased to hear it."

"I'm sure he would," Saeki said dryly, giving a snort of amusement. He grinned and shrugged his shoulders. "I actually meant all three; he's quite reliable, very focused and definitely a spitfire!" Running his fingers through his silvery hair, he looked out through the window.

"I have to admit...I wasn't ready for this. This...isn't how we did things in Rokkaku. Being captain or vice-captain didn't mean anything at all, really. They were something we had to have to compete, but everyone on the team was equal; no one was above anyone else," Saeki knew, in the back of his mind, it probably wasn't a good idea to tell another captain of another school of his own insecurities.

But, for some reason, he didn't feel that rivalry between captains with Atobe. "Shishido has experience in a more disciplined club and he's helped me adjust remarkably, though I doubt he realizes it."

The Audi turned on to the entrance ramp to the highway, heading north of the city. As the car continued on its way, Atobe considered Saeki's remark.

"I imagine there can be other ways to run a team," he said thoughtfully. "Leadership styles cannot be mimicked. You lead as you see fit. Shishido did come from a disciplined team, as you say..but he will develop what he feels is right for Waseda."

No doubt Atobe understood what was most effective in his experience. But his absolute position as captain of a 200 member team was not a perspective that most people could comprehend. People may have envied him of it, but keeping the order and respect his position demanded was not as easy as he made it look...

Which was one of the things that Saeki admired about Atobe. Rokkaku had always been rather small, even for a tennis club. "Oh I'm sure there are as well. Hopefully we can make a good showing." He really wanted to do good by his team.

"Then I'll be counting on meeting Waseda on the court someday soon," Atobe responded absently as he kept his eyes steadily on the road. His car took the familiar highway north, toward home...

~~~ * ~~~

Several minutes later, they were pulling into the massive driveway leading up to Atobe's mansion home. The manor, more lovingly called "Atobeckingham Palace" by those who have seen it, was a luxurious estate built in the style of a classy Mediterranean villa, with sweeping tiled rooftops and airy balconies that overlooked acres of lush greenery. Aside from the sparkling fountain and various gardens that adorned the front half of the home, the back end of the establishment housed an outdoor swimming pool complete with Jacuzzi, and indoor and outdoor tennis courts where Atobe used to bring his Hyoutei regulars for extra training on the weekends.

The afternoon was bright and breezy, and the freshly tended flower gardens gave off a most refreshing scent into the air as Atobe stepped out of his car. He strode up to toward the doors of his home, greeting his butler that rushed out to meet him with a familiar nod and smile.

"I have brought a guest," he announced, glancing over to Saeki, who was exiting the passenger side of his car. And turning to address his aforementioned guest, he drawled, "Come inside, Saeki. No need to hesitate at the door..."

Oh yes there was. Saeki blinked a few times, looking around him, the first thing that came to mind that this was not a house. This was a fucking hotel! That was it...yeah. This couldn't really be someone's house. Nobody was that rich! This place resembled one of those luxury hotels that he was used to seeing on the beach at home. Hell, he'd even worked at one of the larger ones one summer.

Shaking his head, Saeki took a step forward before following after Atobe. "Right, sure. No reason at all..."

As Atobe turned toward the doors once again, his butler gave him a knowing smile and said, "Oshitari-san is not accompanying you this afternoon? I trust he is in good health, and keeping you in high spirits?"

"Aaaahn?" Atobe raised his eyebrow and tilted his head at his butler and grinned. They say your helping hands are more privy to your personal matters than you might realize. Although in this case, it came to no surprise. Tamura Hideo had been under the employ of the family since before Atobe was born, and there was very little that escaped his attention. To the young master of the family, Tamura was actually more like a confidante than a butler. "Obviously," he drawled. It was a one word answer to both the questions posed to him.

He strode inside the doors, entering the massive marbled foyer lit up by a shimmering crystal chandelier that hung from the ornately decorated ceiling, three stories high. The grand staircase curved up elegantly from the center of the foyer, leading up to the upper levels of the home, wherein the private rooms of the family were housed.

Placing a hand on the railing of the staircase, Atobe said, "Excuse me for a moment, Saeki. There are some matters I must attend to. Perhaps you can wait in the east parlor room. My butler can show you the way...do feel free to ask for whatever refreshment you require. I shall join you in five minutes."

"Of...course," Saeki said, hesitating only briefly before he made his way inside the manor house. He gave a brief smile to the butler and waited patiently to be led to the parlor room. Outwardly he was calm and collected, seemingly almost at home in a place like this.

Of course, inwardly was a different story. This seemed more like a hotel than someone's home. He'd always heard that Atobe was rich, and of course he'd heard all about the Atobe name. It was fairly well known in Japan. But to come face to face with it was something else entirely. It was immense, and he didn't know how anyone could handle this sort of wealth.

Then again, what did he think he was doing here? Here he was, a boy from Chiba, whose parents had both had to work constantly just to make sure their was enough food on the table for their family, standing in one of the most luxurious and expensive homes in Tokyo. He'd dared to challenge the heir to something like this...what was he thinking?

But then, he felt sorry for Atobe all of a sudden. How much of his life was regulated by duty to the family, to the family business? With great wealth comes great responsibility. At what age did Atobe have to begin shouldering that responsibility? What of his childhood? Even now, if Saeki wished he could go anywhere he chose, but did Atobe have that freedom?

'Gah. Now my head hurts,' he grumbled to himself, taking a seat in the parlor room as he waited.

Back upstairs, Atobe was in his personal study, busy sorting through some documents that were waiting for him on his desk. Though still in college, his father expected him to keep up with the latest developments and projects of his family owned corporation. On occasion, he would leave the reports and spreadsheets at the Atobe manor, as though to encourage his son to make an appearance at the family home at least once a month. Lately however, Atobe had been training extra hours for the Prince tournament, and rarely made it back for such visits. And on days such as today when he could actually make the trek home, his parents were inevitably occupied elsewhere. Such was business as usual for the family - never really gathered in one place at once.

Minutes later, Atobe was striding down the stairs, making his way through the vast hall to where Saeki was waiting for him in the parlor. As he approached the other boy, he raised his eyebrow and drawled, "Making yourself at home?" He looked at him, amused. Saeki did not seem at home at all, though that should come to no surprise.

"Uhm...yes, thank you." Saeki looked up, startled. He'd been so lost in thought that he hadn't heard Atobe enter the room. He gave a brief smile and stood up. "You have a lovely home, Atobe-san." And he did. Even if it did make him a little uncomfortable.

"Thank you." Atobe eyed him for a moment as though contemplating something.

Although he had told Saeki to request whatever refreshment he wanted, he was still standing there with nothing. It figured. He probably should have asked one of the wait staff to bring him something before heading upstairs, but he had been too preoccupied. He turned to leave the parlor, beckoning the other to follow him.

"I can give you a tour later, if you wish. But why don't you follow me up to the balcony on the second floor? It's got a nice view of the outdoor tennis courts, and we can take a breather. I'll have someone bring us some drinks, as well."

"Ahh...of course!" Saeki came to his feet and followed after Atobe almost eagerly. Anything to keep himself from brooding about things. That never helped; especially in this type of situation. But it would be fun; he'd make sure of that. He needed to stop comparing himself with Atobe; they weren't the same, and he shouldn't dwell on that. Enjoy the day, and perhaps make a new friend out of this endeavor.

Oshitari Yuushihyoutei_tensai on January 22nd, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
just passing through~