Thanks to sarahofcroydon for beta-ing. :3

Eryngo Symbolism
by The Seijin

"So what's up with you and Ohtori?"
Shishido raised an eyebrow, contemplating the dark mass before him known as Oshitari. Upon the announcement that Hyoutei was graced with the opportunity of playing at the nationals, practice recommenced with an unprecedented vigor. The chance to show their prowess at a national level, the possibility for a revenge match with Seigaku; all these abandoned thoughts came back to each and every regular of Hyoutei, which spurred them on with a strength not many knew they possessed. After one such day of rigorous training, the resident self-acclaimed genius of Hyoutei cornered Shishido.

"What do you mean, what's up?" Shishido turned his attention to locking his locker.
"Come on, don't play dumb." Oshitari half whined, half cooed in that spine shudderingly low voice of his. Had it been a young girl pleading in such a tone, Shishido may have answered seriously, but Oshitari's choice of intonation just made him want to shrink away in disgust.

"The usual. Practicing, hanging out after school, sometimes on weekends. Why, was there something off about our combination today?" Shishido turned to answer Oshitari, a half-smile twitching on his lips. Oshitari narrowed his eyes slightly and licked his lips.

"You know that's not what I mean. You guys are good friends, right?"
"Good friends." Shishido imitated Oshitari's intonation, but appeared unmoved. He had pulled out some form of cologne, and sprayed it excessively on him. Oshitari scrunched up his nose slightly. He was positive Shishido had intentionally sprayed some in his general direction.

"You guys spend a lot of time together, you know? Different year levels but hanging out in all the spare time you have... tongues are wagging, if you know what I mean."
"If you're trying to get some information on gossip I've heard, then you've really come to the wrong person, Oshitari." Shishido opened his bag and threw in the cologne.
He then turned to Oshitari and flashed a devious look. "I mean, I don't DO gossip, do I?"

"You DO other things though, don't you?" Oshitari changed tack, and returned an equally devious look.
"You reckon?" Shishido's face dropped all hints of deviousness, as he shrugged his shoulders. His face was deceptively innocent.

"See you guys later." Shishido announced, and as he strode out of the room where on perfect cue, Gakuto walked in, almost bumping into Shishido. With a short "Soz," Shishido was gone.

"'S up?" Gakuto asked Oshitari. Oshitari shrugged.
"I was trying to weed out of Shishido what exactly's going on with him and Ohtori. No use."
"I could have told you it was useless to even try, Yuushi." Gakuto crossed his arms. "You wouldn't have thought it, but he's a lot more hard to let on than people give him credit for."
"Who would have thought he was capable of screwing around people's words." Oshitari sighed, and dragged his hands through his dry hair. Gakuto just rolled his eyes.
"You just don't give him enough credit."

The next day a similar scenario occurred in the change rooms. Shishido and Gakuto had left early due to homeroom preparations, while efficient people like Atobe and Hiyoshi had changed and left without much hassle. Which left Oshitari and Ohtori as the last two to leave. While Ohtori had almost finished doing up his tie, Oshitari still remained in his tennis wear.

"So what's up with you and Shishido?"
Resident genius approached the other side of the coin with the same question. Shishido had been a bit more playful than he had expected, but perhaps a kouhai would be more prone to politeness and give out more.

"What do you mean, senpai?" Ohtori turned to look at Oshitari, appearing slightly bewildered at the unexpected question. His eyes were round, but his hand remained steady on his tie.
"Come on, don't play dumb." Oshitari chuckled. "I'm just asking, what's the relationship between you and Shishido at the moment. I mean, it's more than just good friends, right?"

Oshitari was sure that if he were direct enough Ohtori would be caught off guard enough to be flustered. As an added bonus, he might bumble something. Which would be enough for Oshitari to make a confirmation.

"It's a bit hard to express, really." Ohtori pursed his lips and looked thoughtful. "He's my senpai, and doubles partner, but he's also like a playmate and a Swiss bank account. Or maybe it's a bit more like the relationship between artichoke and sea holly; the juxtaposition of the two plants in imagery can mean so much but at the same time allude to the pretentiousness of absolute nothingness, void of particular meaning in any form or allegory..."



"You're bullshitting, aren't you?"

"Of course I am."

Ohtori flashed one of those Ohtori-kun smiles he was so well known for. With a short good bye and three long strides, Ohtori left the clubroom. Oshitari sagged on the floor. He was shallow to think that Ohtori would concede to his simple plan. He was a regular on the Hyoutei tennis team after all.

"Oh by the way, Oshitari senpai?"

Ohtori opend the door, and peered in. Oshitari looked up.

"Shishido-san and I aren't really good friends."

Again with a merry "Good bye", the door closed with a small click. Oshitari didn't know what to do.

"That's just dumb, Yuushi." Gakuto huffed as he downed a ham and bacon roll for lunch that noon. "I mean, it's Ohtori we're talking about. AS if he'll give away anything about himself. Besides, he probably heard from Shishido yesterday that you were interrogating and nosing into their business."
"Well then, what do you make of their relationship?" Oshitari mumbled sourly as he lay his head on the table. Gakuto hmmmed for a bit, then bit down on his roll once more.
"Something that doesn't make sense to us."
"Great Gakuto..."

"So what did you say to him?"

Shishido picked up his shirt from the floor and asked Ohtori over his shoulder. Ohtori lolled on the couch and pursed his lips as if trying hard to recall the conversation held in this same room this morning.

"I think I said something mildly meaningful about the relationship between artichoke and sea holly, and how the juxtaposition of the two..."
"In other words, bullshitting." Shishido snorted and tossed Ohtori his shirt.
"Something like that." Ohtori caught the shirt, and swung his legs over the couch, now sitting up and stretching out the kinks in his shoulder. "I like to think of it more as using my artistic wit to disarm Oshitari senpai from his favorite game."
"Yeah, his favorite game of playing nosey snoop." Shishido rolled his eyes, as he scooped up the tissues clustered around the couch. "Stop slobbing around and let's get out of here."
"Please senpai, let me cool down. You know that every athlete has to cool down adequately after rigorous exercise. If not, their finely tuned bodily condition can fall out of synch."
"Ha ha, nice one."

"Say Shishido-san?"
"Do you want to come over for dinner?"
"Do I?"
"We've got lamb curry left over from last night."
"I've got some geography homework I want some help with."
"I've got that book by Orlando Figes which you said you needed for your history assignment."
"You borrowed it out on purpose, didn't you?"
"Have you finished trying to tempt me over to your place?"
"Oh come on senpai, you have your tooth brush and towel over here."
"Fine. Let me just go home to pick up some more spare clothes."

The End

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