by Alissa

Hiyoshi kept rolling it around in his mind and the only conclusion he could come up with was that he should be far, far more unsettled by this. He should have at least not have been allowing it, passively, with fingers closing around the fabric of Ohtori's white uniform shirt, but Ohtori was washing over him and Hiyoshi couldn't find anything to blame.

Circumstance, maybe. Any other day and he would have shoved him off, violently. Said "what the hell do you think you're doing?" in a low snarl because being used makes you small and useless.

Everyone had seen it. Shishido's hair was starting to grow out again, and it was two inches away from his shoulders. Too short to pull into a ponytail, but long enough to hang in front of his eyes so that when the corners of his lips curled into a smirk he looked dangerously beautiful.

Then Ohtori had the nerve to try to talk to Hiyoshi. As if that makes up for shrinking someone down to insignificance, using their mouth and hands and body for distraction. And the second time Hiyoshi really did say his "what the hell do you think you're doing", but it came out low and airy and he was parting his lips and letting Ohtori inside as he said it.

At noon it was lunchtime, and Hiyoshi's was white rice with black sesame seeds and grilled salmon with mitsuba. He balanced the lunchbox on his knees, sitting on a concrete bench nowhere near the cafeteria. Ohtori sat on the ground, tearing at a sandwich as if it had personally offended him, and let his pants collect grass stains. No one spoke first so they didn't talk.

Hiyoshi had thought the first day of high school would be different somehow. But then he'd thought of it as a day of possibilities. That this day was a blank white slate and instead of fitting the events into neat rows, it was streaks and scribbles. He was sure Ohtori was wasting his time trying to make sense of them, but didn't stop him.

The third time, Hiyoshi said outright "you're using me", and this time it was in unwavering syllables from his throat. It wasn't a protest and it wasn't an invitation. It was an obvious statement to which Ohtori had no refute. This time the kiss was under the cloth of his gym shirt and hooked into the waistband of his shorts - the mile between Ohtori's fingertip and knuckle.

Sitting in his desk, Hiyoshi saw Ohtori doing nothing more than spinning a pencil between his fingers and chewing on his lip.

Everyone saw it. It looked like they wanted for everyone to see it, but no one could be sure. Hyotei was Atobe's and he could do what he liked in it. Even twist his fingers through the tips of Shishido's growing hair, doing everything but kiss him goodbye.

The words came out the fourth time when Hiyoshi really did push back and forth until it was far too angry to be a kiss at all. The cracks in Hiyoshi's voice mixed with the silence and broke into a "you miss him," to which Ohtori kissed the words out of his mouth, hands pawing at his belt, and Hiyoshi didn't stop him.

The first day of high school wasn't long enough to hold a year of frustration. Ohtori was certainly going to try.

Hiyoshi held his breath when Shishido approached. It was before the last class, and Shishido wore his ball cap for five short minutes before the break ended. Hiyoshi stood with his back straight. Ohtori's hands were in his pockets, digging deep though they were empty.

Shishido asked if Choutarou had had a good summer, though he already knew of some of it.

"Are you going to play tennis this year?" Shishido asked, and Ohtori said of course he was with a smile that looked less empty than Hiyoshi thought it should.

Hiyoshi watched from behind them, only too happy to be overlooked.

Shishido said he'd see them "around" as if around wasn't everywhere and nowhere all at once.

Hyotei campus felt stretched, longer than it was before, because it took ten minutes to arrive at the classroom when it had only taken five to leave. They both walked into the classroom late, and the teachers' lips formed a thin line while her eyes followed them to their desks. Ohtori fumbled with the zipper of his bookbag, and his pencil box opened on the floor.

Hiyoshi didn't pay attention to a word of the lecture, but wrote down the numbers and symbols anyway. They'd make sense in some jumbled way. Math was like a puzzle.

There wasn't any tennis practice to go to after school. Hiyoshi didn't say goodbye to Ohtori because that would spoil the mood of their wordless day.

But Ohtori said "I don't", quietly, like he didn't quite believe the words himself.

Hiyoshi felt his back against against cold concrete. He didn't remember it becoming dark, but it didn't matter so much with his eyes closed when he could pretend they weren't trying to climb each other tucked into a small alley behind a convenience store - perfectly hidden unless someone happened to look. This time Hiyoshi said "don't use me", but the "don't" was caught in his throat or it came out and both of them ignored it anyway.

It was cold when Hiyoshi walked home, five steps away from Ohtori. Hiyoshi heard half a conversation about making plans to do nothing in particular. Then Ohtori was walking close, and Hiyoshi could make out Shishido's voice on the other end before the phone snapped shut.

Hiyoshi's goodbye was curt, but Ohtori's long arm pulled him back to brush lips against his, soft and chaste. That, curiously, was what finally made Hiyoshi jump.

Ohtori said "see you tomorrow" and was halfway to the end of the sidewalk before Hiyoshi even saw him turn around and Hiyoshi wondered, then, if tomorrow would feel more like a beginning.

The End

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