Shelter

Sorry for any typos. I didn't look this over. xD

X

Ryoma stood in the middle of the sidewalk, frozen with fear.

Rain poured down from smoky gray clouds, soaking the young prodigy's tennis uniform to the point that it clung annoyingly to his skin. His shoes and socks were drenched, and his hair was a wet mop over his face. Above him, a clap of thunder shook the earth. A dash of lightning lit behind the thicket of trees.

He was caught in the middle of a storm – Ryoma swallowed; felt his skin prickle. It was the one thing he hated the most.

With overwhelming trepidation, Ryoma took a step forward, only to jerk the foot back when a clash of thunder boomed in his ears. It was as if one of his worst nightmares had come true – being outside in the middle of a storm with his house a long distance away. He hated storms enough when he was inside his home with a roof over his head, but with no shelter…

There was another buzz of lightning. Ryoma flinched, and went still. He shivered inside his wet clothes. He couldn't find it in him to keep walking to his house, too occupied with the adrenaline running through his blood, his skin pale with fear, coldness seeping into his skin. Maybe it he just stood here, until the storm passed, he would end up okay.

His eyes caught sight of a car splashing across the rainy road. He watched it with envy; but stopped when he saw the car abruptly stop in front of him.

Great, Ryoma thought bitterly. First there's a storm, and now I'm going to be kidnapped.

He was planning to run, but stopped his plan short when he saw the car door crisply slide open. A tall, familiar figure slid out. Ryoma felt a wave of relief overcome his anxiety. Tezuka Kunimitsu greeted him with a nod. His dry clothes quickly started to drench from the heavy rain. His dark eyes, hidden behind a pair of fogged glasses, studied Ryoma with ease.

"Echizen," the captain said.

Ryoma felt the faintest smile perk his lips. "Buchou."

Tezuka awkwardly took in his shaking figure. "If you'd like a drive, I can get my mother to drop you home. It's not safe to be walking in this weather."

Of course it wasn't safe, Ryoma thought. Lightning struck behind him, illuminating Tezuka's face with glow. He resisted squeaking like a kid, and instead nodded coolly.

"Che, if buchou insists," Ryoma nodded. A beat later, he said, "Thank you."

Tezuka just nodded, and turned around to inform his mother that they were driving Ryoma home. Ryoma took that opportunity to bypass his fear of storms and stare at Tezuka's back. The white school uniform was soaked through, and Ryoma could see the curve of Tezuka's form, the rippling back muscles toned from hours of tennis.

"Ah," Tezuka gestured to the seat. "Come in."

Ryoma blinked. He felt a blush stain his cheeks, but luckily, it was too stormy and dark for Tezuka to notice. He slid into the car seats, feeling his sodden shorts soak below him, the wetness from his muddy shoes planting footprints on the bottom fabric. Mortified, he kept his shoes inches above the mat, not wanting to make more of a mess.

Tezuka came in a moment after, shutting the door.

He looked at Ryoma's hovering feet, and felt the rumble of laughter in his chest. "Echizen," he said, without a trace of the amusement he felt, "It's alright if you get the floor dirty."

"It's your car," Ryoma huffed, but his knees ached from sitting like that, so he took the opportunity to put his feet back down. "Sorry."

"It's not a problem," Tezuka's reply was swift. Ryoma shifted, trying to get comfortable in his sopping clothes. From his view, he could see Tezuka's mother in the front seat. She looked a lot like Tezuka – a serious, pretty face, with long brown hair tied in a low ponytail. There were the start of faint wrinkles under her eyes, but she still looked quite young. So that's buchou's mom, Ryoma was fascinated. Buchou came from her.

After explaining the directions to his house to Tezuka's mother, who Ryoma found an instant liking to (she wasn't very talkative. It immediately drew in his favour), Ryoma was left with only the car, the storm clashing outside his window, and Tezuka. Now that he was settled in, he felt the sharp tug of fear in his gut return. He felt much safer in the car, but the rumble of thunder was still clear. He couldn't help but flinch every time a sound hit from outside.

He was aware Tezuka was watching him carefully.

After a second, when Ryoma gasped as lightning flashed over the front window of the car, Tezuka decided to speak up.

"Echizen," his words were slow. "Are you alright?"

Ryoma winced at the words. He should have expected Tezuka to notice. No matter. He wasn't going to tell his captain he was afraid of storms. How lame was that?

"I'm fine," Ryoma tipped his chin up. "Buchou's being paranoid."

Tezuka arched his brow. "You look very anxious. Is the storm bothering you?"

"Of course not," Ryoma's fingers curled. He shivered on instinct, and felt himself shrink into the car seat.

"Are you lying, Echizen?" Tezuka didn't look mad at him. Only curious.

Ryoma inhaled, then exhaled, before crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm not afraid of storms, buchou," he hoped he sounded convincing, but the fact that he was practically trembling in the car made him think otherwise. Tezuka caught the constant shaking, and felt a bemused smile slide onto his face.

"What were you doing in the storm? It's not safe."

"I know," Ryoma all but snapped. "I was going downtown to get a present for – " he paused, and felt embarrassment fill his cheeks. " – for, uh, someone. But on the way there, I must have dropped my bus ticket, so I decided to walk back home…and the storm…came…" he knew he didn't sound like himself, but the storm was making him edgy.

Tezuka wasn't fazed by his fragmented words. "A present?" he inquired.

Damn, Ryoma shifted uncomfortably. "For someone's birthday."

"Ah."

Ryoma wondered if Tezuka knew. After all, his birthday was coming up in a week, so he might have put two and two together. He got his answer a moment later.

"Echizen," Tezuka spoke firmly, "Getting me a present isn't necessary."

The blush Ryoma had frantically been trying to hold back seized his face. He coughed. "It was not for you."

Now Tezuka looked embarrassed. Ryoma felt kind of bad. To make it up to him, he said quietly, "Buchou, I was lying before."

Tezuka turned to face him. "What do you mean?"

"I don't like storms," Ryoma looked anywhere but at Tezuka's face.

"I figured so," Tezuka said. "Although I don't understand your fear. It's irrational."

It was not irrational. "Storms can kill you," Ryoma pointed out with confidence.

"The chances are very low."

Ryoma appeared smug. "Lightning kills about 10 000 people each year,"

When he got no response, the smug smile grew smugger. He knew his fear was a little childish, but it didn't matter. It was a very valid phobia. In reminder to that, he yelped as a strangely loud clap of thunder shook the trees outside. Subconsciously, he scooted over so he was further from the window and closer to Tezuka.

"We're in a car right now," Tezuka looked at him. "You'll be fine."

Ryoma glared at him. "The car window could break,"

Tezuka was silent. A second later, he said, "That's like being afraid of being home alone because there's the possibility of someone intruding. Are you afraid of that?"

"No," Ryoma looked insulted.

"Then why be afraid of storms? Everything has a possibility."

"Well," Ryoma's face darkened. He slumped in his seat. "I guess buchou's right. As always."

He once again didn't get a response. Ryoma looked away from his captain, focusing on the scene beyond his window. It made his stomach pull into tight knots. The storm was wild. Rain pounded on the trees, ferocious bouts of wind bending them downwards. He saw a few branches had fallen, and was glad he'd got in Tezuka's car before the storm got worse. At least, Ryoma thought with some ease, the lightning and thunder seemed to have stopped.

The moment he relaxed at the thought, a sudden pounding, hailing thunder crashed against the sky. It was the loudest one yet.

Ryoma's face drained of colour, and before he knew it, he was sidled right up to the captain, legs against his, hand clutching Tezuka's arm sleeve.

"Echizen?" Tezuka looked alarmed.

"The storm," Ryoma sounded very serious, and quiet. "Is going to kill me."

"That's absurd," Tezuka tried to pry Ryoma's fingers away from his arm, but Ryoma had a death grip.

Another deafening clang of lightning boomed overhead.

Without realizing what he was doing, Ryoma found himself clinging to Tezuka, head buried in one strong shoulder.

"Echizen," Tezuka awkwardly attempted to move Ryoma back into his seat. Ryoma stubbornly clutched his captain. The storm clattered above them, and Ryoma's breathing was uneven as he tried to get his erratic heart beat back into control. Tezuka refrained from the sudden urge to hold Ryoma, even as his fingers twitched with longing.

When the storm cooled to ferocious wind again, Ryoma became aware that he was right up to the captain. His face heated up. He wanted to move, but at the same time, felt too comfortable with his head against Tezuka's shoulder.

"Um…buchou?" his voice was less than a whisper.

"Yes?" Tezuka sounded immensely uncomfortable.

"I really don't like storms."

"I can see that," Tezuka's body was still as a stone. Their breaths, Tezuka's even, Ryoma's ragged, mingled against the storm outside.

After a moment, Tezuka put a hand on Ryoma's head. "You can…move back now."

"Yeah – " Ryoma flushed from neck to hairline. "I guess I could."

Despite that, Ryoma made no move to slide aside, and Tezuka didn't push him further. Ryoma shivered, the cold of his clothes finally sinking into his body. He could feel the side of his wet shirt pressing against Tezuka's waist, equally soaked. Tezuka's shoulder, also soused, felt strangely warm anyway.

The silence, at first unnerving, slowly eased into comfort. Tezuka found the pressure of Ryoma's head against his shoulder oddly pleasing.

"Hey, buchou?"

Tezuka glanced up. "Yes?"

Ryoma listened to the rattle of rain outside. "The present was for you. I lied."

His words were bluntly said, and Ryoma felt delighted when the corners of Tezuka's mouth twitched into a split second smile, before melting away into sternness.

"A present isn't necessary."

"Why not?" Ryoma challenged.

"You're my kouhai."

As if that explained anything. Ryoma didn't argue though. He would get Tezuka a present anyway, and dump it in his locker before he had a chance to protest. As Ryoma mused over his plan, he couldn't help but notice that Tezuka smelled like rain – but the good kind of rain smell. A lot of times, the scent of rain didn't appeal to him, but on the captain, it smelled fresh, and powerful. He absentmindedly sniffed his shoulder.

Tezuka paled. "What are you doing?"

Ryoma's heart hopped. "Uh…buchou smells like rain."

"Oh." Tezuka paused. "So do you."

The twelve-year old wondered if it was the good kind or the bad kind.

Hands shaking in his lap, from both fear and exhilaration, Ryoma snuck a peek at his captain. He felt his blood run cold with desire. He'd never really looked looked at his captain before. The older's face was sharp, angular, his jaw tight. There was something about his face that showed the stark power that Tezuka withheld. His eyes were a narrow brown, and his skin was a creamy kind of white. His lips – Ryoma felt naughty – were full and defined, but rough enough to have a manly ruggedness to them.

Trails of water dripped down his hair to his nape, seeping into the collar of his shirt.

Ryoma felt unmistakable desire.

"Uh…buchou…" his voice was a hush.

Tezuka's eyes were wide, and Ryoma had a feeling Tezuka had been observing him similarly.

"Echizen," Tezuka's voice came out huskier than he meant it to. Ryoma lifted his head off of Tezuka's shoulder, peering up at him through his lashes. Outside, rain continued to thunder, but neither paid mind. Ryoma could feel the pounding his heart, so insistent – so demanding – that he couldn't really ignore it. His eyes bore into his captain's.

"Can…I?" he asked.

Tezuka tugged at his collar. "I…it's your choice."

It was easy for Ryoma to dissect that as a yes. His arms went around Tezuka's hips, and he craned his neck up to his face. Tezuka let his lips drift forward, and with overwhelming force, Ryoma leaned in to close the space.

The car came to a lurching halt.

"Ow," Ryoma missed Tezuka's face in surprise and instead hit Tezuka's cheek with his own.

Tezuka's mother didn't look up from the front, but her voice was warm as it filtered to the back, "Echizen-kun, this is your house, right?"

It was the front gates of his house. The rain had cooled to a steady patter, the storm dampening away into light. Ryoma felt his face got hot. He'd completely forgotten about Tezuka's mother. What if she had seen them in this position -? The thought was horrifying, and he quickly scrambled away. He could feel his lips tingling with want.

Tezuka stared at him, gaze unsettled. "Ah. I'll see you tomorrow at practice."

Ryoma fiddled with his bottom lip. "Buchou…be there early."

Tezuka's eyebrows shot up.

"We have to go over some stuff," Ryoma smirked, before he hopped out of the vehicle, thanked Tezuka's mom, and slammed the door shut behind him. Tezuka watched the lithe figure, soaked from head to toe, run into the gates of his home. When he was safely behind his front door, Tezuka's mom started the car again.

She chuckled, kind of wonderingly. "So, he's your choice?"

Tezuka promptly choked on air.

X

I know this might sound strange, but when I was describing Tezuka's face towards the end of the story, all I could think was: Tezuka. Is. So. Hot. But that is besides the point.