Archivist's note: This was a drabble request for Karen.

by Nori

Tachibana hadn't recognized Shishido at first, devoid as he was of those distinct characteristics. In his mind those traits had exaggerated and overwhelmed, the flip of long hair and the haughty tilt of the chin. This wasn't the same person that he had played against, not so long ago. Hair cropped short, a blue cap tugged over his head and a bandage over his eyebrow -- as well as things that weren't physical but more in mannerisms.

Shishido had been extremely vain and prideful, if not a bit too much for his skills. Not to say he was a bad player... he just hadn't been at Tachibana's level when they played. The loss had seemed to impact Shishido in only ways the Hyoutei boy could understand. That pride had been chipped away now, probably tossed right into the trash along with the hair he'd been so proud of.

But here he was again, Tachibana mused, rising above Hyoutei's strict law of 'You will not lose' and taking back the glory he'd once gloated about; but now had realized that he didn't do it alone. Shishido had friends help him along the way, poke and prod along until he couldn't take it anymore. Choutarou was his partner, they'd gotten that far together and were willing to take chances. Tachibana supposed the biggest surprise in that whole fiasco was that it hadn't just been Ootori who felt no shame in risking his own regular spot, but Atobe who had humbled himself to get Shishido back on the team. His team.

And what would you know. Tachibana had just the slightest bit more respect for Hyoutei nowadays.

The End

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