Kitty Steps by Katharos (antique_land). Lovely, lovely TezuRyo, remixed from Steps.
Best Laid by mousapelli, which I KNEW from the very first paragraph on. InuKai so funny you will sporfle and so sweet you will smile for hours, remixed from According To. The allusions made my whole month.
And what's really cool is that it was Mousapelli's story that I remixed. I was filled with glee when I got my assignment and that glee never went away as I worked on it. And then the glee was multiplied about 1000x by the feedback she sent me.
Honey, you're so sweet, I couldn't help adding a bonus track just for you.
Also, hey, Golden Pair. In case you guys thought I was never going to write any.
Simple Gifts (Special Golden Power Remix x 5) + BONUS TRACK by Halrloprillalar
Prince of Tennis, Oishi/Eiji, R, 5200 words.
5 ways with Oishi, Eiji, and presents.
Remix of Warning: Will Brighten Your Colors by mousapelli. Many thanks to kestrelsan for beta.
The One With The Confession
Watching the fish made Eiji feel calm, like those deep breathing exercises that his brother taught him, only Eiji always forgot to do those because it was hard to remember stuff like that all of the time. Anyhow, it wasn't like Eiji needed something like that, it wasn't like he got all uptight and anxious, not usually, just sometimes when there was something to feel anxious about. Like right now.
It was all Fuji's idea, really, not Eiji's. "You should tell him," Fuji said, while they were eating lunch, just when Eiji was taking a breath after explaining why it was impossible for them to be expected to do any homework when they were in the middle of the prefectural tournament and needed all their spare time for practice and mental preparation and just before Eiji was going to tell Fuji all about the movie that they just had to go see.
"Tell him? Tell who? And tell him what? Our teacher about the homework? Because last time I did that he said I didn't work hard enough and if I didn't get at least 80% on the next exam I would have to drop out of tennis and also that I was going to end up as a burden to my parents."
"Tell Oishi how you feel about him."
Then Eiji's face got all hot and tingly which definitely meant that he was blushing which was so embarrassing that he wanted to kick himself, so he kicked his right leg with his left foot. "I can't do that."
In fact, just the idea made Eiji feel like he was being squeezed tightly, like he was a stuffed animal in a bin and the claw was clamped around his head, pulling him up and up where it was too far to fall from, if stuffed animals could get hurt from falling. "Fuji, what if he rejects me? And then we can't play doubles together anymore and we'll lose at the tournament and Seigaku won't go to Nationals. And I'll feel terrible and I'll never get to talk to him again!"
"Just go and tell him," Fuji said in that soft voice that somehow messed with Eiji's brain and made him do whatever Fuji said. It was a good thing that Fuji didn't do that very often.
Eiji thought it would be best to get Oishi into a good mood before he confessed to him, so he figured a present was a good idea. But what should Eiji get him? All of the things that Eiji liked might seem silly to Oishi. But Eiji remembered that Oishi's favourite thing of all was his fish. So he went to the pet store and bought a special tin of magical fish food, well, nearly magical anyhow, that would make them brightly coloured and bring them good fortune.
Oishi was happy with the fish food and told Eiji to come in and now they were supposed to be doing homework together in Oishi's room, only Eiji was stretched out on the bed staring at the fish and trying to calm down so that he could tell Oishi that he liked him really a lot.
But Oishi was watching Eiji watching the fish and that made Eiji more nervous than ever. Could Oishi tell what Eiji was thinking? When they played doubles, it really seemed like he could, but did that mean it worked like that all the time? Eiji's stomach twisted up like a knotted shoelace.
"Nyah, Oishi," he said and his voice sounded really loud. I have something important to tell you, was what he was supposed to say, but what came out of his mouth was, "Shouldn't you be doing your homework?"
Then Oishi's face got pink, especially right over the bridge of his nose, which was about the cutest thing ever and Eiji liked Oishi so much right then that he thought his chest might explode. "What about you, Eiji?"
Eiji pushed his book off the bed. He liked the way it sounded when it thumped onto the floor. "Homework is boring." Now what was he supposed to do? He couldn't just start a conversation about love right out of the blue, could he?
Oishi got up and picked up Eiji's book. Eiji flopped onto his stomach and looked back at the aquarium. How did a fish confess to another fish? Did he swim in circles around him? Blow bubbles at him? Bump noses?
"Are the fish so much more interesting?" Oishi said. Eiji didn't need to look over to see that Oishi was standing beside the bed. Eiji always knew just where Oishi was.
So he reached out and pulled Oishi down beside him. That was easier than talking about hard stuff and Eiji liked having Oishi close to him. "Look at them," he said and scooted over to make room.
Oishi didn't move for a moment and Eiji wondered if he was mad about Eiji bothering him when he was trying to work. Then Oishi stretched out too, so close that they were almost touching, and Eiji felt like his whole body was smiling. "When you watch the fish long enough," he said, "it looks like they're flying."
"Thank you," Oishi said, "for the gift." He shifted and the bed shook a little. "You didn't have to get me anything."
"It's not because I had to," Eiji said. He looked at the tank and wondered if the fish could lend him some of their good luck. Then he looked over at Oishi. "It's because you're Oishi."
Oishi's mouth opened and the pink crept across his nose again and he looked back at Eiji with eyes so deep and dark that Eiji felt more nervous than ever. "Eiji..." Oishi said and bit his lip.
And then Eiji felt a sharp click inside of him, like the time when he was failing math and Oishi tutored him on quadratic equations and then finally Eiji understood and everything made sense. Only instead of algebra, this was about Oishi.
Oishi liked Eiji too. Eiji could tell, just like he could tell when Oishi wanted him to hand him his racquet or pull a feint during a match. Oishi liked him back. Eiji laughed out loud from relief.
Now all he had to do was wait until Oishi confessed to him.
He laughed again while Oishi stared. "This is better than homework, right?" Eiji said and leaned in to bump their noses together.
The One Where They're Both Vampires
"Hoi, Oishi!" Eiji burst into the room. "How long are you going to sit here?" Trailing after him was a young man, his fingers linked with Eiji's.
Oishi pushed his books and notes away. "Until I've finished the manuscript. It's due in three days."
"But it's been weeks!" Eiji let go of the boy. "It's all stuffy in here." He threw open the shutters and night air streamed into the room.
"That long?" Oishi rolled his shoulders and neck, feeling the stiffness for the first time.
"You must be hungry." Eiji put his hands on the boy's shoulder and cuddled close to him, cheek to cheek. The boy leaned into the touch, smiling, slipping an arm around Eiji's waist. His eyes were bright, excited.
"I'll have to go out," Oishi said. He'd waited almost too long, too caught by his work to think about his empty belly.
"No, Oishi." Eiji grinned. "I brought him for you."
"Is it a three-way?" the young man said. "I don't mind."
"Eiji, you don't have to do that," Oishi said.
"I know, but I wanted to." Eiji gave the boy a gentle shove. "Go on."
The boy laughed and stepped close to Oishi, leaning his head on Oishi's shoulder. Oishi hesitated a moment, then pressed his hand to the boy's chest where the heart was beating. His body threw off heat and Oishi's cold flesh soaked it up.
"Come on, then," the boy said and put his arms around Oishi, kissing Oishi's face and mouth. Oishi's hunger sharpened, but he held back, just breathing in the boy's skin, teasing the pulse at the temple, at the neck. The boy groaned in the back of his throat and pressed hard against Oishi's thigh.
"Shh," Oishi said. "Shh." And then he bit down on the artery. The blood gushed into his mouth, hot and alive. The boy cried out and thrashed, but Oishi held tight and soon he was too weak to struggle.
While he drank, Oishi looked over the boy's shoulder at Eiji. Eiji was watching, smiling, and when Oishi caught his eye, he clapped his hands together. "He's just right for Oishi, isn't he?"
Oishi let the body slide to the floor. "Just what I needed." The blood was rousing him now, the lights seemed brighter, the shadows darker.
"You've got a smudge." Eiji took out a handkerchief and dabbed at the side of Oishi's mouth. Oishi couldn't help smiling, Eiji always made him smile.
Eiji crossed to the window and leaned out, looking down at the street. "They look like ants from here."
"We're not up that high." Oishi glanced at his desk and thoughts surged into his brain, the threads he needed to complete the book. He sat and began to make notes, capturing the points before they slipped away.
"I'll stop disturbing you." Eiji traced a symbol over the body and it crumbled into dust. He sneezed. "I think I'm allergic." He blew his nose. "Just don't work too hard."
Oishi looked up to say good-bye. Eiji was at the door, ready to bound down the steps and out into the night, so vivid he must have swallowed half the lights in the city. Oishi stood. "Wait for me."
"Don't you have to work?"
"It's fine." Oishi took Eiji's hand and the smile Eiji gave him warmed him more than even the boy had. "It's my turn to pick for you."
"And if you miss your deadline," Eiji said over his shoulder as he dragged Oishi down the stairs, "I'll just eat your editor."
The One With The Good Luck Charm
Eiji stepped into the room and jammed his hands into his pockets. Oishi turned from his desk. "Eiji."
There was no answer. Eiji looked down at the floor. His face was flushed and his mouth closed in a line that Oishi had only seen a few times before.
The door opened. "Are you here to study, Kikumaru-kun?" Oishi's mother set down a tray with juice and crackers. "It's been a while since I've seen you. Work hard."
"Here," Oishi said when she had gone. He held a glass out to Eiji. Eiji didn't take it. "What is it?"
"I made you this," Eiji said. "Before." He set something down on Oishi's desk. "For Nationals."
Two moulded figures, nearly egg-shaped, and joined together at the side. With blue painted bodies and bald heads and happy smiles.
Oishi looked up and met Eiji's eyes. Eiji looked away. Oishi's stomach hurt, his chest was tight. "Thank you," he said. His voice sounded strange, too loud, maybe, or too soft. He couldn't tell.
Eiji turned and stared at Oishi's aquarium. His shoulders hunched up and he didn't blink for so long that Oishi's eyes began to sting. "Shouldn't you be working?"
The sharpness in his voice made Oishi wince. "Eiji, about practice today...we should...I'll work harder."
"You said we would still be friends."
Oishi remembered saying that. It sounded just as hollow then as it did now. He stood and put out his hand, then let it drop.
"You're a bad friend."
"Eiji, what can I--"
Eiji darted around Oishi, close as he could be without brushing against him, and snatched the clay figure from the desk. He threw it out the window, down into the street. "Why?" he said. He turned and looked at Oishi. "Why don't you like me anymore?"
"It's not like that," Oishi said. His gut clenched and he thought he might be sick. "I didn't think you..." I didn't think you liked me. Flighty Eiji, with a laugh and a squeeze for anyone who strayed into his orbit, with eyes always searching, always looking outwards. It didn't mean anything to him, the kisses, the touches between them. Or so Oishi had thought. Even now he wasn't quite sure. But he didn't want to see Eiji looking like that anymore.
He reached for Eiji's arm, but Eiji sidestepped him and reached the door.
"Don't worry about practice," Eiji said. "I'll play doubles with Fuji." And then he was gone, the door banging behind him.
Oishi stood by the window. His head ached; his throat was full and he couldn't swallow. Out in the street, Eiji ran back and forth, and Oishi couldn't figure out what he was doing until he stooped and picked something up. Oishi waited for him to smash it or throw it in the trash. But Eiji slipped it into his pocket.
Stupid, Oishi thought. I'm so stupid. And he ran outside without his jacket, in case it wasn't too late.
The One Where It's Like Jane Austen
Syuichiroh Oishi hoped to remain in the country for at least a twelvemonth. The house he had taken was perfectly situated, with a prospect as charming as he could have wished for: the front looked out over a small lake, and beyond that were the open downs. It was but a short ride to the village, if he found himself in need of any thing, and on his grounds was said to be the best hunting anywhere in the whole county.
As to society, there were neighbours enough, a half dozen families of good standing and what he had seen so far showed them to be perfectly amiable and well-mannered, with a delight in fresh company so often found in those whose acquaintance is small and unchanging. He had more invitations than he cared to accept, instead choosing often to remain at home, dining quietly by himself and reading the histories which were his chief diversion.
But this solitary and tranquil life was soon thrown into turmoil by the arrival of Eiji Kikumaru, a companion of Oishi's from his days at Cambridge and thereafter his close friend. There was no standing on ceremony between them and Eiji's turning up on horseback, with no man, no luggage, nothing but the clothes on his back and a gold watch which he pressed into Oishi's hand at their meeting, was no more than Oishi had come to expect from his exuberant companion.
After clapping his friend's shoulder and remarking that he was looking very well for a hermit buried so deep within the country, Eiji told the reason for his sudden appearance. "I was in town," he said, "putting in the time before a party at the home of my mother's acquaintance, I cannot remember her name, she is so dull! And her parties are duller still, no dancing, no cards, nothing but well-bred young ladies who can play the pianoforte tolerably well or pluck indifferently upon the harp or are persuaded they can sing.
"I chanced to go into a jewellers, to amuse myself for a while, and my eye happened to light upon a fine gold watch and I recalled how your own watch was sadly ruined after that mishap with the open carriage and the rain. The shop attendant assured me that this was the very best watch I could have chosen, that it would lose no more than five minutes a month and took very little winding.
"I straightway made my purchase and had no thought but that you must receive it as soon as could be arranged. It would not do to send such a thing by post so I resolved to deliver it myself. And so I set out at once, riding until dark, and putting up at an inn, and continuing on in the morning. And here I am! Is not the watch very fine?"
"Very fine indeed," Oishi said, smiling at his friend's words and the enthusiasm with which they were delivered. "And I thank you for it. But I procured a new watch some months ago. Did you think I was telling the hours by the sundial all this while?"
A frown appeared on Eiji's face, but it was soon replaced by cheer. "But this watch is surely the better of the two. You can give the old one to your man, or the local curate or some such person."
"There is no situation but that you have a plan for it. Now, Eiji, send at once for your things for you must stay with me at least a month and be warned that I will try to keep you for two."
Thereafter Oishi's time was much taken up with his friend, in riding and hunting, in walking and conversation, in dining with neighbours and dancing parties, for Eiji was lively and wanted always to be in the midst of fun. He was counted a great addition to the local society and the mothers who had nearly despaired of a match for one of their daughters with the reserved and bookish Oishi, now renewed their hopes and prayed that it would be one of their daughters who caught Eiji's merry eye.
On one rare night when no party was planned and no invitation to dine had arrived, they passed the evening in the large sitting room, Oishi reading Gibbon and Eiji taking a turn about the room, for he never could remain still for long. But after a time, Oishi, ceasing to hear the footsteps of his friend, looked up to see Eiji standing motionless, staring into the fire.
For a wonder, Eiji's face was solemn, his eyes fixed on the flames and the suggestion of a frown upon his brow as the firelight played on his face. Oishi wondered what thoughts had such a hold on him, to turn him thus from his accustomed nature. As Oishi watched his friend, he thought on the fate that led them to meet and the attachment that so swiftly grew between them, so that at Trinity, they were scarcely apart. These late weeks together had brought such happiness to Oishi that he wondered he had been content alone before.
"Oishi, have you abandoned your studies?" Eiji spoke but did not turn and Oishi was surprised to be discovered with his book slipping from his lap and his gaze on his companion. "When I was a child, my nurse told me you can read the future in the fire, in the pictures of the flames."
Putting Gibbon aside, Oishi went to stand beside Eiji, looking deep into the fire. The flames twisted and danced and try as he might, he could not see any likeness there, only chaos. "What future do you see?" he said.
Eiji turned to him, his eyes opened very wide, but he did not speak. He laid his hand on Oishi's shoulder and Oishi felt all the force of the warm regard he held for his friend and something more, a heating of the blood that plunged him into confusion, stirred somehow by the strength of Eiji's gaze. He had no idea of what to do or say, no clear thought, save that there was no thing more dear to him than his friend.
At that moment, a letter was delivered for Eiji and they moved away from the fire. "My sister," Eiji said, and cast the letter aside. "She requires my presence to help her entertain her guests. Although she does not say as much, she means to make a match for me." He dropped into a chair, his face clouded by unhappiness. "Why must women think always of marriage?"
Oishi made no answer, for the thought of Eiji married gave him pain and he felt unequal to speaking on it. That they would remain friends, he had no doubt, but there could never be this easy companionship between them if another had claims on Eiji's time. He must by necessity give priority to his wife, and later, his children.
"I have no choice but to go to them," Eiji said, "Although I would much rather remain here. I must go tell the stable to have my horse ready in the morning."
As Eiji left the room, Oishi drew out the gold watch and opened it. Already it was ten minutes behind the clock on the mantelpiece. Inside the lid was an inscription: SO from EK. Oishi looked at it a long time.
"Eiji," Oishi said, when Eiji returned. "If you do not think it will be an inconvenience to you and an imposition on your sister, I will accompany you on this journey."
"Oishi!" Eiji said and shook Oishi's hand, breaking into such a brilliant smile that Oishi could not keep from smiling in return. "You'll save me from meddling women, won't you?"
"I will try," Oishi said and clasped Eiji's hand the tighter.
The One With The Gratuitous Sex Scene
"They're for you." Eiji pushed a package into Oishi's hand.
Oishi prodded the bag. It was something long and thin, like pencils.
"Just open it!" Eiji hit Oishi on the arm and pulled his mouth into something between a pout and a pucker.
Oishi opened it. It was pencils. To be accurate, Dragon Quest Battle Pencils, which Oishi had once played with avidly. In grade five. He hoped Eiji wasn't expecting him to play with these at school.
"I love those, don't you?" Eiji poked the package and the plastic crinkled.
"Thank you for the gift," Oishi said. He was pleased that Eiji had brought him something, even if it was something a little strange. "I used to play with these all the time."
"All right then." Eiji grinned and dropped down onto the bed. Then he looked up at Oishi. With that look.
"Eiji." Oishi bit his lip. "My parents are home."
"I know! Why are they here?"
"My father has a cold so they stayed in this week."
"Oh." Eiji made that pucker/pout face again. Oishi sighed and kept his hands carefully at his sides. "I told your mother I came over to do homework," Eiji said.
"Did you bring your books?"
Eiji nodded and kicked his bag. "Let's play with the battle pencils first. Please, Oishi!" He bounced on the bed and his hair bounced with him.
"Just one game." They sat cross-legged on the bed. The pencils didn't roll well on the bedding, but Eiji didn't seem to mind.
"My eraser gives me 20 hit points, nyah!" Eiji clapped his hands. "I win!"
"Well done." Oishi gathered up the pieces.
"That was too short. Let's play again."
"Eiji..." Oishi looked up, which was a mistake. Eiji's big blue eyes were even bigger and bluer than usual and looking into them made Oishi's breath catch in his throat. "Okay, one more game."
One game turned into two and three and four. They leaned close, pressed together at the knee, fingers touching as they rolled and read and counted.
"Eight out of ten," Eiji said. "I'm the champion!" A faint flush covered the tops of Eiji's cheeks and his grin made Oishi want to laugh.
"Congratulations." Oishi held out his hand. Eiji tumbled onto Oishi and pushed him down onto the bed. "Eiji, my par--" But Eiji's mouth was already over Oishi's, his weight pressing Oishi into the mattress.
And the pencils. Oishi squirmed and made an ow-like noise into Eiji's mouth. Eiji flipped over and pulled Oishi onto his side so they were stretched out against each other, Eiji's knee pushing between Oishi's thighs. A pencil clattered onto the floor.
Oishi turned his head. "Eiji, we can't."
"It's all your fault." Eiji's fingers curled into Oishi's shirt and his breath hummed in Oishi's ear. "For making me do this." He licked the skin just below Oishi's jaw, then sucked gently at it.
The nerves all down Oishi's side tingled and his leg jerked on its own. He closed his eyes and ran his hand down Eiji's back, then up again. He loved the way Eiji pressed against him, the way his skin buzzed where they touched.
Eiji slipped his fingers through the gap in Oishi's shirt, brushing lightly over his belly. I can't let him undo my shirt, Oishi thought and got ready to stop him.
But Eiji didn't even try to open the buttons. He went right for Oishi's belt.
"Don't," Oishi said and grabbed at Eiji's hands. But Eiji rubbed him through his pants and Oishi choked on his objections.
Despite the fact that this was undoubtedly the stupidest thing he had ever, ever done, even stupider than the time when he was four and tried to paint the neighbour's cat blue, Oishi didn't stop Eiji from unzipping his pants and going down on him.
Somehow, it didn't seem so stupid while it was happening. It didn't seem like anything. It just felt. Felt like electricity crackling all over, felt like a drum beating deep inside, felt good.
Oishi jammed his fists against his face and shut his eyes tight as the pressure built inside of him. Then everything burst like a dam giving way and all his hit points drained out of him.
Or maybe that was his IQ.
He opened his eyes and there was Eiji, eyes bright and mouth screwed up.
"Kikumaru-kun," Oishi's mother called up the stairs. "You have a phone call."
Oishi's heart went to triple time and the blood left his face. Eiji waved his hands frantically. Oishi fished his handkerchief out of his pocket.
Eiji spat. "I'll be right there," he yelled. He tossed the handkerchief back to Oishi and slid off the bed, putting his tongue out at Oishi before he opened the door. Oishi scrambled to zip up, nearly giving himself an unfortunate injury in the process.
He folded the sticky handkerchief into a bundle and tucked it in the back of his desk drawer. So long as he didn't forget it back there.
Then he stood in the middle of the room and just breathed.
When Eiji came back, Oishi grabbed him in a fierce hug. "Oishi," Eiji said and put his arms around him. Oishi buried his face in Eiji's neck and breathed some more.
"It's your fault," he said and Eiji wriggled against him, just a little.
"I have to go," Eiji said, into Oishi's hair.
Oishi loosened his arms and let Eiji slip out of them. Their fingers trailed together and then they weren't touching at all. It felt wrong.
"My sisters are going out on a date." Eiji pulled his sweater over his head and his hair crackled with static. "I have to watch the house." He smiled and Oishi's brain finally regained enough function to parse the last sentence.
Oishi grabbed his own sweater, packed his books into his bag.
"Don't forget the pencils!" Eiji said.
"For after," Eiji said and stuck out his tongue again. "Homework is so boring."
BONUS TRACK: The One Where Oishi And Eiji Are Really Sato And Asakawa
There are no club activities on Wednesdays, but Asakawa just can't stand to take a day off, so he and Sato go to the field and Asakawa takes shots on goal. Sato stops most of them -- he's a lot better than he was -- but sometimes Asakawa runs in straight and feints with his eyes and Sato falls for it. He can't make himself believe that Asakawa can be tricky, even when he's seen it five times this afternoon.
Then they lie on the grass with their homework. Sato has a lot of reading to do, but he's too tired and the air is too warm and he's done enough work already, what with getting in and out of all his equipment. Asakawa almost choked him, helping him off with the throat guard.
Someone's left a piece of fruit on the ground and a line of ants works it over. It's exhausting just to watch them. Sato watches Asakawa instead.
Asakawa is bent over the book in his lap, one hand tugging at his hair. He chews his lip as he reads, completely absorbed, turning a page ahead, then back again. Sato wants to throw something at him, he's working too hard, forget the homework for today.
An ant crawls up Asakawa's knee. Sato reaches out and brushes it away. Asakawa looks up. "It was an ant," Sato says.
"I think we should try this play." Asakawa drops the book onto the ground in front of Sato.
"Tsukada calls the plays."
"But you should know them too." Asakawa reaches into his bag and pulls out two cans of his favourite sports drink. "You're the vice-captain."
"Thanks," Sato says and drinks half the can in one long swallow. It's mango flavoured, but he's too thirsty to care. "Tsukada's mad at me or something."
A dent appears on Asakawa's forehead, like the print of a finger in soft clay. "At you?"
"Well, Harada says he is. He came up to me yesterday after practice and said that Tsukada wanted me to 'do my fucking part' as vice-captain."
Asakawa sputters around a mouthful. "Tsukada said that?"
"I think that was Harada's interpretation. You know how he's helping Marty with his Japanese? I think Marty is helping Harada with his English." Sato takes another drink. "Anyhow, any time I try to actually do something, with plays or practice schedules or anything, Harada tells me to keep out of it. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I'm just a figurehead. A vice-figurehead."
"You could help with morale."
"I wouldn't know how." There's an ant crawling on the open book now. Sato flicks it into the grass.
"Well, you should see this play." Asakawa scoots closer and grabs the book. "See here? If we pick the ball up in our end..."
Sato doesn't mean to, but he zones out. He likes lacrosse, really likes it, but he needs space in his head for other things too. Like school, and hanging out, and playing Metal Gear Acid 2. Asakawa bends down to trace lines on the page with his finger and his hair brushes Sato's cheek. It's rough from too much bleaching and his hair gel smells like grapefruit. Sato likes grapefruit better than mango.
His stomach growls and Asakawa turns to look at him, so close that Sato can't see all of Asakawa's face at once, just his eyes, then his nose, then his mouth. "I have to go home," Sato says and stands.
Asakawa looks up, the dent back in his forehead. Sato holds out his hand. Asakawa grabs his wrist and pulls himself up.
"Do you want to come over?" Sato says. "We could watch a movie after supper."
"Sure!" Asakawa smiles and his eyes light up like points on a scoreboard. "I have some lacrosse videos that Tsukada lent me." He scurries to throw away the empty cans, while Sato sighs and packs his bag.
The ants are marching over the strap and Sato almost hates to shake them off. Asakawa waves his arms. Sato jogs to catch him up and they walk together to the train.