When you met him, the first time, there was nothing in particular that stood out about him - unassuming, something on the tall side, a good serve but just another junior on the tennis team. The boy that stood beside him was more interesting, fierce and easily angered, watching you with calculating eyes as you passed. You didn't bother speaking to him, and he didn't speak to you, and so the two of you passed by without any impressions.
He was the last one in the clubroom the day you were clearing your things out - just dropped from the Regulars, and you'd purposely waited until later, but he'd still been there. He'd ignored you, the first few minutes, and then with a polite look of concern asked, "Can I help you, Shishido-senpai?" You'd wanted to punch him, because you were no longer his senpai, because he was asking with dishonest politeness that rubbed you raw.
"I can still stand," you scowled back, roughly shoving your long bangs out of your face.
"I'll help you." Spoken with a core of steel backing it, and that time, you'd let him carry your racket bag.
You'd said to him later, "That's better," and he'd stared at you in confusion until you told him gruffly, "The second time. That was your choice to help me, not asked out of politeness. More honest."
Somehow, eventually, 'help' translated to smacking balls at you, but that was your initiative anyway, and you weren't exactly going to take something for granted. There was something like pain in his face each time he'd lifted the ball to the air, mouthed the words 'Ikyuunyuukon' like a mantra, and you'd found that funny because you were the one being hit. He'd been the one who had offered, truly offered, and maybe you were just a little bit selfish to never ask him whether he wanted to stop.
He'd been willing to fall, for you, and you'd wondered what the hell you'd ever done to deserve that. You almost said, I can still stand, but you were the one on your knees, who'd thrown away your pride for one more chance. You closed your mouth.
Valentine's Day, and he cornered you behind the school, pressed you against the wall, the sharp edges of a gilt box nudging into your chest. Core of steel, you thought then, again, and then his head dipped down. Wistfully, "You're so dense."
"I'm not," but you had to admit you hadn't seen this coming. You were uncertain of your position here, what to say, and then something hooded over his eyes; he moved away and your hands were quick to catch the box falling downwards. It was still warm from where his hands had just been.
He smiled at you, bowed, a polite tone, "Sorry for bothering you, Shishido-senpai," and this time you did punch him because he should have known better and he was just being stupid. You took off your hat, ran your hands through your hair (so short, you still weren't used to it) as he stared at you in shock, and your face reflected irritation and chagrin. You still didn't know what to say, but you figured you could bumble your way through it. You always had.
"Sorry." Wry grin, apologetic. "But you know, I don't know much about chocolates or whatever. Just tennis. But. You're my doubles partner, aren't you?"
Complications made your head hurt. Love or whatever, in the end the two of you were fourteen and fifteen and aiming for the top of the world (or the circuit, anyway). So you shoved the box back into the chest and grinned at him (but didn't let go of it, you'd still take it). "Besides, isn't it your birthday? I should be the one giving presents to you." Augmented your statement by adding another box to the one pressed against his chest, a smaller one, wrapped in pale, pale, blue.
Expressions shifted on his face, polite distance to uncertainty to surprise: "You didn't have to."
You rolled your eyes, annoyed. "But I wanted to." Said like the reply should be enough. And it was supposed to be, anyway. "Are you going to open it? Or..."
He answered the question by beginning to work at the tape that bound it, long fingers roughened by calluses nudging carefully under the paper. A single length of silver chain, he found himself looking at when the gift was opened, and you grinned sheepishly at him. "I noticed yours was wearing down."
His hands went straight to the cross around his neck, fingering thoughtfully. "I hadn't realized. Thank you." He'd forgotten about the chocolates, forgotten you'd taken them back, and you slipped them into your bag before walking away.
"C'mon, Choutarou. We've got practice," motioned him to follow without looking back.
He followed, and then he caught you and walked by your side.
Back to Ohtori/Shishido Fanfiction Index (Authors L - Z)