The First Game

Shishido had heard of love at first sight and didn't believe a word of it. But the day he started Hyoutei Junior High School he discovered that he did believe in dislike at first sight. This new snooty brat who was somehow the class representative when, up until that morning, Shishido had sworn it was Ikeda. Then, there was the immaculate remodelling of half of the school, the updated lunch menu and the way everyone around him was fawning over it all. Yeah so what? Atobe Keigo had money, so did half of the school. That didn't make him special. Even going to school in England, which Shishido would never admit was actually pretty cool, didn't make him important.

Then, to make matters a million times worse than even Jirou going all starry eyed over the bastard, Atobe Keigo had joined the tennis club. No, that was being generous, Atobe Keigo had taken over the tennis club. Declared war on their seniors and took down all of those that had opposed him. It was like a dictator had arrived on the Hyoutei campus and Shishido was not amused.

So, he did the only logical thing, well the only logical thing after Gakuto stopped him from punching that cocky smirk off Atobe's face. He challenged him to a tennis match. Doubles against singles wasn't really fair in Shishido's mind but if it put Atobe in his place he was willing to do just about anything. And if it made the seniors look bad when a couple of first years pummelled Atobe and they couldn't, well, he'd worry about that later.

Twenty minutes later and Shishido's world had tilted on its axis and Shishido still wasn't sure of his footing. Atobe had won. Atobe had played against some Osaka guy in glasses with a bad mullet. Atobe had won. Atobe had declared himself captain and that they were going to Nationals.

Atobe wasn't a dictator. He was a revolutionary. And somehow, Shishido found himself losing a match and winning a leader he wasn't sure he wanted.

Still, when Atobe called, he followed. He had dreams to reach and somehow following Atobe seemed like the best bet to reach them. Besides, keep your friends close and your arch-nemesis and rival narcissist closer... or something like that.

Travel Games

They were going to a training camp for the week, which was exciting and amazing and the most boring bus ride in Shishido's life. Jirou had fallen asleep before they'd even left the parking lot and Gakuto was off sucking up to the Osaka guy, Oshitari, who he found oh so funny. Shishido rolled his eyes. Clearly Gakuto was just hoping Oshitari would play doubles with him. He silently wished him luck and went back to fiddling with his iPod.

He was skimming through his rock section, when he felt a presence on the seat across the aisle from him. Shishido looked over and saw Atobe looking over at him. He ignored him and fiddled more with his music.

A moment later, an ear-bud was tugged out of his ear and Shishido sent a glare at Atobe. "What?" He questioned.

"Care to play a game?"

"No." Shishido said plainly. He had decided to follow Atobe as their captain, that didn't mean he had to like the guy. Just begrudgingly respect him.

"Afraid you'll lose eh? Understandable, I am pretty intimidating." Atobe flipped his hair back with a flick of his wrist and Shishido grumbled uncomplimentary things under his breath while he turned his iPod off.

"Fine. What's the game?"

"Travel chess." Atobe said brandishing a small board with magnetic pieces. It had to be one of the cheapest looking things Shishido had ever seen in Atobe's hands. He blinked at it.


"It's the game of kings and leaders. Why wouldn't I want to play it?"

"It's just... it's not your usual style." Shishido gestured to the bored, even as Atobe had started to set up the small magnetic pieces.

"I can hardly bring my usual board on the bus, Shishido. Besides, I borrowed this from Matsuba who challenged me to a match and lost rather splendidly within three minutes. I'm hoping you might give me more of a challenge."

"Tch, anyone could do better than Matsuba." Shishido pointed out and moved his piece.

A few people who were sitting nearby shifted to see what they were doing and in a few minutes there was a small group of people clustered around them to watch. Shishido normally liked the attention but the many whispered suggestions and commentary weren't helping him concentrate.

He knew how to play chess, but the last time he'd played was with his grandfather during the Christmas holidays and he certainly wasn't a chess genius. So, he did his best to block out all of the noises around him and concentrated on the game. Losing a few pawns, a knight and both his bishops but gaining a few of Atobe's pawns, a knight and a rook.

Contemplating the board, he shifted his knight over casually. Atobe moved forward his bishop. Shishido used his knight to take out the rook. Atobe used the bishop to take out a pawn. They shifted and moved around the board, their pieces shifting and gliding around in a brutal dance.

The board was thinning out but their audience had grown, though until then Shishido would never have thought a bunch of tennis obsessed boys would care about chess at all. He figured it was the Atobe affect and was desperate to beat him even more.

In his desperation he made a mistake and lost his knight, then his queen and then the game. He cursed and reluctantly shook Atobe's hand and muttered out a good game.

Atobe seemed smug and satisfied, Shishido wanted to chuck his king at his face. He managed to restrain himself, but only because Jirou chose that moment to wake up and start babbling on about a dream he had where he was playing with Andy Roddick in a doubles match against Gakuto and Federer.

Shishido turned from Atobe to listen to the cheery play by play and missed the contemplative look Atobe had given him.

A Rainy Day

Tennis practice had been rained out and even Atobe's influence couldn't get them the gym that was currently being used by the basketball and volleyball teams. So, a bunch of them were hiding out in the tennis change room playing a game of cards and merrily chatting about the latest TV shows, their teachers, tennis players and food.

Shishido heard the door of the main clubroom opened but ignored it. He had a good hand and was sure he'd be able to move up a level this hand. At least if Oshitari would just put down that red seven he knew he had.

When the door to the locker room opened, Shishido looked up and saw Atobe standing there surveying the scene. He knew they must make an interesting sight. Sprawled over the couch, and the floor a group of them were playing cards, one of the computers was booted up and playing the latest CD in Gakuto's collection. It was some horrible girl pop group that couldn't really sing. But Jirou and Gakuto could do all of the para para dance moves for them and that had won Oshitari over and after that the other players were easy to convince even if Shishido still thought it was all pretty lame.

He loved his friends, but that didn't mean he had to love their music.

"What on Earth are you guys doing?" Atobe asked as he set his bag down against the wall and walked closer. He moved as if he expected them to either tackle him or infect him with some weird disease.

"Playing cards," Shishido pointed out oh so helpfully.

"I can see that."

"Then why ask?"

"Boys, do I have to give you a timeout?" Oshitari questioned with his weird Osaka drawl that always made you think he was hitting on you.

"Maybe it's time for their naps," Jirou offered. He then demonstrated that it was most certainly past his nap time by letting out a loud yawn and then snuggling up against his bag come pillow some more.

"They aren't the narcoleptic Jirou, that's you," Gakuto said. Shishido chuckled at that and Atobe smiled before sitting down between him and Jirou, his back against the couch.

"I was actually hoping you could tell me the name of the card game." Atobe picked up one of the cards listing the different phases and looking them over. He then leaned over to look at Shishido's hand and then consulted the card before doing the same with Jirou's cards who held his hand out helpfully for Atobe to study.

"If you want to play we can deal you in next round. Gakuto's still on the first level so you're not that far behind," Oshitari said. He then reached over the side of the couch that he was lounging on and placed his cards on the floor.

"I'm on the second level now," Gakuto said and laid out his two sets of three matching cards with a flourish. He then put down a yellow four that Shishido merrily scooped up. He just needed one more four and he'd have his set.

He put down his skip card. "Oshitari,"

Oshitari just shrugged and leaned back to relax for a round.

"It's called Phase 10. Here's the different levels. Gakuto just did level one. Oshitari just finished 3 and I'm about to finish it too." Shishido explained hastily handing Atobe the handy card that explained what you had to collect for each level. "There's skip and wild cards and I'm sure you can figure out the rest."

"I'm sure I can. How hard can a simple little card game be?" Atobe questioned as he watched the play go around the circle.

"It's harder than it looks. It takes skills, bluffing and luck."

"Hmm maybe." Atobe looked back at the phase card in his hand and then leaned over to look at Shishido's hand.

"Oh, so that's why you picked up that four. You're trying to get a set. I just thought you couldn't count." Atobe remarked and Gakuto who was about to put down a blue four changed his mind and put down a 9 instead.

"Atobe! Seriously, do you mind?" Shishido growled and roughly picked up a card from the pile. A wild.

"You are so lucky you didn't cause me to lose this round." He complained as he laid down his cards. He couldn't believe Atobe could just blatantly shout out other people's cards. So uncool and inconsiderate and didn't he have anything better to do than lurk over their shoulders?

Unfortunately it seemed like he didn't. The round ended swiftly and Atobe insisted on being dealt in and even agreed to take a point penalty for joining the game late. "It's only fair. And this way, when I win, you can't say I had an unfair advantage."

The others just chuckled and teased him clearly under his spell. Shishido rolled his eyes and dealt the cards with more force than needed. He eased up a little when he nearly got one in Jirou's yawning mouth.

After several rounds, Shishido had to begrudgingly admit that while Atobe might have no common sense when it came to keeping his mouth shut about cards and his insights to what people were collecting he was really adept at getting through his own phases.

"Seriously, can you stop talking about everyone's cards and just play?" Shishido asked as Atobe once again commented on his cards. How was he going to get 7 green cards when everyone knew he was going for green?

"It's not my talking that's affecting your ability to win Shishido," Atobe retorted.

"I'm pretty sure it is."

"You're going to blame your inability to play cards on me?"

"I was doing fine before you came along."

"Only because the others were too polite to comment on your lack of poker face."

"Boys, boys," Oshitari intervened. They'd been watching them bicker back and forth as if watching a tennis match. Shishido thought that they should have some sort of opinion on the matter too. They'd been getting their phases messed up because of Atobe too.

Shishido was very tempted to say that Atobe started it but he didn't want to appear quite that juvenile. It was a close thing though and he had to bite his tongue to not say anything more.

"You know, I never took you as the motherly sort before today," Atobe commented and Jirou and Gakuto chuckled.

The argument forgotten as they laughed at Oshitari and continued the round.

Shishido watched in an awed shock as 4 rounds later Atobe laid down his cards to complete phase ten and to finish the round.

Shishido looked down at his own hand. He was missing a 6. But he was sure he would have won this hand if Atobe didn't just beat him to it. And now Atobe would be smug and intolerable for ages at how he beat everyone at a game his first time playing it.

Even knowing he'd come in second place wasn't much of a consolation.

"I think I like this game, we should play it again," Atobe said and finally Shishido looked over at him. And while he was indeed smug, Atobe was also smiling and it almost, almost made Shishido want to smile too.

And no he definitely wasn't thinking about how Atobe's face lit up when he smiled. He wasn't some Atobe fanclub member and he was still pissed that Atobe beat him through Phase 10.

"So, winner is still treating to burgers, right?" Shishido asked as they started picking up the cards.

Gakuto caught on immediately and elbowed Oshitari to keep quiet. Jirou perked up and grinned at them.

Atobe looked at them all obviously suspicious. "I thought it was normally the losers that buy?"

"Not this time. Besides, you're loaded, you aren't really going to be all petty about burgers are you?" Shishido struck at Atobe's vanity and pride. It worked.

"Fine. But we're going to have to do extra laps tomorrow to make up for it." Atobe's announcement was meant with a mix of cheers and groans and they all hurried to grab their bags and flee the clubhouse in search of food.

If he couldn't beat Atobe, at least he could get him to treat them to food. And while it wasn't winning, it did make him feel a little happier. He grinned and caught up with Gakuto who was poking Oshitari apparently in some strange attempt to make him laugh.

At The Mall

Shishido didn't know what he did to make the world hate him so much but he decided he needed to start visiting more shrines and temples to help balance it out. Because he really didn't want to get dragged on more mall outings with Atobe if he could help it. His feet hurt from all of the walking and then standing around while Atobe tried on outfit after outfit. And his arms hurt from carrying all of Atobe's stupid purchases. He was positive Atobe bought that atrocious purple fuzzy, feathery, ruffly jacket thing just because it weighed like a million pounds.

Shishido just kept telling himself it was good endurance and muscle training and tried to just get through the day without throwing all of the purchases over the side of the balcony and slugging Atobe. He smiled at the thought.

And then suddenly frowned as Atobe headed into another shoe store. Shishido liked shoes, but he'd already bought the new shoes he'd needed. They were the reason he, in some moment of insanity, agreed to go with Atobe to the mall after their Saturday morning practice. He was offering a ride in his posh car and that totally beat out the bus.

He would have walked if he'd known accepting the ride meant becoming Atobe's pack horse. Where was Kabaji when he needed him?

"I refuse to go in there," Shishido said. He planted his feet firmly beside a large shoe rack of vans at the entrance.

"Why? Have you suddenly developed an allergy to shoes?" Atobe asked raising a brow.

"No. But if I have to carry one more box of your stuff I'm going on strike." And that was putting it as mildly and politely as he could. His mother would be proud.

"I thought you wanted to come shopping with me," Atobe said and sounded almost confused somewhere under the usual arrogance.

"No. I wanted to pick up some new shoes. And then I decided I might as well pick up new shoes with you. I never volunteered to be your slave."

Atobe was silent as he studied Shishido and Shishido made a point not to squirm or shuffle too much under the oppressive weight of extravagant shopping purchases.

Finally, after what was probably a few seconds but felt like hours to his poor feet and arms, Atobe spoke up and very slowly as if talking to a dumb child. "And what were you going to do after that?"

"I dunno, maybe play some games at the arcades, eat some ice cream. Hang out." Shishido said with a shrug, or well tried to shrug but just ended up dropping one of the packages. There was no way he was going to be able to bend over and pick that up. Even if he could argue it would be good leg training.

"So, you want to stop shopping and go the arcade instead?" Atobe asked as if this was a mysterious foreign concept. And then he looked down at the fallen parcel with disdain before bending over to pick it up himself.

"Pretty much, yeah." He shrugged again to give him an excuse to drop another package.

Atobe sighed and picked up the other fallen bag. "Are you dropping them on purpose now?"

"Only fair. I've been lugging these things around forever."

"Alright. We'll drop them off at my car and then we can go to your beloved arcade."

"It's not my beloved. It's just fun. You remember that right?"

"Yes, Shishido. I remember fun. Now let's go before you start dropping the breakables."

Atobe started to stroll off and Shishido took a moment to mock him behind his back before stomping off after him and toward the parking lot.

15 minutes later and they were back in the mall and standing in the arcade and Shishido was finally having fun. Mostly because Atobe looked so utterly out of place.

"So what do you want to play?" Shishido asked more cruelly than benevolently.

Atobe looked around, obviously trying to discern what was what. It was probably a good thing it wasn't as full as usual at the moment the sensory overload might have been too much for Atobe and then he'd probably insist on comfort shopping.

"How about that one?" Atobe said pointing to something that looked very mundane and straight forward and Shishido was sure it was targeted at little kids.

"It's a little lame. Pick something we can compete against." He wasn't expecting Atobe to pick a shooter game but with luck he'd pick a racing one. Shishido would totally own him on that.

"Then that one." Atobe said pointing to the taiko arcade game that was just being vacated by a pair of high school girls. Shishido took a moment to appreciate just how high they had their skirts rolled up and then nodded.

"Works for me. They have a training round too," Shishido said and walked over, claiming the red set for himself and leaving the blue for Atobe.

They both fed the machine and got it going to play the practice mode. Shishido hit the drums with most of his attention on what Atobe was doing. He was sure it wasn't often that Atobe sucked at something.

At the end of it, he half expected Atobe to insist they play something else or that arcade games were beneath him and was pleasantly surprised when he didn't.

"I think I understand it now. It's not nearly as difficult as I thought it might be. So how do we decide the winner?"

"We get three songs, and at the end it should tell us who had the most points and stuff," Shishido said getting the game set up for the first round. He put it on medium level and started flipping through the song choices.

"Why don't you pick the first song?" Shishido offered. "And remember we only have 48 more seconds to pick." He added as Atobe started to slowly go through songs and listen to the previews. Thank goodness for time limits or they'd be here until the end of time waiting for Atobe to pick something.

Suddenly Atobe hit his drum to confirm his choice and Shishido looked up.

"You know you just picked the Anpanman theme song right?" Shishido asked as Atobe took up a battle stance in front of his drum.

"Of course." Atobe said in a haughty way that just confirmed to Shishido that he had no idea what he was doing.

The Anpanman song started and Shishido was thankful that rest of the team wasn't there to witness this. Even if that meant that nobody was here to witness Atobe about to get his butt kicked.

Except, something was going horribly wrong. Maybe Atobe was a secret Anpanman fan and knew the song inside and out but Atobe was doing really well. And Shishido was forced to concentrate on the screen and struggled to catch up. But it was too little too late. Atobe was building a chain of hits that he had no chance of catching up on.

Shishido huffed at the screen as it showed Atobe's drum well above his. Okay, he couldn't afford to get cocky about Atobe's inexperience and lame song choices. He had to bring his full game.

"I thought you've played this game before Shishido. But I suppose if you don't have a good sense of rhythm it'd be difficult," Atobe commented as he took in Shishido's score. Shishido told himself that no, he was not allowed to hit Atobe on the head as if he were a taiko drum.

"Okay, my turn this time and we're doing the Mario one." And he wouldn't be surprised if Atobe didn't know who Mario was.

And it looked like he was right. Despite Atobe's insistence that all it took was good rhythm it also helped to know the song.

Shishido also made sure to keep his attention solely focused on his own drumming and not what Atobe was up to though it was hard when he heard a muttered curse come from his captain.

"I think that puts us even," Shishido said feeling pretty smug again as the totals were displayed.

"So it seems. But who will pick the third song?" Atobe asked obviously wise to Shishido's method of picking a song that Atobe wouldn't know.

"We can do random." It was the best way he could think to do it in the short amount of time they had left to pick a song with. Especially since he didn't think their tastes in music would cross paths all that often.

"Alright, let's do that." Atobe got himself ready to drum again and Shishido had to admit that Atobe wasn't quite that bad when he was being normal. But that didn't mean he was going to let him win.

He hit random and got ready at his own drum. He was going to show Atobe that arcade games did take skill and more than just a good sense of rhythm.

A horrible girl pop song started to play and Shishido gritted his teeth and concentrated on the circles scrolling across the screen and not the song. He liked some pop songs but this definitely wasn't one of them.

Finally, after three minutes of torture, the song ended and the scores were revealed. They were fairly close. But it was obvious that Atobe had won the round. Shishido waited for the final tally to appear. And let out a groan as his drum was left in the dust as Atobe's was raised into the air.

"You know, I think I like this game," Atobe said and turned to give Shishido a large smile.

Shishido reminded himself that no, it was still not okay to punch Atobe in the face, and really, Atobe wasn't any worse than Gakuto whenever he won.

"Great, than you can treat me to an ice cream for introducing you to such a fun new activity."

There was an odd moment of something that passed between them at his words and then Atobe turned and gestured in an over the top way at the rest of the mall. "As you wish. I'd hate to have you start whining because I was too slow."

"As if," Shishido said and together they left to get ice cream almost like they were friends.

A Rematch

Shishido felt that the world was once again a cruel and vengeful person. He'd lost to Tachibana from the stupid little team called Fudoumine and now he'd lost, again, to Atobe. No, not lost, was totally and completely decimated and humiliated. The only thing that at all soothed his ego was that there was nobody around to witness it.

He was drenched in sweat, desperate for air and so exhausted that he couldn't even stand. And Atobe, pretentious pompous brat that he was looked like he should be in some sort of sports drink ad.

And as Atobe leaned over the net to look at him, somehow, Shishido felt like maybe there was a lesson in here that Atobe was trying to teach him. Well something beyond that his tennis needed work. Because if losing to Tachibana and getting kicked off the team didn't help him learn that lesson being thrashed by Atobe did.

But he wasn't so proud that he couldn't change, couldn't improve. And he would, and he'd come back stronger than ever and he'd finally defeat Atobe at singles and everything else.

He paused in his thinking and looked up into Atobe's eyes that were staring at him as if willing him to understand.

"I think you're finished in singles Shishido," Atobe said.

Shishido nearly flinched at how disappointed Atobe sounded. His usual gloating arrogance nowhere in sight. Shishido found it odd that he sort of preferred it to what he was getting now.

"I'll come back. I'll be even stronger than before." And to prove that he could he managed to sit up and then climb to his feet, Atobe's hand helped to steady him as he righted himself.

"I don't doubt it. But I think you should try doubles,"Atobe looked over Shishido's shoulder and up to the stands and slowly, ever so carefully, Shishido followed his gaze.

The tall slightly gangly second year was standing up there, staring at them with his typical heart on his sleeve type of way. Great. Just what Shishido didn't need.

"Isn't he with Taki?" Shishido knew that Hyotei was cut throat but even he felt it was a low blow to steal someone's partner, especially when he wasn't even a regular member right now.

"They're good together, but you'd compliment his style more," Atobe said as if he was talking about the latest fashion and not the players under him.

Shishido looked away from Ohtori and down at the court. He knew how to play doubles, he had even played it in competition a few times but he wasn't a fan of it. Thought he was better alone. He ran his fingers through his damp tangled hair as he considered the pros and cons.

"We don't have to be rivals, Shishido. We shouldn't be."

Shishido opened his mouth to protest but Atobe cut him off before he could.

"I know you think that you have something to prove, that you're destined to beat me at tennis or something but you can't. Not in singles. You have weaknesses that a partner on the court could cover and you have strengths that would help out your partner. If you would just get over your pride you would see this. And really Shishido, right now, what do you have to lose?"

Atobe was giving him that look that was halfway between disappointment and urging him to see the point.

"Did you plan this?" Shishido finally asked. Atobe was crazy smart, devious and conniving so Shishido wouldn't have put it past him. But it would seriously piss him off if he had.

"No," Atobe said firmly and Shishido felt he could believe him but he wanted more.


"You're a strong player, I won't deny that. But you have an arrogance that could and did blind you to your opponent and made it easy for you to lose. I'd heard about Fudoumine, that they were a bit of a dark horse. I felt that if you played against them it would be a bit of a wake up call. A learning experience. I didn't expect Tachibana to play singles against you. I never wanted you to lose like that."

Shishido took this in and then slowly nodded. This had to be the longest most honest conversation the two of them had ever shared and it was a bit overwhelming. "So after I lost, the wheels started turning?"

"Team policy means you're out of the regulars, it's a good policy and keeps us sharp but there's room to challenge it."

Shishido nodded, taking in what Atobe was telling him.

"I played against you to assess you. To decide if you could make a try at singles but I see now what I should have forced on you a year ago. You're a doubles player. A good doubles player and this will prove it to you and everyone."

"You want me to train with Ohtori? Gain his trust, improve his wonky serve and he can help my tennis and then you what? Want me to challenge Taki, win and get back on the team to be a permanent doubles player?" That sounded a bit callous to both Ohtori and Taki and Shishido wasn't sure he wanted to share the spotlight of the less glamorous doubles position.

"I'm giving you the chance Shishido. And not many people would get this. But remember this, there are plenty of nationally ranked players out there, but there's only a handful of nationally ranked doubles teams." Atobe gave Shishido one last look and a curt nod before turning and heading back to the club house.

Shishido let out a long sigh. What the hell was he going to do now. He turned and looked back up to the stands. Ohtori was still standing there and Shishido wondered if Atobe had invited him to watch, if he knew what the outcome would be. Arrogant presumptuous bastard.

"Hey, Ohtori!" Shishido called up the stands and decided to take a leap of faith. He may have lost but it was slowly sinking in that Atobe was on the same team and maybe it wasn't really losing when in the end, they could win the war together.

A Change

Shishido felt exhilarated. Choutarou and him had won against Seigaku! And as much as he hated to admit it, Atobe was right. With doubles he had found someone he could rely on and to cover his weak points. It was exhilarating and they were damn good. It was completely lame that they'd lost as a team to Seigaku in the end but he'd proved himself worthy of being back on the regulars and he wasn't sure how, but he knew he'd get the chance to really shine with Choutarou on the courts yet and be really satisfied with his game. No more taking things for granted. He knew, that with Choutarou by his side, that nothing would stand in their way. They'd be the undefeated doubles pair, the envy of every team.

They'd headed back to the school after the matches and most of the team had already left for home, disappointed at their defeat. But Shishido wanted to pick up the grip tape he'd left in his locker. He also thought he'd saw Atobe head in that direction earlier. He wouldn't give him the satisfaction of admitting he was right and had a good idea but he would congratulate him on his own match.

Shishido paused at the entrance and thought about Atobe's match with Tezuka. It had been intense, never ending and so destructive and beautiful. Their level was a universe away from his and he now fully understood the point Atobe was trying to make. Singles was a level he'd never reach, but then he could never picture Atobe or Tezuka playing doubles and in team matches, they were just as vital.

He entered the clubhouse and then the change room area and spotted Atobe lounging on the sofa, his eyes closed and an arm draped across his face.

"I thought you'd be celebrating your victory," Shishido commented as he moved to his locker.


"We might have lost but you defeated Tezuka, you've been wanting to do that since you heard about him."

"Maybe. But I thought winning would feel more satisfying." He moved his arm from his face and looked over at Shishido, "And what does it matter, we lost. We're out of the season and I ruined Tezuka's."

Shishido could commiserate with that. He'd wanted their season to last longer too. "So your match wasn't at all satisfying?" He found his grip tape and shoved it into his bag before zipping it back up and closing his locker.

"He was supposed to have stopped. To give up. But he's too damn noble and even more proud than you and I may have wrecked his whole career just to prove I'm better." Atobe sounded so defeated, not at all his usual self that Shishido found himself drawn over the sofa with the god awful pillows.

"His stupidity isn't your fault. He was damaged goods going into it. And yeah, it was a little lame taking advantage of that but you didn't do anything wrong," Shishido said trying to bolster Atobe's mood.

"You're not very good at pep talks Shishido."

"Like you're one to talk!" Shishido retorted. "Come on, you need to get out of here before you're stuck in a slump forever."

"I'd really rather not."

"Rock, paper scissors then. I win, you come with me and we'll go the mall. We can get some food, I'll carry around some of your bags and we can hit up the arcade. You win, and you can stay here and mope and feel bad about something that isn't your fault." Shishido held out his fist in preparation of rock paper scissors.

"Fine, best two out of three."

"Rock, paper scissors, go!" Shishido said and held out paper to Atobe's rock.

"Rock, paper, scissors, go!" They both said it this time and Atobe's rock beat his scissors.

Atobe sat up and Shishido found himself happy to see some of the fighting spirit back in his eyes.

"Rock, paper, scissors, go!" Shishido held out paper over Atobe's rock and grinned.

"And that's my win. Get your bag and let's go!"

Shishido was so satisfied at being able to help his captain and sometimes friend, that it wasn't until hours later, after they had eaten, shopped and played way too many arcade games that Shishido realized that that was the first time he'd ever really won against Atobe. And then he realized that he no longer cared.