Disclaimer: I own very little.
A/N: I wanted to write a Valentine's fic. And, well, the thought of this pairing has been bothering me for a good, long while. I just hope they aren't too horribly OOC...
Arai didn't even realize something was odd at first.
Of course, he hadn't been a regular for that long, but even before that he'd been a good player for a non-regular and thus wasn't surprised to get his fair share of chocolate. It was nothing compared with the amount the old regulars received, but enough to satisfy his sweet tooth for a good, long while. Therefore, one more gift didn't matter much.
Except unlike the others, it wasn't in his usual locker. Instead, he found it in his locker at the club house.
It wasn't until he'd received more than a few strange gazes that Arai happened to think further about the latest gift. Glancing at first at it, then at the others, he snapped, "What's so weird? Didn't think I'd get any chocolate?"
"Ah, it's not that," Katsuo said carefully, flushing a bit in embarrassment even as he took a step back. "It's just… um…"
"Whaaat, Arai had chocolate left here?" Momo exclaimed the moment he stepped into the club room. "My, my, this is interesting, this is really interesting!"
Arai turned to look at his classmate somewhat stupidly. "What's so very interesting?"
"Is everyone in your class a moron?" Kaidou sighed, then hissed. "Take a look at the other lockers, fsshuuu."
Arai did. And blinked. "…Why isn't there more chocolate? I thought you regulars would be drowning…" The only one he could see aside from the one he'd gotten himself was shoved in the back corner of Kaidou's locker, while the one he'd received had been left in plain sight.
"Oh, we are, sure we are." Momoshiro grinned. "Only at our regular lockers, though. You see, there's something special about the club room lockers, there's something very special about them."
"And that is?" Arai glared at the increasingly amused faces around himself, holding the obviously home-made box of chocolates close to his chest almost protectively. Where did they get off laughing at others' popularity, anyway? They were probably just jealous.
"Isn't it obvious?" Horio grinned in his usual all-knowing way, the little brat. "The club room is always locked aside from the practice times, so…"
"So it's practically impossible for outsiders and especially girls to get in here," Katsuo said, a slight flush on his face. "Therefore, if someone left you a gift, it was…"
"Someone from the tennis club!" Momoshiro cut in. "Arai's got a boyfriend, obviously!" He then grinned at the vice-captain before pulling his shirt over his head. "As does Mamushi, apparently. My, my, someone's popular…"
Arai was vaguely aware that Kaidou was blushing and hissing and replying something that had very little to do with actually answering and everything to do with avoiding the question, but he wasn't really listening. Instead, he stared at the gift. Suddenly, instead of chocolate, it looked more like a ticking bomb.
It was a mistake, surely it was. It wasn't like anyone in the tennis club would have left him chocolate. It was probably meant to go into someone else's locker – maybe Kaidou had meant to return the gift of whomever liked him and gotten mistaken, except that Kaidou would have never done such a thing? Well, okay, so it did have Arai's name on it, but… Who on Earth could it be? Or, more accurately, who in the club?
Shoving the chocolates into his bag to accompany the rest, he did his best to shove the issue out of his mind, too. Sadly, he didn't manage. Instead it seemed to cling onto him, becoming all he could think of at the moment. Even as the practice started properly and he started running laps with everyone else, his mind kept revolving around this mystery.
During the practice he eyed carefully everyone around him, looking for signs of odd behaviour. This was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that the news of his secret admirer had apparently spread fast and far, and everyone was grinning at him and winking and whispering to each other while looking at him. It was driving him mad, really, which meant the first years got even more complaints than usually, not that it mattered. It was their own fault if they weren't doing their job well enough – honestly, just because they were allowed to play instead of just picking balls now they thought they could just slack off! He wasn't even told off for yelling at them since Momoshiro seemed fairly amused at his irritation and somehow kept Kaidou at bay, too.
By the time practice was over, Arai was practically seething. It didn't really help the matter that Momoshiro kept bugging Kaidou about not forgetting his "most special Valentine" the whole time they were in the club room. Just as Arai was about to tell him to shut up, captain or not, that Kaidou finally spoke up.
"Oh, shut up, you moron! It's not like I care about your stupid Valentine, fsshuuu!" Shouldering his bag, he stormed off, leaving behind a chocolate Valentine and a fairly dumbstruck Momoshiro.
"Hey, Momo-buchou?" Echizen raised an eyebrow. "You're not very good at this secret admirer thing, you know."
"But… I mean…" For once, Momoshiro was at a loss for words. Not that Arai even noticed. He just stared at the captain like he'd just grown another head.
"Oh, just run after him. I'll lock up for you." The youngest regular rolled his eyes. "The worst he can do is punch you, and I doubt he will since he didn't do it when he found the chocolate. And yes, I believe he knew right away it was from you."
Momo flashed Echizen a relieved if still not somewhat stunned grin, then ran away. "Thanks, Echizen!"
"You owe me hamburgers for this!" Echizen shouted after him just before he was out of hearing range. Then, he shook his head, sighing. "Those two are just hopeless."
"I hope they can figure it out," Kachirou muttered, carefully folding his regular jacket to put it into his own locker. "They've been fighting a lot less since they were put in charge of the team; it'd be horrible if they started again over a simple Valentine."
Arai now realized Kachirou had been unusually quiet that day for some reason. Not that he was ever the noisiest of guys, anyway, but somehow he seemed even more subdued today. Arai hadn't noticed it before, being somewhat preoccupied by the mystery of the club room Valentine, but now that he noticed it, it bugged him. "…Hey, everything all right?"
Kachirou jumped a bit, then turned to smile at him. "O-of course, Arai-senpai! Nothing's wrong!"
"But you have been really quiet, Kachirou," Katsuo pointed out. "Really, is something the matter?"
"I bet he was overwhelmed by the amount of chocolate he received, being a regular," Horio announced. "Of course, I got buried in chocolate even without being a regular, but –"
"Yes, yes, of course, Horio-kun." Katsuo rolled his eyes at his friend, probably knowing very well exactly how much chocolate Horio had received, if any.
"Hey, hurry up. I don't have all day." Echizen glared at the remaining club members. "…Momo-buchou owes me a whole lot of hamburgers for sure…"
"Do you even have the key?" asked someone. "I thought Kaidou has it."
"No, he doesn't," Echizen said. "Kachirou locked up in the morning since Kaidou-senpai had to hurry for class."
"Right!" Fumbling through his pocket, Kachirou drew out the key, giving it to Echizen. Then, he quickly took his bag and hurried away, looking somewhat flushed for some reason. Arai wondered about it – until he again remembered his own unsolved mystery. Who would leave him chocolate? Somebody had to know, right? It wasn't like there had been many chances to do it unnoticed. Arai'd arrived among the first ones for the practice, and he was certain there hadn't been anything of the like when he'd left in the morning. The culprit was thus someone who'd been there after he left, and someone must have seen them.
…Unless, of course…
This train of thought made Arai freeze for a moment. Then, somewhat slower than usually, he finished changing and packing his things and walked out of the clubhouse. Once safely out of the school grounds and on the street, he finally dug that particular gift from his bag, looking at it yet another time. It was just your usual Valentine's chocolate, a prettily wrapped box with a shiny ribbon tied around it. Somewhat hesitantly, he opened the box.
His name on top of the box, he discovered, wasn't the only identifying feature in the box. There was a note in the inside, short and simple, only stating "I like you" with neat handwriting. He didn't recognize it, but then he didn't recognize most people's handwriting. Only girls paid attention to such things.
And only girls gave guys Valentine's chocolates… or so he'd thought.
He didn't really know where he was heading but when he reached the street courts he knew exactly why he'd come there. Kachirou was there, unsurprisingly, hitting a ball by himself, continuing from where he'd left off at the practice. For a moment Arai stood just out of sight, looking at him.
The only one who could put the chocolate in a locker unseen was the one who locked up after everyone else.
Kachirou had grown a bit, over the time, and gained some muscle on his scrawny form. He was still the smallest regular in the team, yes, but at least he didn't look like a well-timed breeze would blow him off, anymore. He could also look Arai in the eye without breaking his neck, staring up.
Well. It could have been worse.
"Oi, Kachirou." Instantly the other stopped practising, turning to look at him. For a moment Arai hesitated – what if he was wrong? – but then said, "Did you leave this?"
Kachirou flushed like a ripe tomato, nodding wordlessly. "…Are you mad?" he asked after a little pause.
Mad? Well, he damn well should have been. Kachirou was the one to blame for all the teasing and distraction he'd been subjected to. But then…
Walking closer, Arai picked the note from the box, showing it to Kachirou. "Do you mean this?"
"…Yes." Kachirou looked away. "I'm sorry, Arai-senpai…"
"…Aw, Hell." And then, because he couldn't think of anything else to do, Arai kissed the younger boy.
It was clumsy, yes, and less experienced than Arai would have liked to admit, but Kachirou didn't seem about to complain. Great. Arai's day had been trying enough already.
Of course, Momoshiro laughed at them the next day despite his own black eye, right before clinging to Kaidou in a way that made the other seem absolutely murderous yet he survived, but for some reason, Arai couldn't be bothered to care. Sure, he got annoyed when it continued, and Kachirou flushed and stammered a bit, and Horio announced he'd known it all well before everyone else, but that was all normal. Seigaku's tennis club had never been the most ordinary of its kind, after all.
Perhaps, Arai realized, there hadn't been anything odd at the first place.