The Side-Effects of Alcohol
He could not move. He couldn't really think about what had just happened; he was very, very confused. The cool night air that ghosted along his cheeks attempted to dry up the tear tracks that ran haphazardly down his face, though it was not very effective; just when he had thought that he had finished crying, more tears escaped. He tried to convince himself that Oishi was just having a bad day and he had snapped, but it wasn't working. Something had been bothering his best friend for a while now, and this is what not talking about it had led to.
His steps were deliberately slow as he made his way down the street. As upset as he was, Eiji knew that Oishi must be feeling a hundred times worse than he was right now. And, it wasn't right to just let his friend run off like that to suffer in silence. It wasn't in Eiji's nature to just let sleeping dogs lie. Nothing ever was solved by skirting around issues.
The tears kept falling freely while he walked the several blocks to Oishi's house. He kept his gaze towards the ground, for it wasn't very late out, and there were still a few people on the streets, making their way to one place or another. He really didn't want to be stared at right now, he already stood out enough with red hair and a bandage on his cheek; he probably looked even worse now with red, swollen eyes, and wet cheeks. Fortunately he had been able to calm himself down enough so that he wasn't gasping and hiccupping for air.
As he approached Oishi's house, he noted that Oishi's bedroom light was still on as was the kitchen light. He cleared his throat as he stood on the front stoop and wiped his hands on his pants; he wasn't sure why he was nervous. With a slightly shaky hand, he knocked once, twice, and three times sharply on the front door.
Then he waited… and waited… and waited. Eiji didn't know whether to knock again, in case he had already disturbed Oishi's parents. Five minutes later, no one had come to answer the door. Not to be deterred by such a small thing, Eiji began to make his way around to the back of the house. He was going to talk to Oishi whether he liked it or not. Eiji hadn't had a chance to say much, and after calming down somewhat, he was bursting with things to say, that had to be said by him because it was obvious that his best friend wasn't going to.
Eiji hopped over the back gate with the grace of a cat and walked slowly over to the window that was lit up. He was very glad that Oishi's bedroom was on the ground floor, and not on the second floor as his was. He was also very glad that Oishi had been so upset that he had forgotten to secure the latch on his window. Eiji's heart twisted at that realization… that his friend had to be so very upset in order to forget to lock the window. It was the same as if Oishi were to have forgotten to lock the clubhouse back when they were at Seigaku junior high… it just didn't happen.
With the same grace and ease that he had hopped over the gate with, Eiji soon found himself standing in Oishi's room. As always, it was immaculately clean; the pile of books in the corner of his desk were in a neat stack, as were the ones on his bookshelf. There were no scattered items on the floor or the dresser, which he couldn't say the same about his own room. The only thing that was messy in the room was part of the desk, which had papers strewn about it. And even then, it wasn't because Oishi had left them that way; Eiji had to crawl over the desktop when hopping through the window.
For a moment, Eiji just stood in the middle of the room, gazing about himself. He stopped at the Christian Riese Lassen print that was on the wall beside the desk. It was a beautiful underwater scene with exotic fish swimming in and around brightly coloured coral. Oishi loved Lassen's work, and a small smile crept to Eiji's mouth as he noticed the artbook that he had bought Oishi for his birthday a few years back of Lassen's works, sitting open beside his alarm clocks.
The smile died from his lips as he looked from the dresser and further over to the lump on Oishi's bed. The covers were moving up and down in an erratic pattern, which told Eiji that his friend was definitely not asleep. He moved to the edge of the bed and sat down carefully. When Oishi didn't say anything after a few minutes, he tentatively reached out a hand and placed it on where he thought his friends shoulder was. It was a bit hard to tell seeing as he had drawn the blanket over his head as well. However, as soon as his fingers touched the fabric, Oishi jerked away.
"D-don't t-t-touch me!" There was an audible stutter to the ex-fuku-buchou's speech, and now that Eiji was sitting closer, he could hear his friends' unsteady and raspy breaths. Eiji tried to not let that statement bother him, as he always thought that Oishi welcomed his touches. With a steady breath, he placed his hand down again, and grasped what he could now identify as an arm.
"Oishi," he began, keeping a firm grasp on his friends arm. Where there was no response, Eiji began to rub his thumb along the fabric and reached his other hand to pull down the covers from over Oishi's head. "We obviously need to talk about this."
The red-head was a bit surprised when Oishi did not stop him from exposing his face. His best friend's face was red and blotchy, and his eyes were swollen from crying; he was nicely avoiding Eiji's gaze. Eiji let out a sigh and the hand that was resting on Oishi's arm, up to his face and brushed away the emotion that was clinging to the dark-haired boy's cheeks.
When he did not move his hand, it was then that Oishi looked at him and opened his mouth. However, before he could get a word out, Eiji had pressed his finger against his friends' lips and shook his head. "Just let me talk first, okay?"
Oishi froze when Eiji had come into contact with his mouth and Eiji could feel the warmth of his friends' cheek burning into his palm. "I'm sorry if I make you…" Eiji trailed off. If there ever was a word to describe their relationship, it definitely was not this one. But, whatever had happened that night had changed something and it made Eiji a little sick to the stomach as he finished the sentence off, "…uncomfortable."
No, that wasn't right. Never had Eiji made his best friend feel uncomfortable… until now? Eiji's mind reeled at the realization that maybe he didn't know Oishi as well as he thought he did. What if all of the hugs and high-fives that he had given had only served to push Oishi further and further away from him? What if it really was his entire fault that Oishi had snapped that night? What if Oishi really… Eiji's stomach churned at the thought… found his presence irritating?
"I…" Eiji began, removing his hands from Oishi's face and clasping them together in his lap. He silently willed his body to keep from trembling at the thoughts that were running through his head. "I'll make this quick, okay? That way I won't bother you anymore."
Eiji let out a deep breath and was reminded of Kaidou's trademark "Fushuu" that he hissed out. He really wished that all nine of them were back at Seigaku. Back then, life wasn't so complicated. Ochibi would be his usual arrogant and snarky self, and Momo would be there to give those three freshman advice all the while annoying Echizen to no end. Fujiko would stand and watch the other members silently, a disturbing grin on his face and his eyes closed. Kaidou would keep to himself, the only thing every escaping his lips, besides when he was fighting with Momo-kun, was the 'fushuu'.
Tezuka would stand with his arms crossed and the same hard expression on his face while Oishi talked about what would be the most effective workouts for the upcoming practices. Taka usually hovered around Fujiko's side, and it always made Eiji wonder how such a nice person such as Taka was so… close to a secretive person, as Fujiko was. And Inui would be wandering about, a notebook and a pen in hand, collecting all the data that he could manage.
Those had been the days and once Tezuka, Fuji, Inui, Taka, Oishi, and himself had graduated, Eiji knew that their last year at Seigaku had been a special one. Their team had been the best and the friendship that all of them had shared was a one-of-a-kind sort of thing; he knew that the bond between the ex-members would last a lifetime, even if they did lose contact with each other.
"Oishi… Syuuichirou, something's changed between us," Eiji began, trying to remember all of the good times they had shared over the past few years. He was going to try and salvage what he could of their friendship, even if it meant leaving Oishi alone. It would hurt a lot to do so, but somewhere over the years, Eiji had come to putting Oishi's needs and wants before his own.
Oishi was going to go places. He had been scouted by several prestigious tennis schools, and there were universities that were itching to have him attend their institutions. He had also gotten back into the swim team once they had entered Seigaku high school, and had moved into the fuku-buchou position there. Tennis was something that the two of them did as a leisurely past-time now, even if there were people prodding Oishi to try tennis professionally, and to play singly. They both knew that there was no way to re-create what they had in junior high and neither of them wanted to.
And all the while Oishi was busy making plans, Eiji didn't know what to do. He knew that he couldn't pursue a career in tennis. As much as he would have liked to, there was no way he could do it without Oishi. His single's game was not his strong suit, and he played his best when Oishi was his partner. Since tennis was not an option, he was wondering what he could do with his life. He loved animals, but veterinary school was quite costly and you needed good marks to get in. His marks were average, but not spectacular, like Oishi's were. He was a mediocre student because he always thought of what he could be doing if he wasn't studying.
Eiji was not a stupid person, though he was aware that most people didn't take him seriously. While he was still hyper and bouncy and nearly care-free, he had considerable matured over the past few years. He knew when to be serious now. He knew when to keep from blurting out whatever came to his mind. He also knew that their friendship had been barely hanging by a thread for several months now.
Yes, he could feign innocence all he wanted, but deep down, he knew that what they had couldn't last forever. He would drag Oishi down. He would keep Oishi from going the places that he should be if he kept holding on to him. Eiji wanted to be selfish like that. Oishi was his very best friend, and he was closer to him than he had been with Fuji, even though he had known the tensai for much longer. If Eiji could have it his way, he would keep Oishi all to himself.
Oishi was the sort of person Eiji strived to be. He was calm… most of the time, cool, and collected. He was so mature and thoughtful of others. He was completely selfless and always put others before himself. Even when he had first met Oishi, a shy, silent boy, he knew that he was a special person. They had taught each other, watched each other grow up, and leaned on each other for support. Eiji had always known that he would have to let go one day… but he didn't think that day would come so soon.
"I think that what happened tonight was something that had been coming for a long time." Oishi's mouth parted into a little 'oh' shape. Eiji had never been this serious around Oishi before. Most of the time, he kept his smiling face on and said whatever came to his mind… because he knew that if he were to suddenly act less like himself, that would threaten their friendship. Oishi was the strongest of the golden pair. It was just easier to let him deal with the complicated matters.
"You've changed… I've changed; it's only natural that we grew up. I've been waiting for this day, but I didn't think that we would get here so soon."
Oishi had closed his mouth now and was staring intently at him. He had an adorably cute look of confusion spread across his features, but Eiji pressed on. First he would say what he needed to, and then if Oishi was still confused, then he would explain it again. But, if he didn't say what he wanted to right now, he might never. So, it had to be done now.
"You know the saying that if you really love something, you should set it free?" The back of his throat was beginning to ache now. He could feel the blood rushing through his arteries and slowly making its way back up his veins. "Well, I think that I have to let you go, Oishi."
"What?" Oishi's voice was clear as day as his word rang out into the silence of the room.
No…. Eiji's head fell to his chest. Oishi didn't understand. Why couldn't he understand? He didn't want to have to say it again. His chest felt really tight right now, and he was desperately trying to maintain his composure. He didn't want to cry anymore. He wanted Oishi to be happy. That was all that he wanted for his friend. Obviously Eiji wasn't enough to make him happy anymore, so he had to do this.
"Tonight…" he twisted his hands in his lap, "… you shut me out, Oishi. You completely shut yourself off from me. And…" his breathing hitched a little, "it wasn't the first time."
When Oishi didn't say anything, he continued on.
"Maybe you haven't noticed, but I have. We're beginning to move in opposite directions now. You're so much more mature than I am, and it really shows. I understand why you haven't said anything up until tonight, but don't worry about me anymore. I'll be alright. I'll bounce back."
Eiji looked up when Oishi still didn't say anything. His friend had his hands pressed to his eyes, and he could see the tears running down his face again. He had made Oishi cry again. That wasn't what he wanted to do.
"Oishi… please say something?" His voice came out much more desperately than he wanted it to. He hated it so much when they weren't able to communicate. "Say anything… something… say what you wanted to say to me tonight, but couldn't. Don't worry about anything when you say it; I won't be offended or hurt. I've been preparing myself for it. So… just let it out."
He moved to pull Oishi's hands away from his face, but was surprised when Oishi did not refuse him. Instead, Oishi grabbed Eiji's hands and held them within his own. He was silent for a moment before pulling Eiji's hands together and placing them over his heart.
"You forgot the end of the saying, Eiji…" Oishi whispered and moved to a sitting position while keeping Eiji's hands in place. "It's supposed to go… 'If you truly love someone, then set them free… and if they were truly yours in the first place, they will return to you'."
Eiji didn't know what to say. What had Oishi just said?
"I thought I told you not to worry about me?" Oishi continued, letting Eiji's hands go in order to be able to wrap his arms around his best friend. "I'm sorry for hurting you; I didn't mean to. I was just confused."
Now it was Eiji's turn to listen. He was still awfully confused, though, and he had to tell his brain to stop thinking about what might have happened and to concentrate on what was happening. From what Oishi was saying, apparently he had made the situation out to be something that it wasn't. So, he slid down Oishi a bit so that he could tuck his head underneath his chin. He was just the right height to be able to do that when they hugged each other standing up.
"… it began with Fuji giving me a drink …"
And so Eiji listened… and stayed still. He concentrated on Oishi's words and how Oishi's arms felt when they were wrapped around his body. He could feel Oishi's heartbeat thumping against his own chest, and it was a soothing rhythm. The more he listened, the more he felt foolish. He had read much more into the situation that he had needed to. His chest was still tight, but it was for a different reason now. Eiji realized how close he had come to just leaving his best friend out in the cold.
"…and watching you dance, and seeing the smile on your face and…" Oishi paused, and Eiji felt as his hand moved from his back and to his waist. Oishi's fingers toyed with the edge of his shirt before slowly creeping underneath to brush along his stomach.
Eiji jerked a little at the touched, his eyes shooting wide open.
"And your shirt kept riding up and I couldn't stop staring at your skin, even though I had seen it so many times before in the locker rooms and the shower. Only, this time… no, not just this time… for a while now… when I looked at you, it was different." Oishi's voice trailed off softly as his hand retreated from his shirt.
"I'm sorry!" His friend said sadly, pulling away from Eiji to let him fall on to his face in the bed. "I shouldn't have… I didn't mean… I mean, I meant to do it… but… it wasn't… appropriate. Please, don't hate me. I know this changes everything, but I can't help it."
Eiji pushed himself up from the bed to grab Oishi's hand as he began to walk away. "Wait!"
"You probably think I'm disgusting now, don't you? I can see why you tried to let me go." Oishi's footsteps halted as Eiji's hand grabbed onto his own. Eiji sat there for a moment, trying to process what had just happened. Oishi… liked him? Oishi liked him more than a friend?
Eiji could remember the way Oishi's fingers had brushed against his own countless times and Oishi would turn away. He understood now, why Oishi had been so red in the dance club and when they were walking home. He understood why Oishi had kept quiet about his feelings… and Eiji definitely knew that whatever Fuji had given his friend in the sushi house, was deliberate. Fuji had this way of knowing about things before the person could even grasp a situation; that was why everyone called him a tensai after all.
And Fuji had truly understood this dilemma… before Eiji even knew there was one, and not that he could call it a dilemma. It was… a failure to communicate. He could hear the buchou's voice in his head now, scolding the pair of them for not watching each other and talking to each other. Eiji was a little surprised that such a huge situation had been created because of their negligence to remember what the top rule for succeeding in doubles was. He was very lucky that Tezuka wasn't there now… for he really didn't feel like running extra laps. Right now, all he felt like doing was….
"Nyah…" Eiji whispered, pulling Oishi backwards until he fell back on the bed. "I don't hate you. I could never hate you. How could you even think that?" Eiji paused a moment to smile a little. "And I thought you were supposed to be the smarter one!"
Oishi appeared to be a little taken back by his friends' attitude. "You're not mad at me," he asked carefully.
"I'm only mad at you when you keep me from things, Oishi," Eiji said seriously, tightening his hold on Oishi's hand. "When you don't talk to me, it always makes me feel like I've missed something important. And… it makes me think about really crazy reasons why you're secretive."
Oishi nodded his head and… was that a hint of a smile that Eiji saw on his partner's lips? "Yes, you definitely had the wrong idea this time."
Eiji nudged Oishi's shoulder with his own, feeling as though a very large weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He hated when him and Oishi were distant from each other. Now that they were both back on the same plane, he was beginning to feel more like his normal, playful self.
"Nyah… how about you make me further understand this situation," he asked, shooting his best friend an 'I dare you to' look.
Fortunately, that was all the prodding Oishi needed before Eiji's lips were captured within his. At first Eiji was a little taken back by this new situation, but, as he was capable of, he adapted quickly.
Oishi's lips were soft and they felt really nice pressed against his own. Eiji couldn't keep himself from pulling back a bit and then leaning forward to nip at Oishi's bottom lip, even venturing to lick it a little. He felt his friend tense up at this new sensation, so he stopped his ministrations to look at the dark-haired boy.
"Relax, Oishi… this isn't tennis; you don't have to be perfect at it." When Oishi still didn't look convinced, Eiji moved his friend's hand to his stomach and told him to let out a deep breath and just touch him.
Oishi's hands moved cautiously at first. He lightly grazed the skin of Eiji's stomach before moving to poking it, and rubbing it underneath his fingertips. When Eiji let out a soft murmur at the sensations Oishi was provoking, Oishi froze.
"Nyah…" Eiji whispered,
grabbing Oishi's hand once again and pushing it further up his shirt, "That
feels really good… don't stop."
"Al-alright…" Oishi breathed out heavily as he ran his hand down his friend's body, dipping his finger into the hollow of Eiji's neck and then dragging then down his sides, feeling the slight indents from his ribs. Oishi's hands moved back up his body and Eiji let out another content sigh, which turned into a sharp intake of a breath when inexperience fingertips grazed more than lightly over a nipple.
"Oh…" Eiji's heart was thumping rapidly as Oishi rubbed over the nub once more and tugged it quickly before letting go and dragging his hands down his body once more. This time, when they reached Eiji's waist, Oishi's fingers lingered for a moment at the bump of fabric from his pants before beginning to sneak under.
Eiji shook his head as his lower hand jumped at the sudden intrusion. "No… not yet," he gasped out, pulling Oishi's hands away from his abdomen and up to his lips where he kissed them. Before Oishi could pull away this time, Eiji had leaned forward and pressed his mouth to his friend's once more, licking at his lips again, and then sliding his tongue in when the other allowed him access.
After several minutes, Eiji pulled away breathless. He flushed a little when Oishi gave him a strange look. "Where did you learn to do that?"
Er… "Um…" he hesitated a moment, feeling his cheeks get even warmer. "Fujiko…" he trailed off quietly. Yes, Fujiko had a very secure grasp on the situation, didn't he?"
Oishi's eyes widened at the confession. "Fuji? I didn't know you and Fuji… liked each other."
"We don't!" Eiji quickly protested, inwardly grumbling at Fuji for ruining such a great moment. "Well, not in the way that I like you…" Eiji smiled a bit when he said that aloud. "Besides, he said that I would need to practice for the future… and he was right."
Oishi stared at him in disbelief. "You kissed Fuji," he repeated once more.
"Nyah, Oishi!" Eiji slid into neko-mode, letting his voice whine in that familiar way. He pushed Oishi on to his back and then nestled himself beside his best friend. He wrapped one of his legs around the dark-haired boys' and gave him a peck on the lips. "It doesn't matter… you're a much better kisser than him anyways."
Oishi didn't say anything after that, but Eiji could practically feel the smile on his friend's face after that comment. After a moment, Eiji finally felt Oishi pull the covers over the two of them before he wrapped his arms around the smaller body that was clinging to his.
Eiji lay there silently, listening to Oishi until his breathing feel into a steady pattern, signifying that he was asleep. It was then that he buried his face into his best friend's chest and inhaled deeply. Oishi's scent was so comforting… being around Oishi made Eiji feel like he was walking on clouds all the time. He was well aware that the two of them had a lot of talk about… among other things now, but for the moment, he was tired.
When Eiji woke up the next morning, it took a moment for him to orient himself. At first he thought he had just slept over at Oishi's as he had countless times, before he remembered what had taken place hours earlier.
"Oishi?" he called out when he realized that the owner of the bed was not currently in it. When he didn't get a response, he felt his heart restrict once again. What had he done?
However, before he even had a chance to think about what could have gone wrong, Oishi had walked into the room, partially dressed with a towel around his neck. He stopped when he saw Eiji pouting up at him from his bed.
"What?" he protested as he pulled on a pair of pants. "Am I not allowed to shower?"
Eiji shook his head. "Not when you don't tell me that you're going to."
Oishi gave Eiji a wide grin and adjusted his shirt before sitting beside Eiji on the bed. "You slept through two alarm clocks! I figured that you would rather sleep, so I left you."
"Ahh, but… we don't have classes today! It's Saturday!"
Oishi nodded and pulled Eiji in for a quick kiss. "I know, but we have to talk about some things and I thought we could do it over breakfast. It's past ten already."
Eiji's stomach let out a growl and he laughed. "Can we go to that place that makes the best omelets?"