Reciprocation by Halrloprillalar
Prince of Tennis, Tezuka/Oishi, G, 1100 words.
Chocolate and confusion.
Timeframe: second year.
[ also posted to tezukaoishi and tenipuri_yaoi ]
"You always get more chocolate than me!" Eiji grabbed Oishi's bag and rummaged through it. "I don't know why."
"Stop it, Eiji. You'll make me forget." Oishi carefully wrote down the last few names.
"These cookies look so good. Can I have them?"
"I can't give them to you now." Oishi took the bag back and zipped it up. "What if Nozomi-chan saw you eating them?"
"What else did you get?" Eiji pulled at Oishi's bag again.
"Later. I have to give something to Tezuka."
But Tezuka was nowhere to be seen and Oishi had to go to class.
At lunch time, Oishi looked for Tezuka in the second-year classrooms. He went down to the first-year floor just in case. A clutch of girls pressed chocolates and candy on him. He thanked them and made sure he knew all their names.
"Oishi-senpai is so nice," he heard one whisper.
At the end of the hall, Momoshiro and Kaidoh were arguing. "I'm taller, you dumb viper," Momoshiro said.
"You mean you're stupider." Kaidoh shoved Momoshiro and Momoshiro shoved back. A couple of girls were hovering on the periphery, clutching paper bags and murmuring to each other.
Oishi sighed. First Kaidoh had had a growth spurt over the summer. Then Momoshiro overtook him in the fall. Then Kaidoh shot up again. Now they measured themselves every day and squabbled over the result. "Stop it," he called.
Momoshiro pushed Kaidoh one more time. Kaidoh hissed and glared. The girls shrugged and left.
"Stand back to back." Oishi fished a ruler out of his bag. "Momo, it's from the top of your head, not the top of your hair. And Kaidoh, heels on the floor." He pressed the ruler flat onto their heads. "Kaidoh is taller."
"See?" Kaidoh muttered.
"You probably have lifts in your shoes."
"Have you seen Tezuka?" Oishi asked.
"Buchou?" They both straightened up. "He's here?"
"Never mind," Oishi said and wished that his presence were half as effective as the mention of Tezuka's name.
The entrance was busy, people going in and out, girls putting gifts into shoeboxes, boys taking them out.
Tezuka's shoebox was easy to find. It was the one with a neatly written sign taped up on the front: I'm very sorry, but I am unable to accept any gifts. And it was locked. The boxes weren't made to lock. Inui must have helped him fix it up.
Between afternoon classes, Oishi stepped out into the hallway. Tezuka was walking down to the toilets. Oishi hurried to catch him up.
A group of girls surrounded Oishi, each with a box in her hand and a hopeful expression on her face. Oishi looked at Tezuka: there were girls around him too, but at a distance, like Tezuka was in the centre of a bubble and no one could pass its surface. Oishi could never figure out how he did that.
Then Tezuka was gone and Oishi took the sweets, giving each girl a smile. He updated his list when he got back to class.
He finally met up with Tezuka after school and they walked to the club room together. A few girls approached them in front of the door. "I'm sorry," Tezuka said. "I can't accept anything."
Oishi unlocked the door and they went inside. "You're so cold," he said.
"No," Tezuka said. "But it's best not to raise anyone's hopes."
"Will you accept this?" Oishi held out a folded sheet of paper.
"Oishi." Tezuka reached for it and their fingers touched.
Oishi watched Tezuka unfold it. "It's the practice schedule for today," Oishi said. "I wanted to give it to you earlier, but I couldn't find you."
An odd look flickered on Tezuka's face, a flash of sadness, hardly there before it disappeared.
"Do...do you want some chocolate?" Oishi fumbled his bag open. "I have lots."
Tezuka turned away and started to undress. The air around them turned strange and Oishi pulled apart all the towels in the bin so he could straighten them until Tezuka had gone.
"Oishi, you got twice as much as I did!" Eiji threw his arms around Oishi just as Oishi was pulling his shirt over his head and they both got stuck for half a minute.
"That's because Oishi never forgets to reciprocate," Fuji said, lacing up his shoes.
"But a month is too long to remember." Eiji poked through the contents of Oishi's bag. "Oh, a chocolate bear!"
"Take it." Oishi felt tight, strained. Anxious but with an unfamiliar anxiety, a worry he didn't want to put a name to. "Take what you like," he said and left for the gym.
Oishi watched Tezuka for a long time. Tezuka was standing by the edge of the room, looking over the first-years and their drills, the second-years and their serves. Under Tezuka, the club ran smoothly, the boys worked hard.
Nearly two years now. Oishi wondered if they would really do it next year, if they would make it all the way. He suddenly wanted to see Tezuka play, to watch him control the ball, the court, the crowd.
Tezuka looked over and Oishi wondered if he were nearer if he would see that same sad flash in Tezuka's eyes.
And Oishi could feel something within himself, green and growing, like a bulb pushing through the earth in a forgotten corner of the garden. It didn't make him feel any less anxious.
He went over and stood beside Tezuka. Usually that made Oishi calmer, grounded. But now he was dizzy and reeling, sick with vertigo on the edge of a drop he hadn't seen before.
They were silent for a few minutes. "It's a good practice schedule," Tezuka said.
"Next year," Oishi said and Tezuka turned to face him. "Tezuka, next year we'll make it happen."
"Yes," Tezuka said and held out his hand.
Oishi's mouth went dry. He could see the faint sadness on Tezuka's face, in the corner of his mouth, in the shadow of his eyes. He could hear his own heart beating in his ears, feel it throbbing in his brain.
He clasped Tezuka's hand.
"Oishi," Tezuka said and they held on while the new connection formed between them, and then they held on after, fingers warm against each other, until it was too long, and Oishi let go.
Eiji had taken all but one bag of chocolate. "Do you like coconut?" Oishi asked.
"No," Tezuka said.
"Neither do I."
They ate it anyhow as they walked to the train.
Tell me what you thought because I'd really like to know. :)