Dedication: I wrote this for Sharon on the 1 year anniversary of her torishishi site Brand New Days. Kind and supportive, with always a peice of constructive feedback, I try to be more like Sharon. I hope this little fic is up to scratch.

Good Sempais
by Orphen Eritus

Part 1

Shishido had sworn to himself that he would never take a kohai. That he would never be the type of person who would lead in ignorance. Who would advise without knowledge. Maybe, before he lost to Tachibana he wouldn't have cared about it. But these days he did care, just enough to know that he couldn't make it his business.

Of all the people he might tentatively call friend, he liked Mukahi the least. There was enough arrogance in the red head to draw an easy parallel between them, and the slight likeness pissed him off.

There was only one person who could get Mukahi to shut up with any tolerable success and, unfortunately for him, Oshitari had already left for home.

'Mukahi, why don't you shut the fuck up and mind your own business,' Shishido growled tossing a dirty jersey into his gym bag.

Mukahi swung around, his hair flaring as fiercely as his temper. 'Why don't you go out there and help him, then maybe I'll shut up,' he spat.

He shook his head and pulled down his cap at the back. 'Ohtori doesn't need my help, Mukahi.'

The boy huffed angrily, grabbing his arm and pushing him up to the window. 'Take a look outside,' he gestured madly towards the tennis court. 'Normally I would say no one needs your help. But you're his sempai—'

'I'm not his sempai,' he cut in. 'Ohtori doesn't need my help.'

If it weren't for the look on Mukahi's face, he would've congratulated himself on getting the little shit to shut up. His face of surprise slowly shifted, wet lips pressing together tightly, eyes glancing downwards. He'd never seen Mukahi wear such an expression, and as Shishido glanced at his other teammates, he was surprised to see Mukahi's reaction reflected.

An uncomfortable feeling settled in his stomach, one he hadn't experienced for a while, and experience had taught him to just walk away. Reaching the door Mukahi stopped him with a touch.

His lean arms were folded over his chest, hair shadowing his dark gaze, and for the first time Mukahi spoke to him seriously. 'We thought it was an act… your coldness,' he whispered.

'You don't understand,' he replied.

'No.' Mukahi shook his head. 'I don't understand at all. You don't deserve him.'

The other thing that pissed him off about Mukahi was his intolerable ability to tell people the truths they didn't wish to hear.

Part 2

She was crying. Sobbing desperately into her hands, mascara tracking a path down her cheeks. Her letter of confession crumpled in her fingers, violin case open on the ground at her feet. He could see even from this distance that Ohtori was miserable.

He struggled with the urge to walk up and tell her to leave him alone.

'She's the third one this week,' Oshitari leaned on the railing beside him.

'I know.'

'I thought you might.' He turned his back on the scene playing out below them. 'You really upset Gakuto. He's sensitive, you know.'

'I didn't know.'

'Thought you might not,' his lip quirked into a small smile. 'It's okay, I calmed him down,' he winked and Shishido couldn't repress a snort. 'I think Gakuto might be right.'

Shishido shook his head with a frown. 'He needs to deal with it himself. You and Mukahi will move on together. Maybe separately, but you'll move forward together. I'll graduate and Ohtori will stay alone.'

'I know why you don't want to help, Shishido. I remember.' Oshitari stood up and straightened his shirt. 'You won't make the same mistakes.'

Shishido watched as Ohtori gently patted the girl on her shoulder, all the while desperately searching for assistance. In his heart he knew that Ohtori was looking for him. His felt his chest tighten, choking his breath, in his heart he wanted to go. Protect Ohtori from everything, selfishly keep him close, but he would only be cheating his partner. Soon he would be gone and Ohtori would need to fend for himself. He wouldn't leave him ignorant, it was the best he could do…

… because not all sempais were good.

Tatsukishiro was exceptional. His grades, his power on the court, and his popularity were inspiring and he'd chosen Shishido as his kouhai on his very first day at Hyoutei.

'Ah, Shishido-kun,' he would lean in wrapping an arm tightly around his shoulders. 'I chose you, because you were the prettiest,' he murmured, his lips brushing inappropriately close to his neck.

In his first week at Hyoutei he was somebody. There were many talented players joining the tennis team, but Tatsuki had chosen him. If a little beauty had tipped him above the others, he paid no attention to the talk.

There was plenty of talk. Enough talk, that he was called to the nurse to discuss the appropriateness of their relationship. He didn't care about the whispers of his peers or the frowns of the faculty members. If Tatsuki had ever been inappropriate towards him, he wouldn't have refused.

His sempai loved his hair and played with it often. Sometimes gently, sometimes rough. He would recline against him in the grass, while Tatsuki smoked with one hand, and combed his other hand through his hair. The hardness of his erection straining against the front of his pants, as he resisted the urge to rub up against him. For all the talk circulating the school, Tatsuki didn't seem to like that kind of thing.

So he repressed his attraction

Being with him was an agonizing combination of joy, fear and damp sweaty skin. His first year at Hyoutei entirely revolved around him, building the tension between them, until he could barely remember the moments they spent apart. He couldn't remember if people had tried to help him. If they had they would found his sardonic laugh their only response.

The imminent graduation of his sempai meant nothing to him. Only a small bump in their relationship.

Celebrating Tatsuki's acceptance into Toudai, they partied like salary men. Late, long and with as much booze as possible. He'd never been drunk before, but then he'd never done a lot of things until Tatsuki showed him how.

Drunk and flushed with excitement, Shishido relaxed his guard, their bodies pressing together. Tatsuki wrapped an arm around his waist, palm hot against his hip. Tatsuki let him press closer, and ran his rough hand through his loose hair. Recklessly, Shishido cupped his hand over his sempai's covered cock and awkwardly rubbed, heart pounding at the sound of his small gasped moans.

He was hauled down the street, Tatsuki's grip tight around his upper arm. Ducking around a corner, their lips pressed together with a hard grunt. His skin damp with excitement, salty with sweat and blood pounding with adrenaline, Shishido didn't resist when Tatsuki dragged him into the hotel lobby.

In the morning he leaned in to embrace him, the shove took him by surprise and he landed hard on his backside. 'What are you doing?' Tatsuki had laughed, buttoning up his school shirt. He couldn't reply. 'Oh, Shishido, everyone does it,' he drawled, looking down on him. 'But it isn't serious… you didn't think it was real, did you?'

It was as if he'd moved to a new school in second year. He knew none of his peers… had no connections to them, and they wanted no connection to him. Tennis club was his only joy. They couldn't censor him there, he was too good, and he clung to that, because it was the only thing he had.

Part 3

Shishido glanced at the reading again and marked the speed in his journal. The slight dent in the court indicated where the ball had struck down. Half a metre outside. 'Too hard, Ohtori,' he called out to the boy who was loping across the court towards him.

'Ah, I felt it as soon as I hit. Too hard,' he shook his head apologetically.

'You need to feel it before you strike,' he replied absently.

'I will. I promise, Shishido-san.'

He nodded. Ohtori would refine his control. He had more determination than anyone on the team. 'It was really fast, though,' he bragged proudly, tilting the reader so Ohtori could read it.

His eyes widened a little. 'That was fast,' he grinned.

Shishido tossed a towel and water bottle to him and sat down on the sideline bench. 'Let's take a break.' He frowned at the numbers on his chart, it was looking pretty good, he just needed to organise the information and they would have a strike zone. A range of speeds at which the scud serve could be accurate and controlled.

Ohtori sat down on the bench beside him, towel slung around his neck, long limbs sprawled, and he jumped slightly at the sensation of his knee brushing gently alongside his.

Ohtori sighed audibly and Shishido stole a sideways glance at him just in time to see his thoughtful frown.

'Can I ask you a question? Ohtori rested his head back against the bench.

He was feeling that horrible sense of conflict again. The urge to say no, the desire to say yes. Instead he settled for grunting his assent.

'I'm having some trouble… ah, w-with girls,' he stumbled.

He'd known this was coming. Over that last few days the attentions of the junior classes had only become more persistent. 'I d-don't know if I can, um, help with that,' he replied, feeling a rush of blood to his cheeks. Somewhat grateful that the rush of blood wasn't heading for other destinations.

If he was at all red, it couldn't compare to Ohtori's complexion. His hands clenched nervously at his side. 'I-I need to know what to say to them.'

He laughed derisively, he was certainly no good as a sempai. 'I definitely can't help you. Girls never approach me.'

'That's what I need help with. Discouraging. Yoshihara-san said it would be easier to just say yes to dating one… then I wouldn't have to deal with any others.'

Shishido barely caught what he said as his mind had stuck at one essential point. Yoshihara-san. Who was Yoshihara-san? Shishido growled angrily causing Ohtori to jump slightly in surprise. 'That's not a good idea, Ohtori,' he muttered darkly.

'I feel bad when they cry.' Ohtori tucked his long legs up onto the bench. 'One of the girls played second string in my music class.'

Ohtori rolled a tennis ball along the bench. Shishido waited for him to continue. He'd learnt that about Ohtori. That sometimes he just had to wait for him to finish his thoughts. He was a naturally impatient person, so he'd cut Ohtori off a lot when they'd first started working together. It used to frustrate him that he'd would take so long to express himself.

He didn't even notice when he started waiting, or when he started to enjoy the wait.

The tennis ball sailed from his hand and struck the fence on the other side of the court with a loud clang. 'I didn't even know her name and she sat right behind me... she cried a lot. It was horrible,' he shook his head miserably.

Ohtori's heart was too gentle. Shishido closed his notebook and settled more comfortably on the bench. It wasn't often that Ohtori wanted to talk seriously. 'I don't know much about girls, Ohtori, but no matter what you say, they're probably going to cry.'

'So what should I tell them?' he cried folding his arms over his head, sounding more distressed than he'd initially supposed.

Shishido struggled to answer. The truth was he didn't really know what to say to girls either, he had simply told them to fuck off, and eventually had offended the entire female population of Hyoutei. But he could hardly see Ohtori doing such a thing. The few times Ohtori had sworn out loud could be counted on one hand, and were mostly related injuries on the court. With the exception of their amusement park field trip where he'd discovered that Ohtori hated heights… he had some vague intentions of taking him back.

'You should tell them the truth. Even when they cry.' His throat tightened a little at where his thoughts were taking him. 'It would be cruel to encourage them… if you didn't, um, like them.' Ohtori looked a little upset, but nodded his head. 'You'll get better at it.'

'It's not something I wanted to be good at… but you're right. I knew you would be,' he replied. A warm sensation rushed in his gut as he felt Ohtori's hand ghost gently across the top of his, it soured quickly at the thought of Ohtori's undeserved praise.

His debt was too great to payback.

Part 4

He'd spent the last two months, day and night, with Ohtori Choutarou. He had been disgraced and tossed from the team and yet the gangly boy had agreed to help him. Not just agreed, had pushed him and challenged him to do better. He dogged him with a determination that he hadn't known resided beneath his humble exterior.

He had moved through their intensive training with single minded purpose. For the chance to regain his lost honour. Honour that he'd lost long before losing the game to Tachibana. It was only now at the moment of his reprieve that he wondered who this boy really was and what he might want in return for all his help.

Atobe had been right. Cutting his hair off had been a calculated move. An artful act of contrition. He was standing before the mirror in Ohtori's bathroom when he felt the loss. The act may have been calculated, but the meaning was true. He was shorn. Stripped back so he could start again.

And ugly.

His hair stood up unevenly, some patches cut shorter than others, a few long hairs remaining here and there. He pulled the plasters from his face and hands, revealing the concealed bruises and cuts. He'd done it voluntarily, but still he mourned the loss. If he'd looked this way in first year Tatsuki would never have chosen him.

The door slid back and Ohtori quietly slipped through. 'Found them,' he smiled raising the clippers in his hand. He didn't really want to get a clipper cut, but there wasn't much of a choice, he couldn't leave it as it was. Ohtori looked at his expression in the mirror and laughed. 'Don't look so worried. I'll be careful.'

The strong hands felt foreign on his shoulders as Ohtori pressed him down into the chair he set up and tucked a towel around the collar of his shirt. 'You'll have to trust me. We're partners now.'

He looked into Ohtori's gaze, reflected in the mirror. 'I've never played doubles,' he spoke.

'Me neither,' he shrugged. 'We can work together.' Ohtori ran a hand through the top of his hair. Shishido nodded, luxuriating in the feeling of his soft touch. He had been so rarely touched since Tatsuki left him. Today he was too tired to resist the warmth.

At Ohtori's command he leant his head forward. The clippers whirred to life. He shivered as Ohtori's fingers trailed softly against the back of his neck, a place where only the brush of his hair had recently known. Fingers ran against the grain of his hair lifting and smoothing back before being followed by the cool touch of the clippers.

He wished it had lasted longer.

He didn't remember closing his eyes, but at some point he must have.

'It looks good… what do you think?' Ohtori asked nervously.

Opening his heavy eyes, he saw himself. Short haired and battered. This would be his new reflection, his new self. He nodded sleepily. Missing Ohtori's indulgent smile. 'Feels strange at the back of my neck. Feels naked.'

'I'll give you one of my caps. I hardly wear them.'

He woke up on Ohtori's bed. The boy looking over at him while he sat by the bed. 'You were tired.'

Shishido nodded listening to the beat of his heart thrum through his veins. 'Why did you do it?' he asked.

'Do what?'

'Why did you offer up your place for mine?' He couldn't understand it. Why, on such a slim thread of connection Ohtori was willing to give everything away to help him. He knew now that if he'd waited long enough, Ohtori might have told him why, but he was impatient then. 'I wouldn't have done it for you.'

'I wouldn't have wanted you too,' he replied.

Part 5

The smile was slipping from his partner's face.

Ohtori's eternal cheerfulness was starting to falter and fail. The constant attentions and pressure from the Hyoutei girls was stressing Ohtori and throwing their game. They'd lost a training match to Oshitari, paired with Hiyoshi, as Mukahi had a cold.

It should have been easy. With two aggressive baseliners squabbling over backcourt, dropping the ball forecourt should've been child's play. Except he felt like Ohtori was distracted and not watching his body language. Despite all their extra practice his scud-serve lost them advantage twice when it flew out of bounds.

He felt a faint sinking sensation in his chest. He'd lost his temper. 'You're not paying attention, Ohtori. Where's your head?' He felt regret as soon as the words left his mouth, watching the twist of his lips and the wrinkling of his forehead. He knew Ohtori was mentally berating himself.

Their game didn't improve. Oshitari got better control of Hiyoshi and directed him in the forecourt, though not proficient, Hiyoshi took instructions well. It wasn't long before Oshitari had control of the game, exploiting their weakness on the baseline. It was his fault, he was meant to keep their side together. Instead he'd just yelled.

He wanted to talk to his partner, but Ohtori had interrupted him. 'I'm sorry Shishido-san. Maybe Yoshihara-san is right. I should just date one, so the others will stop. It would be less… damaging.'

Ohtori wasn't coping.

He didn't want to interfere, but a little investigation seemed harmless.

Of course he'd had to ask Mukahi. Who else in Hyoutei was a nosy little prick that just had to be in everyone else's business? Mukahi was a meddler. It must have been programmed in his DNA at conception, because in spite of their little argument he agreed to help.

The results weren't good.

'Basically he's perfect,' Mukahi finished with a frown.

Second year Yoshihara-san was a first-string cellist and four time national champion. His string quartet would be losing their violinist in an exchange program and according to Mukahi, he'd been grooming Ohtori to take the position. He always placed within the top ten student grades, and had an excellent chance at a music scholarship overseas. He was abnormally tall and undeniably handsome. Except for his carelessly bad advice, it seemed that he would be a good sempai.

'You have to do something or we might lose him,' Mukahi sniped.

'Lose him?' he queried.

Mukahi's mouth dropped in exasperation. 'What was I doing before I came to Hyoutei?'

'I don't know. Irritating an entirely different prefecture I imagine,' he replied.

'Pretty much,' he smirked. 'More importantly I was a gymnast. I love tennis, but everyone told me to do gymnastics. If it weren't for Yuushi…'

Mukahi didn't need to finish his thought. 'Do you really think he would give up tennis?'

Mukahi fiddled with his pencil and shrugged. 'When you, um… lost your place, he was pretty quick to give his up for you. He might…'

Part 6

'Yoshihara-san?' Shishido stepped into the rehearsal room, interrupting a conflict in artistic differences.

The tall boy turned with a snap of his head. 'Shishido-san?' he smiled graciously. 'Ohtori-kun talks of you constantly.'

He smirked as the taller boy indicated for the others to leave. 'Really? He has only recently mentioned you.'

Yoshihara-san raised an inquiring eyebrow, but said nothing.

'I'd like to talk.' Shishido lent against the windowsill and looked out over the tennis courts.

'I assume you wish to chat about Ohtori-kun, as I highly doubt you are here to argue the merits of Vivaldi as an orchestral opening,' he replied warmly pulling up a chair.

He was relieved that Yoshihara slouched a little in his chair, revealing a small imperfection. It must be exhausting to be a pretentious twit all of the time. The silence stretched a little as he struggled to come up with the words to say what he wanted. Word's that weren't, back off.

'Ohtori's a very talented tennis player,' he started.

Yoshihara nodded slightly. 'He's also a talented musician.'

If Shishido was completely honest with himself he had to admit that he'd never really considered Ohtori's commitment to music. He knew the boy played violin, and at some point he realised that he played very well. Maybe he'd heard him one day, or maybe he just couldn't conceive Ohtori as being anything other than talented at all his pursuits. He'd never considered the possibility of him leaving the tennis club in favour of music, but the indomitable presence of Yoshihara made it all the more tangible.

'I wouldn't want to see him lose his tennis opportunities. It's not something that he could necessarily go back to, youth and vitality are important,' he cautiously proceeded.

Yoshihara's mouth tightened into a thin line and Shishido was rather glad that the other boy was still seated. He wouldn't want to face that gaze as it scowled down at him from above.

'While it's true that music can be pursued at any age, my concern is your intentions. My encouragement of his musical talents is in his best interest. Could you say the same?'

He had thought out his approach thoroughly, and concluded that a calm, non-confrontational approach was going to be the most successful.

The best plans often went awry.

'You,' he spat angrily. 'What exactly are you implying?' he huffed.

Yoshihara rose to his feet smooth as glass and used his height to every unfair advantage. 'I'm implying nothing. I'm saying that you use Ohtori's attachment to influence him in your best interest.'

'What?' Shishido yelled uncontrollably.

'I understand that without Ohtori you would never have made it back onto the tennis team. You need him to keep your place,' he replied.

'That is not how it is,' he growled.

Yoshihara grimaced unpleasantly. 'Then tell me how it is, Shishido-san.'

'Ohtori did help me to get back on the team… I don't know if my place is reliant on him staying… but,' he struggled to feel what he wanted to say. Would he really let Ohtori go, if it meant losing his place on the team? Or was he about to say it for the same reason he had decided to cut his hair… for effect, for impact.

If he said it, he would have to mean it. He owed Ohtori no less.

Shishido straightened to his full height, which wasn't all that tall, and looked Yoshihara in the eyes. 'If Ohtori wanted to pursue music, I would let him go,' he paused, his throat tightening and choking his voice. '… even if it meant loosing my place,' he finished.

It felt true. He wanted it to be true. To know that just maybe he was capable of committing an act as significant for Ohtori, as Ohtori had done for him. That he was capable of generosity without expectation of payment. 'I-I want him to be strong,' he struggled. 'So he can be confident when I'm gone… why did you tell him to date one of those girls?'

Yoshihara's eyes widened and a slight flush coloured his cheeks. 'I wanted him to experience a relationship with someone else. His attachment to you…' He shook his head and dropped his gaze. 'It wasn't the right thing to do, I shouldn't have said …' He'd made a mistake. How many mistakes had he made himself. More than enough to reprieve Yoshihara. 'I'm sorry for it,' Yoshihara continued. 'I wondered what would happen to him when you graduate.'

'Me too,' he replied quietly. For the first time Shishido gave a bow of deference to someone his junior. 'I'm sure any junior would be grateful for your guidance.'

Yoshihara bowed lower. 'Thank you, Shishido-san.'

Shishido shifted slightly uncomfortably. Only Ohtori had ever shown him so much deference, but he was comfortable with Ohtori's quiet respectful ways, they seemed natural to him. 'Music practice clashes with tennis…'

'Yes, I don't suppose you will give up encouraging him?'

He shook his head sharply.

'I didn't expect so. I won't stop either.' Shishido had not expected less from such a proud and arrogant creature. 'I promise not to advise him again.'

With a final nod he turned to leave when Yoshihara spoke again.

'The way he feels about you… you know, right?'

Part 7

It wasn't easy to see what Ohtori was feeling. His calm exterior hid his thoughts and feelings. Ohtori thought about things. Quietly inside, Shishido was sure, the things that Ohtori felt were being pursued and processed. When the time was right he would say it. He never seemed to find that process, feeling then acting in the next instant.

Or when it came to Ohtori, feeling, then repressing. When he thought about what he felt for him, it would get stuck, choked hard in his chest.

His partner stretched his back, reaching up towards the clubroom ceiling and relaxing with a sigh. 'You hungry, Shishido-san?' he asked casually. Shishido suspected that his partner was so relaxed because weekend practices were generally free of his admirers. He nodded in response, his stomach growling at the thought of food. It was almost tradition for them to lunch together, Saturdays after practice.

The noodle shop was small and narrow, cloistered between a five-story walk up and a cluttered mobile phone stall packed with blinking phone cases and good luck charms. The shop had no name, only 'noodles take away/ eat in' painted in black characters on a yellow board by the entrance.

Shishido punched in their orders on the vending machine and handed over the printed tickets and twelve hundred yen to the girl at the counter. Their menu was as predictable as the venue. Ohtori always had tonkotsu and he always had yakisoba.

He leaned against the counter, waiting for the food. He could see Ohtori, head above everyone else, politely making his way down the back, keeping his eye out for 'seats'. The phrase eat in was a little misleading. There weren't any tables in the no name noodle shop. Just varnished wooden boxes of varying sizes, that could be arranged to serve as chairs and tables. The trick was finding enough boxes to have a sit down meal.

It was only a few weeks into their new tradition that they started to sit in the back corner, so they could lean against the wall and be a fraction more comfortable. And as the lunch hour waned, Ohtori would hook and nearby box with his ankle and drag it over so they could prop their feet up.

His order came up and he grabbed their meals, searching the heads in their usual corner for Ohtori. Just when he was about to double back and start again, Ohtori's head crested the sea of dark haired men and women. His faced turned and he waved to gain his attention and he hesitated, because Ohtori was beautiful and exotic in that moment, his silver hair a beacon.

They were a quiet pair. Shovelling their noodles into their mouths, hungry from their intensive tennis practice. They flicked through some of the left over magazines, leaning over each other to point out items of interest. They talked about tennis, which was expected. But over the months they'd been working together they talked about other things as well.

Shishido really didn't say a lot about himself personally, but he liked to listen to Ohtori talk. Sometimes they just talked about the latest and greatest movie, sometimes about school. On the rare occasion Ohtori would tell him something about himself. It was often just dropped into their regular conversations…

'I used to want to be a pilot,' he'd say.


'Yeah, so I could fly away from people and stuff…'

'Mm, fly away from all the shit… it'd be nice,' he'd reply.

'You could come with me…'

Ohtori sat across from him perched awkwardly on the box. His extra height caused his knees to fold in close to his body. He rested his head in his hand propped up on one knee, he was at his most casual. It was one of the things he liked about the noodle shop, it's effect on the other boy. Without the table and trappings of a regular eatery, Ohtori slouched and laughed widely. Ate with one long fingered hand flipping the pages of a music magazine and leaned towards him in close camaraderie.

'I had a sempai first year,' he whispered. Ohtori's head jerked up in surprise. He turned slightly away fixing his eyes on the wall.

'I didn't know,' he replied the music magazine being shoved to the edge of the box that was serving as their table.

His laugh was tinged with a slight bitterness. 'I'm surprised. I thought that at least one well meaning gossip would've told you the tale.'

Ohtori shifted in his seat, hand dropping to the table to lie next to his, so close. 'Maybe they tried… but I don't want to hear it from someone else.'

'He graduated… I never saw him again.'

'Then he wasn't a good sempai. Not like you.'

Part 8

Ohtori was sick. He'd picked up on it first thing that morning. The hot flush in his cheeks, slight sweat on his brow, and his glassy eyed gaze. When he asked, Ohtori had protested he was feeling fine. Not unexpected.

He'd walked him to his first class on the pretence of visiting Atobe at the student council room in the same direction. At lunch he feigned a headache and dragged his partner outside to a secluded area of the lawn. Under the tree he'd given Ohtori his 'spare water' and closed his eyes to rest. Knowing that Ohtori would rest as long as he was.

He'd thought at one moment during his half sleep that Ohtori might've whispered a quiet thank-you.

He'd done his best to keep Ohtori as well as possible during the day, so his irritation was understandable that things took such a downturn after the last bell.

'B-but I don't understand, Ohtori-sempai… Am I not t-thin enough?' She sobbed hysterically her voice high and strained.

'N-no,' Ohtori protested violently. 'T-that's not it at all,' he stumbled desperately as the tears began to fall.

Shishido stood only a few metres away, uncomfortably watching. When the girl had approached them and asked to talk to Ohtori privately, he was surprised to feel the younger boy grip his elbow to stop him from leaving. 'Ah, Shishido-sempai. Please wait… I won't be long,' he pleaded, the flush of his skin looking more pronounced.

He nodded. There wasn't much else he could do. He thought that the girl should be in the drama club. Her penchant for melodrama would've been a triumph at any school fair. It would've been laughable, if he couldn't see how clearly the situation was distressing Ohtori. Especially as his was already ill.

Shishido didn't consider the feelings of many people. His mother, Ohtori and Jirou were the only people he would curb his comments for. Jirou was only on the list because it was impossible to offend him and if you tried Atobe-buchou would be around to visit with you… he shuddered at the thought.

He'd actually thought Ohtori was doing really well, until he politely turned her down.

'I'm sorry… It all sounds very nice, but I'm afraid I can't date you.' Ohtori stumbled, looking around distractedly until their gaze met. He smiled encouragingly.

'B-but... I lost all this weight for you… I'm the vice president of your f-fan club. I-I love you, Ohtori-san,' she bowed so low, he thought she might topple over.

Maybe it was her strict regime of starvation, or maybe it was just hormones, but he thought she seemed a little unbalanced.

'Is their someone else?' she demanded.

'A-ah, no… not really,' he replied nervously.

'Then why not me?'

He caught Ohtori's gaze, in the brief connection he could feel his pleading. Maybe it was time for a rescue.

'T-the way you feel for me… ah, that's the way I feel for someone… not exactly,' Ohtori fumbled desperately.

He'd had enough and interrupted in his normal manner, rudely.

He tossed Ohtori's bag to him, it connected with a thump and he wrapped his arms around it. 'We're late, Ohtori,' he glared at the girl, glad to see she had the sense to flinch. 'Get to the courts. Tell Atobe I'll be along in a minute.'

The boy looked uncertain, his panicked gaze flicking back between him and the girl wiping her tears away. 'A-are you sure?' Ohtori stuttered already backing away. He just raised his eyebrows and Ohtori turned and ran towards the tennis courts.

He would give the girl one thing, she was no coward. Away from Ohtori's presence her demeanour changed subtly, steeling herself. She was ready to stand up to him, for the sake of her feelings. But it wasn't enough.

'Don't be so selfish,' he told her coldly.


'You're hurting him.'

She turned to look at Ohtori's retreating figure, still running towards the tennis courts at a fast clip. 'B-but I love him,' she whispered.

'And he said he doesn't feel the same,' he replied harshly. 'Don't burden other's with your feelings, it only makes them feel bad. If you care, you'll leave it alone.' He didn't give her the opportunity to reply. There was nothing she could say that would excuse her in his mind.

His heart beat strangely fast as he ran towards the tennis courts, towards Ohtori. Had he gone too far, interfered too much? He came into the club house only a little short of breath and was immediately stuck with the strange atmosphere. Where was Ohtori? Why was everyone standing around?

Apparently Atobe agreed with his assessment and said so out loud. 'Why are you all standing around, get out on the courts and warm up. Shishido, stay for a moment.'

He dropped his bag to the bench wondering what had happened in the few minutes he'd been gone. He noticed that Mukahi threw him a hurt look and muttered something under his breath, but what ever it was he couldn't hear over the slam of his own heart beat.

Atobe turned to him after the door closed behind Oshitari. Only Jirou was left behind, asleep on the bench. He watched Atobe sit down on the bench beside Jirou's sleeping figure. His hand briefly brushing across the golden locks of his sleepy teammate.

He'd been on the tennis team for almost three years, but had only been alone with Atobe a few times. They all benefited from his commitment, emotional and financial, to the tennis club, but with the exception of perhaps Jirou, everyone on the tennis team found Atobe a little cold and intimidating.

'Ohtori says he isn't feeling well.'

'Ah, no. He's a bit flushed… maybe a fever,' he replied.

Atobe nodded, his hand once again dropping to Jirou's sleepy head. 'He seemed more than feverish… distressed.'


'Your game has been off—'

'I know,' he cut in quickly. Was Atobe considering separating them? He felt his stomach twist at the thought. 'We've been off, but we're training extra hours every week,' he assured his buchou.

Atobe nodded with a slight smirk. 'I know about your extra training, Shishido. I don't think Ohtori's distraction is an on court problem. So,' he stood up gracefully. 'Whatever it is, I expect you to work it out.'

'Because I'm his sempai…'

'No,' he said sharply his voice snapping like a whip. 'Because you are his doubles partner.' Atobe paused to take a breath, he gaze sliding over to the sleeping Jirou.

'It's a hard thing to play doubles, Shishido. You have to believe in your partner, to let the tennis ball pass you by and know that your partner will have it covered, to cover the pass when your partner misses it. It's a much bigger commitment than being kouhai and sempai. I gave you the opportunity to experience that with Ohtori.'

Atobe lent over the sleeping boy and gently shook his shoulder. Jirou yawned and smiled up at Atobe. 'Time for tennis?' Jirou questioned with a yawn.

Atobe nodded and pulled Jirou to his feet. 'Shishido, why don't you take Ohtori home. He's lying down in the first aid bay.'

Shishido nodded absently as he watched Jirou sling an arm casually around Atobe and babble cheerfully. He was sure no one would ever believe what he'd just witnessed.

Part 9

He collected his doubles partner at the first aid bay. Ohtori's eyes were a little red and puffy.

'Atobe said to take you home. Probably the best thing, you're not looking so good,' he mumbled, one hand absently rubbing the back of his neck.

Ohtori nodded, quietly. 'Okay, Shishido-san.'

'I'll walk you home… catch you if you faint,' he jested lightly earning himself the smallest of smiles. He liked the way Ohtori smiled. It started off small and with each passing second grew in width until the slightest glint of teeth would set him off into a laugh. When he watched Ohtori's smile grow, he felt a warmth inside himself grow with it.

They left in muted companionship, Ohtori looking slightly cheered by the fresh air. It wouldn't be long before he graduated and all these small moments he spent with Ohtori would be lost.

Ohtori dropped his school bag on the floor in his room before flopping face down onto the bed with a huff. The boy was getting too tall for his bed, his leg hanging off one side.

'Feeling any better,' Shishido asked setting his bag on the floor alongside Ohtori's.

'Mm,' Ohtori muttered into his pillow. 'Hot… tired.'

He should offer to leave so Ohtori could get some rest. The last thing he wanted was for Ohtori to get worse. 'I should, um, go then…'

'No,' Ohtori flopped onto his side. 'I want you to stay.'

Ohtori shuffled up on the bed, until he sat with his back against the wall and patted the space beside him. 'Sit, Shishido-san,' he smiled.

His stomach flipped a little. It was strange to feel nervous though, he sat beside Ohtori nearly everyday… just not on the bed, in his private bedroom when they were all alone.

He settled in against the wall, he'd intended to leave a reasonable gap between them, but Ohtori handed him a pillow to rest on and shuffled closer resting his head.

Ohtori was hot to the touch, the touch of his forehead against his arm burned through his jersey. And there was this space, where their tennis shorts ended and their legs pressed against each other. Shishido couldn't pull his thoughts away from the places where their skin kissed hotly.



'Will we still play tennis together after you graduate?' Ohtori's head dipped forward so he could only see the top of his silver crested head.

Shishido wrapped an arm around his partner, pulling him a little closer. 'Of course, at least twice a week.'

Ohtori smiled a little and nodded. 'I wasn't worried. It's just some people…'

He knew what some people were saying. 'I wouldn't do that, Ohtori.'

'Do you hate him for leaving you like that?'

It was obvious that Ohtori knew more about him than he'd previously let on. He was glad in some way… glad that he didn't have to tell him and feel ashamed. 'Who told you?' he asked.

'Ah… Mukahi-san,' he replied hesitantly.

He should've known. 'I was more angry at myself, for being so stupid. For just believing everything he said…' his fists clenched, fingernails digging into his palms.

Ohtori was shaking his head, his soft lips muttering, 'no, no, no… It was him, Shishido. You're supposed to be able to trust your sempai.'

Ohtori's hand slowly slid down his arm and he unclenched his fist to allow the long lean fingers of his tennis partner to gently intertwine with his. 'I'll still be around after. I promise… I won't just leave.'

He felt a soft shudder ripple through Ohtori. 'I knew,' he smiled gently. 'I knew.'

But his voice was tight and his eyes a little watery. All this time he didn't really know, and Shishido might never have told him.

Ohtori let his head drop against his shoulder, silver hair tickling his chin as the tall boy tried to shuffle in comfortably. 'I'm happy we'll stay partners,' Ohtori pressed closer, fingers gently shifting between his. 'It will only be a year and then we'll be back together.'

'I don't want you to think like that Ohtori,' he squeezed his hand a little. 'You're smart,' he saw that Ohtori was about to interrupt and cheekily wrapped his other hand over his mouth, which earned him a playful eyebrow raise. He shrugged with a grin before getting serious again. 'You're smart, you may get into an even better school, maybe one focused on music. If that happens I want you to choose what's best for you, even if it's not with me… got it?' he frowned at the other boy. Ohtori nodded. 'You need to think for yourself.'

A wet sensation slicked against his palm and he pulled away with a startled protest. 'Hey— what are you doing?'

Ohtori sat up slowly with a smile unlike any he'd ever seen before. This smile wasn't just warming him up. 'Uh… ah, maybe… oh,' he exclaimed as his partner straddled his legs and settled down on his lap. 'Oh…' A groan escaped as Ohtori settled heavily across his groin pressing against his growing erection. 'What are you doing,' he asked again.

'Thinking for myself.'

His lips were wet and soft, maybe a little hesitant as they moved against his. This time when his heart told him to help, he didn't resist.

Part 10

The graduation felt a little anti climactic. He'd known he was graduating and moving onto Hyoutei Gauken High for almost two months. To Shishido it just felt like the end of an era. There were feelings he would have to cherish the memory of, because they might never happen again. 'It's all going to change,' he murmured leaning into his partner.

'Yes, but maybe for the better.' Ohtori smiled, always the optimist.


'Ah, I have something for you,' Ohtori blushed. 'At home. Will you come around before going to the parties?'

'Sure, I don't even feel like going… it just seems a little sad.' He would be grateful to get away for a while. He was feeling morose about all of his teammates, even Mukahi.

Everyone was splitting up and going their separate ways. Some together, like Oshitari and Mukahi-kun, and some alone… like Atobe. Who was being sent overseas for a year, everyone congratulating him, few noticing that he didn't seem so thrilled with the idea. Maybe it was his imagination, but even Jirou seemed a little less bright.

He wrapped an arm around Ohtori's shoulder. When no one was looking he smacked a small kiss on the side of his neck. Just under his ear where his skin would quiver at the touch. He wasn't sure if seeing Ohtori twice a week was really going to be enough anymore.

Walking up the drive to the Ohtori residence, he stopped to bow to Ohtori's parents who were just leaving. He blushed at their profuse congratulations and thanks, unable to squeak out more than a few words to them. He felt guilty every time he saw them. They always thanked him for looking out for Ohtori, and when they weren't looking he was kissing their boy's neck.

He shook his head in defeat.

'You hate that don't you?' Ohtori queried, tossing his bag on the floor and closing the door behind them.

'I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like me too much if they knew what I was doing,' he replied ruefully.

'Ah,' he shrugged, his jersey slipping down his arms and down to the floor. 'M-maybe you shouldn't, um, do anything…' Ohtori's hand pressed gently in the centre of his chest pushing him back against the wall. 'Maybe I c-could do the, ah – doing,' he suggested quietly his cheeks flushed and warm.

Sound of his voiced filled his ears and rushed through his blood… they hadn't really got around to doing things yet. A little kissing, necks, chest and maybe he'd kissed him once on the stomach, just above his belt, where he'd moaned softly and thrust his hips forward eagerly. They done a little touching, his arms, his back, the slide of a hand across the swell of his buttocks. 'Are you sure?' he whispered hotly.

Ohtori smiled nervously. 'I want to.' He stepped in closer to press against him. 'You've done it before, right?'

He nodded. 'Once.'

'I have stuff,' Ohtori bit his lip in a way that just made him want to pounce.

The first bits were comfortable and familiar. The playful tussle, the loss of shirts, the kissing of necks and nipples, but his hands strayed to Ohtori's belt and this time he wouldn't divert his path as usual.

He stalled, Ohtori lying beneath him. 'You sure, Choutarou?' he asked pulling the belt from the belt loops.

'I'm sure, Ryou.'

He popped the button on Ohtori's pants with a grin. There was one place he'd been thinking about placing kisses for awhile. 'Oh, god,' his partner whispered, flinging one arm over his face, as he pulled his pants down his long legs and tossed them to the floor.

It was strange to have his tennis partner spread naked along the bed in the middle of a weekday afternoon. To be staring at his cock, lying hard and flushed against the defined line of his hip.

He wrapped one hand around Ohtori's length and began to pump it slowly, unsure of where to begin.

'Wait,' Ohtori cried as he lowered his head. 'You have to take off your pants too,' he blushed. 'I feel silly lying here naked…'

Shishido stroked a hand down along Ohtori's long thigh giving his cock a squeeze, loving the way he bit back a moan. 'You don't look silly,' he replied huskily.

Shishido kneeled up unsteadily on the bed and undid his pants, sliding them down. He awkwardly struggled to pull them off, and fell forward onto the bed, slightly embarrassed. He finally got his pants off, glaring at his partner who couldn't help but snicker.

Ohtori rolled on his side to face him. One hand trailing down his chest and fluttering softly over his stomach. 'I'm nervous,' he confessed.

Shishido leaned in and kissed him softly, his tongue flitting lightly over his partner's lips. Satisfied when Ohtori pressed back against him, his lips parting wetly allowing him to deepen the kiss and wrap his arms around his naked shoulders. He rocked their hips together, erections rubbing hotly against each other.

They fumbled awkwardly, foreheads slicked with sweat and resting against each other's chests as they learnt what felt good, approving with little moans and bites.

With a look of determination Ohtori grasped him at the base of his cock. 'Oh, shit,' he groaned as a wet tongue flicked quickly across the head of his erection. He held his breath as Ohtori slid his lips over the head and gave and experimental suck. His breath released with a hard pant and a groan. He pressed his head back against the pillow as Ohtori began to work him with growing confidence. He pressed his hands against the bed resisting the urge to sink them into Ohtori's hair and thrust up into his arm mouth.

His hips jerked forward, balls tightening. 'Choutarou,' he grunted, grabbing his shoulder tightly. 'S-stop…'

Ohtori's head snapped up with a wet slap. 'Are you okay?' he questioned crawling up over him.

'Got a little to close,' he reassured him pressing a quick kiss to his lips. Ohtori's gaze followed him down and for a moment the just breathed together. His gut clenched tightly against the flutter of nerves. There would be no going back now.

With Ohtori's weight heavy above him he reached over for the condoms and lube, which they'd left on the bedside table.

He pressed them into Ohtori's hand. 'Ah, do you want to face each other or…'

Ohtori shook his head, 'I want to face you.'

Shishido nodded and slid a little further down the bed, placing the pillow under his hips with a slight blush. Taking the condom from Ohtori he tried to open it his sweat slicked hands making it hard to get a grip on the little plastic packet.

Ohtori's hand wrapped around his and pulled the packet from his fingers, 'I've got it.' He opened the wrapper and rolled the condom over his cock with a concentrated frown. 'What now?' he breathed.

He popped the lid on the lube and took Ohtori's hand in his. Spreading the lube over two of his trembling fingers, he guided his hand towards his puckered entrance. 'Go slow… and curl your fingers a bit.' His closed his eyes as Ohtori nodded, waiting for the first cold touch.

But Ohtori's other hand settled warmly over his stomach first, stroking gently. He tensed a little when the first finger circled around his entrance, pressing inward firmly before sliding in with only a little resistance. He remembered this odd feeling, the intrusion, the urge to pull away. The second finger gently slid in beside the first, he winced at the slight stretch, then Ohtori curled his fingers forward and he cried out, his cock twitching to full hardness.

He felt Ohtori begin to withdraw in surprise. 'No, it's good,' he panted, pressing back against Ohtori's hand sinking deeper onto his fingers.

'It is?' he asked hesitantly meeting his gentle thrusts with growing confidence and mounting excitement. 'Are you ready?'

He nodded, in reply, trying not to think about it too much. 'Okay,' he panted leaning up on his elbows a bit. He quickly rubbed the lube over Ohtori's hardness and pulled him forward a bit. 'Move your leg… over here. Lean forward a bit more.' He felt silly directing Ohtori, but they were both too close and it would be over before it started if they waited much longer. He took Ohtori's hand and told him to grip himself at the base and press in.

The blunt head of Ohtori's cock slipped across his entrance once, before pressing firmly, pushing into him. He tried to breath evenly and relax, hooking one leg over Ohtori's shoulder as he slid closer.

He focused on Ohtori's face, rivulets of sweat trailing down, sliding closer to him… as he slid into him. Until they met with a slick thump. Ohtori collapsing forward onto him with a groan. 'I can't… it's too good.'

His erection was trapped between the press of their bodies. Ohtori trembling above him reluctant to move. He trailed his hands through the silver locks, pushing it away from his face. 'Please,' he whispered against him. 'I need you to.'

He nodded and gathered his legs under him, thrusting gently against him with a strained groan, only the smallest teasing motions, that rubbed tantalizingly inside him. Sweat slicked and hot he gripped around Ohtori's shoulders and pulled him down, his partner's belly rubbing over his cock. 'Choutarou,' he murmured with a smile. 'Weren't you going to do something to me?'

Ohtori met his challenge with a grin. His legs were hiked up over the taller boys shoulders, as Choutarou sunk deeper into him, his cock pounding unrelentingly. He couldn't help but sink his nails into his arm as he met Ohtori's thrusts with a loud slap of their hips. He tried to grasp his cock with his other hand so he could work himself, but he was sliding towards the headboard with every thrust and had to brace himself with his other hand. He was so close.

He shook his head in frustration and then felt a fingers close around him. 'Yes,' he moaned pushing up into Ohtori's grip. 'So good…' he cried their rhythm becoming uneven.

He shuddered at the strength of his orgasm. Cum spilling over his belly, muscles clamping around Ohtori's cock. Ohtori thrust erratically, eyes squeezed shut, breath panting hotly. He came with a hard snap of his hips, that caused him to grunt and slide up the bed. His silver hair was slicked in wet curls. His head dropped to Shishido's chest as he tried not to collapse down on top of him.

'Ouch,' he complained, his leg cramped from being pressed over Ohtori's shoulder.

'Sorry,' he murmured, rolling off to the side letting him stretch his cramp.

He brushed Ohtori's damp hair back from his face and kissed his lips. He couldn't help but smile at the other boy. He felt heavy with exhaustion, the pleasure of his orgasm still quivering through his body. Choutarou. His arms were warm when they wrapped around him and pulled him into a sticky embrace.

'We can play singles now,' Ohtori murmured softly.

'We can?' he questioned.

Ohtori nodded, his eyes closed in exhaustion. 'We're ready for singles, because we'll always be doubles here…'

Ohtori's hand curled gently against his chest.

The End

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