Xiana: Here is the last chapter. I hope you all have enjoyed reading it, because it was definitely fun writing it! Heheheh... Section 4.2 is based on episode 112, with some minor changes, in case you were wondering, and it's also the reason I wrote this story... but we'll get to the reason for that in the end note, so let's move on!

All disclaimers, etc. still apply.

Suggested Listening: "Fujouri" by Hyotei Eternity (Choutarou's theme) and "Koi no Gekidasa Zecchou (Ecstasy)" by Tachikiri Tai (Shishido's theme). Because they sing in those songs respectively. Why is Shishido's group so random? Also "Death Note Theme" by Yoshihisa Hirano because while I type this my friends are watching Death Note on the school computer. Yaaay Death Note!


Salvation

Part 4: Revelation

"But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation."
-Psalms 13:5


4.1


"So, wait, where are you taking me, Shishido-senpai? Is it… a date?"

"Something like that… You'll see when we get there. I want it to be a surprise."

"Umm… it isn't… there, right? Because I still do love you, but I don't think I'm… we're ready yet… let's not move too fast now…"

"Che, Choutarou… No, I'm not taking you to the 'Paradise Inn.'" Atobe would rent the church next to the love hotel, wouldn't he? Maybe he was still hoping Shishido would change his mind about the whole thing. As if. Shishido had thought long and hard last night, and knew he had to go through with it, no matter how much he didn't necessarily want to.

Plus he would have been sure to swipe Mukahi's card first. He knew from experience (Oshitari's and Gakuto's) that places like that were usually ridiculously expensive.

"Look, we're here."

"Wait… why would you bring me to a place like this, Shishido? Haven't I already told you that I gave up on this type of thing? You're right. We don't need any of this useless religion.

"Hey, Atobe rented this place, not me." Technically, it was true. Choutarou would find out the truth in a few minutes anyway.

"Oh, I see… But at your request, right?" Sometimes Choutarou was more oblivious than a sleeping Jirou, but at other times he was more observant than Hiyoshi when it came to an opportunity for "gekokujou." This was definitely one of the latter. "Come on, senpai. I don't want to be here, and I know you certainly don't either. I'm sure we can find something more interesting to do…"

It sounded far too appealing, but Shishido had A Mission. It certainly occurred to him that he might be doing all this just to show Choutarou that Atheists Have Morals, Too. Laaaaaaaaaaaame. "No, I have to do this with you right now. Then we don't ever have to come back unless you want to."

"Fine…" Choutarou reluctantly allowed Shishido to drag him inside the wooden building of the church. Once they reached the sanctuary area, they sat, almost self-consciously, down on the bench, Shishido clasping Choutarou's hand tightly.

"Listen-"

Before Shishido could get started with what he wanted to say, Choutarou suddenly jumped up. "Oh!" He took off his jacket before folding it neatly and handing it to Shishido. "Thanks for… letting me borrow this the other day…" He sat back down and almost immediately began shivering slightly.

Shishido wrapped an arm protectively around Choutarou's shoulders. "Hey, you're welcome. Che, it's not like I was going to let you freeze to death… Speaking of which, if you didn't bring your own, you can borrow mine for a little longer," he told him, squeezing Choutarou's newly exposed upper arm gently. It was strange for Choutarou to be cold; the boy was usually so warm that he hadn't even noticed that he was wearing his summer uniform in the middle of winter until Shishido had pointed it out to him, and this particular section of the church was in direct sunlight and felt as hot as "Hellfire," ironically enough. But now Shishido's hands, which were usually relatively cold unless he was holding a tennis racket, practically felt like they were burning into Choutarou's icy skin. "Hey, is everything okay?"

Choutarou certainly was not okay. Hadn't he just given everything up? Was Shishido trying to reopen wounds that had just begun to heal? He felt uncomfortable being in this place. The temperature had seemed to plummet at least ten degrees when he stepped into the church, as if the entire building was rejecting him for what it saw as blasphemy against God. As he had told Shishido, he didn't want to be there. When he returned the regulars' jacket to Shishido, the sense of Not Belonging only increased. Without the thin layer of Shishido's Love protecting him, the chill pierced through to his recently-exposed heart.

He wasn't about to tell any of this to Shishido, however. "Huh? I'm fine. But can you please get on with whatever you want to tell me so we can get out of this place? Like I said before, there are plenty of more interesting things we could be doing right now…"

"Okay…" After a second of hesitation, he let go of Choutarou, but continued to hold his hand tightly. "The decision that you made yesterday, it seemed… sudden."

"Don't tell me you're feeling guilty about that. I made my choice on my own, even though you certainly helped me figure out what I wanted," Choutarou responded, surprised by how clam his voice sounded despite his rising anger.

"Guilty? No, it's not that." Shishido leaned over and kissed Choutarou. "I just wanted to know what made you change your mind all of a sudden. I knew we needed a quite place where we could talk –without being interrupted by your mom, for once- so I asked Atobe to get a place where we could do just that, and we were both of the opinion that this would be a very… calming place to do that."

Choutarou relaxed visibly, allowing himself to slump so that he was leaning slightly on Shishido. "It's nothing too important. I just thought about our different ideas about what was right, and then I realized how much I… care about you, and how much you care about me. So I figured that that was the most important thing, and that in comparison, nothing else really mattered, except tennis, of course. It's fairly obvious that you didn't really like my religious beliefs and how they conflicted with us being together. Even despite that, you were willing to inconvenience yourself so that I could be happy about maintaining my faith and you, Shishido-senpai. Because of that, I knew you were too good for me. I couldn't let you make that sacrifice, so I gave this up instead. It's all for the best, you know that, don't you?"

"Che… You should know that it wouldn't be 'inconveniencing' me. It'd just be teaching me some of those life lessons I should've learned a long time ago," Shishido said gruffly, turning away so that Choutarou wouldn't see the light blush spreading across his face.

"Maybe that's true to some extent, but I don't think forcing me to return to the religion I already discarded because of you is the right way to go about doing that."

"Well… you're wrong! I told you before, 14 is too young to know your eternal stance on religion…and that includes completely changing your position because of 'love.' Most junior high relationships last, what, two weeks at most?"

"I think I feel a little more strongly than that for you, when you aren't being an idiot like now," Choutarou said coldly. "And aren't you forgetting about couples like, oh, Oshitari-san and Mukahi-san?"

"I did say most, and it's probably fair to say that most junior high relationships don't warrant a membership pass to a love hotel, either. It's nice to know that you care about me, though. On everything else, you're dead wrong. You're sweet and all, adorable, tall, powerful, an excellent tennis player, but you're still a second year. I'm a senpai and a third year, which means I'm a lot more mature and knowledgeable about this sort of thing."

"You're only…what, half a year older than me, senpai?" Choutarou was trying to be annoyed, but as Shishido knew from experience, he couldn't really resist Shishido's overly-confident, logically-flawed arguments, especially when they were calculated attempts to amuse him.

"Yeah, well, remember when you were a little kid and insisted on being called six-and-a-half instead of just six? It means you're older when you say it like that. Plus, I'm 15. I'm older, therefore, I'm smarter. And while 14 isn't old enough to know all about life and religion and everything, 15 is. So I know I'm going to be an atheist probably forever, and I know I'm going to keep loving you for at least as long. Having major 15-year-old skills, I'm able to tell –though you certainly don't have the authority or experience to know on your own- that you are madly in love with me… and that you've got to get your religion back before you freeze to death." Shishido hugged Choutarou close, trying to keep him warm.

"Why should I do that? I know that I made my decision because it was what you wanted. And I think you're being a little hypocritical, saying that I changed my mind all of a sudden when you yourself just changed your opinion last night. Not only that… I know you'll keep me warm no matter what."

"I will. But it'd be nice if I didn't have to do that when it's 40 degrees in here. Otherwise, I can't even imagine wintertime –or tennis matches- with you. Choutarou, I think you're psyching yourself out over the power of God. You're probably thinking that no one here accepts you because they all somehow know that you've forsaken religion for a carnal lust orchestrated by hell demons. So if you don't want me to let you turn into a solid block of ice or insist on wrapping you in at least 20 layers of blankets at all times (which makes some things very difficult indeed), you need to get over this silly little mental block that you've created for yourself within the last five minutes. Believe me, whether that means you're converting back to Christianity or that you've decided to worship at the Great House of Atobe, it doesn't matter to me. Because I want you to be happy… and no one likes being cold. We've huddled together for warmth after winter practices before, haven't we?"

"Yeah, we have. In a completely innocent way too, though I doubt that'll continue. I don't want to be cold anymore, but I'm convinced that you can keep me that way. Am I wrong? No matter what you say, your basic motivation here is to get me to convert back for some reason. I honestly don't get it, Shishido. If you hated my previous lifestyle with church on Sundays and grace before meals, why do you suddenly think that there's nothing more important than getting me to accept it again?"

"Because… I want to know about you. Whether I like it or not, Catholicism was the biggest thing in your life before I came along, and even after you decided you were able to love me, it was still probably as important as school, at least. It's shaped you. It's part of what made you into the boy I love. It's also because I… liked who you were before this whole commotion began, before I began to think of you as extreme in your beliefs and before you became someone you're not. Who you're pretending to be right now is someone that's 50 percent me, 49 percent Gakuto, and only one percent the real you. I want 100 percent Choutarou. And finally… it's because I don't know if I can keep you warm all the time. I'm scared that I won't be able to. So I think that some Divine backup wouldn't be entirely unappreciated." Shishido mumbled the last part, tightening his grip on Choutarou's waist. With his free hand, he fished the crucifix out of his pocket and offered it hesitantly to Choutarou.

"Are you… sure? Is this really what you want?"

"I only want you to be happy. If this is what'll make you my sweet, warm, lovable, and happy Choutarou again, yes, it's what I want."

"I don't think I've changed all that much, compared to what you seem to think has happened. I may be a little annoying sometimes, but I don't think I'm that much like Mukahi-senpai."

"You've changed more than you think. Normal Choutarou is a lot more polite and doesn't talk bad about his senpai-tachi, even if they deserve it."

"We sure argue a lot, don't we? I mean, we're always bickering over something, even before this whole religion controversy started."

"Yeah. Doesn't mean we don't love each other."

"True." After a second of hesitation, Choutarou allowed Shishido to put the necklace back on him, the crucifix swinging down to its customary position at the base of his collarbone. Almost immediately, the temperature seemed to rise, and the church began to feel less imposing and more welcoming. Choutarou had learned his lesson, and wouldn't turn his back on God ever again, now that he knew the sense of confusion and unease that went along with forfeiting his beliefs. Shishido had also gotten the message that he needed to be more accepting, and that it was, in fact, possible for Choutarou to love both him and his God at the same time.

"Warming up a little there?" Shishido asked, squeezing Choutarou's hand after noticing that his shivering had completely stopped.

"Yeah. Thank you, Shishido-senpai."

"That's what best friends do for each other. More to the point, that's what lovers do for each other."

"What's this? Shishido… are you blushing? Aww, are you embarrassed? How sweet!"

"Shut up."

Choutarou pecked Shishido on the cheek. "Hey, now that we've got one issue worked out…"

"…It's time to go back to Shishido's house and play the 'make-out game?'" Shishido suggested.

"No, not yet… You got to resolve one thing, so now I get to, too." Choutarou hit Shishido playfully.

"Aaaaahh! I hope you're planning to address this abuse issue… otherwise I may have to leave you for someone nicer and fluffier… you know, someone like Jirou. Anyway, go ahead."

"Aww, but it's so fun beating on you… and you wouldn't ever leave me for Jirou, no matter how bad things between us get, because he's not your type and you're my love slave."

"No way! Other way around! Che… I thought I changed you back to your normal uke self!"

"Eh, I'll prove my… superiority to you later. Right now, well… do you think I could tell you what my ideas were for the compromise we were working on a while ago?"

"Go ahead."

"Okay, what I've thought of for this is a lot less complicated than what you came up with. First: I stay Christian. I'm willing to explore other possibilities besides Catholicism, but I'm keeping the basics of my faith as a whole. Second: You can have whatever beliefs you want, meaning you can stay an atheist, or worship at –what was it you said?- 'Great Atobe Church' or whatever you want. Third: We respect the beliefs of others, unless it's something completely ridiculous, like the ones that Jirou complains about sometimes, or if it's something that's highly prejudiced and insensitive, like Nazism or the KKK. Fourth: You go to church with me sometimes, but we can work on finding one that'll work for you and me both. Fifth: I skip church to be with you sometimes, so it kind of cancels out the last one. The sixth and final one, which I just came up with is that… that we promise to always take care of and love each other for as long as we're together. So, what do you think?"

"Sure you don't want to add four more? Round it off to a nice even 10 Commandments?"

"Shishido…"

"Yeah, yeah, sorry. Well, I'm starting to think Atobe's got a point when he says we're cheesy. Let's face it, we're both a couple of hopeless romantics."

"We are terribly romantic, aren't we? That isn't normal for teenage boys, is it?"

"We aren't normal… We're the best doubles team in the country, plus, we happen to be gay and in love with each other."

"True again. But what did you really think about it?"

"Eh, well, other than that, it sounds good, very fair, and you definitely know how to get to the point. Shall we call it official and have done with it once and for all?"

"I'll agree to that for sure."

Shishido held his hand out formally. Choutarou shook it with equal ceremony before letting Shishido (who was still smarting from Choutarou's earlier comment about "superiority") push him down so that he was lying horizontally on the wooden bench. Forgetting that they were planning on going back to Shishido's house, they kissed, happily making up for time lost to theology. Fortunately, they were alone in the sanctuary room, because while God seemed to have re-accepted Choutarou (actually, it was the other way around), other people didn't necessarily have the same tolerance the two had recently acquired.

At least, they thought they were alone, for when they finally separated, Gakuto stomped out from around the corner. "No, don't stop there! I'm going to lose the bet!"

"Ne, Gakuto, by telling them about it, you've already lost," Oshitari informed him, sidling around the other corner. "In case you were wondering, we had a little bet on just how far you two would go. This guy thought you'd go all the way, and I knew you wouldn't get much past kissing, though to be fair, I expected a bit more gropage."

"M-Mukahi-senpai… Th-this is a church!" Choutarou said, mortified.

"Che, so? What does that matter?"

"It matters because around here, we like to respect religious beliefs," Shishido told him.

"Yeah, yeah. Ne, Yuushi. I don't have my wallet on me, so I can't pay right now."

"I took the liberty of taking it from you for safe keeping." Oshitari produced a small leather wallet from a pocket.

"Oh… I see. I thought you were just groping me at the time. It's hard to tell sometimes."

"Excuse me, but would you mind moving on with whatever it is that you're doing and leaving us alone?" Choutarou politely requested.

"Yeah, yeah. We're going." Before they disappeared, Gakuto managed to slip something into Shishido's pocket, and the last they heard of the two was the rather horribly suggestive statement, "I love losing bets to you, Yuushi…"

Feeling that he already knew what Mukahi had given him, Shishido said dryly, "Unless you want to do something along the lines of what they're doing to do, I suggest we go back to my house."

"I understand. I don't really want to be like them, I don't think. Maybe we can be more like Seigaku's Golden Pair."

"What, and lose our perfect record?"

"No! Just be generally perfect for each other and annoyingly cute to everyone that doesn't have a similar relationship."

"I suppose that since you're taller, I'll be forced to sit on your lap when we go to the movies together."

"It's not my fault that I'm tall."

"Freak of nature."

"Love you too, Shishido-senpai."

Being properly respectful of religious observances, they waited until they were back at Shishido's house this time before they started doing things that, while strictly rated PG-13, weren't widely approved of by extreme members of the Christian faith. Though, to be honest, they weren't much thinking of that at the time.


4.2


"Ikyuunyuukon!" Choutarou launched another serve at the Seigaku player. The team had recently taken to calling them "Shishido Serves" rather than "Scud Serves" because, as Atobe put it, "We all know that Ootori's heart and soul belong to Ryou. Plus, 'scud' is a stupid American word. What does it even mean? I mean, I'm fluent in English and I still couldn't tell you what it stands for! And why did we ever call it a 'Scud Serve' in the first place?" (Hiyoshi managed to successfully "Gekokujou" him by telling him that it actually referred to a type of missile made by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but Atobe discovered that "scud" was simply a verb meaning "to move at an extremely rapid rate," and forced Hiyoshi to practice with the freshmen for three weeks.) However, the Seigaku team was unaware of the name change (Hyotei planned to keep it that way, to make them look stupid) and kept gasping about the ball's incredible speed: "I… I think that serve's gotten even faster… I wouldn't want to face that Scud Serve again…" It was all thanks to Shishido's fine training method, of course, but he tried not to brag and just watched proudly from the sidelines instead, since his match with Oishi was already over.

The opposing player, Kawamura, was trying to recover, but all of the weaknesses that Kaidoh-Inui pair had exploited had been repaired, and all he had left to rely on was some sort of… once-per-match-type destructive technique?

"It's… the Dash Hadokyuu!"

Everyone gasped as the tennis ball flew past Choutarou, passing scant millimeters from his face. Its massive force was even enough to break his necklace, sending the cross and its sad-looking strap sailing across the court and over to the fence. Shishido bent over and picked it up automatically, noticing how worn the leather band was, as if just a small breeze could have done the same damage as that last point. Ever since he had given it back to Choutarou, he hadn't seen the other boy take it off, even in the shower. (Not that he was watching. He simply noticed that Ootori didn't leave it on top of his pile of clothes, like he did his badge and watch. He would leave the bathing antics to Oshitari and Mukahi; they seemed to be doing all right with that.) Perhaps it had doubled in symbolic value, containing both God and Shishido within its ignominious metal structure. Choutarou had always been kind of weird about things like that.

Kawamura had been forced to forfeit the match, so Choutarou shook hands with him politely before going off in search of the crucifix. "Hey, Choutarou! I've got it, don't worry." Choutarou's face resolved into a bright smile, and he practically skipped up to Shishido.

Shishido attempted to hand it to him, but Choutarou pouted at him. "Hey, it broke… I can't tie it by myself, no skill, remember? You'll have to do it for me, senpai." He grinned mischievously.

"Fine, fine." Shishido stood as straight as possible without going to his toes (damned if he'd give Choutarou the pleasure of feeling tall) and leaned into him, arms tightly around his neck, presumably to tie a knot in the broken cord. Choutarou waited until Shishido was finished and had started backing away from him before grabbing Shishido, lifting him off the ground, spinning him around, and kissing him lovingly.

"You're so helpful when it comes to tennis… partner," he smiled between smooches. "I can't imagine what I did before I had your love."

"Technically, I would have still helped you our. We were doubles partners before we started dating, if you recall," Shishido reminded him, tracing his lips briefly with a finger before he stopped suddenly. "Wait, the necklace…"

"Ah! It fell off again? Bad tying skills, Shishido! Hey, will you get it for me? It's just under my shirt…"

"You can't get it yourself?"

"My hands are full of you."

"Fair enough," Shishido muttered, purposefully letting his cool hands wander over as much of Choutarou's warm skin as he could get away with before retrieving the cross. "Let's go buy a new chain for this sometime, okay?"

"Sounds good. Will you hold on to it until then?"

"Yeah, I guess. You trust me with it?"

"Shishido… I've always trusted you with my heart. Why should this be any different?"

"Choutarou… you really feel that way?"

"Of course, senpai. Don't you… feel the same?"

"Yes, of course. Heh, I'm just sad that I don't have a special serve, move, or anything because I want to name something after you too."

"Awww…" Kikumaru and Oishi approached the pair.

"I guess everything worked out in the end, ne, Ootori-kun?"

"You never came back and told us what happened, so we figured we'd have to come see for ourselves. Lucky we had this training camp, huh?"

"Nyaa, but when we were walking up, you kinda gave us our answer…"

"Haha, sorry guys. I guess I just got a little carried away with my newly-found love and forgot all about you."

"That's so like someone in love, to forget about all their friends at a time like this. When he breaks your heart, you'll come running back to us soon enough," they teased.

"Hey! Shishido would never do something like that to me!"

"That's what they all say…"

"Excuse me," Shishido interrupted, "but what the hell are you talking about?"

"Well, back when you were being a jerk, I went to talk to them about our relationship…"

Shishido looked completely betrayed.

"What else was I supposed to do, senpai? You were monopolizing Atobe and Jirou and all the others… I suppose I could have talked with Mukahi-senpai and Oshitari-senpai, but I just didn't think they'd be all that helpful… and anyone that's not on the tennis team wouldn't get it!"

"Yeah, I guess… but why them? Why Seigaku?"

"I think that they're a nice team, even if they're one of our greatest rivals or something. The only other team I could think of with a similar relationship was the pair from Rikkai Dai, and I've heard they're very tricky, so they might not be too helpful. Plus, I've never met them, and these guys are really nice!"

"Okay, okay. I don't really blame you. I know I got advice of my own… I guess I just want you to come to me first."

"Aww, Shishido-senpai… From now on, I'll be sure to do that."

Kikumaru laughed suddenly. "You guys are just too cute. Remember when we were like that, Oishi?"

"You mean, constantly needing to reaffirm our love for each other every few seconds? Yeah, I remember. We were so young then…"

"What are you, an old married couple?" Shishido asked sourly. In response, they held up one hand each, revealing matching silver rings and grinned.

"We may not be married, per se…" Oishi began.

"But we've been around a lot longer than you two have…" Eiji continued.

"And we're so perfect for each other that we might as well be!" they concluded together.

"Showoffs," Shishido scoffed.

"Just because they can finish each others' sentences…" Choutarou sighed.

"They think they're better than us," they finished.

Oishi and Eiji laughed at them again. "Like I said, so cute… You two have fun now! We better get back to our team…"

Immediately after they left, Oshitari and Mukahi approached, the latter shooting an angry glare at Kikumaru as he approached. "Ooh, I just hate that guy so much!" he was complaining to Oshitari. "He thinks he's better than me at everything, but he's worse! And his man isn't nearly as pretty as you are, Yuushi!"

"Be that as it may… he's certainly not all that bad."

"Ne! What do you mean, Yuushi! You're not allowed to talk to him!"

"Even when such conversations result in me learning about things such as… that?"

"Yuushi! You didn't… not that… not with him!" Gakuto looked as if he was about to burst into tears, stomp away angrily, or start attacking Oshitari. He was going to implement a strategy using a combination of the first and last options, but Oshitari knew how to calm him down, and proceeded to do so.

"It wasn't anything like that, you idiot," he murmured into Gakuto's ear, then pushed him into a nearby tree and started doing…something. (At this point, Shishido and Ootori felt it might be best if they pretended they hadn't seen the two coming towards them at all, and began to talk rather loudly and cheerfully about their recent match against Mizuki-Kamio pair down at the practice courts.)

When the moans became a little too loud for their tastes, they edged away slowly, still discussing how surprisingly effective the doubles pairing had been. However, Oshitari and Mukahi seemed to have decided that they had had enough fun, because after some minor adjustments to their clothing, they rushed back over to the Silver Pair.

"You two are certainly starting to look like a real couple," Oshitari commented, light glinting evilly off his glasses.

"Yes, yes!" Gakuto agreed. "Hey, had occasion to use my generous gift yet?" He elbowed Shishido, who backed away nervously.

"Un, no, Gakuto. We've only been, er, dating for a month now…" he replied slowly.

"So?"

"So we think that we're going to take our time about this. And in case you haven't noticed, we're still only in junior high…"

"So?" Gakuto obviously didn't get it.

"Mukahi-senpai… I think it's important that not to hold others to your own standards," Choutarou tried.

"But it's going to expire soon!"

"We've got a whole year left to use it, okay? We have time!" Shishido finally snapped.

"Che, calm down. I was just asking."

"We only wanted to see how you were doing, and whether or not you need any… encouragement from us."

"N-no, we're good. Really, we are. No more major fights or controversy for us recently…"

"Oh, Shishido-senpai, are you sure? Remember in the middle of church service last week when you stood up and started yelling at the pastor?"

"You know what, he deserved it! He was talking about atheist-type people like myself as if we were responsible for all the evils of the world!"

"Well, you certainly didn't have to start throwing Bibles at him…"

"It was very high in irony value, okay? And maybe I did get just a little carried away… but if you remember, I did make it up to you already…"

"That's right, I forgot. Sorry."

"Oh, you two were doing something like going to a new church every week So That We Can Find A Place That Shishido Will Approve Of, right?"

"Something like that… Obviously, that one didn't quite live up to expectations…" Choutarou grinned guiltily at Shishido.

"Interesting, interesting. I hope that works out for you."

"Thanks. I'm sure it will."

They too finally moved away, and were soon replaced by the commanding presence of Atobe Keigo-sama himself. "You two have been-"

"'really cute?' Atobe, we've heard this all before. Leave us alone, will you?" Shishido interrupted, a bit annoyed that everyone was insisting on congratulating him and Choutarou today.

"-working really hard lately, actually. I was going to ask you if you wanted to enjoy a long weekend together at one of my countryside resorts, but if you hate me so, I suppose I could extend the invitation to Hiyo-kun and Takkun instead…" Atobe frowned.

"Sorry, Atobe-buchou. It's just that Oshitari-senpai, Mukahi-senpai, Oishi-san, and Kikumaru-san had just said very similar things to us… and to be honest, it was getting a little annoying," Choutarou admitted.

"Yes, Gakuto has that effect on people." Atobe sniffed. "I will accept your apology, then, and let you use the mansion on one condition. You, Shishido Ryou, must tell me the rest of the names on your list!"

"Eh? What list is this…?" Choutarou wondered.

"I'll tell you later… Ne, Atobe. I wrote this out in case you asked." Shishido retrieved a folded paper from his bag and handed it over.

Atobe unfolded it and read it over, frowning slightly. "Are you sure about this?" he asked finally. "There are a lot of names on this list, and some of them make absolutely no sense. Who's this 'Honda Kyoko' person?"

"Atobe… she's the captain of the girls' tennis team at Hyotei."

"Oh… Er, well… what about this 'Sanada?'"

"Vice-captain of Rikkai Dai, the best team in the area."

"Oh… right… It's confusing when you use nothing but kanji, all right?"

"All right, Atobe."

"You will still be allowed to visit for the weekend, but Ore-sama does not appreciate your insubordination."

"Goodbye, Atobe."

"I see how it is… Fine, I didn't want to be around you anyway." He marched away, pointedly ignoring them.

Thankfully, no one else came up to bother them, and they were able to finish their conversation in peace.


4.3


The day after that, they bought a new chain, and Shishido was again able to return the crucifix to Choutarou, under rather different circumstances this time. The golden chain caught the light brilliantly, drawing attention to the rather dull cross. It still seemed symbolic to Shishido, who couldn't help but think that Choutarou's Necklace Equals God, and he decided that perhaps The Chain Equals Shishido's Love For Choutarou. Choutarou, to be perfectly honest, just thought that it was very nice of Shishido to buy him a new necklace, even if he wasn't sure that gold had been the best choice.

The next weekend, they worked hard on "deepening their relationship" at Atobe's Kansai manor. This consisted mainly of the two practicing tennis in an attempt to find a special move for Shishido that could be named after Choutarou, but the only one Shishido could perform well enough to live up to the Ootori name was the "Snake Shot," and this struck them as so ridiculously ironic that they decided simply to keep working. Of course, they did Have Fun with the huge indoor pool. (The servants, who had seen Oshitari and Mukahi use that same pool –and had been forced to clean it up afterwards- were not entirely impressed with their childish attempts to drown each other, some very wet underwater kisses, and the time that Shishido accidentally-on-purpose pulled Ootori's swim trunks off during a game of "Marco Polo.")

The combination of Valentine's Day and Choutarou's birthday led to them both officially Coming Out to their parents, for one reason or another. The Ootori family was shocked, and Choutarou was grounded for several months and forbidden to see Shishido, but this was fairly ineffective since they were doubles partners and would have found a way around it even if they hadn't been. The Shishido family had suspected it all along, and welcomed Choutarou to move in with them if his family ever got unbearable.

Several months later, they finally got around to using the coupon that Gakuto had given them for a free night's stay at the "Paradise Inn." However, when night came, they were too embarrassed by their surroundings to do more than a bit of half-hearted kissing, and consequentially spent an uncomfortable night tossing and turning on the frilly, heart-shaped bed. It was a bit of a relief when morning and checkout time came. Oshitari told them that they would get used to it. They weren't entirely sure that they wanted to.

The following weekend, they stayed at Atobe's house again. The servants were slightly more scandalized this time, but of course after Mukahi and Oshitari, nothing really surprised them.

In Shishido's first year of high school, they finally found a church that suited them both. It was a branch called "Salvation Free Church." It seemed open-minded enough with the same traditional values that Choutarou had grown up with, and the only thing that Shishido could find fault with (besides the fact that God Is Worshipped Here) was the name.

"'Salvation Free Church? Come on… that's so lame," he complained on more than one occasion.

"I think it's perfect for us," was Choutarou's usual response.

"Why's that? You think we're lame?"

"Noooooo… It's free, and you're a very cheap person sometimes, Ryou…"

"Thanks, Choutarou. Love you too."

"And well, you… You've always been my salvation."

The only response Shishido had –the only one he could have- was a tight embrace, a passionate kiss, and the half-whispered words, "And you'll always be mine."


Xiana: Aww, Shishi... How cute. I'm sorry it took me so long to update again. Well, this story marked my 200,000th word ("been"), so that's pretty exciting, I guess, meaning that by the estimation of IceDevine I've written about 1000 pages worth of fanfics. Crazy! Ehhh... for anyone who has any random questions about this story, I've prepared some notes.

1. This story was based off of episode 112, where Choutarou goes vs. Taka and Gakuto vs. Momo. I watched that part where Taka hits Dash Hadokyuu back at Cho, and his lucky necklace flies away! I was like: "Gasp, symbolism!!!" It didn't help that we were doing religion units in pretty much every class. Some of the facts were changed a bit, like when Shishido gave it back to him and they said "Gekidasa Daze" at the same time, while in this story something a little more... romantic? happened. But their facts are off a bit because the crucifix was clearly seen to be flying through the air, but then it just fell straight down, and then all of a sudden Shishido had it, so I don't even know what happened there. Anyway, that section might feel a bit out of place, but it's the reason I started writing this so I couldn't very well leave it out now could I?

2. I liked writing about Gakuto even though he's annoying, so he ended up taking over certain parts of the story. And then it's fun writing adjectives/adverbs about Oshitari, so he showed up a couple times too.

3. I don't know what it is about me and love hotels. I just like writing about them... Heheh... Plot bunny. Maybe I'll get to that someday... Heheheh...

4. Silver Pair is far too adorable. However, the thing about me is that I subconsciously keep certain themes running through the whole story, like Fluffiness and Being Adorable and Not Being Entirely In Character, and every once in a while, I realize that I'm doing it. So I have them comment about it. That was that whole conversation in 4.1 about the being romantic thing, and it also has to do with Shishido seeing symbolism in the cross, etc., and it also has to do with whenever anything Ironic was mentioned. I'm weird, I know.

5. I would have had this up earlier, but about half of 4.1 (Everything from sitting down in the church to the part where Gakuto comes in) wasn't... actually in the original version. I wasn't in the mood for writing that scene at the time, so in that version, it moves WAY too fast. It's no bueno. Luckily, I was able to rewrite it. It helped that as soon as I finished this story, I immediately started missing it. So I was able to work everything out for the best, I think.

6. I almost forgot about this note! Degrees and distances and stuff were all in metric. So when Shishido said it was 40 degrees in the church, he really meant it was over 100 Fahrenheit. For all you Americans out there ;D

7. The phrase "phone orgy" from the last chapter was coined by Dragonflyr. Shishido's statement about playing the "make-out game" came from a certain person named Geoff. It's like a bibliography!

8. I like to capitalize words for greater effect than italicizing them sometimes. It came out a little in part 1, but it really started showing up in this chapter. Sorry if that bothered you, but that's how I write.

9. I was able to put Honda Kyoko (I invented her in "Challenges") in this story as well, which made me very proud of myself. She's kind of like "Kyoko" from Death Note. (If you know who that is, I am very impressed.) Also, it was recently pointed out to me by Ramen Ichiraku, who recently changed her name to Mon Chat Noir in the interim between chapters in a very annoying way, that her name is the same as Tohru's mother in Fruits Basket. Oh well! It appears Kyoko's been promoted to the captaincy all of a sudden. I'm so proud of her!

10. Yikes. I wanted to write all these notes, but while I was doing so, the word count for the chapter, which was originally 5866, a very interesting number for reasons I choose not to divulge at this time, became almost 7000! Argh! And to think I originally wanted this story to be only one chapter long!

The final word here is "Don't be mean to people with different religious beliefs than your own." Yeah, I'm talking to you, Mon Chat Noir. Oh, and if anyone was still wondering, I told you it would be pretty clear how I felt about religion after the story was over. I'm glad I was able to meet both people that were like Choutarou and Shishido, but regardless... I'm mostly like Jirou. Haha!

Anyway, since this story is over... You're going to review now, right? XD