Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis.
He was in her class second year. Or rather, she was in his class, because at this point in his life everything and everyone came second after only himself. At least, she believed he thought that way.
Shishido Ryou's attitude certainly demonstrated pride and arrogance on a level that rivaled Atobe Keigo. How else could a boy at his age have hair that long and still manage to exude coolness and masculinity? She was surprised those two didn't become best chums, what with them being kindred spirits and all.
Anyways, it was his hair that caught her attention, and she was amused and exasperated because normally she wouldn't have cared who he was, or who he thought he was. At this point in her life, everything and everyone and everybody that wasn't her family or herself took the backseat, or wasn't in the car at all.
It was hard not to notice. He sat in front of her (or, she sat behind him). The tips of his hair, when tied, brushed her desk, and whenever he turned his head to smirk or speak smugly with the others she wondered how much it would bother him if he knew his beautiful hair was collecting the dust off her desk.
And it really was beautiful, his hair. He obviously took very special care of it, and she was slightly irked to find a person—a male nonetheless—having better hair than her. Cross that, she was agitated. She loved her hair very much and considered it to be her most redeeming point. And now, she was losing out to a guy.
So she tapped his shoulder. She couldn't help it. When he turned with an annoyed scowl on his good-looking face, she asked, "Isn't your hair very heavy in the shower?"
The question threw him off guard like she knew it would, but he recovered quickly and retorted, "Why are you thinking about me taking a shower?"
She shrugged. "Naturally, you do take showers, don't you?" When there was a tint of red in his face she inwardly smiled.
Turning back around he snapped, "Of course."
She was left staring at his hair again.
So he wasn't just an arrogant pretty boy, she mused. It figured, since Hyotei wasn't a prestigious private school for nothing. But he had an intelligence that was on a deeper level, one she could identify with.
Still, he hadn't answered her first question, and it brought her back to the issue of his hair and her hair. She may have won that tiny skirmish, but victory was still far from sight.
Being a student at Hyotei meant having money, or prestige, or talent, or any of the combinations. It meant having just money or brains wasn't special—on the contrary, it was the basic that everyone should already have. Prestige came with old families and power, but again, many students had it. In the end, the real judgment came down to the student's character and personality.
Charisma, pride, empathy, mystique, etc—they were strong characteristics for an individual to have. They were what left the most lasting impression on a person.
And that was her weakness.
She knew she didn't stand out from the crowd. She had money and grades. Her character was average at most and left no impression whatsoever on a person's mind. She had no saving grace or little quirk that set her apart from everybody else, and she definitely was not beautiful.
One night, at a business party with a bunch of people she recognized but didn't really know, somebody admired her hair. It was remarkably silky and healthy-looking, and its natural wave looked like it was done at a professional hair salon. She decided to grow out her hair and never cut it again, until it grew too long to take care of.
In her second year of Hyotei, her hair was long, but not very long, and so it didn't catch people's eye. But she knew it would in a few years when it got abnormally long, and then people would at least remember her for her hair.
Thinking about this as she sat in class, staring at his hair instead of paying attention to the teacher, she wondered if he also thought the same way. That, in order to feel special, he decided to grow out his hair. In that aspect she could sympathize with him. If she tried harder, she could just leave him and his hair alone.
But because at this point in her young life nobody but herself mattered, she selfishly continued to stare at his hair.
One morning she came into the classroom and, instead of sitting down, stopped beside Shishido. The classroom was relatively empty. He had been leaning on his palm, reading a book rather disinterestedly, but at her presence he looked up with a perplexed frown. "What do you want?" he asked suspiciously.
She moved closer to him until she was practically touching his side, lowering herself so that their shoulders were the same height, and reached out to hold his ponytail. Her other hand held up her own hair, and she compared them with undivided concentration that an earthquake couldn't shatter. Her face was a scant few inches from his, and she didn't seem to notice him edging away.
He blushed and spluttered, "What are you doing?" She ignored him and released the ponytails, moving to sit down in her seat. The few other students in the classroom also ignored them. He turned around and demanded, "What was that? Why the hell did you do that?"
She looked out the windows, and after a pause she said reluctantly, "Shishido-san, I believe your hair is longer than mine by an inch."
He stared at her, "So…?"
"So you win."
"The war," she answered dryly. He blinked.
"Oi. Are you okay?" He almost sounded worried, as if she had suddenly gone crazy. "Do you need to go home, because…"
"I'm fine, thank you." She wasn't, actually, but it didn't matter anymore since she had now confirmed whose hair was longer. He used a better shampoo and conditioner brand and went to the salon regularly, which was more than her one-every-six-months trim (she'd asked him). His hair quality was better than hers, and now length-wise he was the greater one. It was a wonder that she didn't pull out scissors and hack a large chunk off of his hair. But even she couldn't bring herself to think about it, no matter how depressed she felt.
"Really," she assured him with a smile when he continued to give her an odd look. "I just really like your hair."
And she did. Just, not as much as her hair.
He was in her class third year (or vice versa). She sat behind him and him in front, and it was just like before except he was more involved in tennis and she in her studies. But his hair stayed exactly the same, and she found herself staring at it everyday, drawing a strange comfort from its familiarity.
Sometimes her eyes drifted from the ponytail to his shoulder, his neck, the back of his head, and even his ears. Staring at his hair got boring after awhile, so some change was nice. But she didn't stray too far from it because otherwise strange thoughts might come into her head and she might want to stare at his face.
At this point in her life, however, it was not always herself being put in the front. There were other things to consider, other people to think about, others that were probably more important than herself. The world wasn't just about her anymore.
These other considerations took up a lot of her time, and sometimes she didn't have time to think about her hair.
She had been too busy reviewing her notes to look up when he took his seat. But immediately she knew something was different the moment he began taking out his material from his bag. His movements were firm and calm, as opposed to when he'd usually wait a minute or two before reaching lazily into his bag to dump his textbook and pencils on his desk. His posture was straighter, and his back seemed to lack something.
And then her eyes snapped up. At first she thought it was another student, someone who entered the wrong classroom on accident and was now sitting in Shishido's seat.
Because the ponytail was gone.
But as the classroom started to fill and classmates stared at him, whispering curiously to one another, the bell rang and the wrong student had not moved to go yet, she realized it was Shishido.
He turned his head just enough to look at her, and she couldn't help the startled expression that rippled across her face. It was still Shishido Ryou with his good-looking face, but there was something different, as if the light in his eyes had softened a bit and his expression a little more knowing. He seemed more… humble. And his hair. His hair had completely changed him. No longer framing his face with sleek bangs, his hair was short and spiked up, giving him a more "cool" air. The bandage on his forehead added to his roguish appearance.
She was staring at him, and only when he cracked a grin did she blink and ask, "Why?"
He shrugged, reaching up to feel a short strand as if not sure it was real. "I needed to change. It was getting too long anyways." A smirk ghosted on his lips, reminiscent of the old Shishido. "And you were surprised." The tone of his voice said, 'Finally.'
This made her look away self-consciously, and she tried not to blush as she explained, "Anybody in my position would be surprised. I thought you were never going to cut it." He said he needed to change, not a change, she thought. Did it mean that by changing his hair he was able to change himself?
"I was going to have to cut it eventually," he said pointedly. Suddenly he asked, "Why were you so obsessed with my hair?"
Her answer was prompt, "I wished my hair was like yours."
He raised an eyebrow and said, "Okay," like he didn't believe her, before turning around. She smiled slightly and looked back down at her notes, her mind on anything but them.
She looked up quickly. He glanced at her and said, "Your hair is fine the way it is. You don't need to change. Just act natural."
Something in her turned warm and she smiled gratefully. "…Thanks."
As class started and everyone quickly settled to the drone of the teacher's voice, she stared at his hair once again, only this time she could see his back and neck clearly, the broadness of his shoulders, his ears...
Change was a good thing, she thought. Perhaps it was even necessary for her, in order to get past the insecurities she'd carried about her lack of personality value. Maybe the change Shishido was talking about meant his perception of the world had changed.
In any case, she mused, guys shouldn't have longer hair than girls. And personally, she believed Shishido looked better with short hair.
A/N: Ah, wow, wow. A surprise Shishido-fic to myself. I actually thought about this idea for a while, and today I got into The Mood and typed the whole thing up! Is it romance? Is it humor? Is it good? I tried going for all three, but I'm not confident that I succeeded. Oh, but it's okay.
The OC is another nameless. I wonder if I'm getting infamous for them… heh. Is Shishido OOC? This is kind of my first time centering on him. And actually, this is sort of related to the "Captain fics with an OC perspective" collection, but not. Maybe it is the "OC perspective" collection…? Eh. We'll see.
There are probably lots of errors… I apologize! I hate errors a lot, but I can never seem to stop doing them.
Thank you so much for taking time to read! Hope it was worth your time!