An AtoMo Story

BY : CrunchySalad
Category: Prince of Tennis/Tennis no Ohjisama > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1397
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis or its characters. I am not making any money from this fanfiction.

Christmas had never been a big celebration, or really any kind of celebration at all, in Momo's family. It was something he was aware of, of course, as around December some stores might have little decorations up or offer gift wrapping as one of their services, or bakeries might sell cakes that were a little more festive then usual. Still, it had never really had anything at all do with him.

So it was no small surprise that overtook him when Atobe announced, completely out of the blue, that Momo was to have the evening of the 25th completely open, as Atobe had already made reservations at one of the finest restaurants in town. It was all the more unexpected because it was so soon after that disastrous dinner with Atobe's parents, after which Atobe had clearly admitted that their relationship was not meant to continue in the long term.

So that was it, discussion closed, and Momo supposed they would be back to normal until the day came when they had to break up. He imagined, what with Atobe graduating and going on to high school, that day would be coming soon.

But those thoughts were far from his head at the moment, and Momo was more preoccupied pondering over what he found to be rather embarrassing images. Atobe had mentioned the restaurant was high up in some hotel, and now Momo had that stereotypical Christmas vision in his head... two lovers, looking out into the night sky from high above, drinking colored sake (true, they were underage, but Atobe seemed to be able to do anything he wanted to)....

Nooo.... Momo shook his head. Too embarrassing. Well, at least Christmas meant he'd get to eat some good food. He was wondering what kind of cuisine the restaurant served when he felt a small smack on the back of his head, and looked up to see Echizen frowning above him.

"Echizen! What are you doing here?"

"I was expecting you to pick me up an hour ago, Momo-sempai. Now we're two times as late as we usually are."

"Late?" Momo blinked and rubbed his head... what was Echizen talking about? "Late to where?"

"Didn't you get Oishi's message? We're going to take a team trip to the hot springs today."

The hot springs... but... "I have plans tonight."

"So leave early, it's not that far away."

Momo contemplated protesting, but then he figured he had plenty of time to get back for dinner at nine, so went to get his things instead. He and Echizen walked to the train station, where they met up with the rest of the Seigaku regulars plus Fuji's little brother.

"Oi, what took you so long, you guys?" Eiji complained, his voice a pout as he hopped from foot to foot impatiently. "We've been waiting in the cold forever!"

"Now, now, Eiji," came Oishi's calming voice, "they're here now."

The team clambered onto the next train, their voices a mish mash as they chatted with one another. But soon enough they settled into a more sedate grouping. Momo had sat down to play cards with Taka, while Echizen and Yuuta were sitting awkwardly and silently by themselves. Fuji had been there with them a moment ago, but was now talking to Inui about something. Tezuka and Oishi were discussing something as well, probably to do with either tennis or class, Eiji popping up every now and then to bother them. Kaidoh, as unsociable as always, Momo thought, was sitting by himself.

It took a little less then an hour to get to their destination, and then they had to cram into a taxi for fifteen minutes. Soon enough they had come to a cottage at the base of a mountain, surrounded by woods and snow. The more energetic members all but bounded into it, Eiji the first one to go in search of the spring. He came back a few minutes later though, a pout on his face.

"Oiiishi. Where's the onsen?"

Eiji said this at the same time Yuuta said, his voice low and curious, "What's that?"

All the regulars turned to look, faces growing pale as one by one they caught sight of the very large pitcher Inui was holding. It was thick and chunky and the brownish yellow color of vomit, small bits of things floating around in it.

"Well," Oishi started, and every one realized he was holding shovels, one for each of them, "this isn't a normal onsen. We have to hike up the mountain and then dig our own."

"It will be good training," Tezuka interjected.

"The one who contributes the least to digging," Inui said, a gleam in his eyes that showed even through his thick glasses, "gets to try my special holiday eggnog."

Half the team looked like they were about to throw up. Fuji, the ever present smile on his face, was one of the people who didn't look phased at all. "What kind of eggs did you use, Inui?"

"Balut."

"Mmm. Sounds delicious."

Momo shoved Kaidoh out of the way as he rushed to get a shovel. Blended Balut eggs weren't his cup of tea to begin with, but... he shuddered to think what else Inui had put in there that he wasn't telling them.

"Out of the way, Mamushi!" He grabbed a shovel and started running... if he got there first, he'd have more time relative to the others to dig, and he wouldn't have to drink that horrible, horrible liquid. Unfortunately, every one else had the same idea, and soon they found themselves in a race up that narrow mountain path.

It was a fairly long path, and as they were running up they soon became very hot and sweaty, not even feeling the cold anymore at all. Once they got to the dig site it was a frenzy, every one digging wildly and generally getting in every one else's way. Momo himself got hit by a stray shovel no less than a dozen times. Compounded to that was the fact that Taka-san, shovel in hand, was now in "burning" mode, and was digging in a rather dangerous and frantic fashion.

Pretty soon, though, they had dug a fairly large hole, big enough to fit all of them with some room to spare. As it filled up with water they discarded their clothes on the ground and climbed in, the natural heat of the water a wonderful contrast to the cold mountain air.

Inui cleared his throat, and every one turned to see him holding onto a cup of Balut eggnog. "Yuuta. I believe this is yours."

Yuuta's face went horribly white, but then Fuji was interjecting.

"Hold on, Inui. If I recall, you didn't dig at all."

"But... I was supervising."

"I hardly think that's fair, Inui," Fuji said, and now his eyes were open to show just the smallest hints of blue, "you said it yourself: whoever contributes the least to digging has to drink it. Yuuta's not drinking that."

Yuuta, for once, seemed immensely relieved that Fuji was a rather overprotective sort of brother. Inui, on the other hand, had a strange expression of doom written on his face.

"Aa. What a dilemna." Inui stopped, for a moment, to push his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "I really... don't want to drink this."

"Serves you right for making something you can't drink yourself," Kaidoh muttered under his breath, and Momo wondered if the rumors that Kaidoh often served as Inui's unwilling test subject were true.

Still, there was little Inui could do to get out of drinking his concoction, and the others watched as he slowly swallowed the foul stuff, and promptly fainted face down in the hot spring. Taka-san was kind enough to drag him out and lay him on the snow, and then it was business as usual, although the "business" was more of the fooling around and relaxing variety. Taka-san had brought some bottles of real eggnog, saying that it was a special holiday item his sushi bar was trying out, and they heated it in the spring before pouring it out into little plastic cups.

It was fun, but Momo still found himself looking towards his watch every twenty minutes or so, calculating out the time he would need to get back to Tokyo. It was dark when every one decided to head back to the cabin, and they climbed out of the heated water into the cold shock of the air. As they stood shivering they made another discovery... their clothes, which had been drenched in sweat after their earlier activities, were now frozen solid.

"Hmm," Fuji said, calm as always, "I suppose it's a nice night for streaking, wouldn't you say?"

And so, naked and freezing, the boys ran all the way back down the mountain. When they got there they found a dinner laid out for them (Oishi, of course, had ordered it in advance), but by this point Momo had to leave. He found another change of clothes in his backpack, said his good byes, and climbed into a waiting taxi, content in the fact that he had two whole hours to get back to Tokyo.

So it was disconcerting when Momo realized the snow was coming down pretty heavy, and the car was traveling at a snail's pace. Still, he told himself, it wasn't a big deal, a fifteen minute drive wouldn't take too long, no matter what the weather. So they crept along, slow and steady, Momo staring at his watch the whole time. And then, horror of horrors, the car made a strange wheezing sound and stopped. The driver accelerated, tried again, but no good... the car was stuck.

"What's going on?" Momo asked, even more horrified when the man turned the engine off, though he left the heater on.

"No good," he explained, "there's too much snow on the road."

"So, what? We're stuck here?"

"At least until some one with snow tires comes by."

Momo fall back into his seat with a heavy thud, looking out his window incredulously. It was hard to see past the swirling white clouds the surrounded them, but he didn't think any one would be coming down this road any time soon. Coming to a decision, he started opening the door, though it took him a few moments to push it out against the snow.

"What do you think you're doing, boy?" The driver asked, but Momo was already handing him some money.

"Thanks," Momo said, "but I'll walk from here."

He heard the man mumble a "suit yourself" before stepping out into the snow, half-regretting his decision when he sunk into the rather deep stuff. It came up to about mid-calve, but it's not like he had any other option, and he started a brisk pace towards the train station. At one point he contemplated running, but it was hard enough to get past the snow even speed walking, and he still found himself stumbling quite often. With every passing minute the snow seemed to get deeper, the weather seemed to get colder, and Momo thought that Atobe better appreciate the lengths he was going through to get to their dinner.

It was forever before he saw the lights of the train station, and forever more before he actually got there, but then he was pulling the door open against thick snow. Somehow he managed to open it just enough to fall into the warmth of the station, dragging in a huge pile of snow while he was at it.

There were about seven people there, staring at him with expressions that ranged from indifference to mild surprise, but Momo only shook the snow off of himself before walking up to the ticket counter.

"The next train to Tokyo, please."

"Honey," the woman behind the counter said, looking at him as if he was crazy, "there's no getting to Tokyo in this weather. You won't even be able to leave this station, with the storm and all."

Momo's heart dropped, looking out the windows overlooking the track as he realized the gravity of the situation. The train tracks were completely covered... why, the wall of snow outside the window itself must have been four feet tall already. Really, he should have realized the trains wouldn't be able to run sooner.

"When do you think they'll start running again?" he asked, though he was pretty sure he knew the answer to that question already.

"Not until tomorrow morning, at the earliest. The storm's going to get worse before it gets better."

Momo sighed and, resigned, settled into one of the hard plastic chairs in the station. He guessed he would have to spend the night here.


* * *


Atobe sighed and hit the number on the speed dial again. The other patrons of the restaurant were giving him rather odd looks, as well they might, as he had been sitting there for over two hours doing nothing but drinking water and dialing his cell phone.

Voicemail, again. Atobe placed his phone back down next to his immaculate place setting, staring out the window. And after he had arranged for the very best seats, too... you could see almost all of Tokyo from here, blanketed by white, glistening in the starlight. With the gently falling snow it was like looking into a snow globe.

"Excuse me, Atobe-san," came a voice above the clamor of diners in the room, and Atobe looked up to see the host himself holding out a martini glass filled with rich green sake. "Compliments of the owner."

Atobe took the proffered drink, but inwardly snorted. Maybe it was their pity that had sent him the drink, of which he scarcely needed, or maybe it was a peace offering so that he would leave. They had, after all, other patrons to seat. He took one sip and placed the glass back down on the table, staring at the empty seat across from him. But where on Earth was Momoshiro?

At first, when Momoshiro had been late, Atobe had felt the most minor of annoyances. But then, as time wore on, that irritation turned to worry, though he was loath to admit it, even to himself. But more than that... well, more than that, there was disappointment, and Atobe couldn't help but let a small frown cross his face.

He picked up his glass again, swirling it around slightly before taking slow slips of the sake. He could smell the roasted meats and potatoes that were scattered throughout the room, and it made his stomach feel empty, but he could scarcely bring himself to eat. Wherever Momoshiro was, Atobe thought with a smile, he was sure to be even hungrier... after all, the boy's stomach was nearly bottomless.

"Excuse me, sir," and this time it was one of the waiters who was disturbing him, "but we'll be closing soon. Would you like to order something?"

Atobe shook his head, casting one last glance into the night sky. "No. That will be all."

He left a generous tip, though any tip on a bill of zero dollars might be considered generous, and made his way out of the restaurant. His chauffeur pulled up as he left the hotel, and then it was a ten minute ride back to his house. His parents were gone; they always were, for the holidays, either for business or on the separate vacations they liked to take. Atobe believed his mother was in Fiji at the moment, his father in Belize. Even most of the servants had been given time off, and his house was too empty, too quiet, as he made his way through it. It would have been nice if Momoshiro was here.

Through cavernous hallways, towards his room... his private sanctuary, though today they were three very large chests half-packed and open sitting on his floor, only to remind him of something he didn't really want to think about right now. They were part of the reason why he had wanted tonight's dinner to be special.

He read for a few hours, then he slept, until the gentle ringing of his cell phone woke him at five in the morning. He knew who it was before even checking the caller id, and he quickly reached for his phone and flipped it open.

"Momoshiro?"

"Hey," came Momoshiro's sheepish voice, though there seemed to be an air of relief in his voice as well, maybe because he had managed finally to get through to Atobe. "Sorry."

"Well, it is the season of forgiveness," Atobe responded, a smile on his lips and in his voice. "But where, pray tell, are you?"

"Somewhere in the mountains. I was about to go back to Tokyo but I got caught up in a snowstorm over here. It's over now, but there's, like, eight feet of snow outside the station, and they don't think the trains will be running until the afternoon."

"Outside the station? Momoshiro, have you been spending the night in a train station?"

"Umm... yeah... but don't read too much into it, your ego's big enough as it is."

Atobe laughed a little, and so did Momoshiro on the other side of the line, as distorted by static the noise was. It made him feel nice, at the very least, that they could talk on the phone like this.

"How was the food?" Momoshiro asked, and Atobe imagined he could hear Momoshiro's stomach grumbling on the other line. "And the colored sake?"

"Delightful. They had the most succulent pot roast... none of which I ate, of course, as I was waiting for you. How are... the mountains?"

Momo chuckled a little. "The same as they always are." A long pause, and then: "Look, Atobe, sorry I ruined your Christmas."

"You didn't ruin it," Atobe was quick to say. "I would have liked to spend it with you, of course, but late night telephone conversations have their charm as well." And, maybe because he was still half-asleep: "And it's nice to be able to hear your voice."

"Geez," Momo said, his voice a little bit louder, "don't say something so embarrassing!"

There was a silence then, small and entirely comfortable, and Atobe happened to glance at the chests on his floor. He was supposed to tell Momoshiro today... he hadn't wanted to do it over the phone, but he wouldn't have any other chances. "Momoshiro... I've decided I'm not going to go to Hyoutei for high school."

"Oh?" Momoshiro asked, but from his voice, maybe he already knew on some level.

"I have the opportunity to spend my high school years abroad. In France, actually."

Silence, breathing, and a sense of finality that tugged on his stomach. Momoshiro didn't say anything, so he continued.

"I'm leaving in the morning to tour the campus. I'll be back in Tokyo for a few days in January, but..."

"But you'll be busy," Momoshiro finished, and there was a sort of forced cheerfulness in his voice. "So this is it."

"Yeah," Atobe said, surprised to hear his voice crack a little bit. He had always known their story would have an ending, but he was sorely unprepared for how much he would despise it.

"Okay," was Momoshiro's answer.

"I... that is, I..." but whatever Atobe was about to say, he couldn't find it in himself to finish. "... it's been fun."

"Yeah. It's been a lot of fun. Umm... so I guess we should say goodbye now, huh?"

"No, just... keep the phone on. Even if we don't have anything to say, even if we fall asleep... it's nice to know that you're on the other end of this line."

"Yeah. Okay."

Atobe could hear Momoshiro's breathing on the other end of the phone, and they really didn't have anything left to say to one another, but that was okay. He didn't know how long he lay on his bed in that comfortable silence, but then he fell asleep, and when he woke up it was to dial tone. The servants had finished packing his things as he slept, and now it was time to go.

.end.


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