A/N: Well, here's something I wrote for a contest- my first PoT ficcage and a bit of a crack pairing at that...anyway, I did my best, so wish me luck and enjoy the fic! This one-shot is dedicated to Selurnis. Note that I don't own PoT, etc.
Eiji is waiting in the dark, by the benches that Oishi picked out as a meeting place when they'd first become a doubles team. Just a few meters away is the street; shops with their bright neon lights beckoning customers like a candle draws moths, cars and taxis pushing their way through the city traffic, trying to make their way home or earn a few yen. Women chat with shopping bags in the crooks of their arms, laughing at gossip with high, familiar chuckles and gasps. The sounds of the city fuse together like music- the measures uncurl in strains and Eiji turns toward the melody, distracting himself.
The park keeps out that kind of nightlife with its old-fashioned streetlamps that show the paths in pools of yellow light. While he looks out towards the road, near enough that a few steps might take him past the line of trees and clipped grass to the bright shops and crowds, he feels oddly separate from it. He is concentrating on the waiting; Oishi is late, something Eiji has to work at being optimistic about, though he ought to accept it by now. He knows it would be better if he didn't keep trying to make these plans. Still, he can't help but look hopefully for Oishi's familiar haircut and the worried smile in those eyes.
Eiji's eyes snap back into focus and he rubs them with the back of one mitten. Squinting at the dark, he can already tell it's not who he wants it to be. He can just make out a glint of the streetlights on a familiar pair of wire-framed glasses. "Buchou?"
Tezuka appears at the park entrance from the street and stands just outside of the lamplight. To walk in, or stand near Eiji, would invite conversation. Tezuka is always careful about that kind of thing. Eiji looks wearily at him, as if he expects him to come closer to speak, but Tezuka holds his ground. He is here for business.
"Oishi asked me to meet you here. He can't make it," Tezuka informs him. He is straight to the point as always; he never messes around, or plays with subtleties. What he says always serves its purpose.
Eiji's eyes widen. "Couldn't make it?" He's quiet for a moment, but then he closes his eyes slowly and passes it off with a weak laugh before continuing. "Nya, Tezuka, did he say why this time?" His throat feels tight and the words come out strangled. He wishes he didn't have to ask.
Eiji shakes his head and waves one hand to say 'never mind.' "I'll call tomorrow and ask." Probably not.
"Eiji. Is something wrong?"
"We were going to go out for ice cream and skating." Eiji springs to his feet as if nothing is wrong. His pout is a little too sad to be joking, but Tezuka seems to know this and plays along.
"Ice cream," Tezuka repeats, looking skeptically at the remains of last week's snow piled beside the path.
Eiji nods, relieved. The mention of ice cream lights up his entire expression. "Hoi, ice cream! Wah! I wanted cherry! Oishi promised." He doesn't falter on the last two words, though his eyes do.
Tezuka slides his hands into his jacket pockets, and looks away. Although it's dark, Eiji knows he's looking elsewhere, because the reflection on his glasses disappears. "I'm sure he's sorry he couldn't come. Something important came up."
"His girlfriend, ne?" Eiji mouths this like a surrender. He thinks it's too low for anyone to hear- but then he sees the sharp turn of Tezuka's head in the dark.
"Does buchou like ice cream?" Eiji asks quickly.
Anyone else would have asked him if he was serious, or tell him to stop fooling around- for once. Tezuka's expression doesn't change. "I prefer gelato." He pauses, unexpectedly hesitant. "In the summer."
Eiji bounds forward and nearly knocks Tezuka down in the process of grabbing his arm.
It doesn't feel right- Tezuka in Oishi's seat at the counter of the ice cream parlor, sipping tea when Oishi would have been licking patiently at his vanilla ice cream cone.
But it's somehow reassuring to have someone on that stool next to him, listening, at least, if not answering much. Better than eating ice cream by himself, like he had the past two times. There's a dance tune playing on the radio and Tezuka to keep him company, and a waffle cone with two scoops of mint chocolate chip that remind Eiji of his favorite toothpaste. It's not so bad.
Tezuka finishes quickly, so they leave and Eiji takes the rest of his ice cream to go. The bell above the door rings in goodbye as they step outside.
"It's colder now," Eiji grins, wrapping one arm around himself as they walk down the street. He shivers as he bites into his ice cream cone. It's a delicious feeling.
Tezuka peers at him disapprovingly. "You wouldn't be cold if you hadn't bought that."
"I don't mind being cold, nya."
"Eiji. Your health should come first."
Eiji snorts and nudges him cheekily with one skinny elbow. "I take care of my health as well as you take care of yours," he replies, crossing his arms behind his head.
Tezuka frowns, a worry line appearing between his eyebrows. "That's different. Some risks-"
"Nya, don't worry!" He dances around Tezuka, skipping backward through the crowds. There isn't a moment he isn't in motion. He can't stop moving, has to keep himself distracted with a so-called sugar high and the bright, bright lights until he's dizzy. He moves to the rhythm of the city night, faster and faster, but he can't keep up, though he just keeps moving and pretends to- pretends a lot of things, ignores a lot of others, keeps moving and keeps some hope in his smile that he doesn't really feel. A group of teenage girls squeal coquettishly as he darts through them- Eiji winks, gives Tezuka a giddy 'victory' sign, and makes to jump onto a bike rack to use it as a balance beam- "Hoi hoi, Oishi, watch this!"
"Stop this, Eiji!"
Tezuka grabs Eiji tightly by the wrists and jerks him back. The sudden change of direction puts Eiji out of sorts for an instant. He falters, one foot of the bike rack and one dangling in the air- like his arms, thrown out for balance-
He could catch himself if he tried. Turn a little flip in the air and land nimbly on his feet, like a cat. He's done it before.
He doesn't try. He doesn't find his balance. He remembers who isn't around to see him start to fall.
He's only fooling himself.
So he falls.
And Tezuka is waiting to catch him. Eiji lands half on him and half off- one arm catches Tezuka around the neck, his ribs bruise against Tezuka's shoulder. They both hit the sidewalk hard.
The teenage girls have stopped giggling- they begin to hurry away at a faster pace, whispering to each other and sending back glances. People are stopping to ask if they're all right, but Eiji only lays his cheek against the sidewalk and looks at Tezuka.
Tezuka looks back through half-lidded eyes. The long lashes nearly brush against the curve of his glasses. His eyes are prettier than Oishi's, Eiji thinks.
"Get up, Eiji." Tezuka says it gently, but as always, there is a hint of authority in his voice that is impossible to ignore. Shaking the jolt loose from his bones, Eiji picks himself up and offers a hand to his captain.
"Gomen," Eiji mutters, flushed with embarrassment. Tezuka takes his hand and allows himself to be pulled to his feet, but says nothing.
Finding them unhurt, other people begin to go about their business. Eiji bows his head as Tezuka frowns at him and waits to be assigned twenty- no, thirty laps when they get back to school.
"Hai." Eiji closes his eyes but can't help but open one- Tezuka has a blob of mint chocolate chip ice cream stuck to the front of his jacket. Eiji feels his stomach drop. Here it comes.
Suddenly...there is a hand cupping his chin, and another like a solid weight on his shoulder to steady him. Tezuka whispers, "Don't mistake me for Oishi Syuichiroh anymore." It isn't a punishment, but a warning. A warning...Eiji opens his eyes as Tezuka leans over to kiss him lightly on the top of the head.
"Tezuka...?" he says, mouth open slightly. "I-"
Tezuka looks across at him and offers a small smile. "Forty-five laps tomorrow," he replies, and begins to walk away.
Eiji stares after him. One hand strays to the top of his head. The other feels uncomfortable in a now-soggy mitten covered in mint chocolate chip. He doesn't know what to do.
As he takes off the mitten and stuffs it into his coat pocket, Eiji comes to a decision. He has to hurry to catch up, weaving his way through the crowd.
He finally reaches Tezuka and grabs his arm- tighter this time, like a lifeline, in a way that might almost hurt. Determined, Eiji pulls him out of the wave of city goers passing under the neon shop signs, against the building so that their shoulders brush up against the cold brickwork.
Tezuka peers at him through his glasses, waiting. Eiji is still blushing, but he pretends that he isn't. "Nya, Tezuka, you killed my ice cream. You have to go ice skating with me now to make up for it."
"No" is Tezuka's instant answer. "Tomorrow, fifty laps."
"Fifty-five." Tezuka regards him stoically. He doesn't seem to notice or mind that Eiji's hand is still on his arm. "I can make it more."
Eiji sniffs. "Fine, nya, I just want-"
Tezuka uses his own mouth to silence him. He pushes Eiji up against the ally wall and his glasses bump Eiji's forehead as he moves- Eiji catches a glimpse of himself in the lenses before his breath fogs up the glass. His fingers wander across Tezuka's shoulders and trail up the hollow of his neck to trace a 'V' there that makes Tezuka press in closer and run possessive hands through Eiji's hair.
Eiji starts to cry for a reason he can't explain, so he kisses back more fiercely to apologize.
There's no skating that night, but afterwards Tezuka buys him a new ice cream to make up for it. They find their way past the park, by the benches Oishi picked out as a meeting place when they'd first become a doubles team. Eiji will no longer wait by himself in the dark.