Oldness from LJ. Written a few years ago for Shishido's birthday. This is one of my first fanfictions. XD

Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis!

The comforter was soft beneath his head and he leaned against it, feeling the fabric poof around his ears. For some time now he'd been sitting on the floor, carpet tickling the soles of his feet and backside going numb, looking at nothing and thinking of nothing. Today was supposed to have been a special day, or at least that was how he'd imagined it countless times before when he was young.

Nothing special had happened. He'd played tennis, and he got a few good shots, but nothing spectacular. He'd gone to school and had a quiz, one he was sure he'd gotten half wrong. Lunch was the same. His friends were the same. And everywhere he went it was the same. No one had even said anything.

He got up and walked to the open window, feeling the chilly breeze gust against his cheek. He'd need a jacket, then, need one on his walk. With nothing else to do, he figured he might as well wander around some. His parents were still at work. His brother was at a friend's house. So he grabbed his coat and went outside, remembering distractedly to lock the door on his way out.

Somehow he ended up at the Ohtori household. This was not altogether strange – after all, he went there almost every day to hang out or fool around with Choutaro's video games, but it was strange that today he ended up here, because he hadn't been thinking about his doubles partner (at least not consciously) and he hadn't been aiming for this part of town. Now that he was here though, he might as well visit. Maybe Choutaro had Halo 3.

It was only after he knocked on the door that he realized. Both of Choutaro's parents would still be out, and hadn't someone told him that Choutaro was sick today. Yes, he remembered missing him at school and practice, and nearly slapped his forehead. Stupid. He was about to turn around and leave, guilty for disturbing his friend, but the lock clicked and the door inched open warily, swinging wider as the boy opening the door caught sight of him.

"Shishido-san…?" Cocking his head to one side, the tall boy blinked blearily at his partner. "What are you doing here?"

"I… Well, I wanted to see how you were feeling. I guess I'm just interrupting your rest, though. So I'll go, if you want me to." As guilty as he felt, he hoped Choutaro would smile and say no, please stay with me Shishido-san. Yeah.

"Ah, no! You came all this way… Why don't you come in?" The door was flung wide and Choutaro shuffled out of the way as he awkwardly hopped the step and scuffed into the familiar entryway. Choutaro closed the door, stifling a cough in his sleeve. His pajamas had clouds on them.

"I'm sorry to intrude," Shishido murmured as he always did, the manners ingrained. He took off his shoes and placed them more or less on the mat by the door.

"No, that's okay," replied his friend, as he always did, leaning on the wall. The silver-haired boy yawned a little and rubbed surreptitiously at his eye. He was reminded forcefully that he was interrupting Choutaro's rest and cleared his throat.

"Uh, why don't we go upstairs?" he asked, feeling a bit strange.

"We could stay down here," replied Choutaro a little too quickly, then blushed and looked away. "Er, it's pretty comfortable down here, too, isn't it?"

"Well, I just thought – your bed's upstairs. Don't you want to… lie down? Or something…?" He was feeling a little out of his depth here.

"…Okay." Choutaro sighed and led the way upstairs, every now and then sniffing adorably (where was that thought coming from?). He paused when he reached the door to his room, slightly ajar. Turning his back on the door, and clasping his hands in the small of his back, Choutaro faced him nervously. "You have to promise not to laugh, Shishido-sempai," he said, ears turning pink.

That caught him off guard. He'd been in Choutaro's room before, and by all accounts it was a pretty normal room. There was a bed in the corner, carved from some deep brown chocolate-colored wood he couldn't remember the name of, a dresser, a desk... There was a bookshelf stacked with well-cared-for novels, mostly about sports… There was a small (well, small for Hyotei) TV in the corner with an Xbox and some games… A normal room. But obviously Choutaro seemed upset about something, and he wasn't going to ignore that, so he said "I won't," and waited.

"Just making sure…" Choutaro whispered, and slipped into his room, followed closely by his sempai. The floor was littered with colored paper and scraps of cloth, stickers, glitter, glue and staples and tape, scissors, and a stack of photos haphazardly scattered around. He bent to pick one up as Choutaro settled onto the bed with another sigh. The lamp on the dresser reflected off a face he recognized as the one he saw in the mirror every morning, the photo depicting him on the bus to Atobe's cottage.

"What…?" He glanced at the other photographs and found them all to be of him, or of him and Choutaro together. He looked across to where Choutaro was carefully studying the floor. "When were these taken?"

"Oh, whenever. Oshitari-san has a camera and he helped." The boy shrugged, still avoiding his gaze.

"And the construction paper?" he asked, leafing through the bright sheaf by the bed.

"I was making – I am making a photo album…? For you." He studied his nails. "For your birthday." Looking up, Choutaro gave him a tremulous smile. "I'm sorry I couldn't give it to you earlier, but I was just so tired. So I promised myself that I'd do it today when I stayed home, and I was almost done when I heard your knock…" Now smiling for real, albeit still blushing madly, he clambered down off his bed. Rustling around beneath the desk, he emerged with a blue-and-white papered binder and thrust it at his teammate. "Happy birthday, Shishido-san!"

"You remembered," he said, clutching the binder to his chest in surprise.

"Of course I remembered. Did you think I wouldn't?"

"N-no, it's just that, well, no one else did." He felt a grin starting to twitch at his lips. Choutaro looked pensively at the binder.

"It's a little messy, because the glue wasn't quite dry when I hid it, and I guess some of the pictures aren't the best ones, but I tried to pick ones you'd like, and- Shishido-san?" The silver-haired boy trailed off, staring at his partner's impassive face. "If you don't want it…"

"Thank you so much!" He burst out, grinning from ear to ear. He wrapped his kohai in a hug that nearly knocked them over. "I love it, I love it and I haven't even looked at it yet. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"Y-you're very welcome Shishido-san." As Choutaro's arms slowly wrapped around his waist, he reflected that this was a very special day indeed.

Reviews are appreciated. :3