Ryoma liked Tezuka’s neck. At least that was what Tezuka was forced to conclude, with all the attention Ryoma paid to it. “No marks above the shirt collar,” Tezuka reminded sternly, or as sternly as he could with Ryoma nipping at that one particularly sensitive area of skin.
“Of course not, buchou,” said Ryoma, glancing up at him. Neither Ryoma’s tone nor his expression did much to alleviate Tezuka’s concern, but that concern was soon forgotten anyway. It was difficult for any teenage boy to remain worried about anything when there was another person in their lap kissing them, even when that teenage boy happened to be Tezuka Kunimitsu.
The first hint Tezuka had that something was wrong was in the locker room before practice. Possibly his classmates had been giving him strange looks, too, but they did that rather frequently, given his reputation for being the smartest, most athletic person in school.
Oishi approached him as soon as he came in the door. “Tezuka, do you think-“ Tezuka never got to say what he thought about whatever it was, because Oishi stopped and gaped at him after the first four words.
“Go on, Oishi,” said Tezuka. But Oishi didn’t, just opened and closed his mouth like a landed fish.
“Whoa, buchou!” Momoshiro blinked at Oishi, and then looked at Tezuka to see what was up, and then stared. “Were you attacked by a bear or a tiger or something?”
Tezuka might have been surprised, but his team members often said things that the rest of the world would consider odd. Besides, this time he suddenly realized what Momo and Oishi were staring at. “Something like that,” he said shortly, attempting to halt the conversation in its tracks.
Momo, unfortunately, never knew when to leave well enough alone. “Wow! That’s pretty amazing, it really is! Did you fight it off by yourself? Was it a lion?”
This display of admiration drew the attention of the two people most likely to make something very public and very inconvenient. “Maybe it was a lion,” said Eiji, barely repressing laughter as he draped himself over Oishi’s shoulders. Oishi didn’t protest, as he appeared to be catatonic. “I think it was a different kind of animal, though, nya!”
“Huh?” Momo was as dense as usual. Tezuka had to resist the urge to assign him laps.
“We could explain it to you, if you’d like,” said Fuji helpfully.
Oishi snapped out of his trance to say an alarmed, “No, don’t do that.” He was too late, because Momo had already said, “Sure, I guess.”
Fuji and Eiji proceeded to explain, in detail, what hickeys were and how they were acquired. They then offered Momo a live demonstration which, thankfully, Momo refused, even in the daze he’d fallen into by the middle of his impromptu lesson.
In his corner of the locker room (the one nearest to the one Tezuka generally used to change), Ryoma smirked. Tezuka would have given him laps, but then he would have had to explain what they were for, and there had already been too much explanation of uncomfortable things in the tennis club that day.
When Ryoma started kissing his throat instead of his lips the next day, Tezuka stopped him. “Not above the collar,” he said, more firmly than before in the vain hope that he would actually accomplish something that way.
“Yes, buchou,” said Ryoma obediently.
Tezuka had no idea how it happened, but the next fifteen minutes were a complete blank in his memories. When he became aware of what was going on again, Ryoma was suckling at a pulse point in his neck like a vampire. He gave Ryoma his best I am your captain and you are supposed to listen to me, dammit look. The “dammit” wasn’t usually in there, but there was a hint of indignation today. “Ten laps, Echizen,” he commanded.
“Where? Around the house?”
Ryoma went outside to run his laps without a hint of complaint, which should have been satisfying. It would have been, except that Tezuka looked in his mirror and found five mouth-shaped bruises on his neck.
Tezuka’s mother drew him aside after breakfast the next morning, an unusual occurrence. “Kunimitsu,” she said.
“Yes, mother?” he asked, wondering what she had to tell him. He and his parents didn’t discuss things with each other very often, particularly not right before school when he was supposed to be leaving. This had to be serious.
“Your neck,” she said, and touched her own neck exactly where the worst of the bruises was located on Tezuka’s.
Tezuka, as a rule, blushed about once every ten years. This day saw another embarrassment-free decade, or so he could hope. “Mother-” he began, not at all sure what was appropriate to say to his mother in a situation like this one. Perhaps he could tell her that yes, he did intend to marry the girl… only “the girl” was Ryoma, and he certainly wasn’t going to claim any right to marry Ryoma without at least talking it through first.
She interrupted him, another thing that didn’t happen very often. “I’ll let you borrow my makeup and help you put it on, if you would like.”
Tezuka always loved his mother, but he didn’t think he had ever appreciated her more than he did at that moment.
Class that day was fine, and none of his classmates so much as glanced askance at him. However, makeup didn’t last forever, a point he had forgotten. Very careless, when he thought about it, and a mistake he would not make again. That did him no good, however, because this time the makeup had worn off by the time tennis practice rolled around.
Throughout practice, Momo looked horrified, Fuji and Eiji looked amused, and Ryoma looked smug whenever they looked in Tezuka’s direction. To Oishi’s credit, he’d evidently adjusted to the fact that his captain was, in fact, a healthy fifteen-year-old boy who could date and get hickeys if he wanted to. Inui was evidently filling an entire notebook with data on Tezuka’s hickey-acquiring habits, because he never stopped writing. Kawamura seemed blissfully ignorant, though Tezuka noticed Kawamura giving him a sympathetic look once, which made Tezuka wonder.
Kaidoh was actually ignorant as to what was going on. “What the hell is wrong with you?” he growled at Momo. “Why do you keep staring at…” he lowered his voice respectfully. “…Tezuka-buchou?”
“Um.” Momo peeled his eyes off of Tezuka for a second. “Why don’t you go ask Fuji-senpai and Eiji-senpai, mamushi? I bet they’d tell you what’s up.”
Tezuka had previously credited Kaidoh with having more sense than that, but he had to revise his opinion. Kaidoh glared at Momo, and then stalked over to Eiji and Fuji, where he undoubtedly found out quite a bit more than he’d wanted to. After that, both Momo and Kaidoh looked horrified whenever Tezuka walked by.
Of course, none of this stopped Tezuka from saying yes when Ryoma asked if they were studying together again that night.
In the locker room the next day, Momo and Kaidoh were still looking horrified, even more so because Tezuka had more hickeys to replace the fading ones. This lasted for about ten minutes, until Ryoma walked into the room with his entourage of other freshmen in tow. Ryoma went to his corner and pulled off his shirt.
“Oh my god, Echizen!” Horio screeched. “What happened to you?!”
Ryoma looked down. All across his chest, there were small, vaguely round bruises that could only have been caused by one thing. He looked over his shoulder at his back, and yes, they were there, too. “Che,” said Ryoma.
“Holy shit,” said Momo, his jaw dropping. “Both Tezuka-buchou and Echizen have got wild girlfriends!”
“Hm, I don’t know about that,” said Fuji, breezing by to get his uniform out of his locker. “If they both have them, doesn’t it seem that they might be getting them from the same place?”
“Tezuka-buchou’s girlfriend is two-timing him with Echizen?” Momo burst out, gaping at Fuji.
“Cut out the part about the girlfriend, Momo,” Eiji advised him, and giggled. Tezuka could practically see the gears in Momoshiro’s head turning as he contemplated that. He could also practically see the light bulb turn on when Momo finally got it. Kaidoh got it at the same second, and they both looked like they’d been hit over the head with a two-by-four.
“Echizen! Does this mean that Tezuka-buchou gave you…” Horio screeched again, and covered his ears as though he could stop himself from having heard that. Oishi looked to be on the verge of catatonia again. Tezuka felt almost sorry for him.
Ryoma ignored him and finished getting changed, not at all perturbed by his teammates’ reactions. “Hypocrite,” Ryoma whispered to Tezuka as he went by, and grinned.
Tezuka gave him the I am your captain, so clearly I am correct look and said, “None of them were above your shirt collar.”
And that was the end of that, until both Momo and Kaidoh started showing up to practice with bite marks in places far more interesting than their necks.