Title: Thinking at Night
Series: Prince of Tennis
Author: Luce Red
Disclaimer: Characters are the property of Konomi Takeshi.
Pairing: Tachibana/Shinji
Summary: Shinji can't get to sleep


It was late enough that all one could hear was the sound of crickets chirping in the garden outside, and the whole world seemed to be at rest. It was the prefect time for thinking. Very, very carefully, as though he was afraid of shattering the peace, Shinji shifted position, raising his arms to rest his hands behind his head, looking up at the ceiling. His night vision was sharp enough for him to identify the long, thin crack that had appeared over his bed after the last earthquake. (The building inspector had assured them that there was no structural damage.)

Just that afternoon, all the third-years of the Fudomine school team had gone to watch the last game of the friendly tennis tournament held on Hyotei's premises. There was no particular pleasure in watching Atobe Keigo swanning around the tennis courts as though they belonged to him, so it had been good to see Tachibana-san defeat him. It seemed that Tachibana-san's tennis had improved again, after he started at Kaio Senior High last year—but then, that was only to be expected. Tachibana-san was the best captain they had had, and even though Kamio wasn't too bad as captain himself, it just wasn't the same…

"I thought I heard something?" Sleepy, inquiring tone on his right.

Shinji held his breath. He hadn't realized that he had lapsed into his usual mumble again. Maybe if he kept silent now….

Seconds passed, and eventually there was a groan. "You're thinking loudly again, Shinji. Go to sleep." An arm reached out and pulled him closer.

Shinji sighed and wriggled into the waiting arms, but soon his thoughts were running ahead again. Although it was good to see Tachibana-san victorious, it had been decidedly odd to hear him call another person 'Captain'. Admittedly that Oshima Hiro was the Captain of the Kaio team, but it hadn't felt right at all. Tachibana-san was the best captain Fudomine had had; he had built up the team from nothing, and he had pushed the Fudomine team all the way to the Nationals the year before. And it just wasn't right that he should call someone else 'Captain'.

Tachibana-san had said later that it was the normal order of things, but Shinji didn't like it. After that, Tachibana-san had even said that Shinji should address him by name! That wasn't right at all. Shinji tested the name under his breath. Kippei. Kippei. Kippei. No, he couldn't do it. Tachibana-san said it was stupid for Shinji to keep calling him by his family name, especially when Kamio, who was dating An, called her by her name. True enough; people who were dating should call each other by their names. But. Kippei. Kippei. Kippei. Shinji frowned. He mumbled it a few more times, but he still couldn't make that name fit. Tachibana-san it would come with practice. Maybe. Tachibana-san was never wrong. Kippei. Kippei. Kippei.

A soft chuckle interrupted his mumbling. "It's late, Shinji. Shush."

He flushed in embarrassment. "Yes, Tachibana-san," he said, and closed his eyes.