Author's Notes:  My first fic for these characters after watching the anime, consider it a test run.  I might continue this in the future, but for now it's a short one-
shot ficlet.
Category:  Yaoi, anime, Prince of Tennis, TWT
Warnings:  shonen ai
Pairings:  Kamio-Shinji / S-K
Author:  Arigatomina


Kamio was getting frustrated.  With his short temper and natural impatience, that was a dangerous state to be in.

Things should have been a lot simpler now that he’d taken the first step.  He had expected momentum, some natural acceleration that would tumble him down
the incline into a genuine relationship.  If he’d been snowboarding, he would already have made it to the bottom of the slope and been sitting by a comfortable
fire, sipping chocolate and smirking at his skillful descent.  Instead, he’d taken that first step and hit a wall.  He could follow it as far as he wanted to the left or
right, or even turn around and go back to where he’d started.  But he couldn’t seem to go forward at all.  He blamed Shinji for that.

Technically, he’d been dating his teammate for over two months.  They walked home from school together, took long walks that generally turned into practice
matches, and spent hours watching television or listening to music at Kamio’s house.  Generally, they did the same things they’d always done.  The only
difference was the fumbled kisses here and there, which inevitably ended with Shinji mumbling some excuse before bolting off.  If Shinji hadn’t been the first
one to admit his interest, Kamio would have been insulted.  As it was, he found the routine increasingly annoying, and more than a little confusing.  It was as if
Shinji liked to hit on him, but only when Kamio kept his hands to himself.

The last time Kamio had so much as slipped a hand under his boyfriend’s shirt during a nicely steamy kiss, Shinji had fallen off the bed.  Then he’d spent the
next ten minutes muttering about the test coming up in English, which he was certain shouldn’t have been scheduled for at least another week, and he’d
probably have to spend all his time studying right up until the test even though he’d still manage to miss two questions, because no matter how well he knew a
subject, he always missed at least two questions, and since the teachers probably did it on purpose, he'd better start studying immediately.  Sticking to that
lame excuse, Shinji had avoided him for three days.  

Kamio had seriously considered breaking up with him over that incident.  He hated being ignored, especially by Shinji, who had a habit of ignoring everyone
but him…and Tachibana, if their captain yelled his name loudly enough.  And the sullen, downtrodden looks Shinji had flashed him when he was forced to see
him in the halls and during practice were almost too much to bear.  He just knew Shinji had expected him to blow up and yell or throw a general tantrum, and
he’d been sorely tempted to do just that.  He didn’t though, because it was only three days, and the day after the oh-so-important test, Shinji had treated him
to lunch and a movie in celebration of having missed one question, instead of two.  No matter how transparent Shinji’s excuses were, he had a way of making
them seem genuine the day after.

Aside from Shinji bolting at the most inopportune moment, there were also his halfhearted advances to deal with.  Kamio hadn’t been surprised when his friend
had turned to him, during a perfectly normal walk home from practice, and asked him out.  He’d have to have been deaf not to know Shinji found him attractive,
and that he enjoyed being around him almost as much as he enjoyed playing tennis.  His friend mumbled just about every thought in his head, so it wasn’t as if
he could keep secrets from someone who cared to listen to him.  Kamio had been surprised at first, secretly flattered and amused to hear ‘it isn’t fair for
anyone to look that good’ in reference to himself after a particularly sweaty practice.  He’d expected his friend to say something direct, months before Shinji
finally turned and blurted it out.  Shinji’s patience was something to fear.

From the mumbles, Kamio knew Shinji had waited over a year before admitting he had a crush on him.  Even after he’d agreed to date, it had taken weeks for
Shinji to actually kiss him, not counting the kisses Kamio had instigated.  And still, months into their relationship, his boyfriend spent at least a half-hour of
glancing furtively before leaning close enough to kiss him.  If he’d just been shy, Kamio would have understood.  But there was nothing shy about the way
Shinji kissed him, not the tiniest hint of nervousness or hesitance once their lips were touching.  He seemed to ignite on contact, which suited Kamio’s libido
just fine.  The problem was that Shinji could turn it off as quickly as he turned it on, a trick Kamio definitely couldn’t duplicate.  Hence the frustration.

The confusion came from trying to figure out why.  He’d asked the second time Shinji had shied away, since he’d been too startled to ask the first time.  That
was when the excuses had started, and from there on, Shinji made it a habit to give an excuse before Kamio could open his mouth to ask what was wrong and
why he was leaving so quickly.  Once Shinji started talking and edging for the door, it was hard to get a word in.  One explanation was that Shinji didn’t know
what he wanted.  He was hot, cold, and indecisive at random.

It occurred to him that the problem could be a matter of control.  Shinji was quicker to break off the intimacies when he wasn’t the instigator.  He’d pull away
pale and skittish, mumbling like his life depended on it, and not meeting his eyes, even if Kamio walked him all the way home.  So long as Kamio didn’t give any
more than he received, Shinji seemed content to just hold and kiss – hugging like grade school children, but kissing like a wet dream.  Kamio couldn’t help it if
he didn’t have the patience to keep his hands from roaming after a few minutes.  He considered himself nice for not throwing his friend down and molesting
him right there.  The only reason he didn’t was because Shinji had a tendency to hold grudges, and he didn’t want to run him off, or have him griping about it
for the rest of the school year.

If it really was about control, then Kamio knew they were better off giving up now.  He wasn’t exactly experienced outside his own imagination, but he knew
himself pretty well.  He’d never be able to sit around and wait for his boyfriend to decide he wanted him enough to act on it.  There was no way he’d take a
passive role like that, especially not with Shinji, who was gentle and pretty enough to be downright ravishable.  He considered himself more of an aggressor, a
‘get what you want’ sort of guy.  And if he was willing to share the lead – and he was willing – then Shinji had damned well be willing, too.  

He told Shinji just that, the next time he met him on the walk home from school.  He’d leaned his bike against the little cement wall by the sidewalk and hopped
up to sit where he’d have a slight height advantage.  Shinji had turned back to him with a vaguely surprised look that shifted into wide-eyed confusion the
moment he started talking.  At the first use of the word sex a dark blush hit his face and he dropped his eyes.  Kamio almost stopped right there.  He’d never
seen Shinji blush, not even when he’d fallen off his bed, and the lack of habitual mumbling was unnerving.


Shinji’s head ducked so his black hair fell forward to hide his face, dark blue highlights glinting in the afternoon sun.  He’d shoved his hands into his pockets
and had his shoulders hunched a little, the way he normally did when he was mulling over a grudge, or feeling guilty at having lost a match.  Kamio winced and
hopped off the wall.

“Look,” Kamio said quickly, his voice raising a little when Shinji turned his face away.  “I’m not saying we have to have to do anything right now.  It’s just that we’
re going to eventually, I mean, it’s the normal progression, right?  So we should talk about it.  We’ll never get anywhere if you keep running off – I’m not going
to chase after you and make you do anything you don’t want to.  I just need you to be straight with me.  If you don’t like me touching you, then that’s just the
way it is.  Sure, I’ll be insulted, but it’s not like I won’t get over it.  You asked me out, remember?  All I’m asking is why you act like you don’t know if you want me
or not.  I don’t see why that’s so hard to answer.”

A whisper just caught his ear, far too soft to make out the words.  Kamio resisted the urge to growl, being careful to keep his voice out of the ‘yelling’ range.  
“Shinji, you mumble louder than that...”

His friend looked up sharply, and Kamio blinked at the dark scowl on Shinji’s face.  That blush was still there, looking oddly out of place next to the scowling
eyes and an almost petulant frown.  Shinji looked like he was embarrassed and didn’t know whether to sulk or gripe about it.

“I said I like you,” Shinji muttered, as if it were an accusation.

Kamio frowned a little.  “I like you, too.  But what does that have to do with this?  We liked each other before we started dating, so-“

“I don’t want you to stop liking me.”

Shinji’s eyebrows twitched inward, his eyes darting to stare off at the wall beside them.  Kamio had the distinct impression he was trying not to mumble to
himself.  But his voice had been clear, and the blush was starting to fade from his cheeks.  Considering what he’d said, Kamio found that typical of Shinji.  If he
had admitted something like that, he’d have been blushing till his face matched his hair.  It just proved they were embarrassed by different things.  Telling the
truth came natural to Shinji.

“Why would I stop liking you?” asked Kamio.  He didn’t have any trouble keeping his voice normal this time.  His frustration seemed to have taken a leave of
absence for the moment.  “I like you fine, Shinji.  And I’m pretty sure I’d like you a lot more if you didn’t push me away when I try to touch you.  Does it make
you uncomfortable?  Like I’m rushing you?  Or is it because you’re not the one starting it?  I’m not going to change my mind about the control thing, but I’m not
trying to rush you.”

Shinji let out an audible sigh and stepped back to lean against the wall.  His expression was sober to the point of blankness, a look that made people assume
he was bored or not really paying attention.  Kamio took it for what it was, a thoughtful, focused look.  It was the same look Shinji wore when he watched an
interesting tennis match.

“Why did you ask this today?” asked Shinji, his monotone voice proving that he was no longer uncomfortable.  “There’s nothing special about today.  I thought
you’d ask sooner, but then you didn’t, so I figured it didn’t annoy you that much.  You’re always faster than me, but you tend to run in the wrong direction and
then backtrack, so I don’t have to struggle to keep up as long as I’m on the right path.  But I don’t know what the path is.  If I go wrong and backtrack, I’ll never
catch up to you, and you don’t like to wait.  I don’t know where to go with this, and if you lead, I’ll fall behind.  You might think you’d still like me then, but I don’t
think you would.”

If Kamio hadn’t been friends with the teen for years now, he might have had trouble following his explanation.  That was one of the differences between Shinji
mumbling, and Shinji talking, a lot more run-around.  The thought brought a wan smile to Kamio’s face.  He walked over to lean against the wall beside Shinji.

“So you see it as a race,” said Kamio.  “That’s no good, Shinji.  When we walk together, do I leave you behind?”

“Sometimes,” Shinji muttered, his voice dropping a little with irritation.  “When you see Ann-chan, or that annoying guy, Momoshiro.”

Kamio flashed a grin and shook his head quickly.  “I mean since we started going out.”


“Right,” said Kamio, “because we’re a couple now.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t challenge you to a race just for the fun of looking better than you.”

He paused so Shinji could give an irritated mumble of, ‘He’d do that, too, that’s just like him, showing me up, he can be really conceited.’  

“But,” Kamio continued, almost cheekily now that he knew the root of their problem, “I wouldn’t do it with sex, especially since neither of us have any
experience with sex.”

Shinji dropped his eyes with an annoyed expression, that blush darkening his cheeks again.  Kamio almost laughed in surprise.  He grinned and pushed off
the wall so he could duck down and peer at his boyfriend’s face.

“It’s the word,” said Kamio, amusement glinting in his eyes.  “You didn’t blush at all when you were talking about the idea of it, but the minute I use the word sex-

“He says he has no experience,” Shinji muttered quietly, scowling down his nose at his feet and pointedly ignoring the grinning face right in front of him, “but
he uses the word like he’s been doing it for years.  I never used that word, I don’t even like that word because it makes it sound cheap, and it shouldn’t sound
like that, especially when he’s talking about us, but now he’s saying it just to bother me, and that’s not fair because I don’t have anything to say that will bother
him back, unless I talk about how pretty his hair is.  That usually makes him blush.  I should talk about that when he uses that word, so we’re both
embarrassed, and I do like talking about his hair, all pretty and red like autumn leaves on fire in the sun, and how it makes his eyes so blue just looking at him
makes me want to-“

Shinji had glanced up and closed his mouth when he spotted Kamio’s face.  He blinked and gave a small smirk.  “You’re blushing.”

“Like you didn’t mean for that to happen,” Kamio scoffed, rolling his eyes playfully.  “So we’re even, happy?  I’ll say ‘it’ instead of using the word, and you can
stop spouting gushy poetry about my hair.  Deal?”

“But you have really pretty hair,” Shinji frowned, his expression too innocent to be believed.

Kamio’s eyebrow twitched.  “Sex.”

Shinji promptly scowled.  “I’ll stop.  But it’s not the same, me complimenting you and you using a word that doesn’t compliment me back.  I wouldn’t complain if
you wanted to say nice things about my hair, though you wouldn’t since your hair is much prettier than mine…”

“Shinji,” Kamio said quickly, his smile a little strained, “everyone but you thinks your hair is prettier than mine, including me.  And since we’ve already been
over this more times than I can count, let’s change the subject a little, okay?  If I kissed you right now, would you make up some excuse and run off?”

Blinking a little, Shinji tilted his head to the side.  He glanced over Kamio’s shoulder, seeming to stare off into space for a minute. Then he gave him a worried

“I wouldn’t run,” Shinji said slowly, “but I’d rather you didn’t do that in front of Ann-chan.  Tachibana-san might not like it if he found out we were doing things
like that on the sidewalk, though I don’t think he’d be angry about us dating.  It’s just not the sort of thing you should do in front of girls you used to date,
especially your captain’s sister…”

Kamio blushed, very aware of what it looked like with him leaning so close to Shinji.  He straightened quickly and flashed a smile and a wave at the familiar girl
across the road from them.  Ann waved back and waited for a car to pass before heading towards them.

“It’s not just the hair,” Shinji was mumbling sullenly, “he blushes when he sees her, too, even though he’s supposed to be dating me now.  He probably does it
to make me jealous, he’s spiteful like that, conceited too, thinking I’d be jealous over him blushing because of Tachibana-san’s sister.”

Kamio shot him a glare from the corner of his eye and hissed a word before Ann got within hearing distance of them.  Shinji scowled at him and sulked when
the girl came to stand in front of them.

“I know there’s no practice today,” Ann said, without pausing for a greeting, “but we have some extra tickets for the bowling alley.  I already asked the other
guys and they said they’d go.  I was afraid I wouldn’t catch you two.  Do you want to go with us?”

She’d spoken in a quick rush, a little out of breath from running.  A moment later, she glanced from Kamio to Shinji and blinked rapidly.  “Ano…did I interrupt
something?  Ibu-kun is blushing!  You both are…”

Shinji wrinkled his nose and said, “We were talking about hair.”

“And sex,” Kamio added.

Ann blinked startled eyes at them, just staring for a long minute.  Then she laughed and waved a playful hand, pushing them to head back toward the school.  
“You two!  You sound like girls gossiping about makeup and boys…!  You guys don’t have to argue about that stuff, take my word for it.  You’re both the best
catches in school, after my brother, of course.  You’re just grapes and cherries.  It’s a matter of taste, nothing to fight over.”

Kamio’s eyebrow twitched at the description, and he shared an uncertain look with Shinji over the girl’s head.  “That means I’m tangy and sweet, right?”

“Yeah,” Shinji nodded, his brows drawn in a vague frown.  “But I don’t want to be a grape.  The team will start calling me a sour one, and they already think I’m
sullen.  My hair’s not purple, either, and I don’t even like grapes, though I do like cherries…”

“I’ve seen dark blue grapes,” Kamio smirked, “and it’s only the green ones that are sour.  Besides, I like grapes more than cherries, so it evens out.”

“See?” Ann grinned, patting her hands on their backs.  “Nothing to argue about.  Let’s go bowling!”

Kamio nodded with a smile, and Shinji gave a somewhat resigned sigh, mumbling as he went about how much he didn’t like bowling, and if the team started
calling him a sour grape he wasn’t going to talk to Ann-chan anymore, unless Tachibana-san made him, in which case he’d have to talk to her, but he wouldn’t
like it.  

Ann just beamed and hooked her arms with theirs, making a note to herself to bring cherries and grapes to lunch tomorrow and share with the team.  Kamio
and Shinji might not appreciate it, but she was sure her brother and the others would get a laugh out of it.  They were too cute.