Archivist's note: I've combined all four drabbles into one story. Each drabble is individually titled.
By Sin Alone
Title: By Sin Alone: Pride and Ostentation
Stage: #1 Pride
Atobe always manages to screw up.
At least this is what his conscience is telling him, on September 29th, day of the student council sponsor gala. Also his boyfriend's (no, Atobe thinks, because that would imply obligation) birthday.
It's not my fault, the diva argues, Nakahara had an important date tonight. His conscience laughs, but its retort of so did yo-- is cut short when a well-adorned lady examines him. "Atobe Keigo, if I'm not mistaken," she smiles, "A most pleasant suprise. We weren't expecting you."
Neither was I, he chokes, because four hours ago, he had been calling to confirm his [expensive] reservation. A call waiting on the other line and some schmoozing later, his ego had been appealed to and he agreed to take Nakahara's place at the night's gala.
Shishido had not been pleased.
"You make me wonder, Keigo," he snarled, in that regal way of his, "when you agree to an ass-kissing fund-begging dance." He doesn't need to add "over me", because Atobe already knows that (the reservation is cancelled) and he is wondering what compelled him to choose other matters, people, obligations, over Shishido - again.
The gala ends at midnight, when Atobe stands by the door and graciously thanks each guest for their money and their presence. The smile sticks as he leaves himself, walking because Shishido left a message on his cell phone and he doesn't want to open it and call his limo, for fear that those words will carve a canyon where his own guilt couldn't. You screwed up, his conscience says, a bit smugly. He agrees, giving in to the regret, the guilt, the hurt; and damn it hurts.
We need to get our priorities straight, Shishido's message says. "We do," he whispers back, miles away from home, slow footfalls echoing off black and nothing.
Title: By Sin Alone: Envy Through A Microscope
Stage: #2 Envy
Atobe needs five minutes to take off his shoes and coat, then another ten to beautify himself before he comes to bed. And Shishido knows, all too well, because this is not the first night he's spent staring at the ceiling, waiting for the diva's homecoming.
It's kind of funny and kind of stupid, but he wishes he were Atobe's comb.
Atobe arrives at 4AM, though Shishido knows the gala ended at 12, so he turns and assumes that Atobe was invited to an after-party at someone's house and didn't refuse, the same way his pride didn't refuse tonight's offer, or the one two nights ago, or that one sixty-eight nights ago. It wouldn't be a first. Shishido holds still when he feels Atobe's eyes (less piercing than usual, or is he dreaming?) sweep across him before Atobe heads off to the bathroom. Ten minutes later, Atobe is curled around Shishido in a small corner of their bed, Atobe's face buried so deep in Shishido's neck that Shishido wonders if something went wrong.
The next morning, Atobe has a bath drawn for Shishido, and without words, pulls Shishido down and proceeds to wash his long long hair. Shishido sits still, because in his own way, Atobe is compromising with his pride and saying sorry, and Shishido, who is just as proud, can understand.
Understand, but not accept.
After their bath, Atobe makes Shishido breakfast (burnt toast) which Shishido eats with minimal criticism, and life is back to Normal. Atobe's confidence is restored as he takes his compact-comb out of one of his many pockets and brushes through his hair. A quick kiss later, Atobe is off class, but more likely, his fawning masses.
Shishido sometimes wishes he were the comb, because the comb is always by Atobe's side. Because Atobe is not afraid to display the comb in public. Because if the comb were to go missing, Atobe would probably notice and care, before getting a new one. But Shishido is not the comb, and he acknowledges this with a porcelain plate against the hardwood floor.
Shishido cleans up, and goes out to meet his own slavish crowds.
Title: By Sin Alone: Wrath Concealed
Stage: #3 Wrath/Anger
The morning went well, Atobe thinks, because the toast was only half-burnt and no words had been exchanged regarding last night's argument. Shishido had faintly responded when he pressed his lips to his, and after the dinner he was planning to whisk them away on tonight, everything would be perfectly fine.
His fans, he smiles, nodding genially at Ohtori, whose tall frame and blinding smile are a common sight early in the morning, usually accompanied by the smaller Hiyoshi. But Hiyoshi is missing, Atobe frowns, and instead, Ohtori's body is hiding a different build - slighter, taller, and quicker. Atobe notices the arm and hand the first-year has slung lightly but intimately over thin shoulders and brown hair, and at first he thinks she's a rather pretty girl before getting closer and realizing it is Ryou.
Shishido pointedly ignores his glare as Ohtori soothes on, kind and loving, and, Atobe fumes, probably with an ulterior motive.
"I'm sure it's not that bad, Shishido-sempai. Come on, I'll treat you to ice cream? Will that make you feel better...?"
The rest of the day is lost in a haze of red as Atobe storms through his classes and snaps his favorite comb while brushing his hair at the end of fourth period, which just makes things worse because it was a present from Ryou. He rapidly turns down five girls with eight presents and infinite idol-syndrome in half a minute, a new record, according to Yuushi. During practice Ryou and Ohtori laugh a while before they disappear into thin air, and Atobe breaks three racquets and one nose. That night, he has to cancel another [expensive] reservation when Ryou doesn't come home at five, six, or ten and he lies on the bed and stares at blank white ceiling while the diva screams mine mine mine and his conscience laughs some more because you knew you had it coming.
Shishido comes home at 1AM, after the conscience has been slewn, hung and set out to dry.
Title: By Sin Alone: In Youth Lust
Stage: #4 Lust
Shishido is slightly drunk, this he knows, because he finished half a bottle of sake and he kissed Choutarou on the lips.
Atobe is sure to have a fit when he returns, Shishido grins, if the trauma Hyotei Gakuen experienced is any indication. Sobriety sets in and he hiccups, a little regretfully, because Choutarou is a nice boy who is everything Atobe isn't and gives everything Atobe doesn't, but Atobe has charisma and Atobe cares in his own strange way and Atobe oh Atobe was his first true love or his first true delusion.
The key turns smoothly in the lock and he calls out "tadaima" when he arrives home, though Atobe might not be home anyway. But Atobe is, and he comes stalking out of the bedroom before he pins Shishido to the nearest wall and his grey grey eyes take in the liquor on Shishido's breath the mark on Shishido's neck and the angerpainregret in Shishido's eyes with frightening efficiency. Atobe bends down and crushes his lips against Shishido's own, biting roughly and forcing Shishido's mouth open with his tongue and at the same time pushing Shishido's wrists hard against the wall where they'll surely hurt and won't play tennis tomorrow.
Shishido gives as good as he gets.
Atobe bites a few more times before Shishido kicks and pushes him away, using a bruised wrist to wipe away the blood oozing from one wound. Atobe breathes and calms down and would hang his head if he didn't have so much pride because he lost control, but in a second Ryou is back in his arms kissing him fiercely and punching him at the same time.
Shishido loves Atobe because Atobe takes his abuse and his love, doesn't change him, doesn't yield to him, takes him as he is. Shishido punches Atobe a few more times before his hands reach up to tangle with Atobe's hair and pull him down, and Atobe's hands run over Ryou's body in a way that tells them it's been far too long since Atobe has been home because home is not Hyotei, but Ryou. Atobe drags them towards the bedroom where Ryou manages a "damnit, Keigo, our priorities" before Atobe strips him of all clothing and pulls him towards the bed.
"Tomorrow," Atobe promises.
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