It was February, the month bringing about the nearing end of winter and chipper boys and girls excited about love and other useless things. It was February, the month of love and out-of-control hormones and Shishido Ryo was not a happy guy.
To put it simply, Shishido hated February. February meant the end of winter, and Shishido liked winter. February also meant St. Valentine's Day. St. Valentine's Day meant annoying girls sending him countless chocolates and love letters. Yes, Shishido hated St. Valentine's Day and just the month February in general. There was nothing he liked about this month at all.
It made him twitch to think that Atobe actually liked having thousands of annoying, screeching girls crowding around him. But then again, Atobe also considered himself to be "the fairest of them all" and personally thought that everyone should bow down at his feet and worship him. As if Atobe needed any more of an ego, Shishido thought dryly to himself. His captain had an ego larger than the world.
"Shishido-san…are you feeling alright today? You don't look very well," Ohtori said brightly, but still with concern visible on his face as he approached the shorter boy. "Shishido-san, you should take better care of yourself so you don't get sick."
Speaking of which, Shishido reminded himself, if Atobe had an ego larger than the world, the Ohtori would be the one with a heart bigger than the universe. Of all people, Ohtori Chotarou had to be the most caring person Shishido had ever met. Well, to him at least. Never mind the fact that he liked to treat the younger boy like dirt before.
"Fine, I'm fine, Chotarou," Shishido said, rotating his arm in circles to stretch out his muscles. Setting his eyes on the tennis court, Shishido picked up his racket. "Come on, Chotarou. Let's go make those two cry!"
"You're the one who's going to be crying when you lose, Shishido!" Mukahi shouted across the court with a smirk on his face. "Hurry up, you two! Stop letting your sexual frustration take advantage of your playing abilities."
Shishido glared at the boy across the court as Oshitari simply chuckled to himself. "Chotarou," he muttered, glare still attached to Mukahi. "You should hit him with your serve. Really, really hard."
"That's not very nice, Shishido-san," Ohtori said with a slight smile. He held back his laughter when his senpai made an impolite hand gesture towards the acrobatics player on the other side of the net when he turned his back. "Neither was that."
"You say that, but you know he deserved it," Shishido muttered, walking towards the net. "Your serve, Chotarou. After all that practice we put in, your accuracy should be better than before."
"Right," the younger boy said, smile still on his face as he bounced the ball a few times on the ground before he prepared to serve. "Thanks for all your hard work, Shishido-san."
"How about less flirting and more serving?" Mukahi called from the net with a smirk.
"I really think you should calm down before you get hurt, Gakuto," Oshitari said with a pleasant smile on his face as he waited to receive the serve. "I wouldn't underestimate Ohtori if I were you."
"Maybe you're over estimating him, Yuushi," Mukahi said with a frown, turning slightly to glare at his doubles partner. It pissed him off slightly to think that his own partner was turning on him.
"Will you shut up and leave Chotarou alone already?" Shishido snapped at the other boy with much annoyance. He tapped his racket on his shoulder once before returning to his position.
"That's really cute, Shishido," Mukahi went on with a teasing grin as he pointed his racket towards the other boy. "Don't get too flustered defending your lo—! Ite…! Hoi, Ohtori! You did that on purpose!"
Ohtori smiled innocently at his senpai as he bounced another ball on the ground. Up by the net, Shishido was snickering loudly. "Sorry, Mukahi-senpai. I guess my serve is as accurate as I thought. Anyway, it's not very nice of you to be picking on Shishido-san all the time."
The acrobatics player rubbed the side of his face and muttered under his breath. On the next court, Hiyoshi rolled his eyes before going on to defeat the seventh non-regular in a row. Oshitari chuckled quietly at his partner as Taki applauded Ohtori with a smirk.
The rest of the match went by relatively quietly with only a few outbursts between Mukahi and Shishido. By the time the two pairs had reached an incomplete set score of 4-4, Atobe strutted in lazily with Kabaji close behind him and dismissed the Regulars, shaking Jiroh awake in the process.
"Shishido-san," Ohtori said suddenly as the two walked towards the clubroom. "Do you have any plans for Saturday this week?"
"Saturday?" Shishido asked with a blink as he removed his hat from his head. "That's the fourteenth, isn't it?"
"It's also St. Valentine's Day as well, I believe," Oshitari commented with a slight smirk from beside them. Although he had told his partner not to tease the two, Oshitari found it rather hard not to do so himself. "Are you two going on a date?"
"N-No! It's not like that!" Ohtori stuttered, blushing slightly. Shifting his eyes, he muttered, "There's something else…"
"Well, whatever it is, I'm free," Shishido said, running a hand through his short hair with a quick glare at the smirking Oshitari. "I hate Valentine's Day. It has to be the stupidest holiday there is. Even the chocolate is useless. What normal person likes to be flocked by millions of girls?"
"Apparently, he does," Taki said, joining them with a finger pointed at Atobe standing with a crowd of admirers. Laughing slightly before walking ahead, Taki commented, "I just don't think it's normal when a person starts enjoy having millions of boys drooling at their feet. I see Atobe enjoys the attention however."
"But isn't that better than having no one that likes you?" Mukahi asked as he walked into the clubroom, holding an icepack to his face where Ohtori had hit him. He smirked slightly. "Not as if any of you know. Last year, the whole clubroom was filled with chocolate from practically every girl in school."
"Yes, but that was…"
Ohtori paused for a moment as the others walked into the clubroom, still carrying on their conversation. He fingered his tennis racket for a moment. The previous year, he was a first year and probably held little to no importance to his all of his senpai. So of course, they would not have known that his birthday was in fact on the day they were all releasing their hatred on.
Noting that his partner was no longer beside him, Shishido turned slightly to look at the younger boy. Lifting the towel he had on his shoulder, Shishido dropped it on Ohtori's head and grinned a bit goofily. "Come on, Chotarou. Let's get changed for class."
"A-Aa…" Ohtori said with a smile as he pulled the towel off his head to follow Shishido into the clubroom. A light blush stained his cheeks. Somehow, Shishido-san always knew how to make him feel better at the strangest times.
"Oi, Akutagawa! Don't sleep on the floor!"
"Let him sleep already. Just step over him."
"Easy for you to say!"
There was still also other people who seemed to make smiling easier, Ohtori thought with a laugh as he watched the Hyotei Regulars carry out their daily, friendly bickering. There was never a day he regretted joining the tennis club and becoming a Regular. Ohtori smiled as Shishido laughed when Jiroh opened a sleepy eye. Thanks to that, he was able to see Shishido-san smiling so often.
* * *
Not much time had passed before Ohtori realized that when he needed to speak to someone, there were always be one of his teammates to pop up and interrupt him. The boy had tried several times to ask Shishido again about Saturday, but had been interrupted each time by one of his teammates. By the seventh time, he was beginning to give up.
"What's with Ohtori today?" Mukahi said aloud, prying Jiroh from sleeping on his arm. The boy frowned, watching the younger boy rally poorly with Hiyoshi. "I didn't tease him that much this morning…"
"Seems like he's suffering from love problems to me," Oshitari said slyly with a smirk. He shifted his eyes slightly to rest on Shishido beside him. "Someone hasn't been paying our boy enough attention."
The other Hyotei Regular sitting on the benches followed Oshitari's example and turned to look at Shishido. Even Jiroh cracked an eye open at the boy. After a few moments of silence, Shishido finally blinked, realizing that everyone was staring at him. "What? What are you all looking at me for? I don't know who it is."
Slapping his forehead, Mukahi muttered in exasperation, "I always knew he was dumber than he looks. At this rate, he'll never get a clue and Ohtori will be in a slump forever."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Shishido demanded, shooting a look at the other boy. His frowned deepened when the doubles pair stood up with rackets and headed towards the courts. "Hey!"
"Don't worry, Shishido," Jiroh said suddenly, sitting up to rub his eyes. He grinned sleepily at the frustrated boy and patted his head. Picking up his own racket, he pointed his thumb in the direction of the courts. "Someone else is coming to keep you company for a while."
Shishido blinked as Jiroh walked away, winking at him. Just as he stood up, a sweet and quiet voice called out to him, "Ah…Shishido-san…"
Feeling his frustration melt away, Shishido turned to face his doubles partner with a sheepish smile. "Sorry, Chotarou. I didn't see you coming. Is there something you need?"
Nodding slightly, Ohtori looked away to avoid his senpai's curious eyes. He should probably thank the others for understanding and giving him some time to work things out. "Actually, I was trying to ask you all day. Shishido-san, this Sat—"
"There you are, Shishido!" Atobe called out with a smirk as he walked towards the two. Apparently, he wasn't let in when the other regulars decided to let Ohtori and Shishido have some time alone. "Here I was think you were avoiding me all day."
"What do you want?" Shishido asked the captain with a slight sigh. He shot his partner an apologetic look. Seeing the disappointed look on Ohtori's face made Shishido's heart cringe slightly. Suddenly, he felt extremely guilty. "Um… Atobe, can this wait until a little later? Chotarou was trying to tell me something."
"That's alright, Shishido-san," Ohtori said, smiling. "I'm sure whatever Atobe-senpai has to tell you is more important."
"Now that we all agree," Atobe interrupted once more, "lets hurry up and get this over with. Shishido, since you've been working hard lately, the couch has decided you can play singles again. But since another suitable partner for Ohtori hasn't been found, it's your decision."
It took a moment for his words to sink in. Brows furrowing, Shishido clenched his fists for a moment before bursting out with a smile, "Singles? You're letting me play singles again? Really?!"
"Is that a yes?" Atobe asked, glancing at Ohtori who stood rooted to the ground. "It's your decision after all."
Shishido was overjoyed…until he turned to see Ohtori's somewhat painful smile. His happiness suddenly melted away. Tearing his eyes from the younger boy, Shishido stared hard at the floor. "Atobe…can I…get back to you on that later?"
"Sure, but too long and the offer might not still stand," the blue eyed boy said, still smirking. Somehow, the situation seemed so amusing to him. Those two were such characters. "I'll only give you until Monday, so you better decide quickly."
"I know, I know," Shishido mumbled, rubbing his foot against the floor. He sighed softly when Atobe walked away. Looking up, he grinned at Ohtori. "I can't just leave you alone, now can I? So…what were you going to ask me?"
He must feel guilty about me, Ohtori thought with a frown. Rubbing the back of his neck, he plastered a smile on his face. "Actually…never mind. It's nothing, really."
"Are you sure?" the older boy asked in surprise, raising an eyebrow. "Didn't you say you were trying to tell me all day? Come on, it's no big deal."
"That's why I said to forget about it," the light haired boy went on. Nodding slightly, he took a step back, smile never leaving his face. "Don't worry about me, Shishido-san. You should play singles again. It makes you happy, right? I'll find another partner. Congratulations."
"Chotarou!" Shishido called with a frown as the younger boy quickly walked away without looking back. He felt his frustration rapidly return. It didn't help his temper when Mukahi, Oshitari, and Jiroh suddenly ran from the courts to surround him.
"So, did you two work things out?" Mukahi asked curiously, taking a seat on the bench next to where Shishido sank.
"Does it look like they did, Gakuto?" Oshitari commented with a smirk. He lifted a hand to his chin as he watched Ohtori retreat to a far court. Some people were denser than others.
Groaning, Mukahi ran a hand through his hair and looked at Shishido with disappointment. "What happened this time? Did you upset Ohtori or something?"
"Atobe came over…" Shishido began slowly, eyes fixed on where Ohtori had been standing, "…he said they want me to play singles again."
"What about Ohtori-kun?" Jiroh asked suddenly, lifting a finger to poke Shishido's cheek before plopping on the bench next to him. Cocking his head to the side, the light haired boy asked, "Is that why he's upset? It's because he'll have to get another partner if you play singles again, right?"
"Well, this is getting interesting," Oshitari said, adjusting his glasses before sitting down next to his doubles partner. "Let me guess, Shishido… You were excited about the idea, and made that visible, upsetting Ohtori in the process. He tried be polite about it and tried to support you, therefore he ended up not asking you about Saturday. Again."
"How do you know these things, Yuushi?" Mukahi asked with his brows furrowed, twitching slightly. "That's kind of suspicious of you…"
Patting his partner's head, Oshitari chuckled. "That's what happens when you're a genius. You tend to notice things more easily."
"Oshitari," Shishido said suddenly, looking up at the taller boy. He blinked once. "How did you know what Chotarou was going to ask me about? Saturday? That's St. Valentine's Day isn't it?"
"It's his birthday," Jiroh piped up, stretching his arms up in a yawn. The motion lifted his shirt to reveal part of the creamy skin on his stomach. He grinned as Mukahi sprawled across them to pull his shirt back down. "Ohtori-kun's that is."
"Besides," Oshitari added, "I think that was the eighth time Ohtori tried to ask you about spending that day with him and gotten interrupted before he could finish. Ah, I'm disappointed in you, Shishido. Here we were trying to give you two some time too. Completely wasted…"
"I didn't know it was Chotarou's birthday," Shishido muttered to himself, bringing a hand up to his head. Sighing, he took his hat off his head and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. "No wonder he's been so upset."
"Maybe you could do something nice for him," Mukahi suggested, still sprawled across their laps. "Like…spend the day with him. Or get him a nice birthday gift. Something like that, I guess."
"Ooh! Chocolate!" Jiroh exclaimed suddenly, laughing slightly as Mukahi poked his side. "It's Valentine's Day isn't it? Shishido should make chocolate for Ohtori-kun to confess his feelings."
"W-What?!" Shishido exclaimed hotly, cheeks ablaze. He would have jumped up if Mukahi wasn't spread across the three of them. "Chocolate…! Valentine's Day is for girls and I don't even like the holiday! Besides, I don't know how to make chocolate! And what 'feelings' are you talking about here?!"
"Calm down, Shishido," Oshitari said calmly as an example. Closing his eyes and touching his glasses, the boy smirked and nodded. "Actually, I think his suggestion is quite logical, Shishido. Chocolate is a perfect way to express how you feel. This way you won't have to talk and say something stupid."
"Hey!" The brown haired boy frowned and shot a look at the smirking boy next to him. Shifting his eyes, his frown slowly melted and his anger calmed. "What do you mean by that though? Express how I feel…"
"Well, you like him, don't you?" Mukahi asked, sitting upright again. He leaned over to look at his teammate. "You can go ahead and tell us, Shishido. We won't tell anyone else."
"Of course I like him," Shishido said with difficulty, twisting his fingers together. "I mean, Chotarou is my partner and everything. I…don't exactly get what you guys are implying though."
Sighing, Mukahi frowned. There were times he wondered how people could be so clueless. "Look at it this way: Ohtori's important to you, right? Now tell me, would you choose to make yourself happy by playing singles, or would you rather want to protect Ohtori's feelings by playing doubles with him. I have to admit," he sighed again, "you two make a pretty good doubles team. So what would you do?"
"I don't know," Shishido answered truthfully and a bit hesitantly. "I've really wanted to play singles for a long time now, but…I don't want to leave Chotarou either. I guess I don't really like the idea of him finding another partner. So how do you know for sure? If you…like someone that is…"
"Don't think so much about it," Oshitari said simply with a gentler smile in contrast to his smirk. "You shouldn't let your mind affect your feelings. All you have to do is rely on your feelings, no matter how small or insignificant they are. It may take some time, but in the end your emotions will be clear to you, and that will be all that matters. That is when you know you like someone. When you feel that you need to be by that person's side at all times."
By the time Oshitari had finished speaking, the three Regulars around him all had blushes on their faces, each intently staring at the dark haired boy. Oshitari grinned before chuckling. "That's what I think, anyway."
"Yuushi, you…" Mukahi trailed off. He exchanged glances with Jiroh, to find that the other boy was blushing as well. Shaking his head, he sat up straight and willed himself to stop blushing. "Anyway, Shishido! You should make Ohtori chocolate! Who cares if it's a girl's holiday? It's a nice thought."
"I guess…" Shishido mumbled, scratching his head. "But where the hell am I going to learn how to make chocolate? I don't even like sweets very much. Besides, I can't exactly cook either…"
"I'll teach you how to make chocolate if you give it to Ohtori," Oshitari said with a grin. "Come with me after practice today. Tomorrow is the day before Valentine's Day, but it's the only day we'll be at school before the actual holiday. Considering that, everyone's going to be extremely busy hauling chocolate around after school, so it has to be today."
"That's fine, I guess," Shishido said, standing up. "I don't have anything to do today, and practice is almost over."
"Alright then," Oshitari said pleasantly, standing up next to Shishido. "In return for doing you such a favor, I'd like to ask for one of my own." Smiling at the shorter boy's disbelief, he went on, "You didn't think a genius's services would be for free, did you?"
"Fine, fine," the other boy sighed. "What do you want me to do?"
"Tomorrow, you can sort out the chocolate in the clubroom after practice," Oshitari said with a simple smile. "That's all I ask."
His frown deepened, but he didn't bother saying anything. "Alright, fine," Shishido mumbled. "How hard could it be?"
Mukahi waited until Shishido was safely out of earshot before speaking. "That was cruel, Yuushi. Does he know how much chocolate you and Atobe get every year? Adding in the rest of the regulars…"
"Exactly why I asked him to do it," the boy said triumphantly, fixing his glasses. "What better way to put him in the mood for such a holiday?"
"…I didn't know you were so mean," Mukahi said, sweatdropping. "Should we get Kabaji ready to dig him out tomorrow?"
"At the rate things are going this year, I doubt anyone will be able to open the door," Oshitari said cheerfully, raising a finger to tap his partner's forehead. "Don't worry about it. Shishido agreed, didn't he? It's best we not speak of the task, before he decides he won't do it."
"Do you want to do it for him, Mukahi-kuuuun?" Jiroh yawned, grinning sleepily. Suddenly, the sleep on his face vanished from sight. Smiling somewhat mischievously, the light haired boy leaned against his hand, propping his head up with sharp eyes. "Don't you think it's a better idea to have Shishido do it for us with Ohtori-kun?"
"…you're scary when you're like that," Mukahi mumbled, shaking his head as he walked towards the courts. "Don't do that anymore. You were less threatening when you were sleeping."
"Sorry," the boy yawned.
* * *
"So…tell me again why I'm doing this…?"
"You're here because you're learning to make chocolate for your loved one," Oshitari said with a sickeningly sweet smile as he handed Shishido a flowered apron.
Wincing, Shishido reluctantly reached out and took the apron. "So why is Mukahi here?"
"Well, I'm learning too," the redhead said with a frown as he put another apron over his head. Tying his hair back, he went on with a slight blush, "Besides, who said I couldn't come?"
"Ok, then…" Shishido said slowly, feeling a wave of disgust flow through him when he placed the apron over his head. "Then why is Akutagawa here?"
The doubles pair exchanged blinking glances at each other before turning to Jiroh for an explanation. "Good question," Mukahi said, "Why are you here?"
Blinking at the three, Jiroh smiled childishly at his teammates. "What? I like chocolate too. You guys never said I couldn't come too."
"That just makes things more interesting," Oshitari said cheerfully as he washed his hands. "It probably would have been even more amusing if we invited someone like Atobe."
"What are you talking about? He'd just have Kabaji do it for him," Mukahi pointed out dryly, handing his doubles partner the soap. "I think it'd be amusing to see Hiyoshi do this."
"Yeah, 'cause his face is stuck like this!" Jiroh pulled his lips down into a straight line frown and narrowed his eyes, sticking his tongue out of the corner of his mouth.
Snickering, Mukahi dried his hands on his apron and tossed a towel at Jiroh's face. "I'll bet we can sell you to the zoo," he said teasingly to the boy. Turning to his doubles partner, he asked suddenly, "Hey, Yuushi. What's with these aprons?"
There was a pause while the Hyotei Regulars each examined the aprons they were wearing. Oshitari secretly wondered if he should take a picture of his teammates with his mother's ridiculously decorated aprons on. It would be such good blackmail. Besides, his partner looked so much like a girl, he had the strong urge jump him. Shrugging, he explained, "My mother has a thing for weird aprons."
"Yes, but don't you think this is overdoing it just a little?" Shishido asked with a frown as he indicated the clashing pink and orange flower patter on the apron he was wearing and the frills on the one Jiroh was wearing.
Smirking, Oshitari commented, "But they suit you two so well. Gakuto, you do look so much like a little waitress. I wish I had a camera."
"Don't even think about it!" the three called out at the same time, each throwing a dish rag at Oshitari's face.
Two hours and five "accidents" later, three ingredients-covered boys collapsed to the ground while one calmly washed the pots and dishes. Groaning loudly, Shishido and Mukahi sat back to back on the ground while Jiroh was leaning against the counter, cheerfully licking the sugar off his fingers.
"I don't know how Yuushi does it," Mukahi grumbled while attempting to wipe flour off of his face. "There's a reason why they say women do the cooking. And where did all these extra ingredients come from?! I don't remember using flour and whipped cream in anything!"
"I'm going to get married just for someone to cook so I don't have to," Shishido added, frowning at the chocolate smudged across his arm. Spotting a stray can of whipped cream near his foot, he grinned wickedly. "Speaking of whipped cream…"
It only took a second for Shishido to spray a glob of whipped cream on top of Mukahi's head. "Hey!" the redhead exclaimed. Scooping a handful off his head, he tossed at the laughing Shishido, who instantly ducked. Jiroh, however, got hit in the face. "Oh, sorry about that…"
Grinning, Jiroh wiped some off his face and threw it back at the acrobatics player. "Whipped cream fight, Mukahi?"
Putting the last of the pots away, Oshitari turned around and sighed at the sight of his teammates running around, throwing globs of failure chocolate mixes and whipped cream. Who brought out the whipped cream out anyway? Just as he lifted his hand to scratch his head, a glob of chocolate and whipped cream hit his face.
The other three Hyotei regulars instantly froze, messy hands in the air and turned to wait for their teammate's reaction. Oshitari slowly picked up a rag and wiped his face. Much to his teammates' surprise, he smirked and threw towels at them while running to join them. "Now you're in trouble!"
"Oh my, what a memorable scene," drawled a familiar voice as someone entered the kitchen with a grin.
Freezing in place, the four regulars slowly turned their heads towards the flash. It took a moment for them to register what had just happened. "TAKI!"
"Who invited you?!" Mukahi called out, diving behind a counter to avoid the camera. He was quickly joined by Shishido and Jiroh. "Didn't your mother ever teach you not to walk into people's houses?!"
"The door was open," the long brown haired boy said with a pleasant smile. "Besides, Mukahi. This isn't your house either. I came to return Oshitari's notes."
"I seemed to have forgotten about that," Oshitari said, wetting a towel to clean off his face.
"Apparently," Taki said with an amused smile. "Aah… I'm so glad my cousin let me borrow her camera for today. Now we can all remember this moment forever. Really, you four look good with chocolate and whipped cream on. Any chance of letting me lick it off?"
"Go lick it off the floor," Shishido mumbled, grabbing a rag to help Oshitari clean up. Pointing to a mop in the corner, he said, "Since you're here, you can help clean up."
"Very mean of you, Shishido," the boy with the camera said with a smile, "but I'll do it since I get to see four covered in chocolate."
"I say we ambush him and destroy the film in that camera," Mukahi muttered under his breath to the other three.
"Forget the film, get the whole camera," Shishido said coldly, his left eye twitching when Taki winked at him. "Let him deal with his cousin."
"The way he's smiling makes me want to break his neck," the redhead went on, fuming with anger.
"Oh, Taki," Oshitari piped up with a grin, "I'd like to have copies of the picture when you get it developed. There's still plenty to blackmail for."
"You're in it too!"
"Ooh! Chocolate on your face!"
"I'm so glad I have this camera."
* * *
On the afternoon of Friday, the thirteenth of February, the Hyotei Regular members did not show up for practice. Only non-regular members of the tennis club were out practicing. It was noticeable, however, that the Regulars were obviously hiding out in the clubhouse, since a huge group of girls flocked the entrance.
"Whoever keeps bringing the stuff in should really stop," Hiyoshi commented a bit gruffly. "I can barely move at all anymore."
"I think that's what normally happens when you're buried up to your knees with chocolate and flowers," Shishido said dryly, practically diving into the piles and swimming for his tennis bag. "At this rate, we'll never make it to home."
"Maybe we should just separate them into piles," Ohtori suggested from the side. "It's getting a little messy this way, don't you think?"
"Excellent idea, Ohtori," Oshitari said brightly. Wading through the pool of gifts, he patted Shishido's shoulder with a grin and opened the back window. "Better get to work, Shishido."
"Yeah, thanks for your hard work," Mukahi said with a snicker as he followed his doubles partner with Jiroh and a disturbed-looking Hiyoshi behind him.
Shishido stared at his teammates bitterly as they climbed out of the window. Directing his gaze towards Atobe, he asked, "Well? Aren't you going to leave too?"
"Ore-sama will not be lowered to climbing out of windows," Atobe said with a toss of his hair. Smirking, he headed towards the front door. "I'll be using the front door. Kabaji, help Shishido with the sorting."
Sighing, Shishido leaned over and kicked aside a few boxes to make some space on the ground. He kicked away about twenty of them before he could actually see the ground again. He blinked when a hand reached out to help him. Looking up, he said in surprise, "Chotarou? Aren't you going to go home like everyone else?"
"I think you and Kabaji need my help more than I need to go home," the younger boy said with a gentle smile as he helped push aside some boxes. "Besides," he said slowly, shifting his eyes, "I wanted to apologize for running off on you yesterday. That was rude of me. I'm sorry, Shishido-san."
"What? Oh… You don't have to apologize for that," Shishido said with a laugh, rubbing the back of his neck. "Thanks for your help today, though. I really appreciate it."
"If you don't mind me asking, how did you end up getting stuck doing this for everyone else?" Ohtori asked curiously as he started to make a pile for each of the Regulars. "I thought you hated this holiday."
"I do," Shishido grumbled quietly, tossing the fifth box he picked up in a row into Atobe's pile. "Unfortunately, I owed Oshitari a favor for helping me out with something. So here I am, stuck doing him this 'favor' in return."
"I guess it really must have meant a lot to you for his help if you were willing to do this," Ohtori said with a quiet laugh, placing a box in Oshitari's rising pile and another in Jiroh's. "Shishido-san," he said with eyes glinting in humor, "you seem to be very popular. Your pile is almost the same height as Oshitari's."
"You should talk," Shishido said with a lopsided grin. He pointed a thumb at a pile near Kabaji. "Your pile's getting pretty tall too. Looks like it's about the same as Akutagawa's."
"Kabaji-senpai, there's a pile for you too," Ohtori said with a smile. He laughed slightly when the taller boy blushed the slightest bit. "Taki-senpai has a pile here too, and he's not even a regular anymore."
"I'm glad he isn't," Shishido said suddenly. He turned his flushed face away when his partner turned to look at him in surprise. "I'm glad because it was you that took his place. Chotarou, if it wasn't for you…I wouldn't be a regular anymore either."
"Agh! But don't tell Taki I said that I was glad he's not on the team anymore!" Shishido exclaimed with a carefree laugh, tossing more into Mukahi's pile. "This is going to take forever!"
"Let's work hard then," Ohtori said with a soft smile at his partner's back. It doesn't matter to me if Shishido-san plays singles again, he thought as he watched the older boy work. Even though I won't be able to be with him as much, it'll be fine because Shishido-san will be happy…
It took close to an hour and a half for the three of them to finish sorting out all the gifts. In the end, there were nine towering piles of chocolate and gifts for each of the regulars. Shishido had just dropped onto a bench by his bag when Atobe walked in to inspect.
"As expected, my pile is the biggest," the blue eyed boy said with a satisfied nod. "Although the height of Oshitari's is bothering me slightly. Ah… I'll go round up more admirers."
Shishido stared at the door with a horrified expression when Atobe walked out. Leaping to his feet, he grabbed his bag and Ohtori by the wrist. "Sorry to ditch you, Kabaji, but I've got to get out of here before that madness starts again. Come on, Chotarou! Let's get out of here!"
"Sorry, Kabaji-senpai," Ohtori said apologetically, picking up his bag on the way as Shishido dragged him towards the back window. "Otsukaresama!"
"Otsukaresama. Good luck dealing with Shishido," Kabaji said simply in his low voice as the two climbed out of the window.
Shishido blinked for a moment once they were both outside and his hand was attached to Ohtori's wrist again. "You know… I think that may have been the first time I've heard him speak a full sentence to anyone other than Atobe. How do you do it, Chotarou?"
"Shishido-san!" Ohtori laughed as he was pulled along again. They were lucky enough to get out of school and around the corner without anyone spotting them. Once they slowed to a walk, the younger boy asked, "Where are we going?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Shishido said, turning his head to the side slightly. "I'm walking you home." Grinning, he added, "Wouldn't want you to be flocked by admirers and stalkers, now would I?"
"I…I guess not," Ohtori said, stuttering slightly. "You don't have to, you know. I mean, I'm fine if I… I'd be fine going by myself. You don't have to go out of your way…"
Waving it off with his hand, Shishido went ahead. He looked straight ahead to ensure that the younger boy didn't seen his red stained cheeks. The entire trip, it never once occurred to him to let go of Ohtori's hand…
* * *
Oshitari looked down at his partner with a gentle smile. The redhead had his head bent and was staring at the ground. "Mm? What is it, Gakuto?"
"I know this is a stupid girls' holiday," Mukahi started, turning his face to stare in any direction but his partner's eyes as he lifted a carefully wrapped box, "but…uhm…Happy St. Valentines Day…"
Smile widening, Oshitari took the box from his blushing partner and lifted the lid. Grinning, he said with a pleased expression, "Chocolate from Gakuto? Now that I have this, I don't need anyone else's. Is this your batch from yesterday?"
Mukahi nodded slowly, his face darkening the color of his hair. He watched shyly as his partner lifted a piece with his fingers and put it into his mouth, chewing thoughtfully. "We took so long yesterday, I didn't really have much time to make more. So…sorry…if it tastes…well, bad."
"No," Oshitari said, smiling as he lifted his partner's chin. "Since it was made by you, it tastes perfect. Here," he said softly, leaning over to place his lips on the other boy's, "try some for yourself."
The shorter boy's eyes widened when his tall partner kissed him thoroughly, spreading the sweet taste of chocolate in his mouth. Feeling his knees began to give out, he grabbed the front of Oshitari's uniform. "Y-Yuushi…!"
"Happy Valentines Day, Gakuto," Oshitari said with a wicked smile, licking his fingers teasingly. "You taste much sweeter and delicious than your chocolate does. I'm looking forward to tasting more."
Some kinds of love were subtle, but in Oshitari's case, as Mukahi noticed, love was very teasing. "I guess…we can always make more…"
"I'm looking forward to it," Oshitari repeated with a sly smirk. "Should I ask Taki to come by with his camera again?"
"…if you want me to break his neck…"
"Ah…so let's go see how chocolate tastes spread out across the rest of your skin then…"
* * *
It felt a little depressing to be spending Valentines Day alone, Ohtori thought as he plopped down on a couch in his house. He sighed deeply. It was Valentines Day and his birthday, and he was sitting home alone with nothing to do. He understood when his parents reluctantly left on an emergency business conference, but that didn't mean he didn't feel lonely.
Laying down on the couch, Ohtori remembered the huge stack of chocolate in his room from the day before. Although he really was grateful for the attention of so many people, none of it really mattered much. Even when he had all the chocolate in the world, it didn't matter because he could only think about one person he wished he could give chocolate to.
The sound of the doorbell made Ohtori sit up and stop daydreaming. Sighing heavily, he rose to his feet and went to the door. Rubbing the back of his neck, he called out, "Douzo!"
Ohtori froze when the door opened to reveal the very person he had been daydreaming about earlier. He blinked a few times to make sure it was real. "Shishido-san? What are you doing here?"
"Sorry for disturbing you, Chotarou," Shishido said sheepishly, hunching his shoulders slightly. "Um…can I come in anyway?"
"Of…of course!" Ohtori babbled nervously, immediately jumping over to open the door more widely for his senpai. "I just…I mean, is something wrong? It's Saturday, isn't it? Shishido-san, don't you have things to do?"
"Not really," the older boy said with a shrug, slipping his feet into indoor shoes. He grinned at his partner. "You were going to invite me to spend the day with you, weren't you? Are your parents here?"
"Aa…they went on a last minute business trip," Ohtori explained, closing the door. Slowly, he lead the older boy towards the room he had just been sitting in. "I'll, uhm, get you some tea."
"Thanks. Chotarou, you're home by yourself today?" Shishido asked with a frown as he watched the younger boy busy himself in the kitchen. "Your parents just…left? Isn't today kind of important?"
"I guess," Ohtori said, pouring tea into two cups and bringing them to the coffee table in front of the couch. "I know my parents would have stayed if they could, but it was really inevitable. It's only St. Valentines Day today anyway. A stupid holiday, right?"
"I know it's your birthday," Shishido said quickly without blinking. He didn't budge when the light haired boy looked at him, blinking with surprise. "Akutagawa told me. Sorry I didn't know about it earlier. You really should have told me, Chotarou. It's not right for you to spend your birthday alone. So…if you don't mind…I'd like to spend the day with you…"
Ohtori stood in shocked silence for a few moments before breaking out in a wide smile and slight blush. "I don't mind at all. Thanks for thinking of me, Shishido-san. You've really made me very happy…"
"Well, it's your birthday," Shishido mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. "You should be happy. Oh, and I…" Reluctantly, Shishido pulled a box out of his bag and held it out to the other boy. "I kind of made you something…"
Taking the box, Ohtori carefully unwrapped it and lifted the lid. Suddenly, it felt as if his heart would explode from happiness. "Chocolate, Shishido-san? I thought you didn't like chocolate either."
Shrugging, Shishido shifted his eyes to avoid Ohtori's happy expression. His blush darkened. "Just because I don't like it doesn't mean you might not. I…actually spent a long time making it, so I hope it's ok…"
"You made this for me?" Ohtori asked, his smile widening. "Now I don't want to eat it. I think I want to keep it."
"…if you think I'm a bad cook, you could just say so," Shishido said gruffly, dropping himself down on the couch. "Well, if it tastes bad, I can blame it on Oshitari. He's the one that taught me to make it."
"I'll have to try a piece then," Ohtori said with a laugh, sitting down next to Shishido as he popped a piece into his mouth. He chewed for a moment before smiling brightly at his senpai. "It's really good, Shishido-san. Very sweet, but it feels like you put all your hard work into it. Thank you."
Shishido felt his heart suddenly thump when Ohtori smiled so brightly at him. His cheeks darkened as his heart pounded faster. Maybe this is what it feels like to like someone… "Chotarou…" he said slowly, lifting his eyes to meet the other boy's before the fluttered closed. Nervously, he leaned forward and placed a very soft and gentle kiss on his lips. "H-Happy Birthday…"
Ohtori's face darkened to match the color of his senpai's face, but slowly a smile found its way to his lips. "Shishido-san… I really…really like you a lot. Can I kiss you…?"
Feeling his blush creep down his neck when the younger boy pushed him over onto the couch, Shishido nodded shyly and let the boy awkwardly kiss his lips again. "C-Chotarou…I don't want to play singles anymore. I'd much rather play doubles with you…"
"Shishido-san…" Ohtori's eyes shone with happiness. Laughing, he threw his arms around the other boy's neck and laid on top of him. He smiled happily, hearing the fast beating of his heart synchronize with Shishido's.
Noticing something on the ground near Shishido's bag, Ohtori freed one arm from the older boy and reached out to pick it up. He burst out laughing when he saw the picture of his four teammates covered in chocolate and whipped cream wearing brightly colored aprons.
"Shishido-san! You look so cute with a flowered apron!"
"…you're not looking at that picture are you? Agh! I knew I should have burned it!"
Ohtori didn't have to worry about being alone anymore and he didn't have to dream about Shishido anymore. Somehow, all his birthday dreams had come true and he was glad he had experience this new glass-like emotion. Love.
I tried to portray Hyotei as a nice, close family-like team. Kind of like Seigaku and Fudoumine, etc. ^^; So I hope that was alright. I never really did like Atobe, but I did make an attempt to fit him in! x_X;; sorry if it was messed up.
Well, I'm done rambling and I'm very tired! Thanks for reading and please review if you can! Thanks a lot! *^^*
Note on Japanese used:
- "otsukaresama" is like "good work," used after practices and other such things.
- "douzo" is roughly "please," but the way it's used is to invite someone into the house.
^^; hope that helped!
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