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12 December 2006 @ 07:37 pm
PoT Fic: Built This Way [1/4]  
Built This Way [1 / 4; complete]
this part: PG-13
Konomi's, not mine

a/n: I wrote this ages ago -- 'September 16' was the last time I edited it. I'm pretty sure I even had it beta'd by backinblack, or moshi, or both. So, this is a little ditty about Jack and Diane Ryou and Choutarou, two Japanese porn stars kids doin' the best they can … The usual cliché-fest. YAYES.




Shishido decides that he needs to walk off breakfast. Although his brother often has occasion to compare his appetite unfavourably to that of a horse, even Shishido doesn't usually have a four-course meal before ten in the morning.

The team disperses promptly once released by Atobe's regal wave. Oshitari mutters something about the original Degas in one of the downstairs bathrooms. Jiroh makes it as far as a Louis XVI loveseat before falling asleep. Mukahi has an evil gleam in his eye; Shishido has a idea that this is inspired by the underground cinema in Atobe's 'cottage' and the shelves of unlicensed pornography that accompany it. Kabaji plods off behind Atobe, who is planning a sweeping inspection of the house staff. Before Shishido knows it, he is standing ankle-deep in carpet and alone in the middle of a mile-long hallway.

He considers asking Ohtori if he wants to come for a ramble through the extensive grounds. His plan is rendered moot by the fact that he has no idea where Ohtori has gone. Shishido couldn't even guarantee that he could find his way back to his own guest bedroom, let alone Ohtori's -- at least without some kind of map.

Shishido sets off down the corridor. He is vaguely thinking that he eventually has to hit a wall when the faint sound of music trickles in from an open door. Intrigued, Shishido slips through. He finds himself at the edge of a chamber that is vast even by Atobe's standards, and heavily burdened with the sort of fat plaster angel decoration that Shishido had thought only existed in certain parts of Europe. Then again, until he met Atobe Shishido hadn't believed that there were people rich enough to employ on-site hairdressers for their fourteen-year-old sons.

Shishido thinks that the gold and red walls are a bit gaudy, although Oshitari would probably have him burnt alive for heresy if he said that aloud. His brief appreciation of interior design ended, he concentrates on the music that drew him in. It has become distinctly louder. Shishido can just see the flash of silver hair between the hodge-potch of musical instruments dotted around the room.

He smiles to himself. He should have known that Ohtori would find the music room. Music is Ohtori's mistress. He even brought his violin with him to the cottage, although Shishido couldn't convince him to play anything. It seems he's finally caught Ohtori out.

While there are hundreds of deaf alley cats who know more about music than Shishido, it doesn't mean that he can't appreciate something that sounds good when he hears it. He waits patiently for Ohtori to finish playing, which he does with a ripple of music that reminds Shishido of raindrops pelting into a lake. Then he saunters between a couple of balloon-backed chairs, slides behind a cello and creeps up on Ohtori.

He stops, startled, when he sees Ohtori's face. He is poised over the keyboard of a piano like a bird of prey, his eyes squeezed so tightly shut that Shishido wonders if he's in pain. His lower lip is caught between his teeth.

Shishido had been planning on clapping his hands over Ohtori's eyes and saying 'Guess who?' in a Mukahi-like falsetto, but he reconsiders. Ohtori looks like he's on the verge of a heart attack.

"Hey, Ohtori?" No response. "Choutarou?" says Shishido, louder. Ohtori's eyes snap open and he whirls to face Shishido, looking guilty.

"Oh, it's you, Shishido-san." Ohtori lets his tentative smile spread over his face. "I thought you were Atobe, coming to tell me off for touching his instruments."

"Why would he do that?" Shishido runs his hand over the frame of the piano. From where he's standing, he can see what's inside -- regimented lines of strings and bits of wood.
"Instruments are made to be played."

"Yeah, but this isn't your average instrument." Ohtori gives a rueful laugh. "A Steinway grand! I guess I should expect it -- this is Atobe's house, after all. But it's old, too. Real ivory keys and everything."

"That's a good thing, is it? I thought Atobe always had the newest stuff." Shishido's eyes follow Ohtori's fingers, which have drifted up to brush the romanji lettering above the keyboard with something like reverence.

A faint flush comes to Ohtori's cheeks. Shishido has noticed that Ohtori blushes a lot. At first it was both annoying and weird -- Shishido kept wondering what he'd done to embarrass his kouhai. Over time, though, Shishido has come to accept it as one of Ohtori's quirks.

"I'm sorry, Shishido-san." Ohtori bows his head. "I shouldn't bother you with my chatter about music."

"Don't be an ass, Choutarou," says Shishido, for about the forty millionth time. "It's kind of interesting." To prove his words, he sits down on the piano stool beside Ohtori. It's a huge, boxy thing that roughly approximates to the size of Shishido's sofa, but Ohtori blushes as deeply as if Shishido had plonked himself on Ohtori's lap.

"So." Shishido prods a key with his finger, choosing to spare the other boy's feelings by ignoring his jumpiness. "What were you playing before? It sounded really good."

"Oh, it wasn't," groans Ohtori. "I'm still banging my left thumb -- and I fudged the whole middle section -- and I totally slurred that acciaccatura. It was terrible!"

Shishido spreads his fingers over the piano and presses down. The discordant sound seems to recall Ohtori to himself. "What's it called? And don't you need, like, music pages or something?"

"It's Chopin's Minute Waltz," explains Ohtori. "I have it memorised now, so I don't need to look at the music any more. A good thing, too, as I didn't bring any of it with me."

"It is the same as the violin music, then?" Shishido is genuinely curious now, yet Ohtori takes reticence to galactic levels. He rarely volunteers information unless asked first.

Ohtori laughs. "Not at all! I only started to play the violin when my teacher suggested I apply to Hyoutei. You need to be able to play two instruments to qualify for their music programme. But piano is my first love." His fingers caress the keys. In a flitter of movement he produces a light, tingling chord that makes Shishido, for a moment, burningly jealous.

"Will you play something else?" Shishido stares at Ohtori's hands. Ohtori doesn't seem to realise that he's unconsciously adopted a different posture: back straight, chin lifted, elbows bent, fingers curved. It makes him look different. Confident.

"What would you like to hear?" There's something almost like pride in Ohtori's usually painfully modest voice. "I have quite a large repertoire. My sister makes me learn loads of sappy film scores for her amusement."

"Don't tell Oshitari -- he'll force you to play that song from Titanic." Shishido shivers. Oshitari once enticed the entire team into coming to his house for a film night. Little did anyone know they would be forced to endure hour upon hour of subbed romantic dialogue while Oshitari quietly sobbed his way through a entire box of tissues.

"I take it you don't want to hear My Heart Will Go On, then," teases Ohtori. At Shishido's blank expression, Ohtori rearranges his hands and begins to play a horribly familiar tune. Shishido's eyes widen in recognition and he squashes Ohtori's hands under his own to stop the sound.

Ohtori laughs like a good sport, but Shishido can see that he's blushing again. Wishing -- not for the first time -- that his partner were a little less self-conscious, Shishido smirks and says, "Anything else?"

"Well --" Ohtori hesitates "-- most of my pieces are six or ten pages long. They'll take a while to play --"

"I don't mind," replies Shishido firmly. "Am I in your way?"

Ohtori frowns a little. "I may have to lean over you once or twice, but not really."

"Good. I like watching your fingers."

Too late, Shishido realises that this is a line guaranteed to embarrass Ohtori -- even though he didn't mean to. Yet for once, Ohtori appears unaffected. He is even smiling slightly. "So do I. See they high polish on the backboard? I can see my fingers in it. It's sort of cool."

"It's really cool," corrects Shishido.
Ohtori sighs. "I wish I had a piano of my own. I have to practice on an electric keyboard."

"That's bad?"

"Yeah -- because it's electronic, so I can't do louds and softs properly." Ohtori plays a few gentle notes, followed by some thumping ones, to demonstrate. "The practice rooms in Hyoutei are great -- although even their grand is only a Kawai -- but they're always booked up, and I never get to play as long as I like. Atobe is so lucky."

"Yeah, and I doubt he even plays," returns Shishido dryly. "Probably got someone to learn it for him."

Ohtori stares at the piano for a while before splaying his fingers across the keys. Shishido can see his fingers trembling slightly, although whether that's from adrenaline or stage fright he can't tell. Ohtori's hands shake before tennis matches too.

Ohtori's colour rises steadily as he plays, until his entire face is suffused with pink. But by then, Shishido isn't paying attention to his face. His mind is captivated by the way Ohtori's fingers dance along the keys, almost too nimble to be real. Although Shishido has been known to immediately switch radio stations when anything classical comes on, he sits through an entire Beethoven sonata without feeling bored in the slightest. He even discovers that his eyes are dry when Ohtori finishes, because he'd been watching Ohtori's hands too hard to blink.

"That was awesome," breathes Shishido, and is rewarded with a huge smile. It is almost immediately followed by a wince.

"I screwed up the end, again," sighs Ohtori. "Too fast. Then again, I'm really bad at slow pieces. I always try to speed them up too much."

"To two hundred kilometres per hour, maybe?" suggests Shishido.

"I don't think you get metronomes that go up that high." Ohtori's face is deadly solemn, which is how Shishido knows he's making a joke.

"I wish I could play like you." Shishido plinks at a few keys.

"I could teach you to play chopsticks," offers Ohtori.

"Play what?" Shishido bursts out laughing.

"It's just a fun thing -- lots of people who haven't learned to play can do it. You could too." Ohtori's face is bright and eager. Shishido is regretting his impulsive outburst, but he doesn't want to appear ungracious.

"Okay, then. What do I have to do?"

"Put your right thumb on middle C -- this note. And put your other thumb eight notes down. That's another C. Eight notes makes an octave."

Shishido bites his lip and does as he is told. A cool fingertip is inserted under his wrist. Startled, he looks over at Ohtori.

"You have to keep your wrists up. Don't squash the bird."

"What bird?" Shishido doesn't know much about pianos or making music from them, but he could have sworn that avians were in no way involved.

"It's a teaching method. You tell kids not to squash the bird between their wrists and the lip under the keys. Later on, you need to be able to move your fingers quickly and easily, and you can't do that if your wrists are dragging along the floor." Ohtori puts his hands on the piano. "Pretend you're squeezing a tennis ball. That's the shape you want."

Shishido claws his hands a bit. Ohtori nods encouragingly. "Hey, you're not a bad teacher," Shishido tells him.

"Kantoku actually gets me to tutor other students sometimes." Ohtori shrugs it off, but the glow on his cheeks tells Shishido that the praise was welcome.

They stay there for another hour. Shishido is determined to master chopsticks for Ohtori's sake. He has no way of telling if he's any good, because Ohtori would probably say he was excellent even if he'd peeled off the keys and eaten them. Still, he thinks that what he's playing sounds a bit like how Ohtori's playing it.

In the end, it is Shishido who is reluctant to leave for tennis practice. He pauses on the way out to strum at a harp.

Ohtori hovers in the doorway, waiting on him. "Hey, if you're that interested, I could give you a few lessons. Nothing serious -- just for fun."

Shishido thinks of the way tennis clubs eats his life. He thinks of the piles of homework on his bedroom floor, which resemble small, unscaled mountains. He thinks of his weekend chores. His Playstation. What Atobe said about how it was high time his team started dating or the rats from Seigaku would nail all the pretty girls.

"Sure," he says. Ohtori's face lights up like Shishido's turned on a switch inside his head. "I'd like that."

+++

"No, no." Ohtori shakes his head. "What does crescendo mean, again?"

Shishido bites his lip in concentration. "Getting louder gradually?"

"Yes." Ohtori plays a short scale. "See, there. I started soft and got louder." He plays the scale again. "Then I was just loud."

"Forte."

Ohtori smiles in pleasure. "Exactly. Now you just have to translate that knowledge on to the keyboard. Listen to yourself play."

Ohtori puts his hand back in his lap as Shishido has another go. Ohtori fished out all his baby books intending Shishido to learn from them, but Shishido turned out to be remarkably precocious. Given that Shishido's not studying for a music exam, Ohtori figures that it's okay for him to decide what he wants to play. Goodness knows Ohtori would give up scales in thirds in a heartbeat if he thought he could get away with it.

It is one of the rare evenings on which Ohtori managed to procure a practice room for them. Up till now, they've mainly been using Ohtori's keyboard. Shishido comes over a couple of times a week for a half-hour practice, which usually turns into either a full-on lesson or segues into a tennis game.

Ohtori can't wait for high school. If they both make it to Hyoutei's senior high school, they'll have almost unlimited access to pianos. Apparently there about fifty, all told. It's a far cry from Hyoutei Gauken, with its single Kawai grand for performances and four practice uprights.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Shishido will still have any interest in learning piano by the time Ohtori gets to high school. Ohtori doesn't bother thinking about that, though.
Their synchronicity on the courts is also apparent here, as they share the piano stool. They never get in each other's way, even though they're sitting so close that Ohtori's thigh is flush against Shishido's.

Ohtori is a bit too aware of that fact, but his mother said that he would be having all sorts of new feelings as he became a teenager. Ohtori assumes that this is just one of them.

With a small pant, Shishido crashes out the final chords of a grade three Gigue. He's only been learning it for two weeks, and his mastery of the basics is impressive. Still -- "You still need to be careful with your speed," warns Ohtori. "You're just like me -- you get too caught up in the playing. You need to remember to count."

"I hate counting," groans Shishido, drooping.

"Me too." With reluctance, Ohtori checks his watch. "We'd better make a move. This room is reserved from six o'clock onwards, and I still have my violin practice to do."

"Where do you do that?"

"Anywhere. It's a bit more portable, obviously." Ohtori pats the lid of the piano after closing it. "That's why the piano is such a challenging instrument -- you have to adapt to a new one everywhere you go. Whereas my violin and I have been together for years; I know all its funny little whims."

"So the violin is like a lover, and the piano is a one night stand?" Shishido jams his cap on his head, fortunately not appearing to notice the way heat rushed to Ohtori's cheeks at the word lover.

Mentally, he berates himself. He's nearly fourteen. He needs to get used to hearing things like that without being embarrassed. Try telling that to his blushing reflex, though.

"I wouldn't have put it like that," he mutters.

Shishido laughs and knuckles Ohtori's head. Ohtori likes it, despite the fact that it's painful. "I know you wouldn't. You're like a glass of water, Choutarou. I can see right through you."

"Well, this glass of water has violin practice," says Ohtori. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow, at morning practice?" He tries to make it sound like an empty enquiry, not the loaded question it actually is.

"Actually, I was hoping I'd see you a bit sooner than that." Shishido smiles the small, genuine smile few people get to see. "Will you play your violin for me?"

Heat fills Ohtori like burning tea. "You really want to hear it?"

"If you're anything like as good with the violin as you are with the piano, then yes. I really want to. Don't hide your light under a bushel, Ohtori."

"Okay." Ohtori picks up his violin case. His fingers feel cold and damp, just like they do before a competition -- even though it's only Shishido.

Then again, maybe that's why.

"Race you to Block A," suggests Shishido. While Ohtori has the longer legs, Shishido has dynamite speed. It's always a close tie.

"You're on." They shoulder open the doors and streak through them. Ohtori laughs from pure exhilaration, all nerves forgotten.

+++

As one school year ends and the next begins, Shishido's piano lessons become as much a part of his life as his new, shorter hair. He's decided not to grow it back -- at least, not yet. That would mean he's just trying to get back to where he was before, when even he knows that place doesn't exist any more.

He'd worried a little about keeping contact with Ohtori during his first year of high school in Hyoutei, but it turns out not to be a problem at all. The social science stream has been moved into a new complex right next door to the middle school. It's no trouble at all to slip out of Wednesday labs early to meet up with Ohtori in the practice studios or his bedroom.

Shishido hasn't told anyone about his lessons. It helps that no one asks, even though he's sure the old Regulars (now ballboys, each and every one) have guessed. It's not that he thinks piano is for girls or losers; Ohtori is decidedly neither. Shishido just gets the feeling that he doesn't look the part. He's not ethereal or dreamy. Rather, he has the appearance of someone who builds houses for a living.

Ohtori doesn't complain about the need for secrecy -- but then again, he wouldn't.

+++

Ohtori's father insists that he examines all his options as high school approaches.

"You don't know if you'll get into Hyoutei's senior school," he warns. "Or even if it's the best place for you to be."

Ohtori says nothing, just smiles and nods. Inside, his certainty is a cold and rock-solid thing. He will get into Hyoutei, just like he got on the Regulars and into the music programme. It is the best place for him to be. His friends are there.

Shishido is there.

They go on several weekend visits to other educational establishments. Some of them are nicer than Hyoutei, some of them aren't. Ohtori barely takes them in, resenting every minute he has to spend away from revising and practising scales or his serve.

The only time he livens up is when his father takes him on a prospective tour of Hyoutei High's boarding school. Another boy called Hideki is being shown around at the same time. Ohtori vaguely recognises him from Hyotei Gakuen. It turns out that he's the brother of the guide, who works as a dorm master.

They hit it off while Ohtori's father is asking pompous questions about the facilities, which the guide answers with utmost politeness and hidden smiles to the boys. When Ohtori's father is inspecting the mattresses for fleas, the guide pulls them aside.

"I can probably pull some strings, if you want to share," he whispers.

Ohtori grins at Hideki, and sees his excitement mirrored in the other boy's eyes.
For him, the decision is sealed then and there.

+++

When Ohtori is accepted into Hyoutei Senior High School, he tells Shishido first. He also acts like it was a big surprise, even though Shishido assumed it was a given. Ohtori is gifted at music, was one of the steady winners in the tennis team that placed fourth at Nationals this year and, to top it off, gets consistently good grades. Hyoutei isn't about to let someone like that slip away.

Still, Shishido can't help but feel affection for Ohtori's innocent pleasure in his success. He takes him out for ramen to celebrate, while Ohtori natters on about the high school music programme and the great opportunities it provides.

"You are going to have time to teach me, aren't you?" asks Shishido, halfway through a bowl of noodles. He's honestly surprised by the apprehension he feels on asking the question. He hadn't realised that the piano lessons meant so much to him.

"Of course!" laughs Ohtori. His meal has grown cold while he rhapsodises over some medal or other he might be eligible for if he learns more Mozart. He winks, a strangely mischievous gesture for Ohtori. "I can put it on my credit list -- that I'm teaching piano as well. Of course, I'll keep your identity secret."

"Nah." Shishido leans back in an attempt to be casual, but only succeeds in nearly knocking over his can of Ponta. "You can put my name down, if you have to."

A small smile flickers across Ohtori's face, before he bends his head to hide it. "That's good. I'll be able to report your excellent progress, Shishido-san."

Shishido idly wonders if he can break Ohtori of the Shishido-san habit before they leave
high school.

+++

The boarding part of the high school is run along the exact same lines as the middle school one. Ohtori supposes that the administration, like administrations everywhere, didn't want to waste an idea if it seemed to work. So freshmen share a room; juniors share a study, but have their own bedroom; and seniors get their own suite. Despite the sharing, the rooms are far more palatial than in any of the other boarding schools Ohtori checked out with his father. The boarders at St Rudolph's had to share rooms right the way through, and there was only one bathroom per floor.

No one is exempt from the hierarchy, although Atobe tried his very best to get his own suite from the get-go. Then again, the dorm masters turn a blind eye to the fact that Atobe spends most nights at home in his mansion and has never once been present for bed check.

The dorm masters also feign not to notice the practice of night-time visiting. Most of them are Hyoutei alumni themselves, which might be the reason why they let the tradition continue. Of course, it only works as long as you don't get caught. If you can't manage to get around bed check, or if you make so much noise that the dorm masters have to turn on the hallway floodlights, then you've lost and you deserve whatever punishment is meted out to you. That's the Hyoutei way.

Ohtori never gets caught.

When Shishido mentioned that Ohtori could come visit him if he felt ill -- Hyoutei code for homesick -- Ohtori wasn't sure if he meant after hours or not, but he decided to chance it. He waits until the dorm master has stuck a torch into their room and hops out of bed. He puts on shoes over his sleeping socks and stuffs a pillow under his duvet. Hideki wakes up midway and watches Ohtori sleepily by moonlight. Ohtori doesn't have to explain himself. Hideki boarded at Hyotei Gakuen, after all. He's probably done his fair share of visiting.

"Be back by twelve," whispers Hideki. "My brother says they do surprise second checks during the first week."

"Thanks." Ohtori smiles and slips through the door. He'd made sure it wasn't fully closed when they went to bed, so that there would be no noise from the lock when he left. The dorm master knows this trick as well as Ohtori and obviously respects it; he hadn't closed the door properly when he was finished the bed check, either.

Ohtori pads down the corridor, not walking fast -- if he does, his breathing will become too audible. For this corridor he's safe, because he can claim he's going to the toilet if he's found out of bed. It's when he passes the fire door at the end that he enters dangerous territory. Barring a national emergency, there's no legitimate reason for him to have left his floor.

Most of Ohtori's building is filled with freshmen, but there are one or two floors for juniors. Fortunately for Ohtori, Shishido's bedroom is on one of them. He made sure to check where it was during orientation week, and memorised the route again when Shishido invited him and the rest of the old team over for cheese on toast. ('The team of the future!' Mukahi boastfully corrected him.)

Oddly enough, Ohtori only feels nervous when he's in front of Shishido's door, his hand raised to knock. For a minute he considers turning around and going right back the way he came. He dismisses this as foolishness. To risk all this to give up at the last hurdle? Ridiculous.

"Be cool, Ohtori Choutarou," he tells himself, and knocks gently. For two heart-stopping seconds, there is no answer. Then Ohtori hears a faint click, and Shishido is standing in front of him. He is tousled from sleep and dressed in the creased boxers and t-shirt he uses for pyjamas, but he doesn't look remotely tired.

"Get in here, Choutarou," he growls. The effect is ruined by his grin. Like Ohtori, he doesn't fully close the door -- the better not to arouse suspicion with the noise of engaging locks.

Shishido throws himself back into his nest of blankets. Ohtori takes a seat on the floor by the bed, resting his back against the wall. It's cold, and he resolves to bring a dressing gown next time.

"I wasn't sure if you'd come or not," says Shishido. He keeps his voice low. Ohtori answers at the same level.

"I can leave if you want." He smiles. Shishido doesn't want him to leave. He wouldn't have asked Ohtori over if he hadn't wanted him here. That's the best thing about Shishido -- you can trust him completely, because he never says things he doesn't mean.

They talk about inconsequential things, their conversation the more inspired for the fact that they're not supposed to be having it. Ohtori feels his eyes getting heavier, but the cold wall keeps him awake. Shishido, on the other hand, has no such stimulus. His responses become fewer and slower, puncutated by yawns. When Ohtori sees Shishido's digital clock flash 11:16, he decides it's time to go.

He doesn't visit every night -- neither of them would get any sleep if that was the case. Of course Shishido doesn't visit him. When you're a freshman you can only have mutual friends over, otherwise it's rude to your roommate. But Ohtori makes a point of visiting as often as he can. He knows Shishido wouldn't be able to help mentioning it if Ohtori's visits were becoming an annoyance. As he doesn't, Ohtori feels free to continue.

After the first few visits, Shishido lends him a pillow and blanket for the duration of his stay. The beds are narrow, and Ohtori wouldn't expect Shishido to share his bed even if it were the size of Olympic swimming pool. It just isn't done.

Yet once the idea is lodged in his head, Ohtori can't shake it. He used to top and tail with his friends when he had sleepovers as a little kid. He tells himself that he just wants to hop under Shishido's covers because they look lovely and warm and, despite all Shishido does to provide for his guest's comfort, the floor is still a floor. But a part of him knows that what he really wants to do is to climb into bed with Shishido.

Ohtori never doubts that Shishido thinks of him as a friend, but he misses the kind of friendships he had when he was younger. Then, it was all about squashing into a tent made of sheets and dining chairs and sharing secrets in tree houses. Shishido has never so much as hugged him.

No one in Hyoutei is particularly demonstrative -- with the possible exception of Kabaji, who is forever being called upon to remove obstacles in Atobe's path and airlift Jiroh to safety. Shishido doesn't stand out except to Ohtori. Even the punches to the arm that come after good practices are swiftly curtailed, as if Shishido is afraid he'll hurt Ohtori. In fact, the most contact they have is during Shishido's piano lessons.

Ohtori would never, ever admit it to Shishido, but he relishes the fact that they have to share a piano stool for those. Or rather that Shishido thinks they have to share a stool -- he doesn't realise that most piano teachers have their own chair. Ohtori isn't about to tell him, either. Although the accidental touches that happen during those lessons fluster Ohtori greatly, it doesn't mean that he doesn't like them. In fact, he thinks he might like them a little too much.

Before he left to start high school, Ohtori overheard a late night exchange between his parents. He'd got up to fetch a glass of water and inadvertently eavesdropped. Okaasan was fretting about the environment in boarding schools, and Otousan was attempting to reassure her. (A useless effort, Ohtori could have told him; Okaasan worried for Japan.) Ohtori did wonder why she thought the air in Hyoutei was worse than any other area of Tokyo, until it transpired that she was referring to the social environment.

"Hyoutei is a mixed school," Otousan said, bafflingly, just before he moved to shut the door properly. The rest of the conversation was too muffled to decipher from the kitchen.

A few months of high school were enough to make Okaasan's concerns more clear. What had been only hinted at in middle school was openly discussed in high school. Girls suddenly became a big deal instead of a background feature. Okaasan was obviously worried that Ohtori would get mixed up with a girl who would distract him from his schoolwork.

So far, though, Ohtori has been safe. He knows what crushes are, but the only person he feels that way about is Shishido. As Shishido is a boy, it doesn't count. Ohtori likes spending time with Shishido more than anyone else, but he is also able to do that as much as his heart desires (and his timetable allows).

No, Okaasan's anxieties were in vain.

Still, Ohtori doesn't see any harm in the idea of sharing Shishido's bed for an hour or two -- especially as winter approaches. It's not like Shishido saving him from potential frostbite is anything other than a purely altruistic gesture.

Sometimes Ohtori thinks about it when he gets back to his own bed. He imagines fitting himself to Shishido's back and absorbing his warmth. Maybe slinging an arm around his waist, so that he'll be more comfortable. He practices with his pillow, and doing that does help to distribute his weight better.

Once or twice, when he's got it all pictured in his mind, he wonders if he could wait till Shishido is asleep and then rub his cheek against Shishido's hair. It's fascinated him ever since Shishido cut it: at first because it was such a constrast to his former mane, and then because it started to remind him of his cat's fur. Despite the choppy cut that has never since returned to its old smoothness, Shishido's hair is shiny and looks incredibly soft. With a little effort, Ohtori can almost will up the sensation of the silky strands brushing his face.

He never dwells on it for long. It makes his face hot, and turns his stomach into a churning pit. It's never a good idea to get too fixated on weird things, but it's in Ohtori's nature to do so -- everything from Tamagochis to his lucky cross.

One night, just before he leaves, the hand that Shishido is trailing along the floor brushes Ohtori's. Knuckles bump, and a squeezing sensation forces all the air out of Ohtori's lungs.

"G'night, Choutarou," mumbles Shishido. His hand is gone again, tucked under his pillow. Ohtori wonders if he imagined the touch.

"Shishido," says Ohtori in a rush. "We are friends, aren't we?"

Shishido opens his eyes. A bit of moonlight is caught in his sleepy gaze. "Best friends, Choutarou. Idiot."

Ohtori can't keep a goofy grin off his face. He had dropped the -san from Shishido's name by accident, but Shishido didn't seem to notice.

Ohtori thinks he might keep doing it.

+++

Tennis practice gets more torturous as the months go by. Shishido relishes the challenge even as his body threatens all-out strike. He does have to admit that he enjoys the after-practice showers more than he used to -- he's nodded off in them more than once.

He stops off at the courts on his way out to check Ohtori's progress. In addition to their cleaning duties, freshmen are subjected to a rigorous set of stretching and muscle-building exercises before and after the seniors' practices. Despite his height, Ohtori is easily the most flexible of all the freshmen. He's able to bend from the waist and lay his hands flat on the ground. Most of his classmates can barely touch their knees, especially after fetching balls for two hours.

Shishido relaxes against the mesh fence to wait until Ohtori is released. He's not alone in his vigil. A number of other boys are waiting on their friends. One of them stands alone, a notebook in hand. The setting sun flashes off his opaque glasses.

A cluster of girls near Shishido are clearly not there to appreciate the tennis form. Shishido is rather amused by their whispers -- which are borderline scurrilous -- until Ohtori's name comes up.

It's unfortunate that Ohtori chooses that moment to switch to hamstring stretches. Shishido can see that his shorts ride up a little with the movement, and of course he has muscled legs -- he plays tennis, for crying out loud. That's no reason for the girls to start chattering like a bunch of brain-dead starlings, sighing things like 'He's so hot' for anyone to hear.

Shishido glares at them from under the brim of his cap, but this only elicits further giggles. One girl practically collapses against the fence, a breathless 'Ohtori-kun' spilling from her lips like a prayer.

Perhaps Ohtori senses his name being called, for he looks up. He gives an enthusiastic wave on spotting Shishido by the fence. The girls turn as one to stare at Shishido, expectation limning their features.

Reluctantly, Shishido raises his hand to return the greeting. At the last minute he touches his cap, so that anyone watching might have thought he just meant to adjust it in the first place. Then he turns and walks quickly away.
 
 
Current Mood: guiltyguilty
Current Music: Somebody Save Me (Remy Zero)
 
 
 
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Jin: nonononoscoradh on December 12th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
All in good time, my little dumpling.

As in, tomorrow.
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
h_w: Beautiful!hungry_worm on December 12th, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
I really love this. Beautiful writing style and nice characterizations, so sweet at times. ^_^ Thank you for writing and sharing! :) Shishido thinks of the way tennis clubs eats his life. He thinks of the piles of homework on his bedroom floor, which resemble small, unscaled mountains. He thinks of his weekend chores. His Playstation. What Atobe said about how it was high time his team started dating or the rats from Seigaku would nail all the pretty girls.

"Sure," he says. Ohtori's face lights up like Shishido's turned on a switch inside his head. "I'd like that."
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Blue kissscoradh on December 12th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The Silver Pair are a bit diabetogenic, come to think of it. ♥
(no subject) - hungry_worm on December 12th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hungry_worm on December 12th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on December 12th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Serenia: Golden Pairserenia on December 12th, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was lovely. It brought back so many memories of music lessons when I was in school! The Ohtori/Shishido seemed almost incidental, but I'm so looking forward to seeing more.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Gakuto: WTF?scoradh on December 12th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
I think in writing this I was trying to exorcise my own. ;D Thanks, and check back over the next few days for updates. ♥
(no subject) - serenia on December 12th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Riakessie on December 12th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

*flails*

Ohgodmoremoremorepleaseyay!!!! :x:x:x:x:x

Also, who does Inui know that's now going to Hyoutei, hm?

every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Oh noes pandascoradh on December 12th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
Hold tight, my love!

Once a data collector, always a data collector ...? :D
(no subject) - kessie on December 13th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on December 13th, 2006 09:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
Cedony: ShishidoxOhtori Have a Very Silver Chriscedony on December 12th, 2006 10:34 pm (UTC)
Arggghh...I was so totally into this fic that it was a complete shock when this part ended!!!

This was wonderful! I loved the interaction between the two, and the little flashes of humor in the story. I really can't wait to read more! ^_^
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fuji: swell sugarscoradh on December 12th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC)
lol! Thanks for your comment. ♥ Update tomorrow!
Michelle Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ: finding it hardbloodyapplepi on December 12th, 2006 10:44 pm (UTC)
-pokes self to remember to breathe- XD; Love it so far! I can't wait for the next chapter!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Gakuto: my Yuushi!scoradh on December 12th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I LOVE your icon, btw. ♥
Aiaiwritingfic on December 13th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
Oh, ooooh. ^_^ That was a lovely glimpse into what life at Hyoutei might be like. <3 Can't wait for moer.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Shishido: Chibiscoradh on December 13th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I doubt if I could correctly replicate the environment of heated competition and backstabbing ... or if I'd want to ... the Silver Pair are too cute not to write about, that's all!
Kathyangel_katchan on December 13th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)
I must say, I want more! I will patiently wait though; I can do that.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Witticismsscoradh on December 13th, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
Rather you than me! Patience is not my strong suit. Thanks for commenting!
Maxine: PoT - Silver Pairmaxine_chan on December 13th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC)
akjdsfhkas jdhfkjasd hfkajsdfhasdfsf!!!

*_____________*

...Incoherent-ness aside, basically what I'm trying to say is: I LOVE THIS MORE PLEASE OMG!!!!! AJHSDKJSDHKFJSDFSKDJFHSD!!

Really, really good!! I love that Choutarou is teaching him to play piano. Heeee, so cute! ^.^
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Snakey thangscoradh on December 13th, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
I always wanted to do that when I played piano -- teach it to a cute boy, that is -- it was the only thing that made it palatable. Never happened, though, sadly. :(
Kamikazekimutheemu on December 13th, 2006 05:16 am (UTC)
This was...amazing.

I don't read this pair much anymore because I don't think people can write it in a way that does them justice, but you have succeeded and then some. <3

*eagerly awaits next part*

every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Shishido: good combinationscoradh on December 13th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you think so! Certainly there isn't as much quality Silver Pair around as there could/SHOULD be -- and ToriPiyo seems to be usurping it madly -- I but try. ♥
Innusiq: PoT:  Silver Pair - Santasinnusiq on December 13th, 2006 06:35 am (UTC)
Do you know how much I love this? A whole bunch! Wow! And I sooooo can't wait to read the rest. Much love for the Silver Pair!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Shishido: Game overscoradh on December 13th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
Much love for comments! Thank you.
ケイトkeight_michelle on December 13th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
OMG. Beautifully written.. Please continue soon okie? Wanna know what happens next.. ^_________^ Silver Pair is ♥~ :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Star qualityscoradh on December 13th, 2006 07:56 pm (UTC)
Should be up within the next half-hour. Thanks for commenting! ♥
karorumetallium: tezubiatchkarorumetallium on December 13th, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
Me likes. Me wants more. Pwease? salksakflskasasajdk
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Silver Pair: soppyscoradh on December 13th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)
No worries! :D
let's keep it casual: KenKen 7linescasually on December 13th, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC)
RACHEL. I'm sitting here salivating for more (I realize part two is posted already, you'll be getting another comment after I read that). The candy I'm eating may be helping for the effect, but you get where I'm going with this.

I don't care if this fic never results in the boys getting down and dirty, if you just keep writing it I'll be one happy person. I love the 'realization' stage, all the quirks and the blushes and then the longing...oh. Part of why I love the fics you write so much is because of the characterizations...you could write a million general fics and I would love them all. I don't know if I'm explaining myself right... you know how there are some fics where it's too much? That even when you get to the 'favorite' part with the boys love, you kinda don't want to read it? NEVER THE CASE WITH YOU. ♥ Keep at it, darling. :">

I still have no Silver Pair icon, che. You get KenKen instead.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fuji: swell sugarscoradh on December 13th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
Candy is good. I just ate a whole tub of Phish Food and the phish were melted by the end and ... um, anyway.

I have no idea what you're saying, really, but it sounds good and it looks good and overall is very cheering, heartening etc. Shittiest week ever = could do with that, yah. You seem to enjoy it. That's so fun to watch/read. ♥

I don't mind KenKen! [jazz grabby hands]
(no subject) - casually on December 14th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on December 14th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
jazzyjello on December 14th, 2006 04:26 am (UTC)
dmsakldmsa oh my, I love this. It's so slow and sensual and sweet. It's the little things that make me melt, like:

Although the accidental touches that happen during those lessons fluster Ohtori greatly, it doesn't mean that he doesn't like them. In fact, he thinks he might like them a little too much.

Lovely, lovely writing. ♥
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Librarianscoradh on December 14th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! ♥ I'm glad you're enjoying it. :D :D