Disclaimer: I don't own PoT.


A Shishi/Tori piece

Shishido is a loose stretch of pale beige and dark blue on the court, and Ootori pauses a bit to wonder if it's a bad time, because his sempai has his arms tucked beneath his head and his eyes closed to the sky. But the clouds are coming in, and the air will soon chill with the tang of rain, and it would be silly to catch a cold now. Not that Shishido-san will particularly care, which is why Ootori huffs in amusement and resignation, and moves closer on light feet,

He knows Shishido-san isn't really dozing, not the way Jiroh-sempai can, when the tennis is not important or interesting enough. Even now, when the courts are empty of sound and movement, it's not empty of feeling, and Ootori has some idea of what his sempai is thinking, when Shishido shifts to rest one palm flat against the clay, before lifting his hand to tug idly at his short fringe.

Ootori thinks he remembers what Shishido-san's hair used to be like, thick arrogance and rich scorn in a furious brush from the face, a dismissive toss over a shoulder. It shouldn't be important, since the third-year will never grow it so long again - he plays a different game now, and has no use for old habits.

But Ootori will never forget what his own game was like before doubles with Shishido-san, before regulars, in his first year. Gruelling practices to develop fierce plays and a fearsome serve to humiliate second- and third-year conceit. Cool tolerance of jealousy and patient silence to discourage the jibes. Here, on these courts, he too has memories rife with emotion, and tennis can never be trivial or dull.

So he thinks it would be good to not forget what Shishido-san was like before his hair was short and rough, when pride and complacency still obscured his focus and determination. But the irony frustrates Ootori, when the sharpest images now are of the gritty, unforgiving exercises that Shishido-san bullied him into after his pedestal crumbled, long hair whipping in arcs of speed and sweat as he welcomed each new serve and bruise.

He knows it's stupid to think so much, and Shishido-san has said the same many times, exasperatedly, impatiently. But Ootori knows why his sempai is lying out here on the court. The sky is not so dark yet that he doesn't cast a shadow, and Shishido blinks his eyes open. "Yo," he says, calmly, unsurprised, and Ootori has to grin slightly.

"You were here after all." He drops to sit by his sempai, and Shishido mutters some vague sound before he closes his eyes again. Nothing else to say, Ootori is content to keep silent company. He tilts his head back a little, and tries to guess how long the clouds will let them stay out before he has to prod his sempai into going back.

"You wagged class," Shishido says casually, after a long moment, but Ootori hears the faint disbelief anyway, and grins some more. "So did you," he replies, and his sempai doesn't have to open his eyes to know the wistfulness for what it is.

"Yeah, well, they're not teaching anymore." Shishido hunches his shoulders in the best shrug he can manage lying down. "You know that."

Which is why Ootori prefers to be here now, on the tennis courts with his doubles partner, waiting on the eve of a change. He breathes in a little deeper, can almost smell the rain. "It's getting cold," he says inanely. "Shouldn't we go inside now?" But he hasn't been out here long enough, his hands still clasped loosely together on his knees, and Shishido-san makes no move to get up.

"Looks like rain, doesn't it? Good thing there's no practice today." He thinks distractedly how strange it is when Shishido-san sounds so mild and impassive. It's not the kind of tennis the third-year plays, and it makes Ootori uneasy.

"Come on, Shishido-san. You know you can't get sick for tomorrow."

"I can skip it – it's nothing that matters."

"Don't say that, it's –" and Ootori almost gags on it, sudden and stark and catching in his chest. Shishido-san shifts a little more to look at him, and he hastily shakes his head no, nothing, even though he knows it's not the wisest move, when his sempai's features tighten with irritation, and Ootori barely stops himself heaving another resigned sigh.

But Shishido-san doesn't tell him off as usual, and falls stiffly back instead, arms still behind his head, eyes closing again. Ootori stares at him a bit, startled and vaguely expectant, but the third-year keeps his silence, resolute, unconcerned.

The change is so, so close. Ootori is sure he can taste the rain now, and he jerks into motion, scrambling to his feet. "Shishido-san," he tries again, vaguely mortified when he croaks instead. He swallows – too fast, when it sticks in his throat – and then, cautiously, "Let's go in. You don't want to get wet. And you can't get sick now. And it might be a good idea to go to the rest – "

"Choutarou." And Ootori almost gives his relief away in another sigh that he again has to hide, the change for the moment forestalled by the scowl and the exasperation apparent in the inflection of his name. His smile is patient and questioning as he waits for whatever Shishido-san sees fit to admonish him for this time.

"Tomorrow." His doubles partner stares the long distance up at him through narrowed eyes when Ootori tenses involuntarily. Shishido-san is not angry, and Ootori wishes fervently that he was. Because that is familiar and this is not. Because tomorrow has never happened before.

Ootori knows that he thinks too much, and he's so stupid, because Shishido-san is going to tell him the same thing, but it's not, and he wants to tell his partner that, and he wishes he had the courage to do it, and Shishido-san is never going to know, and tomorrow everything is going to change –

"Choutarou." And he starts guiltily, when his sempai says his name again. Shishido-san is still looking up, up at him. "Tomorrow isn't important."

It could have been English, for all the sense it made. Ootori blinks once, then blinks again. And Shishido says nothing, remains still on the court, until his kouhai finally stumbles dumbly, "How can you say that? Tomorrow's the graduation ceremony –"

"Stupid." Shishido rolls his eyes. "You're not listening, Choutarou. It's not important."

And Ootori isn't that stupid, even if he does say nothing for the longest, longest time, and Shishido-san is still waiting. Finally Ootori drops to a crouch behind Shishido's head, low as he dares, as low as his sempai doesn't object, and he can touch lips to the forehead under him.

It's not important.

"So what is?" Ootori whispers, wonderingly, reverently.

And Shishido-san lifts one hand to tug gently at the silver bangs hanging so close now. "You tell me," he answers calmly, amusedly.

And Ootori does, but not in so many words, and though he doesn't really have to, not when Shishido-san has known all along.