“Hi, Taka-san, Oishi, Buchou!” Eiji sings out, dropping his backpack onto Fuji’s bed then plopping himself down on the edge of the same. “Yuuta, Tachibana, Atobe, Kikumaru!” He giggles at this one and turns the names into a simple melody. “Yumiko, Momoshiro, Inui, Kaidoh, Fujiko!”
Eiji’s attention is suddenly arrested, and he peers down at the source of his distraction. “Ochibi!” he says sternly. “Have you been drinking too much?”
“Do you come over here to visit me, or my cacti?” Fuji closes the door to his room, looking amused. “Sometimes I can’t tell.”
“You, of course!” To prove it, Eiji leaps to his feet, does a handstand, then flips himself straight into Fuji, flinging his arms around Fuji’s neck. “Silly. I think Ochibi has a drinking problem,” he says, lowering his voice and glancing at the cactus to make sure it’s not listening. “He’s swelling up like a balloon!”
“I wonder why that could be,” says Fuji with a laugh. “Could it be a certain redhead who waters my cacti every day when I’m not looking?”
Eiji starts to stick his tongue out, then changes tactics. “What redhead?” he asks innocently. “You have another redhead in your room every day, Fuji?” He pouts. “Not fair!”
“Oh, I think it’s perfectly fair,” Fuji replies, disentangling himself from Eiji’s embrace. “You’re not the one who always has to coerce him into doing his homework.”
Eiji’s pout threatens to take over his entire face. “He can’t be that bad!”
“I thought you were jealous?” Fuji inquires, feigning surprise. “Now you’re defending him? Not that he doesn’t deserve it, of course,” Fuji adds. “He’s very clever when he’s trying to avoid homework.”
“What does he do?” Eiji asks, puffing up proudly despite himself. He does another handstand, almost knocking into Oishi-cactus, but not quite. “Oh, sorry, Oishi!” He leaps to his feet and pats the cactus gingerly so that it won’t worry. It’s not too spiky, but if you touch it the wrong way it can still hurt. It feels bad after, though, or so Eiji has told Fuji.
“Well, he does a lot of acrobatics,” says Fuji, sitting down on his bed. “He’s usually careful, but sometimes he’ll knock something over, especially if we have too much math work.”
“Acrobatics?” Eiji huffs and crosses his arms, pretending to glare. “He’s not better than me! Right?”
“Of course not,” says Fuji, then taps a finger on his chin, thinking. “But he’s about as good as you are, I think. I’ve never seen you play him, though, so I can’t be sure.”
“I’m better,” Eiji decides, bouncing onto the bed next to Fuji, laying on his stomach and leaning on his hand. “What else does he do? Besides acrobatics?”
“Sometimes he pokes one of the cacti he knows is too sharp to be touched,” says Fuji. “He doesn’t seem to mind, as long as it means he has to get a bandage before he does homework.”
“Like Yuuta?” Eiji asks. “And Ochibi?” Yuuta-cactus has very long, sharp spines, but if you can reach through them, you find out that the cactus is fuzzy and soft. Ochibi-cactus isn’t fuzzy at all, and Eiji still hasn’t figured out a way to get past those spikes.
“Yes, like those,” Fuji agrees. “Once he poked Ochibi-cactus so hard that he ended up bleeding all over my floor. Can you believe it?”
“Yep,” says Eiji, with an emphatic nod. “Sounds like he really doesn’t like homework!”
“I keep telling him that homework isn’t all that bad,” Fuji says. “He never seems to believe me. Once he pretended to be falling out the window, just to get out of an essay!”
“It was probably a long essay,” says Eiji, grimacing distastefully. “And boring.” Eiji had always had an exceptionally long attention span...but only when it came to certain subjects. World history had never been one of those subjects.
“Boring is a matter of opinion,” Fuji reminds him. “I thought that essay was very interesting.”
“Interesting?” Eiji raises an eyebrow, doing an admirable impression of Tezuka. Then he goes back to being Eiji. “Ha! It was about history, Fuji!”
“What, did I tell you about this before?” Fuji asks.
“No...” Eiji gives Fuji a crafty look. “I just knew. If he was going to fall out the window, it had to be about history.”
“Not everyone finds history as dull as he does,” Fuji says, laughing. “European history, at that! There have been so many fascinating time periods...”
“So what else does he do?” Eiji interrupts quickly.
“He sometimes says that he’s hungry,” says Fuji. “Then he takes hours to make a whole meal! Did I mention that he’s a very good cook? My whole family loves it when he comes over and cooks for us.”
“So the food is delicious?” Eiji says, grinning and scooting over so that he’s closer to Fuji and can look him right in the eyes to make sure he’s telling the truth.
“Oh, very,” says Fuji. “I have to admit, the food is always perfect.”
“Perfect for you?” Eiji asks. “With just the right amount of spices?” He makes another face. Fuji’s favorites are always full of wasabi or cayenne pepper or spicy sauce.
“Mm-hm.” Fuji nods. “Always perfect for me, even though he doesn’t like those spices quite so much.” Eiji snorts at the understatement.
“He sometimes does other things, too,” says Fuji. “For instance...” Fuji smiles and brushes Eiji’s bangs out of his face. Eiji flicks his head to help. “Sometimes he kisses me until even I can’t remember the homework.”
“But you don’t mind,” Eiji says mischievously, then gasps in shock and flips over so that he’s on his back, looking up at Fuji. “But Fuji! You let him kiss you?” He pouts again, remembering to be jealous.
“He’s a very good kisser,” Fuji says, eyes twinkling. “Very enthusiastic, certainly.”
“As good as me?” asks Eiji.
“Hmm, I’m not sure.” Fuji leans down to kiss Eiji, an upside-down kiss. Eiji lets out a happy sigh. Fuji licks Eiji’s lip, and Eiji captures Fuji’s tongue before Fuji can pull it back. He grins triumphantly, which is a little awkward with a tongue trapped gently between his teeth. “Gotha.” Meaning, of course, “Gotcha.”
Fuji laughs and manages to bite Eiji’s lip with his side teeth, startling Eiji into letting go. “Yes, he’s as good a kisser as you, except when he gives puppy kisses.”
“Those aren’t real kisses,” Eiji says, waving a hand in dismissal. “He knows those aren’t good!” He stifles laughter of his own. “They’re just fun.”
“Fun if you’re not the one whose face is covered in spit... And what else does he do? Oh! As I said, he decides my cacti need watering almost every day,” says Fuji, shaking his head with a sigh. “The poor things. They’re used to the desert, where it doesn’t rain every day.”
“They don’t mind too much,” says Eiji, sitting up so he can look at the cacti again.
“Except Ochibi,” Fuji says. “Who is, indeed, swelling up like a balloon.”
“He looks good that way,” says Eiji.
“True,” Fuji admits. He runs a finger down one of Ochibi’s spines, in a way that Eiji’s never gotten the knack of. “Maybe he’ll flower soon. Do you think so?”
“Definitely!” says Eiji, leaning so close that he’s almost poking his eye out on one of the cactus’ spikes. “I think I see a bud in there. Look, Fuji!”
Fuji inspects the cactus. “I think you’re right! You’ll have to come over tomorrow, to see if he’s flowered. Do you know,” says Fuji musingly, “I just remembered something else that redhead does to avoid homework.”
“Hm? What?” says Eiji, studiously keeping his eyes on the cacti.
“He pretends that there’s another acrobatic redhead who avoids doing homework, and makes me talk all about him,” says Fuji. “Especially when he remembers that we have another history essay to write.”
“...oh.” Eiji gives Fuji a sheepish grin. His eyes flicker toward the open window.
Fuji has a sweet smile on his face and an iron grip on Eiji’s wrist. “Don’t even think about it.”
Eiji gives Fuji his most innocent look, as though he’d never even think of trying to get out of anything. “I have an idea, Fuji. Let's do our homework!"