It wasn't a long walk from Shishido's house to Hyotei Gakuen. Actually, it was only about fifteen minutes at the most - less at a brisk walk, but Shishido usually took the route at a very leisurely pace, so he wouldn't know. But it wasn't a long walk or a particularly unpleasant one; in fact, since Hyotei was nestled snugly amidst the trappings of a very high-class neighborhood, the walk was very scenic. However, none of this explained why Shishido Ryou was taking this particular walk at ten-thirty on a school night
In fact, Shishido wasn't sure why he was walking, himself. Had he been in his right mind, he was sure, he would still be at home, sprawled on the couch watching the kind of television that his mother didn't like him to see but didn't come on until after she went to bed, so he watched it anyway. But he wasn't - he was padding softly down the sidewalk, footsteps echoing in the still of the night when he sped up in the short stretches here the light from the street lamps didn't quite reach
He was still wearing his uniform shirt, wrinkled and half-buttoned, but he had changed into a pair of soft, droopy sweatpants when he got home. Shishido shuffled down the sidewalk, thumbs hooked in his pockets; ever if he wasn't sure why he was doing this, he was glad it too late for many people to be outside. He probably looked awful
It had been just after nine when Ohtori had called. Shishido answered the phone; it wasn't often that his partner called him at home, but Shishido recognized Ohtori's voice right away. The second year was always pointedly refined and polite - sometimes even infuriatingly so, because it made Shishido feel guilty when he swore of acted rudely in front of the other boy, both things that Shishido was very prone to, especially considering how hard it was to get Ohtori to talk about anything. Any inquiry into a less-than-cheerful mood was most always initially met with an "It's nothing," followed by a "I don't want to bother you, Shishido-san," and then, maybe, if Shishido was lucky, Ohtori would talk. Sometimes. But sometimes not, and then Shishido would start swearing
He didn't want Ohtori to have any misconceptions about him. He just wished the other boy would be more open with him
Shishido had flopped comfortably back on the couch when he heard that warm, soft voice; Ohtori had been acting different lately, even more reserved - almost timid - and it was driving Shishido up the wall. Shishido thought maybe Ohtori was finally willing to talk about whatever was bothering him. He had asked several times what was wrong - is it school? tennis? your family? Your stepdad's not bothering you again, is he? I'll kick his ass if he is, Choutarou - but thus far the other boy had not deigned to answer
But when Ohtori had called, it wasn't to talk. He had just wanted to ask if Shishido had seen his cross anywhere
To which Shishido replied intelligently, "Isn't it around your neck?"
Apparently, when Ohtori had gone to take his shower - a thought Shishido tried no to dwell upon, no matter how tempting - he noticed that his cross pendant was not resting in its customary place just below the hollow of his throat. Ohtori had sounded vaguely upset, like he wanted to cry but wasn't letting himself; after all, Shishido knew the cross was enormously important to Ohtori - the boy never took it off - but he didn't know why. He reassured Ohtori that it had probably just fallen off somewhere, and they would look for it tomorrow. Ohtori thanked him and they said their goodbyes, but Shishido couldn't help feeling that he hadn't helped at all
Which had led him to where he was now, turning the corner to walk the last block to their school. After all, he'd told Ohtori they'd look for the cross tomorrow - but there was something in the way he could just hear his partner's sniffles from his end of the phone line - or the way Ohtori's voice cracked just a little when he said "Thank you, Shishido-san" before hanging up - that had somehow compelled Shishido to get off the couch and go look now
Shishido knew he wouldn't have done this for anyone else. It was that Ohtori was special to him, somehow, with his bright eyes and soft voice and the way he smiled at Shishido sometimes when he did something really good and considerate that made Shishido go weak in the knees. It wasn't a train of thought Shishido usually dwelt on; it sufficed to say he didn't want Ohtori hurt in any way, no matter any connotations it might hold
The tennis courts were locked, so Shishido climbed the fence, hopping down the other side and narrowly missing snagging his pants on the top on the chain links. Landing deftly, he took an initial glance around. He and Ohtori had been playing on the middle court, mostly; jogging over, Shishido began examining the ground. He figured the cross would stand out easily against the pavement, but after a good quarter hour of searching, Shishido had yet to find a trace of the silver pendant
Scuffing a foot against the ground in annoyance and disgust, he shuffled back toward the fence, hooking his fingers into the chain links and hoisting himself up. He could just see Ohtori's face falling the next morning when they came to look for it and didn't find anything - he would be so disappointed, and--
Halfway up the fence, Shishido jumped back off, landing hard on his feet and almost tripping on the hems of his sweatpants. Something had glinted in the moonlight - maybe it was--
A quarter. Shishido swore, flinging the offending coin away
He scaled the fence again, landing deftly on the other side with a noticeable new slump in his posture. It was as if he had failed, somehow - even if Ohtori never knew he had done this, now he just felt vaguely ridiculous for coming out here in the first place. What could he really have done, anyway? Gone to Ohtori's at eleven at night to return it? He should have waited until morning; then, at least, he wouldn't have to sleep with the lead weight in his stomach of knowing how upset Ohtori would be if they couldn't find his cross. It had to be somewhere - maybe in the locker room, or in the school - or maybe Ohtori had already found it at home and was having a massive guilt trip about calling him so late - or maybe it was right there on the sidewalk, kicked to the side and half-hidden by the grass, but still visible enough that the moonlight caught its edges, shining silver against the cement
Shishido stopped, stooping
It was the cross! He could have kicked himself; he had been too lost in thought on his way here to notice it. He picked up the necklace, examining it; as he had thought, the clasp was broken - it had probably fallen off on the walk home without Ohtori noticing
Starting towards Ohtori's house without regard for the time, now, he slipped the cross safely into his pocket, keeping his hand on it. If it looked like everyone was asleep at the house he could just throw things at Ohtori's window until he noticed, he decided. After all, he had done all this it find the pendant, and he was going to return it, dammit
Luckily, when Shishido got to the house, most of the lights were still on. Peering in through one of the windows that framed the front door, he could see Ohtori's mother sitting in the living room and there, Ohtori, coming down the stairs. He looked depressed, dejected; he had that look that never failed to remind Shishido of a kicked puppy - the one that always made Shishido want to, against every ounce of his better judgment, snuggle the other boy
Realizing his breath was leaving a fog on the window, Shishido pulled back, tapping lightly on the glass. He hoped only Ohtori would notice; and sure enough, his mother didn't even glance up - she was probably too far away to hear the faint tapping
Ohtori paused, looking slightly confused as he came to the door. His eyes widened when he saw Shishido outside the window. Unlocking the door, Shishido saw a look of surprise and mild indignation momentarily replace his depressed one as he opened the door
"Shishido-san! You shouldn't be out so late," Ohtori chided. His brow furrowed, just like it always did when he was worried. "What are you doing here?"
Shishido gave his partner a grin, pulling the cross from his pocket and holding it out to him. "I believe this is yours."
He would never admit it to anyone, but watching Ohtori's face right then, as it changed from sadness, to disbelief, to a warm, joy-filled surprise as his eyes shone and he clutched at the cross and Shishido's hand - that was one of the best moments of his life. He thought for a moment Ohtori was going to hug him, but he didn't, and Shishido was only mildly disappointed, because the look Ohtori was giving him was enough
"Where'd you find it?" Ohtori asked, almost breathlessly
Shishido shrugged. "On the sidewalk."
"Shishido-san - you - " Ohtori seemed to be lost for words, his hands still clamped around the one that held the cross. Shishido almost thought he would cry. He showered Shishido with "thank you"s and "you shouldn't have"s, and Shishido felt a small, affectionate smile fall across his lips
When Ohtori was done gushing, a slight blush colored his cheek as he pulled his hands away, almost jerking the necklace from Shishido's grasp; Shishido let the chain go just in time so it wouldn't get caught
"Ah - sorry, Shishido-san," Ohtori said, ducking his head. "You should be home - I'm sorry. Thank you."
"Aa," Shishido said, stepping back a step from the door, slightly annoyed at the sudden return of Ohtori's shyness. "Why are you still up?"
Ohtori blinked at him, his hand tightening slightly on the cross. "Mom's waiting for dad to get home." Shishido didn't miss the flicker of anger that sparked in Ohtori's eyes
Shishido gave him a calculating look. "You should go to bed, though. School tomorrow."
Shishido started slowly back down the front walk
He started to turn around to respond, only to find his movement restrained as two strong arms wrapped around him from behind. He felt Ohtori's cheek pressed against his hair, his warm breath on his ear; he couldn't help but lean back slightly, relaxing into the embrace
"Thank you," Ohtori whispered
Shishido reached up, squeezing Ohtori's hand. "Any time."
The hug was gone almost as quickly as it had come, Ohtori stepping back and leaving just a faint warmth on Shishido's back and shoulders. The other boy smiled softly, holding his cross to his chest. "Goodnight, Shishido-san."
Shishido smiled back before turning again to leave.
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