There was an unspoken agreement between the two of them that had existed ever since this -- whatever it was -- had begun.
If either of them spoke -- then they might have to start thinking about it. One or the other might start to think, "What are we doing?" and then it would be all over, because neither would know the answer.
Hiyoshi was very strict with his team. He wanted them to win, and he wanted himself to win -- and he would make sure that happened. He was a good captain, and even if he wasn't well-loved (his attitude put many people off -- that was just fine with him, he didn't like most people, anyway) he was well-respected. That was all he needed.
At least, he thought that was all he needed.
There were times when he had to convince himself that he wasn't lonely, and that he wasn't jealous when the other members of the team laughed and joked and went out without him -- didn't invite their "grumpy captain" along with them, because they thought he wouldn't be interested.
He wasn't interested. Really. He liked being anti-social. He liked going home and spending his evenings in peace, and he liked not being bothered by annoying people who talked to much, and --
He needed to break his habit of babbling to himself about unnecessary things. He shouldn't need to convince himself that he was happy with the way things were, because he was happy with the way things were. Damn it.
Sometimes Hiyoshi didn't want to go home. There was nothing at home that frightened him; nothing of the kind. It was just that he liked to go out sometimes and break up the monotony.
Of course, he was perfectly content with the way life was, and he was definitely not wishing that he had a crowd of friends to go out with --
Hiyoshi was well aware that very soon, his team would be playing against Seigaku. He remembered very vividly the events of last year's match against Seigaku; he wondered if this year would be as fierce.
Hyoutei's team was a good one; Hiyoshi was pleased with it, though they probably had no idea of it. He had his own way of showing his contentment, and if they couldn't pick up on it, that was all to the good -- they would work harder, that way.
He wondered what Seigaku's team was like, this year. Of course they still had the Echizen brat, but all the really good third years were gone to high school -- so what was the team like, now? Had they managed to put together a team as amazing as last year? That was highly doubtful.
The curiosity was eating him alive, so he decided to do something about it.
Kaido noticed the spectator, but said nothing about it until practice was over.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Watching," Hiyoshi replied. "If you had a problem with it, you would have told me to leave."
"Yes." Kaido shoved his hands into his pockets. He must have been feeling as uncomfortable as Hiyoshi -- what could they say to one another? There wasn't much to say.
"Did you like what you saw?" Kaido asked.
"We'll have some competition, but we will still be the winners." Hiyoshi felt a rare smile tugging at the corners of his lips. "Look forward to it."
"I will." It seemed that Kaido was almost smiling, as well.
These were the first words they had spoken to one another, but Hiyoshi could tell that had they been given the chance, they would have gotten along rather well.
They were two of a kind, in at least one respect --
"They didn't invite you out with them either, did they?" Hiyoshi found himself asking.
"They never do."
"Work them harder or they won't beat my team," Hiyoshi said -- and then it was time to go home to his quiet room, alone with his thoughts.
Hyoutei won, as Hiyoshi knew they would. He had worked them hard, after all. When they went out to celebrate, he lagged behind -- he didn't want to be with them, he wanted to be anti-social, he wanted to go home and go to sleep, and forget about the world.
Which didn't explain why he was still at the tennis court, staring at it.
"It was a good game."
Hiyoshi almost jumped at the sound of a deep voice behind him. He whirled around to face Kaido.
"Yes, it was."
"Are you proud of your team?"
"Proud?" Hiyoshi had never thought of pride in quite that way -- he was proud, yes, but more because his own pride had been satisfied when the team won than actually being proud of someone else.
"Do you like being the captain?"
Kaido did not seem like the talkative type, so Hiyoshi wondered why he was asking so many questions. "Yes."
"Because I'm in charge," Hiyoshi replied. The answer was obvious, wasn't it? "Don't you like it?"
"No. I didn't want to be the captain, but they chose me because I'm more responsible than Momo."
Judging by what Hiyoshi had seen of Momoshiro, that was not exactly surprising. "Why didn't you refuse?"
Kaido shrugged. "I take what I'm given."
"I don't listen to anyone but myself." Hiyoshi had a very definite point of view on how the world worked. Look out for yourself, no one else.
"I'm sure you're never stubborn."
Kaido shrugged again. "I didn't say I wasn't."
Hiyoshi was tired of this conversation. His previous thoughts had been wrong; he and Kaido were quite different, and they probably wouldn't get along very well at all. "I'm going home."
He wanted to go home, but he didn't move. There was something about the look on Kaido's face that was compelling him to stay -- something about the thought of going home and staring out of the window, and thinking about how the rest of his team was out having fun...
"So am I," said Kaido. "Later."
"Where are you going now? Out with the team?"
"They never invite me."
"Do you care?"
"Where are you going?" It was Hiyoshi's turn to ask all the questions. He was not the talkative type, but his curiosity was getting the better of him once again. There was something about Kaido that made him feel very strange --
"I don't know," Kaido replied. "Do you want to come with me?"
Hiyoshi opened his mouth to refuse -- and then he closed it. "Okay."
They walked for a while; simply wandered. They had already missed their buses that would have taken them back home -- their teams had left without them, and they'd both let it happen.
They found their own way home.
If Hiyoshi did not go to Seigaku, Kaido came to Hyoutei. Sometimes they talked about different training methods for tennis -- that was just so that no one asked why they were seeing so much of each other.
Most of the time, they didn't talk at all.
Sometimes they walked; wandered aimlessly for hours, doing nothing in particular. Sometimes they went to eat, or went to a movie that they had both wanted to see for ages but had no one to go with -- when those movies ran out, they started going to the ones that they both wanted to see, and now had someone that they could go with.
"Why don't you like being captain?" Hiyoshi asked, one day.
"I'm not very good with people," Kaido replied. "I don't know how to handle them. Momo has to do most of that."
Sometimes Kaido talked about Momoshiro as if they were friends -- but Hiyoshi knew that they weren't, really. Momoshiro spent most of his free time with the brat Echizen, and Kaido was left to himself -- which was the way that everyone thought he wanted it.
Hiyoshi wasn't very good with people, either. He knew how to handle them, but he had never been able to figure out how to fit in -- he didn't want to fit in. Not with all of them --
"You're a good captain," Hiyoshi said. He had seen Kaido with his team; he knew.
Kaido looked as though he didn't know how to reply to that. Hiyoshi didn't compliment often; in fact, that might have been the first time he had complimented Kaido at all.
It was time to change the subject. "Let's go home," he said.
The first time they kissed, neither were very sure about what was going on.
Well -- they both knew it was a kiss, but it didn't make sense; not between the two of them.
It was on a cold evening when they were walking through a park. Hiyoshi was watching his breath show in the air, and wishing that he'd at least brought a sweater.
"It's cold," Kaido said. Sometimes one or the other broke the silence, and most often it was to state the obvious, just like that. Hiyoshi thought it was more to assure each other that they were still alive than to make real conversation.
"Should have brought a sweater."
"Yeah, and that's why I'm cold too," Hiyoshi mumbled.
"We should go home, before we get sick."
"Yeah." Hiyoshi reversed directions, and because he didn't look up, he didn't see that Kaido had stopped walking altogether. They collided -- and that's when they found each other's lips pressing together, and suddenly their tongues were clashing -- and kissing was a lot different than Hiyoshi had imagined, when he had ever bothered to imagine it at all.
"Sorry," Kaido said, when they broke apart. The whole thing may not have even been his fault, but he was the polite one; so he was the one to apologize.
Hiyoshi just shrugged. "Whatever," he said. One kiss wouldn't change much between them -- they already had a weird relationship as it was.
Sometimes it would be Kaido who initiated a kiss; when he did, it was always in the dark, usually while they were sitting on a park bench and staring at the stars. Hiyoshi would feel a hand on his arm, and then their faces would be close enough that he could feel Kaido's breath -- and then it would happen, and it was good every time.
When Hiyoshi started a kiss, it was in broad daylight, but only when they were completely alone in the middle of nowhere -- or else they were hidden from view. He preferred day to evening because it held less secrets; he hated secrets.
Their conversations got shorter and shorter -- neither knew what to say anymore.
Hiyoshi had no idea of what they had, or where they were going, or what was going to happen in the future. If he sat down an thought about it, though, he started to wonder -- what was their relationship, really? What would happen, when they both wanted more than a kiss? Would they have to consider themselves lovers? They both felt something, but Hiyoshi was pretty sure that wasn't love -- at least, not by any definition he'd ever been given. He wasn't exactly the expert on it, though.
Hiyoshi didn't need anyone, really -- but it was nice to be with someone who didn't annoy him with excessive chatter; who would allow him to be anti-social even while they were together.
At least he had someone to spend his quiet nights with.
One day, one of them would open their mouths and say something about it -- and the question would be asked, and it would have to be answered.
Hiyoshi figured it would be Kaido who asked the question first, because Kaido was someone who cared more than he did; cared about more and different things than he did.
When that happened, Hiyoshi had no idea what the answer would be -- but for now, they would stick by their silent agreement not to say a word.
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