Title: El Alma del Tango

Author: Kiarene
Pairings: Sanada / Atobe

Rating: G
Summary: No other dance connects two people more closely than the tango.

Published: 2nd December 2005
Disclaimer: I would love to own Atobe-sama and gang but I dont.


A/N: In which Sanda finally, finally gets a clue.



El Alma del Tango


5th Dance


Life pretty much settled down after that, as life often does after an intense tournament season. Atobe never spoke of Tezuka again, at least not in terms of beating him, but instead he looked forward, to other players. Sengoku, Fuji, Kentarou. Having seen the mentioned players in action, I think he was more than a match for them.


Atobe rambled on, wondering if he could beat Echizen, who had gone away to America so nobody could beat him. Well, not for *that* reason, but it was true that leaving as he did resulted in a lot of dissatisfaction among the players he defeated, myself included.


Grunting, I mentally shook my head. The iron weights clanked rhythmically behind me, my arms burning with the strain. Atobe came over occasionally to use Rikkadais gym; we may not have as much funding as Hyotei, but we do have extremely good, specialized equipment.


If you can talk so much, I huffed, youre obviously not training hard enough.


Atobe snorted in irritation. I smirked I could *feel* his annoyance. For a while, I could only hear the metallic clanks of the weights and our panting. I counted the presses: twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty


Then Atobe started talking again. I rolled my eyes. Granted, hes fairly witty and he has a decent voice, but he talks too much.


Sanada? Are you listening?


Yes, yes. I paused, reached over to readjust the weights to a lower load. Why do you think Fuji Syuuske, the Prodigy, would eventually quit tennis while his more obscure younger brother would go on to be a pro?


Attitudes. While the older undoubtedly has more talent, he


Atobe is entirely too good at this. He could go on for hours, analyzing everyone and everything.




Whats this? I stared at the two tickets in front of me. My voice echoed in the empty changing room.


You know what these are, Atobe said impatiently.


Of course I do, I snapped back. I had been trying to get hold of these tickets ever since I heard that the group was coming to Tokyo but the ones I could afford were sold out almost immediately. And, I tried hard not to peer at the seat numbers, but were those *almost* front row seats? The cost of those seats did *not* just come to mind.


It would be just like Atobe to have the tickets. To the concert Id been dying to see. Which I hadnt told him about.


Atobe sighed, waving the tickets. I wanted to see the concert and I wanted company. His tone became brisk. Go home, shower and change. Wear something suitable. Ill pick you up at six.


I was torn between anticipation and annoyance. Did he even ask me if I wanted to see the concert? If I was free? That was Atobe for you.


My eyes returned to the tickets again longingly and I heaved a sigh. Well, it was very nice of Atobe to invite me.


Anything else? I asked dryly, suddenly in a good mood.


He eyed my cap distastefully. Yes. Burn that cap.


Brusque invitation aside, I was looking forward to the concert. After my shower, I stood in front of my wardrobe, clad only in a towel. It was no great chore for me to decide I had only a few good shirts and pants. Atobe, though I laughed silently. He was such a clothes horse.


The stray thought that this seemed much like a date ran through my mind when Atobes limousine drew up outside my house. Atobe came by often enough that my family was used to him and they no longer came outside to gawk at the expansive, expensive car. Now *that* was embarrassing. I pushed the random thought from my mind and got into the car.


Atobe examined me critically and pronounced my crisp blue shirt and black slacks acceptable, if boring. I eyed Atobes attire; a crushed silk shirt in soft gray and dark gray pants in some material that shimmered. From his shiny hair to his polished shoes, he *shone*. I told him bluntly and he preened.


Once, such behavior irritated me. Now, I realized I merely found his habits and little affections quite endearing. There was no one else like Atobe. Well, I thought wryly, if I could put up with Akaya


The concert hall was packed, but the people were respectfully quiet. When the lights dimmed, I easily forgot about the people around as I was caught up in the music.


The fast-paced Latin music reminded me very much of the concert we attended during our last year in junior high, only this time, we were seated together and not one row apart. I noticed that while I like to close my eyes while listening to the music, Atobe sat upright and alert, eyes bright as they darted around the stage and performers. Atobe told me once he was very much a visual person, and that was why he particularly enjoyed coming to concerts rather than simply listening to the album at home.


Ill have to return this treat, I thought, eyes half-closed as I watched him out of the corner of my eyes. All too often, Atobes generosity was overlooked because of his wealthy background; just because a person could easily afford the gift doesnt cheapen the thought behind it.


Are you enjoying yourself? Atobe asked me as we walked around during the intercession. The foyer had lovely artwork adorning the walls.


Very much so. I inclined my head in thanks. Thank you very much.


Atobe waved a hand airily.


Passing an open balcony, we both slowed. A shared glance perhaps some of the teamwork we cultivated on court extended off the court as well and we stepped out onto the balcony. The night air was crisp, a fresh welcome after the warm, overly perfumed air indoors.


The intermission is over, Atobe noted. Indeed, the sounds of people moving about in the corridors behind us were fading. I wasnt sure how long we stood there.


I felt oddly reluctant to move, the mood around us mellow. Aa.


Atobe gave me a quizzical look, but didnt move. It was quiet, everyone else having gone back into the concert hall. Then, faintly, we could hear the music starting.


Do you know how to dance the tango? I asked suddenly, looking down at the other boy. I had undergone a growth spurt a while back, and now stood a half-head taller than Atobe.


Atobe smirked, and placed a hand on my hip lightly. My hand came up to grasp his other hand lightly. We fell into positions perfectly. Somehow, I knew Atobe knew how to tango. It was something I could very well imagine him doing.


Atobe laughed, clear and bright. My, Sanada. I didnt know you knew


My lips quirked. I moved his hand from my hip to my shoulder, and the rested my hand firmly on *his* hip instead. Ill lead.


Atobe looked startled, and then he laughed again. As one, we started moving. Lively steps back and forth, our movements perfectly in harmony, feet tapping softly on the tiled floor. The music swelled in my head; the faint tune we could hear from the concert hall was a familiar standard.


Your hands are cold, I commented, rubbing his hand that was clasped in mine. He was smaller than me, slim and lithe. It was hard to believe his slender frame could hit such powerful shots.


Im warming up now, Atobe said breathily, cheeks pinking lightly from the brisk dance. His hair swung lightly as he moved, his eyes bright as they peered up at me.


I had taken lessons before, but I never danced well. It had always felt a little stiff, a little awkward. Until now


I spun him around, the music twirling around us. When he twisted back into my arms, my hand slipped from his hip to the small of his back. He allowed me to dip him, his leg sliding up along my outer thigh as he leaned back, trusting that I wouldnt let him fall.


When the song ended, we stood there, looking at each other, hands lingering on shoulders and hips. Lets go in, I said softly, keeping a hand at the small of his back as I led him into the warm building. Keigo.


Keigo looked at me, eyes searching, and then he smiled.




Good match, Keigo noted. He tossed me a can of isotonic drink.


Thanks. I caught the still cold can and placed it on the ledge. Picking up my towel, I wiped my face. Familiar faces littered the gray concrete seats that ringed the street courts, many were Regulars from other school teams. From the other court, I could hear the steady twacks of another match. Just another Sunday afternoon, and the street courts were packed.


I inclined my head as I popped the can. So, whos playing on the other courts?


Keigo looked up quizzically at Ohtori, who was seated a couple of seats higher. The light-haired boy stood up obediently and peered over to the next court. Tezuka and Oishii from Seigaku.


Aa. I glanced at Keigo. I supposed you would want to watch?


Keigo shrugged, looking bored. Doesnt matter either way.


I raised a brow. Its Tezuka


So? Keigo stood up. Oh all right. Since theres nothing else better to watch.


I followed, frowning. Our team mates got up as well, chattering about Seigaku.


I should be happy Keigo has forgotten all about Tezuka, but for some reason, his disinterest unsettled me. Keigo had been so obsessed with Tezuka for years, but after beating him, that fixation just fizzled. It was unsettling.


Keigo, I began. He half-turned his head quizzically.


Then we were at the next courts and momentarily distracted by the activity, I forgot what I was going to say.


Sorry, nothing. I shook my head. A pause. I remembered something else. Keigo, are you free for dinner later? My treat, for the concert tickets.


Keigo smiled easily. Sure.




So. Whats up with you and Atobe? Akaya asked me bluntly a few days later.


I ignored him. Yelled at the second years to run another five rounds. Glanced over to the regulars to make sure


Dont you all have practice?


Done Masaharu chirped. We won sixfour, Renji added. Bunta and Jackal looked disgruntled.


You havent answered my question, Genichirou, Akaya repeated.


Nothing, I said flatly. It *had* been quiet last year, when Akaya was still in Junior High and the rest of us had graduated to High School. Of course I knew it wouldnt last, but I had been hopeful.


The other regulars were pretending to be looking away but doing a bad job of it. Did you lose a bet, Akaya?


Yeah Akaya looked sheepish, then his smile turned sly. But thats because everyone is curious about you and Atobe.


I ignored him again.


You two seem very close, Bunta noted. Everyone nodded.


Were good friends, I said, aware only after I opened my mouth that I was falling right into their trap.


Classic denial, Renji murmured. Everyone nodded again.


But you want to be more, right? Akaya crowed, pointing a finger at me. Cant blame you; Atobe is damn hot.


My hand clenched around my racket.


You know you can always ask us for help, Seiichi said softly, grinning. I then decided that the first years were slacking off in their drills and walked off.


If you dont want Atobe, can I have him? Akaya yelled after me. And then he broke out laughing.




Although I knew Akaya was teasing me, his question disturbed me. When I realized just how such an insinuation would disturb me, what those idiots were implying


That I *wanted* Keigo.


I couldnt think about it; my brain just shut down. The idea, the thought of it


it was scary and something just not done and those idiots were just making fun of me


but yet it brought to mind tantalizing, scandalous thoughts of what being with Atobe might be like


I cleared my thoughts, changed into my gi and mediated until my knees and ankles ached from kneeling on the floor. I had hoped to clear my mind, but it had the opposite effect. With nothing to distract me, all I could think about was that infuriating boy.


The moonlight slanting into my room reminded me of the glint off Keigos purplish-silvery hair, the way the fine strands flew up as I twirled him


I closed my eyes in frustration. Listened to the slow inhale and exhale of my breath, concentrating on


the draw of his husky voice, sure and cultured. We spent the many hours discussing music or Japanese literature or tennis; he was arrogant but no doubt brilliant


Sighing and knowing meditation was futile, I stood up and crossed my room. I picked up my katana and swung it, over and over again. Needed the mindless exertion and wanted to feel the burn of muscle. Much like tennis.


Do I want Keigo that way?


Unbidden, my thoughts drifted back to him again.


The night air was cold and I was shivering. The exertion was hard enough to raise a fine sheen of sweat, but hardly enough to keep me warm as the chill air blew over my damp skin.


I dont know.


I Ill just take it one day at a time. If we.


My mind stuttered to a stop when my cell phone rang. I laid my katana back on the stand and strode across the room. Flipping my phone open, I stared down at the display. Keigo!


Hope Im not disturbing you Genichirou.


ah, not at all, I stuttered. Suddenly, I felt nervous.


Sorry, I just had a bath and was about to sleep when


You didnt have to tell me that detail, I thought. I do *not* need that image right now.


I realized that we never did finish our match. Do you want to meet up on the street courts this weekend?


Actually, no. For some reason, I didnt feel like it. I dont think I would be up to facing Keigo anytime soon. If ever at all. It wont be an official match, I told him, thinking frantically for an excuse.


I dont mind.


I clutched the phone, silent.




My mind was blank. .ok.


Keigos voice was warm. Great. Ill see you then, 4 oclock.


Long after Keigo hung up, I was still staring at the wall. Then I slapped myself.






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