Notes : Originally written for shuuseieki as part of the silver_swap fic exchange. The time line in this jumps around a little as it follows Shishido and Ohtori through the eyes of their teammates for one week.
Hyotei Courts – Wednesday, 11:27
Jirou Akutugawa had been sleeping quite peacefully on a bench on the Hyotei high school tennis grounds when he was rudely woken. He nearly fell off the bench at the noise but managed to save himself at the last second. He bounced up to his feet and quickly traced the disturbance over to the court Ohtori and Shishido were sharing.
Hiyoshi and Mukahi who were on the other side of the court were looking on in shock and more and more members of the tennis club were starting to gather around.
"If you think it's so lame Shishido-san then maybe you should just leave now," Ohtori suggested in a tone that said he was being anything but polite.
"Oh you'd like that, you already have your next partner lined up. I'm just dead weight now aren't I. Well I'm so sorry to get in your way." Shishido's tone was even more sarcastic and rude than Ohtori's, and while Jirou had heard that tone of voice many times before he had never heard it directed at Ohtori.
Jirou shuffled closer, trying to get a better idea of what was going on and found himself next to Oshitari. They exchanged looks and Oshitari shrugged. He didn't know what was going on either. Maybe they needed a nap to perk themselves back up?
"You are such a selfish..." Ohtori seemed to be stuck searching for a word that wasn't as rude as the ones he obviously wanted to say. Mukahi looked about ready to burst with suggestions but Hiyoshi was wisely holding him back. "A selfish drama queen!" Ohtori finally settled on. Jirou didn't think it was the best insult ever but he could see Shishido practically deflate under the words before bristling back up with indignation.
"Fine. I'm a selfish drama queen. Better than a backstabber." Shishido picked up the tennis racket he had flung on the ground when the argument had started and marched off in a huff. Jirou noticed he never looked back at Ohtori, who was now standing frozen with his mouth hanging open.
As far as arguments went, it was pretty weak. But as far as arguments went between Shishido and Ohtori it was epic and nobody quite knew what to do. Maybe later he'd find Shishido and offer him some of his extra pocky and ask him what was up with the two of them.
Hyotei Change Rooms – Wednesday, 10:35
Hiyoshi was in the back room working with the weights. If he was going to be the new tennis captain he needed to be in top physical condition and strength training was part of his regime. He expected to be alone, since the rest of the team was already out on the courts doing practice matches but he heard bags being tossed around and lockers opening in the other room.
He slowed down his reps and listened more closely.
"So do you want to get a burger after practice?"
"I already have plans, sorry Shishido-san."
Ah, Ohtori and Shishido. They had been doing endurance training when he came into the change room, they were probably just getting their equipment to go play a quick match before the end of practice. Still, Hiyoshi decided it was best to keep quiet so he wouldn't be noticed. Atobe never let others see how hard he actually worked and he hoped to do the same. It would add more mystery and authority to his captaincy.
"Plans? Are your parents bugging you about not spending enough time on your homework again? I can help you out with history or geography," Shishido offered.
Hiyoshi shifted enough so he could see them reflected in the mirror. Ohtori looked tense and Shishido looked concerned. It was a weird look on the older student but Hiyoshi was starting to get used to seeing it directed at Ohtori.
"It's not that, Shishido-san. I just told someone else I'd go to lunch with them instead," Ohtori was fiddling with his bag. A nervous gesture?
"Is that it? Well I can just join you guys. Or are you going to that one ramen shop I don't like? You worry too much about me." Shishido gave a charming smile and reached a hand over to Ohtori's to still the back and forth movement of the zipper.
Hiyoshi felt a little awkward watching them. He wasn't so obsessed with tennis and defeating those above him that he wasn't aware that his teammates had some form of off court partnership as well. He just hoped they wouldn't start kissing in front of him. He really hoped they hadn't done anything on the couch before. Maybe he should request a steam cleaning once he was officially captain in two weeks.
"It might be a little awkward if you show up Shishido," Choutarou said. He turned his hand so he could brush his thumb along Shishido's wrist but Shishido was still frowning at him.
"Awkward?" Shishido sounded confused and Hiyoshi had to admit that he was confused and curious too.
"I'm sorry Shishido-san, I just don't think I should bring my former tennis partner to meet up with my new one when we discuss tactics."
Shishido looked liked he'd been smacked by Ohtori and he took a step back. It looked like he would have gone further but Ohtori wasn't letting go of his hand. Now Hiyoshi was feeling awkward again. He wondered how Gakuto could get so much joy out of spying and gossipping, he was just feeling uncomfortable.
"What?" Shishido tried to move again but Ohtori's grip held fast. "I'm still your partner now Choutarou. Or should I be apologizing you're stuck with me until September." Shishido sounded hurt to Hiyoshi but everyone was used to Shishido's over the top reaction to things.
Ohtori let out a sigh but still held onto Shishido and even tried to reel him in closer.
"It's not like that Shishido. You're only on the team for another two weeks. I'm only being responsible and looking for other partners. I figure if I start now I might find one half as good as you by the time the tournaments start next year," Ohtori explained.
It made sense to Hiyoshi. As the future captain he had to approve of his players thinking ahead to be the best team possible. He wondered who Ohtori was going to meet with. He thought Yamada would make a good partner.
"Sure sure, whatever. Let's just practice. Or maybe you want to play with someone else?" Shishido gave his arm a tug but it looked halfhearted from where Hiyoshi was and Ohtori's grip didn't break.
"Don't be lame," Ohtori said and the word caused the barest flickers of a smile to cross Shishido's face. "I want to play with you and I want to eat lunch with you and I want to be in the same grade as you so we can go to university together next year." Ohtori had finally managed to pull Shishido back to him, their arms trapped between their chests. "But we can't always get what we want Shishido." He leaned down, clearly planning on kissing Shishido who, after a hearty sigh, was raising his chin.
Hiyoshi quickly looked away and only risked looking back at the mirror when he heard the noise of a locker being closed.
Shishido still didn't look happy but he was following Ohtori out of the change room without complaint.
Hiyoshi let go of the weights he was still holding, realizing his arm was starting to ache. He would definitely have to get the whole club room sanitized just to be on the safe side.
Street Courts – Monday – 17:10
Oshitari wouldn't say he was lost, but he was most definitely turned around. He had decided to be adventurous and take the bus home, and he was fairly certain he was on the right bus until it started heading in the wrong direction. Three stops later and he only vaguely recognized where he was and thought it best to get off before he was completely lost.
Now he was wandering around trying to find the subway, a much safer bet than another bus. He was walking past a row of overgrown shrubs on a small side street when he heard familiar voices. He couldn't quite make out what they were saying though and decided to investigate.
Dropping his bag to the ground, he inched forward until he could see through a gap in the bushes. On the other side was a street court. A little run down but still with a working net. And standing on either side of the net, but toe to toe was Shishido and Ohtori.
"Your serve was amazing just now. Totally blew my racket right out of my hand and its been a while since you've done that," Shishido praised and Oshitari could see the genuine happiness from here. It was weird to see this side of Shishido. He could remember when he first met the young man and how proud he had been. Ohtori was definitely good for him.
"Yeah, but there was no way I could keep up with that dash of yours."
There was a beat of silence and they both sighed, the happiness fading from them. "I wish I could play with you forever Shishido-san," Ohtori said calmly, his hand fiddling with his racket.
"Yeah. But we have rest of the summer. And we can still hit up the street courts." Shishido sounded hopeful but Oshitari knew it wouldn't be the same. Still he wished them luck, they had always worked well together as a doubles pair.
Ohtori nodded, the dutiful younger partner that he was. "There's even civilian competitions. And we'll both be in Hyotei University before we know it."
"That's the spirit," Shishido said, a smile slowly returning. He reached up and tangled his fingers in the back of Ohtori's hair and pulled him down for a kiss.
Oshitari smiled, the romantic in him loved the beautiful scene the two made. The teenage male part of himself was enjoying it too and wondered how far they would go in public. Especially since Ohtori always projected such an air of polite innocence.
Shishido and Ohtori were pressed close, feet tangling in the bottom of the net as they continued to kiss. Eventually they pulled apart with a chuckle and Oshitari could see it was because Ohtori was holding on tightly to Shishido so he wouldn't fall, his feet having gotten tied up.
"You'll have to let me go eventually," Shishido said with another chuckle. And Ohtori's eyes went dark and serious for a moment. The mood strangely sobered and Shishido gave a small understanding nod.
And then Shishido was sprawled out on the ground and Ohtori was jumping over the net and fussing over him. The mood was back to playful and light and Oshitari wondered if his overactive imagination had imagined it.
But no, the two were going to start down different paths soon and despite all the nice words they both knew it was true.
As the two kissed again, Oshitari was tempted to interrupt and ask them for directions. But Shishido would throw a fit and Ohtori would never stop blushing and stammering and it really wasn't worth it. He'd let them keep this moment, they needed it more than he needed directions he probably wouldn't listen to anyway.
That decided, he silently withdrew from the opening, picked up his bag and headed back the way he came. He'd call Atobe and force him to come pick him up if he couldn't find the subway in the next ten minutes.
Hyotei Cafeteria – Thursday – 1:12pm
Atobe noted the 'go away and die in a fire' aura that Shishido was projecting. It was hard to miss as Shishido was stabbing at his salad as if it was the most offensive thing in the world. Which would be quite an accomplishment since it was in fact inanimate vegetables. Atobe suspected that Shishido and Ohtori had not made amends yet and that's what had riled Shishido up.
Quite sure that he would fair better than the salad, Atobe signalled Kabaji to follow him and headed toward the table Shishido was sitting at. He sat down without waiting, or expecting, Shishido to invite him and Kabaji dutifully placed Atobe's tray of food in front of him before being dismissed.
Shishido finally looked up at Atobe but didn't say anything. The silence was more than enough. Shishido was never quiet. He was a bit of a drama queen really. Even with his tough guy image he had been honing for the past several years he would still have his moments of hissy fits worthy of anyone in Hyotei.
"I see you and Ohtori haven't kissed and made up yet," Atobe drawled. It was the worst kept secret ever that the doubles pair was dating.
"None of your business." Shishido scowled.
"It's affecting team dynamics, so I say it is my business."
"What do you care anyway? It's only your team for another week."
"Yes, well in that week I plan to leave it as the best team filled with the best players ever. I'm not going to slack off and throw a temper tantrum just because Hiyoshi is taking over as captain." Though Atobe was inclined to be annoyed that his tennis playing days were once again going to be replaced by studying and exams.
"Yeah? Tell that to Choutarou," Shishido said and stabbed at his chicken.
But Atobe gave a small smile, finally they were getting somewhere. "What about him?"
"He thinks that since we only have a week left he should just give up on us as a doubles pair and go find a new one! It's totally uncool."
"Perhaps. But you'd be yelling at him if he wasn't." Atobe remembered what Shishido had been like when they had graduated from the junior high school tennis team. Yes, the two had still played tennis together, but Shishido had encouraged Ohtori all the way to find a new partner and even made several suggestions.
"Maybe," Shishido conceded.
"Maybe?" Atobe raised an eyebrow at him.
"I want him to do well and stuff. But..." Shishido stopped and his food was suddenly fascination.
Atobe did his best to wait patiently. It didn't work out too well. "But?"
"He didn't even ask for my opinion. It's like I don't matter."
Leave it to Shishido to make Ohtori's new partner all about him. Atobe let out a sigh. "Shishido. You're being an idiot. The man adores you. Maybe even worships you a bit. But he's his own man. You're the one that taught him how to be the best he can be and not have to rely on other people."
Shishido stared at Atobe and then looked away. "I guess..." He mumbled.
"Be proud of him Shishido. He'll do well next year. And he'll do it for you." With that, Atobe considered his work done and started into his own meal. The salad was actually quite pleasing.
Hyotei 2-C classroom – Thursday – 4:23pm
Shishido looked around the door of the class and smiled as he saw Ohtori inside.
"Hey," He said as he stepped through.
"Hey," Ohtori acknowledged and then turned back to his classmate he had been talking about. Shishido tried to be polite and not listen in and busied himself by playing with one of the displays on the wall instead.
He'd been in Ohtori's classroom before but he'd never taken the time to really appreciate it. It was usually just to drag Ohtori off to play tennis or to quickly go over new moves he'd thought of. But now, as he looked at the display he realized it was one of those ones you did on the first day. The ones where the teacher asked you to write down your goals for the term.
Shishido started looking for Ohtori's and of course it was way up high. Shishido was craning his neck to see up at it and didn't even notice that Ohtori had come up beside him until a hand landed on his shoulder.
"Woah, don't do that. Trying to kill me?" Shishido asked as he spun around. He noticed that they were alone now too.
"Sorry Shishido-san, but you do like to brag about your reflexes," Ohtori teased but his eyes held an uncertainty to it that Shishido didn't like. He didn't want Ohtori to feel anything but comfortable around him.
"Nah, my fault. I was just thinking about what you wrote." He turned back to the wall and looked up at Ohtori's poster again.
"It was a long time ago."
"It was like five months ago."
"That's a long time when you're only sixteen."
"Yeah, I guess," Shishido conceded and let out his breath in a long sigh. "But you really wanted to do that?"
"Well, that's what I wrote."
Shishido waited a beat and decided to risk it. "Did you get it?"
"Did I create an amazing partnership with my doubles' partner and not lose a match to anyone on the way to Nationals while always loving tennis? I think so," Ohtori said softly.
Shishido tilted his head enough so he could see Ohtori's face and found him smiling. He couldn't help but join him. Ohtori was amazing like that. Shishido could never be surly and unhappy around a smiling Ohtori.
But, that made him wonder why Ohtori was smiling at him when they were supposed to be in a middle of a fight?
"Did Atobe talk to you?" Shishido asked suspiciously.
"Yeah. How did you know?" Ohtori asked looking rather cute while clueless.
"He talked to me too. Pretty much the same speech I bet."
"Yeah, oh. But uh... he had a point and sorry about being an ass about it."
"No, Shishido-san. I should be the one who's sorry. I tried so hard to show you I was independent and strong I forgot all about your feelings."
"I'm a guy. I don't have feelings." Was Shishido's automatic response. He looked down at his shoes.
"Of course you don't." Ohtori agreed and then moved in close to Shishido until he was almost pressed up tight against his back and could rest his head against Shishido's. "Want me to tell you about my new doubles partner?"
Shishido debated for a moment and then decided if he wanted to still be a part of Ohtori's life he would have to put his stupidity well and truly behind him.
"Sounds good. Wanna go back to mine?"
Ohtori didn't say anything, just nodded, his hair tickling Shishido's neck in the process. He then let go of Shishido and went to retrieve his bag before shoving Shishido out of the room to lock up.
They headed home together, fingers brushing against fingers as they almost held hands. It might not always be easy growing up, but Shishido vowed to himself that he wouldn't let them grow apart.