For Aja. ♥ ♥ ♥
+ + +
Theme: #1: look over here
Echizen Ryoma is used to attention.
It's given to him either because of who he is - the wonder freshman - or because of who his father is; tennis enthusiasts from the '80s, like Inoue-san, often go starry-eyed when they realise the Samurai's son is following in his footsteps, and they usually begin gushing about how honoured Ryoma must feel at having such a father.
Ryoma does his best to ignore them. He's sure they don't want to know about the Samurai, now a family man, who has subscriptions to magazines featuring scantily-clad women, or scratches himself in full view of the family, or spends most of his day lazing or irritating Karupin, and only remembers Ryoma's birthday because of Christmas and because his mother never forgets.
Everyone has their idols, Ryoma supposes, absently swinging a racquet as he warms up. He should know: he has one himself.
If Ryoma was ever asked who has tennis idol was, he would tell them, "Buchou." Not that he's ever asked, of course, and part of him feels like if he was, he wouldn't tell them because he wants to keep exactly how much he looks up to Buchou between themselves. Sometimes, however, when he sees Fuji smile, or Inui's glasses gleam a certain way, he doesn't think that he's doing a very good job of keeping it a secret.
Buchou has made him step out of his father's shadow. He's made him develop his own style of tennis. He's helped him care about people for the first time in his life (Karupin doesn't count). He's made him improve and aim higher and higher, until Ryoma can feel himself trembling on the edge and all that's keeping him safe is the knowledge that Buchou is behind him, catching up and surpassing him, so that it has to start all over again.
Once, after a match, when they shake hands, Ryoma suddenly realises that he's grown enough that he and Buchou are close enough to almost kiss. The thought seems to come from no where and makes his cheeks burn; he stumbles back and pretends to be catching his breath when Buchou looks at him strangely.
Yes, Ryoma idolises Buchou. He's carried them all so far, Ryoma included, so why shouldn't he?
Now, however, he's beginning to wonder if it's something more.
Look at me, he thinks each time he slams a ball, each time he hits another Twist Serve. Look at me, notice me, pay attention only to me.
Echizen Ryoma is used to getting attention.
It takes him a while to realise that he already has Tezuka's, and that Tezuka has been watching from the very beginning.
- - -
Theme: #21: violence; pillage/plunder; extortion
Note: I apologise for this one. :| Really.
"Ochibi!" Eiji declares, wagging a finger in front of his face. "You're keeping something from us!"
"Hmm," Ryoma says, examining a packet of fries critically before beginning to eat them. "Really?"
"Don't play games with us, Echizen!" Momo says. "We're your senpai." He waves his burger in the air; ketchup splatters everywhere and the girls sitting next to them flinch as some comes dangerously close to hitting them. Ryoma glances at them and then back at Momo, wondering how Momo hasn't realised why he has no luck with girls yet.
"Nothing's wrong," Ryoma says, taking a sip of coke before unwrapping a burger. Food always seems to taste better when he hasn't paid for it.
"Considering how much I paid for all this," Eiji grumbles, "something better be up."
Ryoma rolls his eyes and swallows. "It's your fault for giving into Momo-senpai," he points out.
Eiji continues to grumble as Momo yells, "Oi! Be respectful to your senpai!"
Ryoma sighs as the girls start looking nervously at each other again. "You're embarrassing yourself again, Momo-senpai."
Momo frowns before looking over at the girls, his eyes widening. He grins and gives them a sheepish wave; they stare back at him, perplexed.
"Momo, stop flirting!" Eiji orders, giving Ryoma a determined look. "Something is up, Ochibi. For a start, both you and Tezuka-Buchou were absent last week, and Ryuzaki-sensai wouldn't tell us what was going on. Oishi wouldn't tell me, either! And then, whatever happened, something's changed with you!"
He and Momo both lean in to peer at Ryoma, who leans away and grins uneasily at them. The girls are beginning to stare again.
"We want answers!" Momo and Eiji says in unison, and Momo adds, "We're your senpai, Echizen - we can make you pay for the burgers next time!"
Ryoma raises an eyebrow; extortion is hardly going to convince him to tell them (and since it's Eiji he's telling, he's also telling the rest of the Regulars by default) what happened between him and Buchou at the clay courts. For one thing, it's private, and for another, Buchou would make him run laps for the rest of his life if he told. The fact that Oishi-senpai hasn't told Kikumaru-senpai is testament to itself that Ryoma shouldn't tell (and why does Kikumaru-senpai think that Oishi-senpai would know what happened, anyway?).
But, Ryoma realises, staring into the equally darkened faces of his senpai, he's going to have to tell them something. As much as he'd like to believe that he could just get up and leave, he's far too certain that one of them will run after him and drag him back until he gives them answers - they're in that kind of mood.
Eiji slumps in his seat, staring mournfully at his drink. "I told you we should have let Fujiko-kun handle this!"
Ryoma freezes, his mind numbing at the prospect of Fuji interrogating him.
There are, he realises, lesser evils that must be dealt with. He stands up, letting his tray on the table; they'll both devour what's left when he's gone.
"Oi, Echizen!" Momo says, followed by Eiji's cry of, "Ochibi!"
Ryoma pauses, wondering what Fuji would say.
"We went on a date," he says at last, loud enough that the girls beside them can hear as well. "Sorry, Momo-senpai, but when Buchou insists..." He's going to regret this, possibly forever. Never mind what Fuji will do to him - he'll definitely be running laps for the rest of his life and beyond once Buchou hears about this.
Momo almost chokes on his burger; Eiji's eyes widen to the size of saucers as his jaw hangs open. Ryoma, feeling like he has nothing else to lose, waggles his fingers in goodbye and, in a moment of inspiration, blows Momo a kiss. The girls and Eiji squeal; Momo turns purple.
Ryoma makes a break for it, hoping he can get enough of a headstart before Momo comes to his senses and Eiji gets his hands on a phone.
- - -
Theme: #12: in a good mood
Note: Background Katsuo/Kachiro.
"You know what," Katsuo observes one day as he, Kachiro, and Horio watch the Regulars train, "Tezuka-Buchou seems to be in a good mood today."
"Really?" Kachiro asks, but Horio nods solemnly.
"He hasn't been giving out half as many laps as he normally does," Horio says, trying to sound as wise as a sage and failing miserably. Katsuo and Kachiro exchange glances; being freshmen in the High School tennis club isn't very different to being freshman in the Junior High tennis club. They still clean up and pick up the balls; Ryoma is still the freshman Regular; and Horio is still squawking about his (five) years of tennis experience.
"Ryoma-kun also seems happier than usual," Katsuo continues, and the evidence of this is obvious: Ryoma hasn't stopped grinning since practise started. Judging by their glances and murmurs, the other Regulars have also noticed this. Only Tezuka and Kaidoh appear indifferent to his good humour, but this is also normal.
Practise goes well, and Tezuka congratulates them before they break up for the day. Horio tries to get answers out of Ryoma when they clean up - he fails, to no one's surprise.
Kachiro is the last one to leave the clubhouse, Katsuo and Horio having already left due to letting a science paper go to the last minute which Kachiro has already finished. He closes the door, knowing that Tezuka-Buchou will lock it soon after.
If Kachiro is walking home on his own, he likes to pass by the wall where Echizen practises with a ball. It comforts him and helps him to remember that, even though he isn't on the same level as the current Regulars, he's not that bad. He and Katsuo aren't that bad a doubles pair, even though they're not on par with the Golden Pair (but then, who is in Seigaku?); he only wishes that Horio hadn't spontaneously started calling them the Bronze Pair.
However, when he turns the corner to walk by the wall, he stops in his tracks, leaping back to hide behind the corner. He peers around again and then looks away, feeling his cheeks burn as he gasps for breath. No, it isn't his imagination, then.
Kachiro knows that Katsuo likes him: they kissed once, even though it was awkward, and Kachiro left as quickly as he could, and they've never spoken of it since. He also knows that he likes watching Ryoma a lot more than he should, and not just when he's playing tennis.
Perhaps this is why his chest hurts when he peers around again, his eyes widening at the way Tezuka-Buchou has Ryoma against the wall, holding him firmly as he kisses his neck. He tries not to look at Ryoma, whose head is tilted back, his arms around Tezuka's neck, but it's hard not to with the sounds Ryoma is making.
Kachiro takes a different way home. Ryoma doesn't take off his Regular jacket the next day and keeps the collar turned up. It's a very warm day. Kachiro blushes when Katsuo and Horio comment on Ryoma and Tezuka-Buchou's continued good moods, and he declines when Katsuo asks him if he wants to practise doubles after they've cleaned up.
- - -
Theme: #6: the space between dream and reality
Rating: Light R for hints of sexual activities.
They have the most pleasant way of waking up.
In the morning, when sunlight is still only a faint glow against the curtains and the traffic hasn't hit its morning rush yet, they wake up in each other's arms, curled against the other, warm and trapped within the blankets. It took Tezuka a while to get used to waking up with someone else, but now, when Ryoma opens his eyes, he's usually still and relaxed, looking younger than he really is without his glasses.
Feeling Ryoma shift in the bed, Karupin wakes, a warm prescence at Ryoma's back, leaning up to press his nose against Ryoma's cheek in a groggy morning greeting. He jumps off the bed and goes off to sunbathe at a window - he doesn't like being kicked off the bed in the mornings, and prefers exiting of his own accord.
Ryoma stretches, leaning up to press his lips against Tezuka's, smiling as he pulls away. He reaches up to run a hand through Tezuka's hair, letting his fingertips trail down his nose and then outline his lips. Tezuka murmurs and stirs, still midway between sleep and awareness.
Ryoma grins, kissing Tezuka's neck and trailing his lips down to his collarbones, pressing his mouth against them firmly. Tezuka frowns and murmurs more audibly this time.
"You should wake up," Ryoma's whispers in Tezuka's ear, one of his hands wandering down Tezuka's chest, trailing across his waist, before continuing down to his hipbone and then to his thigh. As Tezuka's eyes begin to open, his other thigh slides between Ryoma's, who makes a sound low in his throat.
"Ryoma," Tezuka says in a rumpled, heavy voice, and Ryoma's smile widens.
"Good morning," Ryoma replies, pressing his lips to Tezuka's, gently, the barest of kisses. Tezuka reaches up to pull him closer as Ryoma straddles his waist.
Well, there are worse ways to wake up in the morning.
I AM FEELING THE LOVE. *_* Oh, Aja, thank you for getting me into Tenipuri. Wah.
(I apologise for any spelling mistakes; I've been typing like a mad thing to get this up before the labs close. I'll fix any spelling mishaps tomorrow.)