Chapter Forty-Four: Flashback (Part Four)
"I swear! He'll do it again! We just need to wait for the girls to come over, they'll make him smile," Eiji promised Fuji and Oishi who carefully watched Eiji try to make Tezuka smile.
"I don't know if that'll work..." Fuji said.
"Yeah, I think I agree with Fuji," Kyoko said.
Fuji shook his head.
"You know...I think I might know something that will work..." Kyoko said, tapping her chin thoughtfully.
Eiji quickly turned to her. "What?"
"Well...let me tell Fuji, he's the only one who could do it..."
Fuji curiously walked over to her and she whispered something to him.
"...what?" Eiji exclaimed, the anticipation killing him.
"Just keep staring at him..." Fuji said.
Eiji frowned but turned to Tezuka and stared.
"Now open your mouth, but don't break eye contact with Tezuka."
Eiji nodded and opened his mouth and Fuji put a wasabi roll in his mouth.
"HOLY MOTHER OF BUTTERED TOAST!" Eiji spit it out and tried to scrape the burning sensation off his tongue as he ran around looking for water.
"Did it work?" Oishi asked hopefully, looking at Tezuka.
Tezuka had the faintest and slightest smile on his face.
"It worked, Eiji, it worked!" Oishi cried happily; but Eiji was too busy looking for water to notice.
Oishi shook his head.
Kyoko sat back and smiled proudly. "I knew it would work."
Fuji smiled. "I don't know if Eiji thinks it's worth it, though..."
"You didn't take a picture? SAAAAACHIIII!"
Meanwhile, Sadaharu examined Sachi, Momo and Ryoma who were in the middle of a food-eating contest.
Sachi looked up from her empty plate of sushi. "DONE! And what Eiji?"
"Make Tezuka smile, I missed it!"
Sachi sighed and stood up, walking over to Tezuka. "Smile, please? Because we both hate blue drinks and cotton candy?" she smiled sweetly and batted her eyelashes.
Eiji looked super excited as he moved closer.
Tezuka's eyes slightly widen as they both moved closer and closer to him.
"Does that count as an emotion?" Fuji asked.
"No, he has to smile! Just look at this face!" Eiji said, pointing to Sachi. "How can you resist that?"
"That counts as some sort of emotion. I just don't know what kind," Oishi said, inspecting Tezuka's expression.
"Yeah, but Eiji asked me to get him to smile. Not widen his smiles, that's not difficult." Sachi widened her eyes before turning to Oishi. "See!"
"Yes..." Oishi replied, a little freaked out by the wideness of her eyes.
"Anyway..." She turned back to Tezuka. "Okay, other reasons you should smile...uh...old people that pretend to be senile so they can get away with stealing chocolate bars...and...books and...Appletini!"
"Apple...tini?" Tezuka repeated.
"Sounds fruity..." Eiji remarked.
Momo frowned as he finished his plate of food. "I...don't know how she beat us..."
Ryoma shrugged. "I wasn't really trying."
"Don't lie! You were too trying!" Momo glared at Sachi. "Somehow she cheated..."
Sadaharu finished his notes and closed his notebook. "She won it fair and square according to my calculations." He pushed up his glasses.
Sachi sighed. "I didn't want it to come to this, though I do want to see you smile as well..." Sachi got down on one knee and took Tezuka's hand in hers. "Tezuka with a first name that I don't know but can't be turned into a joke like the yummy Oishi or peach boy Momo, please smile, for the good graces of everyone in this room who is dying to see your brilliant smile."
Momo inspected Sachi's empty plate and looked under the table. "There isn't a hatch..."
Sadaharu poured two glasses of his Inui-juice. "Drink up." He grinned as his glasses glinted.
Ryoma and Momo exchanged glances.
"You know..." Ryoma started.
"...I forgot something at home..." Momo continued.
"So we'd better..."
"...go get them!" the two finished in synch, as they got up to run. They were caught by their collars by Sadaharu who smiled and quickly poured the glasses in their mouths.
The two were soon dropped to the floor.
"They were so young..." Kyoko said sadly.
Tezuka stared at Sachi. "I don't see any need to smile. And I don't understand this 'good graces'."
"You should smile because I'm here and that's something to smile about, right?" Sachi looked up at him with puppy-dog eyes. "And look! I'm holding your hand!" She held his hand up to his face.
Fuji looked at Momo and Ryoma before looking up at Sadaharu with a smile. "I like that one."
Sadaharu poured another glass. "Would you like to try some?"
Sachi turned away from Tezuka for a second to point at Fuji. "That one was a sadistic smile, just in case no one could tell." She looked back at Tezuka with pleading eyes.
"You have to teach me how to tell!" Eiji said.
"You'd still mistrust them all, Eiji," Oishi pointed out.
Tezuka sighed and forced an incredibly small smile for a split second, before going back to his expressionless face.
Fuji smiled. "There we go."
"What? I missed it again? Gahhh!" Eiji exclaimed, pulling at his hair.
"Thank you," Sachi said, letting go of Tezuka's hand. "You can have that back now. And Eiji, I'm sorry you missed it but I'm not doing that again. I'm afraid his heart-eyed fan girls would come kill me." She took a moment to look around for them.
Fuji took a sip of Sadaharu's drink. "It's tangy." He handed back an empty glass.
"Wait, is that the same stuff that made Peach boy and hat kid pass out? Are you some kind of wizard?"
Fuji smiled. "I like to think of myself as...normal."
"That smile is not normal! Neither is that!" Eiji pointed at Sadaharu's drink. "Neither is that!" He pointed at Ryoma and Momo lying on the floor. "Actually...that is normal, since anyone normal would've passed out...which brings us to...you!" he pointed at Fuji.
Kyoko walked over and tried to wake up Ryoma and Momo. "Should someone call a doctor...?"
"They'll be fine," Sadaharu remarked, writing down the effects of the juice.
"I LOVE that smile!" Sachi said about Fuji's smile. "So cynical!"
Oishi looked at Tezuka. "Was that a tiny frown?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Oishi frowned. "Alright..."
Sachi turned to Sadaharu. "Can I try that beverage?"
Sadaharu smiled and his glasses glinted.
"S-Sachi, I don't know if that's a good idea," Kyoko said.
Fuji poured her a glass and promptly handed it to her with a smile. "It's delicious. I recommend it."
"Eh? Did I hear you say Tezuka's frowning now?" Eiji asked, rushing over to Tezuka.
Tezuka glared at Eiji.
"Well that's not new," Eiji said. "But a frown..."
"Thanks!" Sachi took a glass and drank it. "Hm...I feel woozy..."
Fuji smiled. "It should go away after a while. I don't feel it all now."
"So he did feel it before! He's not all inhuman!" Eiji exclaimed.
"I'm all human, Eiji." Fuji smiled.
"That smile says otherwise!"
"I don't think I enjoy this too much," Sachi said, starting to tilt over before catching herself.
"Did you really think I wasn't human?" Fuji asked.
"I thought you were...something else...you're not like a normal person!"
"And you are, Eiji-sempai?" Momo asked with a laugh.
"Of course not! But I'm abnormal in the super cute, the ladies be all-upon way!"
"Tch..." Momo said.
"Got something to say?" Eiji asked.
"No of course not, Eiji-sempai," Momo said with a wave of his hand.
Eiji narrowed his eyes, then turned to Tezuka. "So...what's it going to be?"
"The same as it always is," Tezuka replied.
"But I want to win for once!" Eiji said.
Oishi shook his head.
"Sachi...going down..." She stumbled again.
"Interesting...she's holding herself quite well with this one," Sadaharu said, scribbling something in his notebook.
"It's because she's too stubborn! No losing, Sachi!" Eiji cheered.
"Mmmnot losing..." Sachi said, leaning against Tezuka. "I always stand like this..."
"I don't believe so..." Tezuka remarked.
"Maybe she...stands like this at home!" Eiji said.
"Does she?" Oishi asked.
Fuji smiled. "I think she's doing very well."
He was met with a room full of "yeah right" looks.
"Well, did anyone else want to see if they could do any better?" Fuji asked.
Sadaharu held up the pitcher, and everyone shrunk away.
"Eiji, I think it's go home time, my mom will be...worried..." Sachi said.
"Wait, her mom or your mom?" Oishi asked looking at Eiji.
"Her mom, her parents are in town this week. Only problem is she lives far away from me..." Eiji looked around at everyone hopefully. "Does anyone else live closer?"
Fuji raised his hand.
Eiji frowned. "No you don't."
"I don't mind the walk." Fuji smiled.
"If we're going nowhere, I'm napping," Sachi said, crawling under a table and falling asleep.
"Anyone have a sharpie?" Momo asked.
Oishi shook his head.
"We shouldn't do that...it'd be mean," Kyoko said.
Momo glared at her. Fuji gave Momo a disapproving look.
"I can take her home," Tezuka said.
The room went silent.
"...I live closer than Fuji does..."
Momo leaned to Ryoma with wide, amazed eyes. "The captain speaks!"
"I wish you wouldn't," Ryoma said, fixing his hat.
"H-hey! I'm your sempai!"
Tezuka stared at everyone. "Unless someone lives closer."
Sadaharu opened his notebook. "Tezuka is correct, he lives closest."
Kyoko glanced at Sadaharu then leaned to Momo. "You're right, I kind of think this data thing is a little much..."
Momo nodded with wide eyes.
"Then I'll take her," Tezuka said, standing up.
"I think I saw a little emotion there!" Eiji pointed at Tezuka's face.
"Oh...do you want me to go with you to help out?" Fuji asked with a smile.
Fuji shrugged. "She obviously can't stand on her own."
Tezuka glanced at the table she was lying under. "I'm pretty sure I can handle it."
"I dunno, she eats a lot, she might be heavier than you think!" Eiji said.
"I highly doubt the captain is miscalculating her weight and his strength. The issue here will be removing her from under the table," Sadaharu said.
"I can just lift up the table," Momo said flexing.
"Then all the rest of the food would slip off," Ryoma pointed out.
"Well, how do you think we should do it then?"
"Slowly ease her out from under it?"
"Or...we could wait until she wakes up...?" Kyoko suggested.
"That could take all dayyyy! Takashi has to close eventually!" Eiji whined.
Suddenly Sachi sat up. "Ow!" She rubbed her head. "Why am I under a table?"
Everyone pointed to Sadaharu.
"Oh, was it your beverage? Awesome! What time is it? My mom wants me home at nine..."
"Turn around time, four minutes," Sadaharu observed, writing in his journal.
"It's eight fifty nine! You'd better run home!" Eiji exclaimed.
"No, it's-" Oishi was cut off by Eiji covering his mouth.
"Hurry up Sachi, you're going to be late!"
Tezuka sat down quietly.
"Why are you trying to get rid of me Eiji?" Sachi asked.
"No reason..." Eiji checked Tezuka's face for emotion.
"Uhh-huh..." Eiji glanced at Tezuka.
Tezuka glanced at Eiji.
Eiji stared back, searching for emotion.
Oishi sighed. "You can't continue this all night, Eiji..."
"Not with that kind of attitude!"
"Looks like you'll have to walk Eiji home instead, Tezuka," Oishi said with a smile.
"I don't live near Eiji, I live near Sachi," Tezuka muttered.
"Hey! I'm Sachi! You're walking me home? Cool! Let's go!" Sachi zoomed out the door before poking her head back in. "Come ON! I need to move! That drink gave me super energy!"
"Yay for powernaps!" Eiji happily exclaimed.
Tezuka stood up a little unsurely, and followed Sachi out.
"What an interesting couple they'd make," Momo said.
"You really think so?" Kyoko asked.
"Well, yeah, they're complete opposites."
"Hm...I guess so...they do have stuff in common though..."
"Couple?" Fuji repeated with a frown. "I don't see it."
"Opposites attract, right, Oishi?" Eiji asked.
Oishi blushed. "H-how would I know that?"
Sachi grinned at Tezuka.
"You liked holding my hand. I could see it in your face. You want to do it again, don't you? That's why you're walking me home."
"I didn't say that."
"Oh, well, then sorry for holding your hand."
"I didn't say that either."
"Alright, alright," Sachi said holding her hand out. "If you want to hold it, go ahead. I won't tell, promise."
She winked at him.
Tezuka suddenly realized he had a big decision to make, and looked at her a little torn.
"...just agree with me!" Eiji exclaimed.
"Okay, then, yes," Oishi said.
"Thank you!" Eiji threw his arms up. "Was that so hard?"
"I...still don't see it," Fuji said.
Eiji turned and smiled at him. "Just you wait. They're probably talking about couple-y stuff as we speak!"
"If my predictions are accurate, which they usually are, I would say Sachi is on a 'rant' about school and her life and her friends, not letting Tezuka get a word in edge-wise," Sadaharu announced. "However, I don't think Tezuka would particularly mind this because he wouldn't have to come up with a conversation topic."
"That sounds more accurate," Fuji agreed.
Momo looked over and admired Ryoma's hat."Maybe I should get a hat..."
Ryoma pulled his hat down over his eyes.
"You like his hat?" Kyoko asked, glancing at it. "It is a nice hat. Sachi was talking about how she likes it, too..."
"What?" Momo frowned. "Well, you know what? I'll get an even better hat than that, just you watch!"
"Good luck with that," Ryoma muttered.
"It's cool if you don't want to hold it," Sachi said, lowering her arm. "I just thought you looked happier earlier is all."
"Hat-off is ON!" Eiji declared.
"Does that even make sense?" Oishi asked.
"It makes about as much sense as Sachi and Tezuka together," Fuji said.
"That's an...interesting way to put it..." Oishi remarked.
Fuji nodded, and Oishi glanced at him suspiciously.
"We should all get going soon, huh? It's getting kind of late..." Kyoko said, glancing out the open door.
"Well...thank you all for coming today..." Takashi said, rubbing the back of his head with a smile.
Everyone said their thanks to Takashi and made their way outside.
"I'd better hurry home since I'm walking alone tonight," Kyoko said with a smile.
"You can't do that!" Eiji exclaimed. "Who lives closes to Kyoko?"
Sadaharu flipped through his pages. "It's a tie between Momo and Ryoma. Though from the direction we would be walking in, Momo would be dropped off first, then Kyoko, then Ryoma would walk the last few blocks himself." He pushed up his glasses.
"Problem solved!" Eiji brushed off his hand. "And you all have me to thank for it!"
"That's my house!" Sachi said, pointing down the street. "You can be done walking me home now, if you'd like?"
"I'll take that as a yes?"
"No, I'll walk you all the way."
Suddenly Tezuka reached for her hand.
Sachi grinned. "Ten points for me!"
Tezuka stopped just as he was about to grab her hand. "Ten...points?"
"Yes, ten points. I was right, you totally wanted to hold my hand! It did make you smile a tiny, itty witty bit. It's okay, I already said I won't tell."
Tezuka sighed and grabbed her hand, continuing to walk toward her house.
"Oh no, you don't have to walk me home..." Kyoko said.
Ryoma adjusted his hat. "It's no problem."
"Aww," Eiji hugged Ryoma. "How cute..."
"Eiji-sempai...get off me..."
"But...you're just a little...chibi..." Eiji's eyes suddenly widened with excitement. "Chibi-chan!"
"It's perfect! Nya, Chibi-chan? Now go, go, off with you! Walk her home and be cute!" He put one arm around Ryoma's neck and the other around Kyoko's.
"How am I supposed to walk with your arm around my neck?"
Eiji laughed. "You're so funny, Chibi-chan." He took his hat off and ruffled his hair.
Ryoma snatched it back and put it on his head, turning to Kyoko. "Let's go."
"Don't forget about me!" Momo said.
"Momo! Can't you see it's a romantic moment?" Eiji exclaimed.
"What are you talking about?" Momo asked.
"Just look! Chibi and Kyoko, love forever! I can sense it, even greater than Sachi and Tezuka's. Relationships, that's my fifth sense."
"Eiji..." Oishi said.
Oishi sighed. "Never mind..."
"So do I get to know your first name now?" Sachi asked.
"I already said it can't be one of your jokes," Tezuka replied.
"I know that. Just tell me."
Tezuka sighed. "Kunimitsu."
"Kunimitsu, huh?" Sachi tapped her chin. "I like it, I'm sure it'll result in a lovely nickname someday."
"I hope not..." Tezuka muttered.
Sachi pouted. "Aww, now I'm a sad panda..."
"You don't like nicknames. Okay, my house now," Sachi said, pointing to the house they were standing in front of. "So...I'll see you at school? Kyoko and I are there for about a month before we got to go to America, so..."
Tezuka nodded. "Goodnight."
"Night!" Sachi waved before walking inside.
"Now, go on you two!" Eiji glanced at Momo. "Well, three, but two!" He smiled and shooed them.
Kyoko leaned to Ryoma as they started walking. "Do you know what he was talking about?"
Ryoma shook his head. "It's Eiji-sempai, try not to get too worked up over it..."
Momo leaned to Kyoko. "What are you guys talking about?"
Momo crossed his arms. "Why do I feel like the third wheel...?"
"Are you sure you are? You guys seem to already have a good friendship, so it's me who's the third wheel," Kyoko said with a soft laugh.
"What? Me? Friends with a first year? No way!" Momo exclaimed.
"Tch, who said I'd want to be friends with you, anyway?"
"Hey! You'd be lucky to be friends with me!"
"Would I?" Ryoma asked, looking up at him.
Momo challenged his gaze. "There's only one way to settle this..."
Momo nodded. "You, me, tomorrow, school tennis court, be there."
"Well...we do have practice tomorrow, so..."
"After practice then!"
Kyoko glanced at her phone when she heard it beep. It was a text from Eiji, saying "Aww yeah! It's on now!"
"Why are you sending that?" Oishi asked as he read the text over Eiji's shoulder.
"My fifth sense is telling me something is going down," Eiji said with a nod. "Something near Kyoko."
"Eiji, do you have Sachi's number?" Fuji asked.
"In case she needs someone to walk her to school tomorrow."
Eiji waved his hand. "Let boyfriend Tezuka do that!"
"He's not her boyfriend," Fuji said.
"Not yet~ It's just a matter of time!"
"...well...I might as well give her the option. You wouldn't want your sister to walk alone if Tezuka is busy, would you?"
Eiji tapped his chin. "Hm...I guess you've got a point..."
"Hmm..." Sadaharu muttered as he wrote in his notebook.
"What are you writing, Inui?" Fuji asked with a smile.
"Oh nothing." His glasses glinted.
"It's a contest of evil! There are contests going on everywhere tonight! It's overwhelming!" Eiji started tugging at his hair.
"Maybe you should go home and get some rest? You look tired," Fuji said.
"Yeah..." Eiji's shoulders slumped. "I guess so...but what happens if I miss something?"
"I'm sure we'll all text you with the latest." Fuji smiled.
"Okay..." Eiji turned to Oishi. "I'd better get a text from you telling me about everything!"
"Me? Why me?"
Eiji tapped his head before tapping Oishi's. "Doubles partners. It's a bond thicker than tomato soup."
"I agree with Fuji, you need your rest."
Eiji backed away slowly while pointing from his head to Oishi's. "You know it to be true!"
Oishi waited until Eiji was looking away before rubbing his head.
Fuji smiled. "A tight bond, I see."
Oishi flashed his own smile. "Yeah...I guess so..."
Suddenly Eiji turns back around from the distance and shouts, "Tomatoooooo soooooooup!"
"Then again..." Oishi muttered; Fuji smiled.