In the Forest of the Night

Takes place in Current Tenipuri Year. Ohtori reflects on the pair he’s found himself a part of. Drama With Romance, I-3

Choutarou couldn’t remember precisely when Shishido-san had started calling him by his given name. It had been some time during those first, grueling, late night training sessions. He did remember being surprised by it. A number of things had surprised him, right around that time.

He had never, before that, given much thought to the cutthroat system of Hyoutei’s tennis club. It was just the way things were. Well, he had noticed that it seemed to make for astonishing rudeness among the pre-Regulars, but that didn’t have to affect him. Choutarou had been raised to show courtesy; Otou-sama always said it was one of the best ways to disarm an opponent. So he was polite to his peers and his seniors, both, and lent a hand wherever one seemed needed, and devoted every bit of his strength to working his way up the ranks. It hadn’t taken long. The grumbling of people with less dedication had little meaning to him. By the same token, it was pleasant, the mass support that Atobe-buchou’s hand with the club placed at his back once he was a Regular. But Choutarou never deceived himself by thinking that his performance rested on anything but his own will and effort. The shape of the system that went on around him didn’t matter.

And then Shishido Ryou had come to him, after his sudden defeat at Fudoumine’s hands, and asked for help with some training. Choutarou had agreed, as he always did, though the help Shishido-san wanted had been a bit out of the ordinary. He had watched Shishido-san drive himself to catch an unreturnable serve with his bare hands, night after night, and seen something he hadn’t expected.

After very little observation, during his first year, Choutarou had decided that no one among the Regulars shared his own dedication, with the exception of the captain. They were all very talented, but also flippant and careless, not devoting anywhere near the concentration that Choutarou thought the game called for. Under the floodlights, though, in the burning of Shishido-san’s eyes, in the scrapes and bruises and blood on the court, in his voice with every snarl of Next!, Choutarou had seen drive and will to match his own.

That was what had driven him to break his usual reserve and plead with Sakaki-sensei to reinstate Shishido-san. And when their coach’s threat had brought home, for the first time, the cold finality of Hyoutei’s system, it was that recognition of kinship-at-last that had driven him to lay his own position on the line. He would certainly have regretted it, if he had lost his place. But if Hyoutei’s system had no room for the pure determination and burning edge that Shishido-san had reached, then perhaps Choutarou truly didn’t and couldn’t belong there, either.

Not that he hadn’t been extremely relieved when Atobe-buchou had stepped in.

And when Shishido-san had finished trading insults with Atobe-buchou, and it had taken some time for Choutarou to figure out that this might be Shishido-san’s way of thanking their captain, he had turned to Choutarou and called him by name. That was the first time Choutarou really remembered, though at the same time he had recalled an increasing number of Choutarous slipping in among the Ohtoris during the weeks they worked together.

No one else at the school called him by his given name.

Choutarou wondered, sometimes, if Atobe-buchou had seen it starting then. It would explain why he had immediately thrown them together as a doubles pair. It was the kind of thing that he, long acquainted with Shishido Ryou, might well have seen at once.

It took Choutarou somewhat longer to realize that, when he had given Shishido-san his support, he had gained something in return, tossed in his path as easily as Shishido-san might toss him a towel after a long practice.

Shishido-san’s loyalty.

Choutarou was friendly with many, but friends with few. It was the way he had always been. Shishido-san didn’t seem to care. He breezed through Choutarou’s public manners as casually as he elbowed past Atobe-buchou’s arrogance. Ohtori Choutarou was now his partner, and his friend, and that was that.

Choutarou had been stunned.

He had never known someone who would so freely grab his arm to get his attention, grin at him to share an inside joke, yell at anyone he found giving Choutarou grief about his control and then turn around and lecture Choutarou himself about the same thing. He had certainly never known anyone at Hyoutei who matched his focus on the court without hesitation or complaint. But Shishido-san did all of that, now. And, for the first time since he had entered the tennis club, Choutarou had relaxed. As part of a pair, his success was no longer purely dependant on his own effort and will; but Shishido-san’s fierceness left no room for anxiety or reluctance to depend on him.

When they had beaten Oshitari-senpai and Mukahi-senpai at doubles, Choutarou had returned Shishido-san’s brilliant grin with a smile so open it felt strange on his face.

Shishido-san’s determination for him, and pride in him, when it came to defeating Choutarou’s own weaknesses, had, for the first time, given Choutarou more than his own will to support him.

Shishido-san’s spendthrift energy and warmth had drawn Choutarou in until he found it hard to imagine living without them. But in another half a year…

A cold, dripping waterbottle against the back of his neck pulled Choutarou out of his introspection with a yelp.

“You’re miles away, Choutarou,” Shishido-san chuckled, dropping onto the bench beside him. “What’s up?”

“I was just thinking,” he said, taking a sip of water to cover his confusion.

“About what?” his partner prodded, leaning back. He waited while Choutarou gathered his thoughts.

“This spring, mostly. Graduation,” Choutarou answered, finally. “I… don’t really like the thought of playing alone again.”

“Who said anything about alone?” Shishido-san asked, sharply. Choutarou blinked at him. “Just because we can’t play together in the tournaments for a year, that doesn’t mean a thing. We’re a team, Choutarou. The Shishido-Ohtori pair. Got it?” Shishido glared at him, the one that meant he thought his partner was being dense.

“Of course,” Choutarou said, slowly, “but it will be two years before we can play as a pair again.”

“Bullshit,” Shishido-san pronounced. Choutarou opened his mouth and closed it again. He contented himself, at last, with raising his brows at his partner. Shishido-san grinned, teeth gleaming.

“First class doubles pairs are hard to find,” he said, “especially at the really competitive schools. They’ll let us play. You’ll see. Atobe likes to win.”

Ah. Shishido-san did have a point. And Choutarou had no doubt that Atobe-buchou would have a good deal of influence, even as a second year.

“So,” Shishido-san continued, “the only thing you have to worry about next year is keeping Hiyoshi from trying to take over the entire world.”

“Shishido-san, he’s not that bad…” Choutarou began, a smile starting at the corners of his mouth.

“I imagine I’ll be stuck as the one who gets to try and keep Atobe’s ego from gaining any more mass, than, say, Jupiter,” his partner continued, blithely.

“Shishido-san…” Choutarou was laughing now.

“And we’ll have to get together often to blow off steam about what a pain they are to deal with, and since we’ll be together we might as well get in some match time while we’re at it, right?”

“Yes, Shishido-san,” Choutarou agreed, once he caught his breath.

His partner nodded at him, firmly.

“Don’t you forget it, Choutarou.”

“I won’t,” Choutarou promised.


Last Modified: May 08, 12
Posted: May 24, 04
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    1. branchandroot Post author

      Nope! He’s just the sweetest, scrappiest little thing, at least post-comeback.

      Oh, hey, and I got WHR (ma-ra-thon, ma-ra-thon, ma-ra-thon).

  1. naanima




    The line about being polite to disarm your opponent. OMG! CHOUTAROU! That is HIM! Otori is NOT an innocent, there’s no fecking way for a person to be on the Hyotei team without having a manipulative bone(s) in their body. Just because he’s nice doesn’t mean he’s not determined, extemely motivated, or very, very, very manipulative.

    But OHHHHH! The way he realised how determined Shihido is, the way he began to fall for Shishido (without fully realising it yet). HAPPINESS!

    And you have to idea how the comment about Atobe’s need to win, and his ego (the size of Jupiter) made me snicker. Though I have to admit Shishido’s snark about Hiyoshi’s attempt to take over the world made me laugh.

    *jumps up and down* Happiness! I have decided, write what you will. I will READ ^__^

    (Though backstory is always appreciated ^_^)

    LOVE YOU!!!! *dumps truck after truck of truffles at your feet*

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *happily buried in truffles* Mmmm, yum.

      Glad you liked it, darling! Though I dearly love ShishiTori the way, say, Monnie does it, my own take on Ohtori is that he’s a nice guy, but not an innocent one, and not especially merciful, either. Certain of the extra info seems to point in that direction, talking about how he uses the psychological shock of his serve as a major weapon when he plays.

      They’re so cute in their as-yet-cluelessness. *pets characters* Clues are on the way, though. *wicked grin*

      1. naanima

        Well, you know Monnie’s fics are like my first encounter to ShishiTori, and I will always worship her for that. And while I think she’s got her Shishido down to a pat, I prefer your Ohtori better. It is the way I see him in my head.

        Yay for clues! The question is who will notice first.


  2. lady-readwolf

    Saaa… I’m not sure if I’ve stopped to tell you how much I simply adore this series, but I do. ^.^

    Which means, you *must* write more so I can have a constant fix, ne? ^.^

    {toddles off to find more fics to read}

      1. lady-readwolf

        {nods sympathetically} I understand… and while I can certainly empathize, forgive me for not pitying you. ^.^

        Now, what lovely piece will we get next?

        1. branchandroot Post author

          Buggered if I know, actually. I’m almost finished with the *end* of the ShishiTori backstories, but I’m not entirely sure how many will come in the middle. Two, I think. Guess I’ll know when I get there. Some kind of ShishiTori, anyway.

  3. exwaiz

    ToriShishi! Waaah! *glomps* ^_^

    You write a great Ohtori and your Shishido…*melts* Can’t stop fangirling over this! The image of Hiyoshi trying to take over the world is going to be stuck in my head for a while. XD

  4. sharona1x2

    Hi. I know this is a really late reply, but I’ve been saving up your ToriShishi fic to read for when I knew I could read all the parts in one sitting. I’m treating myself to a whole morning of your work.

    I read a lot of fic about Ohtori and Shishido. I like a lot of it, but I rarely find an author who writes Ohtori exactly the way I see him from the series. Judging by this first story, I think you might be one of those rare writers. I really like the way you portrayed him in this.

    I also commend you for the way you described the whole business of Ohtori offering up his spot for Shishido. Yes, I like the romantic meaning that usually gets assigned to that scene, but it’s a treat to find someone who writes it more a gen thing. You really got to the heart of Ohtori’s motivations here.

    This is beautiful work, and I’m looking forward to reading the next parts. Your characterization is so close to canon. I’m looking forward to seeing the relationship between Ohtori and Shishido develop gradually.

    I own an archive devoted to Ohtori, Shishido and Hiyoshi. It’s called Brand New Days ( I’m trying to archive as much work about those three characters as possible. Would you please consider letting me archive this story (and the others in this arc)? It would be a great pleasure to archive your work. Thanks, for your consideration, and for your work. I can’t wait to read the next part.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *stares at mountain of feedback* Wow! Thank you so much, I’m delighted you enjoyed it! One of my priorities is always to keep the characters as close to their roots as possible, and when a fan of the characters in question thinks I’ve succeeded, that means a lot to me.

      *nods* I’ve visited that archive, looking for Hiyo-chan stories. If you’d like to archive my ShishiTori, that would be entirely cool with me. I haven’t done final revisions on any of my PoT fic (when I finally get around to it I’ll be adding a new area to my own fic page), but they’re done enough to be posted. Shall I email you the html files? (I write in Dreamweaver, nice clean code.) *thinks* Do you want “Confluence”? It has a bunch of different pairs, but the Shishido and Ohtori section is sort of part of their arc (the music store referred to in “Innocence and Experience”).

      1. sharona1x2

        Apologies for not writing back sooner. RL and my site kept me a bit busy the past few days.

        You were looking for Hiyo-centric stories? If I could recommend one author to you, it would be [ profile] ruebert, both for his Hiyoshi stories and his one ShishiTori story. Rue is both my favorite author in the fandom, and my very good friend. Like you, I think he works very hard to keep his characters as canon-based as possible. He’s the reason why I added Hiyoshi to the site in the first place, and why I love ToriHiyo as much as ToriShishi. ^__^

        You don’t need to send me anything to get your stories into my archive. I’ve picked them up right from your LJ posts. You can find your listing on the ToriShishi fic page (, if you’d like to check that I’ve got everything right. Archiving part of a longer arc was a bit of a challenge. Hopefully, you’ll agree with the way I did it. If you see anything you want changed, don’t hesitate to tell me, even if it’s something minor. I want you to be happy with it.

        I did add Confluence, but I did it more as a link rather than a separate entry. The story isn’t really centered around Ohtori and Shishido, therefore, it doesn’t really match the criteria for being listed at BND. I would have just linked to it in your LJ, but I worry about LJs getting deleted and such. Since you said I could archive it, I hoped that would be okay.

        The only question I have for you is if you want me to list an email addy for you, in case anyone reads and wants to send you feedback. If so, just let me know and I’ll add it. I really hope you do write these guys again. I loved these stories so much that I recommended them in my LJ to my friends.

        Thanks again!

        1. branchandroot Post author

          Looks great! For email, is my main addy.

          I expect I will write more ShishiTori sooner or later; they’re great fun. Feel free to grab any others I post, for the archive.

          *enthusiastic* Rue’s work is great! He’s the one who first interested me in writing from Hiyoshi’s pov (poor, neglected boy).

          1. sharona1x2

            Thank you! I added your email addy last night. Everything should be finished now.

            Thank you, too, for giving me blanket permission to archive more. I really appreciate that. I’ll be looking forward to it.

            I’m glad you like Rue’s writing. I don’t think he’d mind me saying that he’ll probably be posting some more Hiyo works in the near future. I’m spoiled because I usually get to see them before they get posted. It’s funny how he’s made me love a character I really didn’t even notice in the series.

  5. assyrian

    This is a belated, belated comment, but I’m just leaving a note to say how much I love your Ootori and how true he rings here, much more than any other fanon incarnation I’ve read of him. (which is a frequent occurrence with characters when I read your fics, really) I think you strike the perfect balance here, between the Ootori who has the grit and the psychological sharpness that he needs to survive in Hyoutei, and the idealism and courtesy and niceness.

    Also, Shishido’s comments on Hiyoshi taking over the world, and Atobe’s Jupiter-sized ego are just brilliant. <<<3333

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *hearts you* Thank you, dear.

      And yes. Choutarou is a sweetheart, but he’s sweet the way Yukimura is gentle. Not on the court, and not all the time. I’m more and more convinced that too many fans totally ignore the tennis matches and only really pay attention to how the characters behave off the court. Which rather misses the point. *loves on the tennis boys*