That is what Hiyoshi feels like he has been all his life. He's never communicated much with his fellow teammates, but observed them. Their movements, their reactions to certain things and their hands. Often he'd sit at home, in the darkness of his room where he can truly be himself, musing-- pondering over these things he'd witnessed. Similarly, it is where most of his fantasies came to life. It was the only way he could break out of that cage, to be with his fellows. Laughing with Choutarou, exchanging snarky comments with Shishido, taunting Atobe...
Then, Atobe tells him one day to join livejournal. Hiyoshi cocks his head, wondering exactly why Atobe would consider being on such a thing, and voices it.
"Ore-sama must be known everywhere, Hiyoshi. Now come join and let go of your antisocial ways. Meet people."
So, despite his thudding heart, his sweaty palms, his frantic breathing, he clicks 'create journal', and joins the community.
...and suddenly, his fantasies, his ponderings, everything becomes real, and his cage is opened. Hiyoshi escapes from the cold, dark hell and breathes in the glorious scent of freedom and friendships. Of laughter and meeting new people and losing his virginity and writing and all the things he could have been doing for so long. Memes and challenges let him express things he never could before and he relishes it, treasures it forever.
Then it all comes crashing down upon him, in the blink of an eye. One post filled with secrets that should have been locked away forever, and the truth came out. His deepest fantasy that he'd always been ashamed of, that he'd swore never to tell anyone, was revealed, and the friendship he'd built-- laughing with Choutarou and teasing Shishido with snarky comments-- fell away like so many shards of glass from his broken table. Talks ensue, with much awkwardness and hesitancy and the friendship is mended, perhaps sloppily, barely held together, but there and Hiyoshi breathes a sigh of relief in his room, against his pillow as he comes, quietly with Shishido's face burning bright behind his eyelids.
It's much later when something else happens, only this time it's worse, because it's not even him it happens to. Two posts, depressing, worrisome and answers-- they've broken up, and even though Hiyoshi denies it, he is glad and it makes him sick to his stomach-- a swooping, uncomfortable sensation-- that he feels this way. they're his best friends-- he should be sad for them, and maybe a part of him is, but that part isn't very prevalent as he listens to Choutarou cry over losing Shishido. Not when he can still see Shishido grinning at only Choutarou-- no one else, not even Hiyoshi and he nods, says the right things until Choutarou says he needs to go to sleep and they hang up.
When Shishido agrees to play a match with him, his heart soars and he smiles at his computer screen, keeps smiling as he gets ready, keeps smiling on the way to the school and only when he reaches the courts does he let his smile drop, his face sliding back to that perfect mask of stoic blankness, fierce eyes beneath a fringe of honeyed bangs.
But Shishido plays badly, and Hiyoshi feels frustrated because he knows that Choutarou is the reason he's winning, not by his own prowess. As they sit, and they talk, Hiyoshi becomes more and more frustrated, because they're talking about Choutarou and Shishido wants to know how Choutarou is doing, has Hiyoshi spoken to Choutarou and it's all Choutarou, dammit and Hiyoshi stands, fists bunched, eyes hot and prickling and voice wavering and tells Shishido to shut the fuck up, now, he's tired of all this, tired of Choutarou and then he walks away.
A hand on his shoulder-- rough, unfriendly, arousing-- and a fist in his jaw, and Hiyoshi is sprawled on the ground, his jaw throbbing, his heart breaking, and his tears falling. he looks up and Shishido is crying too, but his face is angry, and it's something Hiyoshi has seen before but it's so unfamiliar and he cringes shamefully, murmuring the words 'bastard', 'asshole', 'I hate you', over and over until it becomes a litany of insanity in his head, caging him again. The cage...
Shishido leans down, face contorted in fury, tears of anger streaking his face, and grabs Hiyoshi by his shirt, throwing him against the fence, and he's yelling now, and Hiyoshi can't discern the words but they are hateful and he is punching Hiyoshi left and right, and Hiyoshi takes the blows, doesn't fight, because what is there left to fight for now? And suddenly there is nothing but Shishido as he collapses against Hiyoshi, sobbing, still mumbling words of hate, but too tired, too fed up to do anything more. And Hiyoshi cries with him, because he has lost everything, and they slide to the ground together, tears mingling and words dying, clutching each other.
It's hard to tell who moved first, but Hiyoshi could care less because Shishido's lips are on his and he tastes salt, and sweat and Shishido and hate but he kisses back anyway, and maybe he'll regret this-- they both will-- but right now there is heated skin, rough fumbling, and boiling blood as two bodies slide, slick, wet, and hard against each other and then there is pleasure-- burning bright behind Hiyoshi's eyelids and so he opens his eyes and there is Shishido's face, but it's real and Hiyoshi forgets the whispered 'Choutarou', forgets the word mouthed by lips of perfection. He is oblivious-- drunk with pleasure and then the world falls silent save for the harsh breathing of two tennis players, limp and worn on the court.
Shishido leaves without another word, and Hiyoshi remembers everything.
It isn't until later that night, in the dark, secluded room Hiyoshi has come to love and hate, that he realizes he was never free to begin with.
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