BEWARE THE ALTERNATIVE PAIRING
disclaimer: Konomi Takeshi, Shueisha, Shounen Jump, etc. etc.
warnings: Kikumaru/Ryoma, boys' love, sappiness, PG-13
big thanks to Tiggy Malvern for beta-ing the fic :)
* * * * *
Echizen Ryoma always believed that when you had a crush on someone special, your heart would pound so hard you could barely breathe whenever that person was present.
That was part of the reason why he couldn't believe he wanted to date the one and only Kikumaru Eiji. It wasn't like he had to date the acrobatic player; he didn't even have that kind of feelings towards the third-year senior. Sure, Kikumaru was a good tennis player with his trademark acrobatic play; he was a good person and funny too. But it didn't mean that he wanted to date him. Ryoma blamed everything on that evil Fuji-sempai for scheming such things, of course.
It had all started with a half-joking comment Kikumaru made to Fuji when they were watching Ryoma's match against Oishi. The vice captain returned his ball with a Moon Volley that made Ryoma run to the back, where he lost his balance and fell because of the slippery court. He fell butt first into a sitting position that made Kikumaru chuckle and comment, "Nya, Fuji. Don't you think Ochibi-chan is so kawaii?!"
Oishi ran to Ryoma's side of the court to help him stand as the first year player grunted and patted his dirty shorts.
"Echizen, are you okay?!" Oishi asked warily. "Do you want to take a break?"
He shook his head and fixed the position of his hat. "Don't worry, Oishi-sempai. Let's continue." He tried to reassure the vice captain with his cocky smile; well, he had a lead 5-2, there was no way he wanted to quit the game now.
Fuji chuckled. "He's okay, Oishi. It would be a mistake if he stopped now, ne, Echizen?" he said knowingly.
"Hn." Ryoma just shrugged. Oishi smiled gladly and nodded, "Okay then."
"Ochibiii...! Good luck, nya! I'll always support you!" Kikumaru waved from outside the court, and then added to Oishi. "You too, Oishi! Don't lose to a freshman, nya?!"
Ryoma sighed and took the ball, getting ready to take the serve. He could still hear Kikumaru cheering for both him and Oishi from the edge of the court, but he didn't see the evil glint and smile that crossed Fuji's face.
* * * * *
Their practice the next day ended sooner than usual because of rain. The sky was getting darker every minute and the tennis club members started to whine about how they didn't want to get wet on their way home. Ryoma was thinking about going home when Fuji called him and asked him to find a book he left in B court. After a few minutes searching, he gave up and went to the classroom. He saw Fuji inside, already with his tennis bag on his shoulder.
"I can't find the book you're looking for, Fuji-sempai," Ryoma said.
"Ah, that's okay, Echizen. Maybe I left it in the classroom. The others left a few minutes ago. Are you going home after this?" Fuji asked with a smile.
Ryoma blinked. "Of course, why?"
Fuji was about to open his mouth and answer when someone glomped Ryoma from the back and chortled, "What are you two talking about just now, Ochibi? Fuji?"
"Nothing important, Kikumaru-sempai. Ita~su yo, you're heavy..." Ryoma said with a long-suffering voice. Kikumaru released him at last but didn't take his hands from the freshman's shoulders. "Fuji, I can't find that book you lost. Are you sure you left it somewhere in the court?"
The freshman blinked; did Fuji ask everybody to find that book for him?!
Before he could voice his thought, Kikumaru spoke again. "Fuji, do you know that cool movie playing at the cinema this week?! I heard this Sunday is the last show, nya?"
Fuji didn't answer; instead his eyes traveled upwards above Kikumaru's and Ryoma's head. The two followed his glance and saw the object, somehow clueless before Fuji finally said, "Ah, mistletoe."
"Mistletoe?" Kikumaru frowned cutely.
Ryoma's eyes grew wide and he tried to get a better look at the object. It was mistletoe alright, stuck up with cellophane tape by someone who obviously had nothing better to do. Somehow, he felt something was really wrong with that. He turned to Fuji who was still standing in the middle of the clubroom, grinning.
"Fuji-sempai..." Ryoma started, trying to be as calm as ever. "It's not even Christmas. Do you know who put it there?"
The tensai's eyes turned serious, but Ryoma wasn't fooled one bit. "I wonder..."
"Nya, because we're standing under the mistletoe together, that means that we have to kiss, Ochibi-chan...!!" Kikumaru clasped his hands and smiled widely. Ryoma wondered where his sempai could get that cheerful attitude, even in this kind of situation.
Ryoma glared at Fuji and was answered with an almost innocent smile. "Eiji is right, Echizen. Now now, what's with the face?" he chuckled.
"Waai! Waai! I get to kiss Ochibi-chan!" Kikumaru actually sounded thrilled by the idea. "Just a light one on the cheek nya, Ochibiiii?!"
Fuji stifled his laughter and was rewarded with another glare from the freshman player. Ryoma was just going to say something when Kikumaru glomped him again from behind, this time harder than before. "Kikumaru-sempai, Ita~su y--" he turned his face abruptly towards the acrobatic player and gasped in surprise as his open lips met Kikumaru's, who was equally stunned by the sudden incident. It was obvious that he hadn't expected Ryoma to face him.
Kikumaru sputtered incoherently as he took a step back. "O-Ochibi-chan... Go-Gomen, nya?"
The freshman gaped like a fish and stared wide-eyed at his senior, who was blushing furiously after the kiss. He realized that color was creeping up his own face too. Ryoma turned to Fuji, who wore an equal shock on his face, but then he continued chuckling.
"Fujiii...! That was cruel! You don't have to laugh..." Kikumaru pouted and then turned to the shorter boy, "Ochibi, I'm really sorry... It was supposed to be a light kiss on the cheek, but..." He closed his mouth with both hands to stop his ramblings.
Fuji smiled widely and then took something from his bag. He turned to Kikumaru and gave two pieces of paper to the acrobatic player. "That film you were talking about before, Eiji... I don't think that Yuuta can go this weekend, so these are for you. You can go with Echizen," he said calmly, smiling at Ryoma.
"Eeeh?!" Kikumaru jumped in shock, but Fuji had already stuffed the tickets into his hand. "But, Fujiiiii...! I don't think that Ochibi wants to go with me, uhm--.. O-Ochibi...?!" He actually said that with a pleading look at Ryoma, who sweatdropped guiltily.
"It's not so nice to refuse your sempai when he asked you out, you know, Echizen?" Fuji smiled wickedly.
Ryoma tried to force a calm smile. "Maybe Kikumaru-sempai has someone else to go with him," the freshman said with a challenging tone.
But Kikumaru shook his head and smiled cutely. "I don't mind if I go with you..."
Fuji's smile could only be described as evil. "So, Echizen?"
Ryoma was ready for another debate, although he knew the chances of winning were really small given that it was Fuji involved in this matter. But as he turned to Kikumaru who looked at him with those puppy dog eyes, he could only sigh in frustration.
A heavy sigh and, "Okay then..."
"It's a date then," Fuji said in conclusion. Ryoma blinked, but the next thing he knew, Kikumaru glomped him and dragged him into a bear hug. Fuji chortled happily as the freshman started to lose his breath and Kikumaru finally let him go; the acrobatic player's face had turned bright pink.
* * * * *
And that was the exact reason why he still couldn't believe that he was going out with Kikumaru Eiji on Sunday afternoon. They met in front of the cinema and watched a movie afterwards. Ryoma had to admit that it was a good movie, despite that it had a sad ending, but the story was quite good. Kikumaru looked a little disappointed with the ending; it seemed that he was expecting a happy story.
"Mou, I didn't know that it was a sad movie..." Kikumaru whined beside him after they left the building, sniffing. "Why did she have to die in the end? Ochibi, why nya?!"
Ryoma just shrugged and pulled on his hat. "But it was a good film," he commented shortly.
"But don't you think it's rather cruel for the man?! He finally loved her but then she died of her illness..." the older boy said regretfully. "It was so cruel...!"
The freshman sighed. "She already knew she was going to die eventually... that's why she asked that man to be her lover before she died."
"Un, I guess so..." Kikumaru scratched his head, and they walked in silence afterwards. Ryoma peered over at his sempai, who was walking rather slowly now. He really didn't know what to say to him anymore; it wasn't like they had any purpose after watching the movie. Talking was not one of his talents; he could talk more with his racket than with his mouth. And now...
"Nya, Ochibi. Do you want to eat a hot dog then?" Kikumaru asked suddenly, a cheerful smile on his lips.
Ryoma blinked. "Hot dog?" He thought about it in a long minute before finally answered. "Okay."
"My treat, okay?!" The senior player beamed and then ran to the nearest hot dog stand. Ryoma could only stare at him in disbelief.
Even after two hotdogs and a can of juice, he still couldn't believe that he was actually spending his Sunday with Kikumaru Eiji. His sempai talked about himself a lot and soon Ryoma learned that Kikumaru lived with a big family; he had four older siblings and he had to share a room with his brother. Sometimes Ryoma thought about the fun of having a brother, or a sister. Maybe, he thought, what he really wanted was to have a brother like Kikumaru or Momoshiro.
On the other hand, maybe not. Not really...
"What is it?" Kikumaru's face suddenly appeared before him, his eyes very wide.
Ryoma almost spurted his juice; he threw the half empty can into a trashcan and stood up. "I think it's time for me to go home now, Kikumaru-sempai..."
"Eh?! But we just got out from the movie... Don't you want to take a walk first?" Kikumaru said hastily, playing with his fingers, "Anou... maybe we can go to the park and see some people play street tennis, what do you think?"
"I didn't bring my racket," Ryoma shrugged. "It'll be boring if I just watch."
The older boy looked down to his feet, "Oh... too bad..."
"Hn." Ryoma didn't know why he felt so bad about saying that; maybe because of those puppy dog eyes Kikumaru made every time their eyes met, or maybe because he suddenly looked sad. "Maybe some other time, sempai."
Kikumaru's eyes brightened after he said the words; he beamed happily. "Really? Promise nya, Ochibiii?! Waaai!" He gave the smaller boy a bear hug until he could barely breathe and finally let him go when people started to stare at them. Kikumaru gave him a sheepish smile and scratched his head.
Ryoma sighed heavily but a small smile crossed his lips.
* * * * *
Fuji Syusuke flipped the next page of the magazine he was reading and glanced at the clock on the wall. His lips curved a smile as he wondered what had happened on his friend's 'date' with Echizen that day. He hoped that everything had worked out fine between the two; if not it was such a waste for him to give away those tickets that were supposed to be for him and Yuuta. Eiji was a good kid, and he was cheerful and nice to everyone; maybe, just maybe, he and Echizen would be perfect for each other. That's why he came up with that mistletoe plan. Although it wasn't exactly how he had planned it. Who knew what might have happened afterwards?
Chuckling lightly, he started to read the magazine again.
* * * * *
"Ochibi, are you free this weekend? I thought maybe we could play tennis together..."
Ryoma turned to see Kikumaru standing behind him in the clubroom with a racket in his hand and a wide smile on his face. It was Thursday afternoon, four days after their 'date' and Kikumaru looked cheerful as always. They didn't really talk about it afterwards and Ryoma had thought that every thing had cleared between them; that it was just an ordinary meeting between a senior and junior.
Kikumaru went out with Momoshiro a lot, probably because they had lots in common. Ryoma also often hung out with Momoshiro, because it seemed that the second year was the only one who could tolerate his attitude. But if he went out with Kikumaru; even he had to admit that it wasn't something that was likely to have happened.
But then he remembered that Fuji Syusuke might be behind all of this.
So the freshman just tied his shoes and took his racket, pretending to think about the question.
"So how about it?! Maybe we can go to the street tennis court and play doubles there!" the third-year player said suggestively. "You used to play there with Momo, nya?"
"Heh," Ryoma snorted, remembering "...neither of us can play doubles very well it seems..."
Kikumaru laughed and winked, "Well, maybe I can teach you to play doubles then... it will be fun... Or if you wanted to play somewhere else..."
Ryoma swung his racket through the air a few times. "Well, I do know a good court to play on." He didn't know why he said that, but he just did. He remembered that court where he and Ryuzaki Sakuno had played tennis not so long ago; it was quite a distance, but it was a good place if he wanted to play, just the two of them. Ugh, wait, since when did he want to play tennis alone with Kikumaru?!
"That's great! I'll see you later for the details then. I have to go to the court or Oishi will kill me if I'm late now...!" Kikumaru smiled brightly and ran through the door.
Ryoma still couldn't figure out why he'd taken up the offer to play tennis together. Sure it was a good opportunity to learn to play doubles, but it wasn't like he wanted to be a doubles player. Unlike his two seniors the Golden Pair, Kikumaru and Oishi, who were the National level doubles player, he was rather egotistical and wanted to control the court by himself. Maybe he just wanted to spend a weekend playing tennis. Or maybe...
No, it had nothing to do with Kikumaru Eiji, he decided. He did not have such feelings for him. He didn't feel that heart pounding, that nervous and excited feeling, the butterflies in his stomach; those kind of feelings he was supposed to have when he met someone special.
He walked pass the C court and saw the Golden Pair play a match against the Fuji-Kawamura pair. Kikumaru looked serious in the game with his acrobatic play. Fuji hit a shallow lob and ran to the net; Kikumaru had waited and returned the ball to the back. Kawamura failed to catch it and the ball went straight into the corner.
"30-0, Oishi-Kikumaru pair lead!"
Oishi was getting ready for another serve now; and Ryoma didn't even realize that he kept looking to Kikumaru as the acrobatic player spotted him and gave him a big smile. "Ochibi! Cheer for me, nya!"
Ryoma opened his mouth to say something but turned his face away instead after he saw that evil glint was back on Fuji's face.
* * * * *
Ochibi! Let's play tennis together, nya?!
Ryoma opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling. Karupin shifted beside him, purring, and tickled his neck with his tail. The genius tennis player tried to focus his eyes, blinking a few times as the sunlight burst through his half-open curtains. He'd just had the weirdest dream ever; well, he couldn't exactly remember what that dream was about, but Kikumaru Eiji was definitely in it.
"Nyaa..." His cat stirred beside him, staring at him with those round eyes. "...nyaa."
"Stop that, you remind me of him." Ryoma scowled to himself and then jumped from his bed. Karupin jumped with him and ran downstairs as he heard his breakfast call. Ryoma reached for his clothes from the cabinet and got dressed. He'd almost forgotten that he had an appointment with Kikumaru today. And he was amazed by the fact that he didn't want to be late, for once.
"Ryoma-kun, don't you want to eat breakfast first?" his cousin called from the kitchen as soon as he reached the door.
Ryoma tied his shoes and slung his racket bag on his shoulder. "No, I'm in a hurry..."
He heard his father say something from the kitchen and Ryoma decided that it was time to go; the last thing he wanted was to have his father interrogating him about where he wanted to go and with whom. He reached the doorknob and opened it, and found a taller boy was just about to push the doorbell.
"Hoi hoi! I come to pick you up," Kikumaru grinned in front of his door.
Ryoma blinked. "Ittekimasu, I'll be back after lunch!" He slammed the door shut behind him and dragged his sempai by the wrist. "I thought we were going to meet at the train station."
Kikumaru shrugged. "I thought it would be nice to come here, that's all... You're not mad at me, are you?"
The freshman rolled his eyes and sighed. "No, I'm not."
The taller boy smiled widely and slung an arm over his shoulder. "That's good then, I don't want you to pout on this beautiful day, nya?! It's great to spend times with you, Ochibi."
Kikumaru smiled sheepishly. "I hope we can spend more time together later... uhm, wanna see a movie again sometime?" He scratched his head and eeped as he saw Ryoma stare back at him. "Or play tennis again, perhaps?" he asked, hopeful.
"We're going to play now."
The third year player grinned, "Uh, yes, right..."
For the rest of the walk to the station, they didn't discuss anything else; Ryoma had to admit that he felt bad about what he had said earlier. Did Kikumaru think he didn't want to go out with him anymore then? Well, he surely hoped not. Kikumaru Eiji was a good companion, and he surely didn't want to lose him.
Argh! What the hell was he thinking back then?!
The ride on the train was another new adventure for him. Kikumaru seemed to enjoy himself, looking out of the window and pointing out every object that fascinated him; sometimes, even the simplest things amazed the third year tennis player. Ryoma couldn't help but smile to see his sempai acting as if he was an elementary school student. He wondered if Kikumaru was really fifteen.
"Ochibi, is this the court you're talking about?" Kikumaru's voice startled him. He hadn't realized that they had already reached the empty court after walking rather further from the station and through the city. "I have to say, this is nice."
"Hn." Ryoma slightly smiled and dropped his bag next to him. "Want to play now?"
Kikumaru smirked. "...Let's warm up by running ten laps around the court then," he suggested while dropping his own bag.
"You're starting to sound like buchou, Kikumaru-sempai..." the freshman grunted and took off his jacket. Reaching for his racket, he started to run, followed by Kikumaru not so far behind.
* * * * *
"Waaaah, I'm so tired...!" Kikumaru lay back on the ground, hair damp with sweat after a long match filled with rallies and fast serves. "You don't have to get so serious, Ochibi...! You're evil, you know that?!"
Ryoma snickered and walked to his sempai's side, "You said yourself we have to play with all we've got..."
"I bet you didn't give me all you've got." Kikumaru made a face and rolled onto his stomach, dragging the smaller boy to sit beside him. Ryoma fell with a low yelp and muttered something under his breath to his laughing sempai. "But you don't have to do a twist serve over and over, you know?! You did that on purpose to beat me, didn't you?" Kikumaru accused half-heartedly.
"I don't need to do that to win," Ryoma said matter-of-factly; he'd beaten Kikumaru 6-2 earlier, but he had to admit that he had a hard time playing against the third year's acrobatic style.
But despite all that, he'd had a good time that day and still couldn't believe that he actually liked spending time with Kikumaru. He wasn't how he had always thought he was; he was funnier, more energetic, and more stubborn too. And Ryoma wasn't quite sure when he'd actually started to like Kikumaru's smile.
"Hoi, what are you thinking?" Kikumaru poked him, sitting up and playing with his racket. "You look... thoughtful."
Ryoma started, eyeing the third year player carefully. "Nothing, I'm just trying to cool my body off after the match." He had to invent a reason, no matter how lame it was.
The acrobatic player chuckled. "Yeah, it was a cool game, nya? I can still feel my heart beating twice as fast as normal! We should play again sometime."
For some reason, the simple statement stunned Ryoma. He turned to look at Kikumaru and opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He wondered why.
"Nyani?" Kikumaru was the one who broke the silence. His face looked so close and his eyes looked so wide in front of him. Ryoma had to shift back to suppress the urge to blush. He was not getting a crush on Kikumaru Eiji, he was certain about that.
"Mou, it's okay if you don't want to tell me..." Kikumaru said with a sad tone, but then he smiled widely, "...but I really hope that you want to go out again with me sometime, Ochibi-chan! We had a good time at the cinema last week, nya? But they were Fuji's tickets and maybe... uhm.. We can spend more time together after the movie?"
Ryoma started to feel uneasy; he'd never seen Kikumaru like this before. "Eh?"
Kikumaru looked down at his shoes. "Well, I thought maybe you didn't want to go out with me last Sunday, that's why you wanted to go home so soon... but, I don't know... do you? If you don't like going out with me--..."
"Kikumaru-sempai, anou..." The freshman gasped as he felt his hand tug on Kikumaru's sleeve by its own will. Kikumaru turned to face him, smiling; a smile he'd never seen before in his life. "It's not like that...!"
Kikumaru took a deep breath and blew it out again, his eyes determined as he looked into Ryoma's eyes and said, "So you want to go out with me again next Sunday?"
That stupid sound again, Ryoma grunted.
"Ochibi-chan...?" His sempai gave him a questioning look, and Ryoma nodded his consent.
A very wide smile crossed Kikumaru's face; it was priceless. And while he was still wondering why he accepted the offer, Kikumaru gave him a familiar bear hug, "Waaaaiii! This is so great! Ochibi wants to date me again, nyaaa?!"
"Who said it was a date..." His voice became muffled as Kikumaru crushed him against his chest; "Kikumaru-sempai, ita~su yo!!" he said almost breathlessly.
After a long minute, he managed to gather his strength and pushed Kikumaru away. The older boy tilted his face, smiling cutely. Ryoma's mouth opened and closed, eyes staring into Kikumaru's as he tried to find something to say. He didn't know why, but the beating of his heart was even faster than before. And he felt so strange. Why did he feel this way when he was with Kikumaru? Why did he look so different? So... special.
"Ochibi, daijoubu ka?"
Ryoma just shrugged, trying to hide his nervousness. He didn't even know why he was nervous. This was his Kikumaru-sempai after all. "Want to play another one set match, sempai?!" he asked in a challenging tone; it was the best way he knew to relax himself.
Kikumaru pouted. "You can't wait to beat me again, can you?"
"Heh," Ryoma played with his racket, raising one eyebrow. "Don't tell me you're actually afraid?"
The third year player stood up with a determined look. "Okay then, I'll show you all I've got this time, Ochibi! And if I win, I get to kiss you!"
Ryoma's eyes bulged. "You'll never win this one, sempai..." he said, rolling his eyes.
"Nanjara hoi hoi! Let the match begin then!!" Kikumaru announced and ran to his side of court, chuckling.
Ryoma won that set six games to three; but he wondered if he really wanted to win.
* * * * *
Fuji was wiping his sweat away with his white towel when Eiji and Echizen went inside the clubroom. Eiji's hair was already damp with sweat after his practice match against Echizen, but Echizen also looked tired himself. The freshman noticed his presence and gave him a grumpy look; it seemed that he wasn't quite so upset at him anymore over the mistletoe incident. Echizen had his own way of showing his feelings. At least that's what Fuji always thought.
"So, how was the game, Eiji?" Fuji asked, throwing a water bottle to his red-haired friend.
Eiji made a face at the smirking freshman, "Ochibi beat me again, six games to three. I have to practice harder 'cause I don't want to lose against my uke."
Fuji's eyes grew wide, and so did Echizen's, "Who's uke?! Who?" he snapped.
"But, Ochibi... I'm two years older than you are, that means I'm the seme, nya?"
"It doesn't mean anything!" Echizen managed to say while the blush on his face worsened.
Eiji threw him the puppy dog eyes. "Ochibi-chan, you're angry with me."
"I am not."
"Yes, you are."
Fuji could only chuckle at the argument, and smiled slightly as he saw Eiji's face had brightened once more as he glomped the freshman. "Ma, I guess that mistletoe was worth something, ne?" he said softly.
Echizen stared at him accusingly. "So it was your doing all along, Fuji-sempai," he grumbled and looked above the door where the mistletoe was. His eyes turned to slits as he saw it still hanging up there. "I thought you took it away last week?"
The tensai gave him an innocent look. "Well, I thought it would be fun to see who was here this time. I thought it might work for someone else if it worked for you two." He smiled meaningfully.
Echizen sweatdropped, "And who do you think will..."
The door opened and a loud argument could be heard all over the club room as two second year players stood by the door, hands already in each other's collars, eyes ready to kill.
"You're getting in my way, Mamushi!"
"It's you who's an eyesore, idiot!"
"What did you say, baka Mamushi?!"
Echizen and Eiji could only gape like fish as Fuji smiled at Momoshiro and Kaidoh and pointed above them. The sophomore regulars blinked and followed Fuji's finger to the object above their heads, removing their hands from each other.
Fuji smiled innocently. "Ah, mistletoe."
* * * * *
end notes: tell me if I wrote something wrong, ok? 'coz I'm not so sure about all the data, he he.. and you can flame about anything except for the pairing -- this is for the sake of kawaii-ness *sweatdrops*
and oh, I'm not even sure that Kikumaru is fifteen.
and the Momo/Kai interruption is unavoidable *grins* maybe I'll write for them next...
- kaz misaki (misaki_kaz [at] yahoo.com)