Niou is in Yagyuu's bed when he wakes up and Yagyuu isn't, but that doesn't surprise him. Yagyuu never is in bed when Niou wakes up, and that day was no different. In fact, there was nothing different about the morning, Niou blinking open sleep-encrusted eyes, yawning and stretching, nude beneath the sheets and blankets that are Yagyuu's, because he always sleeps nude, even when at Yagyuu's, and it is then that he realizes something is wrong.
The sheets do not fall as they normally would, sliding over a slim chest and waist and over his legs, do not tent between his legs, penis stiff with morning erection. They do not fall or tent there, but tent and fall, because his body is different: it is curvier in spots where curves did not, were not supposed to, exist; it is flat where it should be curved. The sheets and blanket were kicked off, tossed to the side and Niou didn't even care that they slipped to the floor. He never cared, that was not different.
Girls and Niou were a volatile combination, a mix of fun and pleasure and angry tears when they realized later he was joking, playing with them and their bodies and their hearts, because that was all Niou did, was play, and everyone knew it, but those girls seemed to forget it when he selected them for individual attention. So the woman's body was not foreign to the silver haired boy, not at all. It was, though, foreign on him. Fingers – he noticed now that they were slimmer, but no longer, nor shorter - skim over his body, feeling, touching, and learning the shape of his skin all over again. His skin is no different that normal: pale in the places hidden by his school uniform and tanned where the sun hits his legs in the tennis practices he endured daily. But it is different to Niou, because it is not his: except it is his and his alone and stretching over a body that is his and is not his.
It occurs to Niou to wonder what happened, why he woke up with a woman's body and not his: he wonders where his dick has gone to and if he will see it again and if his favorite shirts will fit over his breasts, and then it is not so much wondering at the causes, but wondering at the effects of this situation. He thinks about boys and girls and clothes and his friends and Yagyuu and the girl he is dating and then his mind shifts: no longer about external incidentals to personal, private issues. Niou's hand is at the juncture of his thighs then and he is realizing that while he does not have a penis, he still has functioning sexual organs and then his mind is no longer thinking, but on autopilot.
Yagyuu walks into the room before he is finished, and Niou is realizing that women really do take longer to reach orgasm than men do, but remembering the lessons learned at the hands of the girls he'd slept with helps, and Niou is arching off the bed, moaning and one hand is teasing the nipples that he'd never paid attention to.
"Niou-kun," Yagyuu begins, infallibly polite in the morning, even though he had only hours ago been pressing Niou into the bed, breathless, meaningless words escaping them both, to end with a silent cry of 'Masaharu'. He is shocked into speechlessness when he sees Niou on the bed; although he is used to seeing Niou masturbate, has no problems with it because it is something every man does and he has on many occasion helped Niou, and always enjoyed the sight of the silver-haired boy bringing himself to climax, this is something new. Yagyuu feels vaguely dirty, as though he should turn around, but he is entranced by the sight. He has never thought of his friend-slash-lover-slash-partner as a girl, even for the off chance that Niou might one day dress in drag – why would he? – but now that he can see Niou as a girl, he can not help but lust over the thought. And Niou opens his eyes then, to spot Yagyuu and a smirk curls the boy's – girls? – lips, as though reading Yagyuu down to his core.
Yagyuu shivers, suddenly, under that grey-eyed gaze, as he never did under Niou's glance.
"We won't be able to pull off the switch anymore," Yagyuu tells Niou, turning his back when he realized Niou was not going to give up on his activity, fingers continuing to glide in and out and over and Yagyuu will not admit how turned on he is by the sight. For Niou, this is a good thing, Yagyuu still being in the room, because he finds it easier to fantasize and is soon crying out in pleasure, body sinking to the bed, sated and weak.
"The switch is the last thing on my mind." Niou responds to Yagyuu minutes later, long enough to make Yagyuu wonder if his words had been heard. Yagyuu hears the bed creak and soon there are footsteps on the floorboards, stopping just as they reach him. Yagyuu is afraid to turn around, because he fears what he might see: Niou is not known for putting on clothes when first rising from bed.
Niou solves the problem for him, stepping in front of Yagyuu and bringing his fingers to Yagyuu's lips, and Yagyuu is sucking them in his mouth, tasting something that is uniquely Niou on those fingers. And he realizes he is glad that Niou still tastes the same. This shocks him, but Yagyuu long ago learned to take shocks delivered by Niou in stride, and even if Niou has a girl's body, he is Niou: the same mischievous light lingers in his eyes; the same smile tugs at his lips; his voice still carries the same inflections, even if it is pitched differently.
Niou is smirking at him when he finally lets the fingers slip from his mouth, and that smirk sends shivers down his spine, just as the gaze did earlier, and Niou's smirk never usually did. But then, Yagyuu figures, he is not used to being the one under the smirk or the gaze: that is reserved for others, now, when it has been years since Niou first mentioned the switch and used both things to get him to agree.
"Do you think your sister would have clothes that would fit me?" Niou asks, standing naked in front of Yagyuu, hands at his side, and Yagyuu is suddenly aware of the problem on their hands.
They have to return to Niou's house to find clothes that would fit, for Yagyuu's sister is too young and too short, and so Niou settles for wearing his school uniform, admiring the way he filled it out and the feeling of the rough material against his suddenly sensitive nipples.
His sister is not home when they return, but that suits Niou just fine. He knows his sister's room as well as he knows is – they are close for siblings, and he has always been a prankster, even when it applied to his family, and it only takes him minutes to find a bra that looks like it would fit and clean panties and to dig out the old Rikkai uniform she had lurking in the closet, because it is not something she would miss.
"Renji will be able to figure something out," Yagyuu tells him, because he is worried, rightfully so, and he knows Niou is as well, somewhere deep inside of himself, even if Niou won't admit it.
"I'm sure he will, Renji always has an answer," Niou remarks, pulling the uniform on and studying his features in the mirror. "I'm just worried about getting everyone to believe me."
Niou's hair in the same, flyaway strands falling in his eyes and a rat-tail trailing down his back, but he leaves it loose today, letting it fly every which way it wants and Yagyuu wants to reach out and tangle his hands in it, as he does late at night, but refrains, as they ride the train to the tennis courts Sanada rented for the day. "Extra practice," Sanada had told them the day before, when complaints had followed the demand to meet on a Sunday. Yagyuu has a hard time keeping his eyes off Niou, who looks different and is but isn't. Yagyuu wonders how the others will take it.
They are the last ones to reach the tennis courts, and Sanada is berating them for being late and already ordering punishment laps when he realizes that the Niou he is talking to is not Niou. Or rather is Niou, but as a girl.
"Take off that ridiculous costume and change into something normal," Sanada tells him. "And you're cleaning the clubhouse this week."
Niou is smirking when he leans close to Sanada, draping an arm around Sanada's shoulders as he had done to the others so many times in the past and even Sanada once or twice, and although it seems like he should be whispering, his voice is loud when he replies.
Niou's words take a take a minute to sink in and then Sanada is pushing his arm away and scowling at him from under the brim of a hat.
"Stop playing around Niou, and go change out of that. You should take tennis practice seriously."
"I am being serious, Sanada," Niou responds, reaching for one of Sanada's hands and bring it to his chest, fingers curling around Sanada's bigger hand and cupping his breast. Yagyuu watches the play of emotions over Sanada's face and can't hide the smile when Sanada comes to the conclusion that Niou's breasts are not fake, as he thought at first, but real. And then hits the realization that he is standing there groping one of the members of his team.
Sanada is quickly pulling his hand away, the scowl still there and forgetting himself enough to curse in the next sentence that slips from his mouth. "What the hell is that?"
And then Niou is laughing, and Yagyuu wonders if he will ever stop, because he, if no one else, can hear the edge of hysteria that borders in the laughter.
"It's called a breast, Sanada. I'm sure you've seen one before." Niou is looking at Sanada and then his teammates, only the starting line that day, the team that with two exceptions is composed of the same people from their middle school team, and still laughing and Yagyuu wants to shut him up, however he can. But he doesn't, because Yukimura is there and despite the amused glance he shoots at Sanada, who looks horrified, is taking charge and issuing orders.
"That'll be enough, Niou." Yukimura places a hand on Niou's shoulder and steers him toward the locker room. Yanagi and Yagyuu follow instinctively, knowing Yukimura would order them to, but needing no words. Kirihara follows because he is curious, Sanada because he is too, although he will not admit it. The locker room is empty when they reach it, but even so, the six of them huddle around a bench in one of the back rows of lockers, keeping voices hushed and Sanada watches for people. None of them want to be caught with a girl in the locker room, even if the girl is normally a boy, and it is only a fluke of nature that has turned him into a girl.
"I just woke up like this," Niou explains. "Breasts and everything."
"So you have all the parts?" Kirihara asks, eyes wide and flushed with embarrassment and something else; Yagyuu does not like the looks the boy keeps shooting towards Niou, but he refrains from saying anything.
"Everything," Niou insists, bringing his hands to the button down shirt he wore. "Want to see?" he asked his voice cheerful and calm. He is already unbuttoning his shirt when Kirihara jumps back, blushing and looking at anyone but Niou, insisting with almost a frantic tone that no, he does not want to see.
Kirihara's action sets Niou to laughing again, until Sanada is snapping at him to shut up and Yanagi is staring at Niou, eyes boring into the silver-haired boy, trying to think of a possible explanation. They are all looking to Yanagi, maybe not literally, but they expect him to answer this problem.
"Are you sure they're…"
"They're the genuine things?" Niou interrupts, because he knows what Yanagi is going to ask and he looks at Yagyuu, a smirk curling his lips and for the second time, Yagyuu shivers beneath that smirk because he knows what it means and he can still taste Niou on his lips. Everyone notices that shiver, but no one comments. It is best that way. "I checked. It's all there."
"Did you do anything different last night?" Yanagi does not even seem fazed by Niou's casual mention of exploring his own, new, body, but Yanagi is not disconcerted by anything, least off all the mentions of self-exploration. They are all teenage boys; it is common.
"Nothing out of the ordinary," Niou tells him, because it is true: he and Yagyuu had gone to a new restaurant, spent the night inside instead of out, there had been a new video game. There was nothing different. It had been a boring night, in fact.
"You didn't try anything new, act in any different way, or inhale any foreign substances?"
"I smoked a cigarette, I had miso soup." Niou shrugs and looks around at the group surrounding him. "I didn't do anything weird or new or different. Ask Yagyuu."
Yagyuu murmurs an agreement, even though no one is looking at him, because they are all too busy looking at other things. Everyone knows what they do together, but no one mentions it, so when Niou specifically brings up Yagyuu, they don't know how to react. It is best to let some things lay hidden, even among the closest of friends.
Niou is sitting in the center of the row of lockers, slumped on the bench and torn between looking defiant and mischievous and rather upset. The others range from leaning against the lockers to standing up straight and stiff, watchful eyes on the hall. Yanagi says nothing, because for once he is stumped: there is nothing he can think of to explain why Niou woke up like this.
After minutes of silence, Kirihara speaks up. "Maybe this is Niou-sempai's bad dream." It is pointless to say but he can think of nothing else and it is better than the silence.
"Yeah, Kirihara, I'm going to fucking dream about having tits and a cunt," Niou says with a bitter laugh and Kirihara is flinching away from the words and the boy he had considered a friend and there is Yukimura placing a restraining hand on Niou's arm again.
"Niou, there is no need for such language," Yukimura says, but Niou is not paying attention, shrugging off Yukimura's hand and pushing himself up off the bench.
"Fuck this," he growls, or attempts to, but it lacks the fierceness that defined Niou's growl before and is storming away. Not even Sanada's hand can hold him back, although he does not try but once, because they are all confused and upset and even Sanada is smart enough to realize that Niou is the one with the most reason to be upset.
Yagyuu can still taste Niou on his lips and that is all he can think about.
Niou's mother faints and his father is horrified; his sister looks fascinated and intrigued and his brother is disturbed. Niou does not stay home that night, leaving after collecting a handful of things from his room, money, and different clothes from his sister, things that will fit because his clothes, he decides, look too odd on him and fit all wrong. When he is leaving, he can still hear his mother crying and father trying to calm her down; both are wondering where they went wrong, what happened, and why it was their son that ended up in this situation. He will return tomorrow or the next day and while things will not be normal, because in this situation, nothing is normal, but they will be okay.
The only problem is finding somewhere to crash that night and maybe the next night. He can not go to Yagyuu's: he does not want to see his classmates and be subjected to their looks of curiosity and pity or anything else they might subject him to, because he still needs time to adjust to the situation before shrugging it all off. Niou is adept at ignoring the feelings of others, does not accept pity, and is tolerant of curiosity – but all lessons learned over the years are forgotten with one simple, but not so simple, change. The way he sees it, he'll remember how to deal once he comes to grips with this new body.
It is learning to deal with that new body that will be his problem.
Niou stays nowhere that night; he picks a subway line and sits on it until it stops, ignoring the looks of the men on the subway who assume that a lone girl on the subway at night is looking for something of a dubious nature. When the subways stop running for the night, he gets off and wanders around Tokyo, eventually choosing a small café that is open all night to sit in, drinking cup after cup of green tea, changing to coffee as he sees the sun cresting the horizon. He isn't sleepy, but he does know his body well enough to realize he'll need the caffeine if he is to stay awake all day.
"Boyfriend kick you out?" the guy who is serving him the coffee asks, when he hits ten cups of the stuff and the sidewalk is packed with people walking to work or to school or to begin their daily chores.
"No," Niou says. "He realized I'm a girl." He starts laughing at the expression on the face of the waiter and doesn't stop until he is outside minutes later and people are staring at him oddly, and mothers are whispering to their children to avoid 'bad people on the streets'. This shuts Niou up, because he finally realizes what he must look like, hair a mess and laughing hysterically.
He starts laughing again minutes later. He fears if he does not laugh, he will cry, and Niou will not cry.
None of them see Niou after he storms out of the locker room, and Yagyuu is not surprised. He is not surprised when Niou does not show up in school, although it occurs to him to worry slightly when the boy is missing from tennis practice after school as well, and when he gets a call from Niou's sister, asking if he has seen Niou.
"Not since yesterday," he tells her, on the cell phone during tennis practice, even though Yukimura is standing a few feet away, a smile that is enough to chill Yagyuu's flesh on his lips. "If I do see him, I will tell him to return home."
"Don't tell him that, not yet," Niou's sister tells Yagyuu. "Tell him to wait a few more days."
Yagyuu is smart enough to not ask why, but murmurs an agreement and hangs up. The only explanation he offers Yukimura is Niou, and the other immediately softens a little, although he still orders laps to be ran. There is no complaining and Yagyuu spends the laps thinking about where Niou might have gone during the night. He does not wonder why Niou did not show up at his window.
Yagyuu returns home late that afternoon, because Yukimura drags him along when Kirihara demands someone come with him to the arcade and Sanada is unable to go along. Kirihara spends thirty minutes and 2000 yen dying in a video game, gets tired of it, and demands food. No one asks Yagyuu why he gets extra, carefully boxed and bagged, so to stay warm until he reaches his house.
Niou might not have snuck in through his window the night before, but Yagyuu knows Niou and knows that Niou does not stay away for long. He will be around some time.
The window is wide open and the bed rumpled when Yagyuu returns home, although he knows he had made his bed that morning, and closed the window, like he does every day before school. Niou loves the air that blows in through the window, even if it is freezing outside and the wind is not the only thing that is sneaking in through the window, and Yagyuu had long ago picked up the habit of leaving his window open at night, but he never forgets to close it in the morning.
The shower in his bathroom is running.
Normally, Niou leaves the bathroom door open for there is no point in hiding behind closed doors, not around someone who knows him so well. Yagyuu has no problem with wandering in and out of the bathroom if he needs something, which is quite frequent in the mornings. Yagyuu had once mentally compared them to a married couple: Niou in the shower, he brushing his teeth in the sink. But today it is different, because the door is closed, and even if Niou had left it open, Yagyuu would not enter the bathroom. He does not need anything, but that is beyond the point in question.
Yagyuu is doing his homework when Niou emerges from the bathroom, long after the water had stopped running, dressed in clothes too neat to be his, hair wet and plastered to his head, defining the sharp angles of his face. The rattail is braided, instead of in a ponytail, but still sopping wet and Yagyuu can see the outline of a bra and Niou's muscles beneath the wet spots in the white shirt. He wants to say something, but refrains and is glad he did so, because in the next moment Niou is pulling a sweater over his head, covering the wet spots, and shaking his head, sending droplets of water all over the room. Yagyuu is forced to cover his homework, to avoid splashes.
"Thanks for the food," Niou tells him, plopping himself down on the bed and reaching for the bag that contains his food, digging into it without hesitation.
It is all so normal, even though it is so different and wrong. But the veneer of normalcy is there and so Yagyuu goes along with it. He turns his back on Niou to continue his homework, as he does every so often, when Niou is in his room and can't be bothered to do his own homework.
Niou finishes his food in silence instead of his normal chatter that never actually distracts Yagyuu, and the silence grows between them until it is pressing down and up and in from the sides and Niou feels as though he is going to suffocate from the pressure or burst out screaming.
He settles for dumping his trash in Yagyuu's trashcan and picking up his bag that contains the clothes he'd bought earlier that day before sneaking through Yagyuu's window.
"Pick up my work for me, will you?" Niou asks, although he is not going to do the work and they both know that. But it is something to say and before Yagyuu can reply, he is slipping through the window again, hitting the ground feet first. Yagyuu compares Niou to a cat as he looks down at Niou's retreating figure from his second floor window; Yagyuu does not call down to ask where Niou is going. He can either guess or does not need to know. Yagyuu, for once, isn't sure which it is – he wonders if this will be permanent, not being able to second guess Niou.
He remembers he forgot to tell Niou what his sister said, but that still does not tempt Yagyuu into calling down to him. Niou will come back to him before going to his house.
Yagyuu does not know how he is so sure, but it is like knowing Niou would have been there earlier. Yagyuu does not admit that is primarily his wishes that keep him thinking so positively.
Niou lets his feet lead him, not caring where he is walking, not until he realizes his feet have lead him to Yukimura's house. Niou has climbed through all of his friend's windows, and whatever Yukimura is in an official position, he is above all things, Niou's friend. He does not know what subconscious motivation brought him to Yukimura, but he does not question it, settling for picking up a handful of pebbles to fling at the window, just hard enough to attract the attention of the boy inside.
Niou sees Yukimura's shadow at the curtains and stops throwing the pebbles. A minute later, the curtains are pulled back and the window thrown open and Niou is finding familiar footholds in the wall that give him just enough boost to allow him to grip the window seal and hoist himself over and into the room. Yukimura is seated at his desk, although turned to the window, a smile faint on his lips.
"You make a pretty girl, 'Haru, but you are not very ladylike at all," Yukimura tells him, and Niou responds with a smirk and a laugh.
"Did you really expect me to be ladylike?" he asks, settling onto Yukimura's bed after kicking off his shoes. It is familiar routine, comforting and if only Niou could forget the breasts that have caused him problems with his balance and the difference in feel of the female organs, he might have been able to fully relax.
But they are still there and Yukimura is staring at him with an unreadable expression, one Niou has only seen on his captain in situations where he has never been the on the receiving end.
"I do not know what I expected," Yukimura tells him, because it is true and despite the mind games they both played, he knows Niou appreciates the truth. Niou does not respond to this, but simply flashes a grin and changes the subject.
"I won't be around school, or tennis practice, for a few more days," Niou says. "Hiroshi is picking up my homework, but I figured I would let you know I won't be at practice." That is not true, and Yukimura can hear it in his voice, but refrains from even raising an eyebrow at the lie.
"You won't be let off easy when you return."
"I know." Niou's voice is soft and he is looking at anything but Yukimura. There is the same uncomfortable silence he experienced with Yagyuu – this does not sit well on Niou's shoulders. He is not used to uncomfortable silences or awkward pauses, for he is the boy who could find a topic to speak about with anyone and with the few friends who he does enjoy silence, it has never been uncomfortable, until now. But then Yukimura is there next to him, and although they are still of a height, Niou feel smaller, somehow, but it is not a pressing concern. He does not realize it, but Niou's arms are going around Yukimura's body, even as the hands of other boy thread through his hair and Niou's face is buried in Yukimura's chest.
Niou cries, although he does not cry, and will deny it later to everyone. But at that moment, he is simply a lost teenage boy who woke up with the body of a woman. It would be enough to make anyone cry.
Yukimura is gone, left for school, when Niou wakes up, and he doesn't even bother to leave a note, quietly slipping out of the window, left open he realized, for that very reason. He might have found comfort in Yukimura's arms last night, even enough to have slept in the same bed with his friend, after the bout of crying, but it is at Yagyuu's that he feels the most comfortable. Even if he is not very comfortable around the boy – the room is a safe haven, and he seeks it as a ship would a natural port in a storm.
The window to the room is closed, but not locked, as it had been the day before, and as it will be the following day. Niou does not think about anything as he slips into the room and sheds his clothes, curling up beneath the blankets in his usual manner. It is probably too much sleep for him but his body is not protesting and his mind is easier to deal with when he is not awake. He can forget his new body parts that are not quite so new; it is the third day he has had them, he realizes with a start. It is old enough not to be a novelty to Niou anymore. The thrill of exploring a new body had long ago evaporated; did not exist long enough for him to fully enjoy it, really, had existed for that one morning and disappeared beneath the haze of trying to convince his friends he wasn't lying or crazy or dreaming and in the reactions from them all. All he knows now is that he is sill a girl and his friends are probably still horrified and his parents don't want to see him.
Yagyuu is accosted by Yukimura before classes can even begin. There is no denying his captain, Yagyuu knows, not when Yukimura is looking at him with a firm expression that will tolerate no objections. He keeps silent as Yukimura leads the way off the Rikkai campus and to a small tea shop, makes no protests when Yukimura orders tea for both of them.
"You should skip tennis practice this afternoon," Yukimura tells him, without preamble. "Niou needs you more than tennis does, right now."
"And we need Niou back on the team?" Yagyuu interjects, although his voice is a question and he hates the waver in it.
"This is not about that," Yukimura says. "This is beyond tennis and the team and even all of us, Hiroshi." Yukimura looks at him then, face serious over a fragile china cup of green tea. "This is about you and Niou."
"Niou and I are nothing," Yagyuu insists, his mind screaming at the blatant lie: Niou is Yagyuu who is Niou and they are everything. But it is nothing, now, because Niou is not Niou but is and it confuses Yagyuu, far more than anything else has confused him since he woke up one morning with a wet spot on his sheets and the thrill of an illicit dream tingling in his blood.
"Do you want him more now than you did before, Hiroshi?" Yukimura does not challenge Yagyuu's attempt at a lie; it is such a shameless attempt at hiding the truth that Yukimura does not even see the need to acknowledge it. It would be a waste of breath. Instead, Yukimura goes right to the quick. He had spotted the looks Niou had given Yagyuu that first morning, when they discovered Niou's change; he is intelligent enough to know what they meant, or at least guess at the truth behind them, even if he does not know exact details.
Yagyuu is silent, but Yukimura does not take it for assent. He looks at Yagyuu, and waits, letting him sort out his thoughts.
"I would not say that," Yagyuu begins, his voice even and soft, as though he is keeping his emotions in check. "It is just different, and I will admit, the thought does present an exciting change." When Yukimura says nothing, Yagyuu sighs and shrugs. He can offer no better answer than that; he does not think too deeply about it, as if he is afraid of what answers lie beneath the surface. But he thinks his response was the truth: it is not that he did not want Niou anymore, or any less, but that it was different, a change, a challenge, as things has not been for quite some time.
Yukimura says nothing, but continues to look at him, until Yagyuu is forced to stare at the tabletop and finishes his tea in silence. Yukimura has always been able to see through him, as Niou did, but in different ways, and it discomforts Yagyuu now as it never did. There is silence between them as they return to school, only to be broken before they leave to their respective classes.
"I take back my advice. Don't skip tennis practice today. Use it to think instead, Hiroshi."
Niou leaves Yagyuu's house before Yagyuu returns, but the signs that he was there are obvious: the bed is unmade, the papers on the desk scattered, towels on the floor in the bathroom, the window wide open. And Yagyuu thinks that maybe he should have taken Yukimura's first words and skipped practice, but knows it would not have helped.
Yagyuu flops on his bed, his move very Niou-like, and breathes deeply: his pillows still smell like Niou. He does not realize it, but his hand is slipping down his body and inside pants that are too perfect of a fit to be doing anything. When he does realize it, his hand is wrapped around his arousal and there is nothing in the world that would stop him from doing such a thing, even with the door unlocked and window open, bright sunlight streaming in and the chance of being found out high.
Nor does he stop the moan that sounds more like Niou's name than any moan should when he is nearing completion.
Niou seeks out Yanagi that night, the third night he is a girl and has no home to return to and does not wish to seek out Yagyuu's bed for reasons he does not think about. Yanagi studies him, his eyes open for once; but does not say anything and lets Niou into his ground floor room, graciously offering the bed.
"Even though you are a friend and a teammate, it would be too odd to sleep with you as you are now, Masaharu," Yanagi tells him. Niou rolls his eyes at that, but doesn't say anything – he understands, maybe too easily how weird it would be.
"You should go home," Yanagi tells him, when it is obvious Niou isn't going to say anything, because he feels the need to help, even if it is futile. "Or back to Hiroshi."
"Have you even tried to?" Yanagi asks, looking at the boy who is a girl in his bedroom; they both know the answer, but Niou refuses to admit to it, and Yanagi simply continues to look at him.
"I'll sleep at Sanada's tonight," Niou says, and leaves as quickly as he came. For a minute, Yanagi is left wondering if it really had happened, but the window left open makes him believe it.
He calls Sanada to tell him Niou is heading over.
Sanada was expecting him, which does not surprise Niou; he'd know Yanagi would call. He doesn't mind it either, and Sanada does not say anything to him, simply lets him have the bed. But Niou can not sleep that night, the product of too much sleep already, and leaves well before dawn. His mind is made up, and he seeks out Yagyuu's house, although it is not to talk or to fall into bed with his partner who is his best friend and who is more than all of those terms but who can not be described.
Instead, Niou sneaks in quietly and hogs the bathroom: he is still in the bathroom when Yagyuu wakes up, make-up spread across the counter as Niou experiments with different products, the school uniform he'd stolen from his sister neatly pressed and hanging on the back of the door.
"I don't know how chicks do this fucking stuff," Niou complains, holding up a mascara wand. "It's fucking painful."
Yagyuu is not sure what to say, so he says nothing, just stands there and watches Niou for a moment, until he shakes himself free from the effect of watching Niou. "I have to take a shower," he says simply, and slips past Niou to turn on the water. Niou is still playing with the mascara wand when Yagyuu strips off his clothing. There is no acknowledgement, no moving out of the way for him or deliberately trying to avoid looking at him.
It's just like every morning when Niou woke up in Yagyuu's bed. Only different.
Yagyuu reaches for a towel when he steps out of the shower, wraps it around his waist as quickly as he can, although there is no need, because Niou is paying more attention to the make-up on the counter than to Yagyuu himself, and it's almost disconcerting, especially when Niou holds up lipsticks and asks which color would be best.
"How do you plan to go through school?" Marui asks from behind Niou, when he stops to study the gates that lead to the school. Niou's gotten this far; if it were not for the fact that he has too much determination, too much pride, to turn back now, Niou knows he would be walking the other way, avoiding school and his peers and everything else. And, not for the first time since he woke up with a different body, he doesn't know what to do.
Yagyuu is at tennis practice, bright and early morning practices to prepare for tournaments, so he is no help in answering Marui's question. He'd even made an attempt to drag Niou along with him, but Niou refused, using the excuse that he still had to get ready. For all that standing in Yagyuu's bathroom was completely normal, it was too different: something in the atmosphere had changed between them and neither of them knows how to adjust.
It makes Niou wonder about himself; if he is everything he thinks he is. Anything before this he'd been able to handle, with no problem, bending it and shaping it to his whims when necessary.
"How'd you know?" he asks Marui, returning the question with his own to cover his lack of an answer, a question that is completely obvious. Marui's not on the tennis team, but he hasn't forgotten his own love of the game, or the people who he had gone to Nationals with. And he and Yukimura are still in the same class.
"I'm a tensai," Marui jokes. "Or has it been so long since you've seen me that you've forgotten?"
"It's not hard to forget a face like yours. The mind tries to push out the ugliness as quickly as possible." The banter is familiar and comforting in its light-heartedness; almost a relief after everything that had passed in the days prior.
Marui only rolls his eyes, and with a glance at Niou that showed he had been spending almost too much time with Yukimura, pitches his voice a little higher, loud enough to be heard by the rest of the students walking around them, a few throwing curious glances at the two of them. Niou still looked enough like himself that anyone who knew him did a double take.
"Don't you like the forfeit for that bet, Niou?" Marui asks. "Shouldn't have taken it, like I told you, but do you ever listen to me?"
The confusion that Niou felt only lasted a moment, to be replaced by understanding and a knowing grin on his face. "I only took the bet because I felt bad for you. Must be hard, not winning anything." This was all so staged, he couldn't help but feel; but it would work. It had to work.
"Fucker," Marui mutters under his breath. "And I'm trying to help you." Louder, he continued, "Doesn't matter why you took it. You lost. Have fun pretending to be a girl for the next week."
Niou laughs, and for the first time since he woke up as a girl and everything started going to shit, the laughter was natural and real. Some of the tension drained from his shoulders, and he relaxed a little. There would be doubt from quite a few people, and Niou could already picture the horrified expressions of his teachers and more than a couple of his classmates, but at least he had an excuse.
"Start running laps," Yukimura says when Niou enters the locker room, five minutes after the start of practice. "Not for being late. For the days you missed."
Niou starts to unbutton his shirt, but stops before he hits the third button and glances at Yukimura. There has never been any shame or embarrassment in Niou before; shame is not something he feels is a useful emotion and he has long since pushed it away; embarrassment is much the same. But something in him stops his fingers from unbuttoning his shirt in front of Yukimura, even when he knows he has a bra on and would be revealing nothing. "How many laps?" he asks, and fiddles with the edge of his shirt for a moment.
"Run for the entire practice," he told Niou. "Just start running and keep running. You're doing swing drills tomorrow." Punishment for missing days of practice; laps and drills that he doesn't even need to do anymore and will be so mundane, but Niou accepts the punishment; it is only fitting, and he knows there is a lot worse Yukimura could make him do.
Yukimura stands, heading for the door that leads to the courts, only to turn and look at him again for a moment. "Stop five minutes after everyone else, and come late tomorrow. It'll work out for the best." The door closes behind him before Niou can say anything in agreement or disagreement to Yukimura's demand.
Niou changes quickly, ignoring how his jersey fits over his breasts and the shorts over his hips. It's good to be back in the uniform; and he briefly picks up his racket, spins it on the palm of his hand, just to test the weight of it again.
Even though the following day will only be swing drills, at least he'll have his racket in his hands again. He's already looking forward to it. Even more than playing again, because he knows what playing will mean. Yukimura wants Yagyuu and Niou in doubles for at least one of the tournaments.
"Your sister told me the other day to wait-" Yagyuu began, but Niou cut him off with a wave of his hand.
"To wait a few days, yeah I know, we talked. She said it's okay to come back home now." Yagyuu could detect the vaguest hint of a grimace at the corner of Niou's lips, only because Niou was his best friend and he knew what to look for. "We'll see how things go."
Yagyuu can't think of anything to say in response to that, and it's not in his normal habit to offer any words of comfort, so in the end, he keeps silent, simply nods in good-bye and starts down the path that leads to the school gates. The school is relatively deserted, although up ahead, he can see Sanada, Yanagi, and Yukimura in a group talking, with serious looks on all of their faces. Not out of the ordinary for two of them, but Yukimura looks odd, appearing so serious when not on the courts – and Yagyuu knows they have to be talking about tennis.
Niou falls into step next to Yagyuu, and he glances at Niou from the corner of his eyes, the familiar figured blurry.
"I forgot my make-up at your house," Niou says, in response to the silent question in Yagyuu that he would never ask. And in Niou's words, Yagyuu can sense the worry about going home, about facing his parents, about their reactions again. Things that Niou never usually worries about, because there was never a reason to worry. Until now.
As they approach the small group of Sanada, Yanagi, and Yukimura, they fall silent, and Yagyuu suspects he and Niou were the topic of discussion, although there is no other indication that he is right. Yukimura grins at them both, but focuses on Niou. "You better be here in the morning."
"Swing drills then, too?" Niou asks, although he knows the answer, and neither he nor Yagyuu stop to wait for Yukimura's answer but round the corner, and leave the school behind them.
Silence falls upon them, so heavy that Yagyuu can hear the drumming of his heart in his ears, even though the world around them is loud. It doesn't help, the outside noise, only makes the silence between he and Niou even worse, taunt with something he doesn't know how to identify.
Niou stands looking at his figure in the mirror in his bathroom. In the next room, he can hear his sister murmuring, talking on the phone to some friend or boyfriend or something, and loud music coming from his brother's room. Somewhere else in the house, his parents are probably sitting and saying nothing, still trying to adjust to the reality that Niou's home and still a girl.
His mother had hugged him when he came in, as she hadn't in years because Niou wouldn't let her. And Niou remembers the tears in her eyes; the confusion mixed with the worry mixed with something else he wants to think his love but doesn't really know. He's never thought about his parents as anything beyond the people there to raise him, support him, yell at him when he did wrong, soothe the cuts he got when he was younger.
Staring at his body feels even odder than touching it. Since he became a girl, Niou's not spent any time actually looking at his body. He's felt it, that first time when he woke up and there was the surprise of a new body, and spent the morning earlier studying his face. But he hasn't actually paid attention to the changes in his body. The curve of his breasts, the rounding of his hips, the softening of his features. There's still the lean grace he's always possessed, but nothing feels as sharp as it once had. Niou reaches up and still staring at his reflections, lets his fingers trail down his neck, between the valley of his breasts, over his stomach, and still lower.
The pounding on the bathroom door makes Niou jerk and jump, his hand quickly moving from the juncture of his thighs, pulls his eyes from the mirror. "What is it?"
"I need to get in the bathroom," his sister snaps. "So hurry it up. And your cell phone went off a while ago."
Niou dresses quickly, pulling on his clothes in a rush, while he thinks about who might have called. The thought to annoy his sister and stay in the bathroom a little while longer hovers in his mind, but in the end, it's not worth it.
It wasn't a call; it was a text message he received, and not from Yagyuu like he was hoping, but from the girl he had been dating. The one he was still technically seeing, even if she had been the last thing on his mind the past few days and he had even made it a point to avoid her during school.
bWhy are you avoiding me?/b she asks, and Niou stares at the message for a moment, then shuts his phone and tosses it back in his tennis bag. He'll find her tomorrow, break up with her, and be done with it. It's not like he actually cares about her; the girls in his life come and go with amazing ease and while certain girls are more fun than some of the others, he likes none of them. Not to the extent that he likes Yagyuu, or even the friends he has on the tennis team and the few people he associates with outside of the team. The girls are just playthings on the side, used to pass the time away with. And now, he really doesn't even need that: there's no knowledge in Niou of how long this body will last or if he'll ever gain his old one back. And until that's solved, the fewer complications he has, the better.
Niou flops back in his bed, pushing the blankets away and stretches back on the bed, his hand sliding under his shirt, when his phone goes off again. He doesn't bother to answer it, but he doesn't continue with his intentions. Instead, he sits up and pulls off the shirt he had pulled on only a few minutes before, and pushes pajama pants over his hips, sending both articles of clothing flying across the room. It is still more comfortable to sleep in the nude, rather than weighted down with clothes, and the sheet settles over his skin nicely. Sinking into his bed almost makes him forget he is missing Yagyuu: the familiar smells, the familiar touch, the placid silences, and the engaging conversations.
He wonders if it will ever go back to being like it once was - the situation with Yagyuu.
It feels like he has been doing nothing but sleeping since he woke up Sunday morning, and Niou can't help but wonder if his body is going to start protesting again, but the laps wore him out more than he realized earlier, and it isn't long before Niou finds himself drifting off to sleep.
His last thought is of Yagyuu, and how he misses his partner who is his friend who is his lover even more than his old body.
Everyone is on the court by the time Niou arrives in the locker rooms, and he can hear the sounds of morning practice through the walls: tennis balls hitting rackets, the scuffle of shoes against the courts, Yukimura's voice above it all that morning, anger obvious.
For a moment, Niou is glad he's not on the courts, but as he steps out of the locker room, facing the fact that he's going to spend all morning, until classes actually begin, and all afternoon doing swing drills, that changes. Even with Yukimura yelling – and the force of his voice is even stronger when he's outside – actually playing would be a lot better than anything else.
No one acknowledges him when he steps out on the courts, by-passing everyone to find a quiet corner where he can do those damnable swings, although he notices Kirihara glance his way, and Yagyuu resolutely look in the opposite direction.
It's boring to go through the swing drills, like he knew it would be, and Niou mentally keeps track of them just so he has something to occupy his mind with. It's the mundane that annoys him and bothers him and if he had any opportunity to, he would fumble it all and slack off. But even though Yukimura doesn't keep a close eye on him, nor does Sanada, Niou suspects the captain would know if he didn't do them. And for all that Niou likes to push authority as far as he can, test the limits of what he can do in any situation, Yukimura isn't one he likes to push too far; there are things much worse than simplistic drills that he could face.
No one watches Niou, Yagyuu notices, but they are all aware of the boy, in some way or another. It's glaringly obvious when Yukimura throws a glance at Niou and says, "Doubles practice tomorrow."
Yagyuu knows Niou hears the words, because he stiffens in the middle of a swing and the planes of his back are tight and tense. Yagyuu looks away then, and goes back to concentrating on Yukimura, only to find his look being returned. "You two are playing in Regionals, Niou, Yagyuu." There are hidden words in Yukimura's comment, Yagyuu knows, instructions to them both: solve whatever issues you have and get back to being partners.
There's a stirring inside of him, Yagyuu realizes as he stares at Yukimura, and he wonders, only briefly because that's how long he allows himself to hold onto the thought, if it is possible to hate someone you also respect. It's buried as quickly as he feels it, and Yagyuu glances away, at anything but Yukimura and Niou, at anyone really. The ground feels like the safest thing to look at.
Teachers give him weird looks, even the second day Niou's in school as a girl, and one sends him out of the classroom, for the second time in as many days. The campus is already well-known to Niou, and it's not hard to find a quiet place to spend a lesson, outside rather than inside, and even when the lesson passes and a new one begins, and then the shifting from morning to afternoon, with lunch, he doesn't leave the spot on the roof, figuring it would be much better to spend his time there than anywhere else. The afternoon classes will be good enough to attend. In the end, it's not like any of them really matter, because Niou finds very little of importance to be gained from the classes and the lessons. Not even the impending future is enough to make him sit up and pay attention in class.
He never makes a secret of where he prefers to spend his lunches; if he is not with Yagyuu, or with Marui, or Yukimura, or even bothering Kirihara (which often all mean the same thing), he is on the roof, and when the door opens and slams closed in the wind, Niou doesn't look up, figuring it is someone from the team who wishes to talk to him. His back stiffens imperceptibly, almost waiting for Yukimura or Yanagi to start talking.
Niou's smart enough to know it's not Yagyuu, at the very least. But the voice that speaks manages to surprise him.
"Niou-kun," the girl says, just loud enough to be heard, and Niou squeezes his eyes shut, mentally groaning. He has actually wanted to see her, but somehow the reality of it is much harder than what he imagined in his mind. It is not breaking up with her; he cares neither one way nor the other, but it is the confrontation that he foresees - her yelling and teary eyes. "Why have you been avoiding me?"
Niou pushes himself up from the seated spot he was in, which manages only to give him a few inches over the girl and brings him closer to her, not something he really wishes for. As he watches, her face goes from miserable to somewhat happier, although it drops as the minutes pass-by and he doesn't answer her question. At least, he reasons, she is somewhat quicker on the uptake than most of the girls he has dated.
"I haven't been at school, so you weren't the only one I was avoiding," he says, and watches her face light up with joy, and suddenly feels something inside of his gut twist. There is no pleasure he gains from playing with her mind like he would an opponent on the court or even from the pranks – this is just some hollow, empty victory that will mean nothing within a few days. Niou knows his pranks are little better than that, but his pranks are always grand and amusing; the entire class, even if they are hiding it, or anyone around the victims, even friends, laugh. Even if it's a malicious laugh, or something cruel: Niou knows that they are better than these little jabs at a girl who is too stupid to realize what they are, with no witnesses.
Verbal sparring with Marui or Yanagi or Yukimura or Yagyuu – all of those might not lead to anything but he is forced to think, to attempt to say something that will shock the others. Oftentimes it works, sometimes it doesn't; but at least there is a challenge. The courts are just as good to pull off pranks and rile up his opponents, simply because of where it is, the rewards he can gain from it, the end results, the audience he has.
But this – this is pointless and almost, Niou thinks, stupid. Because there's nothing to be gained from it and the girl is an idiot, not even bright enough to realize when he is mocking her.
The girl is saying something he doesn't quite hear; but it's unimportant, because he doesn't really care about her or her words or her damned feelings and he knows how this conversation is going to end. As Niou watches, she steps closer and wraps her arms around his neck and tilts her head up for a kiss, not realizing that she's pressing against a body that is not his own, or perhaps she too fell for the rumor going around school and thinks it's nothing more than a costume. But Niou can feel his body pressing against hers, the soft yield of her breasts against his own, and even as it turns him on, it makes him pull back, in shock and something like disgust. Not at the fact that for the moment, they're both girls, but at the thought of someone ielse/i touching him.
Niou reaches up and pulls her arms away from his neck, dropping her wrists as quickly as he can and stepping back, away from her, away from everything she represents.
"But even if I wasn't avoiding you," he tells her, "that still doesn't mean I want you."
Her eyes fill with tears as he watches and Niou wonders how soon before the lunch bell will ring, because he doesn't want to deal with her tears. He's saved before that though, when her hand comes up without him even noticing and slaps him across the face, hard and certain to leave a red mark, and she flees the rooftop. Probably to find a friend to cry to and complain that he is a horrible, horrible boy. It's what happens each and every time.
"Stupid," Niou mutters, although he doesn't know who he is referring to, himself or the girl, and he returns to his former spot, with hopes no one else will seek out the roof that afternoon.
There have been, he realizes, three people to touch him since he woke up with a girl's body: Sanada, because of Niou's own actions; Yukimura, because he hugged Niou; and his mother, to hug him as well. All people he knows, likes to a certain extent, and trusts to a certain extent. Anyone from the team he wouldn't mind touching him, with this weird body, those few friends he has outside of the team, his family. But anyone else – even thinking about it sends a chill up Niou's spine. The thought doesn't sit comfortably on his shoulders. Especially to kiss, because there's only one person he wants for the moment.
This new body has thrown everything into disarray, Niou thinks, and scowls at a point on the opposite wall. Things were fine before; he had Yagyuu, and he had his little fun on the side (or perhaps it was he had the girls and Yagyuu on the side) but since waking up with the body of a woman, nothing is the same; nothing will be the same.
Niou arrives late to practice the next morning, like he has been since he came back: not late enough to actually gain punishment laps, but just late enough to miss everyone in the locker room, miss being seen by everyone.
The locker room feels oddly different without Niou there, Yagyuu realizes. There is still laughter and teasing, complaints and comments, but Niou's voice isn't there, his presence gone. Yagyuu hesitates to admit it, because his head is spinning in more circles than ever before, but he thinks he misses Niou.
His chest feels oddly tight when Niou finally joins them on the courts.
"Niou, Yagyuu, you're playing opposite Sanada and Kirihara," Yukimura says, and by the way Sanada and Yanagi glance at each other, and at Yukimura and Kirihara goes "huh?", Niou suspects it is the first they know about the doubles game, as well. But it is like Yukimura to spring such things on them, without warning, and no one objects or protests.
A normal day, a normal game, and Niou knows he and Yagyuu could beat Sanada and Kirihara; they are not normally doubles players, do not practice as much as Yagyuu and Niou have together. Even if neither of them could beat Sanada or even Kirihara at a singles game, doubles is their arena, their chance to show off.
But that morning is different. Niou isn't even sure if he can play – it has only been a week since he last played, and he has spent days doing drills designed to make him remember how to swing, how to serve, get back his center of gravity, but none of those are the same as actually playing. Walking onto the court, Niou swings his racket, testing his backhand, his forehand, and nods to Yagyuu.
Kirihara's eyes travel to Niou when they stand on the courts; Yagyuu has to wonder if Yukimura knows that Niou is a distraction to the junior, and it occurs to him then that such a thing could come in handy during a serious game – for who would expect to be playing opposite a girl, especially if it's someone they knew was once a guy? Yagyuu's lips twist into a quick, sharp smirk and he turns to Niou to tell him – but then he is faced with the fact that it is Niou who is the distraction and why.
The smirk dies and Yagyuu takes a step back, moving away, to the baseline. He doesn't notice the flash of Niou's eyes, no one does, but he feels it all the same, anger and frustration and something else that Yagyuu doesn't want to think about lingering in it and the wall between them grows higher, more solid. Yagyuu wonders, if he squints, can he see it there between them?
Kirihara's eyes are on Niou still and he seems entranced; Yagyuu serves directly for the junior, thinking it will be their chance to get ahead. But Sanada is there, and despite the fact that neither of them are exceptional doubles players, they are still exceptional players: they will make Yagyuu and Niou work for every point.
When Yagyuu misses a shot because it means moving too close to Niou, he expects Yukimura's voice, but it doesn't stop Yagyuu from barely concealing a wince at the anger in it. He refuses to look at Niou, refuses to think about how his partner is reacting to it. He knows though, that Niou is as bothered by it as he is, and Yagyuu presses his lips together into a firm line, staring at the ground.
"What the fuck was that?" Yukimura demands and his anger is almost palatable; it permeates the air around the court. No one dares say anything, barely even breathes. "That was an easy shot, Yagyuu. Why the hell did you miss it?"
"I-" Yagyuu begins, but gets nowhere, as he expects; Yukimura cuts him off before he can even form an explanation in his head.
"I don't care," he says. "Any explanation you give will be a lie and won't work." He pauses for a moment, draws in a breath and lowers his voice, although it is still sharp and stinging. "I don't care if Niou grows tentacles and tries to rape you every time you're near him, but stop avoiding him. I won't have anyone on the team who is going to bring us down because they are afraid of their doubles partner."
If the court was silent before, it is even worse now, Yagyuu thinks. Even Kirihara is silent; no one looks their way except Yukimura, almost afraid to be caught by their captain and face his wrath, as well.
Finally Yukimura sighs, the sound laced with disgust and something, Yagyuu thinks, which is akin to pity, but he can't be sure. "Get off the court. You have until Monday to fix this." The rest is implied, but there; if they don't fix it by Monday, they'll be off the team.
Yagyuu glances at Niou finally, only to find his partner staring back at him. Yagyuu has not always been able to read Niou, but he knows the other boy better than anyone else knows him, knows his moods and his looks and the meanings behind them.
He doesn't know the one that blazes in his eyes at the moment, though. Doesn't know it or understand it, and shies away from it, from understanding.
"Thanks, Yukimura," Niou says, and saunters off the court as though nothing is wrong. Yagyuu waits for a moment before nodding to his captain and following.
Twenty minutes pass before Yagyuu gathers up the courage to head into the locker room, hoping Niou will have showered and be dressed and gone within that amount of time. It's never taken him long to get ready and leave the locker rooms before.
Niou's sitting on the bench in front of his locker, the one right next to Yagyuu's, when Yagyuu walks in. Yagyuu's not sure what he's doing, because he's just sitting there staring, but when Yagyuu tries to walk past, Niou's leg – skinner than before, smooth and still tanned and mostly bare because Niou's skirt is shorter than it should be and he doesn't have any socks on yet – comes up, slamming against the locker, blocking Yagyuu's path.
"Excuse me," Yagyuu says, but doesn't try to push Niou's leg out of the way, or push past him as he normally would. He just stands there, waiting for Niou to move and knowing in the back of his mind that Niou's not going to.
"Afraid to touch me?" Niou mocks, his voice as smoothly polite as Yagyuu's, even if it is higher pitched and obviously a girl's and it reminds him only more of who Niou is, what they are to each other and why everything has changed.
He doesn't respond.
"Afraid to even talk to me, it seems." Niou's voice changes abruptly; although Yagyuu isn't looking at Niou, he can hear the sneer, feel the distaste. "What, afraid I've got cooties or I might turn you into a girl as well? Or maybe you're afraid of girls? Everyone thinks you're just hard to get-"
Niou's rambling, his voice full of spite, and Yagyuu doesn't know what to think, although he has some idea of why Niou's saying all of it, he doesn't want to hear it, just wants to be left alone – with his thoughts, without them, it doesn't matter – in peace. Niou's been the only one who could get under his skin like that, desperate enough to lash out.
Yagyuu reaches out, without thinking, because he rarely thinks when it comes to something like this, and curls his hands around Niou's shoulders, pulling him up. "Shut up," he whispers to Niou, who is looking at him with a smirk and knowing eyes, and who opens his mouth to continue talking. Before he can say anything, Yagyuu slams him against a locker and presses his lips against Niou's, lips he knows as well as he knows his own.
Niou still tastes like Niou, Yagyuu realizes again, in the savagery of the kiss; Niou bites down on his lip and Yagyuu feels the same surge of pleasure rush through his body.
Yagyuu pulls away, allowing them both to catch their breath, and Niou pulls him in again, the kiss this time less savage, but still rough, still ithem/i. Niou's hands fumble at Yagyuu's waist, slipping beneath the elastic of his shorts to wrap around his cock, and Yagyuu is almost tempted to return the favor, when the locker room door opens and slams closed.
Yagyuu wants to ignore the footsteps, but he can't, not when a voice follows.
"Niou-senpai?" Kirihara calls, and moves around the lockers, sees them, and stops quickly, his face flushing red. Yagyuu breaks the kiss again, but doesn't move; he feels Niou's hand loosen around him, slip out from his shorts. "Sorry," Kirihara mumbles.
"We were just talking," Yagyuu says, and this time does pull back, not caring what he looks like or how obvious his lie is. He can't even look at Niou, can't stay in the locker room for any longer, not even to change. Yagyuu grabs his bag and shoves his uniform into it, leaving before Niou or Kirihara can say anything.
"Stop running away, Hiroshi." Yagyuu thinks he hears from Niou, as he steps out of the locker room, but he can't be sure if Niou actually said it, or if it's only in his mind.
He doesn't know his own mind anymore.
Niou stares after Yagyuu for a long minute; to Kirihara it feels like an eternity, because while he can be patient and attentive on the tennis courts, focusing on anything else I beyond him. And the atmosphere in the locker room is awkward and heavy; even Kirihara can feel it and it makes him uncomfortable.
"Sorry," he says again, and this time does bolt from the locker room, leaving in the direction opposite Yagyuu's. The door closes on Niou's laugh, high and mocking and, Kirihara thinks, weird; Yanagi or Yukimura would know better than him what it meant, but he doesn't bring it up to them, doesn't mentioning seeing Niou and Yagyuu in the locker rooms.
Although there is no need, since tennis practice isn't going to happen for him, Yagyuu is awake at the same time as he usually is Saturday morning. The birds are chirping outside, and the sun is streaming in through the open windows-
Yagyuu sits up, because he knows he closed the window last night, although he didn't latch it, and now he knows why: he was expecting this, even if he thinks he never wanted this to happen.
Niou's sitting in the chair by his desk, facing the bed, face a perfect mask of indifference that Yagyuu knows he is hiding something. The only problem is that Yagyuu doesn't know iwhat/i.
"We need to talk," Niou says, and if it weren't for the different inflections in his voice, Yagyuu would think that they had switched for the morning, it sounds so much like Yagyuu's own when he is being polite. There were other differences, but Yagyuu was trying not to think about those differences.
"We have nothing to discuss." Yagyuu is tempted to pull the blankets back up over his head and pretend to fall back to sleep, but it won't work, and he knows it. Once he is awake for the morning, he's awake, and even if the day was going to be completely opposite the norm, not all of his habits would disappear. "How did you manage to get in? The window was closed."
There's a pause, a brief moment of silence where Yagyuu wonders if his words hurt, and suspects they did, because Niou can pull apart his words and catch the hidden meaning. It's always been like that, since they met; Niou has been able to get past Yagyuu's defenses and read what he really is, and Yagyuu's been able to see past the prankster exterior to the depths beneath.
"'We have nothing to discuss,'" Niou mocks, his voice an almost perfect imitation of Yagyuu's, only to grow flat and hard a moment later. "Bullshit, Yagyuu. Unless you really don't fucking care about tennis, or the team." He doesn't add on the words Yagyuu is sure he wants to, but it doesn't matter, when he continues on. Yagyuu can feel Niou's eyes on him, threatening to penetrate to the core, tearing down everything Yagyuu's built up, starting to tear down that wall that's built between them.
Only, he thinks, that wall started crumbling yesterday; Yagyuu can still feel the bite of Niou's teeth on his lips, can still taste him on his tongue. And now, now he has to wonder what the point is, why he is worried about that wall coming down.
"And if you really wanted to keep me out, try locking the window next time."
Yagyuu hears Niou's words as if they were said from a point much further way than the few feet that separate them in the bedroom, but they bring him back from his thoughts. He sits up and pushes away the blankets, and when he stands from the bed, he's almost tempted to make his bed, as he does every morning when Niou's not in his bed when he first wakes up.
Could he ever lock the window against Niou?
But that's not the question now, or something he needs to think about, at all. Mostly because it's completely pointless, a stupid question that he, deep down, knows the answer to, one that'll never change. If he only admits to it.
"Fuck, Yagyuu," Niou says, and suddenly, without Yagyuu having realized it, Niou's there in front of him, eyes blazing with anger, almost tempting Yagyuu to take a step back. But there was no where to go; the bed was behind him and a step to either side wouldn't do anything to get him away from Niou.
"Language, Niou-kun," Yagyuu drawls, wondering what he's thinking, because he knows how Niou will react to that. Or at least, he did, at one point, but now he isn't too sure and that is really the problem; not knowing, being unsure, insecure in the knowledge of his partner and these changes and everything in the future.
Niou's fist flies toward him, and Yagyuu ducks it, grabs his wrist and pulls him closer, jerking Niou off balance and sending them both tumbling to the bed.
"Fuck you, iHiroshi/i," Niou snarls and Yagyuu can only laugh at Niou, before pressing him into the bed.
Niou is in Yagyuu's bed when he wakes up the next morning and Yagyuu isn't, but that doesn't surprise him. In a world of changes, some things are constant, and Niou doesn't really mind those, for all he likes disorder and chaos in his life.
Niou stretches and yawns and looks at the clock, blinking sleep-encrusted eyes as he tries to make out the time. But it's not important, because it's Sunday morning and they don't have to be anywhere until the following morning, when Niou is sure Yukimura will put them through an even more gruesome doubles game than the one on Friday.
It's when he pulls his attention from the clock that Niou realizes something is wrong.
In one week, Niou's grown used to the way the sheets tent and fall, enjoying the feel of them over the breasts he'd developed and the feel of them falling over his legs. But they don't tent and fall that morning: instead they fall and tent. His body is no longer curvy in certain spots, flat in others, but flat and lean and his penis is stiff with a morning erection between his legs.
It occurs to him to wonder how it happened, why after a week his body is back to normal. But after a week long absence, it feels weird, almost awkward and Niou runs his fingers down his skin, over his sides and between his legs and over his dick, and then his mind is on autopilot, because none of it matters. The only thing that is important is that his body is back.
Yagyuu walks out of the bathroom before Niou finishes, and stops dead in his tracks, watching. He doesn't turn away.