FANDOM: Prince of Tennis
CHARACTERS: Shishido, Ohtori, Hiyoshi, Chiharu (Ohtori's sister)
GENRE: drama, romance
SUMMARY: He is seen by others in many forms, a constant change of random perspective following into the next; while in his eyes, he sees only one. (2200+ words)
WARNING/S: Run-on sentences and fangirl badasshattery.
NOTES: Written for persuastrix via silver_swap, prompts = seme!Shishi, all-consuming passion and affection. Bob Marley’s Waiting In Vain is mentioned in this piece, copyright is his. And this story may or may not have been inspired by a certain Taylor Swift song, you may pelt me with tomatoes later.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.
(As You Like It, William Shakespeare)
The girls of class 3-A take one sly look at Ohtori Choutarou and imagine they see a distorted likeness to that of a blushing damsel. Instead of a long flowing gown are a brown blazer, buttoned to the top, collar meticulously folded and pressed, a maroon tie tucked beneath it for accent, and a silver cross immaculately dangling against his chest. Instead of blonde curls and glistening, bright blue eyes, short silver strands fall against his brow in a dramatic sweep of feverish longing and a dark, hooded gaze stares down in obvious disapproval at the lineup he is reviewing. Frustration, a dull and bitter ache, scarred innocence, a paradox on repeat. A certain song comes to mind – I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love - and someone actually has the inappropriate urge to hum it aloud before they all tuck their arms in, mouths hiding behind their trembling fingers, falling back in a fit of giggles.
On the other side of the fence, Ohtori barely takes notice, pushing the crumpled sheet into his back pocket, and ambles up to the next court, racket drawn and ready as his arm extends it over to Hiyoshi-buchou, who then nods and takes it without question. He’s heard their fantasy-based taunts before – "Why, it’s like watching a princess wait for her white horse to appear on the horizon!" - and has gamely learned to ignore them, seeing as these are high school girls he’s dealing with. And also because, despite his being referenced to as a fair maiden probably locked up in her tower (as, arguably, what is a maiden without her tower?), no one really finds Ohtori all that 'girly'.
There’s a shy, doe-eyed freshman from 1-C who will attest to this. She will just as happily recount her experience of falling off of the auditorium stage during their welcoming ceremony, only to have herself caught in a waiting pair of the strongest, warmest arms she has ever had the pleasure of being enveloped in. "Ohtori-senpai is my knight in shining armor," she will reply softly before nodding her affirmation. And Ohtori, who was simply there to talk about the merits of joining the tennis club (seeing as their captain, for lack of better reasoning, did not want to himself), will always remain none the wiser.
But it isn’t about verifying his masculinity.
"What’s wrong?" His captain raises a pointed brow. Shrugging, Ohtori grumbles about training on weekends and how they ought to be better prepared for Nationals, eyes distant and attention obviously elsewhere, if not wandering back and forth between the present and limbo. (Some of the girls will insist he was eying them suspiciously.) It isn’t about that either, of course; in the back of his mind, he knows they’re more than ready. But having an inapt argument with Hiyoshi is just what he needs, though no one else has to know that.
Ohtori arrives home at quarter to six, a teasing chime signaling his entrance and the clink of a teaspoon beckoning him towards the study. Their home smells of jasmine, with faint whiffs of lavender and ginger fading in the evening breeze – women and their aromatherapy. He pads over, pinching the bridge of his nose. Ohtori has always preferred the tingling smell of soap, warmly pressed shirts, and freshly trimmed grass; a little bit of the outdoors to go with it.
"You’re pining," his sister grins, tapping her pen against the tabletop as he gets there, her eyes following him with a kind of perception that scares him shitless. As he forgets to offer her a greeting, Ohtori can’t help picturing her have afternoon tea with Atobe-buchou beneath a large umbrella, watching them practice on the courts, snapping for applause, twirling a tendril of hair about her finger. And a visible shiver runs up his spine in reply. Instead of retorting, he decides to make a dash for the stairs – "I know you’re pining, it’s written all over your face," – only to be lulled in by the sweet, sensitive hum of her voice.
Normally, it’s easy to ignore Chiharu and her keen (and somewhat irritating) observations. But he feels as if there is a concrete wall blocking him halfway up – the steps feel so much steeper, spaces wider; which is why he slowly slinks back down, brows knitted together. There’s a teapot on the table, steam rising from the cup across her. It’s only been a few seconds and he’s uncertain how she was able to maneuver herself that quick, it seems as if she hasn’t moved an inch. Nevertheless, at her wave, he dejectedly takes his seat.
"Speak now or forever hold your peace?" Chiharu sighs, gaze still on him, as if waiting for him to take the first sip. He humors her, tipping the cup against his lips, warm liquid rolling against his tongue and back, fluidly sliding down his throat. If it isn’t the heat of the tea, then it’s the rich sweet taste that loosens his tongue.
"I’m not pining."
His sister tilts her head to one side and then the other, studying him openly, mouth drawn into a loose pout she probably doesn’t even realize she is making, "Oh?" And he knows that if he says it again, it will be nothing else but a lie. She’ll know it, too, as clear as day. Cautiously, he nods and leans back against the cushions, just as Chiharu folds her legs beneath the cover of her navy blue taffeta skirt.
"You know tennis," he provides after a moment’s pause, reaching up to brush through his hair, "As much as I enjoy the sport, it takes hard work to keep the guys together. Hiyoshi and I can’t afford to be dawdling with the tournament so close." It’s only half a lie now. Tennis does keep him busy, which makes it understandable for him to be tired, if not slightly unfocused. But he reasons that it is only until they get through Rikkai Dai, and then after they blow through Seigaku. And Fudomine, and Rokkaku. Ohtori resists the urge to give his hair a good yank.
"There’s the thing about distraction, dear brother," Chiharu says before he can expound some more, "You can’t force it out of your system; you bargain with it. If it isn’t one thing then it’s the other, the cycle goes on, until you face it and be done with it."
Ohtori considers her words, mulls over them, and finally, painstakingly consents, not completely but still, "I am facing it."
Again, his sister’s mouth contorts into that woeful smidgen of a pout, "Choutarou, do you still play your violin?" And he realizes that he doesn’t for the life of him know how to say both yes and no at the same time, vehemently wishes he could – while the silence prolongs and then explodes, leaving bits and pieces for him to pick up, to examine. Even if he isn’t ready.
He still isn’t ready with his back against the wall, waiting across that house a train ride away. The lights are on, his arms are crossed. He half expects to be seen and thought of as a neighborhood stalker, counts to ten silently and when it doesn’t happen, grows increasingly restless; he must be a masochist. Somewhere in the night – it is a few minutes after nine – Ohtori swears that he can hear a person laughingly singing, bluesy trills and split notes in the dark as if drunk. So don’t treat me like a puppet on a string, 'cause I know I have to do my thing. It may even be coming from the house, he can’t be sure, though he also knows that they wouldn’t keep their stereo on that loud. He probably just needs the excuse.
It doesn’t matter. A soft, measured pad of footsteps captures his attention within seconds, and saves him from having to think up a believable (depending on how well it is received) excuse. Now, he doesn’t have anything at all to say, gaze frozen on the face that stares back at him in surprise.
"Choutarou? What’re you doing here?" He flicks his tongue out to slide across his lower lip, throat dry, palms sweaty. Shishido-san isn’t wearing a cap or a tennis jersey or his running shoes. He’s in comfortable looking jogging pants, a thin sweater with its sleeves slightly pulled up, and green flip-flops. And yet there’s a familiar scent in the air, the simplicity of a pine fresh bar of soap, tumble-dried washing, newly cut grass, and an invisible bead of sweat sliding down Shishido-san’s throat. He nearly gasps out to exhale.
"Is it alright if we talk a bit?" He finally asks, annoyed that his voice has come out so soft and uncertain. His senpai doesn’t seem to mind, however, simply nods and steers him towards the house, past the front door (where the hallway is quiet, dark and empty), slowly up the stairs – "Shh, I think my brother’s still up," – and then into his room.
Ohtori’s been there a few times before, knows that there will be a stack of shounen manga in one corner (arranged in a certain order he has yet to ask about), a basketball in the other, a desk with a sturdy do-it-yourself reading light screwed on to it, and various articles of clothing strewn on the floor, maybe a wayward tennis ball hiding beneath a sock. And he figures it is past the time to feel embarrassed about it, his senpai doesn’t bother being that pretentious, which is why he doesn’t understand how he can feel so uncomfortable sitting on the bed as he is with Shishido-san lying back next to him.
"Something the matter?" The older boy asks again once he’s settled, eyes shut though very much alert, the steady rise and fall of his chest drawing a torturous flush across Ohtori’s cheeks when he realizes he's been staring far too long already. He pulls his knees up and tucks them in, his chin locking them in place.
"Is it about tennis?" In his head, Ohtori wonders the same thing – rather, asks himself whether he should inquire about tennis or about strategy and the upcoming tournament. It’s a staple after all, isn’t it? But somehow, he can’t get a word out, the conversation too strained and unreal, all because he can see exactly where it will go in his mind.
"No," he answers solemnly, waiting as Shishido-san sits up. The grip against his knees tightens, a cool brush of air against his nape jerking him stiff until Ohtori arrives upon the conclusion that it is his senpai’s breath which is fanning across his skin, that very space warmed beneath its touch. "No, it isn’t," he repeats, frowning when he meets that leveled, heated gaze.
With their eyes locked and his breath hitching, he knows the older boy can probably hear it loud and clear, Ohtori opens his mouth, tries to find the right words, and then closes it again before licking at his lips. He thinks he’s finally decided on something coherent enough to say when Shishido-san beats him to the punch, swiftly tilting his chin up to press Ohtori’s mouth firmly against his own. And vaguely, he wonders if he should open or not. He settles for closing his eyes, arms looping around his senpai’s neck just as Shishido-san pushes him down, his legs trapped beneath the other boy’s.
A car zooms past, the rev of an engine carrying up into the bedroom and they can’t hear or are really just not paying much attention; but the acoustic hum and steady beat of drums follow soon after - And your love is my relief, tears in my eyes burn, - while a zing of adrenaline keeps Ohtori in place, right as Shishido-san’s hand reaches into his trousers.
“Excuse me, Hiyoshi-kun?”
The enbu tennis player turns, recognition dawning as he meets a regal wave with his quick no-nonsense bow, “Chiharu-san, are you looking for Ohtori?” He is about to go off in search of the vice-captain in question, shrugging until he notices the twinkle in Chiharu’s warm gaze. He stops mid-stride.
“I wanted to check up on him since my brother stayed over at a friend’s home last night and I was afraid he forgot to bring a change of clothes,” Chiharu smiles, holding up a paper bag. Evidently, she also has her brother’s school bag in hand.
To this, Hiyoshi nods, though his brows are drawn together, not quite comprehending. Because if Ohtori had gone over to a friend’s home, how could he possibly forget to bring a change of clothes and his school bag for the following day? Unless, of course, Ohtori didn’t know he would be staying over. Fancying the insane thought of his vice-captain being that careless for a moment, Hiyoshi quickly shakes it off. He can discreetly inquire about the issue later, knowing well enough it isn’t any of his business. Regardless, Ohtori owes him an argument anyway.
Incidentally, as he and Chiharu walk towards the main building, he swears that he can hear a violin being played, its melody sweet, shrill, of profound emotion and the hints of shattered innocence – a paradox on repeat. And sure enough, a few seconds later, just as they turn the corner, another doe-eyed heart breaks.