Disclaimer: I own very little.
A/N: Because, let's face it, Momo would do something like that.
A Wife of Another Kind
Takaki Ichirou sighed and stopped. There was only one person in the whole school who would call him "Takaki-chan". Turning around, he asked, "Yes, Momo-chan-sensei?"
The tennis club coach grinned as he walked closer. Seriously, Takaki was willing to bet no other school had such a goofy coach. Momoshiro was never serious, it seemed, always laughing at something or joking around. When he wasn't joking, he was talking about his wife, telling how good his dear Kaoru-chan was at cooking or cleaning or this or that.
Somehow, though, he also knew what he was doing, making them train hard and actually succeeding in making them get better, and thus the more serious members of the team tolerated him. The rest, of course, absolutely adored him. Takaki, for his part, sometimes wished he could have assigned laps to the coach.
"Look, I'm awfully sorry about this, but I've got an errand to run and I can't come to the afternoon practice today. I just can't," Momoshiro said as he reached Takaki, scratching the back of his neck. "So I asked my wife to come over and supervise the practice. Is that all right with you?"
"Sure, I guess," Takaki replied with a shrug. He doubted Momoshiro-san would be much of a coach, but he was certain he could manage together with the vice-captain.
"Great, just great. Remember to be nice to Kaoru-chan and not do anything mean, okay? I'll be asking whether you behaved, I'll definitely be asking that!" With this and a wink, Momoshiro was on his way again. Honestly. And this guy was supposed to be an adult?
Sighing, Takaki continued walking. At least Momoshiro-san couldn't be any worse than her husband.
"Eh? Are you serious, Takaki-buchou?" Yuzuki-kun looked at him with wide eyes as they walked towards the club room side by side. "Momoshiro-san is our coach today?"
"That's right," Takaki replied. "So remember to behave. Momo-chan-sensei told not to be mean to his wife."
"But of course not!" His somewhat hyperactive singles expert grinned. "I wonder what she's like! If Momo-chan-sensei married her, she must be really nice. I can't wait to see her!"
"I guess you'll get the chance soon," Takaki said, pointing towards a long-haired figure by the courts. "...Wait a minute, that can't be her. That's a man."
They walked closer to the man. He was wearing a sports jersey, shorts and sneakers, looking at the courts where some non-regulars were already buzzing about, the vice-captain watching over them. Whatever business he had there, Takaki couldn't even begin to guess.
"I'm sorry, sir," he thus said, "but outsiders are not allowed on the courts. Could you please leave?"
The man turned towards him, the intense black gaze making him back away a bit. He looked somehow familiar although Takaki couldn't recall where he'd seen such a man. "I'm supposed to supervise your practice," the man said, then let out a hissing sound. "You're Takaki-kun, aren't you? Takeshi said he'd inform you."
Takaki frowned a bit. As far as he could recall, the coach's first name was Takeshi, but... "I'm sorry, but there must have been some mistake," he said. "Momo-chan-sensei told us his wife would stand in for him." It wasn't until he had finished his sentence that he realized he'd used the stupid nickname Momoshiro insisted on being called. Whatever would the stranger think of him and their club now? That they were a bunch of disrespectful brats, probably.
"What?" The hiss was definitely angry now. Yuzuki-kun hid quickly behind Takaki's back, peeking at the man around his shoulder. "Did he really say his wife?"
"I'm fairly positive he did," Takaki said, trying his best to steel himself against the fierce glare. "He told us his wife would come over and also reminded to be nice to 'Kaoru-chan'."
"That's it." The man gritted his teeth. "Takeshi is now officially dead."
"Why'd you want to kill Momo-chan-sensei?" Yuzuki-kun asked curiously, although he still didn't leave his safe spot behind Takaki. "And why isn't his wife here?"
"I'm going to kill him because he is an idiot," came the simple response. "And his wife is not here because he doesn't have one."
"Ehh?" A new voice joined the conversation as Agasa-kun and Moriya-kun walked into sight, Tsuji-kun and Kisaki-kun right behind them, bickering as always. "What do you mean, Momo-chan-sensei doesn't have a wife?"
"That's a joke, right?" Moriya-kun asked. "He's always going on about Kaoru-chan this and Kaoru-chan that. Momo-chan-sensei couldn't come up with all that by himself!"
The strange man looked very angry now. Somehow, though, Takaki got the feeling he wasn't angry at any of them but at Momoshiro instead. "I know he doesn't have a wife because I am married to him, myself," he growled with a somewhat dangerous look in his eyes. "I am Momoshiro Kaoru. Fsshuuu."
"Eh?" Everybody's eyes widened in surprise. Even Tsuji and Kisaki stopped their argument for a while to stare at the man.
"That's it. I'm his husband. Husband, not wife, got it?"
"Wow, Momo-chan-sensei is gay," Agasa chuckled. "Not that it really surprises me."
"Yes, he is gay, or if he's not he's got some explaining to do for the last ten or so years," Momoshiro-san said. "And if you now don't go get changed right away I'll make sure you'll break whatever is the record of running laps for this generation."
Nobody doubted the man's words. Never before had Takaki seen his regulars start practice as fast.
By the time everybody was in their practice attire and the warm-up laps had been run, Momoshiro-san seemed a lot calmer. In fact, he looked calm enough that Tsuji-kun dared to question him.
"Do you even know anything about tennis?" he asked doubtfully. "You look like you run a lot, but running's a lot different from tennis, you know." Takaki-kun was about to snap at him for disrespectful behaviour but then let it be. He was certain Momoshiro-san could handle it all by himself – and besides, every moment Tsuji wasn't yelling at Kisaki was a good moment.
"Fsshuuu," was the man's response. "I used to be a regular back when I attended Seigaku. Not only that, but I was a captain in my third year."
"Are you and Momo-chan-senpai the same age?" asked Moriya curiously. "Because he told us he was the vice-captain in his third year!"
"That's right," Momoshiro-san replied. "He wasn't much of a vice-captain, though. I even had to take care of locking up because he always forgot it, fsshuuu."
"Well, that's definitely not like Mitsuhiko-senpai," Yuzuki-kun laughed. Then, his eyes sparkled in a way that signaled an idea. This was rarely a good thing. "Hey, why don't you have a match with Takaki-buchou, Momoshiro-san? It might be interesting!"
Takaki eyed Momoshiro-san warily, noting to his surprise that the man was smirking, almost smiling. "Whatever," replied Momoshiro-san. He produced a racquet bag from somewhere and zipped it open. "If you're up to it, Takaki-kun?"
"If it's fine with you, Momoshiro-san," Takaki replied. He then barked a couple of orders at the others, telling them to get back to practice and knowing already it would be useless before long as the match would gather them all to watch anyway. Yuzuki-kun was already climbing up to the referee's chair, apparently overjoyed that his idea had been accepted.
Ah, well. Whatever made Yuzuki-kun happy, he supposed.
It started with Takaki's serve. He didn't play on full strength right away, unsure just how much Momoshiro-san remembered from his middle school years. He noticed soon, though, that the man was excellent – too excellent to have forgotten about tennis. He must still keep playing, perhaps against his husband.
It was still somewhat weird, thinking of Momoshiro-san as Momo-chan-sensei's husband. Of course, just like Agasa said, it was hardly a surprise Momo-chan-sensei wasn't homophobic or anything – Takaki was fairly sure he had played a big role in getting their Doubles One combination together in the dating sense – but Takaki had never thought of "Kaoru-chan" as anything but a woman. This was mostly due to the fact Momo-chan-sensei always referred to his spouse as his wife, but...
His lack of concentration cost him a point as Momoshiro-san easily smashed a ball right past him. "Concentrate," the man hissed, then turned to look at everybody around them. "You, get back to practice! If somebody isn't moving in five seconds, I'll use them as a ball!"
The courts were suddenly full of activity. Mitsuhiko started organizing the practice while still keeping an eye on the match. Takaki tried his best, but lost point after point. Somehow the man made him miss even the most easy-looking shots. What was this, exactly? Takaki was good. He knew he was a National level player. So why couldn't he get even a single point against the man?
Momoshiro-san won the first game without Takaki getting even one point. Yuzuki-kun commented on this, sounding somewhat concerned. Takaki brushed this off, figuring it would only distract him if he started thinking about Yuzuki's reaction to whatever happened in the match. Instead, he prepared himself for Momoshiro-san's first serve.
It was an ace. No matter what, Takaki couldn't have prepared himself for a serve that went around the net instead of over it.
"I know that serve!" Kisaki exclaimed, his eyes widening. "It's the Snake Serve! But the only one who can do it... is..." He stared at Momoshiro-san, looking somewhat shocked.
"Fsshuuu. Smart boy, aren't you?" Momoshiro-san drew something from the pocket of his jersey. It was a blue bandana, along with a simple scrunchie. Tying his hair up into a ponytail, he then wrapped the bandana around his head.
Had Takaki been prone to hitting himself with his racquet, he would have done so now. To think he had not recognized the man just because he'd had his hair down! "Ah... excuse me, Momoshiro-san," he said. "You are... Kaidou Kaoru, aren't you?"
To everybody's shock, the man nodded. "I am," he admitted simply. "I use my old name while playing for simplicity's sake."
Takaki felt somewhat faint now. It was one thing to play against an adult who was good at tennis. He had enough confidence in his skills to know he had something of a chance anyway. It was an entirely different thing altogether to play against a man who was currently ranked the third best player in the world on the ATP ranking list.
"Um... I don't think this match is really necessary anymore," he thus said. "I don't think anybody doubts your tennis skills now..."
"Why stop?" Momoshiro-san gave him an almost amused gaze. "I'm sure it's good practice for you, too."
If "practice" meant "loss", then Momoshiro-san was certainly right. Even though Takaki used all of his special moves, he only managed to drag the final score to 6-2. He even had a feeling Momoshiro-san had deliberately let him win the two games.
"Wow, Takaki-buchou lost," Yuzuki-kun breathed in wonder after the embarrassingly short match. "But I guess that was just to be expected, with a pro against you!"
Takaki sighed. If he had to lose so miserably in front of his whole team, he supposed there could have been worse opponents to lose to. He was about to tell Yuzuki-kun to start training, too, as he was distracted by a rather loud argument on the other side of the court. Tsuji and Kisaki, unsurprisingly, were just about to punch each other's faces in, standing as close as they could without bumping their noses together while glaring at each other.
"Oh, for fuck's sake," Momoshiro-san sighed. "Can't those two just go and get a room? This is the third time I've seen them fight today!"
Takaki blinked. "Excuse me?" he asked.
"Look, I know that kind of fighting," Momoshiro-san said, his voice carrying over the courts to every interested pair of ears. "Takeshi and I used to do that all the time. I give those two three months at best before they start dating, fsshuuu."
Tsuji and Kisaki jumped apart, flush of embarrassment and rage on both of their faces. "We are not going to date!" they both declared furiously.
Momoshiro-san hissed again. "Two months."
From then on the practice continued to go downhill as far as Takaki was concerned. Momoshiro-san knew what he was doing, certainly, and could make even the laziest members work hard. At the same time, though, he kept comparing them with his own teammates back when he had been in middle school – usually not favourably –, commenting on Tsuji and Kisaki's supposed affection, and scaring Yuzuki-kun. While the two first things were somewhat tolerable and occasionally almost amusing, the last one bothered Takaki. A scared Yuzuki-kun was a bad Yuzuki-kun, both in tennis and otherwise.
Finally, though, the practice ended. With one last note on how they had trained a lot more back in his day, Momoshiro-san left, leaving behind a quite relieved Takaki. It was disrespectful to think so of his coach's husband, of course, but he couldn't help it.
Yuzuki-kun smiled brightly at him as they left the practice, and he felt even less guilty about his relief.
Nobody was very surprised as Momo-chan-sensei came to practice the next day sporting a black eye. Somebody whispered something about "domestic violence", at which the coach insisted he'd given "at least as good as he got."
"Kaoru-chan's got something of a temper," he said cheerfully despite the bruise, "but he's still my dear wife!"
Suddenly, a ball hit the back of Momo-chan-sensei's head, interrupting whatever he was about to say next.
"Owww! Moriya-chan, what was that?" Momo-chan-sensei asked, turning around with an annoyed expression. "Do you want laps or something?"
"Oh, it's nothing like that, Momo-chan-sensei," Moriya replied with a little grin. "Momoshiro-san just asked me to hit you with a ball every time you refer to him as your wife."
Takaki sighed. Apparently Momoshiro-san wouldn't be forgotten anytime soon...