The entirety of the Seigaku tennis club (with the exception of one Echizen Ryoma, who was back in America) was gathered around B Court, some brandishing video cameras.
This was, after all, a legendary match that simply could not be missed.
You see, for the first time ever, Seigaku's top two singles players were going to try their hands at doubles.
"I'm serving, sempai-tachi," called Kaidoh, bouncing the ball. Honestly, he wasn't looking forward to the match too much; he had that idiot Momoshiro as a partner instead of Inui (who was just as annoying (though in a different way) but a lot more useful in everything, be it tennis or studies... or make-out sessions) and he was playing against the two strongest players in Seigaku. With any luck, they'd be like the Momoshiro-Echizen pair; good at singles and extraordinarily shit at doubles.
'There is only a twenty-two percent chance of that,' said the chibi Inui in Kaidoh's head. 'Tezuka and Fuji are good friends outside of tennis, after all.'
Kaidoh wondered briefly if he had been spending too much time with Inui, then dismissed the thought and served.
Five games later, Kaidoh figured that the Inui in his head really was pretty accurate. The unexpected pair had stumbled a little in the first and second games, and Momoshiro and Kaidoh had the sense to play with all they had while these fumbles still went on; the moment buchou and Fuji-sempai gained their second wind, the juniors were done for.
True enough, by the third game, Tezuka and Fuji were moving in sync - well, they were no Golden Pair, or even Emerald Pair (inwardly Kaidoh grinned because he and Inui had a pair name, which meant they were an established doubles team and maybe Rikkai's Yanagi would just back the hell off already), but they'd wipe the floor with Momoshiro and Echizen's doubles combination.
By the last game, their game was so much better than Kaidoh and Momoshiro's that Kaidoh doubted their claim that it was their first time playing doubes together.
Tezuka sent a lob over the net and Momoshiro, without thinking, Dunk Smashed it back.
"Baka!" shouted Kaidoh, running for the baseline. "Fuji-sempai's Higuma Otoshi!"
Fuji did not disappoint and executed the counter with precise, practiced ease. Kaidoh sprinted and barely managed to send the ball flying over the net.
Fuji was unperturbed, calmly getting into Tsubame Gaeshi position. Momoshiro and Kaidoh, in a rare moment of synchronization, hissed violently.
"We have to try to hit it before it hits the ground," Momoshiro said, growling and gripping his racket tighter. Kaidoh nodded, frowning in concentration. "Ah."
Then Fuji, eyes open by just three fractions, hit the ball fast and hard; but there was no Tsubame Gaeshi. Momoshiro, caught off-guard, hit a lob, and Tezuka jumped and smashed the ball powerfully over the net.
The smash was fast, faster than Fuji's return by at least twenty kilometers an hour. Try as Momoshiro did, he couldn't get there in time to return the ball.
"Game and match, Tezuka-Fuji pair! Six games to four!"
"Ah, balls," said Momoshiro, kicking at the ground as he made a face. "We're totally out of their league."
"Fshh," said Kaidoh, because it was true. While he and Inui might have been able to take Tezuka and Fuji (Inui would have been able to see that Fuji was faking, or at least gotten to the ball despite his surprise), Kaidoh paired with Momoshiro was just a failure waiting to happen. No, sorry, he meant a failure that had happened. Sigh.
Momoshiro and Kaidoh approached the net and shook hands with their seniors. "Fshh. Good game, sempai-tachi."
"You too, Kaidoh," said Fuji, and Kaidoh was glad because Fuji not mentioning Momoshiro was as good as saying that Momoshiro had sucked during the game. "I think you'd do a lot better with Inui, though. Maybe another time we could play against the Emerald Pair?"
Kaidoh nodded. "That would be great," he said, voice full of anticipation. Tezuka and Fuji had been a great challenge, but Kaidoh most certainly didn't want to play doubles against them with Momoshiro again.
"Momoshiro, five laps," said Tezuka, his hand still gripping Momoshiro's. Momoshiro's jaw dropped, and Fuji finished Tezuka's sentence for him. "For vulgar language earlier. Ne, Tezuka?"
Momoshiro grumbled as he made his way out of the court to start his laps and Eiji glomped Fuji from behind. "Already finishing each other's sentences like a real doubles pair, nya!" he teased. "Maybe you should form a serious, long-lasting doubles team?"
"Hmm. Maybe. We haven't really discussed it yet."
"You have to do it soon, nya. You know what can happen if you don't."
"Ah. The Golden Pair went through such a problem once, yes?"
"Yeah. Not a good time, nya."
Kaidoh frowned. It sounded like they weren't talking about tennis anymore.
Catching Kaidoh's curious look, Eiji grinned and let go of Fuji to glomp Kaidoh instead. He didn't seem to mind the several buckets' worth of sweat on Kaidoh, saying, "Soon we'll have someone else to go with to the Super Secret Hideout, nya!"
Kaidoh paled. The Super Secret Hideout was...
Holy crap. Tezuka and Fuji were dating. Kaidoh had never once suspected that Tezuka swung that way.
"Something wrong, Kaidoh?"
Kaidoh had apparently spaced out a bit, because when he regained his focus, Eiji was clinging to Oishi's arm as they walked towards the clubroom, Fuji and Tezuka were nowhere to be seen and Momoshiro had finished his laps. Inui was standing in front of him, looking worried (Kaidoh could tell because Inui was scrunching his eyebrows together just a little).
"It's nothing, Inui-sempai," said Kaidoh. "Just... I just realized something, that's all."
"Oh, I see." The comment was said nonchalantly, but Kaidoh knew that Inui was itching to pry and resisting to respect Kaidoh's privacy. If Kaidoh wanted to tell him, he'd do it himself. Kaidoh was touched by the effort and touched Inui's arm lightly with a small smile.
"You'll find out soon enough," said Kaidoh. "Let's talk about the match."
Inui adjusted his glasses. "I had hoped for your sake that they were bad at doubles like Momoshiro and Echizen had been, but there was only a 22.5 percent chance of that."
'Close enough,' Kaidoh said comfortingly to the Inui in his head, who had fallen on his hands and knees in despair. Mentally, Kaidoh patted his back soothingly. 'Don't cry, Inui-chibi-san.'
"I figured," said Kaidoh with a low hiss. "Well, anyway, sempai, we have to hurry up a bit or my mother will be worried. That match lasted longer than I thought it would."
Every Thursday, Inui would walk Kaidoh home, and he'd stay for dinner upon Kaidoh's mother's insistence. Then he'd offer to help Kaidoh with his English or whatever subject Kaidoh was struggling with, and end up spending the night. Kaidoh, understandably, liked Thursdays.
"Alright, let's go."
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