by Mariel

he is made captain when he hits third year, and looking out over the masses of boys - his subordinates, gekokujyou at last - he waits for it to be everything he's ever wanted.

he has none of atobe's charisma, and none of his gifts as a leader. he can have the first years breathless with his tennis, but there are no shrieking fangirls providing a greek chorus to his every step. he doesn't much care; as a second year he'd wondered how atobe could possibly deal with the shrieks. now he is captain and he finds the absence of soprano voices jarring.

ohtori stands to his right, though everyone knows hyoutei has no vice-captain and doesn't need one. he thinks, sometimes, that they are like atobe and oshitari, except there can never be another atobe, and ohtori has none of oshitari's slow sweet samba through life.

one day after practise ohtori corners him in the regular's lockerroom and kisses him, there against the cool concrete wall. he has ohtori's damp jersey halfway off before he starts to wonder whether atobe and oshitari were ever like this when mukahi's back was turned, flush against the cold lockers with the dying sun shining through the curtains onto their bare backs. with ohtori's lips on his skin he can forget for the moment that he is captain, but when he steps out into the afternoon chill it comes back to him with the force of hot water, scalding ohtori away so no one else will know.

when the high school tournaments start he and ohtori and kabaji go to watch hyoutei's matches, though only atobe has made regular. last year's junior high regular team stands instead of sitting, and when they catch sight of them they wave and smile and come over to talk. hiyoshi avoids shishido's eyes because he knows that shishido can sense what they did, he and ohtori. he looks on past oshitari and mukahi, pretending that he doesn't know what he does.

when atobe's eyes meet his, he knows how far he has to go, and that he will never get there.

The End

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