Prince of Tennis, Christmas in Hyoutei

Title: Christmas in Hyoutei (or occasionally Fudomine or Seigaku) [Shishido/Ohtori]
Rating/Warnings: R for a handful of parts, but most are pretty tame, just diabetically sweet in places.
Summary: The week before Christmas in Hyoutei, Shishido makes a promise to Ohtori, everyone needs gifts, Seigaku invites Fudomine to a Sushi Bonanza, and it’s totally impossible to tell whose boyfriend Fuji is really.

If you didn’t quite catch all that, pairings included but not limited to: Shishido/Ohtori, Atobe/Jiroh, Oshitari/Gakuto, Inui/Kaidoh, Fuji/Ryoma (or possibly Fuji/Tezuka or Fuji/Kawamura or Momoshiro/Ryoma), Oishi/Kikumaru…i think that might be it. maybe. Oh, and Ann torments Kamio quite a bit.

AN: Written a chunk a day for lemon_advent, each piece is between 500-900 words for the most part, topping out at about 22k in all.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 1

Ohtori Choutarou loved the snow, loved to watch the fat flakes drift noiselessly down. Pushing his white cap back so he could see better, he tilted his head back father and farther to stare up into the sky until it started making him a little dizzy.

“Choutarou? Oi, you in there?”

Grinning, Ohtori lowered his chin to greet his doubles partner, then frowned a little when he noticed the only thing covering Shishido’s head was the blue baseball cap.

“Shishido-san, baseball caps are not for winter,” he admonished, shaking his head and making the flakes that had gathered on his own hat scatter. “What happened to your real hat?”

“Atobe-buchou made me get rid of it.” Shishido buried his hands in his pocket and kicked at the snow on the ground a little. “He said it was single-handedly destroying the team’s style.”

“Atobe-san doesn’t have much tolerance for earflaps,” Ohtori agreed, expression softening and nudging Shishido with his shoulder. “Ready to eat?”

“Starving!” Shishido exclaimed, starting forward at a trot, and Ohtori laughed as he caught up with a few strides of his longer legs. “Gakuto played Hiyoshi in the park yesterday and said there’s a great new ramen stand over by…” Slowing suddenly, Shishido glanced up at Ohtori. “I forgot, it’s your turn to pick.”

“Ne, I don’t mind, Shishido-san.” Ohtori smiled warmly, and Shishido dropped his gaze hurriedly and cleared his throat. “Ramen sounds good.”

They walked quickly through the snow, the sharp wind making Ohtori’s cheeks sting, and he watched with disapproval as the tips of Shishido’s exposed ears turned bright pink. They chatted about the Christmas shoppers that were bustling by them, Shishido shaking his head at what a ridiculous rush they were in.

“Only a week until Christmas, you know,” Ohtori shruggged. He looked as though he were about to add something else, but when Shishido raised a questioning eyebrow, Ohtori merely smiled and dropped his gaze.

The stand was operated by a terrifying old lady who barked for them to give their order so loudly that Ohtori stumbled backwards into Shishido and knocked the shorter boy onto his ass in the snow. Flushing crimson, Ohtori tugged Shishido quickly back to his feet and paid for lunch in apology. Shishido was so flustered by the giggling group of school girls behind them in line that he didn’t even protest.

“I’ll go find us a bench,” Shishido snapped, then turned and stomped off. Shaking his head a little, Ohtori turned back to the stand to retrieve their lunch, then nearly spilled it into the snow when a “NEXT!” like a rifle report rang out behind him.

“Here you go,” Ohtori held out the styrofoam container to Shishido, who had hopped to his feet off the bench when he’d seen Ohtori approaching. Ohtori sat down, pulling Shishido back down with him, and gave a bright, “Let’s eat!”

“Choutarou,” Shishido cleared his throat after a minute, “I’m sorry I snapped at you. It wasn’t your fault, it was an accident.”

“I know, Shishido-san.” Ohtori edged a half-inch closer on the bench. “But can I ask you for something?”

“Of course!” Shishido fixed his gaze on Ohtori, and Ohtori had to hold back a chuckle at how adorable Shishido’s ‘very serious’ face was.

“Would you, uhm…” Ohtori took a little breath. “Would you like to come to Mass with me on Christmas Eve?”

“Chou-Choutarou!” Shishido blinked at him, mouth hanging a little.

“I go with my family when I’m home,” Ohtori plowed ahead, as if he needed to get it all out in one breath, “and it’s so pretty with the lights and the greenery, and there’s singing and candles, and I thought…well, I know it’s not your thing or anything, but it could be my Christmas present if you wanted…”

Shishido was still staring as Ohtori trailed off, a tinge of pink creeping into his cheeks.

“Ah, never mind, Shishido-san, don’t worry about it…”

“I’ll go!” Shishido exclaimed suddenly, too loudly, making Ohtori jump a little. “I mean, I want to go.”

“Really?” Ohtori’s voice was so soft and incredulous, that Shishido vowed that he’d spend all year proving that his Choutarou should never wonder if Shishido would give him something he wanted.

Then Ohtori scooted another inch across the bench until their thighs pressed together and kissed Shishido, sweet and quick, and Shishido vowed instead that he would teach Ohtori proper decorum in public places if it was the last thing he did.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 2

“You’re going to what?” Gakuto’s eyes were round as he plopped down to straddle the clubhouse bench beside Shishido.

“I’m going to go to Christmas Eve Mass with Choutarou,” Shishido repeated, eyeing Gakuto suspiciously as he finished tugging his regular’s jersey on. “So what?”

“Do you even know what they do at Mass?” Gakuto leaned forward, into Shishido’s personal space, red hair swinging.

“I…okay, no,” Shishido admitted, scooting back a few inches, but then his hip bumped into the blond curls of Jiroh, who was out cold face-up on the bench. “Choutarou said there’s candles and singing.”

“Chanting and torches, more likely!” Gakuto’s eyes widened even further. “I’ve heard it’s like a cult! And it’s the birthday of their ancient and powerful leader too! Doesn’t it have something to do with sheep? Maybe they’ll sacrifice one to gain his favor!”

Gakuto tried to slide closer to Shishido again, but Oshitari reached over from the other bench and grabbed his collar, holding him in place.

“You don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” Oshitari said tersely. He released Gakuto’s collar and bent back over to finish tying his sneakers. “Stop freaking out Shishido.”

“I’m not freaked out!” Shishido snapped. He shot another glance at Gakuto. “Besides, Choutarou would never go anywhere where they’d sacrifice animals.”

” ‘Scuse me,” The clubhouse door opened suddenly and Ohtori stuck his head in.

“Choutarou!” Shishido sounded a bit strangled, and behind him, Gakuto gave a soft “baaaaaaa!”

“Have you guys seen my scarf?” Ohtori asked after giving Shishisdo a smile. Ohshitari and Shishido glanced around the room, then shook their heads.

“I know I had it this morning…ah well, it’ll turn up. Thanks.” Ohtori flashed Shishido another smile, then let the door slip shut again.

“You’re blu-u-shing!” Gakuto sang, ducking his head to avoid a swat from Oshitari.

“Am not!” Shishido shouted, flagrantly lying.

“Mm-hmm,” Gakuto smiled in what he probably thought was a benign manner. “So what are you getting him for Christmas?”

“I just told you,” Shishido said impatiently, reaching down to tie his own sneakers with quick yanks. “I’m going to Mass with him!”

“That’s not a present!” Gakuto wrinkled his nose. “This is your first Christmas together!”

“That’s what he asked for!” Shishido said in exasperation. “He said the word ‘present’!”

“You’re an idiot!”

“Stop it!” Oshitari stood up and loomed over both of them, making Gakuto give a little yip of surprise. “You’re giving me a headache! Gakuto, stop tormenting Shishido and wake up Jiroh, we’re playing doubles with him. Shishido…I’m sorry to tell you that Gakuto is actually right.”

“What?” Shishido, who had been glowering with his hat pulled down over his eyes, jerked his head back to stare at Oshitari. “Look, I’m doing exactly what he asked.”

“And nothing more.” Oshitari headed out the door, leaving Shishido with his jaw hanging.

“Come on, Jiroh!” Gakuto reached down to yank one of Jiroh’s curls, then jerked his hand back with an ‘eep!’ when Jiroh sat up suddenly, bright-eyed.

“Let’s go! We’re playing Atobe-buchou!” Jiroh hopped off the bench in an acrobatic that made even Gakuto blink, then darted out the door, hauling Gakuto by the wrist. “Aren’t you coming, Shishido?”

Hunching his shoulders up and tugging the brim of his cap down, Shishido trailed them out the door, thinking hard.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 3

Mukahi Gakuto peeled the plastic off the candy cane with deliberate, steady fingers, making sure not to snap the stick anywhere. Hooking fingers in the crook, he held the candy up for inspection, twirling it back and forth for a second to make sure nothing had gotten stuck to it, its surface tacky even before he’d licked it.

Satisfied with his inspection, Gakuto darted out his tongue and touched just the tip of it to the end of the candy cane, then ran it just a half-inch down the side.

“God, what are you doing?” Oshitari demanded from the other side of the booth, fingers so tight around the laminated menu sheet that the plastic was crinkling. Gakuto flicked a lazy gaze at him and took another lick.

“Making sure it’s peppermint-flavored,” he answered reasonably. To his right, Shishido gave a little snort behind his own menu, and across the table Ohtori looked over his with a faintly disapproving eyebrow.

“It’s. A candy. Cane.” Oshitari ground out between grit teeth.

“I’ve been fooled before,” Gakuto replied, bringing the candy cane just close enough to his mouth to wrap his lips over the very tip.

“He has you know,” Jiroh added helpfully, grinning sleepily with his head pillowed on his arms. “He got that one a few days ago that turned out to be cinnamon, and he spit it out and it landed in Hiyoshi-kun’s…”

“Jiroh!” Atobe cut in sharply, but the corner of his mouth was twitching. “That’s hardly proper dinner conversation.”

“It might be at this place…” Shishido made a face at the coffee stain on the table he’d just nearly put his elbow in, then gave a little grunt when somebody kicked his shin squarely under the table. Glaring across the table, he discarded Ohtori immediately as a possible culprit and eyed Jiroh’s smug, half-slit eyes suspiciously.

Figured. How Jiroh had even talked Atobe into setting foot inside this hole-in-the-wall was something that Shishido would no doubt have a nightmare about that night. The food had better be just as good as Jiroh insisted, Shishido thought as he yanked a napkin savagely out of the little red dispenser and put it over the coffee stain.

Oblivious to all of this, Oshitari was watching as Gakuto rolled the tip of the candy cane over his lips, his fingertips already stained pink and smudging the red lines on the crook of the cane. Gakuto pursed his lips, and Oshitari’s eyes tracked the movement of the candy helplessly as it slid past wet lips, just a flicker of tongue at the corner of Gakuto’s mouth, sliding back and back, deeper and deeper, Gakuto making soft, satisfied noises, until his lips were nearly the whole way up to where his fingertips were resting.

Then he lifted his eyes to Oshitari’s and blinked slowly.

And smiled.

Oshitari dropped his mangled menu, reached across the table, and snapped the crook of the candy cane off, making Gakuto cough a little and his eyes go wide. Oshitari popped the chunk of candy in his mouth, watching Gakuto pulling his remaining piece out of his mouth, and crunched on it savagely. Gakuto shot him a dirty look and reached over Ohtori to grab a napkin.

Twisting it around the sticky remains of the candy cane, Gakuto dropped the whole mess on the table.

“Gonna go wash my hands,” he announced, worming his way over Kabaji to get out of the booth and stalking off towards the back of the restaurant. Even the way his hair swung spoke of deep indignation.

On his right, Ohtori was asking Shishido what he was going to order, and on his left, Atobe was asking the waiter what they had in the way of hors d’oeuvres. Oshitari drummed his fingers on the table.

He lasted an entire thirty seconds before he elbowed Jiroh, who gave a sleepy “Nfuu?”

“Get up,” Oshitari ordered, “I want to get out.”

“Don’t worry,” Ohtori called cheerfully as Oshitari hauled himself free of the vinyl seats, “we’ll order you something!” Oshitari shot him an annoyed glance over his shoulder, and Shishido muffled his snickers with the back of his hand.

“Oh,” Gakuto narrowed his eyes, looking up from the sink as the bathroom door swung open and Oshitari stormed in, “it’s just y—”

Oshitari kicked the door shut behind him, wrapped a hand in the center of Gakuto’s shirt, then yanked him forward and slammed his back into the door.

“Something to say?” Gakuto asked, raising an eyebrow. Oshitari’s eyes were fixed on Gakuto’s stained lips, and the slick pink of his tongue as it darted out to wet his lips.

“No,” he answered before crushing their mouths together.

The door creaked a little as Oshitari pressed Gakuto into it, nudging his thighs apart with his knee and drinking in the little gasps Gakuto was making. Gakuto’s lips were still sticky from the candy cane, and they caught at Oshitari’s tackily until he swiped his tongue along them, gathering traces of the sharp peppermint.

“Uwa?” Gakuto asked dazedly when Oshitari pulled back to examine him. He did make a pretty picture, slumped against the door, eyes glazed, shirt rumpled.

Smiling darkly, Oshitari put both hands on Gakuto’s shoulders and pushed down hard. Caught off guard, Gakuto’s foot slipped out from under him and he slid down the door to land on his ass with a thump. He stared up at Oshitari, open-mouthed.

“Since you like sucking things so much…” Oshitari, stroking fingers lightly over his zipper, smiled just a little harder when Gakuto’s eyes lit as he finally caught on. Tossing his hair back over his shoulder, Gakuto climbed to his knees and pushed Oshitari’s hands out of his way.

Gakuto made short work of Oshitari’s zipper, and drew his cock out, flicking his tongue over the head. His fingers were still a little sticky, and Oshitari gave a soft groan as they caught at sensitive skin when Gakuto started to stroke him. Gakuto sucked Oshitari in deeper, and Oshitari put one hand out to brace his palm against the bathroom door above Gakuto’s head.

The other he dropped to slide into Gakuto’s hair, tightening his fingers so he could tug Gakuto’s head into exactly the position he wanted. Gakuto tried to pull back and gave a little growl, and that felt so good that Oshitari yanked harder.

Everything seemed sharp to Oshitari, the roughness of the wood door under his hand and the slickness of Gakuto’s hair between his fingers, the way the tug of Gakuto’s sticky fingers against his cock gave way to a smooth, sweet pull as Gakuto’s fingers slid through his own spit.

Gakuto snaked the fingers of his free hand past Oshitari’s undone zipper, tweaking his balls for a second, making Oshitari give a hoarse cry, then slipping just a bit farther to drive his knuckle hard into the hot skin behind his sac.

Fuck,” Oshitari groaned, twisting his fingers so hard in Gakuto’s hair that he felt a few strands snap and spilling himself sharply over Gakuto’s tongue.

Gakuto was still grumbling about the damage to his hair when they made it back to the table, Oshitari rolling his eyes as he realized that some shifting of seats had gone on, and Shishido had taken his spot so that he could steal fries off Ohtori’s plate.

Which, Oshitari reflected as he finished polishing his glasses on the edge of his shirt and slipped them back on, Ohtori had only ordered so that Shishido could steal them.

“Geez, they’re disgusting,” Gakuto muttered, reaching over Oshitari instead of asking him to pass Gakuto’s drink over so that he could drop a hand into Oshitari’s lap and give his cock a sharp squeeze.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 4

It was a sign that somebody much less perfect than Atobe Keigo was in charge of the universe that sex, unbelievably, wound Jiroh up, rather than knocking him out like it did to normal people.

It wasn’t that Atobe wanted to do anything so plebian as cuddle, but the way Jiroh was jostling his burnished mahogany bed was completely undignified. Atobe cracked an eye to subdue him with a cold glare of disapproval.

“And Shishido turned all red and grumpy,” Jiroh was up on his knees, bouncing just a little, “and making the face, you know the face, ne, Atobe?”

The hell of it was that nobody believed him. Well, not like he was advertising his admittedly mind-blowing sex life to his teammates, but he had inquired of Oshitari in a singular moment of weakness if Mukahi suffered the same post-coital freakishness, and Oshitari had suggested mildly that Atobe try harder. Or deeper. Or longer.

Doing them in several installments a week, Oshitari might finish his laps a few weeks before they graduated.

“And then Gakuto said that they sacrifice sheep!” Jiroh’s eyes widened a little and he paused, mid-bounce. “They don’t, do they?”

“Jiroh,” Atobe tugged the blankets back up over his shoulder that Jiroh insisted on dislodging, “it insults Ore-sama that you think I would take someone to bed who thought that anything Mukahi babbles has even a hint of basis in reality.”

“Gakuto’s right sometimes,” Jiroh chided, going back to bouncing.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Really, he should just roll over, but there was something just a tiny bit watchable about the way Jiroh’s curls flopped against his delicate ears, and that stunning example of a bite mark that lay where the collar of his jersey would just barely cover it. Probably.

“Is so.” Jiroh pursed his lips and crossed his arms, and Atobe was glad he’d slid his eyes open just so he could see the glide of the muscles under the golden skin of Jiroh’s forearms. “He was right that Shishido had to get Ohtori-kun a real present.”

Atobe raised himself up on one elbow to flatten Jiroh’s smug bottom lip with his thumb, and Jiroh nipped the pad of his thumb. The indulgent smirk that Atobe had been giving turned into a frown when Jiroh’s words sank in.

“Present, hm?” He raised an eyebrow.

“And there’s only six days until Christmas and everything!” Jiroh edged a little closer and nudged Atobe’s side with his knee. His eyes glittered with something much more dangerous than Atobe liked in a boytoy. “He doesn’t seem like a very attentive boyfriend, hnnn?”

“Perhaps he is having trouble coming up with something suitable,” Atobe said warily, wondering how things had taken such a wrong turn that he was defending Shishido Ryou’s romanticism. “I imagine you have quite a bit of trouble coming up with something that Ore-sama doesn’t have. I could refer you to my person shopper—”

“Nope!” Jiroh chirped, throwing his knee over Atobe’s chest and straddling his stomach. He beamed down at Atobe. “I got your present weeks ago.”

Atobe felt a twinge of what might have been panic in a lesser man, but thrust it aside with the knowledge that he was just far busier than the mere mortals that surrounded him. Jiroh was a cute little thing, but he hardly had to worry about the countless burdens that Atobe Keigo balanced so elegantly on his perfectly toned shoulders.

“Mnn,” Jiroh settled a little more firmly against Atobe and gave him a slow blink, “you got my present already, riiiiiight, Kei-tan?”

“Jiroh!” Well, clearly he’d let this situation get out of control. His own fault for being so lenient with his bipolar little bedwarmer, but that would change now. Jiroh gave a little ‘Eeep!’ when Atobe rolled them over, pinning those strong, slim wrists above Jiroh’s tousled curls. “What did I tell you about uttering those ridiculous pet names?”

“They lower the threadcount of the Egyptian cotton,” Jiroh responded dutifully, but there was still a curl to the corner of his mouth that troubled Atobe and had to be attended to immediately.

And Jiroh did make such delicious little noises when he was kissed properly, a whimpery sort of purr as he pressed up against Atobe’s chest. The warm skin of Jiroh’s wrists slid against Atobe’s palms as he twisted them in an attempt to free himself.

Not a very convincing attempt, Atobe noted with pleasure as he curled his tongue against Jiroh’s in reward; amazing what a bit of training up could do off the court as well as on.

“Ato-obe,” Jiroh murmured in Atobe’s ear sometime later. Since he was firmly pinned under Atobe’s arm, Atobe didn’t see the harm in murmuring a soft ‘hmm?’ in response. “What’s my present?”

“We’ll just have to see, won’t we?” Atobe replied, tucking Jiroh more firmly against his side and making a mental note to call his personal shopper in the morning.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 5

“Ohto-ori-i!” Jiroh bounced on the balls of his feet, making the bobble on the end of his ridiculously long, striped stocking cap bounce along with him. “Come on, come on!”

The sharp winds of a sudden snow squall had brought an early end to their tennis practice, but it was perfect ice-skating weather, Jiroh insisted. Ohtori had agreed to go along, since Atobe claimed he had far too many things that needed his personal attention to go play in the snow like a bobble-hatted toddler.

Shishido wanted to know exactly why that hat was allowable when his had been deported.

“Sure you don’t want to come?” Ohtori asked Shishido a final time.

“Nah.” Shishido tugged his baseball cap down on his head. Ohtori’s lips tightened a little at Shishido’s lack of winter wear. “M’not any good, you go on.”

“Okay, I’ll be back for dinner,” Ohtori stood up and gave his roommate a smile, then frowned when he went to tighten his scarf and realized he wasn’t wearing one. “And if you see my scarf anywhere…”

“Ohtoriiiii!” Jiroh whined again, and Ohtori laughed and pushed his teammate out the clubhouse door, giving a wave over his shoulder at Shishido.

Jiroh skipped ahead once they were outside, laughing as the cold wind whipped the end of his hat around, and Ohtori didn’t mind jogging to catch up with him, tilting his head to watch the snowflakes drift down from the heavy, low-hanging clouds. Glancing bck over his shoulder, Jiroh teased Ohtori into a race to the park and took off without waiting for a response.

They were both gasping for breath, cheeks pink from the wind, when Ohtori finally slammed his mittened palm down on the counter of the skate rental booth, ending the race victoriously.

“No fair!” Jiroh bounced up beside him a moment later. “Your legs are longer!”

“Loser pays for the skates,” Ohtori reminded with a cheerful shoulder nudge, and Jiroh gave a mock pout and fished his wallet out of his back pocket.

Jiroh’s enthusiam was contagious, and Ohtori had to force himself to slow down and make sure his skates were laced properly. He reminded Jiroh to do the same, chiding that Atobe wouldn’t enjoy sharing his bed with a body cast. Looking long-suffering, Jiroh flumped back down on the bench and tightened his laces dutifully.

Finally out on the ice, Ohtori laughed as Jiroh zipped around the frozen pond, skating in-between couples trying to hold hands and scattering small children like pidgeons. Ohtori himself chose a more sedate pace, occasionally indulging in some lazy figure eights.

“Nya, Oishi, you go too sl—”

Ohtori was just turning at the familiar voice when something slammed into his back, knocking him down hard onto his hands and knees. Wincing, he tried rolling over and found a red-head in a bright yellow parka sprawled across his legs.

“Eiji!” Ohtori looked up to find Seigaku’s Oishi Shuichirou skating towards them with wide eyes, and things started to make a little more sense. “I told you not to skate backwards like that! Are you okay?”

“Hoi,” Kikumaru grunted, rolling off Ohtori onto his own butt on the ice and rubbing his elbow. “This guy broke my fall, wish he hadn’t been so pointy!”

“Eiji, that’s rude!” Oishi’s concern turned into a frown of disapproval now that it was clear nobody was really hurt. “Ohtori-san, isn’t it? I apologize for Eiji, are you hurt?”

“I’m okay,” Ohtori assured him, wincing again as he tried to push himself to his feet using his bruised palms. Sheepishly, he took the hand that Oishi offered.

“Oishi!” Kikumaru exclaimed indignantly. “I’m your partner, you should be helping me!”

“And you shouldn’t be knocking people who are skating normally down,” Oishi admonished him, but reached down to wrap hands around Kikumaru’s and tug him upright.

“Oi, I know you!” Jiroh skated up suddenly, yanking himself to a stop on Ohtori’s shoulder and nearly knocking him down again. He leaned close to Kikumaru. “You’re friends with Fuji-kun! He’s awesome, you get to play him all the time, right?”

“Yup!” Kikumaru let go of Oishi’s hands to cross his arms and smirk. “Fujiko’s my best friend!”

“Eiji.” Oishi developed a little crease between his eyebrows, but Kikumaru laughed and reached up to flick it away.

“Ne, let’s race!” Jiroh exclaimed, yanking on Kikumaru’s elbow before zipping off, Kikumaru gasped an affronted “You didn’t say ‘One two three go!’ ” before taking off after him.

“Still playing doubles?” Oishi asked as he and Ohtori began to skate at a normal pace.

“With Shishido-san,” Ohtori nodded, grinning. The grin faded just a little when he thought of what Shishido would have to say about the bruises on his hands and knees. “I guess you are too.”

“Always,” Oishi laughed a little, and Ohtori was just thinking that Oishi looked much friendlier when he was more relaxed when they caught sight of Kikumaru and Jiroh having a contest to see who could spin around in the fastest circles, and the crease popped up betweeen Oishi’s eyebrows again.

“Hey, want to play?” Ohtori brightened with the sudden idea. “Doubles, I mean? Kikumaru does the acrobatic thing too, right? If Shishido and I can work out some new moves against you, that would really tweak Gakuto next time we played him and Oshitari.”

“That sounds good,” Oishi looked thoughtful. “We should get as much practice as possible against a doubles pair like you and Shishido.”

The sky was starting to darken, and the wind was picking up even more, so Oishi and Ohtori persuaded their teammates that yes, it really was time to go, no, there wasn’t time for one more lap, well, okay, just one mo—watch out for that little old lady!

“You’re going to play the Golden Pair?” Jiroh asked, wide-eyed, as they walked home. He was starting to wear out and muffled a stray yawn with the back of his hand as they trudged along. “Maybe if you practice enough, you’ll get a cool team name too. Hey, think Fuji-kun will come? Can I come along too? Can I?”

“Sure,” Ohtori shrugged a shoulder, half-listening as he thought about how he might convince Shishido to distract him from the sting of his palms. He shivered a little and tugged his collar closed tighter when the wind snuck down the back of his neck.

“Fuji-kun’s so cool,” Jiroh sighed wistfully.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 6

After Ohtori pushed Jiroh out the door of the clubhouse, Shishido was trying to shove his stuff in his tennis bag as quickly as possible when Atobe appeared suddenly beside him. Gakuto nearly choked on the “Baaaaaa!” he was helpfully bellowing in Shishido’s ear.

“Oshitari!” Atobe called over his shoulder, crossing his arms. Kabaji was behind him as usual, watching impassively. “Take Mukahi somewhere else.”

“Oi!” Gakuto bristled, but his bespectacled partner slung his tennis bag over his shoulder and reached over to tug Gakuto off the bench.

“Come on,” he said, pushing Gakuto firmly towards the door, “wasn’t there a new ice cream stand you wanted to try?”

“Oh yeah!” Gakuto went from dragging his feet to pulling Oshitari along out the door. “Jiroh said they have sushi-flavored ice cream!”

“Hiyoshi, go with them,” Atobe added.

“It’s like negative five degrees!” Hiyoshi looked up from where he was tugging his sneakers on. “And who the hell would eat sushi-flavored ice cream?”

“You,” Atobe answered, turning to raise an eyebrow at Hiyoshi. “Get out.”

“Geez, I’m going,” Hiyoshi grumbled, snatching up the strap of his tennis bag and jogging after Gakuto and Oshitari.

As soon as they were gone, Atobe turned back to Shishido and gave a soft ‘hmm’. Shishido fidgeted on the bench, almost preferring Gakuto’s sheep impression to the undivided attention of his captain, especially when Atobe put two fingers against his face in their ‘Insight’ position and said ‘hmm’ some more.

“Shishido,” Atobe finally said, lowering his hand, “I can see there’s something troubling you.”

“Uh…oh?” Shishido blinked in confusion.

“Yes,” Atobe’s expression changed to something that he probably thought was benevolent, but really was just an eyebrow tic, “and Ore-sama’s penetrating intuition tells me that you have not yet figured out what a suitable Christmas present for Ohtori would be.”

“Ohtori’s…” Shishido’s expression soured a little. “I appreciate your concern, captain, but just like I told Gakuto, I have things completely under…”

“As it turns out,” Atobe continued as though Shishido had merely agreed, “I have some free time tomorrow afternoon, and have decided to remedy your situation personally.”

“Personally?” Shishido swallowed. “You really don’t have to…”

“As captain and Singles One of Hyoutei, it is my duty to make sure that the team works together with no needless dramatics.” Atobe fixed Shishido with a pointed stare, and Shishido swallowed a snicker. “My Doubles One having a roommate’s spat would certainly disrupt the careful balance Ore-sama prides myself on creating.”

“A-ah.” Sighing a little, Shishido gave Atobe a reluctant nod. If even Atobe thought he was being an insensitive boyfriend, it must really be true.

“Excellent, be ready to go tomorrow after practice.” Atobe nodded, satisfied with his benevolent act of the day. “Kabaji, let’s go. And careful with Ore-sama’s bag.”

“Got it,” Kabaji answered as always, trudging along behind Atobe. Shishido heaved a sigh and finished zipping his tennis bag up.

********
“Choutarou!” Shishido exclaimed, peering at his roommate’s scraped-up palms. Ohtori had gone to pick up his school bag without thinking and had blown his cover with a sharp hiss.

“It’s not so bad,” Ohtori said sheepishly, a tiny blush creeping over his nose as Shishido ran careful fingers over his palm, exploring the bruises. “I wasn’t looking properly, and Kikumaru-kun was skating backwards…oh, he and Oishi-san asked if we would play with them, and I said we’d like to, is that okay?”

“From Seigaku?” Shishido looked up at Ohtori. “The acrobatic one, right?” Ohtori hummed a little in agreement, or maybe because Shishido was still rubbing slow circles on his hands. “I’d like that, it’ll really tweak Gakuto if we learn some new moves against him…oh, but not tomorrow, right?”

“No, in a few days,” Ohtori shook his head. “I’m training with Hiyoshi tomorrow afternoon, remember? Why, do you have plans too?”

“Oh, you know,” Shishido dropped Ohtori’s hands and ran his hands through his hair, fingers still combing the air for a few extra inches, “just some errands to run. Christmas is only five days away, you know.”

“I know.” Ohtori chuckled, leaning forward to slip Shishido a kiss at the reminder of Shishido’s promise.

Now that there weren’t any schoolgirls watching, Shishido saw no problem with hooking his fingers through Ohtori’s belt loops and tugging him closer with a growl of approval. He shivered when Ohtori sighed and brought a hand up to rest against the back of Shishido’s neck, and pressed closer until their knees bumped.

“Ow!” Ohtori gasped suddenly, startling Shishido. But after a second, he raised his eyebrows at the blushing Ohtori.

“Knees too?” he inquired, and Ohtori nodded dutifully. “Oh, Choutarou…”

“Feel free to kiss it better,” Ohtori suggested, reaching down to flip the button of his jeans open.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 7

“What’ll you have?” the ice cream stand vendor asked. Hiyoshi stared at the little cardboard menu helplessly.

“What did you get?” he asked Oshitari over his shoulder. Oshitari’s ice cream was sort of white with a darker swirl running through it. It looked almost like edible ice cream.

“Eel.” Oshitari took another small lick. “You know it really does taste like…”

“Eurgh.” Hiyoshi turned back to the vendor with a pleading expression. “Don’t you have anything that’s normal?”

“I think I might have some sweet cream ice cream somewhere,” the vendor heaved a long-suffering sigh, “from when I made the Philadelphia Roll.”

“It’s really good!” Gakuto announced around a mouthful of the ice cream flavor in question, and Hiyoshi blanched. There was no way that ice cream was supposed to all pink and fishy like that.

Oshitari, meanwhile, was reluctantly enjoying his eel ice cream. If you got too much at once, it was a little overpowering, so he was working around his cone methodically in a series of small, careful licks. After working around the base of the cone like this several times, the top of the cone was developing a skinny peak that was beginning to list to one side. Oshitari solved the problem by covering the top of the ice cream with his mouth and sucking the unbalanced part off.

When he glanced up, Gakuto was staring at him, mouth open a little, and Philadelphia Roll ice cream dripping down the back of his hand.

“Your ice cream,” Oshitari pointed out casually, and Gakuto made a startled noise when he noticed his melting cone. “Here, let me help.”

Pulling Gakuto’s unresisting, ice-cream holding hand up to his mouth, Oshitari met Gakuto’s gaze and licked a broad stripe up the back of Gakuto’s hand.

“Yu-yuushi!” Gakuto squawked, and Oshitari failed miserably not to smirk.

“Not bad,” he commented, releasing Gakuto’s hand, and Gakuto nearly dropped his ice cream. “The aftertaste’s a bit questionable, though.”

“Oi!” Gakuto protested, and clearly was about to tell Oshitari exactly what he could taste, but Hiyoshi turned around just then and joined them.

“Well, it’s certainly the most normal one,” he commented on his cone, taking a cautious bite.

“The only normal thing here, trust me,” Gakuto muttered darkly, then took a large bite of his ice cream when Hiyoshi asked what he’d said.



Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 6 Omake [Shishido/Ohtori, PG-13]

“Feel free to kiss it better,” Ohtori suggested, reaching down to flip the button of his jeans open.

“Lemme help you with that,” Shishido purred, moving closer against and sliding his hands against Ohtori’s waist under his shirt. Ohtori gave a hum of approval when Shishido’s warm palms slid against his skin, still chilled from ice skating.

Ohtori gave a yelp when Shishido, instead of tugging Ohtori’s jeans down, took a tighter grip on his waist and used it to pick him up and deposit him on his bed with a thump.

“Shishido!” Ohtori exclaimed indignantly, but he laughed as he bounced a little on the mattress. He tried to catch Shishido’s arms and yank him down as well, but Shishido slid his fingers up to tickle across Ohtori’s ribs, and Ohtori spasmed and tried to twist away.

Shishido gave him a little shove down onto his back, and then finally took ahold of Ohtori’s jeans and stripped them off. He settled on his own knees in between Ohtori’s to inspect the damage.

“Ne, it’s not so bad,” Ohtori assured, lifting himself up on his elbows to watch Shishido. The skin wasn’t broken, like on his palms, but the bruises were a deep, angry red, and promised to bloom spectacularly across his knees by morning. Shishido rolled his eyes.

“Not too bad, hmm?” He asked, running warm fingers around the edges of the bruises, making Ohtori shiver a little. “This’ll make a few things that you really like to do kind of painful for the next few days, you realize.”

“Things I…” Ohtori’s brow creased in puzzlement until Shishido leaned forward and nipped the skin high up on Ohtori’s inner thigh. “Oh!” Ohtori looked suddenly disgruntled. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

Wanting to wipe the irritation off Ohtori’s features, Shishido crawled up onto the bed beside him and kissed him. He slid one hand under Ohtori’s shirt again and rubbed fingers over the bumps of his spine until he had an armful of warm, melty Ohtori.

“Not the end of the world,” he pulled back to assure. Ohtori blinked at him with glazed eyes. “We’ll just have to, you know, try some different things.”

“You’re way too vanilla for that,” Ohtori responded, then slapped a hand over his mouth when he realized what he’d blurted out. Shishido turned bright red and growled a little.

“I was talking,” he informed a chagrined Ohtori, “about me sucking you off for a change. But if you aren’t interested…”

“I’m interested!” Ohtori interrupted, flushing a little himself. He squeaked when Shishido took a chunk of Ohtori’s side between his fingers and pinched. Ohtori sidled closer and nuzzled the underside of Shishido’s jaw. “You know I’m interested,” he purred soothingly.

“Hmm.” Shishido’s gruff face lasted a few seconds longer, until Ohtori slipped long fingers into his hair and started rubbing little circles against his scalp. The hand against Ohtori’s back slipped down so that he could run fingers just under the waistband of Ohtori’s underwear. “Well okay then.”

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 8

Early mornings were generally when Ohtori would go for a sunrise run, when Hyoutei was peaceful and deserted, but today he was on a mission: his scarf must be somewhere on this campus, and he was going to find it!

Ohtori had searched his classroom and the clubhouse yesterday already, so that left only a few places it might be. He’d already checked the tree most of team ate lunch near, peering up in the branches in case Gakuto had stolen the scarf and climbed up with it, then forgotten about it.

Then he’d checked every single place on the courts he’d been in the last week. He had climbed up the ref’s chair he’d used during Kabaji and Jiroh’s practice match, then he’d scuffed his foot in the snow along the fence where he’d watched Oshitari get his ass handed to him by Hiyoshi, and he’d even squeezed under the bleachers where he’d dragged Shishido the other day when he’d refused to be nuzzled in public.

No luck. Not on the steps he’d done homework on, not in the bushes he’d found Jiroh sleeping under, not in the parking lot where he’d been skidding across the ice for fun with Gakuto.

Defeated, Ohtori trudged back to his dormitory, shivering as the pale winter sunrise did little to ward off the chill of the wind knifing down the back of his neck.

When he managed to get his key in the lock despite his numb fingers and pushed the door open, he found Shishido still in bed, on his stomach under the covers, finishing up some homework he hadn’t done the night before. Ohtori chuckled at the way Shishido’s hair stuck up in half a dozen different directions, and Shishido looked up at the sound, eyes warm and sleepy.

“No scarf,” Ohtori sighed, coming over when Shishido beckoned and sitting down on the side of the bed. He stripped off his coat and dropped it to the floor as Shishido reached up to brush a thumb over Ohtori’s cheekbone.

“You’re freezing!” Shishido said, disapprovingly. He got to his knees, the sheet slipping off to reveal that he was wearing exactly the same nothing he’d worn to bed last night, and grabbed the hem of Ohtori’s shirt. “I’ll fix that.”

“Shishido-san, taking off my clothes isn’t going to make me any warmer!” Ohtori laughed as Shishido stripped him in a series of efficient tugs. “Besides, you have homework to finish.”

“You’re a lot cuter than geometry,” Shishido replied, using his knee to shove his book of the bed, sending papers scattering and making Ohtori blush. “And the best way to regain body heat is to curl up naked with somebody else naked.”

“That so?” Ohtori raised an eyebrow as Shishido shoved Ohtori’s jeans out of the way and drew him under the covers, rolling over to cover the taller boy’s body with his own.

“Geez, I hope so,” Shishido gasped as his warm skin slid against Ohtori’s chilled body, “cause there’s not going to be any fooling around when my balls are trying to crawl inside me like that.”

Ohtori murmured something in agreement and pressed happily against Shishido’s warmth, hissing just a little as his bruised knees bumped Shishido’s. He ran fingers down Shishido’s spine and snickered wickedly at the way it made him squirm.

“Fuck! Choutarou!” Shishido jumped when Ohtori let his cold fingers slip down past the curve of Shishido’s ass and brush against his balls. “What did I just say about that?!”

Ohtori’s laughter turned into a groan when Shishido nipped his shoulder and shifted just a little to the left so that their erections were sliding together.

“Maybe a little friction will warm things up down there,” he growled in Ohtori’s ear, and Ohtori groaned again, louder. Shishido colored and hoped that their neighbors were still asleep.

“You know,” Ohtori said, voice deepening as Shishido thrust again, “it’s really cute that you still blush like that when you’ve licked virtually every inch of my body.”

“Are you going to keep talking like that the whole time?” Shishido’s blush deepened, but he didn’t stop rocking his hips into Ohtori’s.

“I could if you wanted.” Ohtori hooked one knee around Shishido’s and leaned up to whisper silkily in his ear. He wasn’t oblivious to the way that Shishido was shivering under his palms when his breath puffed over Shishido’s skin. “Cause it isn’t just the outside of me you’ve licked, you know…”

It was Shishido who groaned too loudly this time, and his hands clenched in the blankets on either side of Ohtori’s shoulders. Shishido buried his burning face in the curve of Ohtori’s neck, and Ohtori slid lips over his cheek and ear.

“I was under the bleachers this morning,” Ohtori added, voice growing unsteady. “I was thinking about the time you pulled me under there and told me to leave my jersey on while you had your lips wrapped around me…”

His moans muffled against Ohtori’s skin, Shishido shuddered and spilled across Ohtori’s stomach, slick and hot, then collapsed in a trembling heap against Ohtori’s chest.

“Mm, Choutarou,” Shishido mumbled as Ohtori ran soothing hands over his shaking back and arms, “y’poking me.”

“So sorry,” Ohtori murmured in reply, flexing his hips so that the tip of his erection ran over the ridges of Shishido’s abdomen.

“Nuh huh,” Shishido cracked an eye to peer at Ohtori, failing utterly to suppress the smirk. He pushed himself to his knees and pressed an open-mouthed kiss to Ohtori’s sternum. “I think you were saying something about me licking you all over?”

“Shishido-saaaan,” Ohtori groaned, burying hands in Shishido’s hair and arching towards him. Shishido smirked harder and held Ohtori down by the shoulders.

Edging down slowly, Shishido dropped a kiss against Ohtori’s throat, then wrapped his lips around a nipple and gave a quick tug, and then moved down even further and dragged his tongue through one of the white streaks smeared below Ohtori’s ribs. Ohtori gasped Shishido’s name again, and if tasting himself on Ohtori was a bit weird, the way Ohtori’s toes curled against his thighs was well worth it.

“And then I think,” Shishido purred, sliding just a little lower and pressing thumbs against Ohtori’s hipbones, “you mentioned something like this…”

He would definitely be hearing about that moan from their neighbors, Shishido reflected, but in the wash of warmth that filled him from hearing Ohtori cry out his first name for once, and especially with the hot weight of Ohtori sliding over his tongue, it was hard to care.

Christmas in Hyoutei Seigaku: Part 9

At the end of practice, Tezuka called a meeting of the Regulars. They gathered on the end of Court A in a huddle against the wind and stared at the captain expectantly.

“Kawamura has an announcement,” Tezuka reported, and stepped aside as Kawamura took a few steps forward and turned to face everyone.

“Ah, well…” Kawamura stuttered a little under the pressure of the team’s gaze, “I was just thinking…it’s the season and all, and…so I had this idea…”

“Taka-saaaaan!” Eiji whined. He was bouncing on the balls of his feet with his arms wrapped tightly around himself despite his jacket. “Hurry up, it’s freezing out here!”

“Here,” Fuji held out Kawamura’s racket, and he took it with a mumbled “Thanks, Fujiko.”

“SUSHI BONANZA!” he roared as soon as he had a good grip, making Eiji hop back a step into Ryoma. “T’is the season to PARTY! My wasabi sushi will make you BURNING!”

“There we go.” Fuji smiled brightly at everyone and took the racket back. Most of the Regulars laughed, except for Momo, who turned a bit pale at the mention of wasabi sushi.

“Um,” Kawamura rubbed the back of his neck, “I thought it would be fun to have a Christmas party at the restaurant since it’s Sunday and we’ll be off.”

“That’s a great idea!” Eiji exclaimed, squeezing Ryoma, who he had not let go of yet, even more tightly in his excitement. “Nya, Ochibi?”

“Che,” Ryoma shrugged, ducking his head to let his baseball cap hide his grin.

“Echizen’s just mad cause he can never eat more maki than me,” Momoshiro teased, elbowing Ryoma in the ribs, then looking over his shoulder at Kaidoh. “And neither can you, viper!”

“Fshuuu,” Kaidoh glowered. “I won’t lose to you!”

“It just so happens,” Inui offered, pulling a notebook out his bag that was metallic green and had a red ribbon on it, “that I have perfected the ultimate logorithm for maximum randomization in the Secret Santa exchange.”

“Ne, Taka-san,” Fuji tapped Kawamura’s shoulder, “would it be all right if we invited Fudomine? The holidays are a time for socializing.”

Just then Momo reached out shove Kaidoh, but Kaidoh dodged out of the way, and Eiji did as well, leaving an unsuspecting Ryoma to get the full force of the junior’s push. He slammed into Fuji, who in turn tipped against Kawamura and accidentally dropped the racket back in his hand.

“GREATO!” he shouted as everyone else turned to glare at a blushing Momo. “The MORE the MERRY!”

“Ne, Oiiiishi,” Eiji flopped against Oishi’s shoulder, throwing a lazy arm around his neck, “you got my present already, hooooi?”

“Ei-eiji!” Oishi stuttered, blushing a little, and Eiji made a smug little noise. Honestly, you had to tell these boys everything.

“There is a 86% chance,” Inui said in Kaidoh’s ear, making him jump a few inches, “that you are wondering whether or not it is appropriate to give me a present. And a 15% chance you are considering giving me the Chaos Theory textbook you bought but never used.”

Inui sauntered off, leaving an open-mouthed Kaidoh still with no answer.

“A textbook?” Momo wrinkled his nose. “Where’s the romance in that, viper? You’re hopeless!”

“SHUT UP!” snapped Kaidoh, cheeks turning pink.

“Saa, Tezuka…” Fuji sidled up beside Tezuka.

“Back off, tensai,” Tezuka said tersely, crossing his arms and eyeing Fuji, making Fuji laugh and hold his hands up in surrender.

“Oi, Tezuka,” Oishi tried to whisper surreptiously, “what did you give Fuji last year?”

“THE BURNING!” Kawamura barked behind him, making a flustered Tezuka snatch the racket out of his hand and give everybody ten laps.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 10

It was harder for Ohtori to keep his scud serve accurate when his fingers were freezing, but he squeezed them tighter around the grip of his racket and gritted his teeth. If Shishido could spend hours helping him practice, then the least he could do was not double-fault for the eighth time to Hiyoshi.

Ohtori grinned as the ball whizzed by Hiyoshi’s shoulder and made the chain link fence behind him give a satisfying jangle.

“45-30, game and match to Ohtori,” Hiyoshi grumbled, relaxing his stance. At least, he would have grumbled if he ever did anything so slouchy as grumbling. What he actually did was state it matter-of-factly with a slight bow.

“Good match, Hiyoshi-kun,” Ohtori smiled, too busy sticking his numb fingers in his armpits to bother with the post-match handshake. They were teammates after all, Hiyoshi didn’t have to be so formal all the time.

He made one-sided small talk while they tucked their rackets away, Hiyoshi occasionally murmuring a monosyllabic response, until Ohtori noticed the hat Hiyoshi was tugging on his head.

It was knitted and looked thick and soft, and it covered his ears totally without being heinously ear-flappy.

“Hiyoshi-kun,” he asked, “did you get yourself that hat?”

“My hat?” Hiyoshi blinked up at Ohtori, then dropped his gaze. “Why do you ask?”

“I was wondering where you got it,” Ohtori answered. Hiyoshi’s was a kind of plain brown, but maybe if they came in dark blue…

“Oh, I don’t remember,” Hiyoshi said quickly, shouldering his bag and looking as if he wanted to make a speedy getaway.

“Ah, nevermind then,” Ohtori sighed. “It’s just that Shishido-san’s lost his hat and he keeps wearing that baseball cap instead, so I was thinking I might get him one for Christmas.”

“Didn’t Atobe-buchou have Shishido’s hat deported?” Hiyoshi asked.

“Yeah, same thing.” Ohtori felt a little disloyal about snickering at Shishido’s expense, but really. “Anyway, I just wish he’d wear a real hat to keep warm.”

Hiyoshi looked at Ohtori for a long moment while Ohtori fiddled with the tag on his tennis bag and looked downcast, then set his own bag down.

“Look,” he said, glancing to the right and the left a little, “you won’t tell anybody, right?”

“Where you got your hat?” Ohtori raised an eyebrow. “Is there something questionable about it?”

“No,” Hiyoshi snapped, a tiny bit of pink creeping into his cheeks. “And I didn’t get it anywhere, I made it.”

“Made it?” Ohtori blinked, then peered closer at the hat. “Hiyoshi-kun, do you knit?”

“No!” Hiyoshi blushed harder. “I crochet!”

“I see.” The giggles were rising in Ohtori’s chest, but he fought them down valiantly. For the sake of Shishido’s frost-bitten ears, Ohtori vowed, I must keep a straight face! “How long did it take you to…crochet that?”

“Couple hours,” Hiyoshi mumbled, looking at his feet. “Hats aren’t hard.”

“Could you teach me?” Ohtori asked, putting his hands together and bowing to a startled Hiyoshi. “I won’t tell anyone, I swear!”

“All right, all right!” Hiyoshi tugged Ohtori upright by the shoulder. “Not so loud, someone’ll hear!”

“It’s really not that big a…” Ohtori swallowed the rest of his sentence when Hiyoshi turned a dark glare on him. “Er, when are you free?”

“Tomorrow night,” Hiyoshi muttered, sticking his hands in his pockets. “I’ll get rid of my roommate for a few hours. Get some thick yarn and come over about seven, but don’t let anyone follow you.”

“Do I need a secret password or handshake?” Ohtori inquired, some of the giggles bubbling out despite his best efforts.

“Oi, do you want the stuff or not?” Hiyoshi asked, crossing his arms, and Ohtori, immediately penitent, assured him that he did. “Seven, then, with the yarn. And don’t tell anybody where you’re going!”

Ohtori managed to wait until Hiyoshi was just barely out of earshot before collapsing on the bench and laughing until his cheeks were stinging from the tears freezing on them.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 11

“This is unacceptable!” Atobe roared, slamming open the clubhouse door. Only Oshitari and Gakuto were there, and they did not appear as though awed by his very presence, but still, one had to make do with the audience one had. “Heads are going to roll by Ore-sama’s hand!”

“You left two seconds ago!” Gakuto said, zipping his regular’s jacket up hurriedly. Behind Atobe, Kabaji shuffled in the door, carrying Jiroh cradled in his arms. “What could have possibly happened in that two seconds?”

“Is Jiroh awake?” Oshitari raised an eyebrow. Jiroh gave a little wave.

“We had barely set foot,” Atobe announced, “on that ice rink they to dare call a sidewalk, when we encountered an uncrossable sheet of glare ice! Ore-sama’s glorious reflexes saved me, of course, but Jiroh was not so lucky.”

“Are you okay?” Gakuto bounced up to check, and Atobe’s keen eyes did not fail to note Oshitari nudging an article of clothing farther under the bench with his foot. His superior mind, however, did prevent him from imagining how that had got there.

“Don’t jostle him!” Atobe snapped at Gakuto. “His leg might be broken!”

“Ne, Atobe,” Jiroh looked mostly bemused as Gakuto poked him, “I just banged up my knee a little.”

“You’re far too emotional to be a proper judge of the situation,” Atobe sniffed. Kabaji made a faint noise in his throat that only Jiroh was close enough to hear, and Jiroh blinked. Had Kabaji just snickered?

“What are you back in here for though?” Oshitari asked. “Shouldn’t you be at the infirmary?”

“It’s far too treacherous out there,” Atobe reported. “Someone will have to and at the very least salt the sidewalk.”

When nobody moved, Atobe crossed his arms and leveled his glare at Oshitari.

“Fine,” Oshitari grunted, narrowing his eyes and standing up. “Gakuto, come on.”

“Yuushi!” Gakuto whined, eyes widening as Oshitari grabbed his wrist on the way by. “That’s a freshmen job!”

“Well, I don’t see any of those, and you sure whine like one.” Oshitari shoved Gakuto out the door in front of him and reached down to snatch up the bag of salt they left by the door for just such occasions.
“Tobe-chaaan…” Jiroh shifted a little in Kabaji’s grip, but Atobe silenced him with an eyebrow, and Kabaji made the throat-noise again.

*******
“Sit Jiroh down on the bed, Kabaji.”

“Got it.”

Jiroh wriggled out of Kabaji’s grip and flopped down on Atobe’s bed, relieved to be able to stretch. He did so with gusto, popping several kinks in his back as Atobe sent Kabaji on his way and came over to sit on the side of the bed.

“Ore-sama will tend to your injury,” Atobe announced.

“Ore-sama would have taken me to the infirmary if that was what he really wanted.”

Atobe blinked. Had Jiroh just…reprimanded him? Jiroh wasn’t looking at him either, nor pouting in the cute way; instead he was staring at his hand, rubbing the nap of the comforter back and forth.

Perhaps going to the groundskeeper’s office to lodge his personal complaint had been a bit far. Or the Principal’s office. Or the call to the Superintendent’s secretary. Atobe cleared his throat. He was about to possibly admit that his honed emergency-response reflexes may have been a tiny bit of an overreaction in this isolated case, when he caught sight of the tear in the knee of Jiroh’s pants.

He reached over to make sure that none of the gravel or mud caught in the fabric was getting on his blankets. The skin of Jiroh’s knee was ice cold against his thumb.

Jiroh’s jaw dropped when Atobe pushed himself off the bed and stalked from the room. A minute went by, and Jiroh ran a hand through his curls and flopped back against the pillows. He let his eyes slip shut.

They snapped back open when the bed sank back down again and a low voice said, “here.”

Atobe was sitting on the edge of the bed, a first aid kit in his lap, holding a mug out to Jiroh that smelled like hot chocolate.

“Atobe…” Jiroh took the mug and beamed when he noticed the tiny marshmallows. “Kei-ko…”

“Ah!” Atobe held up a warning finger and Jiroh smirked into his hot chocolate. Then he yelped as Atobe snatched off his pants like he was doing a dinner party trick with a tablecloth.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 12

Shishido felt a certain sense of doom when Atobe’s driver pulled smoothly up to the curb, and the back door swung open. The certainty of the doom increased when he climbed in and found not just Atobe, but also Gakuto in the backseat already.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, and Gakuto shrugged.

“Turns out I gave Yuushi handcuffs for his birthday already.” Gakuto rubbed at one of his wrists absently, and Shishido shuddered slightly.

“You too, Atobe?” Shishido turned, hoping to block out the mental image he was having of his bespectacled teammate.

“While Ore-sama usually plans and completes his Christmas shopping well before now,” Atobe answered, flicking some lint off his sleeve, “this year I have held off the purchase of a crucial present in order to model proper shopping for you. Be honored by my stunning generosity.”

Neither of them fooled even a tiny bit, Gakuto and Shishido exchanged a glance, then looked away when Gakuto gave the fakest cough that ever was.

The department store was huge and full of people whose desperation was only being fueled by the grating American Christmas carols being piped in from the ceiling. The glint of metallic green and red…objects…hanging on every available surface didn’t feel Shishido with any sort of cheer, that was for damn sure.

“Now,” Atobe paused and crossed his arms, waiting for Shishido’s attention, “while generally Ore-sama prefers to shop in more upscale environs, I thought in this case, variety was more key to finding the solution to your problem.”

“Okay,” Shishido agreed meekly, really looking over Atobe’s shoulder at a huge gold spike topped with a big velvet bow. What did Americans even do during this holiday, poke each other’s eyes out? No wonder their crime rate was so high.

“You did your assignment, didn’t you?” Atobe raised an eyebrow.

“Mm?” Shishido dragged his gaze back to Atobe, then shook his head a little. “Oh yeah, it’s right here.” Digging through his pockets, Shishido unearthed a crumpled half-sheet of notebook paper which had his list of things Ohtori enjoyed. Shishido grimaced a little as he suddenly noticed that the other side of the page seemed to contain a few of Ohtori’s homework problems.

Atobe plucked it from Shishido’s fingers and read it silently to himself. The corner of his mouth twitched a little, it was hard to tell whether it was from amusement or homicidal impulses, and Shishido thought he might have better luck reading the math homework.

“If we exclude the three times you wrote down ‘tennis’,” Atobe pinned Shishido with a look, and Shishido coughed, “we’re left with ‘winter’. Although I suppose you could try claiming you changed the seasons just for Ohtori, let’s assume that is not going to fly. What, specifically, is it about winter that Ohtori likes?”

“The snow,” Shishido responded immediately, very proud of his knowledge. “Choutarou loves being out in the snow.”

“Hmm, that’s not a bad…” Atobe seemed to catch himself mid-sentence, and Shishido narrowed his eyes as Atobe put a hand on his shoulder and began steering him away. “I think the winter clothing section might be a good place to start then.”

“Are you fishing for ideas?” Shishido inquired, not trying very hard to hold in the smirk.

“Don’t forget that Ore-sama is doing you a favor,” Atobe replied crisply. “Be struck dumb by my attentions and get moving.”

“I’ll just be over here!” Gakuto called cheerfully, then snuck off towards the leather section, rubbing his hands.

Christmas in Hyoutei Fudomine: Part 13

Kamio Akira bobbed his head in time with his mp3 player, bouncing just a little on the balls of his feet. After a half-second, he pressed the Tachibana’s doorbell again.

He’d been waiting so long, about three seconds, that he started to dance on the front porch, just a little, and two seconds later, he finished his little shuffling spin and came face to face with Tachibana Ann.

“Ann!” Kamio’s spine went straight and his face went hot as he yanked his headphones down around his neck.

“Hold on a sec, ‘kay?” Ann whispered, and Kamio noticed that she was holding her cell phone up by her head, two fingers pressed against the mouthpiece to block it. “You can go back to dancing if you want.”

Kamio flushed even harder and shoved his fists in the pockets of his parka. He let his hair fall over his eye a little more as he watched Ann make little listening noises into her phone.

Ishida teased him about wanting to be an mp3 player sometimes, but if he could be any electronic device, he’d choose to be a sleek, silver cell phone that fit perfectly in between the curl of Ann’s hand and the curve of her cheek.

“That sounds great!” Ann exclaimed, her squeal snapping Kamio out of his little daydream. “I’ll see you then!” She snapped the phone shut and beamed up at Kamio. “What’s up, Kamio-kun?”

“Not much. I…” What had he even come over here for?

“My brother said he’d be down in a minute,” Ann supplied, waving him inside. “He’s found the cds, but he and Shinji are in the middle of some Final Fantasy thing, and he thinks the ‘pause’ button is when you make your character grab the girl.”

“A-ah,” Kamio stuttered, eyes widening a little as Ann made a hand gesture as a helpful little visual.

“Ne, Kamio,” Ann blinked up at him with big eyes and Kamio swallowed, “you’re going to the Seigaku thing, right?”

“Eh?” Kamio was beginning to despair of ever having anything intelligent to say to Ann at this point.

“Fuji-san called my brother and said they’re having a big sushi party on Sunday, when everyone’s off, and asked if the team wanted to come. They’re even doing a secret Santa exchange, it’ll be a lot of fun!”

“If there’s sushi, I’m there,” Kamio said, supremely proud of finally managing to string three words together. And Ann had giggled. “I’ll bring my speakers along, we can hook up my mp3 player and play festive shit.”

“That’s a great idea!” Ann clapped her hands together. “I didn’t know about the party either until just now. Momoshiro told me.”

“Momoshiro?” Kamio stiffened.

“That was him on the phone.” Ann waved her phone a little to demonstrate, and Kamio vowed that if he were ever reincarnated as Ann’s phone, he’d have Caller ID to keep out the riffraff. “He needed a little advice about gifts.”

“Gifts?” Kamio ground his teeth a little.

“I told him a few good bands and movies.” Ann tapped her chin thoughtfully. “He didn’t say who they were for, and I said my tastes might not be what he wanted, but he said it was okay if they were girly.”

“Girly!”

“Why are you repeating everything I say?” Ann asked, raising an eyebrow. “What are you, a tape recorder?”

“Cell phone,” Kamio muttered under his breath, then louder, “I’ve gotta go!”

Kamio turned and zipped back out the door, pulling out his mp3 player and changing the song to something faster. He had to get moving, he thought as he put his headphones back in place, cause there was no way that bike-stealing Momoshiro was going to get Ann-chan a better gift than he was!

Ann was just pushing the door shut again, shaking her head, when her brother came down the stairs.

“Was that Kamio just now?” Tachibana asked, furrowing his brow. “He left without getting his cds. Did you say something to him?”

Tachibana crossed his arms and eyed his little sister, who blinked back up at him, all innocence.

“Me? No!” Ann smiled winningly, and Tachibana rolled his eyes. “By the way, Mori-kun just called, he said to tell you he’ll be late to practice tomorrow morning.”

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 14

Shishido peered around helplessly at the sea of wool he was stranded in. Atobe had led him to the winter wear section, then told him to mill around until he found something he thought Ohtori might like. And then the bastard had deserted him, calling over his shoulder that he’d be back to give his approval of the gift in a little while.

The wool coats were too scratchy, making Shishido wrinkle his nose as he ran fingers over them, and they all looked the same, made of the same dull browns and blacks. Sticking his hands back in his pockets, Shishido sauntered past them with a scowl.

Why did this stupid holiday have to be so hard? Shishido just wasn’t romantic enough for this kind of crap. Oshitari had asked just what Shishido thought he was going to do for Valentine’s Day/Ohtori’s birthday if Christmas had him this worked up, but Shishido had covered his ears and started singing the theme song of some inane, girly anime Ohtori liked as loud as he possibly could.

It just figured that Oshitari would recognize the theme to Honey and Clover. And that Gakuto would steal his cell phone just long enough to change the ringtone to that and then call him when he was in class.

Drifting by another table with winter items strewn about, Shishido ran his fingers idly over some things, and paused when his fingers sank into something plush and warm. He looked down and found himself looking at a wide, blue scarf.

Shishido suddenly thought about a very chilled Ohtori reporting that his scarf was nowhere to be found on campus.

Picking it up, Shishido ran the scarf through his fingers and smiled just a little. He wasn’t sure what it was made of, but it was incredibly soft and fuzzy, and his hands were warm where they were wrapped in the material. Something about it was still not quite right, though…

The color, Shishido realized after a second. The flat blue wouldn’t really do Ohtori any favors, and Ohtori had complained for weeks about how washed out the only dress shirt that had survived his growth spurt, just about the same blue, had made him look. Shishido refolded the blue scarf and laid it back down, glancing over the other options. Red, black, there was that awful brown again, white, and a sort of off-white.

Shishido left his eyes drift shut and thought about Ohtori in his coat, then tried to imagine each of the colors around his neck. He wasn’t very good at this sort of visualization, but he thought the white might look okay, although in his head Ohtori with white around his neck kind of blended into the snow and looked like his head was detached from his body.

So he switched to the off-white instead, and imagined silver hair against the pale fabric, making Ohtori’s dark eyes look rich and warm…

Ooooh, yeah, off-white it was. Shishido grabbed the scarf in victory and turned, only to come face to face with Atobe.

“You certainly look pleased with yourself,” Atobe said. He had a large, light blue blanket tucked under his arm that looked more expensive than Shishido. He held out a hand. “Let’s see.”

Shishido held up the scarf, banishing the moment of nerves. What was he asking Atobe’s opinion for anyway?

“Hmm.” Atobe fingered the material briefly, then shook the scarf out between his hands and watched how the fabric fell. “Not bad, Shishido. Ore-sama approves.”

“Thank you so much.” Rolling his eyes, Shishido took the scarf back and tucked it over his arm.

“You even remembered that cream is Ohtori’s favorite color,” Atobe added, and it almost sounded like praise, coming from the captain.

“Uh, yeah…” Shishido adjusted his baseball cap, then paused. Why did Atobe know what Ohtori’s favorite color was?

“Now we just need to collect Mukahi,” Atobe murmured to himself.

“Wait, you left him alone?” Shishido blinked. “Are you stupid?”

Just then there was an electronic cacophony off to the right that sounded kind of like every single alarm clock in the housewares section all going off at the same time. Or exactly like.

“Oi,” Gakuto strolled up casually, a tastefully wrapped package tucked under one arm, “let’s get out of here.”

The scarf was a little more than Shishido had been planning to spend, but he had just seen Atobe sign a credit card slip without blinking an eye that made Shishido feel queasy, so he pulled the money from his wallet without saying a word.

He could always just eat some of Ohtori’s lunch this week.

The clerk asked if Shishido would like a tag for a present as she was wrapping it up, and Shishido nearly said no, it wasn’t like Ohtori wouldn’t know who it was from since Shishido fully intended to be naked and in bed when gifts were exchanged, but then he spotted a circular yellow tag on the rack of options.

“That one,” he said, pointing, “and can I borrow your marker a minute?”

Two curved lines later, Shishido proudly slapped an almost recognizable tennis ball on the gift and grinned. The grin died a little when he looked up and found Atobe and Gakuto exchanging a glance which clearly said “he may be a retard, but he’s our retard.”

“Ohtori likes tennis,” Shishido said defensively, tightening his grip on his perfectly respectable boyfriend present.

“Yes, we know,” Atobe replied, taking a little half step back in case the stupid was catching. “It’s the part where he likes you that has Ore-sama perplexed.”

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 15

It was pretty clear to Hiyoshi exactly what Shishido saw in Ohtori. Seriously, no boy had any business looking as cute as Ohtori did sitting cross-legged on Hiyoshi’s bed, tongue poking out the corner of his mouth as he tried to coax the yarn to slide around the metal crochet hook in just the right way. He was just so earnest, showing up with his big dark eyes and a brown paper bag full of dark blue yarn.

“I made sure no one followed me, Hiyoshi-kun,” Ohtori had reported, and Hiyoshi was sure that no other student at Hyoutei could have possibly said that with a straight face. Or would have apologized for taking up Hiyoshi’s time teaching him. Or would have thought to take a finger measurement of Shishido’s head while he was sleeping.

Just how exactly had Shishido managed this anyway?

“You don’t have to wait for me,” Ohtori said suddenly, startling Hiyoshi out of his thoughts. Hiyoshi had decided it would work best to actually make a hat alongside Ohtori, so he could see how it was done. Thank goodness Ohtori had nimble fingers and picked up the odd wrist motions crocheting necessitated quickly, so he picked up the repetitive technique fast.

“It’s okay,” Hiyoshi shrugged a shoulder. Ohtori’s stitches were slow, but steady, and he was almost caught up to where Hiyoshi had stopped to let Ohtori catch up.

“I can see why you like this, it’s very relaxing,” Ohtori commented, pausing to flex the fingers that had been curled tightly around the hook.

“I don’t…” Hiyoshi stopped himself just short of protesting that he didn’t like crocheting, his sisters made him do it, but then realized that he would really look like much more of a freak if he claimed to sit alone in his room and do a girly ritual that he hated. “Yes, it is relaxing.”

“Ne, Hiyoshi,” Ohtori straightened out a twist in his yarn and then went back to work, “I wouldn’t mind crocheting with you sometimes, so you aren’t lonely. I wouldn’t tell anyone, but since I already know…oh, except Shishido, but only because he’d start wondering where I was getting to.”

Hiyoshi blinked at Ohtori, the statement “Shishido wouldn’t tell if I asked him not to” hanging in the air. Perhaps obedience was a fair trade for complete lack of culture or social decorum. Certainly Hiyoshi found it hard to disappoint when those big brown eyes were focused on him.

“I might…like that,” Hiyoshi found himself saying, and he sighed a little when Ohtori beamed warmly at him.

********

“There you are!” Shishido looked up from the couch when Ohtori came in the door. “Where the hell have you been?”

“Secret,” Ohtori smiled, leaning over to nip Shishido’s ear, then dancing out of range when Shishido made a grab for him.

“And what’s that behind your back?” Shishido frowned and twisted his neck to see better, but Ohtori kept his body firmly between his boyfriend and his object.

“Se-e-cret!” Ohtori chanted again, then scampered off to hide the whatever it was in his room. Leaning his head way back off the back of the couch, Shishido could just barely see into Ohtori’s room, where he was nudging a paper bag underneath his bed with a foot.

Shishido straightened up, and had just barely managed to wipe the smirk off his face when Ohtori padded out of his room and climbed over the back of the couch to settle in Shishido’s lap.

“That wouldn’t have been my Christmas present, would it?” Shishido asked, noticing that Ohtori was flexing one of his hands as if he had a cramp.

“Hmm,” Ohtori purred as Shishido took hold of his hand and dug warm thumbs into his stiff tendons, “who said you were getting a present? I’m not sure you deserve a present.”

“Excuse me?” Shishido let go of Ohtori’s palm to slide tickling fingers up under his shirt. Ohtori tried to squirm away, yelping, and Shishido held him down with one hand and tickled harder. “I’ve been a paragon of boyfriendly virtue, I’ll have you know!”

“Let go!” Ohtori wriggled harder, gasping for air around desperate laughter. “You’re totally getting coal now!”

“What the hell,” Shishido stopped tickling to slid both hands around Ohtori’s back and push him up far enough to kiss, “would I want with coal?”

“You don’t want it,” Ohtori answered, breath hot and panting against Shishido’s mouth, “that’s the whole point.”

“You’re silly holiday doesn’t make any freaking sense,” Shishido growled, rubbing his nose against Ohtori’s. Ohtori’s eyelashes were damp where they brushed Shishido’s cheek. “C’mon, give me a hint.”

“No,” Ohtori replied, knocking off Shishido’s cap to bury fingers in his soft, spiky hair.

Christmas in Hyoutei St. Rudolph’s: Part 16

Fuji Yuuta stuck his head out his door and glanced around. The hallway was still clear, so he slipped back into his room and tucked a few pairs of socks into the half-packed overnight bag on his bed. If he finished packing and got out of St. Rudolph’s quickly, he might escape without…

“Yuuta-kuuun.”

Stiffening, Yuuta turned to find Mizuki lounging in his doorway, one hand in his pocket, the other twirling his hair.

“Not hanging around this weekend, Yuuuuuta-kun?” Mizuki drawled. “What a pity, we could’ve trained together.”

“No.” Yuuta turned back to his bed and tossed a couple shirts into the bag. “My sister’s throwing a party tomorrow, so I’m going home for the weekend.”

“Ah, you’ll see your brother then?” Yuuta didn’t have to look to know that Mizuki was smirking.

“Yes, he does live there,” Yuuta sighed, zipping up the bag. He picked it up to shoulder it, and when he turned, Mizuki’s eyes were glazed a bit, the strands of hair drawn tightly around his finger.

If he moved quickly enough, maybe he could sneak by Mizuki before he snapped out of his daydream. No choice but to try it, Yuuta thought as he strode forward.

“Ah, but Yuuta-kun,” Mizuki caught at Yuuta’s elbow as he tried to slide past him in the doorway, making him stop. Mizuki released his hair to point directly up. “Look.”

Yuuta grudgingly tilted his head just a tiny bit and slid his eyes up, then froze.

Mistletoe. Stuck to the doorway with a piece of grip tape and that had not been there thirty seconds ago.

“It is tradition,” Mizuki’s smirk widened, “Yuuuuuta-kun.”

Knowing he’d never get out of here if he didn’t at least compromise, Yuuta leaned forward and pecked Mizuki on the cheek. Mizuki, who had been opening his mouth to argue like usual, blinked wordlessly, and Yuuta seized the opportunity to flee as fast as his tennis-toned legs could carry him.

At least he’d be safe at home for a few days, Yuuta thought as he trudged up the path and opened the front door.

“Welcome home, Yuuta,” Fuji Syuusuke said as Yuuta came in. He was lounging in the kitchen doorway.

“Thanks, brother,” Yuuta grumbled, setting down his bag and kicking off his shoes.

“Is that Yuuta?” called their sister from the kitchen. “C’mere, little brother! I made cookies just for you!”

Yuuta let just a touch of a smile creep onto his face as he started towards the kitchen, then blinked as Syuusuke reached up and caught his elbow.

“Ne, Yuuta,” Syuusuke smiled and pointed up, “look.”

Fucking mistletoe. Fucking grip tape.


Part 15 omake [PG-13, Shishido/Ohtori]

Shishido watched Ohtori give a soft, whuffling snore, long limbs strewn across the bed and tangled in the sheets. He reached down to tug the blankets over a shoulder that had come free of their warmth, then turned and padded out of his room, the night air raising goosebumps on his bare skin.

In Ohtori’s room, Shishido knelt down beside his bed and reached under, grinning victorious as his fingers brushed against a paper bag. It seemed a bit hefty as he slid it out, but hey, his Choutarou was a giving sort of guy.

He noted a piece of paper taped to the top of the bag, and stretched up to flip on Ohtori’s bedside lamp to read it. His grinned dimmed when he got a good look.

Congratulations, Shishido-san! As a reward for your sneakiness, you get to do my laundry. No more snooping around before Christmas! Love, Choutarou

“Love, Choutarou,” Shishido echoed, the grin returning with a wry cast. “Bastard.”

He chuckled a little as he stood and switched off the lamp, then tucked the bag of laundry under his arm and headed back to his room. He let the bag plop to the ground just inside his door and slipped happily back under the covers, shivering a little as Ohtori twined sleep-warmed limbs around his.

“Don’t forget the fabric softener,” Ohtori murmured against his collarbone, half-slit eyes glittering in the dark.

“Too clever by half,” Shishido growled, nipping his shoulder, making Ohtori chuckle warmly.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 17

“Shishido-san! Ohtori-san!” Oishi called across the street courts. “We’re over here!”

“Sorry we’re late!” Ohtori chirped as he jogged up, giving a little bow.

“S’all Atobe’s fault.” Shishido sauntered along behind Ohtori, throwing a shoulder back to indicate the teammates behind them.

“Ore-sama is most certainly not late,” Atobe sniffed, coming to stand beside Shishido. Behind him, Kabaji was shuffling over with a snoozing Jiroh on his shoulder. “Be enthralled by Ore-sama’s fashionable entrance!”

“Atobe-buchou drove,” Ohtori explained, rubbing the back of his head. “And Jiroh came along in case Fuji-san was around. I hope that’s okay.”

“Nya, don’t mind!” Kikumaru bounced on the balls of his feet a little, twirling his racket over his wrist. He grinned and caught the racket as an idea struck him. “I’ll call Fujiko! He’ll want to play too!”

“Really?!” Everyone blinked as Jiroh materialized in front of Kikumaru, wide-eyed and grinning. Kabaji looked at the suddenly empty hand hovering above his shoulder, then dropped it back to his side without any change in expression. “Would you, would you? Fuji-kun is so coooool!”

“Yeah, yeah.” Kikumaru held a clinging Jiroh back with one hand and tried to dial his cell phone with the other. Ohtori and Shishido exchanged a glance with an amused Oishi, and Atobe gave a soft little growl.

Jiroh was practically vibrating with excitement by the time Kikumaru snapped his phone shut.

“Fujiko will be over in a little while,” he reported, and Jiroh whooped in victory. “Ochibi’s with him, he said they’re finishing up a game.” A little line appeared between Kikumaru’s eyebrows. “What’s Ochibi doing at Fujiko’s anyway?”

“Eiji,” Oishi coughed, and Shishido raised an eyebrow and smirked at Ohtori.

“Atobe, hurry!” Jiroh flung himself on Atobe’s shoulder, and Atobe looked mildly appeased. “Let’s go warm up!”

“We should get started too,” Oishi said, politely trying to repress his smirk, while Kikumaru and Shishido snickered unabashedly.

*******

“We can take ’em,” Shishido said in a low voice as Ohtori helped him to his feet. Shishido had dove for a ball, skidding across the pavement in a way that made Ohtori flinch away, but it had been just barely out of reach.

“Hm?” Ohtori wasn’t really listening, eyeing the scrape across Shishido’s cheek.

“Focus, Choutarou!” Shishido snapped, and Ohtori shook himself a little.

“Sorry, Shishido-san. What were you saying?”

“Look at Kikumaru,” Shishido jerked his chin over his shoulder, “he’s wearing out from all those acrobatics. Look, hold off on your Scud Serve for a few more points, the volley’ll wear him out.”

Kikumaru-san sure didn’t look like he was wearing out, Ohtori thought as he watched Kikumaru laugh at something Oishi was saying, tossing his racket back and forth. But if Shishido said so…

“Got it,” Ohtori nodded, returning his gaze back to Shishido and smiling.

They gave up a few points because of it, but they were a game ahead, and they could absorb the loss, it wasn’t until it was the Golden Pair’s turn to serve that Ohtori finally saw it, the drag in Kikumaru’s steps, the tiny stumble when he landed from a flip. Ohtori shot a half-smile across the court to a smug Shishido; Shishido had had quicker eyes this time, it seemed.

Halfway through Oishi and Kikumaru’s service game, Kikumaru’s feet slipped out from under him like his strings had been cut, and the ball slammed into the court, past the edge of Oishi’s racket. Ohtori blinked at the speed Oishi had crossed the court to cover Kikumaru, but it just wasn’t enough.

He got back up right away, but Kikumaru was clearly done. Oishi’s game was solid and strong, but it couldn’t make up for all the holes Kikumaru was leaving on their court. They only managed to take one more point when a bad shot from Shishido had resulted in a lucky Moon Volley, and the game when to Shishido and Ohtori.

“Let ‘er rip,” Shishido grinned over his shoulder as Ohtori lined up for his Scud Serve, and wished fiercely that he could be watching the whipcrack line of Ohtori’s serve as the muttered “One shot to your soul” slid up his spine, but they had a game to win.

Besides, he wouldn’t miss the satisfying slam of the serve clearing the net and slicing cleaning in between Oishi and Kikumaru for anything.

“Game and match, Shishido-Ohtori pair!” called a voice from the sidelines just after Ohtori’s fourth perfect serve, and Shishido turned to see Seigaku’s tensai and wonder freshman hanging around on the sidelines. Behind Shishido, an excited squeal from Jiroh rang out, followed by a sharp “Let go of Ore-sama!”

“Good game,” Shishido said, coming to the net to shake hands with Kikumaru, while Oishi and Ohtori did the same to his right.

“Nya,” Kikumaru pouted, his hand shaking a little in Shishido’s grip.

“Eiji, I thought you were working on your stamina?” Fuji teased from the sidelines.

“Nya, Fujiko!” Kikumaru snapped back, turning to glare as he released Shishido’s hand. “I can’t help it Oishi’s parents are always home!”

Kikumaru slapped a hand over his mouth as Oishi turned beet red and Shishido snickered meanly. On the sidelines Fuji’s smiled widened in a way that gave Ohtori a little shiver, and Echizen tugged his cap down over his eyes and muttered “Mada mada dane, Kikumaru-sempai.”

“Fuuuuuji-kun!” Jiroh hollered from the other court. “C’mon, let’s play! Will you do the bear thing? Or the disappearing serve? Will you?”

“Hn, we’ll see,” Fuji smiled.

“This is gonna be good,” Shishido elbowed Ohtori.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 18

“Ore-sama is not sure how I got talked into this,” Atobe grumbled, shifting his grip on his racket and tossing his hair.

“Shh!” Jiroh shot a glance back over his shoulder at his doubles partner. “You should be watching Fuji-kun’s serve or you’ll miss it!”

“Why’s Akutagawa-san all up on Fujiko?” Kikumaru leaned over to ask Shishido, ignoring an exasperated “Eiji!” from Oishi on his other side. “What’s his deal?”

“Pfft,” Shishido answered, “who knows? He’s the same way with Marui Bunta. Oh man, look at Atobe’s face.”

“Yup,” said Kabaji.

Atobe was squeezing his racket’s grip so tightly that it was a wonder he hadn’t broken several fingers, and he looked like he might actually beat Jiroh to death with it if Fuji didn’t serve soon.

Fortunately for Hyoutei’s resident narcoleptic, Fuji did finally serve…maybe.

“The hell?” Shishido squinted. Beside him, Kikumaru made a satisfied noise. “He did serve it, right? Where’d it go?”

“SO COOL!” Jiroh bounced, completely oblivious to the murderous expression Atobe was wearing behind him. “DO IT AGAIN!”

By the third Disappearing Serve, Atobe was so livid that he actually managed to catch a piece of the serve, sending a messy forehand to Echizen and starting a volley that lasted for several minutes.

“A thousand yen says Jiroh can’t walk tomorrow,” Shishido murmured to Ohtori, pulling his eyes away from the game to see if his roommate would blush.

“A thousand yen says we don’t see either of them tomorrow,” Ohtori gave Shishido a slow blink, “I’m sure Jiroh has plans to make it up to the captain.”

Well, that had certainly backfired, Shishido thought as Ohtori gave him a slow, knowing smile that made Shishido’s cheeks heat, and he cleared his throat and turned back to the game.

“Ore-sama’s turn now,” Atobe was announcing, and apparently it had turned to Atobe’s serve already while Ohtori was distracting Shishido. The first serve slammed past Echizen and Fuji with a force that even made Ohtori blink.

“Hn,” Echizen tugged on his cap and threw a look over his shoulder at Fuji. “Think we ought to use that?”

“Saa,” Fuji shrugged a shoulder back, “it’s early yet.”

Atobe’s second serve was even angrier than the first one, and it nearly took off Fuji’s elbow on the way by.

“On the other hand…” Fuji’s eyes opened a little, and Jiroh whooped, throwing a casual “You’re the best!” over his shoulder at Atobe. Everyone on the sidelines snickered as Atobe blinked in confusion.

Atobe and Jiroh took the game, but Echizen was still smiling as he and Fuji exchanged some glances and repositioned themselves, and that never heralded anything good for anybody.

The cheerful strains of the Honey and Clover theme materialized in the air suddenly, clashing rather badly with Echizen’s serve.

“Shishido-san, your phone,” Ohtori said absently.

“It’s not mine!” Shishido snapped, blushing. “What are you looking at?” he demanded of Kabaji, who turned back to the game without commenting.

“It’s Fujiko’s!” Kikumaru exclaimed, bending down to where Fuji’s tennis bag was laying next to his and rifling around in the pockets.

“Eiji!” Oishi seemed to have a permanent line etched in between his eyebrows. “You shouldn’t go through other people’s things!”

“Nya, Fujiko won’t mind.” Kikumaru shrugged his partner off and produced Fuji’s phone, then gave the answer button a dramatic push. “Hoi hoi!…Captain! What are you…nya, they’re right here…well, but they’re playing a game, Tezuka…with Akutagawa and Atobe…” Kikumaru wrinkled his nose suddenly. “Why would Atobe tell you who he’s supposed to play with?”

Oishi, Shishido, and Ohtori all had a good laugh at Kikumaru’s expense when the phrase “TEN LAPS NOW” rang out through the phone, and Kikumaru actually launched into a few steps before catching himself.

Fortunately, the next game ended just then, so Kikumaru called over that Fuji had to come get his phone right now.

“It’s Fuji,” Fuji said into the phone after he had jogged over, leaving Atobe stranded between a smirking Echizen and a bouncing Jiroh. “Ah, Tezuka…no, I haven’t forgotten, don’t worry, we’re nearby…we should be finished in…ah, I see. As expected from Inui. If that’s the case…yes, we’ll be right over.”

“Fujiko, I don’t really have to run laps, do I?” Kikumaru inquired from where he was hiding behind Oishi’s shoulder.

Tucking his phone into his pocket, Fuji, trotted back over to his interrupted game and bowed to Atobe.

“Apologies, Atobe-san,” he said, “but it seems that Tezuka-buchou needs Echizen and I, so we’ll have to finish this another time.”

“Really?!” Jiroh leapt forward, only to be jerked back by Atobe’s fist clenched in the back of his shirt, and nearly crashed to the ground.

“Be prepared,” Atobe pointed his racket at Fuji, “to be destroyed by the awesome power of Ore-sama.”

As the Seigaku members were packing up, some more electronic music floated out of Shishido’s jacket pocket.

“See, I told you my ring wasn’t Honey and Clover,” Shishido said as he fished his phone out of his pocket.

“Isn’t that the theme to Kyou Kara Maou?” Ohtori asked innocently.

“Gakuto, you ASS!” Shishido snapped into the phone. Tinny laughter floated out of the phone until Oshitari took the phone away from Gakuto and asked Shishido where they were. “We’re on the street courts near Seigaku, but the dweebs got called home by their mommy.”

Kikumaru straightened up to say something, but Oishi swung Kikumaru’s tennis bag into his side hard, knocking the breath out of him.

“Bye bye!” Jiroh called as the four Seigaku members went on their way, giving a little squeal when Fuji tossed a wave over his shoulder. Atobe and Echizen were wearing equal expressions of disgust.

“They’re on their way to play,” Shishido informed the others, snapping his phone shut.

“Dibs on Oshitari and Gakuto!” Ohtori called, grinning. “He’s going to be so torqued when he sees what we learned from Kikumaru.” Shishido grinned back and slapped him a high five.

“As expected from you two,” Atobe grumbled, eyeing his yawning partner.

Christmas in Hyoutei Seigaku: Part 19

The situation with Inui was handled swiftly and decisively by the other Regulars, who thought the best way to diffuse the crisis was to send in Kaidoh, after being properly flustered by some strategic teasing by Momoshiro. Sure enough, Inui blinked at the flushed and sulky Kaidoh twice, then asked if Kaidoh might help him with something in the back.

As soon as Inui was out of sight, Kawamura used the tip of his knife to sweep Inui’s experimental Super Festive Golden Sushi into the trashcan, and then threw the knife in as well, just for good measure.

The freshmen arrived shortly after, laden with red and green garland and other strange decorations, and Tomoka immediately began to bark orders at the others, sending them scurrying about to cover the walls. After ten minutes of that, Horio tried to sneak off to hide in the back room, but staggered back out into the front with a pale face a moment later, and refused to talk about what he had seen.

Inui came back in a little while later, and declared that he would be preparing a special batch of eggnog. Kaidoh, trailing along after him, looked far too dazed for any further intervention, so the others just let Inui alone. It wasn’t as if anybody liked eggnog in the first place, even Inui couldn’t make it that much worse than usual.

“Viper, your sweater’s on inside out!” Momoshiro exclaimed as Kaidoh flopped down next to him at one of the low tables. Momoshiro reached over to poke the garish Santa sweater that Kaidoh was inexplicably wearing. Sure enough, when Kaidoh looked down, instead of saying ‘HO HO HO!’, the wool letters read ‘OH OH OH!’

Momoshiro and Kikumaru were laughing so hard that they couldn’t even make the obvious joke, and Kaidoh had to settle for a “Mada mada dane” from Echizen. His grumpy “fshuuu” was rather muffled because of the puffiness of his lower lip.

“It’s good to see everyone getting along,” Oishi said to Tezuka, turning slightly more towards the sushi counter so that he couldn’t see Kaidoh trying to puncture Momoshiro’s eardrum with a chopstick.

“Yes,” Tezuka agreed, then frowned a little as a smiling Fuji approached. “What idiot gave Fuji that mistletoe headband?”

“I’m only spreading holiday cheer,” Fuji protested, leaning towards Tezuka so that the mistletoe suspended on a piece of springy wire bobbed threateningly at the captain. Face impassive, Tezuka reached up and plucked the headband off Fuji’s head, then dropped it on Tomoka’s as she wandered by. Kachirou and Katsuo dodged behind Horio to use him as a human shield.

“What’s the matter, nobody wants to kiss the pretty girl?” Tomoka demanded. “It’s tradition!”

“Even I,” Horio stuck his nose in the air, “with two years kissing experience would not…”

“Are you saying I’m experienced?” Tomoka interrupted, advancing on a wide-eyed Horio while Sakuno gave a pleading “Tomo-chan!” Katsuo and Kachirou fled to hide behind Momoshiro instead, who liked to hug them a little too much but at least didn’t have a death wish.

“Hello?” Tachibana Kippei called as he opened the door, then leapt back as he was nearly run over by the fleeing freshmen. Kamio and Ann were right behind him, along with the rest of Fudomine.

“Oi, come in!” Kawamura called, waving from behind the counter. “We’re just getting started.”

“I’m a little concerned about that,” Shinji Ibu said as he trailed Kamio in, shaking snow out of his hair, “since there are already quite a few people doing questionable things, and it’s not very safe to run around like that, somebody’s going to get hurt, and what’s the capacity of this restaurant…”

“Thank you for inviting us,” Tachibana bowed to Tezuka, and Fuji cut off whatever Tezuka was about to say to tell Tachibana not to worry about it.

“I brought speakers for my mp3 player,” Kamio told Kawamura, holding up the device to demonstrate. “Is it okay if I set them up somewhere?”

“NO PROBLEMO!” Kawamura bellowed, brandishing the knife he’d just picked up, making Kamio hop back a step and crash into Ann. He turned to apologize, and came face to face with Ann wearing the mistletoe headband.

“S…sor…” he stuttered, swallowing as he eyed the bobbing piece of red and green plastic. Grinning, Ann stood on tiptoe and kissed Kamio’s cheek, then seized his hand.

“Come on, I’ll help you set up!” she said, dragging him off to a side table. Tachibana and Fuji chuckled as Kamio threw a panicked look back over his shoulder at them.

“Oi, Echizen,” Shinji greeted, dropping into the seat next to Echizen. “How’s the grip tape?” Kikumaru, Momoshiro, and Kaidoh all swiveled eyes to see Echizen’s response.

“Good,” he said.

“Any minute now!” Kikumaru hissed to Momoshiro. “We’ll have to stop them from killing each other, so get ready!”

“Why me?” Momoshiro demanded, edging away from them. “I’m not wading into the middle of them!”

“Kaidoh-san,” Shinji gave him an even gaze across the table, “did you know your sweater is on inside-out? I just thought you should know, since now the text reads a little obscenely, or I think it does, but I was never very good at English, I always had to copy Kamio’s notes…”

“Yes, I know!” Kaidoh snapped, cheeks turning bright pink. He stood up abruptly. “I’m going to get some eggnog.”

“No, don’t!” Kikumaru hollered after Kaidoh as he stalked away from the table. “You’ve got so much left to live for!”

“Stop shouting across the room like that,” Oishi admonished, setting a tray of food down on the table and popping a piece of sushi in Kikumaru’s mouth to keep him quiet.

“Oishi!” Kikumaru grinned, although with his mouth full, it was hard to tell whether he meant his doubles partner or the sushi. He grabbed Oishi’s wrist and yanked him down into the seat next to him.

“Want a piece of mine?” Fuji asked Tezuka, holding up a piece of sushi with his chopsticks that had a very greenish cast to it. “It’s the season for sharing, Captain.”

“Fuji,” Tezuka eyed him down, “nobody wants a piece of your sushi.”

Tachibana choked a little bit, and Fuji laughed and kept his eyes on Tezuka while he sucked a stray piece of rice off his thumb.

Christmas in Hyoutei Seigaku Hyoutei: Part 20

“Two matches in a row!” Ohtori exclaimed, cheeks flushed from cold and excitement as he was packing his racket back in his tennis bag. “We must be hot today, Shishido-san!”

“You certainly are.” Shishido grinned victoriously as he finally earned the blush he’d been trying to get out of Ohtori all afternoon.

“Mou, I’m starving!” Gakuto whined, still pouting from the thrashing he and Oshitari had just taken from Ohtori and Shishido. “Yuuuuuushi, let’s go get some food already!”

“Oi, there’s a great place nearby,” Jiroh piped up from the bench where he’d been sprawled out on his back. The excitement from earlier had worn him out, and he’d been napping on and off, occasionally prying open his eyes to watch Atobe beat the pants of Kabaji and then scrape a narrow victory from Hiyoshi.

“Jiroh, you should publish a restaurant guide,” Shishido said, rolling his eyes. “You could call it ‘200 Shady Places to Chow Down Downtown’.”

“This one isn’t shady!” Jiroh stuck his tongue out at Shishido as he sat up. “They have great sushi. Atobe, we’re going, right?” Atobe had barely opened his mouth to answer when Jiroh bounced up and gave Gakuto a little push in the right direction. “C’mon, let’s go!”

Raising an eyebrow at Ohtori and getting a shrug in return, Shishido fell into step with the rest of the Hyoutei Regulars as Jiroh led them for a few blocks. The streetlights were coming on, and the snow crunched under their feet. When an icy wind made Ohtori press a little closer to Shishido for warmth, Shishido eyed Ohtori’s bare neck and gave a tiny, secret smile.

“Kawamura?” Oshitari read the sign on the door of the restaurant as they approached. “That sounds familiar.”

“Sounds like they’re having some kind of party.” Hiyoshi frowned at the loud, Western Christmas carol pulsing through the door. “Maybe we shouldn’t…”

“It isn’t a party until Ore-sama arrives,” Atobe said, shouldering Hiyoshi aside to push the door open.

“Sorry, this is…” Kawamura called from the counter, then blinked. “Captain Atobe?

“Atobe?” Tezuka turned, looking puzzled.

“Tezuka,” Atobe answered casually, then his brow wrinkled when he saw who was standing next to Tezuka. “Tachibana?”

“Fuji-kun!” Jiroh exclaimed, shooting past Atobe before he could get a hold on him this time. Fuji, standing next to the sushi counter, greeted Jiroh amiably and laughed a little when Jiroh began relating every detail of their match to a bewildered Kawamura.

“Ne, Taka-san, is it all right?” Fuji asked when Jiroh finally drew a breath. Fuji waved at the Hyoutei regulars, who were still loitering uncertainly in the doorway.

“Of course,” Kawamura shrugged, waving them in. He picked his sushi knife back up and added, “LET’S PARTY!”

“Oh NO,” Kikumaru groaned, catching sight of Ohtori and Shishido. “Those two are the ones who…”

“Shishido-san! Ohtori-san!” Oishi called, elbowing Kikumaru hard. “Do you want to sit with us?”

“Oishi!” Kikumaru gasped indignantly, then was distracted by Gakuto sprawling into the seat next to him.

“You’re the acrobatic one, right?” Gakuto leaned in, inspecting the scowling Kikumaru. “Why’d you teach those two all those mean tricks?!”

“They aren’t tricks, Gakuto,” Shishido answered as he and Ohtori squeezed in along the table as well, scattering some anxious freshmen to the side. “You just suck.”

“Hey, Inui!” Momoshiro hollered, cutting off Gakuto and Kikumaru’s retorts. “Are we doing the secret Santa thing or what?!”

“Yes, I suppose now is acceptable.” Inui had set aside the eggnog and was now creating something behind the counter that was unidentifiable, but that Fuji kept trying to talk Echizen into eating. “The bag is in the back, Kaidoh, would you help?”

“No!” Kaidoh snapped, his face red, although that might still have been the effects of the tiny sip of eggnog he’d had. “I’m too tired!”

“Maybe you should go,” Shinji put in from where he was helping Kamio fiddle with one of the speakers. “Perhaps you would come back with your clothes the right side out this time, although actually maybe you would have do whatever you did last time backwards to achieve that effect, or maybe just reverse the order of events…”

“Kaidoh,” Inui pushed his glasses up so that they glinted eerily, “I’m sure you don’t want to upset the very careful measures I have taken to ensure optimum randomization of the exchange…”

Just then, the sliding door to the back room slammed open, revealing Coach Ryuzaki in a fur-trimmed, Santa mini-dress that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. She was holding a large bag of gifts and bellowing “HO HO HO” in a way that made everyone’s blood run cold.

“That’s random all right,” Kamio said into the silence, too stunned to turn away from the horror.

“Che,” Echizen shrugged, slapping away Fuji’s hand. “Good thing it’s cold, or you’d have seen the bikini.”

“Dammit, Echizen!” Momoshiro scrubbed at his eyes. “I spent MONTHS trying to forget about that! Viper, bring that eggnog over here, the physical pain will block out the mental!”

Hand moving almost too fast to see, Echizen snatched the piece of questionable sushi off Fuji’s chopsticks and hurled it right at Momoshiro, letting it slide off his fingers so that it twist-served off the table and shot right into Momoshiro’s mouth.

“Not bad, Ochibi!” Kikumaru laughed so hard he was sagging against Oishi as Momoshiro clapped a hand over his mouth, tears springing to his eyes.

“Mada mada dane,” Echizen said sharply, eyeing Fuji, who set down his chopsticks next to the sushi he’d been reaching for with an innocent smile.

Christmas in Hyoutei Seigaku Hyoutei: Part 21

Ryuzaki distributed the gifts that had been turned in for the exchange, then was shunted off to the corner with a very large cup of sake. The freshmen played rock-paper-scissors to see who got the job of keeping her there.

“Bad luck,” Momoshiro said to Katsuo, whose scissors had been decimated by Horio’s triumphant rock. Momo patted Katsuo’s shoulder. “Still, sacrifices must be made.”

Inui, whose Santa was the suspiciously not-so-random Kaidoh, peeled open a cylindrical package wrapped in kitten-covered paper to reveal a new water bottle. When he turned it over in hands, Inui found a cartoonish rendition of his own face markered on the side.

“Geez, Viper,” Momo put a hand to his head, “you should have stuck with the textbook.”

Inui apparently didn’t agree, since he and Kaidoh disappeared for quite some time.

Not wanting to be left out, the Hyoutei regulars had used strips cut from a take-out menu to quickly draw their own secret Santas. Shishido, Ohtori, and Kabaji had taken a quick field trip to the convenience store a few shops down to hunt up suitably questionably gifts, but others were constructing presents out of what was on hand.

Jiroh, who surprisingly knew how to make sushi, made Gakuto his favorite roll with a little help from Kawamura. Commandeering Kamio’s mp3 player for backup, Ohtori sang a spirited version of “Sleepless Beauty” for Atobe, and somehow had even tied a cloth napkin into something that vaguely resembled a Kumagoro.

Echizen was surprised to find his present was a burned DVD of an American movie that he’d been looking for but hadn’t been released in Japan yet.

“How’d you know?” he asked a smug Momoshiro.

“Ne, I might have gotten a few suggestions from someone who’s into the same sort of stuff as you,” Momoshiro admitted, flashing Ann a V behind his back. Kamio peered at Ann suspiciously.

“Taka-san!” Fuji exclaimed, eyes opening when he tugged the little envelope open that his present had come in. He pulled out a cell phone strap that had two tiny pieces of wasabi sushi dangling from it. He tugged his phone out immediately to attach it. “Where did you find these?”

“My dad gets a specialty catalogue with all sorts of sushi-shaped things,” Kawamura explained, completely lit up by how much Fuji liked his present. “Did I really surprise you, Fujiko?”

“So,” Shishido crossed his arms and looked expectantly at Gakuto, “where’s my present?”

Holding up a finger for Shishido to wait a moment, Gakuto tugged out his cell phone and punched a few buttons. After a moment, Shishido’s pocket began to shrill the theme to Teacher, Please.

“I’m going to KILL you!” Shishido roared, chasing a whooping Gakuto around the table. After dodging around various people and furniture, Shishido forced Gakuto back behind the counter, and then into the back room. He slammed the door closed and held it shut, cackling, while Gakuto pounded on the frame and shrieked that what was going on back there would scar him emotionally for life.

“Let him out,” Oshitari ordered, looking up from where he was handing Hiyoshi a king-sized container of Koala Yummies. “I’ll need him later. Eventually.”

“That’s odd.” Tachibana peered at Shinji’s present, which was half a roll of black grip tape. “There’s not even enough for a full grip, I don’t think.”

Shinji was, for once, speechless, and all eyes swiveled to Echizen.

“Whatever,” Echizen snorted. “I had Oishi.” Oishi nodded, holding up a pink mug that said “Mama Deshou”.

“Someone had to end the violence!” Kikumaru shrieked.

In the confusion, Kamio reached over and plucked the mistletoe headband off Ann, and dropped it on his own head. Feeling the tug on her hair, Ann whirled around and eyed Kamio. Kamio blushed a little, but crossed his arms resolutely.

“Are you saying that you want a kiss, Kamio-kun?” Ann inquired.

“It is tradition,” Kamio answered, proud of the fact that he hadn’t even stuttered. Ann reached out to take Kamio’s hand, then dropped something in it. Kamio looked down and blinked at the silver-wrapped chocolate kiss sitting in his hand.

“Oh, what the hell.” Ann dug around in her pocket, then poured a small stream of the candies into Kamio’s hand. “Let’s make out.”

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 22

“Almost ready?” Shishido stood in Ohtori’s doorway, present held behind his back. “We should get going in a few minutes or we’ll be late.”

“Almost,” Ohtori answered, finger-combing a stubborn piece of hair until his reflection met his approval. He laughed a little as he turned to Shishido. “It used to be I had to pull you away from fixing your hair so we wouldn’t be late everywhere.”

“I’ve got the wash and wear model now,” Shishido answered, smiling back. He nearly reached up to touch his hair on reflex, but the slight movement made the package he was hiding crinkle, and Shishido stopped himself just in time.

“You do clean up nice certainly,” Ohtori teased, making a show of looking Shishido’s suit up and down. He took a few steps forward to dust some lint off Shishido’s shoulder, and Shishido leaned back a little so Ohtori couldn’t look over his shoulder and see the present. “Hey, what are you hiding back there?”

“Here.” Shishido pulled the present out and dropped it in Ohtori’s hands, too nervous to tease Ohtori for longer. “Merry Christmas.”

“Shishido-san!” Ohtori looked back and forth from the package to Shishido, a shy smile creeping across his face. “You didn’t have to, you coming with me to Mass is present enough.”

Shishido opened his mouth to say, “See, I TOLD them that!”, but then he took another look at Ohtori, whose face had that look of disbelief again, the one that Shishido was going to make his Choutarou forget all about no matter what it took.

“I wanted to,” Shishido said instead, reaching up to run a thumb along Ohtori’s cheekbone. “You deserve it. You deserve anything.”

“Shishido-san…” Ohtori’s voice was soft, and he leaned into Shishido’s touch.

“Aw, just open it, for crying out loud,” Shishido dropped his hand, blushing, and stuck his hands in his pockets. Chuckling, Ohtori turned his gaze back to the present.

“You even found a tennis tag.” Bemused, Ohtori fingered the tag a moment. “Cause I like tennis.”

“That’s what I’m saying!” Shishido exclaimed, smugly. Well, he couldn’t hold everything in, after all, or he’d explode.

Ohtori pulled up one of the taped ends of the package and reached inside. His eyebrows rose when his fingers sunk into something soft and warm, and he gave a sharp tug to free it from the paper.

Shishido wouldn’t have traded the look on Ohtori’s face when the scarf spilled out over his hands for even a spot on the professional tennis circuit.

“It’s gorgeous!” Ohtori breathed, rubbing his fingers over the fabric with wide eyes.

“I knew you lost yours,” Shishido said casually, fighting to contain his internal dance of boyfriend victory.

“You even remembered that cream is my favorite color!” Ohtori exclaimed, and Shishido rubbed the back of his neck and gave a little “Nn-hm”. Ohtori wrapped the scarf around his neck. “Ooh, so warm! How does it look?”

“Uh.” Shishido managed, a little done already by Ohtori’s breathy ‘ooh‘, and then his brain totally disengaged as the cream of the scarf made Ohtori’s eyes look like coffee, warm and dark. “Uh…”

“Ah, it must be good then.” Ohtori gave Shishido a knowing smile, something amused and even more heated swirling into his gaze.

“Uh…” Shishido whimpered, reaching up to wrap a hand in the scarf and tug Ohtori down for a kiss before things really got out of hand.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 23

“I was going to wait until after the service to give you your present,” Ohtori said, slipping out of Shishido’s grip and heading for his room, “but since you just gave me mine, I guess it’s only fair.”

“You don’t have to,” Shishido called after him, and the soft snort that came from Ohtori’s bedroom said that he didn’t believe Shishido for a second. Shishido didn’t bother to wipe the grin off his face before Ohtori came back in, holding a squashy-looking package wrapped in blue tissue paper with a shiny, red bow stuck on top.

Shishido plucked the bow off and stuck it to Ohtori’s forehead with a firm press of his finger. Ohtori stuck out his tongue and pulled it off, then fidgeted with it.

“Ne, Shishido-san,” Ohtori said quietly, “you might not like it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Shishido bumped Ohtori’s shoulder with his own, then yanked at the tissue paper, tearing a big hole in it.

He stared at the dark blue hat in his hands for a silent moment before looking up to smile at Ohtori.

“Guess you were really serious about me getting a real hat, huh?” he teased.

“I tried to make it the same color as your cap,” Ohtori said quickly, cheeks turning a bit pink. “The first one I made turned out so lopsided, I’m giving it to my brother…”

“That you made?” Shishido looked back and forth from the hat to Ohtori. “Choutarou, you made this? You knit?”

“No!” Ohtori blushed even darker. “I crochet. It’s silly, isn’t it? You can say.”

“It’s great!” Shishido announced, putting the hat on his head and tugging it firmly down around his ears. “It’s really warm.”

“You should go look in the mirror.” Ohtori smiled, reaching over to straighten the hat, trying to smooth it a bit more into shape.

“I don’t have to,” Shishido said, grabbing the ends of Ohtori’s scarf to pull him close for a kiss. “It’s the best hat anyone’s ever made me.”

“Shishido!” Ohtori laughed, letting Shishido make up for the teasing with a slow, warm kiss. Then he decided that Shishido had earned a little teasing of his own, and nibbled on Shishido’s lower lip before soothing it with his tongue.

“Choutarou,” Shishido groaned, pulling back a little. “We’re gonna be late if you keep that up. Like we might make it next year.”

Brushing a last kiss over Shishido’s earlobe that made him whimper, Ohtori released Shishido and went to go find their coats. When he came back with the coats on his arm, he paused in the doorway.

Shishido was inspecting himself in the hat in the mirror by the door, running fingers over it and tugging it into a position that he liked. He was wearing a huge, silly grin that sent warmth coiling around Ohtori’s spine, until suddenly he caught sight of Ohtori’s reflection watching him, and then let his hands drop as his face turned bright red.

“You really like it?” Ohtori asked, leaving the doorway to hand Shishido his coat.

“Of course I do!” Shishido answered keeping his head down under the pretense of getting his coat on and doing up the buttons. “I promise I won’t let Atobe deport it. Now c’mon, or we’re going to miss your real present.”

“It’s snowing!” Ohtori exclaimed as they finally made it outside, running out the door a few steps ahead of Shishido so he could tilt his head up and watch the flakes come down against the weird pinkish cast of the clouds.

He didn’t really understand this holiday at all, Shishido thought as he watched Ohtori fail miserably to try and catch snowflakes on his tongue, but anything that made Ohtori look as good as he did right now, cheeks flushed and eyes dark against the cream scarf, could come as many times a year as it liked.

“We should go,” Ohtori said reluctantly, straightening his neck and turning to Shishido. “What are you smiling like that for?”

“It’s nothing,” Shishido shrugged. Ohtori’s eyes widened when Shishido reached out to take his hand as they started down the sidewalk.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 24

This whole church thing wasn’t as scary as Gakuto had made it out to be at all, Shishido realized. There was a little bit of chanting, from time to time, and Shishido had nearly jumped out of his skin when everybody behind him had started talking in unison the first time. And the candles on the poles at the ends of the pews were suspiciously torch-like, but Ohtori insisted that they were special ones for the holiday.

Then the monk went by waving the brazier of incense, and Shishido relaxed at the familiarity. But that didn’t mean he moved away from where he’d been pressing his shoulder tightly up against Ohtori’s.

“You can sing along, you know,” Ohtori murmured in Shishido’s ear, sliding the book in his hands a little more towards Shishido.

“Nah, you’re the musically inclined member of this pair,” Shishido said back, sliding his hand over Ohtori’s under the cover of the book. “Say, all these candles, aren’t you kind of warm?”

“Hm,” Ohtori let go of the book with one hand to brush over the scarf still wound around his neck. He let his gaze run over Shishido, up to the hat still covering his head. “Aren’t you?”

“I can always take off my jacket.”

The head monk in front started reading from a large, gold-colored book, and Ohtori shushed Shishido. The book stayed open between them, and Ohtori’s fingertips rubbed idly over Shishido’s knuckles every so often.

Shishido let his mind wander while the monk droned on, and his eyes as well. The big table at the front of the church was covered in evergreen boughs, with big red flowers tucked in a few places. There were candles too, thick and white, and the light from them washed everything in gold and shadow, from the polished wood of the seats to the silver of Ohtori’s hair.

Distantly, Shishido wondered when he’d become such a sorry sap.

“Quit staring.” Ohtori gave Shishido’s shoulder a nudge, and Shishido enjoyed immensely the pink flushing lightly over Ohtori’s cheeks.

“You first,” Shishido answered, since Ohtori’s sidelong glances had not gone unnoticed.

*******

“You didn’t mind coming, really?” Ohtori asked on the way home. The cold night air felt great against Shishido’s warm cheeks, because Shishido was way too stubborn to even think about taking the hat off.

“It was interesting,” Shishido answered, holding one hand out to watch the shapes of the individual snowflakes as they fell on his dark gloves. “And very pretty. I’m glad I went with you. Hey, look at this one.”

Shishido held up his glove for Ohtori to see, pointing at one flake in particular. Under the pretense of leaning close to see, Ohtori darted his tongue out and ate the flake. Shishido gave an indignant “Oi!” and punched the laughing Ohtori in the arm.

“There’s millions more where that came from.” Ohtori winked, holding up his mitten to catch a few, then making a big show of dusting them off onto Shishido’s hands.

“I’ll give you millions,” Shishido retorted, bending to scoop up a handful of snow and crunching it into a ball before hurling it at Ohtori. Whooping, Ohtori dodged easily and scooped up his own snow.

They chased each other the last block, hurling badly-made and –aimed snowballs and using streetlamps and building corners for cover. When they arrived on campus

“Oh, it’s ON!” Shishido roared when an ice ball caught him right across the cheek, and he charged directly at Ohtori.

“Sorry!” Ohtori shouted in between laughs, trying to scramble away. His foot caught on a patch of ice, and when Shishido slammed into him they both went tumbling to the ground. Fortunately they landed in the grass to the side of the path to their dorm rather than landing hard on the sidewalk.

“Hey,” Shishido sat up, coat covered in powdered snow, “that looks like your scarf.”

“What?” Ohtori got up, dusting off his pants, then he looked the way Shishido was pointing. “You’re right, that does look like it.”

The bit of scarf was sticking out of the bushes to the left of the stairs to the front door; Shishido had recognized the bright red fringe. He reached down to pick it up, but it wouldn’t come loose, so he got down on his knees to get a better look. Ignoring the snow soaking through his suit pants, he pushed back the branches of the bush and tugged harder on the scarf, and suddenly a weird yowl rang out.

“Was that you?” Ohtori asked.

“Get down here and look,” Shishido said, his voice muffled by the bush. Ohtori obediently knelt beside him and pulled back a few more branches, peering into the interior of the bush with his shoulder pressed against Shishido’s.

A huge calico cat lying on its side on the scarf let out another yowl and eyed them with ears pressed flat against its head.

“That explains that mystery,” Shishido said. “Well, let’s get inside, I’m freezing.” He went to move, but Ohtori grabbed his wrist.

“Look,” he said, pointing at the cat’s stomach, “its nipples are all popped out. It’s pregnant.”

“So what?” Shishido asked. “Choutarou, come on.”

“We can’t just leave it!” Ohtori insisted, crossing his arms and giving Shishido a look.

“What do you want me to…” Shishido heaved a sigh as Ohtori’s expression changed into a pout, and he braced himself to reach further under the bush. “You’re a real pain in the ass sometimes, Choutarou.”

A hissing, pregnant, scarf-thieving cat was really no competition against a pouty Choutarou in Shishido’s world.

Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 25 A [Oshitari/Gakuto]

“Man, we must have done hundreds of these things!” Gakuto proclaimed long-sufferingly, letting the frosting-covered knife clatter to the table and slumping in his chair.

“You’re the one who wanted to make sugar cookies,” Oshitari pointed out. He paused from where he was tucking the iced cookies that were dry into a plastic container and pushed the last wire rack of cookies over towards Gakuto. “Get on it, these are the last ones.”

“Yuushi,” Gakuto whined, licking yellow icing off his thumb before he picked the knife back up.

“Those are supposed to be wreaths, you know,” Oshitari remarked, holding one of the dry ones up for inspection. “Not tennis balls.”

“Those ones are for Shishido,” Gakuto answered, then started cackling nastily. Oshitari shook his head and ripped off a sheet of wax paper to divide layers of cookies.

“What did you make so much icing for?” Oshitari asked. “You’re going to have a whole bowl there almost even after you finish those.”

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll think of something to do with it.” Gakuto blinked innocently at Oshitari and licked some more icing off the back of his hand.

“Hmm.” Oshitari slid the container of cookies to the side, then reached across the table and hauled Gakuto up for a harsh kiss. Gakuto dropped the knife against and grabbed Oshitari’s shoulders for balance as he scrambled up over the table, heedless of the half-dry sugar cookies scattering in all directions.

The kiss broke for a second as Oshitari stripped off Gakuto’s sweater, then his own turtleneck. Gakuto tried to help, but Oshitari slapped his hands away. With their shirts gone, Oshitari pushed a wriggling Gakuto down against the table with one hand and reached for the bowl of icing with the other.

“It’s cold!” Gakuto exclaimed, struggling harder as Oshitari dipped two fingers in the icing and drew a yellow line down the center of his chest. Gakuto stopped pushing and started tugging Oshitari closer when he ran his tongue in a wide, hot line to sweep away the icing.

Dotting globs of icing against Gakuto’s nipples before sucking them clean again, Oshitari grinned wickedly as Gakuto rocked against his thigh, already hard through his jeans. Still holding Gakuto mostly still, except for the desirable arching, Oshitari flipped the button of Gakuto’s jeans open and started tugging them off.

Gakuto let out a moan that made heat spike through Oshitari’s stomach when he coated his palm in icing and gave Gakuto’s erection a firm stroke. Bending down, Oshitari licked the head clean in a series of slow, swirling licks that had Gakuto begging shamelessly. Grinning even wider, Oshitari dropped one hand a little lower to tease Gakuto’s entrance.

“Hey, wait,” Gakuto lifted his head a little, eyes glazed and hair with bits of cookie stuck in it, “you aren’t going to use the icing, are you?”

“The thought had occurred to me,” Oshitari answered, putting two fingers up to Gakuto’s mouth. Gakuto sucked them in hungrily, tongue darting against the thin skin between his fingers. “But then I thought of something better.”

“What?” Gakuto’s eyes widened and he let Oshitari’s fingers slip out of his mouth when he saw Oshitari holding up the tube of red gel they’d used to color the icing. “Yuushi, I don’t think…” Gakuto started as Oshitari flipped the cap off to god knew where and coated his fingers, and the rest of his protest cut off in a long moan as Oshitari slid a long finger inside him.

A while later, Oshitari was slumped in one of the kitchen chairs, Gakuto in his lap, reclining stickily against Oshitari’s chest. They were munching on a pile of half-iced cookie fragments, and Oshitari had a smudge of icing across his glasses.

“You know,” Gakuto said with a full mouth, “you better hope that dye comes off before we have to shower in the club room tomorrow.”

“I don’t see what you’re complaining about.” Oshitari glanced down at his exhausted and very festive lap. “At least yours is mostly someplace where only I should be looking.”

“It would have been barely noticeable if you hadn’t used the blue afterwards,” Gakuto said, grinning at Oshitari’s scowl. “But now you can just tell anyone who asks that you…er, bruised it.”

“Well, they won’t have to wonder about those purple handprints on your ass then,” Oshitari sighed in resignation.


Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 25 B [Atobe/Jiroh]

Atobe had to reluctantly admit, as he let his gaze drift over a naked Jiroh sprawled out across the blue blanket, that Oshitari’s advice had almost worked. At least Jiroh wasn’t bouncing. The stream of mumbled monologue punctuated by a yawn now and again was far more desirable.

“The lights are so pretty,” Jiroh sighed happily, his smile curling against Atobe’s shoulder as he gazed up at the softly glowing tree. Atobe much preferred the way the reflection burnished Jiroh’s pale skin in reds and oranges to staring at that garish monument to pagan fire hazards, but to each his own.

Jiroh sat up suddenly, twisting to look down at Atobe.

“Don’t you want you present, Tobeko?” he asked, grinning as Atobe twitched at the pet name and running a hand through his curls. Without waiting for an answer, Jiroh clamored over Atobe and nudged some of the torn wrapping paper under the tree aside to find his own package.

“It’s really not necessary,” Atobe yawned, enjoying the slide of muscles along Jiroh’s back.

“Here!” Jiroh flopped back to sit cross-legged next to Atobe’s side and dropped a box on his chest. He was bouncing a little again, and Atobe sighed as he pushed himself up on his elbows to tug on the ribbon. “Go on, open it!”

Atobe unfolded the paper neatly to reveal a set of massage oils tucked into a basket. He raised an eyebrow at Jiroh. Jiroh reached over to pluck one of the bottles out of the basket.

“Roll over! Please,” he added when Atobe looked about to balk, and threw in a hooded glance just for good measure. Atobe complied, since it was the season to give and all, pillowing his forehead on the backs of his hands.

“Jiroh,” Atobe asked as he heard Jiroh uncap the bottle and put some on his hands, but then Jiroh put warm slick hands against his back and began rubbing wide circles with strong fingers.

“Since I like to move around,” Jiroh said smugly, “and you like to lay there, I thought maybe this way we could both get what we wanted.”

Not that Atobe ever didn’t get what he wanted, Atobe thought, giving a little sigh of approval as Jiroh dug thumbs into just the right spot on the small of his back. But Jiroh did have a way of coming up with things that Atobe hadn’t realized that he wanted.

“Of course I’m usually the one who gets it,” Jiroh laughed warmly against Atobe’s ear, making him grumble something lazily about smartass boytoys. “So, you like your present, right?”

Atobe rolled over to push Jiroh onto his back, and extensive testing led Atobe to conclude that anything that could make Jiroh’s hands glide over his skin like that was clearly the best present ever.


Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 25 C [Shishido/Ohtori]

The only reason Shishido didn’t die of diabetic shock from watching a sleep-mussed Ohtori in Christmas boxers surrounded by newborn kittens, was that newborn kittens actually weren’t that cute.

“I’ll call the vet in the morning,” Ohtori assured Shishido as he crawled back into bed, giving a little moan of glee as the warmth seeped into his chilled skin. “She hasn’t got any tags, but she does have a collar, so someone might be looking for her.”

“Maybe they kicked her out for a lack of holiday spirit,” Shishido said, still sulking over the gashes the cat had raked down his forearm while being extracted from the bush. Across the room, nestled in a laundry basket with five kittens, the cat caught Shishido’s eye and hissed. Shishido bared his teeth back.

“Shishido-san,” Ohtori admonished, tucking himself along Shishido’s side. He lifted Shishido’s arm to kiss his injury, and Shishido harrumphed a little as he wrapped his other arm around Ohtori’s shoulders.

“I’m never going to be able to top this for your birthday,” he sighed, letting his eyes drift over to the scarf still half-tied to the bedpost. “I’d have to get freshly hatched baby penguins or something.”

“Maybe the zoo will have an unplanned clutch,” Ohtori teased sleepily. “You can get them on the cheap.”

“We can dye them pink and purple, like they do with chicks at Easter.”

Ohtori’s laughter buzzed pleasantly against Shishido’s chest before he said, “Tennis practice is going to suck tomorrow.”

“Tell me about it.” Shishido stretched a little and rolled onto his side, sighing as Ohtori curled along the line of his back and put an arm around his waist.

“Merry Christmas, Shishido-san,” Ohtori yawned, nose pressing between Shishido’s shoulder blades.

“Yeah yeah.” Shishido twined fingers around Ohtori’s and stroked his thumb over the back of Ohtori’s hand. “And to all a good night.”


Christmas in Hyoutei: Part 25 D [Hiyoshi. Kabaji]

“Geez,” Hiyoshi scowled in the clubhouse as he was packing things back into his tennis bag. “It’s absolutely shameful the state you people drag yourself in here in!”

“Oh fuck you, Hiyoshi,” Shishido growled as he shuffled past, rubbing his forearm. Ohtori, trotting along behind him, gave Hiyoshi an apologetic shrug and pointed at Shishido’s hat with proud eyes.

“Et tu, Atobe?” Hiyoshi shook his head sadly. The captain had been the one who had canceled the practice after barely a half hour, on the grounds that 80% of the regulars were too injured or exhausted to accomplish anything.

“Ore-sama does not have enough energy for the thrashing you deserve,” Atobe replied, sitting on the bench and eyeing his shoelaces like they were personally responsible for how far away they were. “Consider yourself warned and tremble at Ore-sama’s future compensation.”

“I’ll play you if you want to practice, Hiyoshi-kun!” Jiroh, who was improbably awake, bounced a little on the bench, then winced hard. He rubbed the back of his head with a rueful laugh. “Er, maybe not.”

Hiyoshi wasn’t even going to comment on what Gakuto and Oshitari looked like. And what the hell had happened to Oshitari’s…yeah, nevermind.

“At least you’re dependable,” Hiyoshi said to Kabaji, who nodded. He was wrapping a thick scarf around his neck. “Hey, that’s nice. Where’d you get that?”

“Made it,” Kabaji reported.

“Made it?” Hiyoshi leaned closer. “You crochet?”

“Nope.” Kabaji gave a tiny derisive snort. “I knit.”

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