Author's Note: So this was written as part of the LJ TeniPuri Beat the Heat fic exchange this summer, instead of me updating A Better Whole like I should have. And one of the suggestions for my exchange was bikini shopping and fighting that led to kissing.
…yeah, I have no idea either. I blame the heat.
Some Things Were Never Meant to be Seen
If someone were to ask, every single member of the Fudomine regular tennis team would say that there was nothing they wouldn't do for their captain. Absolutely anything that Tachibana asked for, they would do without question, and Kamio Akira was no different than any of the other members in that regard.
Tachibana rarely asked for anything from his teammates, except that they give their best on the courts. Even if he hadn't adored him, it would have been hard for Akira to say no to Tachibana. After all, how rude would that be? "Sorry, senpai, I know you never ask for anything, but I'm going to say no anyway." Yeah. It would never happen. Especially since Akira would gladly do anything Tachibana asked even if he were to do so on a constant basis.
Yeah, but still…
Besides, this was a prime assignment. It was easy, it was fast, it was something most guys on the team would probably kill to have an excuse to do, and of course he got to stay inside a building that was kept as frigid at the Arctic while everyone outside suffered in the mid-June heat and humidity. There was absolutely no reason for Akira to be unhappy with the way this summer afternoon was going, none at all.
But still…bikini shopping?
Akira dropped his head into his hands and closed his eyes for a moment until the urge to groan passed again. At least An was a fast shopper. At least she wasn't picky or the sort of girl who insisted on going to big-name department stores in Shibuya or somewhere like that. She was just a girl who needed a new swimsuit for the summer and unfortunately her brother was too busy preparing the new training regimen to take her, so he'd asked a trusted teammate and friend to go with her instead. Akira probably should have been grateful. It was like a sign of supreme faith from Tachibana: "I know most of you guys have a thing for my sister, but it's okay, you can go ahead and take her shopping for skimpy swimwear all on your own. I totally trust you with her." It was a compliment so unexpected that it almost went straight to his head.
Didn't make any of this less embarrassing, though.
With a faint sigh, Akira lifted his head and tried not to wince as the store announcements gave way to another annoyingly chirpy, cheesy piece of canned music. That was probably the worse part. He couldn't stand that sort of elevator music. It grated on his nerves, slowed down his thoughts, and set his temper on edge. Next time, to hell with chivalry and politeness…he was bringing his headphones with him.
As he contemplated what he could shove into his ears to block out the sound, An twirled her way out of the dressing room in something pink and frilly and tiny enough that Akira felt his ears burn at the sight of her. "Well?" she asked cheerfully as she turned in a slow circle. "What about this one?"
Akira wished that she would pick something that left a little bit more to the imagination. She was his captain's sister, for crying out loud! "Whatever you like best. It's your suit, after all."
An's smile widened, and Akira thought, not for the first time, that she was fully aware of how uncomfortable all of this was for him and had no problem at all doing everything she could to see how much she could push him. "Thank you. I don't know, though. I think it might be too young-looking. I'll be back in a second, I want to try on one more before I decide."
The music changed to an oddly flat instrumental version of an old folk song, and Akira glared at the speakers in annoyance. "Mmmhmm," he managed, and wondered just how far team loyalty really extended.
An quirked an eyebrow in amusement and hurried back into the dressing room again before the testy redhead could notice her expression.
An interminable three minutes passed, in which Akira was nearly able to immerse himself in the music in his own head, when a perky sales associate swooped down in front of him and broke his concentration completely. "Welcome! Can I help you find anything?"
"No," he replied carefully. "I'm fine."
"We have some lovely sales today in men's sportswear, or if you're looking for something for a lady friend-"
Akira jumped suddenly to his feet and stared at her in disbelief. "I told you, I'm fine."
"Of course, sir. If there's anything I can help you with later-"
"There's nothing!" Akira snapped, his hands clenching in frustration. "I'm fine! I don't need any help!"
The young woman stared at him for a moment longer, and then hurried off in the opposite direction, glancing back at him nervously all the way.
All of the energy ran out of the agile player at once, and with another sigh Akira dropped back into his chair, trying to remind himself that at least An would be making her choice after trying on this last bikini. If she found one here that she liked. If she didn't decide to go to a different store to keep looking. If, if if…no, it was better not to think about that. An wouldn't do that to him. She was far too classy and smart to spend all day shopping like any other shallow girl. He just wouldn't even think about the fact that she might do exactly that, just to see how long he would put up with it.
Akira ran a hand through his hair and glared at no one in particular as his bangs fell back into his eyes. Yep. He was doomed to a day of humiliation spent waiting in the women's clothing section, trying not to go bright red every single time An pranced out in progressively smaller and smaller suits, and listening to that stupid overly-cheerful torture music until his ears bled. His day could not get any worse.
"Don't spend your sister's money on running shoes. She asked you to do this as a favor."
Akira's ears perked up at a familiar voice in the distance.
"Awww, no fair! Can't I just get her a cheaper dress instead, and then spend the leftover money?"
"Weren't those shoes awfully expensive, though, Eiji-senpai?"
At the third voice, every hair on Akira's body stood on end and his head snapped up in disbelief. "No way," he breathed in horror. "Oh, no way!"
The three speakers finally came into view and his heart sank at the familiar sight of them. That annoyingly perky redhead was pouting at his doubles partner who just stared back at him with a disapproving look in his eyes. A second later that look was transferred to the third speaker at his next words. "How about we take the leftover money and hit up a burger place instead?" Momoshiro suggested wryly.
Akira slid down in his chair and tried to will himself invisible.
"We are not spending Eiji's sister's money on anything except what she asked for," the Seigaku vice-captain replied firmly. "She trusted us to do this for her."
"Hey, why should I have to be nice to her?" Kikumaru shot back triumphantly. "She wouldn't even let me into the upstairs bathroom today until it was almost lunchtime, nya!"
"That's no reason to-"
"Is that Kamio?" Momoshiro yelled suddenly and all eyes turned towards where Akira was trying to tell himself that this couldn't possibly be the worst thing that could happen to him today, even if nothing worse was coming to mind right then.
"From Fudomine?" Oishi asked quietly. At the same time, Kikumaru pointed and cried, "Hey, it is him! Hi there! What are you doing here today?"
Momoshiro's face had transformed into an expression of pure glee. "Why," he asked smugly, "are you sitting outside the girl's dressing room?"
Right. That's it. Akira stood again and started to stalk over towards him, burning with embarrassment. "Listen, you-"
"Okay," An called out as she stepped out of the dressing room yet again. "this is the last one! I…" Her voice trailed off as she studied the scene in front of her, and she broke into a wide grin. "Momo! What are you doing here?"
As Akira stared in shock, the fair-haired girl pushed past him towards Momoshiro and smiled up at him, glancing back to see how her brother's teammate was reacting. Meanwhile, the dark-haired second year seemed to become a bit flustered, though not nearly as uncomposed as Akira felt right now. "Oh, An-chan! We're helping Eiji-senpai find a new sundress for one of his sisters. She's been sick and can't go out yet."
"She's faking," Kikumaru muttered under his breath. His doubles partner elbowed him gently and the two exchanged a look that Akira found infinitely suspicious.
"That's so nice of you," An replied before turning back to the red-faced, quivering figure that was a supremely frustrated and humiliated Akira. "Kamio-kun is just helping me pick out a new swimsuit for the summer. Aren't you?"
"Tachibana-san asked me to," he muttered, carefully avoiding Momoshiro's piercing, triumphant gaze. Quit looking at me!
He didn't need to be able to see An to hear the amusement in her voice. "And I'm so glad you said yes."
"So Kamio-kun's been spending all day looking at you in skimpy bikinis?" the cheery acrobat blurted out. "Ow! Oishi, don't poke so hard!"
"I bet he didn't mind coming along with you at all," Momoshiro interrupted with only the faintest hint of jealousy in his voice. Akira doubted that anyone but him even heard it before it was concealed beneath flirtation again. "I like this one. It looks great on you."
"I'm going to get something to drink," Akira spat, and stalked off before anyone could come up with a response. Even if they had said something, he couldn't hear a thing through the furious buzzing in his ears.
Stupid, stupid idiot…why did he have to show up here, today? I can't stand it!
As the rows of clothing flashed by in the periphery, Akira dug his fingernails into his palms and pushed himself to move faster, faster, trying to get back into his usual rhythm. He had to get that back. He hated, absolutely hated the way that that stupid Seigaku loser always broke his concentration like that, throwing him off his stride and out of rhythm and completely out of control. That jerk, always showing up when Akira least expected it, ruining even his most peaceful moments with his posing and posturing and aggravating attitude…showing off like he wasn't only good-looking in a boring, just-like-everyone-else kind of way, trying too hard to be cool and charming, flirting with An and doing everything he possibly could to drive Akira crazy…
Without noticing, he had come to the vending machine near the store restrooms. Akira stared at the rows of colorful plastic bottles and cans and grimly wondered at the fact that the village idiot of Seigaku back there couldn't even color coordinate his outfits better than a drink company.
It took some waiting, but Akira's blood had finally begun to cool when he decided on what to get to drink. He counted out the coins by hand, discovered that he had enough cash to get something for An as well, and felt himself cheering up just a bit more as he plinked out a short rhythm with the coins clinking into the machine. Only a second later, his cool was completely gone again. Of course the machine wasn't releasing the drinks. He wasn't a pessimist or anything, but really, with everything else that had gone on today, was he surprised at all? Akira tried entering the numbers again, but nothing happened. His drink didn't even wiggle.
The store music began playing a song he'd heard three times that afternoon already, and Akira grabbed at his hair, growled, and kicked the machine as hard as he could.
"What, did the vending machine insult your hair or something?" asked a snide voice behind him. Akira let out a small scream of frustration and kicked the machine again.
"Oh, for…what is it?" he demanded as he turned to face Momoshiro. "I thought you were busy leering at An-chan like a dirty old man."
The other boy's eyebrows knitted briefly, but he brushed off the insult and smirked at the redhead as he held out a hanger with two tiny pieces of purple fabric hanging off of it. "I just thought you'd like to see which bikini she decided to get. It's too bad you didn't stay to see how nice she looked in it."
If he didn't uncurl his fists sometime soon, Akira's palms would start bleeding from how hard his fingernails were cutting into them. "So?" he sputtered back, completely unnerved again. "It's just a girl's swimsuit. Grow up!"
It was a pretty weak comeback and judging from the grin on Momoshiro's face, the other boy knew that just as well as he did. With that same irritating, self-satisfied smirk on his face, the spiky-haired brunette held the suit up in front of his and spread it over his front with one hand. "What do you think?" he teased. "It's really cute, isn't it?"
Akira's face was on fire now. Great, now he was going to have the mental image of the buff Seigaku jerk in a purple string bikini branded in his mind for the rest of his life. Some things were never meant to be seen, or even imagined. "Knock it off!" he yelped. "Jeez, that's the scariest thing I've ever seen…get out of here already!"
"You don't like it?" Momoshiro asked in a fake flirtatious falsetto. "Not even on lovely An-chan? If you don't appreciate me, Kamio-kun, I may just have to find someone else…"
"Are you brain damaged or something?" Akira shouted. "What's your problem?"
"What's your problem?" the other boy demanded as he lowered the hanger to his side. "Don't you have a sense of humor at all?"
"Just leave me alone!" Without thinking, Akira jabbed his finger viciously into Momoshiro's chest. "Go back to your friends and don't talk to me or An-chan again!"
"I can talk to her if I want! Just because you're jealous that she likes me better than you-"
"I could care less who she likes!" Akira yelled, too furious and flustered to care what he was saying or to notice how suddenly still the other boy had become. "Leave us alone and get out of here!"
"What do you mean you could care less who she likes?" Momoshiro shot back. "Why else would you hate me so much?"
A flash of panicked heat went through Akira and he took a single slow step forward until he was glaring right into Momoshiro's face so there could be no doubt of his meaning. "What part of, 'Go' don't you understand?"
The reply was dangerously quiet. "Get out of my face. Now."
Akira leaned in deliberately, every inch of him vibrating with tension, and glared. "Make me."
The next two seconds went by in a blur. There was a dull thud as the brunette slammed him backwards against the vending machine. Akira dug his fingers into the other boy's shoulders even as he realized there was no way he would be able to push him away. Momoshiro's eyes narrowed as he opened his mouth, probably to tell him to get his hands off of him, but Akira couldn't have said what his expression looked like when the redhead slammed his own mouth down over the unspoken words. His own eyes were closed too tightly to see.
The hands gripping Akira's arms tightened painfully over his bare flesh and he braced himself for whatever was coming next. He figured more shouting was a given, and there was a good chance he'd end up with a broken nose or a black eye, too, not to mention the bruises that were already forming under Momshiro's fingers. But seconds ticked by, loudly tracked by the clock on the wall next to the vending machine, and the other boy didn't move. His breath whistled shallowly out of his nose and tickled at Akira's upper lip and his fingers dug in until Akira's arms started to go numb from the pressure, but he didn't move. Not until Akira hesitated and started to pull away in confusion…then Momoshiro's fingers relaxed and he let out a small, shaking breath, and leaned in to kiss him back.
There was a suddenly clank from behind them loud as a gunshot that made both boys leap apart like they'd been electrocuted. Two pairs of startled eyes met, wild and unblinking. When another metallic clang sounded behind them, they both flinched but Akira noted with some satisfaction that only Momoshiro jumped. Akira turned slowly towards the vending machine, kneeled on legs that didn't feel entirely capable of supporting him, and removed the two drinks that had finally fallen off their tracks for him to take.
As he pushed himself back to his feet, feeling slightly steadier, a disbelieving voice from behind him asked, "What was that?"
"My drinks," he answered deliberately. "There must've been a delay with the-"
"No," Momoshiro snapped, "I mean…what was…" He trailed off, flustered, and then blurted out, "You hate me!"
"Thinking isn't something you're very good at," Akira muttered sullenly, "is it?"
"That's exactly what I'm talking about!" he snapped back. "You always act like a total jerk around me, you insult me, you freak whenever I show up, you totally lose it whenever I talk to An-chan, you're always…ah…I…" His voice faltered as he realized what he was saying, and the color drained from him face. "…oh."
Akira had a suspicion that he should be absolutely humiliated right now, but it was hard to when he was so busy feeling furious at how oblivious and stupid Momoshiro could be. "I don't know how you can be such an idiot," he spat. "And I don't know why you're acting so weird about this either. I tried to stop earlier and you wouldn't let me!"
"You…that's not the point!"
"Then what do you think it is, O Master of the Obvious?"
Momoshiro's face had gone from bloodless to tomato in the space of a few seconds and he leaned forward towards Akira with his fists clenched again. The redhead met his angry gaze snarl for snarl.
When the other boy grabbed him by the shoulders and yanked him in for another kiss, Akira decided that they were going to have to lay down some ground rules. First of all, I always take the lead. He'd better get used to letting me be in control.
That was as far as he could get before he stopped thinking entirely.
It was far too soon when someone coughed and sent them jumping apart in a panic again. The Seigaku vice-captain was apparently choking behind his fist with an expression of supreme discomfort on his face, his partner seemed torn between horror and unholy glee, and An, holding another swimsuit identical to the one Momoshiro had in his spare hand, studying them with a gleam in her eyes that made Akira's stomach drop.
She was never going to let him live this down.
"Kamio-kun," An finally began sweetly, "we waited at the cashier for you. I wondered if you would please take me down to the beach tomorrow so I can try this out?"
Akira hoped the click when he swallowed wasn't audible to anyone else. He had an unpleasant feeling it was. "Tachibana-"
"I already called and asked him. He said there won't be any practice just yet, so it's fine with him."
"Oishi," Kikumaru whispered loudly, "what's wrong with you?"
The vice-captain looked mortified. "Um…well," he managed tactfully, "some things are never meant to be seen."
Akira moved across the floor to join An, pointedly not looking at anyone else. Especially not Momoshiro. "If you're finished, we should go," he told her in a voice that was remarkably steady, considering the circumstances. "If I have to listen to any more of this music, I'll go crazy."
An smiled back at their tennis rivals as the two of them started off. "See you guys soon!"
"God I hope not," Akira muttered under his breath, and refused to meet An's knowing gaze.
Oh yeah. She definitely wasn't ever letting him live this down.