A/N: Ugh. I'm sick. And It's not very enjoyable. But you know, what better do to when you're sneezing and coughing then to write a one-shot about Ryoma having a headache? Yaay. Enjoy. Suckiness may ensue below.
Note: By the way, you can hallucinate people saying things. It's called Auditory Hallucination. So, yeah.
Ryoma had been acting odd all practice.
At first, Momo hadn't really paid attention to the dark glares and under-the-breath comments. He'd assumed his little kouhai was simply in a grumpy mood. Even when had Ryoma scowled profusely to everyone who glanced his way and refused to speak, Momo still waved it off as a bad morning. After all, everyone had their off days, even someone as cool-headed as Ryoma. It wasn't until they'd been asked to run laps that he started to get suspicious.
Ryoma had been slow. And not just mildly-tired slow. Slower than Horio slow.
Momo had watched the freshman prodigy drag himself around the courts; face tight with concentration, one hand clenched so tightly that Momo was afraid he would make himself bleed. When he'd asked Ryoma what was wrong, the boy had glowered and said:
"Che, nothing. Mind your own business, Momo-senpai."
Annoyed, Momo had tried to do just that. But after the laps, things had only gotten even worse.
Because of his horrid running, Ryoma had finished last from the regulars, and was then faced with the wrath of Inui Juice. When Ryoma went up to Inui to receive the glass, he'd looked so pitiful, so upset as he said: "Please, senpai, can I be excused this time?" that Inui had swallowed and let him off. As if that wasn't unusual enough, Ryoma had then lost every game in his practice match against Kaidoh, leaving the regulars shocked and Momo worried.
Even now, Momo felt a strange tug at his heart – a pull of concern that wouldn't go away no matter how much he wanted it to. He watched as Ryoma went up to Tezuka and asked to go to the bathroom.
"Ochibi's acting so weird today," Kikumaru bent down to stretch after his match. "I wonder what's wrong, nya."
"Yeah," Momo's gaze cast to the distance where Ryoma was walking to the club room. "I wish he wouldn't keep everything to himself all the time."
Kikumaru rolled his shoulders. "Heh. If he wasn't like that than he wouldn't be our Ochibi, would he?"
Momo managed a smile. "I guess you're right, senpai."
But it wouldn't do to make Ryoma suffer in silence. Straightening up, Momo went over and asked Tezuka if he could use the bathroom too. Tezuka arched his brow, but nevertheless let Momo go. With a determined smile, Momo strode to the club room. Ryoma may have been a stubborn, withdrawn brat, but he was also a cherished member of the Seigaku tennis club. Momo was going to find out what was wrong whether the kid wanted him to or not.
Momo stood at the club room entrance and stared. The sight was a little unexpected.
There was Ryoma, sitting on a bench with his legs pulled up to his chest, his head buried in his knees. His hands grasped tightly at his hair.
Momo swallowed, and the worry in his stomach welled and rose. With tentative steps, he walked up to Ryoma. The boy would have been deaf not to hear his footsteps, but Ryoma still didn't move from his position, staying as still as possible.
Shifting uncomfortably, Momo cleared his throat. "Uh, Echizen?"
Ryoma flinched. He looked up with bleary eyes. "Momo-senpai?"
The older slipped onto the bench next to him. "You alright?"
The words were said softly, but Ryoma still winced. He shifted on the bench. "I'm fine."
"That doesn't really explain why you were sitting here with your head down and not moving."
A glare. "I was resting."
"Or why you lost to Mamushi in straight games."
Ryoma tried to glare again, but it was a tired, weary one. He settled for a shrug instead. "I'm just having an off day."
Momo scooted closer. "I'm not an idiot, Echizen. What's the real reason?"
At first, Momo didn't think that Ryoma was going to say anything. The boy just sat there with a frown, refusing to speak. But after a moment, he let out a small noise and said:
Momo perked. "What? I didn't hear that."
Ryoma grumbled to himself. He rubbed his temples and repeated, "Headache."
Before Momo could start laughing and sputter, "That's all?", Ryoma's eyes shot over and he said, "It's a bad one." – and he looked so pained, eyes squeezed shut, hands clenched, that Momo didn't have a hard time believing it. He moved even closer, to the point where their thighs were touching.
"Aw, poor Echizen," Momo teased.
Ryoma inhaled sharply. "Don't talk. It hurts more if you talk."
"But that's what I do best," Momo spoke notches louder on purpose.
Ryoma growled, "Momo-senpai."
"What?" Momo blinked innocently.
The 12-year old scowled, but stopped midway and made a sound somewhere between a groan and a whimper. Momo watched as he buried his face in his knees again, making pitiful noises. It was amusing and worrisome at the same time. Deciding to act on the latter, Momo put a friendly arm around his best friend. He moved his head closer so that his own forehead was resting on Ryoma's temple.
"Want me to give you a massage?"
Ryoma looked away. "I don't need a massage."
"You just said you had a headache."
"It's not that bad."
Momo laughed, "You just said a moment ago that it was – "
"Stop talking," Ryoma tucked his head down, arms grappling at the pain in his forehead. Momo felt a pang of sympathy, and lowered his voice to a whisper, "I'm going to get an Advil from my bag, 'kay?"
His friend didn't respond.
Momo shuffled through his backpack for the pill he'd kept for emergencies, and brought it over to Ryoma. He watched as Ryoma's eyes glowed hopefully at the sight of the medicine. He must have had a pretty horrible headache, Momo thought. He grabbed his water bottle and took a single pill out.
"Here you go," the violet-eyed boy said cheerfully.
Ryoma yanked the pill and water out of his hand. He shoved it in his mouth.
Momo rubbed the back of his neck. "Desperate?"
"Shut up," came the response.
"Unappreciative. Doesn't treat me like a senpai."
Ryoma tried to ignore the dull ache in his head, the pounding that seemed to grow every time even the slightest sound was heard. "Doesn't act like a senpai," he said, but the retort was sorely ruined when he shuddered at a particularly painful throb between his eyes. Momo immediately sat down, and grasped his shoulders.
"You wanna leave early? I'll tell Tezuka-buchou."
"No," Ryoma said quickly. "There's still a half-an-hour of practice."
"You're going to play?" Momo chuckled. "You'll die."
"The Advil will kick in," Ryoma said.
"But you'll be dead by then."
Ryoma scoffed. "I'm not weak like you."
"Right now you are," Momo patted Ryoma's head, but jerked his hand back when Ryoma groaned and said, "It hurts when you do that." Momo was a little surprised at how severe Ryoma's headache was, but if the boy still had the strength to argue with him, than it wasn't something so serious he had to worry. He locked Ryoma into a headlock.
"Go to sleep."
"You have a headache. I'm sure buchou – of all people – will understand."
Ryoma tried to pry away Momo's arm. "I have to play tennis."
Momo concluded that Ryoma was ridiculous. Heaving the headache-distraught boy into his lap, he tightened his arms around Ryoma's waist, effectively trapping him. Ryoma squirmed in his arms, trying to pull away, but Momo was much stronger, especially in Ryoma's current state. Finally giving up, he leaned his head on Momo's chest.
"Senpai is taking advantage of his strength."
"I'm helping you," Momo said. "You'll thank me tomorrow."
"My tennis skills hate you."
A laugh skipped out of Momo's mouth. "Your tennis skills love me for giving you a break."
"I don't, though."
"You love me too."
There was silence. Ryoma craned his neck back. "What?"
A steady flush darkened Momo's cheeks. "I said nothing."
Ryoma blinked. "You said I love you."
"No," Momo felt his body go hot in embarrassment. He ripped away from Ryoma and jumped up. "I didn't say anything."
"Yes," Ryoma nodded slowly. "You did."
Momo's eyes shifted. "No – uh, you – you're…" he frantically found a lie. "It's the headache! You're hallucinating!"
Ryoma stumbled to his feet. His brain pulsated, and he felt a dizzy spell go over him. His vision blurred for a second, but it quickly came back, and he narrowed his eyes. "I heard you clearly," he said. Even as he said this, he couldn't help but second-guess himself. Had he really hallucinated? Had it been wishful thinking?
"You were hallucinating," Momo sounded panicked. "That's right. Headaches can…cause that kind of stuff."
More dizziness overwhelmed him. Ryoma slipped back onto the bench. "I…was? I was hallucinating?"
Momo gulped. "Uh, yeah." He wiped sweat from his forehead. "Why would I say such a weird thing, anyway? I mean, obviously you don't love me. We're just friends and…"
Ryoma felt an ache, worse than his headache. He focused on what was important. "That's weird. I can't believe you didn't actually say that."
Momo exhaled. Phew. "Yeah, me neither. Suppose that was a pretty bad headache."
Ryoma frowned. "Yeah."
There was a long silence. Momo fidgeted. Ryoma tried to ignore the pain in his head. At one point, he tried to get up and go to practice, but instead ended up nearly fainting into Momo's arms. They then stayed like that, Momo holding him, cheeks stained pink, and Ryoma feeling an odd thump in both his head and chest as he rested against him.
"My headache's really bad," Ryoma said.
"I know," Momo felt jittery. "It'll go away soon."
Ryoma wasn't so sure but Momo's arms were nice and he wasn't in the mood to complain. They stayed like that for even longer, Momo humming softly, playing with Ryoma's unruly hair, while Ryoma listened to Momo's erratic heartbeat. Thump, thump, thump – the beat matched with the throbbing in his head, and he closed his eyes.
Momo felt the boy relax. "Sleep," he said.
"Practice," Ryoma said, but he didn't move, and kept his eyes closed.
"You know, you're really stubborn."
"Momo-senpai, even if I was excused from practice, I don't see why you can't go."
Momo bit his lip. Truthfully, he wanted to hold Ryoma forever. Outloud, he said, "Oh, c'mon Echizen. I'm sure we can explain something to Tezuka-buchou."
"Yes, I would like an explanation."
The two boys froze, still entangled with each other. Tezuka stared at them from the entrance, looking flustered and stern at the same time. When he saw the way Momo was holding Ryoma, he felt faintly disturbed. "What – " his brow twitched. "You both asked to go to the bathroom. What is the meaning of…this?"
Ryoma sunk his head into Momo's chest. He just wanted to sleep. And now they probably had to run laps.
Momo, meanwhile, flushed bright red. "Um, Ah, Tezuka-buchou…" he stammered. "I can explain."
Tezuka didn't look impressed. "Then explain."
"See," Momo was waving his left hand wildly, while his right still held Ryoma. "Uh…Echizen was acting really weird during practice, and so…it turned out he had a really bad headache! So…I thought I would help him and give him an Advil…" Momo gulped under Tezuka's slanted gaze, but continued nevertheless. "I couldn't just leave my kouhai with a headache, I just couldn't!"
"Echizen has a headache?" Tezuka said.
"Yes," Ryoma made a strangled sound from Momo's arms.
Tezuka adjusted his glasses. "Echizen, you're excused from the rest of practice." He settled his gaze on Momo, who was looking anywhere but at him. "I understand you wanted to help him, but what I don't understand is why…" he coughed, and stared at the wall behind them. "Was hugging necessary for his headache?"
More blood rushed to Momo's cheeks, and he felt faint with embarrassment. He knew it was an impulsive idea to start cradling Ryoma to his chest, but it had just felt so good and right taking care of his kouhai like this. "I was just…he stood up and almost fainted!" Momo said, hastily. It was the truth, but he knew he sounded suspicious anyway. "And I caught him…and then…" he trailed off. "He's kind of falling asleep right now."
Ryoma, already half-asleep, mumbled, "Baka."
"Hey," Momo said under his breath. "I'm defending the both of us."
"Momo-senpai sucks at defending then."
Tezuka rubbed his forehead. Great, now he was getting a headache too. "Alright," he said. "Echizen can stay here. Momo, I think you can return to practice now." And with that, and a tired sigh, Tezuka trudged out of the club room, leaving a thick silence hanging in the air. Momo decided he would never be able to face his captain again, while Ryoma snuggled a little deeper in his new pillow.
"Uh…" Momo poked his shoulder. "I'm going to let you go now."
"Yadda," Ryoma said. "The bench will be uncomfortable."
Momo licked his lips, and shifted. "Echizen," he whined. "I have to go to practice…"
Ryoma managed a glare, even as his skull pounded. "What? You're going to leave your poor kouhai by himself." He sniffed. "What a bad senpai."
Damn brat, Momo lugged Ryoma over to the bench, and reluctantly lay him back on the hard surface. Ryoma scowled at him, and tried to pull back into the warmth of his arms, but Momo knew it was only his headache acting for him. He pressed his fingertips to Ryoma's forehead, watching as he exhaled.
"I'm going to go now, okay?" Momo said.
"Yeah, yeah," Ryoma crossed his arms. "Hmph. Stupid headache."
"I know," Momo laughed, and snickered. "You lost to Kaidoh. Geez!"
Momo only snickered louder, enjoying Ryoma's misfortune. He could see the Advil was already working, because he was no longer making pitiful sounds like the ones he'd been making when Momo had first found him. The violet eyes cast downwards. It had felt so good…and warm…holding Ryoma…
He swallowed, and turned away. Why was his heart racing so fast?
"I'm off now," he announced. "See ya after practice."
Ryoma already had his eyes closed, his breathing steady. "Okay…Momo-senpai…" he yawned, and curled up on the bench. "Baka…"
Momo felt a pleased smile form on his face, and his heart tugged desperately to snuggle up with Ryoma on the bench. It would be so romantic, and sweet, and he would kiss Ryoma on the forehead and… Urgghhh. Momo whacked himself on the head. What was he saying? Ryoma had always been special to him, but…it wasn't…they were just…friends. Shaking his head, and feeling like heart was going to burst out of his chest, he headed for the doorway.
But just as he reached the entrance, he couldn't help but turn back and call out softly,
"Oh, by the way, Echizen? About before. You weren't hallucinating."
The gold eyes flew open rapidly, but Momo was already sprinting out of the club room, face red, heart spiralling out of control, and body feeling an exhilaration he hadn't felt since the very first time he'd met Ryoma.
He couldn't help but grin. He would have to make sure Ryoma got headaches more often.