Fandom: Prince of Tennis.
Pairing: None. Gen.
Rating: PG-13, for their foul mouths.
Summary/Notes: Hyoutei go on a team-bonding trip. Written for hyouteiexchange in 2008. With lots of poking and hand-holding from kishmet. Thank you, you are the best.
"I'm just saying, Rome would be an educational place to-"
"I said no, Yuushi."
"Just because you entertain some pathetic fantasy of sleeping with a hot Italian girl," Hiyoshi says. "Does not mean you can drag the rest of us on your futile endeavour."
Oshitari places a hand over his heart. "You hurt me so."
“Don’t see why we can’t go to Disney,” Shishido grouches, and flicks a piece of balled-up paper at Hiyoshi's head. “I think it’s the best idea so far.”
“You would,” Gakuto says. “Seeing as it was yours.”
"I'd have thought you'd be all over the idea of going to Disney," Shishido says. "Being a dwarf, and all."
"What was that, you fucking bastard?" Gakuto hisses, about to launch himself across their makeshift meeting table to wring Shishido's neck.
Oshitari snags him by the back of his collar, dragging him back down into his seat. "Now, now, Gakkun. What did we say about your temper?"
"Don't care," Gakuto says. He tries to flail back to his feet, but Oshitari's grip is firm on his shirt. "I'm gonna punch him in his stupid face."
"Like to see you try," Shishido says. "You couldn't reach."
"That is enough," Atobe snaps. "Can we have one suggestion that is sensible, and doesn't involve cartoon characters or sexual escapades, please?"
"Don't you want to be involved in my sexual escapades, Keigo?" Oshitari purrs, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
"Shut up, Yuushi."
"Perhaps," Kabaji says, "we could go to a ryokan."
A stunned sort of silence fills the room as they all contemplate this new idea, and murmurs of agreement and approval follow shortly after.
"There'll be something for everyone to do," Ohtori says. "Especially if we go to one near a river."
"And Ryou can wear Mickey Mouse ears," Oshitari says gleefully. "So he'll be happy too."
"You know what, Oshitari?" Shishido says. "You can just fuck right off."
"So cruel, Ryou," Oshitari says, frowning in a way that he believes makes him look like a kicked puppy. "You break my heart."
"I'll break something else if you don't shut up."
"For fuck's sake," Atobe says. "Can you both try shutting up for two minutes?"
"Anything for you, my darling. Sunshine of my li-"
"Yuushi," Atobe warns, just as Shishido starts making gagging noises.
"Right," Atobe says. "Seeing as we all appear to be agreed on the ryokan idea, I'll get it all sorted tonight."
"Does that mean we can leave?" Gakuto says, glancing hopefully over at the door. "My drama starts in an hour, and I need to go get the bus."
"Everyone can leave now," Atobe clarifies, and Gakuto whoops. "Except for you three."
"What?" Oshitari, Shishido, and Gakuto splutter at once.
"You have the honour of making sure this classroom is left in pristine condition," Atobe says. "Consider it punishment."
"You know what you are, Keigo," Shishido says. "You're a dick. And I hate you."
Atobe has already snagged his bag and made his way to the door, where he pauses to turn and waggle his fingers in some semblance of a wave. "I will see you all in the morning."
"A dick!" Shishido shouts after him as he leaves the room.
The weeks leading up to their trip pass by quickly, in a flurry of excited conversations over lunch, in the changing rooms, in balled-up notes thrown at each other in class.
And now it's the night before the trip, and Atobe is still packing. There are clothes strewn all around his room as he hunts through them in a bid to find something that is appropriate -- which his purple, ruffled Versace shirt is not -- and comfortable to wear. The only thing that he has packed for certain is his fishing rod.
He's almost in a fit of despair when his phone rings, and he answers it irritably. "What?"
"Don't try to sound too enthusiastic," Shishido says. "I might start thinking you care."
"This had better be important," Atobe says, as he discards another silk shirt into the growing pile of inappropriate clothing. "I'm busy."
There is a long moment of silence. "Are you still packing?"
"Oh my god, you are. You fucking suck," Shishido says, laughing. Atobe feels a growing urge to hang up on him. "I finished last night."
"Fantastic," Atobe says, with barely disguised sarcasm. "Now you've informed me of that, perhaps you can get to the point of you calling me at. Oh. Eleven thirty at night."
"Yeah, right," Shishido says. "So I was wondering, do you know what the answer to number eight on the English homework is?"
"You're kidding, right?"
"You've called me up the night before our, and I quote, 'most epic and awesome holiday ever,' to ask me what the answer to question eight on the homework is?"
"Well, yeah. I'm really stuck on it."
"You're a fucking moron, Ryou," Atobe says. "Goodnight."
Long after he's hung up on Shishido, and also after he's finished packing his bag, he gets a text message from Oshitari. It's one in the morning, and he's bleary eyed, but he still manages to read it.
I'm bringing Ryan and Kelsey with me, it says. And all their love.
He wishes he hadn't.
The journey to the ryokan is mostly uneventful, except for a few instances of sing-alongs and very vocal DS battles. They arrive in the early afternoon, buzzing with excitement, awed by their surroundings.
"This place is fucking awesome," Shishido says. He reaches the entrance hall first and kicks off his shoes. "I mean, seriously awesome."
Gakuto follows suit, leaving his shoes in a heap next to Shishido's. "Do you have to swear all the fucking time? I mean, it's rude."
Kabaji is only three steps behind them, and rights their shoes, placing them neatly to one side.
"This team," Hiyoshi mourns, shaking his head in despair over his companions' lack of etiquette. "This team."
Atobe resolves to ignore them all, making his way to check them in and have them shown to their room. He does, however, smack Shishido upside the head as he walks past him. Whether that's as retribution for the phone call the night before, or his appalling manners, well. It hardly matters.
“There is no way I’m sleeping by the door,” Shishido says, dumping his bag unceremoniously onto a futon in the middle of their room. “One of you bastards is going to need the toilet in the night, and you’ll stand on me.”
“Because that’s going to make everyone else want those ones,” Gakuto says, chucking his own bag down. “I’ve got this one.”
“In the interests of being diplomatic,” Oshitari says, and Atobe snorts at the notion coming from Oshitari, of all people. “Perhaps we should draw straws?”
Murmurs of agreement go around the room, some more begrudgingly than others.
“I refuse to be involved in a wager for the optimum sleeping spot,” Atobe says, as he takes the futon by the window. "Argue amongst yourselves."
“Don’t be a dick, Keigo,” Shishido says.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Ryou,” Atobe says, taking his pyjamas out of his bag and placing them neatly on the end of the futon. “I didn’t realise that you wanted to pay for the room.”
“You know what, I hope a spider crawls into your mouth while you’re sleeping,” Shishido snaps.
“Sorry,” Shishido says. “I meant, I hope a spider crawls into your mouth while you’re sleeping, captain.”
"Now you listen to me, you shit-faced litt-"
"I got some straws," Kabaji says, evidently having left to fetch them at Oshitari's suggestion. "Perhaps we should draw them, before things get out of hand."
They all surround Kabaji, and pull straws one by one. Even Atobe, who decides that he should be involved just so he doesn't cause any further tension by his refusal to cooperate.
He still gets the bed by the window.
To his delight, Shishido ends up by the door.
The air is comfortably cool as they all gather outside that evening. On Hiyoshi’s suggestion they sit around a makeshift fire, made from leaves of red, and orange, and yellow. The fire spits and crackles in the background as their potatoes cook over it.
“I brought sparklers,” Jiroh says, waving a handful of them around. “I thought about bringing firecrackers, but they’re noisy.”
“Sweet,” Gakuto squeals, leaping to snag one of Jiroh's sparklers, just as Atobe says, “What are we, five years old?”
By the time he turns around the rest of the team have lit their sparklers and are waving them around, making patterns with the light – mostly innocent patterns, though certain juvenile members of the team have given the recreational activity a decidedly PG-13 rating. “Oh for god's sake,” Atobe says.
It’s for team spirit, he tells himself moments later, as he finds himself drawing circles in the air with his own sparkler.
All is peaceful. For a little while, anyway.
“Oh fuck. Is that burning I sme-“
“The potatoes are on fucking fire!”
Later, when they're all lying on their futons in the dark, Shishido suggests that they tell ghost stories.
"It'll be fun," he says. "Y'know. Like a proper sleep-over thing."
"Oh, oh," Jiroh says. "I think that's a great idea."
"I know a few," Hiyoshi says. "I have a book on the seven school ghos- what the fuck are you doing?"
"Stop shining that thing in my eyes!" Hiyoshi snaps.
"What, like this?" Shishido flashes the torch he's holding on and off, on and off, as Hiyoshi tries to shield his eyes.
"Ghost stories are for babies," Gakuto mutters.
"You mean babies are afraid of ghost stories," says Shishido, turning the beam of light on Gakuto's futon, whose occupant has curled up and hidden himself in a cocoon of blankets.
"Fuck off," says Gakuto, his voice muffled beneath the fabric.
"Maybe we should get some sleep," Ohtori suggests. "We want to make the most of tomorrow."
"Aw, come on. Just one story," Shishido says. "It's not like it'd hurt."
"Perhaps," Oshitari says, holding his own torch above the book in his hand. "I could read us all a chapter from Ryan and Kelsey's epic love story."
"On second thought," Shishido says, flicking his torch off. "Sleep is sounding really good."
The next morning they wake bright and early, and leave the ryokan in search of the perfect fishing spot. Atobe, it turns out, is not the only one to have brought along a rod to the trip -- both Kabaji and Hiyoshi have as well.
"Why the hell," Shishido says. "Do we have to go with these guys? I mean, I don't want to bloody fish. It's boring."
"You can go back to the ryokan on your own," Gakuto says. "We won't miss you. In fact it'd be better. Way more peaceful."
"Doubtful," Atobe says. "You'd still be with us."
"I brought us lunch," Ohtori says, hoping to divert the conversation to safer ground. "And Jiroh has a football with him."
"And my DS," Jiroh says, pulling it from his pocket. "We could do multi-player on Mario Kart."
"And I have my book with me," Oshitari offers. "I could always read to you, Ryou. Or would it offend your Disney-like sensibilities?"
"Wha-" Shishido splutters. "No. You can keep your stupid flowery trash to yourself, thank you very much."
"You hurt me, Ryou," Oshitari says, cradling his book protectively. "This is the height of literary genius."
"Wilde and Tennyson are rolling in their graves as we speak," Atobe comments.
"You are a sad, strange boy," Shishido tells Oshitari, shaking his head.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Oshitari says. "Coming from you."
Eight hundred and twenty keep-ups and seventy five rounds of Mario Kart later, and none of the 'fishermen' have caught a thing. It's thoroughly depressing, considering how long they've been sitting there, staring at the water. The height of their excitement had come when Kabaji's line twitched, but it had only snagged on a stone for a second, then gone still again.
"You'd have thought that we'd have caught something," says Atobe
Hiyoshi shrugs. "Maybe it's just one of those days."
"We could break for lunch now," Ohtori offers, already pulling out boxes of sandwiches from his bag. "I'm sure everyone is hungry."
"God, Choutarou," Shishido says, eyeng up the cake that Ohtori pulls out next. "I think I could marry you."
"Because of the cake, Shishido?"
"And all its delicious, chocolaty goodness."
They settle around the boxes, reaching over each other to grab sandwiches, of so many different kinds they don't bother to count before falling on the food like a pack of ravenous wolves. Ohtori has outdone himself again, spoiling them with cake, biscuits, sweets. It's a feast fit for a small army, or a single group of famished teenage boys.
"You might have to fight me for him," Gakuto says around a mouthful of cake, after a long silence broken only by the sounds of chewing and grunts of appreciation. "I think I want to marry him too."
"I had first dibs," Shishido says, flicking crumbs into Gakuto's hair.
"Don't care," Gakuto says. "I want this cake every day for the rest of my life."
"You'll turn into that cake-eating guy from Rik- what was that?"
"What was what?" Jiroh asks.
"That!" Shishido says, flailing his arms and spilling the rest of his crumbs all over Gakuto and the ground. "Didn't you hear it?"
"I think you're hearing things," Hiyoshi says, snagging another biscuit.
"That's what I'm saying," Shishido splutters. "I heard it. Like a rustling sou-"
"Oh! I heard it," Jiroh says. "There's something in the bushes."
"It's probably some kind of animal. Stop overreact-"
"It's a bear!" Gakuto screams, pointing at the bush. "I saw its ears. There's a bear and it's going to eat us."
"For god's sake," Atobe says, taking another sandwich. "Stop being so ridiculous. Ryou, where are you- don't fucking run off!"
It takes all of three seconds for the rest of the more excitable, and gullible, members of the team to scamper away too, leaving Atobe, Kabaji, and Hiyoshi to collect their things. Atobe is almost certain that Oshitari had just run off screaming to feed the drama started by the rest of his teammates.
"I'm going to kill them," Atobe says, as they make their way back to the ryokan. "Slowly."
"It's terrifying," Gakuto says, sprawled out across two futons and snacking on a chocolate bar. "That there'd be a bear right by us. We could have died."
"I know," Shishido says. "Should have some kind of warning, you know."
"There was no fucking bear," Atobe snarls, chucking a pillow at Shishido's head. "You're all ridiculous, and we had to carry your shit all the way back."
"I saw it though!" Gakuto says. "Saw it with my own two eyes."
"You saw wrong," Atobe says. "You're all going to be running so many laps ne-"
Atobe is interrupted in mid-sentence by a loud scream, and everyone turns immediately to look at the culprit. They're free from the threat of bears now, so surely there is no reason that anyone would shriek as though their very life was in peril.
"What on earth?"
"Oh god, it's terrible," Oshitari wails, staring into his bag. "Just terrible."
"What's terrible, Yuushi?" Jiroh says, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"My book, it's gone."
Atobe rubs his temples with his fingers, feeling a migraine coming on. He might have known. "Look, Yuushi. It's not a big deal."
"That bear," Oshitari says. "That bear, he must have stolen my book."
"You've got to be kidding me," Atobe says. "Please tell me you're kidding?"
"Oh, Ryan. Oh, Kelsey. Never fear, I shall rescue you from the clutches of such great evil."
"We have to go back," Oshitari says. "We have to go and save them."
"No," Atobe says, folding his arms across his chest. "No way in fucking hell."
"I can't believe it," Atobe says, shining his torch through the trees. So far they've seen leaves, dirt, more leaves and, unsurprisingly, more dirt. "I can't believe I'm out here, searching for a romance novel."
"It is a noble cause," Oshitari says, brandishing his own light like a sword. His swishes it around in the air a few times. "A fight for the greater good."
"Yuushi, it's a book. I could have got you another one," Atobe says. "I offered to buy you another one."
"That's hardly the point," Oshitari says. "It's the principle of the matter."
"The principle of the matter?" Shishido pipes up. "It's a fucking book, you dropped it running from certain death."
"That bear stole it," Oshitari says, shining the torch down at the ground. "I have to get it back."
"You're a crazy fucker, Oshitari."
"And yet we followed him back here," says Atobe. "Imagine that."
"We're Hyoutei," says Shishido crossly. "We follow crazy fuckers all the time."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Atobe asks, turning to eye him.
"Look, can we just find this thing and get back to the ryokan? It's bloody freezing out here," Shishido says, ignoring Atobe's question as he steps over some tree roots.
"You didn't have to come," Atobe says. "I only had to indulge Yuushi a little, but you insisted."
"Yeah, well. Safety in numbers and all that shit," Shishido says, turning away from the light of Atobe's torch. "Didn't want that bear to eat you."
"I didn't know you cared so much, Ryou."
They wander around a little more, shining their lights at the trees and listening out for the bear. Not that Atobe expects to hear it, seeing as it hadn't existed in the first place. They've managed to walk all the way back to the spot they'd been at earlier in the day, which is a feat that they should be proud of, considering that it's barely recognisable in this light. They spend a few moments shining their torches around, spotting remnants of their earlier picnic left over in the form of sandwich crusts, and...
"Ryan, Kelsey," Oshitari wails, running over to a tree trunk. "You're alive."
"Well," Shishido says. "Thank fuck for that."
They get back to the ryokan around midnight. It takes a lot longer than they expect to navigate in the dark, and Oshitari's incessant cooing at his book doesn't help matters much. The rest of the team are asleep by the time they enter the room again.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Atobe hisses, when Shishido doesn't settle down onto his futon. In fact, he settles down on someone else's.
"I'm going to go to sleep."
"Not on my fucking futon you're not," Atobe says, tugging Shishido up by his collar. "Get back to your own."
"And after I came with you, to protect you from that bear," Shishido says, slapping half-heartedly at Atobe's hand. "It's the least you could do."
"Away, now. Or I'll demote you to ball boy."
"Fine," Shishido says, padding back to his bed, being careful not to step on anyone on the way there. He flops down onto his futon. "Night."
"And goodnight, Ryan and Kelsey," Oshitari says.
"Shut up," Atobe and Shishido say, in unison, and laugh despite themselves.