Title: Prominence

Word Count: 1010


PROMINENCE


Echizen Ryoma is stuck up in a tree. A tall tree.

He tries to breathe deeply, eyes shut, the flush on his face prominent. The tree feels higher than it had felt when he had first climbed it, and Karupin's extra weight in his lap isn't exactly comforting. The Himalayan cat purrs, licking his shaking fingers. Ryoma swats the paw away. It's the cat's fault he's stuck up here anyway.

"Momo-senpai," he calls down to the figure on the front lawn.

Momoshiro peers upwards, "You got him?"

Ryoma inhales sharply when he catches sight of the ground. It's so far down it's dizzying. "Momo-senpai," his voice is panicky the second time, and he grabs onto one of the branches tightly with his hand. He wonders how he climbed up here anyway.

"C'mon, hurry up and get down. We'll be late for practice," Momoshiro says.

A shudder wracks Ryoma's body as the tree branch he's on bends slightly. He holds on for dear life.

"I can't."

Momoshiro's eyebrows knit together. "Huh? Whaddya mean you can't?"

"I can't," Ryoma swallows, and he wipes a sweaty hand onto his shorts. He doubts his Seigaku Jacket will cushion his fall. The grass below him looks small and distant, and even Momoshiro looks little. Maybe he's over exaggerating, because the tree hadn't looked that tall when he'd first seen Karupin trapped at the top.

"Echizen," Momoshiro complains. "Why can't you get down?"

"I'm afraid of heights," Ryoma says barely audibly, and in a rush of words.

"Huh? Speak louder!"

Ryoma's teeth grind together. "I'm afraid of heights."

It takes a moment for the words to process through Momoshiro's head, but when they do, he cannot stop the guffaws of laughter that follow. The laugher goes on for almost a minute until it finally trickles to a stop, Momoshiro greatly amused and Ryoma unimpressed. "You," Momoshiro's eyes are wide, "Are afraid of something?"

"Shut up," Ryoma grumbles, and he holds onto the branch a little tighter. "Get me down."

Momoshiro does not make a move to help him. Instead, he starts chuckling again, too enthusiastic about the situation for Ryoma's liking. "You know what's funny, if you knew you were afraid of heights, than why the hell would you volunteer to get your cat? I coulda done it for you, ya know."

Ryoma glares at him, "I just thought I'd be over it by now."

"Obviously not," Momoshiro grins.

Ryoma pulls his cat to his chest with one arm, the free one clenched around the branch. If he doesn't look down, it's not that bad – but one look downwards and tremors run up and down his body. Just don't look down, Ryoma tells himself, and climb down it. Ch' why do they make trees anyway? Can't we just stick to bushes for oxygen? Nice, low, and near the ground bushes. It doesn't help that Momoshiro is just standing there with a big smile on his face, ecstatic that his kouhai is afraid of heights.

"Just climb down," Momoshiro taunts. His violet eyes dance in the sunlight. "It's not that hard."

Stuff it, Ryoma thinks, and he decides to prove himself. He can do this. If he just closes his eyes, climbs down slowly like the way he climbed up, he will be on the ground in no time. Karupin snuggles against his chin, and he breathes in the comforting scent of his fur. His heart thuds a little slower.

With a swift, fluid motion, he lets his foot gain control towards one of the branches below. It creaks, and he lets out an involuntary yelp. Momoshiro laughs madly from below at the squeak of the boy. He is afraid – he is actually afraid, and it's so funny that Momoshiro feels like dancing. It's kind of nice to see his confident kouhai actually have a weakness.

Ryoma glowers, then turns to face the other way. He tentatively crawls a little further down, and despite his racing heart speed, he can feel his feet gaining control over his fear. Momoshiro is still laughing like crazy, clearly amused at Ryoma's timid tree-descending. As Ryoma's foot waves around to find a branch, it lands on a weak limb, and all it takes is one crack before the branch breaks off.

"Ah, Momo-senpai-" he starts frantically, but he's already let go of the branch and he can feel himself plummeting to the lawn.

Momoshiro's laughter cuts off abruptly. "Echizen!"

Ryoma's fingers clutch at his cat, and his eyes shut for the impact. But when he lands, his back does not break, he has not died, and instead, all he feels is warmth. His body is shaking, trembling in his clothes. It takes all his courage to open his eyes, and his eyes widen when he realizes he's in Momoshiro's arms.

His senpai's face looms down on him. "Woah!"

Ryoma blinks, and he clings onto Momoshiro's jacket for safety as the older boy lowers him to the ground. Relief washes all over when his feet land onto the comfort of the ground. He caught me, Ryoma thinks, mind unclear, feet unsteady. Momo-senpai caught me. "Thank you," Ryoma manages in a kind of half-dazed tone, arms tight around Karupin.

Momoshiro just chuckles, "No problem. Couldn't let you get hurt."

"Yeah, but…" Ryoma buries his face into Karupin's fur, gold eyes aglow. He wants to say something else, something more meaningful, but fights against it. "Ch', Momo-senpai, if you'd just helped me down in the first place, I wouldn't have almost fallen."

Momoshiro stares at him, then laughs. "Ungrateful!" he chides.

"For what?" Ryoma says. "All you did was catch me. That's the least a senpai can do for his kouhai." With that, Ryoma turns on his heel and walks towards the sidewalk, head held high, back facing away from Momoshiro to hide his smile. A few moments after, Momoshiro falls into step beside him.

"You're a brat, you know."

Ryoma smirks. "But I'm a cute brat."

And honestly, Momoshiro can't really argue with that no matter how hard he tries.

XXX

Spinoff on Kira's 'Untitled', in which Ryoma climbs the tree instead.