“So how did your parents end up engaged?” Fuji inquired.
“My mom proposed to my dad,” said Eiji with a giggle. “He said he was so surprised! She did it when they were at a baseball game, and she put an announcement up on the scoreboard and everything!”
“How romantic,” said Fuji, sighing blissfully. “Your parents are so adorable, Eiji.”
“I was thinking,” said Eiji, bouncing experimentally on Fuji’s bed, having spent the night at Fuji’s house for the third time that week. “If someone wants to marry me, will I be ready?”
“Hm,” said Fuji, watering one of his cacti carefully. “That’s a very good question.”
“Yep!” said Eiji, his eyes sparkling at his best friend. “So how can I be ready, nya?”
“The same way you can be ready for a tournament,” said Fuji serenely. “Practice.”
“All right now, class,” said the teacher briskly, picking up a piece of chalk. “Settle down, settle down.” Most of the students turned their eyes attentively (or not) to the blackboard.
“Excuse me, sensei?” She turned and saw Fuji Syusuke with his hand raised politely, smiling, as usual. She repressed a little shiver. Fuji was perfectly polite, a model student, but when he raised his hand for something in class...well, it was either to give a ridiculously complete correct answer, or...
“Yes, Fuji-kun?” He was one of her favorite students, despite the odd feeling she sometimes got that he was teaching her instead of the other way around.
“I need to ask something before the lesson,” he said, respectfully, politely, and completely un-disturbingly. She’d had enough experience with him, though, that she felt a vague sense of foreboding anyway. She could hope that he was only asking for help with a difficult bit of homework, but she knew that wasn’t it.
“All...all right, Fuji-kun,” she said. “What is it?”
Fuji stood up, and she raised her eyebrows, alarmed. But Fuji immediately sat down again...well, knelt, really, next to Eiji’s desk. He gazed solemnly up at Eiji, his blue eyes flashing in the sunlight. Eiji looked down at him as though he was holding his breath and waiting for something.
Overall, it looked like a scene from the end of a romantic movie. No! She shook her head, trying to clear that thought from it. Of course not.
“Kikumaru Eiji,” said Fuji, at his most sincere. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring that looked as though it had come from the inside of a cereal box. “Will you be mine forever and always, to have and to hold until death do us part?”
“Fuji,” Eiji breathed. “Are you asking me to marry you?”
The teacher felt as though she was watching an extremely well-rehearsed play, and couldn’t account for the feeling at all. The rest of the students watched, some rapt, some horrified, some bewildered.
“Yes, Eiji,” replied Fuji, nodding. “I am.”
Eiji squealed and threw his arms around Fuji’s neck. “Of course I will! You’re the best, Fujiko, nya!” He let Fuji slip the ring onto his finger, then held it at arm’s length to admire it.
The teacher stared, then asked faintly, “Fuji-kun...Kikumaru-kun...what was...what was that?”
Fuji was already returning to his seat. He looked at her and smiled. “Don’t worry, sensei. It was just practice.”
“Oh,” she said, for lack of anything better to say. “Well...open your books to page 45, then.”
Ryoma was all prepared to have a relaxing lunch up on the roof of the school, with no interruptions, no nosy senpai, nothing. He brought his racket and a ball, just in case he wanted to practice with the wall.
He was just about to eat his sandwich when the door to the roof slammed open and then shut. He glanced up, irate and ready to say something disparaging to whoever had just decided to disturb him, probably those girls who were always screaming about him at the tournaments.
“Oh. Momo-senpai.” Ryoma relaxed a little. Momo would try to eat his food, but wouldn’t make him do anything stupid like talk or anything. At least not too much.
“Hey, Echizen,” said Momo, plopping down next to him and leaning against the wall. He eagerly unwrapped his own sandwich and took a huge bite.
Then the door swung open again, and Ryoma knew it just had to be the loud girls; either that or Horio, who wasn’t exactly good for the digestion. He opened his mouth, intending to be as rude as possible to whoever it was, and hope they would take the hint.
He closed his mouth when he saw that it was Eiji-senpai and Fuji-senpai. They were way harder to get rid of than any girls, or even Horio. He rolled his eyes. “Che.”
“Ochibi!” said Eiji gleefully, pouncing at him. Ryoma scooted over quickly, pulling on Momo’s arm.
“Oof!” said Momo, surprised, when Eiji landed nearly in his lap. Eiji beamed at both of them. “Guess what, guess what?”
“I don’t care,” Ryoma muttered, wishing he could eat his lunch in peace just once this school year.
“That’s hardly a positive attitude, Echizen,” Fuji said, shaking a finger at him. “Don’t you want to hear our news?”
“Are you leaving?” Ryoma asked. “I don’t want to hear it, if it’s not that.”
“No, no!” This time Eiji simply squished his way in between Momo and Ryoma, slinging an arm around both of their shoulders. Momo was busy devouring his sandwich as fast as he could, casting wary glances at Eiji as though the redhead was likely to eat his food any minute. “Fujiko and I,” said Eiji, with a great sense of occasion, “are getting married!”
Momo choked on his food. Ryoma looked at Eiji skeptically, then at Fuji. “That’s stupid.”
“It is not!” Eiji protested. “It’s romantic, Ochibi!”
“No,” said Ryoma. “It’s stupid.” He elbowed Momo in the ribs. Momo swallowed and started turning back to his normal color from the purple he’d been a moment before.
“We need someone to officiate the wedding,” said Fuji sweetly. “And since you’re so talented with everything else, Echizen, who better?”
“Don’t involve me in your fake wedding,” said Ryoma flatly.
“We also need a photographer,” Fuji continued, blithely ignoring Ryoma’s refusal. He held out a small silver camera to Momo, who took it and stared at it. “Would you do the honors, Momoshiro-kun?”
“Uh, sure,” said Momo. “Just press the button, right?” He did so, taking a picture of his foot and part of the roof. “Oops.”
“You need to wear fancy clothes to a wedding,” Ryoma pointed out. “A tie and a dress.”
“Not a problem.” Fuji knelt down and unzipped his backpack, rummaging in it for a moment before coming up with a dashing blue tie. “Will this do?”
“Fuji-senpai,” said Momo, blinking. Even Eiji looked mildly startled. “Why do you have a tie in your backpack?”
“Just in case,” Fuji said cheerfully, as though that was any sort of answer that explained anything.
“Oh,” said Momo, and subsided.
“I have a skirt in here, too,” Fuji offered, coming up with a skirt that appeared to belong to a Seigaku girl’s uniform.
“Never mind,” said Ryoma quickly, already picturing Fuji or Eiji in a skirt. He never wanted to see that again.
“So you’ll marry us?” Eiji asked, entangling his arms completely around Ryoma’s neck.
“Ack,” said Ryoma helpfully, in the process of being strangled.
“Oh good,” said Fuji, knotting the tie around the collar of his shirt. “Then we’ve got everything we need, in that case.”
“Except a bouquet!” Eiji chimed in. He let go of Ryoma, then snagged Ryoma’s racket and brandished it. “Hoi! This’ll work!”
“Hey!” Ryoma stood up and grabbed vainly at the racket, which Eiji held up out of his reach. “Give it back!”
“Come now, Echizen,” said Fuji persuasively. “It’s just until after the wedding.”
“If you catch it, you can have it back,” Eiji told him, charitably enough. “And then you’ll be the next one to get married!”
Ryoma jumped for the racket. Momo snapped a picture, and Ryoma whirled on him, glaring daggers. “Sorry, Echizen,” said Momo, not looking particularly sorry.
“Fine. Let’s get this over with,” said Ryoma, scowling. “Do you, Eiji-senpai, take Fuji-senpai to be your...” he paused for a second. “Your wife...”
“I’m the one wearing the tie,” Fuji pointed out.
Ryoma crossed his arms and glowered even more than he already had been. “Fine. Your husband.”
“I do!” said Eiji.
“And do you, Fuji-senpai, take Eiji-senpai to be your...wife, I guess.” Ryoma rolled his eyes and let out a sigh to indicate that he still thought the whole thing was stupid.
“I most definitely do,” said Fuji.
“Fine. You can kiss the bride, then,” said Ryoma.
Momo almost dropped the camera. “What?” He fumbled around, trying to catch the thing before it fell on the ground and broke. Being indebted to Fuji-senpai was never a good idea, because Fuji never seemed very interested in monetary reimbursement. “Echizen!”
“Then I’ll will kiss the bride,” said Fuji, and proceeded to do so with great flair and much tongue. Eiji giggled into the kiss, pulling Fuji close and bending him over backwards like an old-fashioned movie star. Fuji lifted one graceful foot off the ground like an old-fashioned female movie star.
When they finally broke apart, Fuji looked at Momo and tsked. “Why, Momoshiro, you didn’t get a picture of that.”
“Uh...er...I...no,” Momo finished lamely.
“Then we’ll just have to do it again!” Eiji decided, sounding all-too-pleased with the prospect.
“Make sure to get the picture this time, Momo-senpai,” Ryoma advised him as Eiji swept Fuji into another long kiss.
“Uh-huh....” Momo snapped not one, but five pictures, just to be safe.
“Now...” said Eiji, turning so that his back was to them. He looked at Fuji and giggled again. “You have to try and catch the bouquet!”
“Don’t throw my racket!” Ryoma exclaimed, lunging for it. Unfortunately, Eiji had already tossed it over his shoulder with much relish. A little too much relish, though, because it fell off the side of the roof. Ryoma yelped and would have dived after it if Momo hadn’t grabbed his arm.
Ryoma glared bloody murder at Fuji, Eiji, and Momo alternately, then took off for the stairs, banging the door as hard as he could.
“Why are you getting married, anyway?” Momo asked randomly.
“Don’t worry,” Eiji told him. “It’s just practice!” He beamed at Fuji, who gave him a warm smile and then pounced at him and kissed him, making Momo wish he was elsewhere.
Tezuka was just walking out of the school building when he heard an odd sound from the roof. Alerted, he glanced upward, just in time to see the racket hurtling out of the sky at him. Instinctively, he reached up to shield himself, and caught the handle of the racket before the thing could hit him in the head.
He looked at the racket, turning it over in his hand. He recognized the racket, and said, “Echizen,” to himself, thoughtfully, before turning to walk back into the building.
“Momoshiro,” Inui greeted Momo, who jumped, and then held up a hand apologetically. “Sorry, Inui-senpai.” He glanced at the door of the bathroom he was standing outside of. “Er...”
“Tezuka sent me to discover where you, Fuji, and Kikumaru had gone,” Inui stated. “Practice has already started, although when I left, Tezuka appeared to be too busy discussing something with Echizen to be overly impatient as of yet.”
“I’m here,” said Momo, then jerked a thumb at the bathroom. “And Fuji-senpai and Eiji-senpai are in...there.” He shuddered slightly.
“I see,” said Inui.
“They’ve been in there a long time,” said Momo nervously, almost resting his ear against the door so that he could hear. Most of what he’d heard so far had been muffled giggles and occasionally a quiet thud or a rattle as though someone had run into something...or something.
“True, yes,” said Inui, flipping a page in the notebook that had been clearly labeled “Fuji and Kikumaru - observed combined social behaviors,” whatever that meant. “They’ve been in there for nearly four times the length of most necessary functions in males, close to the average time spent by two females in the bathroom. Interesting.”
“Yeah,” said Momo, not so much thinking it was interesting as terrifying. Then he turned and blinked at Inui. “Wait...are you saying that Eiji-senpai and Fuji-senpai are girls?”
“Of course not,” said Inui. “I am simply observing that their behaviors seem to mesh more with those of females than that of males in such a situation, which fits with certain other habits I have observed in the two of them. I have no reason to believe that either of them show any physiological anomaly as far as gender is concerned.” Inui’s glasses glinted.
“Uh, right, yeah,” said Momo, wondering if he should just go into the bathroom. Standing here talking to Inui-senpai was almost as disturbing as anything he could imagine Fuji and Eiji doing. Then he thought again and decided that wasn’t right.
“I would be able to gather more accurate data if I knew precisely what they were doing,” said Inui. “It would be most beneficial if you would enter and report back to me.”
Momo gaped at him. “Are you crazy? No way! They already made me be take pictures of their, uh, wedding earlier!” He crossed his arms indignantly. “Anyway, if you want to know, why don’t you go in?”
“Well...” Inui said slowly, tapping his pen on the cover of his notebook. “I have incurred Fuji’s ire all too recently by interfering in his affairs, and I don’t believe it would be...wise...for me to do so again.”
“Oh, so you’re willing to risk my life?” Momo yelped.
Inui cleared his throat. “Now Momoshiro, don’t exaggerate.”
“What exaggerate?” Momo asked. “If even you’re afraid of Fuji-senpai...”
“Oi! What are you two doing?” Horio looked from Momo to Inui and then back again. “Is something happening in the bathroom?” He peered at the door as though he could see right through it with his two years of spying experience.
Inui and Momo exchanged a glance. “Uh, no, of course not,” said Momo, shifting his weight and grinning as though it was no big deal. “Inui-senpai and I were just, uh...”
“Discussing strategy,” Inui continued smoothly. “We encountered one another here and didn’t so much as think that we would become an inconvenience by remaining in the doorway. My apologies.”
“Oh, well that’s all right then,” Horio said, then added confidently, “If you need to know anything else about tennis strategies, I’d be happy to help you.”
“Yeah, thanks, that’s good of you,” said Momo.
Momo and Inui watched with bated breath as Horio pushed open the door and swaggered into the bathroom. Momo cautiously leaned toward the door again, trying to hear what happened. Suddenly the bathroom had gone entirely silent, which didn’t seem to be a good sign.
“He’s been gone for five seconds,” Inui murmured to himself. “So much time bodes ill for his physical and mental state...”
Then a shriek rang out through the bathroom door, a few muffled words were spoken, and a renewed burst of laughter came from within. The door banged open, and Momo barely missed getting hit by it. He jumped back just in time.
Horio’s eyes were as big as saucers and he seemed to have forgotten to close his mouth. “Fu-Fuji-senpai,” he managed to say. “E-Eiji-senpai...they...”
“What is it?” Inui asked urgently, his pen poised, at the ready.
“They...they...” Horio pointed back at the door dramatically, unseeing eyes staring at the far wall. “They’re practicing their honeymoon!” he wailed finally.
“Uh...” Momo’s eyes widened too, and he paled past the point that was usually considered healthy. “I did not want to know.” He hurried off in search of another, less occupied bathroom, not caring if he had to go all the way across the school to get to one.
“Ii data,” said Inui, a faint smile crossing his face. “Thank you, Horio-kun, for the information.” With that, he also left, intending to let Tezuka know what he’d discovered.
Unnoticed by either of them, Horio fainted onto the floor of the hallway, where Katsuo discovered him, twenty minutes later, on his way to fetch something for Ryuzaki-sensei.
Eiji and Fuji finally entered the clubroom about fifteen minutes after Inui and Momo departed. Oishi stood up and said, “Fuji, Eiji, where were-!” He trailed off.
Eiji had Fuji in his arms, and they were both grinning as Eiji swept in through the door. Both of them looked fairly disheveled, their shirts rumpled and their hair mussed. Fuji, still wearing his navy blue tie, placed a kiss on Eiji’s cheek. “That was most definitely the most romantic honeymoon I’ve ever had,” he said dreamily.
“Hon...honeymoon?” Oishi asked, looking utterly bewildered.
“Yep,” Eiji confirmed. “We got married this afternoon. Didn’t Ochibi tell you?”
“Echizen only talked to Tezuka when he came in, although Inui might have...” Oishi looked at them and then started. “Married? Eiji, both of you are too young to get married! Fuji, how did this happen?” His face got paler and paler as he got more and more worried.
“It was more of a practice wedding,” Fuji assured him. “I don’t think Echizen actually has the authority to perform a real ceremony.”
“Oh,” said Oishi. “Well, that’s...that’s good.”
“I just wanted to make sure I was ready, when I really got married,” Eiji told him, which, for some reason, made Oishi blush.
“Practice...is good,” Oishi said.
“Yep, nya!” Eiji grinned widely at his doubles partner, then carefully set Fuji down. Tezuka chose that exact moment to stride through the doorway, Ryoma right behind him, smirking slightly.
“Fuji. Kikumaru,” said Tezuka, in a voice that meant he was being deadly serious. “You will run forty laps immediately for being late, and then you will pick up balls with the freshmen for the remainder of practice.”
“Of course, Tezuka,” said Fuji, taking Eiji’s hand. As they passed by Tezuka and Ryoma, Fuji remarked, “Oh, Echizen, you found your racket. I’m glad.” He smiled at first Ryoma, who scowled and looked away, and then at Tezuka, who kept his face studiously neutral.
When Fuji and Eiji began their laps, Eiji giggled and said, “You know something, Fuji?”
“What?” Fuji asked, looking as though he could barely contain his own laughter.
“I can’t wait until we practice our anniversary!” Both of them nearly fell over with the hilarity of it, making everyone else wonder when on earth running laps had become so much fun.