Mild chaos and vast snarkiness as many paths cross at a music store. Drama With Romance, I-3


Kunimitsu had some misgivings about accompanying Keigo to a music store. Particularly one this large. Music was, after all, one of Keigo’s enthusiasms. He could only hope Keigo had entertained the other people in the train car more than he had alarmed them, holding forth as energetically as he had on the antecedents of jazz. He hesitated to think what would happen if they found a knowledgeable clerk inside for Keigo to chat with.

Blackmail was, however, blackmail, and Keigo had threatened to select things for Kunimitsu’s collection if he didn’t come along to make his own choices.

“So,” Keigo said, looking around with a gleam of avarice in his eye, “where shall we start?”

“Your show,” Kunimitsu told him, evenly, “at least until it comes to my collection. Wherever you like.”

Keigo looked to be in a mischievous mood, to judge by the look of Well, of course that he flashed Kunimitsu before leading the way through the racks. After a brief stopover in Pop they finally fetched up at the border of Jazz and Classical.

“Mm. Akiko Yano, Nunokawa Toshiki, Raphael Lima, Ishmael Reed, now there’s one I didn’t expect, even at this store. And why,” Keigo added in a long-suffering tone, “can’t anyone ever catalogue Gershwin properly?”

“Well,” came a light voice behind them, “surely not everyone can be blessed with your incisively discerning taste, Atobe.”

Kunimitsu turned to see Fuji, Tachibana beside him, smiling with the kind of earnest sincerity that could only be fake. He glanced aside to see how his companion was taking it. Keigo studied the rack in front of him with a thoughtful look for a moment before one side of his mouth twitched up. He wrapped arrogant entitlement around him like a robe and turned as well.

“Of course,” he agreed, carelessly, stance suddenly a pose for admiring crowds.

Kunimitsu caught Tachibana’s eye, full of amused sympathy, and shrugged an eyebrow. Still, it might be a good idea to redirect the two before innocent bystanders happened along and entered the line of fire.

“Similar taste in music, too?” he mused to no one in particular. Fuji’s smile didn’t flicker, but Keigo gave him a cool look.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t seriously be suggesting that Fuji’s tastes run to Zig Noda.” He had drawn a breath to continue when Fuji’s slightly frozen expression stopped him.

“Kose Kikuchi,” Fuji admitted, after a moment.

They turned as one to glare daggers at Kunimitsu, who refrained from responding. Tachibana had a hand over his mouth.

“Similar instruments,” Keigo declared, “do not equate to similar styles.”

“Quite so,” Fuji agreed, stepping toward a different rack. “And it was Roy Hargrove that I particularly hoped to find today.”

“The latest album?” Keigo asked, sharply, discarding his front in face of a possible threat to his program of acquisition. “I hope there are two copies, then, I’d hate for you to be disappointed, Fuji.”

Of course, Kunimitsu reflected, as Keigo strode after Fuji, his genuine behavior didn’t always differ that markedly from his public act. Particularly when one of his enthusiasms was involved. Tachibana leaned against the rack beside him, looking after the other two.

“Shuusuke is still annoyed with you over that particular observation,” he noted.

“I’m not surprised,” Kunimitsu said. “Keigo is, a bit, too.” Tachibana gave him an oblique look.

“If you knew it would irritate them, why did you say it?” he asked. Kunimitsu folded his arms.

“Better they be annoyed with me than each other. Imagine the consequences.”

Tachibana rubbed his fingers over his forehead, suddenly looking a little pinched. “I’d really rather not.”

Kunimitsu looked at him sharply, questioning. After a moment Tachibana shook his head.

“It’s more his story than mine,” he said, quietly.

“Mm.” Still, Kunimitsu had to respect the point. He had entrusted his friend to Tachibana years ago; it was good to know the trust wasn’t misplaced.


“Metheny is one step away from elevator music,” Keigo snorted, as he and Fuji made their way back to their respective partners. “Next you’ll be telling me you like Yanni.”

“A narrative format keeps music from becoming meaninglessly abstract,” Fuji countered. He paused long enough to give Tezuka something Keigo read as a vindicated look. Probably because they were disagreeing. Keigo considered weighing in with a smug smile of his own, but decided it would detract from the point.

“Well. Isn’t this quite the congregation?” asked a new voice. Keigo glanced around to see Mizuki Hajime and Fuji’s brother, Yuuta, come around the corner from the next aisle. Something in the quality of the silence beside him drew his gaze back to Fuji, and he almost took a step away.

The gleam of more or less good natured mockery in Fuji’s eyes was swallowed into a flat, icy blue, slick as the side of a glacier. Any hint of a smile fell away like a dropped piece of paper. It wasn’t an expression Keigo had ever seen on Fuji before, not even when he was playing for real. A quick look at Kunimitsu showed enough disturbance in the line of his mouth that Keigo didn’t think he was familiar with this either. Tachibana had closed the distance between he and Fuji, and laid an unobtrusive hand on his back.

“Mizuki,” Fuji stated, soft and flat.

Yuuta looked edgy, but Mizuki merely clasped his hands behind his back and smiled.

“Shuusuke. You’re looking well.”

Keigo was, a bit unwillingly, impressed with Mizuki’s nerve. Or, possibly, his mental instability. A corner of Fuji’s mouth twitched, as though he were suppressing a snarl. Keigo was wildly curious about exactly what Mizuki had really just said; subtext almost dripped from that simple greeting.

Tachibana’s presence abruptly became more noticeable. Keigo, familiar with the ways a person could draw the eye, noted with interest that Tachibana did it without even shifting his body language much. He didn’t step forward, or loom. He simply straightened, and his presence washed out from him, momentarily overwhelming even the intensity of Fuji’s focus, pulling Mizuki’s gaze away from his target. Tachibana gave him a hard look. After a moment, Mizuki inclined his head and opened one hand, palm up.

If Keigo had to guess, he would judge that Tachibana knew what was unspoken between Fuji and Mizuki, and had warned Mizuki to back off from the subject. And Mizuki, for whatever reason, had acknowledged Tachibana’s right to interfere and accepted the warning.

And for some reason that had caused Yuuta to relax. Fuji too, after a stiff moment.

Keigo stifled a sigh, resigning himself to the hell of ungratified curiosity, because, even if Kunimitsu knew what was going on, Keigo knew he would never get the answer out of him.

“You two have fun, then,” Yuuta said, running a hand through his hair, and sounding a bit rueful. “I’ll just be over there.” He slipped back into the other aisle, leaving both his brother and his lover looking after him, the one bemused and the other affectionate. Though it took Keigo a second look to place the expression on Mizuki’s face, before it reverted to a more accustomed smirk as Mizuki turned back to Fuji.

“He doesn’t like listening, when it gets to be about him,” Mizuki told the elder Fuji. That, at least, made sense to Keigo. Everyone who had any contact with either of them knew that Yuuta was a bone of contention between Fuji and Mizuki.

That cold tension was singing through Fuji again, though not quite as intensely as before.

“So many assumptions, Shuusuke,” Mizuki murmured. “Where would be the challenge in that?” Then he practically grinned. “So, what are you here for today?”

Keigo studied Mizuki. Unlike Fuji, Mizuki looked exactly like someone in the middle of a good game: breathing light and fast, eyes wide and brilliant. He’d long suspected that Mizuki liked to do things indirectly, and that his airs and affectations were as much a front as Keigo’s own. He’d suspected that it was done for Mizuki’s own amusement, and that he snickered up his sleeve at everyone who took the flouncing and strutting seriously. This was the first time he’d really thought that tennis itself might only be a medium for Mizuki, not a goal.

Fuji waved a hand at the racks around them.

“We came for music,” he answered, in the tone of someone dealing with an idiot. Mizuki merely smiled.

“Ah. Not the company of friends?” He paused, and Keigo sniffed at the melodrama. “But I suppose not, given the conversation as we arrived. Really, Shuusuke, anyone would think you were jealous.” His glance flicked toward Kunimitsu.

Keigo was about to snort, because hadn’t he and Fuji been over that already? But the shift in Fuji’s weight, the tense and twist of his hands, stopped it. Keigo’s eyes widened. There must be some truth in what Mizuki was saying, or Fuji wouldn’t be reacting like this. From the way Kunimitsu stiffened beside him, he had caught some of it, too.

And that was enough for Keigo to interfere.

“Jealous?” he drawled. “You should check your facts, Mizuki. Envious, now, that’s a bit more likely.” It wasn’t easy to lounge while standing upright, but that’s what talent was for. Tachibana was looking at him with a mix of disbelief and amusement. Kunimitsu was completely poker faced, except for the angle of his brows, which communicated a certain resigned affection to Keigo. Fuji slanted a wry glance at him, appreciating the double edge of Keigo’s intervention.

Mizuki looked at him with irritation before narrowing his eyes. When he spoke, it was to Fuji, every nuance of tone and stance saying that Keigo’s interruption was insignificant.

“You have my sympathy, of course. It can’t be easy to lose such a subtle bond to someone so greedy that he can’t stand not to be the center of attention.”

Now it was Keigo’s turn to suppress a snarl, because he’d be damned before he gave Mizuki the satisfaction. Of course, the delivery annoyed him infinitely more than the accusation, which he’d heard with tiresome frequency. A part of him, however, had to appreciate the precision of the attack. It played perfectly off the manner of intervention he had chosen, and also seemed to touch on a genuine sore point with Fuji. He filed that last observation away for future consideration.

Yes, this was definitely Mizuki’s true game.

Keigo’s own response rallied though, just as for any other attack. That moment after he had spoken, a flash of surprise had shown in Mizuki’s eyes, as if he’d forgotten Keigo’s presence. Combined with his choice of counter, Keigo rather thought it indicated something about Mizuki. It was, after all, easiest to recognize a weakness one shared. He wondered whether Fuji had caught it.

Ah, yes, there was the smile. The dangerous one.

“Perhaps,” Fuji answered in his most dismissive tone, and turned most of the way away from Mizuki to smile far more softly up at Tachibana. Keigo detected subtext again, since Tachibana didn’t really seem the sort to typically touch his lover’s cheek in public the way he was right now.

Mizuki certainly seemed to get it, as his expression turned extremely disgruntled for a moment. Keigo rather thought all four of them were waiting for a classic Mizuki temper tantrum. He, at least, was quite surprised when Mizuki merely nodded, eyes sharp, conceding the game if not the match.

“Another day, then, Shuusuke,” he murmured, and turned to follow the path Yuuta had taken.

Tachibana looked after him, down at the still glinting eyes of his lover, and finally over at Kunimitsu.

“Tezuka,” he said, wearily, “is it one of your requirements for team members, to be pathologically incapable of refusing a challenge?”

Keigo chuckled. “You’re just noticing?”


Yuuta slipped around the end of the cd racks, and nearly ran over Tachibana Ann, who was peering through a gap at the confrontation on the other side.

“Oh, not you, too,” he groaned. She gave him a stern eye.

“Your boyfriend is crazy,” she declared. “What did he do to make Fuji-niisan look like that?”

“None of your business,” Yuuta told her. “And Aniki is my brother, in case you’ve forgotten. You already have one, what do you want with another?”

“Unlike some people, I happen to like big brothers,” she shot back. Yuuta sighed, and leaned against the rack opposite.

“Knock it off, Ann, you’re not that stupid.”

She had the grace to look slightly abashed, as she tucked her hair back. “Well, no,” she admitted, in a less aggressive tone, “but there are really times, Yuuta.” Yuuta glanced aside. Aniki knew that Yuuta loved him. That was all that mattered. Right?

“Aniki and Mizuki had… a fight. Kind of,” he offered. “I think it’s over now, though. Mostly.” Feeling a little nervous at the number of qualifiers his unspoken pact of honesty with Ann forced him to add, he joined her in peering through the racks.

“Ooo, that was a good one,” Ann said, admiringly, of Aniki’s finishing move. Yuuta grinned down at her.

“You can be really vicious, you know that?”

“Good thing, too, otherwise how would I ever deal with you?”

They both sighed, and stepped back, as Mizuki let the challenge go.

“He was actually kind of restrained, today,” Ann noted, thoughtfully. “I don’t suppose he’s been ill?”

“Like I said, things are better. Mostly.” Yuuta shrugged, concealing his own surprise and relief. Ann looked over as Mizuki rounded the corner to their aisle.

“Ann-chan, how pleasant to see you here,” Mizuki greeted her. Not in a terribly good mood, but not fuming either, Yuuta gauged, and relaxed a little more. Ann gave Mizuki a long look before turning to Yuuta.

“He’s still a snake,” she said, firmly. “But I suppose, sometimes, he’s not completely horrible.” And, with that, she took herself off toward the Rock section.

“Charming girl,” Mizuki murmured. “Did you find everything you wanted?” Yuuta couldn’t help smiling at that question, even though it made his boyfriend quirk a brow at him.


“Good,” Mizuki said, softly, reaching for Yuuta’s hand. Yuuta’s breath caught as he raised it and placed a kiss in the palm, just the tip of his tongue flicking against Yuuta’s skin.

“Mizuki!” Yuuta gasped, biting his lip and glancing quickly around to make sure no one was near. Mizuki gave him a dark look, from under his lashes, his promise to find out, later, exactly what Yuuta had been smiling over.

“Shall we go, then?”


“So, who is this guy you’re so excited to find?” Ryou asked, following in his partner’s wake as Choutarou paced down the aisle, casting his eye over the racks.

“Chris Norman. He’s a classical flautist, primarily, but he does a lot of other really neat ethnic music, and he favors a wooden flute. It has a much softer tone than metal. I’ve never found a store that carries any of his albums, before. The first time I heard him was actually in concert.” Choutarou glanced back at him, with a small, bright smile in his eyes. “You’d like him.”

Ryou was wondering just how to take that, when Choutarou stopped short. Only Ryou’s quick reflexes kept him from barrelling into his partner.

“Atobe-buchou,” Choutarou said, voice startled. Ryou stepped around him to see.

And then he almost stepped back behind Choutarou, because it wasn’t just Atobe. It was also Tezuka, and Tachibana, and Fuji. The captain’s club, plus head case. Every club seemed to have one of the latter, and he supposed Fuji was better than Ibu, but Ryou would have preferred Jirou. At least he was reasonably harmless.

“Ohtori. Shishido,” Atobe replied. Ryou swore his eyes gleamed with amusement at Ryou’s discomfort, for an instant, but you could never pin Atobe down about stuff like that. A moment later he was turning back to Choutarou. “Are you here for anything in particular today?” he asked. Choutarou smiled his faint, public smile.

“The store called just this morning to say that they had Chris Norman’s first album in.”

“Chris Norman.” Atobe’s eyes went distant for a moment. “He played with the Baltimore Consort, yes?”

The conversation that followed had very little meaning to Ryou; he liked listening to music, but the details never really stuck with him. So he split his attention between pride in his partner and irritation with Atobe. Both pleasant constants in his life. He could always be proud of Choutarou, of the poise that let him keep his countenance in just about any situation, including chatting with his captain under Tezuka’s gimlet eye and Fuji’s alarming smile, and of a determination to match Ryou’s own, even when it was his own partner he was arguing with. Ryou still didn’t think fraternization between teams could possibly be healthy, but Choutarou had gotten him to admit that it didn’t seem to have affected Atobe and Tezuka’s games. Just personally, Ryou thought that was the weirdest thing of all.

He hauled back his wandering thoughts as Atobe… dismissed Choutarou with a gracious nod. There were really times when Ryou wished they were still eight years old and he could get away with punching the smug bastard. Still, in his own annoying way he seemed fond of Choutarou, and that got him a lot of latitude in Ryou’s book. He sauntered after his partner, exchanging companionable sneers with Atobe on the way past.

“Such a unique leadership style you have,” he heard Fuji remark, genially, behind him. “Do you tell your team members to imagine your face on the tennis ball, or do you trust that it will happen naturally?”

Ryou barely managed not to choke, because he had gotten through more than one practice with exactly that tactic. He’d been right all along. Fuji Shuusuke was creepy.

“Whatever works,” Atobe returned in a careless tone. Ryou could hear the smirk in it, and shot a glare over his shoulder.

“Remind me again why I’m friends with a jerk like you,” he growled, running an impatient hand through his hair.

“Because I’m the only one who would put up with your dramatics,” Atobe answered, promptly and loftily.

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Ryou gave him a look rich with disbelief. “Nice talking to you, Mr. Pot, I’ll just be getting back to my teacups, why don’t I.” He didn’t bother waiting for an answer before turning his back and stalking off after Choutarou. Maybe he’d send Tezuka a sympathy card when Valentine’s rolled around. When he caught up to his partner, Choutarou offered him one of the sample-this-disc headphone sets.

“This is it.”

Ryou had to admit, it was pretty music. It almost sounded like a traditional flute, but not quite; and a lot bouncier.

“Now,” Choutarou added, “imagine the man playing that, standing in front of a formal orchestra, wearing jeans and a bright red knit shirt and suspenders.”

Ryou burst out laughing. “You’re kidding!” When Choutarou shook his head, smile flashing, Ryou had to agree, “All right, yeah, I probably would like him.”

Choutarou’s pleased look nearly made him glow; it was one of the expressions Ryou was especially fond of. He was just considering whether it would injure his partner’s reserve if Ryou ran his fingers through the unruly drift of silver hair, when familiar voices interrupted.

“I mean, really, you need a life, Ryouma.”

“I have a life.”

Besides tennis. Come on, forget the old man and act like a normal person for just one afternoon!”

“And another after that,” Echizen pointed out, inexorably, “and another after that, and…”

“Now you’re getting the idea.”

Momoshiro, Ryou identified the other speaker. No one else had quite the same congenially full-of-himself tone.

“Momoshiro, Echizen-kun,” Choutarou greeted them, turning.

“Hey,” Ryou seconded.

“Ohtori, Shishido-san, how’s it going?” Momoshiro hailed them, easily. Ryou considered him one of the easier players to get along with off the court. The same couldn’t be said for his companion, who just nodded—unusually cordial for Echizen. “Guess this place is attracting tennis players today, hm?” Momoshiro added, grinning.

“You have no idea,” Ryou muttered.

“It’s Tezuka-buchou and the Monkey King,” Echizen observed, peering further down the aisle. “And Tachibana and Fuji-senpai, too.”

Momoshiro winced a little. Ryou sympathized completely. Neither team had been prepared for finding out that their captains had hooked up. Even though Choutarou had said they should probably have expected it. Echizen’s expression sharpened into an evil, little smile.

“We should say hello.”

“Hey, Ryouma, hang on, we… you shouldn’t… Ryouma!” Momoshiro’s snatch at Echizen’s collar missed, as the younger player made a bee-line for the greatest source of trouble available.


“It can be troublesome to have a partner who’s so impulsive, can’t it?” Choutarou asked.

“You can say that again,” Momoshiro muttered as he made after Echizen.

It took another minute to catch up with Ryou.

“Choutarou…” he said, drawing it out. His partner made wide eyes at him.

“Yes, Shishido-san?”

Ok, now he was sure, because Choutarou never called him that, anymore, unless he was teasing. He stepped into his partner, backing him against the rack.

“If we weren’t in public,” he said, softly, watching Choutarou’s eyes darken.

“Then, what?” Choutarou murmured. Ryou laughed.

“Grab your stuff, and let’s get out of here. And I’ll show you.”

If the cashier thought it was odd that the customers were grinning silently at each other, he didn’t mention it.


Momo was an easygoing sort of guy. Which was a good thing, considering. It really wasn’t often, anymore, that he had the urge to whap Ryouma over the head with a racquet. It was much more effective to tickle him until he couldn’t breathe; Ryouma was far too aware of his dignity for his own good.

But whenever Ryouma saw an opportunity to mouth off to their captain he took it, and then it was time for caring friends to restrain him. Possibly with a straitjacket, because he really had to be crazy to tease Tezuka-san like that. The fact that Momo had never once, in three and a half years, succeeded was beside the point. So was the incomprehensible fact that their captain generally let Ryouma get away with it, sort of. If there was any topic that would finally drive Tezuka-san over the edge, it had to be his… relationship with Atobe.

Momo caught up just as Ryouma offered their captain his best insolent smirk.

“Buchou. Out on a date?”

Tezuka-san looked down his nose at his youngest team member with no expression Momo could detect, but Ryouma’s eyes gleamed like he’d gotten a rise out of him. Atobe, after one look, leaned against the racks, silently declaring that it was not his team and not his problem. Momo didn’t know exactly how he managed to get that across just by leaning back and crossing his arms. That talent was one of the more irritating things about Atobe.

Maybe Ryouma thought so, too, because he turned to Atobe next. “Guess there’s no hope for a game today, then. Too bad. Beating you would have been a good way to wrap up the weekend.”

“I’m told it’s good for people to have dreams,” Atobe returned, condescending as ever. “Nice to see you have one that will last you so very long, Echizen.”

Momo’s cautious look at Tezuka-san showed that he didn’t seem upset that Ryouma was ragging on his boyfriend. That was a relief. A sudden thought came to Momo, that Ryouma was challenging Atobe in front of their captain by way of asking permission. Ryouma never directly disobeyed the captain, but he was a master of avoiding being given orders that he didn’t want to follow. Giving the captain a chance to object was as good as asking if it was all right.

Which meant, Momo realized, that Ryouma would take Tezuka-san’s silence for assent, and keep needling Atobe until he got what he wanted. Ryouma was opening his mouth for the next shot when bright laughter cut across him.

“Ryouma-kun, you’re almost as good at ticking people off as you are at playing tennis. And that’s saying something.”

Tachibana Ann appeared from around the corner, grinning when Ryouma raised a brow at her.

“Ann-chan,” Momo exclaimed, relieved. “Are you here with your brother?” She grinned wider.

“Yes, but I thought he’d probably appreciate it if I got lost for a while.” She flicked her eyes at her brother and Fuji-senpai, standing together. “I’ve been exploring on my own; this place has a ton of great stuff!” She waved a handful of plastic cases, and Momo leaned over her shoulder to see.

“Oh, hey, I didn’t know Do As Infinity had another one out, what’s on it?”

“Momo-senpai.” Ryouma’s voice was low, but it got Momo’s attention. Ryouma didn’t sound that sharp very often. When he turned, though, Ryouma just looked at him, sidelong. He seemed irritated. It took Momo a couple beats to figure out why, but when he did he smiled. Ryouma looked away again, not meeting anyone’s eyes, now.

Momo came away from Ann, to stand behind Ryouma and lay a casual hand on his shoulder. “Ready to go bargain hunting?” he asked.

“Sure,” Ryouma muttered, still not looking back at him.

Ann-chan had a knowing smile on as she turned to her brother. “Did you guys find everything you wanted, Onii-chan?”

Occupied with her questions, the other players returned Momo’s goodbyes distractedly.

It wasn’t, Momo thought, as they moved on, that Ryouma was possessive, exactly. And he wasn’t anyone’s definition of clingy. There were just people he didn’t like Momo to pay too much attention to, and Tachibana Ann was one of them. The word boyfriend hadn’t even been breathed between them, yet, except jokingly, but they didn’t often need things spoken out loud.

Momo ruffled Ryouma’s hair, and Ryouma swatted at his hand.

“Cut it out,” he said, sounding sulky. But he turned his head enough to glance at Momo over his shoulder, eyes momentarily softer and mouth curving up at one corner. Momo smiled back, and let his hand rest, briefly, at the back of Ryouma’s neck before falling.

There were easier things than words.


Kunimitsu slung his bag of CDs into a corner, in a rare moment of messiness, and almost collapsed back on his bed. He pressed a hand over his eyes, pushing his glasses up, hoping to alleviate the threatening headache. He’d really never thought a simple trip to the music store would be so harrowing. If he had, he’d have risked whatever musical white elephants Keigo might have chosen for him.

The bed dipped, and he felt a hand pluck his glasses off entirely. “Oh, come along, Kunimitsu, admit it. It was funny,” Keigo chuckled.

Kunimitsu lifted his hand, the better to glare at his lover. Though he couldn’t quite maintain it when Keigo’s cool fingertips pressed across his forehead, driving the tense almost-pain away.

“You’re worried about Fuji,” Keigo observed. Kunimitsu didn’t bother denying it.

“I never expected Mizuki, of all people, to…” he trailed off.

“Lock his interest?” Keigo suggested. “It could be worse.”

Kunimitsu made an inquiring noise, closing his eyes as Keigo’s thumbs stroked the arch of his brow bone.

“Mizuki himself doesn’t seem completely unbalanced about the whole thing,” Keigo told him, thoughtfully. “And I imagine Tachibana will keep Fuji from going too far.”

Kunimitsu was worn out enough to accept Keigo’s judgment over his own fears, though he made a mental note to see if he could get the whole story out of Fuji later. On the other hand, he revised his thought as Keigo’s lips brushed across his, perhaps he wasn’t as worn out as all that. And he really felt he deserved some consolation after a day like this.

He reached up to pull Keigo down against him.


Branch: *looks around, slightly hunted* Ok, so, we’ll flip a coin to see which couple gets their smut first, right?

All Muses: *ignore her*

Momo: It’ll be us, first, we’re cuter.

Shishido: You wish! You give her way too much trouble, with all that non-verbal crap. It’ll be us.

Atobe: Speaking of trouble, you have far too much back-story requirement, Shishido. Besides, she loves me best. *preens*

Ryouma: Exactly. You two old guys need a chance to get your breath back.

Branch: *sidles behind Fuji* I’m just glad you don’t like me writing smut for you and Tachibana.

Fuji: *slow smile* Actually, I’ve been considering that.

Branch: *pales, backs away as all muses turn to look at her* Help! Muse Police! I’m being mugged!

Last Modified: May 15, 12
Posted: Aug 25, 04
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  1. written-in-blue

    Okay, I loved it *all*, but “It wasn’t easy to lounge while standing upright, but that’s what talent was for.” cracked me up the most.

    [wipes laughter-tears from eyes]

  2. soloproject

    Usagi-Muse Police, ikimasho!!! *zooms in on flying tennis racket*

    Whoa! Getting better and better…it’s like pinball only with…mmm, tennis players…and the table is tilting…

    ToriShishi = yummerz. ^___^

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *scurries to hide behind Usagi-MP and her racket* Saved!

      Pinball with tennis players… now there’s an idea for a chibi episode…

      Thank you! I think ToriShishi might win the toss to be the next story, though Momo wants to go for best two out of three.

      1. written-in-blue

        Ohtori and Shishido! Yes! [does a little dance]

        I’m not entirely sure when they crept into my heart, but there you go.

        Psst, Momo, come over here… I’m going to go get hamburgers for dinner… [wheedlewheedlewheedle]

  3. bluedelirium

    For some reason I had completely forgotten how cute MomoRyo is. It’s so easy to imagine sulky semi-jealous Ryoma, and Momo’s reaction to it, and…. aw! XD

    Mizuki is being unusually… I don’t know, conflict-avoidant? He backed down pretty quickly. Is this Yuuta’s influence, or does he already basically have what he wants from Fuji?

    *secretly loves on the snake* I used to hate Mizuki. He has this way of worming into the heart. Possibly the stomach lining as well…. Maybe I still kind of hate him. -_-

    1. branchandroot Post author

      Oh, yeah. MomoRyo is just the embodiment of cute. Lys has some in the works, too, I believe.

      *thinks* Mizuki did get a lot of what he wanted from Fuji. Enough to not be quite so… psychotically obsessed anymore. Besides, now he knows that Tachibana will step in if things go too far, and no one wants to tangle with a Tachibana in Full Protective Mode.

      Ah, Mizuki. The snake we love to hate. Or possibly hate to love. Or something like that.

  4. naanima

    You know, it take a fic like this (from multiple persepectives) to show us that yes, they are ALL dysfunctional prats.

    Except Momo.

    For Momo is wise.

    Multiple interactions amuse me to no ends, and the amount of subtext running across the screen is truly mind boggling. I adore all of the characters, though I’ll shamelessly admit that Mizuki make me WANT to know more.

    And Ryouma is wonderful, and perfect in his snarkiness.

    As for smut… well, I’ll have to admit I’m more interested in the said backstory about Shishido than the actual smut (I have officially reached STRESS status, I’m bypassing smut). I’ll even admit that I’m interested in Shishido and Atobe’s friendship… mind you, I’m also curious and fascinated by Tezuka and Fuji’s friendship.

    Oh, and this remind me, I’m always struck by just how close yet how far Mizuki can miss the truth. It’s as if Mizuki see the world behind Mizuki-tinted glasses, that somehow just manages to miss the whole truth, when he is so damn close to seeing everything. And there’s so much I want to say, but I need to get to class.

    I love you *huggles* And this piece was wonderful, and fun, fun, fun.

    1. branchandroot Post author

      There will be fluffy backstory to relieve your stress, then. *snuggles*

      Mizuki-tinted glasses. That’s the perfect phrase for it. It’s so true. I’m not sure how much of their smut will be smut, and how much will be conversation, because Yuuta has a few things to tell Mizu-chan. Things about what he found that he wanted.

      The Adorable Pair first, though.

      1. soloproject

        I have a sick, sick picture of Fuji trying on a pair of Raybans with chibi-Mizuki faces on them in my mind.

        The Adorable Pair first, though.

        Ooohhh…if this is ToriShishi…YAY!! The honor of first smut!

  5. exwaiz

    I’m squealing in absolute delight. I’m sure the Hyotei and Seigaku (and Fudomine) Regulars didn’t know there was going to be a meeting of the Captains taking place in the music store. ^_^;

    The captain’s club, plus head case. <— <3 *laughs* I love your Shishido. I wonder what would happen if they walked into the head case convention instead of the captain’s club? XD

    Must not think of Atobe’s face on the tennis ball. *snickers* I love your Fuji (even though he scares me). And your Mizuki (when I really shouldn’t).

    1. branchandroot Post author

      The rest of the teams *wanted* to show up, but it would have been too crazed. *bounces* Glad you liked it! The characters bask in your love, especially Mizuki.

  6. sakurazuka-jae

    Personally, I think they’re ALL headcases (with the possible exception of Choutarou, and Ryou sometimes), but that’s partially why I love them. Especially Ryoma, who I love for his evilcuteness. Ph34r teh cute ones!

    If we’re voting, I’m gonna go for Choutarou and Ryou smut… because they are the sweetest of the lot (except for the Golden Pair. We might have to have a match-off sweetness contest there. Mmm…)

    Love your PoT stuff!

  7. mica-chan

    I’m in love with your stories. This was particularly great! What I liked the most, was the fact that you put my favorite Tenipuri characters in one fic: Atobe, Tezuka, Mizuki and Yuuta. Of course I love all the others too (exception to Momoshiro, who I truly dislike), but these four characters are my favorite, I can’t help it.

    About the story itself, it was so interesting that I was with my heart in my hand with …I don’t know the word. Affliction? Well, it’s something like that…and in the same time I was laughing a lot, because there were some parts that were so funny and well wrote.

    Hey, I really have to compliment you about the way you write the sentences…and their dialogs. I’d wish I could think about quotes so perfect as you do, because, really, you portrait all of them very well.

    And, let me finishing saying three things:
    1) Atobe is wonderful and you do him as great as he really is.
    2) Mizuki is great and I love him so much that I can’t put it in words. I’m not one of them that love to hate him, or hate to love the guy…I love to love Mizuki for sure.
    3) I want to see some smut between Mizuki and Yuuta. Of course I want to see Shishido/Ohtori too, but Mizuki/Yuuta is so much better…

    Oh, and the fourth thing: I really hope you don’t write a Momoshiro/Ryoma fic so early, because I can’t help myself but totally dislike this pair, and I don’t want to miss a fic from you. (my personal opinion here).

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *blushing* Thank you very much.

      Putting Atobe, Mizuki and Fuji all in the same place was interesting. They formed this kind of character triangle, and played off each other very well. I think Mizuki and Yuuta may be next in line after the ShishiTori; they’re both couples that are pretty forthcoming and don’t give me a lot of trouble.

  8. wanderingscribe

    Damn you. I am oddly reminded of John Cusack and Hi-Fidelity now. Tilted relationships, music, and lots of baiting conversation.

    I’m not one for Yummi, but this…oddly fit in with everything. Mizuki’s a snake, but a much more stable one than he’s usually seen as. Maybe he’s not losing his edge, but is being tempered down all the same. By Yuuta, of course.

    Momoshiro and Echizen’s relationship is quite the cute and fluffy stabilizer to the whole story. They’re the simple to Atobe and Tezuka’s complex, or Tachibana and Fuji’s natural. I can’t say much about Yuuta and Mizuki or Shishido and Ohtori, because they barely interact, but I’m sure if they ended up around them more, there’d be parallels between those couples as well.

    Gah…I love Ann as well. It’s like she’s the wise woman behind all the fumbling men. The girl who takes it all with a grain of salt and doesn’t mind all the GHEY. (Hmm, my guess is that she’s a closet fangirl, in a sense. I really enjoy that she calls Syuusuke “Fuji-nii-san” and Yuuta gets all cranky about it.)

    I would end this with a “Damn you, write more!” entreaty, but that wouldn’t be at all in the spirit of the fic. So, I’ll just state that I enjoyed this, like I enjoyed your other works, and hope to read more soon. Thank you very much for writing such a good fic. ^_^

    [greedily saves in memories] Ahem. ^^;

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *sparkles at you* Thank you so much!

      *nods* The relationships definitely each have their own shape and pace; I think that’s a lot of what made this particular craziness work.

      *grins* I was having a very flute day when I wrote the heavily musical sections. Most of it I just googled. The description of Chris Normal is from life, though. I almost died laughing. It was a great concert.

      1. wanderingscribe

        Ah, you’re welcome. But now I really want to watch Hi-Fidelity again because of its’ parallels with this fic. ^^;

        Maybe I might find out some stuff about Chris and his music. He sounds very interesting.

  9. ayonoi

    You know, if I was someone who just walked into the store and saw Mizuki, Fuji AND Atobe in the same place, I would run away so fast, that was funny and sooo scary at the same time.

    Momo/Ryo… I got to get used to it but I think it’s so cute sometimes. The tickling Ryoma must be tons of fun *evil naughty thoughts*

    Love it, and I want TezukaxAtobe smut, ’cause they sizzle!!

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *giggles* Just goes to show you, these guys are all completely nuts.

      ShishiTori won the toss, but TezuAto is definitely in the bunny-patch. ^_^

      1. ayonoi

        man, see, the early bird gets the worm *more evil thoughts* I know it is going to be hot so I will wait for both things to come my way! You are soo good to me…


  10. luceage

    ME: That’s life, honey. It’s tough.

    :)) I liked this very much. It made me smile and all that good stuff. Love the style of your writing–you’re very talented, to be able to switch from writing heavy, darker material to a humor piece like this. Many authors find themselves writing more of a certain genre just because it’s what they do better, but your flexibility is wonderful. Thanks for the great read!

    1. branchandroot Post author

      *laughing* Lys and I figure Ann might be good for Sakuno, but I don’t think I’m going to be the one to write them. I think, in this arc, she gets Kamio, if she wants him.

      *blushing extensively* Thank you very much!

  11. harukayuuyue@livejournal

    Omg!!! That part about imagining Atobe’s face on the tennis part was drop dead funny!!! That was
    so just typical of Fuji and the fact that Ryou actually used that tactic before is hilarious!!
    This chapter was rather confusing with so many characters in it but i still thought that you did
    a pretty good job! It was fun to see them hanging out together!

    I must say you are really one heck of exceptional writer… really hopes that you will continue
    writing more of the pairing Tezuka/Atobe!! Hahaa.. thanks for all the hard work!

    1. Icon for BranchBranch Post author

      *snerks* Yeah, Fuji is an evil thing, and one of these days I should try to write he and Shishido playing pool.

      It was a hard chapter to write, trying to fit everyone in! But this was the one that shows how all these pairs interact, and I just had to do it. *grins* Glad you liked this arc so much!

  12. PeanutButterSpread

    I’m more of a Momo/Kaidoh fan, but Momo/Ryo also is a fave pairing of mine! Frankly, I just like it when Momo’s paired with Kaidoh, Ryoma, Atobe, Bane/Davide or even Ann. Very cute fic! I always liked it when all the schools meet each other. Insanity always insues.

      1. PeanutButterSpread

        They are!!! To be very honest, Momo/Ryo was my first pairing when I watched PoT. During the Hyotei arc, it became Momo/Atobe … and then Rikkaidai on it was Momo/Kaidoh. But I think one of the reasons that made me truly like PoT was the Momo/Ryo interactions. Just. So. Damn. Cute.
        Sleeping on each other’s shoulders, stuffng their faces with ramen or burgers, biking together, playing street tennis together. Out of all the PoT characters, I think Momo is really the only one that truly gets Ryoma (beyond tennis).