Fearful Symmetry

Snippets of how Ohtori and Shishido keep company while they’re apart, during Ohtori’s third year of junior high and Shishido’s first year of high school. Drama With Romance, I-3


At the end of the first day of his last year of junior high school, Choutarou found Shishido-san leaning against the wall of the school grounds, waiting for him. Tension he had carried all day without noticing unwound from his shoulders.

“Shishido-san,” he greeted.

“Choutarou. How’d it go? Is it Hiyoshi?” Shishido-san fell in beside him, hitching his bag over his shoulder. Choutarou nodded.

“Hiyoshi-kun is captain this year. I think it will work well. He’s very different from Atobe-san.” It didn’t need to be said that Atobe-san had the ability to back up his flamboyance, and anyone else who tried to use the same style to lead the club was likely to make a fool of himself. Shishido-san chuckled, just a bit nastily.

“Yoshimaru-buchou is already worrying about Atobe.”

“But seniority won’t let Atobe-san take his position,” Choutarou said, puzzled. “Not even Atobe-san.”

“No. But he’ll be playing as a Regular; no one really doubts that. And it won’t be fun, being captain when the ace who can beat his socks off is a first year,” Shishido-san pointed out.

Choutarou smiled at Shishido-san’s glee over his captain’s discomfiture. Yoshimaru-san must be the quiet type; that always made his partner uncomfortable. He listened, as Shishido-san detailed the quirks and attitudes of the high school tennis club, in a better mood than he’d been all day.


Ryou eyed the sakura trees along the route home with annoyance. Sure, they were pretty, but they also made a mess, and you’d think the things would have finished blooming by now. It was getting on toward summer.


Ryou glanced back at his companion with a quick grin.

“Yeah, so, anyway, Kaa-san said it would be fine with her, even if we run late and you wind up staying for dinner now and then. I figure it’s easier to get work done with company; even if we’re not studying the same things.”

Choutarou still looked hesitant, but Ryou knew better than to take that personally. His partner was just allergic to putting himself forward, at least socially.

“I’ll have to ask,” he started, and Ryou’s grin widened.

“No you won’t. Kaa-san decided to call your mother herself. They agreed to trade off who feeds us.” Ryou nudged Choutarou in the ribs to make him close his mouth. “The direct approach runs in the family,” he added.

“So does thinking ahead of your opponent,” Choutarou told him, with a small smile to show he was teasing. Ryou was pleased. Most people would probably say Ohtori Choutarou wasn’t capable of teasing, or of a smile that bright. Nice, but distant, most people would say. Not, Ryou thought, smugly, with him.

“Just anticipating my partner,” he corrected, easily. The way they should be.


Shishido-san flopped down on the bench beside Choutarou and grabbed for his water bottle.

“Is anything wrong, Shishido-san?” Choutarou asked. “You seemed kind of distracted today.”

It was as polite a way as he could think of to point out that Choutarou didn’t normally win when they played singles against each other. It was getting closer, but still. Shishido-san shook his head and tossed Choutarou his own water.

“Just had a weird night,” he said, reassuringly. Choutarou raised his eyebrows. Shishido-san made a face.

“I was out playing pool last night, and ran across Seigaku’s Fuji.” He shuddered, though Choutarou thought he probably did it for effect. “Never, ever trust that guy, especially if he’s smiling. He completely fleeced four players in an hour, and three of them were the kind who usually do the fleecing themselves. And when one of his fellow sharks took exception to being cleaned out, Fuji backed him off without even raising his voice. He’s seriously creepy.”

Choutarou found himself smiling just a little at the disgruntled tone of Shishido-san’s story telling. He rather thought that Shishido-san’s real distraction came from the reminder that he wasn’t playing in the tournaments this year, while Fuji was. It was something close to unheard of, to have two first years among the Regular team, but Seigaku’s high school captain was apparently more interested in giving talent free rein than abiding by seniority. Hiyoshi-kun had smiled an extremely sharp smile, when he’d heard, probably at the idea of what Atobe-san would have said when he heard.

“I think another doubles pair has showed up, Shishido-san,” he said, instead. “Do you want to ask them for a game?”

Shishido-san’s eyes glinted, annoyance forgotten.

“Why don’t we do that?”


Ryou still hadn’t managed to stop snickering by the time he met Choutarou to walk home. His partner gave him an inquiring look.

“Did something happen at practice, Shishido-san?”

“You could say that, yeah,” Ryou snorted. “Oshitari and Mukahi finally got walked in on. And the best part,” he added, snickering again, “was that Oshitari just looked over his shoulder, told them to come back in fifteen minutes, and kept right on. In the general club room, no less! I knew it was gonna happen some day.”

Choutarou cleared his throat, and Ryou saw that he was blushing. Whoops. Sometimes he forgot just how reserved his partner was about personal things. He patted Choutarou’s shoulder.

“Didn’t mean to embarrass you, Choutarou. It was just that everyone’s reactions were hysterical! You should have heard Atobe reading Oshitari the riot act about doing things with style.”

Ah, there was the little smile, again. The one from their early days as a pair, that meant Choutarou wasn’t entirely sure, yet, that he should be showing that he was happy or amused. A change of subject would probably make him relax again.

“So, how did your matches against Fudoumine go?” he asked, “I meant to come watch, but Atobe was feeling like a bastard and practically dragged me to the high school matches instead.” And he was going to get Atobe back for that. He was not married to his partner, thank you very much, he just cared more about Choutarou than the entire high school tennis club put together.

“Tachibana-san couldn’t make it to this match, to watch, either, and there’s really an edge they lack when he’s not there,” Choutarou said, a hint of disapproval in his tone. “It went all the way to Singles One, but we won.”

“Completely uncool,” Ryou agreed, firmly ignoring the small voice in the back of his head that was pointing out certain similarities to his own performance without Choutarou.

That was different. Choutarou wasn’t the center of his game; he was just… the other center of his game. Ryou had to shake his head at himself, wryly, before bumping Choutarou with his shoulder.

“So, your mom make any more of those killer chocolate cookies this week?”


Choutarou was having a very bad day. His E string had broken last night, and the store close to his house didn’t have the brand he favored. He’d had bizarre dreams that he couldn’t remember very well, involving a tennis court that somehow had nets all over it. The lingering restlessness from that had distracted him so much he’d burned three pieces of toast in a row, before Okaa-sama made him sit down and let her do it.

Normally, a match, especially a tournament match, let him put things like that aside, but today he was playing Seigaku’s Echizen-kun in Singles Two, and somehow it was just the last straw. Despite all the concentration and discipline he could muster, Choutarou couldn’t shake the horrible, foggy feeling of losing right from the start.

He tightened his mental grip as much as he could, preparing to serve.


His head snapped up at the sound of his name, and he spun to see Shishido-san standing behind him, one hand wound into the fence. Choutarou recognized the look on his face. It was the same one he’d had while they worked on controlling his serve. Impatient. Sharp. Burning with incontrovertible belief that Choutarou would succeed.

Choutarou took what felt like his first real breath all day, and nodded. Shishido-san smiled back, bright as sunlight flashing off a knife.

All right, maybe he’d have a little more sympathy for Fudoumine next time. Maybe.

These days Echizen-kun could return over half of Choutarou’s serves. This one was not one of that half. As Echizen-kun shook out his hand, he gave Choutarou a one sided smile, eyes interested for the first time this match. Choutarou let his own mouth curve slightly, cool and pleased.

He knew Shishido-san was grinning, behind him.


Ryou closed his History of the Heian Era text with a thump and cast himself back, carelessly, across Choutarou’s bed.

“I will be so glad when it’s next year,” he commented to the ceiling, knowing Choutarou would have looked up at the rustle when he fell back. “I mean, singles is fun, and all, but it’s just not the same.”

“Me, too.” Choutarou slipped out of his desk chair to sit leaning against the bed. “There’s just something… missing.”

“Yeah,” Ryou agreed, softly. It was almost enough, just to hang out with Choutarou, to share frustrations over their teams, to redesign the curriculum when they got bored with their homework. And they had played together a lot this year. But there was an extra edge that came with playing as a pair, against real challenges, that the street courts only supplied once in a blue moon.

Though the street courts did make it easier for Atobe to come watch them unobtrusively. Which he was capable of, if he put his mind to it. Being himself, Atobe hadn’t said a thing, but Ryou hadn’t known him this long for nothing. He had no more doubt that he’d be able to talk Atobe around to supporting he and Choutarou.

“Besides,” he went on, mood lightening a little, “somebody’s got to get Oshitari and Mukahi’s heads out of the clouds. They think they’ve got a cakewalk to Doubles One next year.” He turned his head, crooked grin meeting Choutarou’s sudden, brilliant smile. There was confidence there, and anticipation.

“Too bad Oshitari-senpai and Mukahi-senpai will have to settle for second,” Choutarou said, reaching out his hand to his partner. Ryou clasped it.

“Yep. Too bad for everyone else.”


Last Modified: May 08, 12
Posted: May 28, 04
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  1. lady-readwolf

    so….damn…. CUTE!

    {grins} these little bits and pieces are always some of the best stories—just little peeks into someone’s life like this always tends to warm the heart… ^.^ and make you feel good all over.

    1. branchandroot Post author


      Snippet-stories are hard to balance, but when they come out right I like them. I usually use them to span time, though I’ve seen people use them just for the snippet-effect, too.

  2. sharona1x2

    This was beautifully done. I feel like I learned so much from the snippets, about the way things were when they were apart, and about how their relationship is developing.

    I love that Shishido criticizes Fudomine for playing better when their captain is there to watch, but doesn’t think it’s the same when he plays better if Ohtori is there. Such sweet denial.

    Honestly, I could probably list a dozen things I enjoyed in this fic. I’ll sum it up though by saying again that the characterization is so close to what I see in the series, and the relationship is developing so believably. I’m enjoying this all very much.