Eiji likes people. He is a people person. Of course, Eiji has people he doesn't like so much, but he also has people he knows he couldn't live without.
Eiji's not too good with words. He'd rather show someone something than try to explain it. So when he wants the people he loves to know it, he hugs them. And he's noticed that they all seem to react differently.
Like Echizen. Echizen's the only one that Eiji likes being a sempai to. O-chibi is cute, in a grouchy, standoffish, overly-confident sort of way. And he's shorter than Eiji, which makes hugging him extra fun because Eiji can lean on him whenever he wants. Echizen tolerates this, mostly because he has no choice; it doesn't stop him from complaining though. Eiji secretly thinks Echizen likes the attention.
Momo doesn't mind as much as O-chibi. Eiji thinks it's weird that he has to be a sempai to someone taller than him. He wonders often how Fuji seems to manage it so well. But Momo doesn't mind being jumped on unexpectedly; he'll laugh about it, Eiji has noticed. Maybe it's because he likes giving hugs, too; Momo always hugs Echizen when Eiji does.
Fuji confuses Eiji. Fuji is always, always, ALWAYS smiling, so Eiji can never tell when he's really upset. Unless Fuji is concentrating and upset; then he opens his eyes and Eiji can understand him much better then. Eiji often thinks that Fuji is simply allowing Eiji to hug him, like an older sibling tolerates a much younger, overenthusiastic and uncontrollable younger sibling. This is why Eiji is always more confused when Fuji's younger brother comes around and all Fuji seems to want to do is hug his little brother, but he never does. He says Yuuta would be embarrassed.
Taka-san is like Momo, Eiji thinks. Only Taka-san doesn't laugh about it, he gets embarrassed. Unless he is holding his racket; Eiji usually waits until he puts it down again. It's safer that way.
Eiji does not hug Kaidoh. Kaidoh would bite him.
Eiji doesn't hug Inui either. Inui talks to himself, and seems to laugh at nothing that no one else ever laughs about. And no matter where he stands, there is always a glare on Inui's glasses, so Eiji does not know what Inui's eyes look like. In fact, Eiji is rather scared of Inui. And Inui's juices. Eiji wonders, if he did hug Inui, if he would smell like those juices. He's decided the answer is probably yes.
Eiji has learned that no matter how much he should want to, Eiji should not hug Tezuka. Eiji has tried everything to get Tezuka to smile, just once, but Tezuka is too stubborn. And Eiji has learned not to hug Tezuka, because Eiji already knows what will happen: Buchou will make him run laps. After the time Eiji jumped on Tezuka from behind and nearly sent both of them flying down the stairscase they were on, which Fuji had told Eiji right before he did it that it was not a good idea, Tezuka made Eiji run fifty laps. Eiji couldn't walk the next morning. And speaking of Fuji, Eiji had noticed he always acted weird whenever Eiji tried to hug Tezuka; tried, because half the time Tezuka merely stepped out of the way and left Eiji sprawled on the ground. Buchou could be so mean! Eiji always wondered why Fuji looked like he'd just eaten a lemon and yet was still trying to smile. He felt like he was missing something.
He guesses he'll never understand Fuji. Eiji's not sure he ever wants to try.
Eiji likes to spontaneously hug the freshmen who always follow Echizen around, too. Katsuo and Kachiro are nice; Eiji has decided he likes them because they actually hug him back. Well, sometimes. Eiji does not like Horio; Horio's voice is annoying. Eiji doesn't much like Sakuno or Tomo, either. Tomo is like Horio. And Eiji always thinks that if he tried to hug Sakuno, she might break or die or something else horrible and then Ryuzaki-sensei would kill him. Eiji doesn't hug Ryuzaki-sensei either.
Out of everyone else, Eiji has one favorite person to hug. More than anybody else, more, even, than nee-chan, Eiji likes to hug Oishi. Oishi never cares where they are when Eiji hugs him, or when he does it, or if there are other people around, or why Eiji wants to hug him. Eiji could be covered in dirt, sweaty after practice, or having just fallen into a puddle and soaking wet and Oishi will always let Eiji hug him. Sometimes, Eiji won't hug Oishi, but he will still reach out and touch Oishi's hand, or lean against him, just to remind himself that Oishi is still there. Eiji would not know what to do if Oishi went away. Eiji is lost even when Oishi is sick and doesn't come to school. Eiji knows Oishi asked Fuji to make sure Eiji knows where he's going when Oishi isn't there because of the one time Eiji skipped school to make sure Oishi was okay. Fuji takes care of Eiji like Oishi asked because Fuji loves Eiji, too, but Eiji knows Fuji would rather be with Tezuka because Fuji is always glancing at Tezuka when he has to sit with Eiji. Eiji timed it once; Fuji always looks at Tezuka every minute and a half. Except when someone is playing tennis in front of him, or when Fuji is playing; then Fuji stands next to Tezuka and watches the game, or concentrates on playing. So Eiji is always glad that Oishi is almost never sick, and even when he is Eiji knows Oishi usually refuses to stay home; Eiji knows this is selfish but he can't help it. The entire day just seems so BORING when Oishi isn't there. Eiji knows he loves Oishi more than anybody else.
Do you know why?
Because Oishi never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER fails to hug Eiji too.