The Price of Forgetting

By Dimantrien

A/N- My first Tenipuri fanfic, and my first shonen ai one at that. How is that relevant to the story, you ask? No reason…just wanted to share some pointless info about me to waste your time. I know that the Eiji/Ryo pairing is more fanon than canon but I like it because it's cute, so deal with it. Besides, there are already too many Golden Pair and Momo/Ryo fics out there…

Dedication- because this is a first/first kind of fic I have an excuse to use up space for a dedication—to kae, who made me realize what tenipuri actually was, to rei-chan, who made it possible for me to watch the earlier arcs of the anime series, and to all the Eiji/Ryo supporters out there. oh yeah…and to everyone's favorite acrobatic player (and I didn't meanGakuto, wise guy)…Happy Birthday, Eiji!

Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis belongs to Konomi Takeshi. No copyright infringement is intended.

It was another clear autumn day. Kikumaru Eiji woke up to the usual twittering of birds outside the window, threw off his blanket and bounced the whole way to the bathroom in his usual manner, and started the day off by doing his usual routine of brushing his teeth with his favorite toothpaste. But despite the air of predictability and monotone, it was most certainly not a usual day. And the still-drowsy redhead only realized it halfway through his task, resulting in the sudden widening of his cat-like blue eyes and the splattering of a foamy mixture all over the defenseless bathroom mirror as he exclaimed, "Unya! It's my birthday today!"

He hurriedly finished with taking a shower and dressing up for school before thundering down the stairs and receiving a cheerful "Happy Birthday!" from his family.

"Yare yare, our little Ei-chan's fifteen now, isn't he?" his sister said playfully, ruffling his hair before setting his plate of bacon and eggs before him.

Eiji tried to pull an annoyed look at his sister's antics, but failed miserably. "Neechan!" he admonished as he tried to smooth down his hair (not that it did him much good), but he grinned all the same. "Ne, you have a present for me, don't you? Can you give it to me now, nya?"

Eiji's sister laughed and ruffled his hair again. "Well, if you'll be a good boy today, then maybe I'll give it to you when you get back from school…"

Eiji pouted. "Mou, neechan hidoi! Now I won't be able to concentrate in class if I have to keep wondering what you're going to give me!"

His sister just smiled teasingly. "As if you ever pay attention in class, Ei-chan!" As an instant effect to this remark their parents shot her mildly reproving looks and Eiji stuck his tongue out at her, both of which she ignored. "You'll just have to wait. Remember, patience is a virtue!"

Eiji would have protested some more but he had to get to school early for tennis practice. He quickly gobbled down his food and gathered his things, heading for the front door at a pace that shouldn't be allowed for people who had just eaten.

"Leaving so soon, Eiji-kun?" his mother called. The redhead turned back and nodded.

"Un. We're having morning practice today." He turned to his sister as he shouldered his racket bag. "Neechan, you'd better give me my present as soon as I get home! Ja! Ittekimasu!" And with that, he exited his house and went off.

He didn't come across anyone he knew as he walked to school, but as soon as he reached the tennis courts, Fuji came up to him, his ever-present closed-eyed smile in place. "Ohayo, Eiji. You're earlier than usual today," he remarked.

Eiji grinned. "Un! That's because…" he trailed off, eyeing Fuji as if trying to see if the tennis prodigy—his best friend, for that matter—could actually forget his birthday.

The tensai's smile remained serene. "Of course…you didn't think I would forget, did you? Otanjoubi omedetou, Eiji." Fuji extricated a neatly wrapped package and handed it to the redhead.

"Wai! Arigato, Fuji!" Eiji exclaimed, glomping his friend. Somehow in the process, he managed to tear off the wrapping without letting go of the brown-haired boy.

It was a medium-sized teddy bear. Fuji always gave him one every year, to add to his growing collection. Eiji didn't mind though; in fact, he actually looked forward to receiving Fuji's gifts. His best friend was the only one who ever gave him stuffed toys anymore, it occurred to him with a twinge of sadness. Everybody else seemed to think that he was getting too old for those kinds of things. But he didn't feel like growing up…not just yet.

"Is something wrong?" Fuji asked in concern, noticing the slight drop in wattage of Eiji's grin.

Eiji shook his head rapidly. "Iya, it's really cute!" he said, waving the bear around. He set his flailing arms down after a while, suddenly looking thoughtful. "Ne, Fuji, do you think anyone else will remember?"

Fuji chuckled. "Why wouldn't they? Don't be so paranoid, Eiji. Insecurity doesn't suit you. Although I can think of some ways to make you squirm…" His eyes opened briefly, giving the acrobatic player a glimpse of cerulean orbs glinting mischievously before disappearing again. Eiji shivered. Fuji could be nice and sweet when he wanted to be, but sometimes he was just downright scary.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Practice commenced, and as Fuji reassured him, almost everyone came up to greet Eiji on his fifteenth birthday. Kawamura gave him his well wishes at morning practice right after Fuji, and Inui offered him the first taste of his latest concoction (Super Deluxe Organic Mix Version 3.0) which Eiji declined with a rather horrified expression. Oishi, after saying a sincere and warm "happy birthday," launched into a speech about how Eiji, now being a year older, should be even more aware of his responsibilities as a senior and set a better example for the lowerclassmen (it was rather boring, especially for someone as hyperactive as Eiji, but he knew that Oishi had his best interests at heart…really). Tezuka didn't exactly greet him (although Eiji knew that if Tezuka was just a fraction more talkative than he actually was, the acrobatics specialist would be in for another lecture on maturity), but he didn't make Eiji run laps for accidentally switching his water bottle for the one containing Inui's "gift," so Eiji supposed that was the best present that their stoic captain could give to him. He gained a twisted satisfaction from watching Momoshiro and Ryoma running their twenty laps (Momo had woken up late and he was Ryoma's ride to school so the unlucky freshman had to suffer the consequences alongside him), and he pondered whether he had been spending too much time with Fuji to start having such thoughts.

By the time morning classes started, the only ones who hadn't shown him the slightest hint that they knew it was his birthday were his three kouhai, Momo, Kaidoh and Ryoma. If it was some other person, it wouldn't have been that big a problem to fuss over, but Eiji wasn't some other person. He was more impatient than usual, and Fuji had to poke him with his pen four times throughout the lesson to avoid their teacher's wrath. Eiji now had no qualms that it really was his birthday; on any normal day Fuji wouldn't call his attention just so he could see their sensei's face turn purple with exasperation and enjoy a free show.

Thankfully (for their teacher's soul, anyway), Eiji's spirits were calmed when he ran into Momo in the hallway and got a very hearty greeting from him, along with an apology for not mentioning it earlier as the powerhouse was too preoccupied with arguing with Ryoma that morning because of their being late for practice. Kaidoh passed him during lunchtime and gave him a "fushuuu….otanjoubi omedetou, sempai" before slumping off to wherever he went to eat lunch.

So now there was only one person left: Echizen Ryoma. Eiji didn't know why, but for some unexplainable reason it bothered him more that it was Ryoma who would forget what day it was. Maybe it was because of the fact that he had run into the little rookie more than a couple of times that day already and didn't get so much as a "hello," or maybe it was some other reason…he just couldn't quite pinpoint it. Whatever it was, though, put Eiji in a sulky mood that Fuji immediately picked up on.

"Why the long face?" Fuji asked as they changed into their practice clothes in the locker room after classes ended. Fuji knew perfectly well what was bothering Eiji, but the tensai saw it as another opportunity to derive amusement from his oblivious best friend's predicament.

Eiji puffed up his cheeks adorably and frowned. "Ochibi completely forgot about my birthday, nya! He didn't even say anything at all whenever I ran into him today!" he complained.

Fuji smiled. "I see. Is there anything particularly special about Echizen that his words—or lack thereof, for that matter—would mean so much to you?" he responded with just the right amount of innocuousness to make it seem as if it were an offhand question.

A tinge of red appeared on Eiji's cheeks just as Fuji predicted. "N-no! It's just that everyone else remembered, nya! But Ochibi is still the same aloof brat that he always is! Imagine, forgetting his sempai's birthday!"

"I'm sure he'll come around sooner or later," Fuji said smoothly, thoroughly enjoying Eiji's discomfort. "If you're so worried, why don't you just remind him yourself?"

Eiji pouted. "It wouldn't be the same, nya…" But Fuji only laughed as they left the locker room to join the other regulars.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Fifteen minutes into the practice, Ryoma still hadn't greeted Eiji, and the redhead, feeling his exasperation reaching its limit, decided to do what Fuji suggested and took the liberty of approaching the freshman himself. When Tezuka called for a five-minute break, Eiji jogged over to the freshman Regular, who was standing by the benches.

The redhead waited for Ryoma to finish drinking from his water bottle before speaking. "Ne, Ochibi, don't you know what day it is?" he asked in a mildly irritated tone.

Ryoma stared blankly at him. "It's two days before December," he replied as if Eiji was asking him something of little relevance.

Eiji couldn't take it any longer and stuck his tongue out. "Nya, Ochibi, you're so mean! How could you forget that it's my birthday?"

Ryoma, unperturbed, only blinked. "It is? Otanjoubi omedetou, Kikumaru-sempai," he said, then walked away.

Eiji fell into step behind him. "You should be a little more thoughtful, nya! Ochibi is always so insensitive! Let's see how you'd feel if I forgot your birthday!" he said indignantly.

Ryoma stopped and turned around, face as annoyingly expressionless as ever. "Kikumaru-sempai, how old are you now?"

"Fifteen years old!" Eiji replied automatically, grinning widely and forming a V-sign with his fingers.

Ryoma started walking away again. "Well, you don't act like it," he said without turning his head.

"Hooooiiiii! You really are so mean, nya! You're going to pay for that remark, Ochibi! Now you're going to come with me after practice!" Eiji chased after him and glomped onto the snarky brat's arm.

"Kikumaru-sempai! Itai suyo!" Ryoma tried to extricate his arm from the redhead's death grip, grumbling about having other plans and certainly not wanting to spend the rest of the day with a hyperactive fifteen year old who acted like he was five. He opened his mouth to refuse but gave in when Eiji gave him his most adorable look, a look that in Ryoma's personal opinion should be banned. When Eiji pulled that look it became impossible to refuse.

Eiji's eyes lit up and he smiled in satisfaction as he heard the freshman sigh in defeat. "Great! There's this new cafe I saw the other day, nya! Let's go there later!" he suggested excitedly.

In the distance, both of them heard Tezuka ordering everyone to go back to the courts and resume practice.

Ryoma glanced in their buchou's direction before lowering the brim of his cap. "Tch. Whatever."

Eiji clapped his hands like a cute little kid. "You're paying!" he said in an impishly gleeful tone before running off.

"WHAT?! Oi!"

oOoOoOoOoOo

The bells over the shop door jingled, signaling the arrival of two junior high boys carrying sports bags and tennis rackets. Eiji bounced all the way to the counter, pointing and exclaiming loudly over the different scrumptious-looking cakes displayed behind the glass case.

Ryoma wished that he was wearing his cap so that he could tilt the brim over his eyes and save himself the embarrassment of being seen with his childish sempai, but unfortunately his cap clashed horribly with his uniform and now he had to endure the weird looks that the other customers were shooting at them.

"Hoi, Ochibi! Come over here and see all the yummy-looking cakes they have! Look at this one! I want this one, nya! Get me a slice of it, Ochibi!" Eiji exclaimed loudly, jumping up and down and pointing at a lavishly presented strawberry cheesecake on the middle row.

Resigned to the burden of keeping Eiji in check (Ryoma would never figure out how Oishi could always calm the perpetually-sugar-high acrobatic player) and suffering under the odd looks that random people kept throwing at them, Ryoma sighed and strolled over to where his sempai was standing. He first glanced at the still-bouncing Eiji (…didn't he ever run out of energy?), then at the cake the latter was pointing at, then at the price of a single slice. And almost fainted.

"Hayaku nya! What are you still staring at there, Ochibi? Let's go buy something already and sit down!"

Ryoma glared murderously at him before weighing his next words. "Kikumaru-sempai. Since it's your birthday, don't you think that you should be the one who treats your friends after school?"

Eiji stopped bouncing and put his hands on his hips, looking ready to start a playful argument. "But you were the one who forgot my birthday, nya! So this is your payment! You have to treat me to what I want to eat! Besides, I treat you and Momo to burgers all the time, nya! It's about time you paid me back!" He threw Ryoma a triumphant grin.

"If you wanted me to pay you back, then maybe we should have gone to the fast food chain. A slice of cake here must cost four times as much as a burger, and it won't even fill your stomach," Ryoma shot back grumpily.

The redhead was unfazed. "But it's my birthday, and you have to take me somewhere special to eat, nya! Otherwise it would be just like any other ordinary day!"

In the end, the short freshman grudgingly agreed to foot the bill and Eiji got his strawberry cheesecake, along with a tall glass of iced coffee to go with it. Ryoma didn't feel too hungry (he lost his appetite after looking at the prices on the menu) so he just ordered biscotti. Eiji adamantly forbade him to order coffee for himself ("You're still too short, nya! Caffeine will stunt your growth, Ochibi! You should drink something with milk in it!") so he chose to drink hot chocolate instead.

After they had settled down at a table in a corner of the café, Ryoma ate quietly while Eiji rambled on and on about topics ranging from tennis to a conversation he had with a stray cat he saw the other day. Halfway through one of his stories, Eiji paused and looked at Ryoma curiously.

"What's that you're eating, Ochibi?" the redhead asked, pointing at the biscuit thing Ryoma was about to put into his mouth.

Ryoma rolled his eyes. "It's called biscotti, Kikumaru-sempai," he explained with forced patience.

Eiji leaned forward to take a closer look at it. "Eh? It looks like dried dog poop!"

Ryoma choked in the middle of a bite and glared at Eiji, a little uncomfortable with the close proximity between the two of them. "Will you stop saying disgusting things when the person you're with is eating?!"

Blinking innocently, Eiji answered, "But that was the first disgusting thing I said. How can I stop when I haven't even said anything before that?"

Ryoma sighed in exasperation and rolled his eyes again, trying to avoid looking directly at the redhead. How could his sempai pull off looking so cute all the time? It was hard to stay annoyed when he kept giving you adorable looks that could dissipate your irritation immediately.

"Are you sure you're fifteen years old, Kikumaru-sempai?" Ryoma asked with the appropriate amount of skepticism and sarcasm to set off Eiji into another indignant rant. He leaned back on his chair to put some distance between his face and Eiji's, fighting back a blush that threatened to spill onto his cheeks.

As expected, Eiji jumped back and crossed his arms in protest, pouting adorably. "Unya, not this again! Just because I'm fifteen years old now doesn't mean I always have to act mature, like Tezuka or Oishi! I don't even think I can pull off that stoic look that Tezuka always wears on his face! It hurts my face muscles whenever I've tried, nya! Look, see?" Eiji attempted to make his face freeze up into a grim expression, only ending up looking utterly ridiculous. So silly that Ryoma almost laughed. Fortunately for the freshman, Eiji was too busy concentrating on his task to notice Ryoma's near slipup.

"It's so hard to do it, nya! I can't help being like this, it's easier that way!" Eiji finally said after giving up on imitating Tezuka's facial expressions.

Ryoma silently agreed. He wouldn't know what to think if Eiji stopped smiling all the time and raising everyone's spirits with his hyper antics. It just seemed so…wrong. Sure, Eiji would occasionally look serious whenever he was in an intense match with an opponent, but if he became more solemn and less fun-loving…well, Ryoma just couldn't imagine that. Eiji was always a little too annoying and immature for the freshman, and sometimes his remarks were borderline insensitive even without his realizing it, but for all that Ryoma was still fond of him, though he would never admit it. Eiji just possessed a certain innocence and lightheartedness that none of the other seniors seemed to have.

The golden-eyed boy sat quietly as Eiji took another bite of strawberry cheesecake. A bit of cream was on the redhead's upper lip and Ryoma watched as Eiji ran his tongue over it and smacked his lips.

"Unya? Why is Ochibi's face so red?" Eiji suddenly asked and Ryoma sat up straighter, mortified. He hadn't noticed that his cheeks were burning…for some reason.

Ryoma grunted and looked away, cheeks turning even redder now that he was caught. "The heater in this place must be turned way up," he mumbled.

"It is kinda warm in here, nya…" Eiji swallowed another mouthful of cake, emitting cute sounds of satisfaction. Ryoma trained his gaze on the table to keep from looking at the redhead but each sound the other made only made him turn pink even more. What was it about Kikumaru Eiji that made him feel this way?

"Do you want to try some, Ochibi? It's really delicious, nya!" Eiji held out his fork, which was loaded with a piece of cake.

"No thanks," Ryoma replied, stubbornly refusing to look up.

"But you paid for this cake, nya! You should taste it at least!" the blue-eyed boy insisted, unconsciously waving the fork slightly to and fro and causing a few crumbs to fall onto the table.

Ryoma sighed and looked up, opening his mouth to repeat what he had just said, when Eiji thrust his hand forward and popped the bite of cake straight in Ryoma's mouth. Ryoma's eyes widened as the taste of strawberry and sour cream melted onto his tongue. He vaguely felt the fork sliding out of his mouth and the intent look that the redhead was training on him.

"How was it? It's delicious, ne?" Eiji said expectantly, waiting for Ryoma's comment.

Ryoma swallowed and red stained his cheeks as his mind registered what Eiji had just done. "Kikumaru-sempai! You used that fork!"

Eiji blinked. "Eh? Nani?"

"You put that same fork in your mouth!" Ryoma said, taking a sip of his hot chocolate to hide the blush on his face.

Eiji looked innocently confused. "What's wrong with that? I'm not sick or anything, nya. Ochibi's not going to catch some weird disease just because we used the same fork!"

"Never mind, Kikumaru-sempai," Ryoma muttered, not bothering to explain what he really meant. It wasn't like he'd tell it to the clueless redhead, anyway.

"Maybe you're the one who's sick, Ochibi! Your face is so red! Are you sure you're okay, nya?" Eiji put his hand on Ryoma's forehead and the contact only served to heat up the freshman's face even more. "Unya, you're really warm! I'd better take you home before you come down with a fever, nya!"

"I'm okay, Kikumaru-sempai…" Ryoma started to say, but Eiji was already polishing off the rest of his cake.

"Done!" the senior announced happily. He stretched his arms before he stood up. "I'll walk you home now. Ikkou ikkou, Ochibi!"

Ryoma stood up as well, eager to get home and sort out all the weird things that kept happening to him whenever he was with Eiji. "I can walk home by myself, sempai," he said haughtily.

Eiji latched onto his arm and half-dragged him to the entrance. "As your sempai, I'm responsible for you, nya! Oishi reminded me about it during practice! Do you want me to tell you what he said? Unya, but I don't really remember all of it anymore…and I guess I wasn't paying attention much then…"

Ryoma sighed in resignation as Eiji resumed talking about anything and everything he could think of.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Dusk was starting to fall when the two Seigaku regulars left the café. Ryoma pocketed his wallet, which was considerably thinner than it had been before they entered the café, and fell into step beside Eiji, who was as bouncy as ever (Ryoma made a mental note never to let the redhead ingest sugar and caffeine at the same time—it only boosted his uncontrollable energy twice as much).

"That was really fun, nya! We should do that again sometime, ne, Ochibi?" Eiji commented cheerfully as he skipped down the sidewalk.

"'Ya da," Ryoma replied brattily, thinking of his poor wallet. And he was thinking of buying some new grip tape with his money too…

Eiji wrapped an arm around Ryoma's shoulders and ruffled his hair playfully. "Ochibi, you're such a brat! Only kids can get away with acting like that!"

Ryoma wanted to say that Eiji sometimes acted like a brat himself and he could still get away with it, but instead he retorted, "I am a kid, Kikumaru-sempai." A tinge of red appeared on his cheeks but he didn't attempt to wriggle free from Eiji's grip.

"Nyaaah…. I guess you're right," Eiji said, releasing Ryoma and looking serious all of a sudden.

Ryoma felt as if it was his duty to ask Eiji what was wrong, but he didn't say anything and just waited for the redhead to speak up again. Eiji was shifting uncomfortably and kept mumbling "nyaaah…" under his breath (but not really under his breath because Ryoma could hear him loud and clear, and it was starting to grate on his nerves).

"What's wrong, Kikumaru-sempai?" Ryoma asked, his words coming out annoyed instead of the concerned tone he had intended but frankly couldn't pull off.

Eiji stopped his "quiet" caterwauling and looked at Ryoma with his blue eyes, which seemed larger than usual. "Nya, Ochibi, being a kid is fun, right?"

Ryoma gave him a blank stare. "What?" was his only reply to the unexpected question.

"It's so easy to be a kid, nya. I don't want to grow up, Ochibi!" Eiji wailed, gripping Ryoma tighter and making it hard for both of them to walk.

Ryoma rolled his eyes, despite the fact that it was starting to become very difficult to breathe (but the redness of his face could be attributed to more than just lack of oxygen). "Baka. You can't stop growing even if you wanted to," he answered. He concluded that Eiji's current mood swing must be an instantaneous effect of the redhead's sugar-and-caffeine-combination intake.

"But everything's changing so much, nya! Oishi and Tezuka are telling me to start acting more serious and be more aware of my duties as a senior and nobody gives me stuffed toys anymore except Fuji because Fuji always knows what everybody wants and even what they don't want, which is why it's so easy for him to make fun of them and—"

"Kikumaru-sempai!"Ryoma half-yelled, not understanding half of what the redhead was babbling about. He used Eiji's temporary immobilized state to extricate himself from the redhead. "If you don't like growing up so much, then why celebrate your birthday at all?" he pointed out sarcastically.

Eiji blinked. "Because birthdays are fun, nya. I just don't like the expectations that come along with it."

"Tch. You don't have anything to worry about then, sempai. The only thing that everyone expects of you is to act like an immature person."

Eiji scowled at him and stuck his tongue out, but he seemed in better spirits now, at least. "You're lucky you're so cute, Ochibi, or I would have taught you a lesson a long time ago for being such a snarky brat!" But Eiji had to grin. Ryoma liked him just the way he was, and that was enough for him. The shorter boy didn't have an insolent comeback to shoot back at him, and there was silence for a while.

It was rather uncomfortable for Eiji. Silence was something he wasn't used to, being the kind of person who always loved to talk. He shoved his hands into his pockets and felt something in it. He took it out and showed it to Ryoma.

"What?" Ryoma asked expressionlessly as Eiji dangled the small brown paper bag in front of his face.

"It's candy! Momo gave it to me as a gift, nya. He and his little sister made it, he told me. Wanna try some?"

"'Ya da—" Ryoma started to say, but the next thing he knew, Eiji had accidentally ripped the bag apart, multi-colored round marble-sized candies were falling to the ground, and he slipped and started to fall.

Ryoma waited for the inevitable crash onto the hard concrete, but it never came. Someone wrapped his arms around him and fell with him, flipping around to cushion the golden-eyed boy's fall.

"Itte…" Eiji said, sitting up halfway with his hands propped behind him, one of them rubbing his side.

"Daijoubu ka, Kikumaru-sempai?" Ryoma asked in concern, looming over his sempai. He was lying half on top of Eiji and their faces were inches apart.

Red started creeping up both boys' cheeks but Eiji still attempted to put some levity into the matter. "Heh, I've never seen you look so concerned before, Ochibi! What are you going to do, kiss me better?"

Ryoma didn't laugh, or move at all, for that matter. He just stared at Eiji with those big golden orbs that seemed to get bigger and bigger—but then Eiji realized that it was only because the shorter boy's face was inching closer to his. It didn't surprise him at all when he felt a pair of lips pressing against his. He felt Ryoma's fingertips tilting his chin up to cover more ground. Eiji opened his mouth slightly and ran his tongue over the other's lips—Ochibi tasted like hot chocolate and strawberry cheesecake and something else the redhead couldn't quite identify. He wanted to know what it was but all too soon the freshman pulled away from him, breathing slightly ragged and his whole face pink.

Eiji grinned lazily and pinched Ryoma on the cheek. "Ochibi's so cute," he said with a little chuckle that brought Ryoma out of his trance. The shorter boy stood up with a little difficulty (his sports bag was still on his shoulder when he fell, after all) and waited for Eiji to do so too.

"Did that make you feel better, sempai?" Ryoma said breathlessly, and Eiji couldn't determine whether the freshman was being sarcastic or not.

He decided to take a chance anyway. "It still hurts, nya…you kissed the wrong spot!" And Eiji pointed to a spot on his lower back, causing Ryoma to blush beet red to the roots of his hair. Eiji giggled and thumped Ryoma on the back. "Nya, just kidding, Ochibi! Daijoubu daijoubu! Demo, it's a shame all that candy was wasted, though…" He unclenched his fist, holding out a single piece of round candy that he had managed to catch before he and Ryoma fell to the ground. He popped it into his mouth. "Unya! It's really good!"

Ryoma was about to say that anything with sugar in it tasted good for the redhead, but Eiji said, "Do you want some, Ochibi?"

"What do you want me to do, pick up one of the candies you spilled all over the ground?" Ryoma retorted.

Eiji laughed. "Nya, you'll get a stomachache that way! We can just share!"

Ryoma frowned. "Sha—" His words were cut off when Eiji suddenly kissed him and slipped his tongue into Ryoma's mouth before he could close it. The sweet taste of candy assaulted his senses as Eiji deepened the kiss. Then the senior broke away abruptly.

"Mengo mengo! I almost swallowed the candy whole, nya!" Eiji explained sheepishly. "Did you like it?"

Ryoma didn't know if Eiji meant the candy or the kiss, but he said slowly, "It was…nice…"

Eiji beamed at him and they resumed their walk. Soon enough they reached the front of the Echizens' house.

"Here we are, nya! I had fun today, Ochibi! Thanks a lot for going out with me!" Eiji exclaimed, glomping Ryoma briefly before letting go.

Ryoma just nodded. His cheeks were still red and he had long since given up trying to stop it (not that he could have, anyway), but he knew that he was bound to be in for a lot of annoying interrogation when his baka oyaji saw him.

"I'll see you tomorrow, nya. Sore ja!" Eiji ruffled Ryoma's hair before turning to leave.

"Oi," Ryoma called just behind him.

"Nya? Nani?" Eiji turned around and felt two arms encircling his neck and pushing him down until his and the freshman's lips met. The kiss lasted barely five seconds before Ryoma released him.

"Otanjoubi omedetou, Kikumaru-sempai," Ryoma said for the second time that day, this time in a genuinely sincere tone.

Eiji smiled widely. "Arigato nya, Ochibi." He watched as Ryoma tilted his chin up slightly (his way of saying goodbye) and disappeared behind the gate of his house. Eiji walked on, hurrying a little. The sun had completely set and darkness had fallen. His family must have started to worry about him.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Eiji's sister knew the redhead best, and when Eiji got home and didn't immediately demand her to give him his present, she knew that something was up. She waited all throughout dinner (which consisted of all of Eiji's favorite dishes), yet still Eiji hadn't asked anything of her and seemed strangely more exuberant than usual, if that were possible. She decided that something quite significant must have happened in her ototou's two-hour disappearance after practice to make him forget something like a birthday gift.

"Ei-chan, don't you want your present anymore? I've been waiting for you all night to ask for it!" his sister said when they were alone in the living room.

Eiji looked at her in surprise, as if he himself couldn't believe that he had actually forgotten all about his neechan's present. "I still want it, nya! I must have forgotten because I was thinking of…other things…" The redhead's cheeks were suddenly tinged pink.

"Well, here it is! I was expecting you to try to snatch it away from me as soon as you got home," She handed him a gift-wrapped box and as soon as Eiji received it he tore off the wrapping enthusiastically.

"Nya! It's a limited edition collection of all my favorite toothpastes! Neechan, arigato!!!" Eiji exclaimed ecstatically, bouncing up and down at his new present.

Eiji's sister just smiled. It had taken her a while to hunt down her gift for Eiji, but she had a strong feeling that her gift was nothing compared to what had made him so happy in the two hours after his tennis practice when he still hadn't gone home. Whatever it was…it was bound to have been something priceless.

oOoOoOoOoOo

A/N- o.O …what was the plot again? I hope you weren't too bored. I can't write shonen ai to save my life… In any case, review…you want Eiji to be happy on his birthday, don't you? XD