Shishido had always been a proud person. He was proud of the way he played tennis, proud of his friends and of his accomplishments. He'd even been proud of his hair, but he was also never one to let his pride stand in the way of achieving something that meant the world to him.
His eyes studied the pavement where the long strands of his hair rested, his brain telling him matter of factly that the hair would take ages to grow back. He told his brain to shut up, just like he'd told Atobe to minutes earlier. This was a new start for him… he swore to never lose again. He didn't give a shit who his opponents might be, there was no way he'd ever lose his spot ever again.
There was someone still there, though, and it made Shishido smile slightly in spite of himself. The one person who had stuck by him through all of this, spent countless hours practicing with him, and put up with every tantrum he threw as he battled against himself and his own limitations. He couldn't help the gentle smile on his lips as he turned to face the other boy.
Ohtori Choutarou's soft brown eyes fixed him with a concerned stare. The grey haired boy had been willing to give up his own dream for Ryou, and that was something the now shorthaired regular couldn't ignore. It wasn't every day that someone was willing to sacrifice their own goals just for you.
The afternoon wore on as they simply looked at each other, taking in every detail that they already knew, eyes searching for some that they might have missed. For two long weeks they'd spent almost every second outside of sleep, school, and regular training together. For two long weeks Ohtori had been Ryou's pillar of strength and foundation of support as well his permanent encouragement.
They now shared a bond that had perhaps always existed, but that had grown stronger over that time. Somehow Ryou felt a little overwhelmed by it…but he decided he liked the feeling. So he took a step closer to his friend, noticing those brown eyes tracing his every move. He reached out a hand and placed it on Choutarou's shoulder, still watching as those same eyes widened a little before a sparkle of something entered them. That sparkle made Shishido smile a little more warmly, because he felt warmed by it.
Suddenly he found himself with an arm full of the boy who had become his best friend, clinging to him tightly. And Ryou was surprised to find himself clinging just as tightly back. He wanted to hold Ohtori, needed him to soothe away the self doubt he would never show anyone else. Just when the fair-haired boy had gotten so far under skin, he didn't know, and to be honest… didn't care. The fact was that he was there, and Shishido was more grateful to him than he had ever been to anyone else.
Ohtori knew Ryou's mood swings, he knew his incessant need to be the best, or at least one of them… he knew all of the senior's bad habits, and still he persisted in the friendship. Shishido didn't think he deserved someone like Choutarou, but he wasn't about to give up the one person in his life who seemed willing to stick with him through thick and thin.
There was a soft vibration against Ryou's shoulder, and he realised the junior was talking…and focused his attention on the words… the way Ohtori's warm breath tingled his body as it encountered his skin.
"We did it Senpai…I told you we would… I knew you would." Dark grey hair swayed in the light breeze. Ryou wondered when the sky had begun to darken and just how long they'd been standing there, as he listened to Ohtori's litany repeat itself over and over.
Shishido closed his eyes briefly, taking pleasure in the feeling of the warmth against him. He sighed, and Choutarou stopped, raising his head from its resting place a little to look at the older boy. Ryou hooked the tip of his finger at the side of the junior's chin, forcing those brown eyes to focus on his own. "I made it because of you." He found his own voice soft, almost scratchy with the sheer emotion the day had brought with it. "Thank you… for everything…"
As the words trailed off, Ohtori smiled at him. That smile, which Choutarou never seemed to give anyone else, warmed Ryou in a way nothing else could.
Just because Ohtori's arms tightened in their grip around him, just because he needed to, and just because it felt right, Shishido moved his lips to catch the ones of the boy in his arms.
Soft lips met tentatively. Understanding, concern, and a genuine affection soon replaced the uncertainty. What began as a hesitant venture past friendship, slowly developed into the sharing of deeper feelings that had been hidden from another for far too long.
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