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By Mizu | mail | www

He'd taken piano lessons with Sakaki Tarou from the age of ten. This was, of course, hardly a typical situation, but then, very little that Atobe Keigo did was.

Keigo was a brilliant, precocious child, the son of the chairman of the Atobe Group and a former classical musician from Germany. His mother had been the one who had instilled the love for music and the talent for it in Keigo - his gift for tennis was something that had always been completely his own.

Still, he liked playing the piano, and by the time he was ten years old, his skill was beyond what the elementary music teacher could deal with in a classroom setting. So it was arranged that Keigo would take private lessons in the junior high division, so that his skills wouldn't stagnate. The junior high division music teacher was Sakaki Tarou; no one knew much about him.

Keigo didn't hate Sakaki the first time they met, but he certainly didn't like him.

This was mostly because Keigo couldn't manipulate him as easily as he'd been able to manipulate the rest of his teachers. When Sakaki told him to do something, he did it...eventually. Sakaki rarely gave into Keigo's efforts to convince him to the young boy's side; he didn't spoil him the way nearly everyone else always had.

"I don't like Chopin," Keigo had said sulkily on that first day. "I prefer the German composers."

"Really?" Sakaki's voice had been noncommittal. "That's too bad." He paused. "You'll have his third sonata for the piano memorized by tomorrow."

Keigo's eyes had flashed and he had set his jaw stubbornly, but he had the piece memorized, and he played it perfectly; anything less was unacceptable.

By the time he turned eleven, he didn't dislike Sakaki quite as much. Sakaki still made him do the things he disliked, play the composers he disliked, but Keigo was sharp, and he knew that Sakaki was making him a better musician by pushing him the way he was. And Sakaki knew tennis, as well.

He'd mentioned that he was the junior high tennis club's advisor one day after Keigo had finished playing Tchaikovsky's The Seasons and practice had been forgotten for the rest of the afternoon in favor of Keigo's real love.

Keigo didn't notice it was dark until Sakaki pushed him towards the door, saying it was late, and he really should go home. After that day, he decided he didn't really dislike Sakaki at all, and he stopped protesting when the music teacher made him play the Russians and the Polish composers that he still didn't like as much as Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner.

The summer before Keigo turned twelve, he hit his growth spurt, and no longer looked quite as delicate and girlish as he had before. The suddenly longer legs weren't as awkward on Atobe Keigo as they were on his classmates; he still moved confidently through the halls of the Hyoutei Gakuen elementary division, and he still sat gracefully at the piano when he took his lessons.

During the July vacation, when Hyoutei was closed, Keigo's lessons continued at Sakaki's penthouse apartment.

Sakaki's music room was different than the one at Hyoutei's junior high, though no less elegant. Where the school music room had been warm and bright, with sunlight streaming through the tall bay windows to splash across the tiled floor, and was dominated by the neatly organized violins and horns that the junior high orchestra used, as well as the pure white grand piano that sat in the corner, Sakaki's home music room was cool and pale. Thick white carpet stretched from wall to wall, and it was sparsely furnished with thick-cushioned white couches; the only contrast was the piano, a glossy black Steinway that dominated the entire room.

It was during July, at the practices at Sakaki's apartment, that Keigo began to feel the touches. They were light, fleeting - a hand at his shoulder or fingertips brushing across the nape of his neck - and completely unpredictable. They could come as Sakaki was leaning over him to correct his finger work or just as Keigo was about to leave; he never knew, and the not knowing was addicting in itself.

The first time they kissed was in late July, and it had been so hot that the heat even managed to permeate Sakaki's air-conditioned apartment. Keigo could feel a drop of sweat trickle down the back of his neck, sliding under the collar of his thin purple shirt as his fingers danced across the piano as he played Debussy's Preludes.

Sakaki slanted his mouth across Keigo's own in a hot, drugging kiss, not pulling away until Keigo's hands had lifted from their arched position over the keyboard and his arms were wrapped around his neck, tight and clinging. Sakaki stared down at the eleven-year-old in his arms - into wide eyes that were glazed and electric-hot from surprise and pleasure - and his mouth quirked in an amused little smile.

"Lessons are over for today, Keigo."

But there would be, he determined, more lessons...later.


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