Pairings: Silver Pair :D
Disclaimer: I own neither PoT nor the characters therein.
Of Wussies and Pythons and Devious Little Boys
Shishido was not afraid of snakes. Not afraid at all. Snakes were awesome; snakes were cool; snakes would crush you to death, swallow you whole, and slowly digest your decomposing body. Snakes, therefore, should be respected for their sheer awesomness, and in Shishido’s book, respecting something entailed running, hiding, or taking other evasive measures if it ever appeared, even if – especially if – there were only a one-inch thick piece of plexiglass separating it from you.
Shishido was slightly worried, therefore, when the tennis club’s monthly field trip was, in a strange coincidence, scheduled for a tour of the National Center of Herpatology. After all, the snakes shouldn’t be studied, they should be admired… from a safe distance.
The others on the team, unfortunately, didn’t understand. And not only did they not understand, when Shishido voiced his concern they completely got the wrong idea.
The morning of the field trip dawned bright and cool and full of sunshine. It was the sunshine, naturally, that made Shishido’s palms sweaty and his stomach knotted and kept his legs bouncing up and down and up and down on the pavement as he waited outside for Atobe’s driver to pick him up.
Things seemed to improve when Choutarou loped onto the bus and sprawled next to him, hair still wet, smelling of dandruff shampoo and sharp aftershave. Shishido took a deep breath and buckled himself in, his fingers brushing against Choutarou’s leg, right where the shorts ended.
“Hey, Shishido-san, your hands are freezing!”
And then Choutarou had taken one of Shishido’s hands and was rubbing it gently between both of his, and Shishido felt the butterflies in his stomach subside. Not that that had anything to do with Choutarou, of course; it was merely the result of moving out of direct sunlight, which made Shishido jittery.
Never mind that he was sitting by the window.
As soon as Shishido stepped out of the bus, however, the nervous feeling returned in full force, except now it was accompanied by a dry mouth and fingers that wouldn’t stop twitching.
It was going to be fun. Cool. All kinds of awesome.
Because snakes were naturally fun and cool and awesome, and anyone who said otherwise was a wussie.
Shishido grabbed his water bottle and drank it down in five gulps. He crushed the plastic in his hands and looked around for more. Choutarou’s was the fullest, but Choutarou had to stay hydrated, so it had to be Gakuto’s. The redhead yelped an angry “hey!” when Shishido snatched it, but he quickly went back to ogling Oshitari, and Shishido smirked at him and chugged the water in one go, not because he was nervous, but because he was thirsty in a manly way.
Because Shishido was no wussie.
“Shishido-san, I could have leant you my wat-”
“No, Choutarou,” said Shishido as he grabbed onto Choutarou’s sleeve in a completely non-wimpish manner. “Gakuto deserved it.”
Choutarou nodded and looked confused and held the door for him, and Shishido managed to keep a hold of his sleeve as they stepped inside the building.
It really wasn’t bad; not bad at all. The lighting was perfect, the air conditioning great, and the beings in the room just naturally fool of coolness. Shishido let out a long breath, let go of Choutarou’s sleeve, and took off his cap and twirled it in his hands. This was actually pretty neat.
And then they were through the lobby, and Atobe and a tour guide were leading them through a door labeled “Exhibit 1.”
“I just want to let my eyes adjust to the dark,” he told Choutarou, “so I can see the snakes better.”
And Choutarou nodded and waited with him by the door until he caught his breath. And then Shishido turned his cap around in his hands and put it on, except he’d put it on forwards, so he had to fix it, and then he had to tie his tennis shoe, and then the other one, and he had to double knot them tightly, and that took a while, but he didn’t want to risk tripping, and if that took time away from looking at the snakes, then so be it.
Unfortunately, by the time Shishido was ready, Atobe and the rest of the group were far ahead of them, so he and Choutarou had to miss the first quarter of the tour. And Choutarou grabbed his wrist as they ran to catch up with the team, his long, thin fingers coiling around it softly, which was completely unnecessary and probably due to the fact that Choutarou was still laboring under the mistaken assumption that Shishido was afraid of snakes. However, it felt kind of soo- that is, Choutarou was probably trying to hide his own fear and found it soothing, so Shishido said nothing, even when they caught up to the others and Choutarou didn’t let go.
Ten minutes later, not only was Shishido’s wrist still safely in Choutarou’s grasp, his left hand was wrapped around Choutarou’s upper arm in a death grip, and they were standing so close together that Choutarou’s thigh would rub against Shishido’s waist every time they took a step. Of course, it wasn’t because Shishido was scared, it was because he was fairly certain Choutarou was. Choutarou would never say anything, but Shishido knew that just behind those shining eyes and that contented smile lay sheer terror.
Unfortunately, Shishido’s attempts to comfort his kohai did not go unnoticed by his classmates. Atobe’s frowns were irritating, and Jiroh’s “You're such a wimp, Shishi-kun,” were annoying, but Oshitari’s “Why don’t you just hump him already?” was absolutely infuriating. Not quite infuriating enough to make Shishido let go, but infuriating nonetheless.
Either Choutarou was too engaged in watching the snakes or he had figured out a way to block Oshitari’s more off-color comments, because he looked quite happy with himself and the world in general. In fact, thought Shishido as he passed a nasty-looking water moccasin and moved so close to Choutarou that he stepped on his foot, Choutarou hadn’t looked this happy since they’d beat that high school doubles team on the street courts. No doubt it was a carefully-maintained façade to keep his senpais from worrying.
“Look, Shishido, that one’s feeding,” said a familiar voice.
Shishido’s stomach gave a little lurch and ten different, painful ways to kill the bubble-popping bastard flashed through his mind, one of which he was determined to act on as soon as his legs resolidified and his head stopped feeling like it had that time when he was little and Atobe had tied him to a merry-go-round.
“Shishido-san? Are you okay? You look really pale…”
Shishido tried to say something, realized he had no voice, and shivered.
“We could wait in the lobby, if you’d like.”
At that, Shishido found his voice: no way was he going to leave and let the others think he was scared. He just respected the snakes, damn it!
“I- I’m good, Choutarou. It’s really…” he swallowed, his voice cracking. “Cool.”
Shishido mustered a smile and decided his hand was shaking because it was cold. But then Choutarou slid his hand down from Shishido’s wrist to cover his hand, which was strange, but hey, if it worked for Choutarou, Shishido wasn’t complaining: let it never be said that he didn’t look out for his kohai.
He was almost feeling relaxed – partly because he was getting used to the snakes, partly because he’d decided that respecting the snakes required shutting his eyes and letting Choutarou lead him – when Choutarou stopped suddenly, and Shishido opened his eyes to see the guide standing in front of a large sort of pit with a low handrail beside it. And inside the pit…
“And this is a beauty we got just last month… twenty-one feet of glorious python, on loan from the
The snakes must be respected. The snakes must be respected.
Why was Choutarou stepping forward?
Oh, no no no no no. Shishido tried to plant his feet, pull him back, but his legs had turned to jelly, and he stumbled forward next to Choutarou.
No. Wait. It was all right.
The snake was cool. The snake was awesome. The snake-
-was staring at them.
But his voice was too low, cracked, and Choutarou kept walking towards the demo- snake.
The snake was nice. The snake was friendly. Oh, gods, the snake was flicking its tongue at them.
“Choutarou…” Louder this time, but it was lost under Atobe’s recounting the story of the time he’d seen a python on a tour of the Amazon, and Choutarou was dragging them up right next to the snake.
The snakes must be respected. The snakes must be respected.
Smiling, Choutarou started moving his hand towards the snake’s tail.
He was not a wimp. He was not a wimp. The snake was following Choutarou with its beady little eyes, but he was not a wimp.
Choutarou’s hand hovered just above the skin.
“Don’t, Choutarou! It’s gonna eat you!”
In the back of his mind, Shishido was vaguely aware that, firstly, he had just jumped on Choutarou and wrapped his arms around his neck, and Oshitari was never going to let him live this down, and, secondly, the fact that everyone was being very quiet (except for Gakuto, who popped his gum once, sharply) couldn’t possibly be good. But the rest of Shishido only cared that Choutarou was dragging him away from the snake, and even though Shishido felt very, very cold and very, very shaky and he couldn’t quite get his legs to work, that was a very, very good thing.
The lobby was cold, so Shishido let Choutarou lead him outside, sit him down on a bench, and even drank most of Choutarou’s bottled water. He even let Choutarou pat him on the head with his free hand, though he had enough presence of mind to swat it away when Atobe walked out.
Atobe, coincidentally, looked very much like he had after the merry-go-round fiasco.
“Do I – ha – need to – heehee – call my –hahadri-hahahaver? Or do you just – heeheehee – need some – haha – time alone with – ahem – Ootori?”
“I’m not afraid of snakes,” Shishido said, standing up as Atobe doubled over, the anger chasing away the anxiety.
“The 14th - isn’t that the first day of the snake exhibit?”“Why yes,” Choutarou said, and smiled, and his teeth glinted under the fluorescent light. “Yes, it is.”