Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis was created by Konomi Takeshi. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made from this creative venture.


Question and Answer

By Gen X


Quiet and peaceful train rides did not exist for the Seigaku team, and today was no exception.

Eiji hung over the back of his seat, and leaned close to Momoshiro. The younger boy tried to shy away, but sitting between the window and Takashi, there wasn't anywhere to go. Momo looked across the table to the opposite seat and cast a beseeching look towards Oishi. However, the vice captain seemed conflicted as to whether he should intervene or not.

It looked like Momoshiro was on his own.

If Eiji got any closer, they'd be practically touching. Momo edged towards the window. He was going to run out of space very soon. Thankfully, Eiji straightened up, and raised his arms in triumph.

"It's a bruise!" Eiji proclaimed happily and for everyone to hear.

"Eh?" Momo twisted in his seat to stare dumbly back at Eiji. Then, he tugged at his shirt collar, pulling it down to reveal the telltale red mark. He looked down to get a better view. It didn't look anything at all like a bruise.

"It could be a rash." Inui commented from across the aisle. Takashi was obstructing his view of the situation, and the blotch in question. However, there was much to be said for eyewitness accounts. Inui was absorbed in his notations, and as long as Momo's mysterious spot continued as a matter of interest, he was sure to get any information he would need.

"Anou, he could be right." Takashi nodded his head, and leaned near to get a better look. "One time my father had a rash that was so bad that he had to see a doctor."

Momo scowled and moved away. Didn't anyone understand the concept of personal space? "It's not a rash!"

"Anou, let me see. His had this weird coloring to it. I should be able to tell."

"I'm fine!" Momo pulled his jersey collar closed and held it firmly with his hand.

"It could be a bug bite," Inui speculated. He still had about twenty more hypotheses to test.

"It's not a bug bite either!" Momo huffed. He zippered up his coat for good measure. "It's not anything."

Across the way, Fuji smiled and nodded in a way that disconcerted Momoshiro. Fuji was uncannily perceptive, and in fact, had been the first to point out the red spot. From there, it had somehow spiraled into the current guessing game. Perhaps Momo would be better off saying it was a rash instead...

"It's a bruise!" Eiji insisted, leaning over Takashi to argue with him.

"It could be," Takashi agreed. He held his hands up in supplication and craned his head back to look at Eiji upside down. "I didn't get a chance to see it."

"It could be an allergic reaction," Inui suggested.

"It is not an allergic reaction!"

"Of course not," Fuji agreed with a smile. There was no doubt in Momoshiro's mind that Fuji knew. "In fact it looks like--"

"Fu--Fuji!" Oishi stammered, purposely cutting off the other boy. "I don't think you should..." he trailed off, and recovered none to gracefully. "It's really none of our business."

While Momo was thankful for the support, he couldn't miss the flushing of Oishi's cheeks. What the heck? Did everyone know? Pah, this was all Echizen's fault. Momoshiro turned in his seat to look over Eiji's. He thwaped the top of Ryoma's hat lightly. The freshman had been staring straight ahead and didn't even look like he'd been listening, or that he cared.

'Tch,' Momo thought, 'it's not like this doesn't concern him too.'

Ryoma looked up lazily at him, a bit annoyed at having been hit. "Ne, Momo-sempai?"

"Don't you have any comments to add?"

Ryoma blinked at him. "About what?"

Had Momoshiro not had amazing self-control, the scene would not have been pretty or very quiet.

"Ne! Ochibi!" Eiji flopped back down in his seat. "What do you think it is?"

"Huh?"

It was times like these that almost made Ryoma want to pay attention to everything, just so he wouldn't be lost. He looked about the car and tried to figure out what he had missed and what was going on. Inui was taking notes; that was nothing new. Taka-san was talking to Fuji about food poisoning. Odd. Across the back of the seats, Eiji was tugging at Momo's jacket, looking like he was trying to pull it off. Ryoma decided he was better off not knowing, and moreso, really didn't care. He pulled his cap down and slouched back in his seat.

He shrugged in response to Kikamaru's question and opened his tennis duffle to search for a drink.

"It could be a hickey," Inui suggested.

Ponta can halfway to his mouth, Ryoma froze. Perhaps, there were reasons to pay attention after all.

Momo turned at Inui, intent on yelling but the words failed him. Instead, he managed to stammer. "Inui! Why-- don't say things like that!"

"Yes, Inui. What would give you that idea?" Fuji asked innocently. He grinned widely, and his horns were peeking through his halo.

Eiji let go of Momo's jacket and turned to stare at Inui. "Inui, it can't be a hickey." He paused in contemplation. "They don't look like that."

Oishi swallowed hard, and hoped his doubles partner wouldn't feel the need to prove that statement.

"Besides," Eiji continued, "who would have done it anyway? Imagine, Momo with a girlfriend!"

"Hey!" Momo objected instinctively on behalf of his ego. He stood up and turned around. "What are you trying to say?"

Eiji opted to kneel on the seat, bringing him fairly close to Momoshiro's eye level. He was ready for confrontation. "I wasn't say-- wait! Are you serious? With who?"

"I didn't say that!" Momo flushed and shouted back.

"You implied!" Eiji insisted. This was wonderful taunting material.

The decibel level was rising, and Ryoma winced. It didn't seem like it was going to end any time soon. Finally, he turned. "Ne, Momo-sempai, why are you getting so upset over a rash?"

"Eh? How does ochibi know it's a rash?" Eiji asked, before Momo could even have time to think of a response.

"Aa. Karupin licked him too much when he was over my house."

Eiji snickered, hitting Momo lightly on the arm. "Momo! You made us think you had a girlfriend."

"A girlfriend?" Momo smiled, rubbing at his neck. "Me?"

"Yes! But it was just ochibi's fault!" Eiji tapped Ryoma playfully on the shoulder. If only he know how true that statement was. Eiji bounced back down to his seat now that the entertainment was over with. "To think... Momo with a girlfriend..."

Inui closed his book with a snap and mumbled to himself. "... wasn't expected..."

Momo snorted. He leaned over the back of the seat, resting his arms on the top. "Tch. Echizen." He swatted Ryoma's hat. "One day, the cat's gonna lick you."

"Really, Momo-sempai?" Ryoma looked up with a perfect poker face.

"I'm sure," Momo nodded.

Ryoma shrugged, but smiled slightly. "Mada mada dane."

~fin~