Theme #10: 10 (set in the Choice universe)
Tezuka glances up at the clock: ten to seven, and Ryoma should be home by now. Another ten minutes, Tezuka decides, and he'll call him. He goes to boil water, thinking of tea and the vague possibilities for dinner.
He sighs as he listens to the kettle beginning to boil, relishing the ache in his muscles and deep in his bones: the ache of a training session gone well.
He's beginning to find his tennis agin. It's like being reborn anew, opening his eyes every morning to the realisation that this is not a dream. It's real and it's going to remain that way.
He steeps the tea and pours a cup, sitting down at the table. He hums softly and closes his eyes as the first sip trickles down his throat. His eyes snap open at the sound of the door, followed by abrupt shouting with the thump of shoes being shrugged off. Karupin, curled up asleep in another room, darts out to greet Ryoma.
Tezuka sets down his cup, carefully aligning it with the table edge, glancing up just as Ryoma comes into the kitchen with his arms full of sushi boxes. Karupin trots beside him, head tilted up and mewling hopefully. Tezuka stares at him for a moment before coming to help him just in case the boxes tip onto the floor.
"What's all this for?" he asks, opening one of them and peering at the contents: all of his favourites are neatly lined up, ridiculously fresh.
Ryoma rolls his eyes. "Your tennis," he says, something very like his old familiar smirk curling at the corner of his mouth. "Kawamara sends his best - he says he can't wait to see you on TV again."
Tezuka remains silent for several seconds before quietly saying, "Aa." He can't take his eyes off the sushi, looking up only when something cold is pressed against his cheek. Ryoma is beside him, holding a small bottle of sake against his face. "Don't worry," he assures him, "not enough to get drunk on."
Tezuka swallows, still looking at him but the words still won't come out. Ryoma snorts, pecks him quickly on the cheek, and takes the sushi box from him. Tezuka blinks when a pair of chopsticks is silently held out to him, and then realises that Ryoma has set the table while he stood there blankly.
Ryoma shakes his head. "Che," he mutters, "stop thinking." He reaches up and kisses him properly this time, pressing their mouths together firmly. Tezuka suddenly shudders, his hands closing around Ryoma's arms as he moans, opening his mouth.
When they break apart, Ryoma leans against him briefly and murmurs, "C'mon, let's eat. I'm starving."
Tezuka laughs and says, "All right," just as Karupin leaps up onto the table, purring, and sticks his head right into one of the sushi platters.
- - -
Theme #23: candy
The deal is the same, three years later: Momo doesn't make any jokes about the number of girls presenting Ryoma with cards and chocolate, and he gets all of said chocolate in return. Ryoma doesn't know if it's a reflection on their friendship or on Momo's love of chocolate, but really he doesn't care all that much.
Ryoma doesn't say a word as he tips the plastic bag over Momo's tennis bag, sweets and gaudy foil-wrapped chocolates spilling into it. He scowls as he gives the bag one last shake. Then he shrugs, as if to say It's all yours now, and turns to change for practise.
The rest of the regulars start to drift in, laughing, each carrying their various hauls. Valentine's Day is always when the familiar routine is broken; practise never runs quite like clockwork and there is always more teasing and fooling around than normal, much to Ryoma's chagrin. He's never really understood girls, to his father's dismay, and he doubts he ever will.
Fuji smiles, glancing at Ryoma. "Nothing again this year, Echizen?" he asks, his smile widening as Ryoma snorts and rolls his eyes before going out onto the courts.
Tezuka is already there, arms folded as he watches the freshmen practising their swings. Their gazes meet for a moment and Ryoma, conscious that the others will soon be out, walks over to the very opposite court. When he turns around, Tezuka has followed him and is standing a few feet away.
Ryoma reaches into his pocket and pulls out a tennis ball. He tosses it at Tezuka, who catches it easily. He looks at him and Ryoma meets his gaze again, now openly grinning. "Tonight, at the clay court near the university," he says. "I'll bring the balls."
Tezuka raises an eyebrow, but pockets the ball anywway.
"Well," Ryoma says, keeping his tone reasonable. "It's not like you were expecting chocolate."