If you didn't get a chance to read this in December, I hope you'll take a look now.
Momoshiro's Guide to Teen Romance: A Story by Halrloprillalar /prillalar
Prince of Tennis, MomoKai, 8000 words, R.
Horio has a crush, Eiji has a girlfriend, and Momo has a problem.
Eiji wasn't even blushing. Oishi was, and Arai. Momo wasn't blushing, of course, he wasn't a naive kid, but he did feel a little awkward.
Eiji's girlfriend was blushing. Or Momo assumed she was Eiji's girlfriend, since she was standing in the clubhouse with him, kissing him. Kissing him. Momo felt a little more awkward, thinking about it.
She pulled out of Eiji's arms and ran, covering her face with her hands, pushing past Momo in the doorway. "Hitomi-chan," Eiji called, and pushed past Momo too. Eiji chased her for a few steps, then shrugged and came back to the clubhouse.
"Eiji," Oishi said, "don't let Tezuka catch you here with her."
"She's cute," Arai whispered to Momo. "Why's he so lucky?"
"Because--" Eiji turned to Arai "-- Kikumaru Eiji is hot stuff." He flicked Arai in the forehead. Arai scowled and started to change.
"Seriously, Eiji," Oishi said. Eiji grabbed Oishi from behind and jumped onto his back.
"Seriously, Oishi," Eiji said and laughed in Oishi's ear.
"When did you get a girlfriend?" Momo dropped his bag on the floor and started to take off his shirt. The door opened and Momo looked over, in case there were even more girls lurking around. But it was just some other second-year members.
"Are you jealous, Momo?" Eiji dropped off of Oishi and pulled his shirt over his head without unbuttoning it first. When his head came back into view, he was grinning at Momo, and Momo noticed a tiny smear of lipstick at the corner of Eiji's mouth.
"Fix your make-up," Momo said and climbed into his shorts.
"You are, you're jealous!" Eiji bopped Momo on the head with his racquet.
"I'm not," Momo said. Eiji could be so annoying sometimes. Momo shoved his school uniform into his cubby and headed to the door. "Of course I'm not," he called back over his shoulder. And ran smack into Kaidoh.
"Watch out, dumbass." Kaidoh shoved Momo right into the door-frame.
"Watch out yourself." He pushed at Kaidoh and Kaidoh grabbed Momo's shirt and they ended up jammed in the doorway, backs against the frame, trading the usual insults.
"Stop it, guys," Oishi said, and Momo of course planned to let go, as soon as Kaidoh let go, because he wasn't going to let go first. Anyhow, he was winning.
"Ah, Kaidoh." Inui appeared on the other side of the door and nodded across them to Oishi. "I was asked to bring this to you." He produced an envelope. Kaidoh hissed a little through his teeth, not loosening his grip on Momo's collar. Inui reached over and tucked the envelope under Kaidoh's thumb, so that the corner poked into Momo's cheek. The letter reeked of perfume.
"Kaidoh!" Eiji pushed up beside Oishi. "Who's your love letter from?"
Kaidoh's face darkened and he wrenched away from Momo, diving into the clubhouse, the envelope half-crushed in his fist. Which meant Momo won, since he wasn't the first to let go. Only who would write that bad-tempered snake a love letter?
"Whoever she is," Momo said, "she must be blind and deaf." He straightened his shirt and grabbed his bag. "And stupid," he threw back after Kaidoh. But Kaidoh just ignored him, stuffing the envelope down into the bottom of his bag.
"Inui!" Eiji grabbed Inui's arm and pulled at it. "Who gave you the letter?"
"I was asked not to say." Inui adjusted his glasses. "But I was not asked not to say that she is 146 centimetres, 38 kilograms, blood-type B. Shoulder-length hair. Two stuffed pandas on her book bag. Class 1-3, basketball club."
A crowd was forming around Kaidoh. Momo headed out to the courts. It's not like it was some sort of big deal, all these girls and kissing and whatnot. Only it was interfering with practice.
He tossed a ball into the air and slammed it as hard as he could. A first-year boy squawked and jumped out of the way. "Sorry," Momo called.
"Momo-chan-senpai!" The boy ran over. So it was Horio he'd almost brained. "I wondered..." Horio got a weird look on his face and he actually seemed to be having trouble talking. "I...could you...advice..."
Momo clapped Horio on the back. "What's a senpai for?" He'd like to see any of these kids going to the viper for advice. "Did you want to learn the Jack Knife? That's a bit advanced, but I can show you--"
"No!" Horio burst out. "I mean, yes, but..." He looked down at the ground and his cheeks reddened, like he was sick with a fever.
"Are you sick? I can take you to the medical room."
"There's this...girl." Horio took a deep breath. "Idon'tknowwhattosaytoher."
More girls. "You've come to the right man," Momo said, leaning down. Because of course he was the best person to help Horio with his love problems. Just because Momo had never been on an actual date before, that was just a technicality. He had dating instinct. Inborn dating ability. A wisdom in the ways of love gained from his mature years which he had a responsibility, a duty to pass on to the youngster.
"How can I find out if she...?"
"Leave it to me," Momo said. "With my dating experience..."
"Yes, Momo?" An arm dropped around his shoulders. "We'd all like to hear about your dating experience," Eiji said, in a voice that Momo figured carried clear to the baseball diamond. All over the court, boys looked over, grinning, waiting.
"I don't like to brag," Momo mumbled. Everybody laughed. From the corner of his eye, Momo saw Inui switching notebooks, clicking his pen. "This is a private conversation!"
"We're your friends, Momo," Fuji said, putting his hands on Horio's shoulders. Horio looked at Momo, at Eiji, glanced up, then squeezed his eyes shut.
"Come on, Momo." Eiji poked him in the side. "Have you even kissed anyone?"
"Of course I have," Momo said. "I have." He couldn't stop the heat from rising in his face and the sweat collecting on his palms. Right now he was feeling nearly as awkward as it was possible to feel. He looked over at Echizen, willing him to show off some new super move that would make everyone gape in awe, but Echizen was just attentive as the rest. "We should practise now."
"I want to hear more," Eiji said. "Was it a magical moment you'll never forget?"
Momo looked across the court before he could stop himself, at the only person still making a pretence of practising. "No," he said. "It wasn't."
"Come on, tell me," Eiji said and Momo could hear his grin even if he couldn't see it.
There was no way Momo was going to elaborate. "Isn't that Tezuka-buchou over there glaring at us?" It wasn't, but it was enough of a distraction for Momo to duck out from under Eiji's arm and head out onto the court to practise.
"I'll come up with a plan," he told Horio. "A good plan."
"Thank you, Momo-chan-senpai!" Horio said, beaming with obvious gratitude.
Momo smiled. He would get Horio all fixed up and that would prove Momo's love prowess beyond any doubt. "Who is she? Tell me about her. I need data for my plan."
"Her name is Takizawa Hinaka," Horio said. "She has really pretty hair, down to her shoulders. She's in class 1-3. She likes pandas and basketball."
"Good, good," said Momo. "Oh, shit."
After practice time was snack time, so that Momo could make it through to dinner time without dying of hunger. But now Momo had a mission that was interfering with his schedule: Steal Kaidoh's Girlfriend. For Horio. It would actually be more satisfying to steal her for himself -- Momo stopped to imagine the look on Kaidoh's face -- but now that Momo knew of Horio's love for her, he couldn't behave so dishonourably. Anyhow, it would be enough of an insult for Kaidoh to lose to a first-year student.
Momo dawdled over changing until Kaidoh left the clubhouse. Then he grabbed Echizen by the wrist and headed out. They had to follow Kaidoh discreetly and, if necessary, break up any romantic situations.
"Let go," Echizen said. "You're hurting me."
"Shhh!" Momo stopped at a corner and peered around it, crouching down low. Kaidoh was dressed in the same old boring tank top and shorts, a ratty towel draped around his neck, not exactly what Momo would consider appropriate attire for a romantic assignation. Kaidoh hitched his bag further up his shoulder and started to run.
Momo took off after him, dragging Echizen, but Echizen resisted being dragged and Momo tripped over his own feet and toppled them both onto the ground. Kaidoh disappeared into the distance.
Momo rubbed his elbow, which he'd banged against the ground. "Echizen, you want to go for hamburgers?"
After his bath, Momo lay on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, holding his phone half to his ear. "She's really fun," Eiji said. "And you saw how cute she is and she loves tennis and we like all the same music."
Momo wondered if Kaidoh had met with Hinaka after all. Maybe they had training dates together. Maybe Kaidoh would switch to basketball and leave the club before Momo had a chance to really crush him. That would suck.
"I'm here," Momo said. "Tell me more." Maybe Hinaka would switch from basketball to tennis and she and Kaidoh would play in mixed doubles tournaments and Momo would be left standing on the sidelines.
"Fuji says I shouldn't be kissing her in the clubhouse, but where else am I supposed to go?" The scene flashed back in front of Momo's eyes: Eiji and the girl with their arms wrapped around each other, eyes closed, mouths smearing together.
Have you even kissed anyone? Momo clenched his fist, his nails digging into his palm. "I have to go," he said and rang off.
"Go to her classroom at lunchtime and get her attention by talking about your accomplishments."
Horio beamed up at Momo. "Roger!"
"Our team is going to win," Momo said and held out his fist for Horio to bash.
"Uh...I mean, good luck." It was a pretty good plan. Girls liked guys who were good at stuff. Horio bashed Momo's fist finally and Momo headed off to class.
At lunchtime, he thought he would sneak down and see how Horio was doing. But then he thought it would be better to make sure that Kaidoh wasn't heading out to see Hinaka. He stuck his head into Kaidoh's classroom and there was the viper himself, sitting at his desk with his lunch box.
Momo pulled up a chair and sat down. Kaidoh gave him one of his usual grouchy looks. "What are you doing here?"
Momo had never seen such an elaborate school lunch. "Who made you that?" He picked up a croquette and popped it into his mouth while he scanned for evidence of origin: a girly handkerchief or a heart sticker or a love note.
"Stop that." Kaidoh slid the box closer to his side of the desk.
The croquette was so good, Momo reached across and took another. "Don't be selfish." A folded piece of paper poked up from the side of the box and Momo snatched it.
Kaidoh grabbed Momo's wrist. "Give that back," he said and hissed. His eyes narrowed until Momo could only see the dark of the irises. And Momo was supposed to laugh and read the note anyhow. But his mouth dried up and he couldn't look away. Kaidoh's fingers tightened.
Momo jerked his hand back, jumping up and knocking his chair onto the floor. Everyone stared. Fucking Kaidoh. Let him have his fancy lunch. Let him kiss his little girlfriend.
The note was open on the desk and Momo couldn't help but glance at it. It was from Kaidoh's mother.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Kaidoh said.
"Nothing," Momo said, and turned, and left. He didn't bother to pick up the chair.
"I think she noticed me," Horio said, throwing his chest out and lifting his chin so high Momo thought he might be trying to attract a vampire as well as a middle-school girl. Although there was no reason a middle-school girl couldn't also be a vampire. Momo thought he'd read half a manga issue about that one time. Or maybe she fought vampires. Or maybe that asshole Kaidoh should just get himself bitten by a vampire and get all his blood sucked out and die.
"Good," Momo said.
"What's the next part of the plan?"
Momo swung his racquet back and forth, gathering momentum in case a vampire or a viper should come by and need swatting. That was the plan. Swat, splat, forget. Where was Kaidoh anyhow?
"Sorry," Momo said. "Do you know her schedule, the places she goes?" Kaidoh was across the court, talking to Inui, or more likely being lectured by Inui. Momo didn't know how Kaidoh could stand it.
Horio nodded. "I think so."
"Okay, here's what you do: wait around for her, but make it look like you ran into her accidentally. After she sees you enough times, she'll really get interested."
"Momo!" Eiji called, waving. "Let's go out after practice."
Momo left Horio and crossed the court. "What about your girlfriend?" he said to Eiji. Now Kaidoh was rallying with Inui, some sort of warm-up thing.
"Oh, Hitomi-chan is coming along. And her friend too." Eiji punched Momo on the arm. "This could be your big chance for a first kiss."
"I already said--" Momo shut his mouth, and looked away.
"Come on, Momo," Eiji said. "Tell me! Did you get rejected?"
Momo fiddled with his racquet strings. Some girls watching the practice cheered as Kaidoh hit his snake shot. What if the viper was meeting Hinaka afterwards? "Sorry, Eiji-senpai," Momo said. "I already have plans."
He gave up half-way, dropping to the pavement and wheezing. There was something seriously wrong with Kaidoh, spending all his time running around like that. Momo leaned back against the wall, sun dazzling his eyes. He should have tried to find out Kaidoh's schedule in advance. Didn't he go the park after this to do push-ups or racquet swings or have someone break bamboo poles over his back?
Maybe Momo should cut straight there and lurk in the bushes. To monitor the situation. And if Kaidoh caught him, Momo would just break a bamboo pole over his back.
After he'd got his breath, Momo headed up the street and turned the corner. And ran into Kaidoh. And fell down. Kaidoh fell too, half on top of Momo. "Watch where you're going," Kaidoh growled, digging in his elbow unnecessarily as he pulled himself up and away.
"You watch out," Momo said. His knee was sore and the contents of his bag were all over the sidewalk. He jumped to his feet. "You're always in my way."
"You're following me." Kaidoh's mouth was open as he breathed, pulling in oxygen.
"Why would I follow you?" Momo grabbed his books and his MD player and stuffed them back into his bag. Stupid Kaidoh, treating Momo like some creepy stalker. It was surveillance.
"Stop following me!" Kaidoh grabbed Momo's collar in both hands and Momo dropped his bag again. Kaidoh's running breath was in Momo's face now and Momo could see the beads of sweat on Kaidoh's forehead and neck.
A tight, icy feeling pushed at Momo's diaphragm, different from the usual Kaidoh-induced frustration. He grabbed at Kaidoh's arms, fingers slipping on perspiration. It was his turn to yell something into Kaidoh's face and he couldn't make himself speak. He couldn't make himself let go. All he could do was remember.
It wasn't the sort of thing you forget. The year before, he and Kaidoh had stayed late at practice, trying to out-do each other with racquet swings until Momo thought his arm would drop off onto the ground. Finally, Oishi told them to go home and they raced to see who would get changed and out the door first.
They walked out the gates and down the street, not together, but at the same time, and Momo was walking the fastest. Then three high school thugs loomed up in front of them and they had to stop short.
"Pretty small catch," one of high-schoolers said. His hair was bleached and he'd drawn a skull on the back of his hand in ball-point pen.
The tallest one shrugged and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. "Better than nothing."
Momo glanced at Kaidoh. Kaidoh frowned a little and moved his eyes back and forth in what was obviously a signal. Only Momo didn't quite get it right, due to Kaidoh's sucky signalling skills, so when Kaidoh nodded and they started to run, they banged into each other and were easily caught by the long arms of the third thug, who looked kind of like a hairy gorilla.
Kaidoh struggled and Momo struggled harder and the long-armed gorilla banged their heads together, which hurt a lot and made the air bright and hazy for a minute or two.
"What shall we do with them?" the bleached one said. Momo struggled, but couldn't get free. Kaidoh bit the gorilla's arm which turned out to be a really stupid move, since the gorilla smacked him upside the head and gave him a big bruise on his cheek.
"This one looks like a girl," the tall one said, and pointed to Kaidoh. Momo would have laughed at that if he weren't so...concerned...about the situation. Served that idiot right for wearing his hair so long. And looking so girly.
"This your girlfriend, shrimp?" The bleached one said to Momo and that wasn't funny at all. "Oh, they're in lo-ove. Staying late at school to get with his little girlfriend." Bleach-job yanked Momo's hair. "You fucking queers. Let's see how queers do it."
Momo didn't like the sound of this at all. Why didn't they just beat him and Kaidoh up and be done with it? But the tall guy grabbed Momo's arms and the gorilla guy twisted Kaidoh around and then they were mashed up against each other, craning their necks so their faces wouldn't touch.
"Come on, you little fag," bleach-job said. "Let's see you kiss your girlfriend."
Kaidoh hissed. Momo squirmed. The tall guy forced his head around and he realized there was no way to get out of this, unless someone came around and rescued them.
No one did. Momo tried not to look at Kaidoh but probably because Kaidoh was trying not to look at Momo either, their eyes locked and there they were, staring at each other, knowing they were going to have to...
"This is all your fault," Momo said and he would have kicked Kaidoh in the shin if he'd had any room to manoeuvre.
"If you weren't so stupid," Kaidoh said.
"Come on," bleach-job said. "I missed my drama today and I need a little romance." He flicked a lighter, flame on, flame off. "If you stall any longer, we'll make you do more than that."
Momo gulped. Kaidoh glared. And they pressed their mouths together.
It didn't feel like much, really, hardly more than than a napkin swiped over his lips. Not when the tall boy's fingers were digging hard into Momo's arm and his gut was churning. He looked down, at the gorilla's hands on Kaidoh's shoulders.
"That was no good," bleach-job said. "You'll have to practise some more." The tall boy put his knee into Momo's back and Momo looked up at Kaidoh. Kaidoh stared back at him, his eyes flat, and Momo wished that he could look away. But his eyes wouldn't close, not even when he leaned forward and kissed Kaidoh again.
He didn't know what to do, what the boys wanted to see, so he let his lips part, the wet undersides pressing against Kaidoh's mouth. After a few seconds, Kaidoh opened his mouth and his warm breath trickled onto Momo's tongue. Kaidoh grabbed at Momo's upper arm, his fingers squeezing tighter than the tall boy's, and Momo sighed a little at the pain.
"You can do better than that," the bleached boy said, thwacking Momo on the back of the head. Momo's forehead bashed into Kaidoh's and a star of pain shot out over the bone. Momo couldn't move that much, but he managed to twist a bit of Kaidoh's shirt between his fingers; he wasn't sure why he did it, but it helped somehow.
Kaidoh's eyes were darker now, harder to look at, but Momo couldn't look anywhere else. The gorilla pinched Kaidoh's shoulder and Kaidoh winced. Then he pressed his mouth against Momo's, harder than before. Momo could feel the damp of Kaidoh's mouth, their teeth pushing together, the blood rising in his face. Then the cool air when they pulled apart.
"Again." Bleach-job yanked Kaidoh's hair and jerked his head to the side. "You don't look like you're enjoying it."
And that was really the biggest problem. Because Momo was starting to. He didn't mean to like it. But the wet touch of their mouths together was making his skin tingly, his stomach fluttery, his palms sweaty. Even with the tall boy's knee in his back, even with the bleach-job's laugh spraying them with spit. He kissed Kaidoh again, waiting longer before he pulled back, twisting Kaidoh's shirt tighter.
"We're supposed to meet those guys," the tall boy said, and let Momo go.
They waited until the boys were out of sight, standing side by side, looking down at the ground. Momo wondered if he should say something, Those jerks, or At least they didn't beat us up. But it was too weird, too much, and he grabbed his bag and ran.
Kaidoh hissed once and pushed Momo away. Momo still couldn't manage a retort, not even a "moron" or a "bastard". He just stood and stared, like he was the moron, until Kaidoh took off down the street, pounding the pavement like nothing was wrong.
Momo sagged against the wall. He had to get that out of his brain, get in there with a scrub brush, with an eraser, with a big brain memory fixing machine. He should be thinking about kissing girls, not about kissing Kaidoh.
He kicked his bag. It the bullies' fault for bullying them, it was Eiji's fault for reminding him, it was Horio's fault for liking Kaidoh's girlfriend, it was Kaidoh's fault for being around all the fucking time.
It was somebody's fault, definitely. And not Momo's. He kicked his bag again before hefting it to his shoulder and running home. He sat on the floor of his room and played Magic Knight Kingdom which worked really well at making him forget until he won the 12th level and unlocked a new class and started to think about kissing Kaidoh.
Momo put his headphones in and cranked up his music and thought about tennis and television and boxing and brass bands and kissing Kaidoh. Momo got his homework out and thought about history and quadratic equations and kanji and English verbs and kissing Kaidoh.
Momo lay on the floor of his room, hand down the front of his pants, and thought about girls and tits and the porn videos in the secret folder on his computer and the magazines under his mattress and kissing Kaidoh. He thought about how it had felt then. He thought about how it would feel now.
Momo took his hand out of his pants.
He was so fucked.
"I ran into her five times!" Horio said.
"Was she with anybody?" Momo asked.
"Some other girls." Horio frowned a little. "What if they all get crushes on me?" Then he smiled. "They might, you know."
Just other girls. Momo relaxed at the news, and then tensed up when he realized why he was relaxing. He glanced across the court at Kaidoh, only a glance is a quick look and then away and Momo got stuck at the part where he was supposed to look away.
Kaidoh was standing alone on the court, the handle of his racquet across his back, tucked beneath his elbows, and his hands in his pockets. Like he was posing for something, showing off his lean physique in the morning sunlight.
Horio tugged on Momo's shirt. "There she is!" Momo re-focused his eyes to see the other side of the fence. A gaggle of girls, staring at the viper. "She's the one on the end."
So he was posing, the bastard. "Go do something to get her attention." Momo gave Horio a shove. "It's your big chance." Horio scampered off and Momo kept an eye on Kaidoh, who was making Momo want to simultaneously kiss him until he melted and slice him in half with some sort of energy weapon. He settled for hitting a ball at Kaidoh's head.
Kaidoh caught it in one hand. All the girls cheered."That's dangerous, Momo," Kawamura said. Horio upset a cart and balls flooded over the court. Kaidoh hit the ball back. Since Momo's brain was allocating a good portion of available resources to Kiss Control, there were less than usual assigned to his reflexes and all he could manage was to get his racquet up in front of his face in time.
He charged over to Kaidoh and stepped on a loose tennis ball and didn't quite fall flat onto his ass, but looked, he was sure, like a lame flailing spaz. He stopped in front of Kaidoh and once again, the usual script stopped dead. He didn't grab Kaidoh's collar, he didn't yell. He just looked at Kaidoh, at his mouth, and felt his face flush and his knees weaken, almost like when he had the flu, but pretty much the complete opposite of that.
"What do you want?" Kaidoh said and it was just as well Momo's mouth was all dried up and non-functional because that kept him from spewing out the truth all over them both. Kaidoh looked back at Momo and they'd had stare-downs before, but Momo felt so fucking out of control and he was glad when Kaidoh hissed and turned away.
"I think I have the flu," Momo said to Oishi, and skipped the rest of the practice.
"I thought you had the flu," Arai said when he got to class.
Momo shrugged and turned his attention to his pen. It was blue. It was writey. It was straight. Unlike Momo, apparently. It was true then, kissing another guy could make you gay. But then there were actors who had to kiss other guys and they weren't necessarily gay afterwards. Unless they were secretly.
Maybe this was one of those changing phases that you got at this time of life and it would phase and change away again. Or maybe he was just gay for Kaidoh, who was living it up with half the girls in the school.
Changing phase, Momo wrote onto his notebook. It was just a thing, just a latent reaction to the stupid bullied kisses, and it would phase away as quickly as it had phased in.
But whether it was a changing phase or a lifestyle choice or a mystical curse, Momo could not, could not stop thinking about it. About having his arms around Kaidoh and their mouths together and Kaidoh saying Momo's name without that whole tone behind it.
It was when Momo got told off in history class for not knowing where they were because he'd been daydreaming about saving Kaidoh from a nest of vampires that he decided something had to be done. By him.
Whenever his computer locked up and he called Kawamura, Kawamura told him to reboot. And it always worked. So Momo had to reboot him and Kaidoh and get them back to where they used to be, sniping at each other and definitely not kissing, ever at all.
The best way to do that, Momo figured, was to find Kaidoh and have a huge fight. Not just a yelling match or a bit of a tussle, but a full-on slam bam fist fight. Momo drew a stick figure with its little fists up and a tough look on its little round face. He drew a vampire next to it. And when lunchtime came, Momo went to look for Kaidoh.
He couldn't just barge in while Kaidoh was eating; if they fought in the classroom, they'd get in trouble for sure. So Momo hovered outside, taking peeks in, dividing his staring attention between Kaidoh and Kaidoh's lunch, which was just so much nicer than Kaidoh deserved.
When Kaidoh finished, Momo ducked into a doorway, looking inconspicuous, until Kaidoh passed by. Momo followed him, sneakily, silently, like a shadow barely flickering along the walls, all the way to the wing where the club rooms were. Kaidoh went into the Literature Club and closed the door behind him.
Was Kaidoh secretly in another club? An egghead club? Momo leaned against the wall to wait. But there wasn't that much time left in the lunch break. If he didn't start soon, there would be no time for them to beat each other senseless before afternoon classes. If there were other club members in there, he would just have to get rid of them first.
Momo threw open the door with a bang and struck a tough pose of challenge in the doorway. Except for the part where his mouth dropped open. Because there was Kaidoh. Kissing someone. Who wasn't a girl.
If Momo had had a stake, he would have driven it through Kaidoh's heart.
The room was dark, but light came in from the hall and Momo saw it all, saw them together in the far corner of the room, hands on each other, Kaidoh's hair a mess, the other boy's shirt pulled up, kissing in a way that Momo hadn't even thought about, deep and messy and raw.
But that was over as soon as it was burned on Momo's brain. When the light hit them, Kaidoh pulled away and hissed. The boy swore and dodged past Momo, knocking him onto the floor. Momo thought it was Tsumura from 2-4.
Kaidoh stayed in the corner, stock still and so pale Momo wondered if he'd faint. Momo stood, unsteady on his feet, and swallowed. How could Kaidoh do this to him? Momo wanted to grab Kaidoh and shake him, kiss him, kill him. Scream at him and push him against the wall. But Kaidoh's face made him afraid to do anything at all. "Um," Momo said. "Hi."
Half a second later, Momo was the one pushed up against the wall, Kaidoh's fingers biting into Momo's shoulders and that scary, white face so close that Momo couldn't see all of it at once. Momo's heart pumped panic though him, adrenaline screeching in his ears, blood throbbing in his throat, and then a jolt of lust so strong he couldn't keep from leaning forward, opening his mouth, even though Kaidoh's lips were still wet with Tsumura's spit.
Kaidoh threw him to the floor. "You..." Kaidoh said, and Momo stayed where he was, watching Kaidoh kick over a chair and slam the door behind him.
Momo sat in the dark, cut in half, the heels of his hands pressed against his eyes, wishing he were dead and Kaidoh was sorry.
"Flu," Momo said to Arai and got on his bike. He rode around, headphones in his ears, trying to get away from the doom that was snaking around his insides, squeezing him until he wanted to pull his guts out with his hands to get rid of it. That didn't seem like a good option, though, so he changed and went to street tennis instead.
And there was fucking Kaidoh. With Kamio from Fudomine. Momo dropped his bike on the ground. Was everyone gay for Kaidoh now? "Hey," he called on his way over, only he didn't remember actually deciding to go over. Not that he had decided much else that had happened the past few days.
They both turned to look at him. Kaidoh's eyes narrowed but his face was almost blank and Momo's diaphragm tightened until it was hard to get a good breath. "You're cutting practice," Momo said to Kaidoh.
"So are you." Kaidoh's fingers curled up into his palms and Momo thought they might have that slam bam fist fight after all. Just too late to do any good.
"I have the flu."
"You guys are both cutting?" Kamio said. Ibu was sitting on a bench nearby and he came up to join the conversation.
"I don't know why anyone would join a club and then not go. If I cut practice, that would disappoint Tachibana-san. And my tennis wouldn't improve. If you have the flu, you should wear a mask so we don't catch it. That's a bit irritating."
"You don't have the flu," Kaidoh said.
"Are we going to play or what?" Kamio said to Kaidoh, and that was probably code for going on a date and doing all kinds of gay sex things.
"Doubles," Momo said.
"What?" Kamio and Kaidoh said together.
"That might be a good idea," Ibu said. "We can practise our new formations and Kaidoh-kun will be the only one to catch Momoshiro-kun's flu germs. Unless Echizen-kun is here. Then I want to play singles."
"He's not here," Momo said. "Seigaku!" He raised his fist in a cheer.
"Asshole," Kaidoh said, but he stayed on the court when Kamio and Ibu went to get in position. Momo gripped his racquet and wondered just what was the point of breaking up a match between Kaidoh and Kamio, who was probably as non-gay as it was possible to be, when Kaidoh still had 2-4 Tsumura to mack on. Did they go on dates or did they just meet in the clubroom and grope each other in the dark?
"15-love," Ibu called out.
"Pay attention, you stupid stalker," Kaidoh said.
"I'm not a stalker." Momo moved into position for the second serve.
Momo stared. It wasn't like Kaidoh to miss a serve, not an easy one like Kamio's. "Shut up," Kaidoh said, even though Momo hadn't said anything.
They lost the first game. And the second. "You're playing like an old woman," Kaidoh said.
"You're playing like a stupid snake," Momo said and wished for about the 30 millionth time that he didn't want to grab Kaidoh and bury his face in Kaidoh's vampire-attracting neck and never, ever let go. And that Kaidoh didn't hate his guts. And that Momo were anywhere but here.
They lost the third game. In the fourth, Momo double-faulted on his first serve. "Concentrate, stalker," Kaidoh said.
Momo threw his racquet down onto the court. He grabbed Kaidoh's shirt in both fists. "I'm not a fucking stalker."
Kaidoh's face had gone all flat and pale again. He hissed in Momo's face. And Momo felt so twisted up and desperate that he didn't know what to do, what he might do. "I'm not a stalker," he said again. "I was just following you."
"Why?" Kaidoh didn't touch Momo, didn't let go of his racquet. Why wouldn't he do something -- hit Momo or run away?
"Are you guys still playing?" Kamio called.
"We forfeit," Momo yelled.
"Can't even finish what you started," Kaidoh said.
Momo dropped his hands. He put his racquet in his bag. He went into the public toilet and splashed his face at the sink. He stood there, water dripping off his nose and mouth, looking into the mirror. A big dumb asshole looked back at him.
The door opened and Kaidoh came in. "Aren't you going to play with Kamio?" Momo said. He swiped his face across his arm.
"He had a date or something."
"I won't say anything." Momo watched Kaidoh's reflection. He was just standing there. "To anybody. Tell Tsumura."
Kaidoh shrugged. "That's over."
Guilt bit at Momo, less like a vampire, more like a werewolf, sinking in its teeth and tearing. Not much how he'd thought he'd feel after taking Kaidoh's "girlfriend" away. Go team. He turned to face Kaidoh. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."
The tops of Kaidoh's cheeks turned red. "It was only three times."
Momo stared. This was getting weird and confusing. More weird and confusing. Like the air around them was heavy, pressing at them both, like it was making everything slow down, like Momo was looking into Kaidoh's scary eyes and couldn't make himself look away. And Kaidoh wasn't looking away either. "Uh...I could talk to him?"
"You fucking stalker moron," Kaidoh said and took three steps and kissed him.
It was quick and a little wet and pretty much the best thing ever and Momo was so stunned he completely failed to kiss back.
"Forget it." Kaidoh looked down, then turned to the door, like he was going to walk out and go away and he had just kissed Momo. Of his own free will.
"No!" Momo yelled and lunged. He got hold of Kaidoh's arm and yanked him back so they were face to face again, breath-close, and Momo just knew he was going to mess this up somehow. "Don't make me stalk you," he said, and couldn't believe words that lame had come out of his mouth. So before he could say anything else stupid, he leaned in and pressed their mouths together.
Kaidoh moved and Momo thought he was going to pull away, but he was stepping closer, shutting his eyes, sliding his arm around Momo's neck, tilting his head so their noses didn't bump together.
And there they were, kissing. And nobody was making them.
Kaidoh opened his mouth and pushed at Momo's lips. Momo opened up too, not quite sure what to do, and wishing he could hide that. Kaidoh moved his mouth, sort of like he was sucking on Momo's lips. Momo tried to do the same.
"Don't you know how to kiss?" Kaidoh muttered and Momo vowed to get him back for that. At some point in time when Kaidoh wasn't running his tongue along Momo's lower lip and breathing into Momo's mouth and making Momo's dick jump in his pants. Momo opened wider and pushed closer, floating like he was going down in a high-speed elevator, burning up like he really did have the flu.
Kaidoh pulled back and Momo tensed up. What if he really was terrible at kissing? But Kaidoh rested his forehead against Momo's and just stood there, still close, eyes still shut, breathing hard. Momo reached around Kaidoh's waist, put his hand on Kaidoh's back, pulled him closer, chest to chest. Kaidoh shivered. And then they were kissing again, mouths slippery and stumbling, Kaidoh's fingers digging into Momo's shoulder.
They shifted and Momo could feel something pressing into his thigh and it was Kaidoh, with one hell of a hard-on, and just the idea of Kaidoh being that gay for Momo was almost enough to make Momo come. They moved again and Momo's dick rubbed up against Kaidoh's hipbone and that was enough, more than enough, and he spasmed, clutching at Kaidoh, holding his breath, letting everything else go.
Then he was done. And mortified. To do that, in front of Kaidoh. And what was he supposed to do now? He hadn't been gay long enough to know. But Kaidoh rocked up against him and sighed against his shoulder and all Momo had to do was hang on.
And then they were sticky and breathing down each other's backs and Momo really wanted a nap and had no idea how they were going to look each other in the face now. Mercifully, his mobile rang. "Sorry," he said, and let go, looking at the ceiling, the floor, fishing in his bag, grimacing at the stain on his warm-up pants.
He got to the phone just before the voicemail picked up. "You cut practice, Momo!" Eiji said.
"I have the flu," Momo said. Kaidoh went into a stall and closed the door behind him.
"Kaidoh cut too. Did you see him?"
"I have the flu," Momo said. "I didn't see anybody."
"I was going to treat you to a meat bun," Eiji said. "Since Hitomi-chan is busy today."
Kaidoh came out of the stall. He'd changed his shorts and his bag was slung over his shoulder.
"I have to go," Momo said and closed the phone. "So," he said, meaning, Whither our new gay relationship?
"I'm late," Kaidoh said. "I'll see you later." Meaning, Our love will bloom like the roses. Or possibly, I'll see you later. Either way, it was probably the friendliest Kaidoh had ever been. And Kaidoh's cheeks went red again, and he bolted out the door.
Momo felt like he could stake every vampire in the world.
Sunday, Momo woke up grinning. Also a little sore from getting himself off three more times last night. Which didn't stop him from having another round to start the day. He was bubbling inside, bounding instead of walking, laughing instead of talking, promising his sisters all the shaved ice they could eat.
And he really wanted to see Kaidoh. Momo pulled out his mobile, but the bubble died a bit when he was staring the keypad in the face. What was he going to say? "Hey, Mamushi," and hope that Kaidoh would interpret that as, Let's get together for more gay teen kissing?
It might be easier in person. He went over to Kaidoh's house. He'd been there to drop off tennis stuff a couple of times, but he'd never been inside. It was a pretty big house for this part of town, two storeys. Probably the bedrooms were upstairs. He tried to decide if Kaidoh's room was one of the front windows. Or maybe the side.
So, all Momo had to do was go up and ring the bell and say...what? What if Kaidoh's mother answered the door? What if Kaidoh didn't want to see Momo? What if Kaidoh was some gay teen playboy who lured pure-hearted boys to corruption and then cast them aside? Like Tsumura from 2-4.
Momo wasn't about to give Kaidoh that satisfaction. If anyone was going to be a gay teen playboy, it was Momo. He just needed to spend more time luring Kaidoh first. So, he would go up and ring the bell and say--
"Stalker." Kaidoh was standing in the open doorway. He didn't look like a gay teen playboy. He just looked like Kaidoh. Regular, annoying, viper Kaidoh who Momo wanted to press up against and kiss and touch and Momo was really beginning to wish he'd brought a bag or jacket to hold in front of him.
"I'm not a stalker," Momo said. "I was tying my shoe."
Kaidoh looked at him for a long moment, then stepped back, holding the door. Momo bounded in. "My family is out," Kaidoh said.
"Too bad," Momo said, bubbling inside.
"I'm doing homework." Kaidoh looked away from Momo.
"Homework is good," Momo said. "I didn't bring mine." He pulled his shoes off and stepped into the hall. "I thought maybe we could--"
"If you say it, I'll kill you." Kaidoh grabbed Momo's elbow. "Come on."
Kaidoh's room was on the side. And it was freakishly neat. They both stood there, looking at each other's feet, while the air got quieter and quieter around them. "Um," Momo said. "Nice room."
Then they were away, pressing up against each other, kissing deep and messy and raw, pulling and pushing, clutching and grinding. It was even better than before.
When they were done, Momo stretched out on the floor, hands under his head, drowsing and wondering how long to wait before trying for another round. Kaidoh was somewhere close by, Momo could hear him breathing, maybe he was sleeping too. And Momo's phone rang.
It took him a few seconds to find it. Kaidoh had pulled it out of his pocket at some point and tossed it somewhere. It turned up on the couch. "Hello?"
"Momo-chan-senpai!" Oops. Momo had forgotten all about Horio and the Super Great Romance Plan. "I went over to her house, but I don't know what to do next."
"Okay, Horio," Momo said. "What you want to do is walk up and down the street a bunch, keep passing her house. Eventually, she'll come out and then you can bump into her and say what a coincidence it is. And then say something about the weather. That's a good topic. Maybe you should call the weather forecast number first so you'll--" Kaidoh grabbed the phone right out of Momo's hand. "Hey!"
"Ring the doorbell and tell her that you like her," Kaidoh said. Momo could hear Horio screech. "Do it." Kaidoh closed the phone and tossed it to Momo.
"'Just tell her than you like her'?" Momo grinned. "Did you have anything you wanted to--"
"Shut the hell up." Kaidoh went a little pink again and it was all Momo could do to keep from blurting out something himself. "Do you want to watch TV?" Kaidoh said. He put on some badly-dubbed Hong Kong action series and they sat on Kaidoh's couch, eating chips, and arguing over which of them was more like the hero.
Their fingers kept brushing in the chip bag and Momo wanted to just grab Kaidoh's hand and hold it. But he didn't quite have the nerve. Next week. "Next week," he said and Kaidoh turned to look at him. "Um...can I come over next week?"
"I guess," Kaidoh said, meaning, My life is incomplete without your glorious presence. Or maybe not. But they would probably make out. Momo scarfed the last of the chips. Kaidoh scowled and grabbed his arm.
Momo never did see how that episode ended.
Monday morning, Momo was so boundy and bubbly and working ever-so-hard at not staring at Kaidoh in the middle of the clubroom, that he nearly missed Eiji slamming his stuff around. "What's wrong?" Momo said.
"Nothing." Eiji threw his bag onto the floor and yanked out his training clothes.
"Ah," Inui said, opening his notebook. "My sources tell me that Eiji's girlfriend broke up with him on Sunday, citing irreconcilable differences."
"Irreconcilable differences?" Momo said.
"She said I talk about tennis too much," Eiji said. "And that the music I listen to is stupid. Her music is stupid."
"Also this weekend," Inui continued, "Horio won the heart of a certain basketball-playing girl from Class 1-3, cutting out Kaidoh completely."
"Senpai!" Kaidoh growled, and turned his back to the room.
Momo waited, not breathing, to see if Inui would add something more, but he just shut his book and put it away. Safe for now, at least. Momo unbuttoned his shirt.
"Momo!" Eiji yelled and pointed. "What's that?" He jabbed his finger into Momo's chest, just under the collarbone. Momo could just barely see the mark there, a small purple smudge. "You do have a girlfriend." Momo shrugged.
"Maybe," he said.
"Does she have a friend?" Eiji said.
Kaidoh clenched his fists. Momo grinned. "I'll ask her."