"AH~! SHISHIDO-SENPAI~!" cried the girls of Hyoutei as the birthday boy of the Hyoutei tennis team showed up to school. He was almost instantly mobbed by the female students, and pulled every which way by fans all wanting a piece of him.

He growled and pushed his way through the crowd, trying not to lose anything from his person as he did so. It was easier said than done, and by the time he reached the front doors, he was a few articles of clothing short, and packed full of gifts from the fan club. They'd shoved them down his clothes, and into his book bag until he was being jabbed by a box on every bit of his person.

Every bit of his person.

He was already a grouchy person but now, with so much extra attention from the girls of his school, he was downright vicious.

"Shishido, could you please rea…d?" The teacher quickly called on someone else when the regular turned his vicious glare on his teacher, then back to the world outside the classroom window.

Stupid girls; always sticking their noses into my business and getting so freaking riled up! Could it kill for them to leave me the hell alone? Who freaking told them today was my god-damn birth-?

"Happy Birthday, Shishido~!" proclaimed the King of Hyoutei grandly as he came into the classroom as the lunch bell rang. "Enjoying your day of fame~? I will be having his won very soon, and I thought that you would appreciate the spotlight before I stole it from you~!" Atobe was grating on Ryou's last nerve as the short-haired doubles player stood stiffly and marched out of his classroom, parting the sea of girls with his cold stare. They stared after him, a few of them shocked to tears by his coldness, and clutched their presents to their chests forlornly.

Choutarou came speeding around the corner, a bag in his large hand, and saw the girls. "Has anyone seen Shishido… senpai?" He registered their sadness and stopped talking, staring at the dejected fans of his senpai with astonishment.

"What happened?" He knew his senpai had a temper, but these girls looked like someone had died! "Is he hurt?"

"No…" A girl from his class told him quietly, putting the present back in her bag. "but he is very angry…"

"He didn't yell at you, did he?" Choutarou Ootori wasn't used to seeing the girls of Hyoutei so down, and he lifted her chin until they met eyes. "I'm so sorry!"

"H-he didn't say anything!" she stammered, flustered, "H-he just passed us! But his eyes were so… so…!"

Choutarou knew what she meant and nodded, smiling at her kindly and holding out a hand to the girl.

"I'll talk to him; and I could deliver your gifts, if you like…!" They brightened at the mention of them and quickly loaded the boy's arms with little boxes, which he took with him on his quest to find his doubles partner.

Shishdo-senpai isn't himself…! He thought firmly, He's a good person; he wouldn't do this to his fans! Not unless… not unless someone did something really bad…!Choutarou believed in goodness in everyone, especially his partner, and to think that Shishido had coldly brushed off the teenage girls was a mind-blowing experience for the silver-haired second year.

Ugh! How could that bastard tell them it was my birthday! Just thinking of that bastard Atobe's face made me so mad that I slammed my fist into the side of the school and felt the pain reverberate up my hand.

"Shit!" I cursed, pulling my knuckles away and seeing blood. "Bloody shit!"

"Senpai! Shishido-senpai!" I looked up at a familiar, kind voice calling my name, and saw Choutarou running up with a mound of boxes in his arms. Oh, no…! He made it to me, panting, and dropped the gifts haphazardly to breathe deeply and stand up straight.

"What happened back there? In the Math hall?" he asked, and I thought back, scrunching up my forehead.

Oh, the one with the sea of girls…

"They were in my way." I grunted angrily, staring at the boxes with disgust. They made me angrier, and I kicked one callously, turning my back on him and the gifts to find somewhere secluded for lunch. He grabbed my shoulder and stopped me, pulling me back to face him with an angry expression.

"Shishido-senpai!" he gasped, affronted, "They're girls! They may be a bit of a hassle, but you shouldn't be so rude!"

"I. Don't. Care." I growled, shaking off his grip. "It's bullshit; this whole thing! The gifts, the crowds, the fan clubs! I can't stand it! I hate it! If it weren't for the tennis, I'd hightail it out of this nuthouse!" He stared, shocked, and I snorted at his expression.

You shouldn't take it out on Choutarou… My conscience said demurely, He cares about you… you know that…!

Who cares? Tell him off, Ryou! Crowed the other side, grinning. What right does he have to tell you what to do?

"DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, DAMN IT! THIS IS STUPID!" I shouted, and Choutarou reacted as if I'd slapped him.

Good! Keep going!

I shoved him a little. "WHY DON'T YOU JUST BACK OFF! THIS ISN'T ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS, OOTORI!" He didn't react or say anything, he just stood his ground and stuffed a hand in one pocket, and the other clutched a bag tightly.

"OH GREAT!" I snarled, kicking another of the girl's presents away from me. "NOW YOU'RE DOING IT TOO? PERFECT! JUST GOD-DAMNED PERFECT!"

He looked up at me this time, and I saw a hint of wetness around his eyes that made me keep staring. He extended his arm out until it was straight, and dropped the bag without a word, his eyes conveying only hurt. The bag hit the others and tipped over, spilling a bit of tissue paper and a hint of a card.

"You know, senpai," he said calmly, turning away from me. "one day, you'll end up hurting someone who's only trying to help you… and it won't be easy to remedy what you've said. Please apologize to the girls; they didn't mean any harm…"

Then he turned on his heel and left, both hands in his pants pockets.

I saw his shoulders shake once, but only once.

Way to go, asshole. My conscience grunted, leaving as well. Happy freaking birthday…

Feel better yet? His conscience asked as Shishido sat in his next class, staring down at the new hat peeking out of his school bag. It had been in the bag Choutarou had dropped, along with a simple card that said: Happy Birthday, Ryou-senpai~!

Shut up. He told it, glaring at nothing.

Why? It asked snappily, He's not in class! You know it! Taki even texted you! And it's all your-!

"Is something wrong, Shishido?" asked his teacher meekly, seeing his student's dark expression. Shishido grabbed his bag and left, muttering something about not feeling well, and tucked the cap onto his head as he searched the school grounds for his doubles partner.

Happy now? He asked his conscience angrily.

Very, now find him, you ass! And make up!

He searched everywhere: the empty classrooms, the library, the music room, the tennis courts. Finally, he wandered over to the club room and heard a sniffle and the sound of a tennis ball bouncing from within.

Of course he'd be here…!

Pushing open the door, Ryou saw his doubles partner lying across a bench, bouncing a little green ball against the far wall.

"Shouldn't you be in class?" asked Choutarou quietly,

"Shouldn't you?" Ryou replied just as softly, making his partner turn around. His dark eyes flicked to the hat, then away again. "It's a good hat…"

"Yeah," he replied awkwardly, "I thought you needed a better hat than that other one…"

"Thanks, I like it…" Ryou muttered, looking down at his shoes and scuffing one toe against the floor.


More silence.

"Di… Did you want something?" Choutarou murmured, looking hopefully up at his partner. Ryou sighed and rubbed his neck anxiously, then extended a hand to the silver haired second year lying on the bench before him.

"Yeah," he nodded, blushing a little. "I-I wanted to tell you that I… I said sorry. To the girls. And I opened all the gifts…!"

"Really?" Choutarou hadn't expected that out of his doubles partner, and sat up, staring curiously at his nervous friend's face. "That it?"

"No…" Ryou seemed to squirm a little, and he averted his eyes. "I wanted my partner back…" He looked up, and gave Choutarou a sincerely remorseful look, even if it was also embarrassed. "We cool?"

"Like ice." Choutarou grinned, taking his partner's outstretched hand and clapping him on the back.

"Happy Birthday, Ryou…"