Learning to Fall
Oishi woke up a short time later to an alarm clock going off in his ear. Eiji's alarm he realized with a start. Feeling it was too early to get up, and that it might be worth 30 or even 50 laps missing morning practice to just sleep a little bit longer, he went to lay back down. How was Eiji's alarm going off if Eiji beat it? Was he in the shower?
Oishi sat up. As if he saw him Eiji said, "Oishi, up!"
"You played your alarm in my ear to wake me up?" Oishi's head was ringing.
"Hoi! Get up! Shower. I'll come by your house by the time you're dressed. Don't eat. Just get dressed." Oishi considered hanging up the phone and going back to bed. "Oishi...."
He had to laugh, it was like Eiji was watching him. "Okay, okay I'm going. See you...." Eiji hung up in his ear.
He looked at the clock. It was a little earlier than he normally got up, well at least before Eiji. Oishi considered again going back to bed but he had a feeling Eiji would somehow know and would only call him back. So he made his bed, went to shower, got dressed, and then wondered how Eiji was going to get to his house. He couldn't ring the bell when he got there either. It was too early. Or maybe he would. Oh no. Oh god. Oishi ran silently down the stairs and threw open the front door in a panic. Eiji was standing there, waiting to be let in, smiling.
"How....?" Oishi whispered but Eiji held one hand up to Oishi's lips to be quiet. Then he pointed upstairs. Oishi nodded and they went up. When they got into Oishi's room, Eiji inspected his racket, looked at his bed, wistfully Oishi thought, and kissed him all at the same time. It was nice. Really nice. Oishi actually growled a little it was so nice and considered that he might have been dreaming still.
Eiji was already done kissing him and was now pressing something wrapped and warm into his hand. "Breakfast" he explained whispering. "Can I leave my bike here, I want to walk?" Oishi shook his head as if to clear it. Eiji kissed him again, not helping.
"Hmm. You're cute when you're sleepy," he purred, looked at the bed again and suggestively to Oishi. He sighed and whispered, "Come on, school!"
Eiji remembered everything. Oishi would have forgotten his head he was that exhausted and Eiji was wide awake. How? He considered his time theory again and then that Eiji might be twins, or triplets, or quintuplets and that was how he was able to do things like this. He suggested his latest theory.
Eiji only laughed and said, "Eat."
It was really good. Some kind of egg sandwich thing although later Oishi could not have told you what kind of egg sandwich it was because he was so tired. He told Eiji it was really good. Eiji beamed and took a bite of it. He made sure Oishi saw that it was right where Oishi's mouth was a moment before. Oishi looked at him and Eiji winked at him with his little "aren't I cute?" laugh.
They got to practice and Eiji said softly, "Warm up with Tezuka, I'll go with Fuji." Because of rankings many more people were there early.
"But Tezuka doesn't normally....." Tezuka asked Oishi to warm up occasionally, Oishi never asked him. It had always been that way.
"Please, ask him." Eiji had this tell you why later look and Oishi was way too tired to argue.
"Good morning Tezuka will you warm up with me once I've changed?"
"I, I'd like that. Thank you Oishi." Tezuka was thanking him instead of asking Oishi what the hell was wrong with him? Oishi wondered what Eiji knew.
The list of who played who and when was up in the changing room. Oishi changed and only glanced at it on his way out. He had to play Fuji today so that was almost guaranteed one loss. Almost. He had two other regulars in his block both later in the week. It was going to be tough. Then he saw Eiji was scheduled to play?!
How? His leg was still hurt wasn't it? Oishi realized what a jerk he was not even asking Eiji how his injury, that Oishi caused, was. But Eiji did bike to his house with breakfast and then walked to school like he was fine. Then Oishi looked closely. Eiji had two regulars, Tezuka who no one beat, another tough third year, and one other former regular hot to get his spot back. He was in for a battle.
Oishi thought about talking to Tezuka but then decided not to. Eiji could take care of himself. If it was too much Eiji would tell them or Tezuka would pull him out. And Oishi would keep an eye on him too. Maybe he could tell Eiji later not to overdo it. Or ask, he realized, which might be even nicer.
Oishi went to walk out but saw Fuji looking cornered by some of the seniors. He was smiling his usual smile but something about his body language was off. Several first years walked out fast as if to escape or get help. Oishi walked up without a second thought. "Ready Fuji-senpai?"
"O...Oishi?" The tensai's velvet voice sounded softer and almost strained.
"Lets go." He said it calmly, smiling. As if nothing was going on. Everyone but Fuji glared at Oishi. But they knew he was friends with Tezuka and, well, really, everyone liked Oishi. They waited for Oishi to ask if there was a problem. He knew that was what they wanted and so he didn't give it to them. He just calmly put his hand on Fuji's lower back and lead him outside and away.
Outside, Eiji went to bound up to them both and stopped when he saw the look on their faces. Well at least the look on Oishi's unsmiling one. Oishi looked at Eiji and shook his head slightly knowing Eiji would understand. "Eiji, would you please warm up with Vice-Captain Tezuka and tell him I'm sorry? I'd forgotten I'd promised to warm up with Fuji-senpai today. Thank you very much." He smiled.
"Me....Tezuka.....!" Eiji looked horrified at the idea, but saw the look on Oishi's face and did.
"Thank you Oishi." Fuji said his voice calm again and soft like velvet water. His face was still smiling but Oishi noticed as they stretched that his hands were shaking no matter how much the tensai tried to force them to stop.
"You're welcome. Its adrenaline. You have to breathe into it and then just use it until it goes away. Has this been going on long?" Oishi said it all calmly and casually as if discussing the weather.
"Ne, Oishi, its just, its because of the rankings today. Only two will be picked and they both feel I will beat them. It happens sometimes."
"So they turn on you instead of each other?" Fuji nodded. "They seem to be distracted by you, but they aren't expecting me are they?"
Fuji turned to look at him, and Oishi continued, "Fuji-senpai, that is just too bad for them. Because I am also in your block and I do not intend to lose." Oishi smiled. Fuji inclined his head at the challenge.
Oishi finished by telling him, "I don't care when it started Fuji-senpai, but it stops today. All right?"
Fuji took a good look at him, Oishi saw a flash of azure eyes as he took him all in and then again he inclined his head. "Mn. Then I am in your debt, Oishi-senpai."
It was the first time Fuji used that term with him. "Not in the least, Fuji-senpai. I would do this for any of my teammates, but I do consider you a friend also. I hope that you consider me your friend as well. Friends help each other. Its what they do. There is no debt."
Fuji smiled. Genuinely smiled, and the tensai said, "Thank you Oishi-senpai," He paused smiling a little more, "but I will still beat you today."
Oishi smiled, "You can try."
They both laughed.
After warm up and practice, Oishi remembered to give the arnica to Fuji. It was a good thing Eiji remembered it that morning because Oishi would have forgotten it along with everything else. Oishi was glad that Eiji warmed up with Tezuka. If Eiji was not fit to play Tezuka would notice instantly and stop it. Fuji would have also and maybe that was why Fuji was going to warm up with Eiji. But why Oishi with Tezuka? That insistently?
Oishi had lots to talk to Eiji about.
But very little chance. They said hello in the halls and that was about it until lunch. Oishi was exhausted. Eiji came up to him smiling like they were supposed to meet there, "Hoi. Come with me?" He said not really asking.
He lead Oishi onto the roof. It was miraculously empty on such a beautiful, sunny day. He pushed Oishi down to sit and handed him food. "Eat." Eiji said when Oishi tried to tell him what happened. Eiji was smiling and eating, not letting Oishi say a word, sharing their food. Basically he was forcing Oishi to eat. Oishi laughed at his willful friend. As soon as Oishi was done eating Eiji wrapped the mess up and said "Come." Eiji led him over to a spot where their eyes would be shaded. They could not be seen by the doorway. Eiji kissed Oishi once, twice, three times, the third time hard. Oishi's heart pounded from the rush of heat and the nervousness of possibly being caught. Eiji laughed seeing his effects on Oishi.
"Eiji?" Oishi was confused. His brain felt like it just wasn't working. He had a million questions for him.
"Lay down Oishi." Eiji said softly and threw his soft bag on the ground. Oishi looked at him wondering what the hell he meant. Not, that, at school, surely? Was Oishi dreaming? Eiji laughed and said, "Nya. Sleep. Nap. You're too tired."
"I can't sleep. I have class next."
"Nya Oishi, I took care of it. Someone will come and wake us up. Its okay. You trust me. You're exhausted." Eiji said and lay down resting on half his bag. "Sleep."
Oishi was too worn out to argue. He knew he was falling off his feet. He lay down using the other half of the bag as a pillow. Eiji squeezed his hand and then let go but kept it just lightly touching the back of Oishi's. Oishi felt the heat from his friends body and the sun both brightly, cheerfully warming him. He heard the birds, noises from people talking, a few tennis balls being hit as if from miles and miles away.
Oishi didn't know how long later it was, minutes, hours, weeks? But the next thing he was aware of was hearing Eiji whispering as if from a million miles away. And a girl giggling. The girl then said, whispering, "Please?"
Eiji whispered back, "Hoi. I will, thank you very much. Shhh."
"Shhh." The girl giggled again. Oishi heard footsteps and the door open and close.
Oishi was confused and jealous. "What was that about?"
"Hoi, awake?" Eiji lay down next to him and kissed him. Oishi kissed him back relaxing into the kiss until he realized where they were. He sat up in a panic, confused again. "Oishi, its all right. That freshman girl likes you. She wrote you a love note and gave it to me to give to you today. She and her friends are keeping everyone away from up here and they will wake us in another 20 minutes with 10 minutes to spare before class. Hoi? And no one can see us here from the door. Did I do good?"
Oishi moaned softly at the thought of 20 more minutes of sleep. He kissed Eiji and said, "You did wonderful." He ran his hand across Eiji's smiling cheek.
Eiji laughed but then looked away and said, "Nya. Not so wonderful, I got jealous, and....I tore up the note."
Oishi laughed a little. "That's okay."
"Good, then when she wakes us up will you nicely tell you that you're not interested? Unless you are....." He pouted it was too cute to resist not teasing him a little.
Eiji gave him a long look and saw he was teasing. "Oishi, nya!"
Oishi laughed and said, "All right, okay, I'll tell her I'm not interested. Is there anything from the note I should know?"
"Hoi. She plays tennis in the girls club, her name is Masumi, oh, and she loves you." Eiji rolled his eyes but was pouting.
"Oh good." Oishi said casually.
"I've wanted to kiss a pout on you away since last night." Oishi said and did.
Eiji laughed when the kiss was done and then said, "Hmm, you gave me the shivers. Now sleep. You need to." Eiji insisted and was right.
Masumi came to wake them on time. Oishi swore he slept two hours instead of 20 minutes. He attributed it to Eiji warping time again. He asked Masumi to give them a few minutes to wake up and then he and she could talk when he came inside. Eiji was pouting. "Oh come on Eiji, I hate doing this as much as you do. All right?"
Oishi checked the door and then gave him a quick kiss on his so tempting, full lips, pouting to Oishi's pleasure, and then said, "Eiji, I need to tell you some things fast first, okay?" He told him about Fuji. Eiji listened with his eyes wide and then looked at Oishi in awe for stepping in. Oishi asked about why he had to warm up with Tezuka.
"Hoi. Fujiko said last night that he and Tezuka were in kind of a fight or something and asked if you could warm up with Tezuka. I forgot to tell you last night and then couldn't this morning because you were so sleepy."
"Sorry. You talked to Fuji last night?"
"Hoi. Before you called. You were probably in the shower." Eiji paused as if to clear his head of the thought of Oishi in the shower, "I don't know any more but will tell you if I hear."
"How did your warm up with Tezuka go?" Oishi stretched. He really felt like he had slept 5 hours at least between the two naps.
"Good. Better with you, or Fuji." Eiji added when Oishi shot him a look. "You know what I mean. He kept testing my leg and made me run. I'm fine now." As if to emphasize the point Eiji did a handstand flipping over to stand on both legs.
Oishi was impressed but knew that he was still favoring his hurt leg. Eiji held out his hand to help pull Oishi to standing. Oishi took it and hugged him when he got up. "You have a hard enough day today. Play well and please be careful. All right? Thank you again for my nap, it really was wonderful, and for getting me up and breakfast, too." Oishi hugged and kissed him briefly wanting it to be more. "Maybe you can come to my house after school, to get your bike, do your homework with me?"
Eiji laughed. "Hoi! Win. You promised. Help Fujiko, but you can still beat him." Eiji looked wickedly at Oishi. They walked towards the door.
Oishi then remembered Masumi waiting there and sighed. Eiji remembered at the same time and sighed too, making fun of Oishi who laughed.
They opened the door and there she was with at least 10 girlfriends all chattering excitedly. Oishi had an overwhelmed feeling and it must have shown on his face because Eiji, ever the consummate actor, took over. "Yah-hoi! Ladies! You saved us! And waking up to see such beautiful smiling faces on top of it all! How can we ever thank you?!"
The girls crowded around Eiji laughing at his antics except for Masumi who said "O...Oishi-kun, did you get my note?" She looked at him for one second and then down at her feet.
"I did. Thank you very much. It was very kind of you. And thank you for allowing us to catch up on our sleep. Eiji should not have imposed upon you...."
"He...he didn't impose, I...I wanted to Oishi-kun."
"Thank you again, you are very kind, but its just, its just....." Oh how Oishi hated doing this.
"I...I understand Oishi-kun, " she was starting to cry, " there is someone else...."
Oishi thought for a second about saying yes there was, but it was not that, he just was not interested in her. Period. Again, as so often with him happened, he didn't even know her, she didn't even know him, so how was she professing her love for someone she didn't even know? "No, there's no one else, its just...." Oishi heard Eiji even in the middle of his antics, sharply take in a breath. He looked over confused at his friend who was looking in shock at him.
Oishi didn't understand, wasn't he doing exactly what Eiji had asked him to do? Oishi went to finish this mess so he could see what was wrong with Eiji, "Masumi-chan, its just I really don't have any time to date anyone right now...."
Then a voice behind them both said, "And right now he's dating me little girl so go away. Hello Oishi-kun! You haven't returned my calls so I came to see you. Isn't your cell phone working?" Oishi turned, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up.
"Kiko, what are you doing here? You don't even go to this school." Oishi was both alarmed and angry.
Kiko pushed Masumi away from Oishi. The girl ran away, her friends following her, and Oishi heard them saying they were going to get a teacher.
Kiko's eyes flashed, "Then maybe I should transfer here. Its the only way we'll get to see each other, dearest."
"There is no we, we had one date, one, and I told you that I was not interested in seeing you. What is wrong with you?" Oishi was starting to get enraged. Eiji was standing there, staring there, and she went to take a step towards him. Oishi stepped in front of his friend, blocking her, ready to protect him.
"Hello Kikumaru-kun. Kiku says hello, and that you have not been returning her calls either. Same phone problems? She couldn't come today, she had too much to do, but she said to tell you she can't wait to see you again."
"Leave us alone." Oishi said it low and quietly. It was a growl.
"Oishi-kun, now I never knew you could be so passionate. How nice, for me."
"You! Excuse me, Miss, what are you doing here? I'm going to have to ask you to leave. Miss? Oishi? Kikumaru? Is this a friend of yours? Is she bothering you?"
"No sir," Oishi said staring her down, "she isn't a friend of ours, she is bothering us."
"Miss?"The teacher said going to take her arm to lead her away, "You're going to have to leave, this is private property and you're trespassing!"
"Don't touch me!" Kiko roared back. "I'm going. I'll be seeing you soon, my darling Oishi." She went to take a step towards Oishi who raised his hand as if to slap her. She shrugged, laughed, and walked quickly away, the teacher chasing after her.
The school called the police. Oishi and Eiji ended up recounting that they met her and the other girl for one date, nothing happened, and the girl would not leave them alone. Also that her cousin, Eve, was a student here. They believed Oishi and even believed him more when he played that days phone messages she had left him. Some twenty in all on Oishi's phone alone. Eiji did the same. She had been calling him too.
She sounded more and more crazed each call. The police took their phones explaining that they would hold them while they investigated. Oishi was so thankful he erased his text messages and hoped Eiji did also. Both phones were under a year old and both had replacement plans so they could both get new phones that day with the police reports. They talked to their parents. Oishi spoke to his Father, after the school called him and informed him. Their parents were assured them that their sons were safe, that it was no fault of theirs, and they were finally let out just in time to play tennis.
"I'm sorry Eiji." Oishi said for the millionth time that afternoon. Even Eiji had given up by then trying to make Oishi laugh and saying its all right. Neither was helping. So he nodded. Again. As they warmed up.
"Hoi, Oishi, do you want to stay at my house tonight if your parents let you?" Oishi looked at his friend gratefully. "We can get new phones on the way?" Eiji looked hopefully at him.
Oishi nodded. He smiled for the first time in hours, "Thanks Eiji, if you and your parents don't mind. I'll call my Mom after tennis, oh, I'll borrow a phone and ask her when I can." It was the first time Oishi felt better all afternoon since their nap.
"Hoi. But first, you have to win."
"I think I can do that." Oishi said grimly. Oishi was so furious that he won his first two games 6-0 within 15-20 minutes each. He took all his stress out while playing. He had one more game against a good, but not a regular third year that he won 6-1, and then was Fuji.
Oishi started up but Fuji beat him 6-4. It was a good game, but long, with a lot of people watching. Oishi heard Eiji cheering for them both again. It lightened his heart somewhat. He hoped Eiji would forgive him for losing. Oishi shook Fuji's hand as they left the court. Fuji said, "Oishi-senpai, I heard about what happened today and I am sorry. If there is anything a friend can do please let me know. You played really well by the way, it was fun."
"Thank you Fuji-senpai. If you have any more, things, like this morning come up, please let a friend know also."
"I will Oishi-senpai. Thank you."
And then Eiji was there. First congratulating Fuji and then telling Oishi how good he was. Eiji had won 2 of his games and lost the other 2 so he was out. One to a third year regular and one to Tezuka. Eiji had a few ideas on things he wanted to work on with Oishi. He looked at how tired and drawn Oishi seemed and said slyly, "Maybe tomorrow?"
Eiji also had kindly showered before Oishi. Oishi didn't think he could stand it if Eiji was there next to him naked. Even the thought now made Oishi switch to cold water for the rest of his shower. He went to go get dressed when he was done.
Tezuka startled Oishi out of his thoughts, "You played well. You made Fuji try."
"Oh," Try? That was Fuji just trying?! "Thank you Tezuka."
"If you need to talk." Tezuka waited for a response. What he meant was he heard what happened and if Oishi ever wanted to talk or needed a friend he would be there. That for Tezuka was 5 words. Oishi knew though it was 5 words he used with few.
"Thank you Tezuka, I appreciate it." Tezuka walked away to shower, leaving Oishi there to finish. As soon as Oishi was fully dressed Eiji magically appeared, as if he too, did not want to be tempted by Oishi naked. It made Oishi smile.
They went to get new phones first, Eiji telling Oishi which one to get because "It was the best."
They got the same phone in different colors and gave each other the numbers. Oishi called his Mom from his new phone walking towards Eiji's house with just enough battery power there for the one call.
Eiji was skipping along when he must have noticed that Oishi had stopped walking. Oishi couldn't even speak coherently. His Father was home early from work and immediately got on the phone. Oishi felt like he had been kicked in the stomach with what his Father was saying. "What? Yes, I understand. No, Father, its not like that sir...I'm not sure sir....No sir, he has nothing to do with it sir....Yes, I do have some schoolwork to do with him sir....yes, sir.....I'll be home soon sir. Father, yes, he will be with me for a little while, we do have some work to do to catch up from today, and he left his bike at our house. Yes, sir. As soon as we are finished, sir. I understand sir. I'll be home soon, sir. Goodbye Father."
Oishi just stood there stunned and hit end. Eiji was already at his side waiting to find out what was wrong. "Eiji," He said his voice barely a whisper, "I can't...I can't stay at your house tonight." He felt dizzy and sick.
"My parents....my parents don't want me spending as much time with you."
"Nya. But...but I had nothing....."
"Eiji I know. I know, I'm sorry. They are just looking for someone to blame."
"Nya! Then tell them that! Tell them...."
"Eiji!" Oishi reached out and held his shoulders. Then he pulled Eiji to him not caring who saw, needing to just hold him close. He ran his fingers gently through his hair. Oishi was shaking, actually trembling, and he wondered how his knees were holding him up. He took a deep shuddering breath in, "Please, please, please don't let me get upset. Please. I need to be calm when I face my Father or....or...." Oishi tried to breathe in again, "Eiji, its worse...much worse...." Oishi was aware that he was somewhere between sobbing and getting sick.
"Eiji, my parents want....my parents want to take me out of Seigaku."
Oishi felt Eiji freeze. He heard Eiji stop breathing and then the noise that came out of Eiji scared him. "No!" Eiji wailed this. Not a nya, a no. It was said in the kind of wail people only make when something really bad happens or someone dies.
Oishi was aware that people were probably looking and for the first time in his life he completely didn't care. He held Eiji close and closed his eyes. "Shhh. Please love, please be strong for me right now. I'm not supposed to have said anything. I bought us a little bit of time because...."
Oishi was nearly sobbing the words, trying not to fall apart on the street, in front of Eiji, "Please I need to see you for a little while. Please? Please be calm and be your normal self. Please don't let my parents see anything is wrong. Will you do your homework at my house, with me, and then I'll call you later. As soon as I know anything. If my parents see that everything is fine and what happened today was a one time thing that wasn't anyone's fault, that I'm not losing my focus or anything like that, that everything is fine, then maybe they will realize they are over-reacting. Please? For me? Because I can't...I can't..." Oishi couldn't speak anymore right then.
Eiji nodded and held Oishi harder against him as if he couldn't speak either. Oishi sagged a little bit against him, "Thank you...." Oishi felt relief flooding through him, tears stinging his eyes, and Eiji nodded again. Then Oishi held him closer for a moment and regretfully let him go. They both looked at each other to make sure the other wasn't crying, would be all right, and that they could do this.
Then they changed directions, and went to Oishi's house. Eiji called his parents along the way saying he was doing homework at Oishi's but would be coming home, later, alone.
They didn't talk on the walk over. Oishi wasn't sure what to say. He was just in shock. A thought occurred to Oishi on the way. "Your parents don't dislike me or blame me for today do they?" He was seriously worried about it.
"Nya." Eiji said confused and upset. "Maybe I should just go home Oishi? Would that be better?"
The thought of talking to his Father when he was like this terrified Oishi. He knew exactly where his temper came from and that was why he hated it so much and worked so hard to suppress it. His father ruled his home with an iron fist. You did not go against his wishes and as a guy, Oishi was expected to never, ever show any weaknesses or emotions or tears, even as a young child. Even though Oishi knew none of that girl showing up was his fault, his father had a no excuses policy and a black or white way of looking at the world.
Oishi knew it was irrational, but he felt if he could just see Eiji, just for a little longer, then maybe he could calm down enough to face his Father and be strong like he needed to be. "Eiji, if you want to go home, I understand. I don't know what is best to do right now, only that I want to see you for a little longer. Please? If you, if you can, stay with me? I....I really need you there, for just a little while. Because I need to be strong and I don't think that I....." Oishi choked back another sob and took a breath trying to speak a coherent thought. "I'm sorry." Oishi said when he could.
Eiji looked alarmed at him and said, "Nya Oishi, I'll go, I'll stay with you, I'll be there for as long as you need me to be. Okay?" He touched his arm and Oishi nodded not trusting his voice.
They walked in silence. Eiji occasionally brushing the back of his hand against Oishi's as they walked the rest of the way, leaving him to his thoughts but letting him know he was there. Oishi just tried to get a grip on himself. He could not cry, and had to force himself to not look upset, not crack, or crumble, or break, even though feeling the worst was yet to come.
And then, all too soon, they were there.
On to Chapter 16!!