Title: A Not-So-Bitter Defeat
Word Count: 1029
Summary: After their defeat against Yagyuu and Niou, Oishi and Kikumaru sort out their feelings about the game and other things.
Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis isn't mine.
They were at Oishi's. Kikumaru was now looking at the exotic fish, mesmerized by their colours and their movements. That was helping him feel calmer. And yet, he couldn't help feeling angry at himself for their defeat. If he hadn't been so transparent... And if he hadn't reacted so badly after he had understood the source of the problem... They would have been able to win.
"Eiji," Oishi began. He was a bit worried at his partner's current mood. This was so unlike him.
"I'm sorry, Oishi, it was all my fault. I was ridiculous!"
"Don't say that. It could have happened to anybody."
"That's not true!" Kikumaru exclaimed. "And even if it could have happened to me alone, it shouldn't have happened while we were playing together. We made a promise. We weren't supposed to lose ever again!"
Oishi smiled calmly. "What matters is that Seigaku won. And now, we can make it to the Nationals and win."
"Well, you kept your promise to Tezuka. So now, we'd better win the Nationals, because I don't want us to break our promise once again!" Kikumaru said, his usual enthusiasm showing up in his voice. "Still, I shouldn't have left him see through my habit."
"You didn't even know you had that habit. Now, you'll be able to work on it, so it's okay."
"I know, I know... But what annoys me the most is the way I acted after that. I should never have treated you like that. I'm sorry," he said, looking at his feet in a guilty way.
Oishi walked to Kikumaru and put his hand on his partner's shoulder. "Come on, Eiji, you know that I've long forgiven you. I forgave you the minute you were back to your usual self. And I was more worried than angry, anyway."
"Thank you, Oishi. I don't know what happened to me. I was so frustrated. But I shouldn't have turned my anger towards you."
"I think that game was the last drop. I've noticed that you've been nervous lately."
Kikumaru's eyes widened. "What makes you think that?"
"I know you. I know you more than anyone else. How could I have not noticed?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Kikumaru whispered.
Oishi smiled, because seeing Kikumaru acting shy was definitely a first. "See! That's exactly what I mean."
"I'm not acting weird!" Kikumaru pouted.
"That's not what I'm saying... Eiji, I'd like you to talk to me. We've always shared everything. Don't you trust me any more?"
"Got you! So, I was right, there's something that's disturbing you."
Kikumaru frowned. "Ah! Oishi, you're so mean! Don't trick me like that."
"It's just that I don't like it when we have secrets for each other." Oishi suddenly blushed. Really, who was he to talk like that? He too had secrets after all. But that was why he was currently speaking with his partner, wasn't it?
"I don't like it either. Our friendship is so important to me. But that's why there are things I can't tell you."
Suddenly, Oishi ruffled Kikumaru's hair. The redhead looked strangely at him, which made Oishi laugh. "Honestly, do you really think that anything you would tell me could ruin our friendship?"
"No," Kikumaru answered hesitantly. "But it could change things. You can't understand because you don't know what I'm talking about."
Oishi leaned forward and whispered into his partner's ear: "Yes, I do."
Kikumaru shivered and turned his head slowly. "You... You do?"
"Yes, I'm pretty sure I do. But you wouldn't want me to be mistaken, so maybe you could tell me yourself."
Kikumaru blushed. "I... I like you, Oishi." No, no, no, he had not just said that. Oishi was surely going to laugh at him.
"I like you too, Eiji," Oishi replied calmly, a big smile on his face.
"No, what I meant was I LIKE you." Okay, now he couldn't go backwards any more.
"I know, Eiji, I know. And that was what I meant too. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before. I didn't realize it a long time ago and, at first, I wasn't sure you returned my feelings. And even when I started thinking my feelings were requited, I felt like you weren't ready. And, also, I was a bit afraid to tell you."
At that time, he received a pillow right in his face. "Oishiiiii! You knew and you let me suffer through this declaration. How could you?"
Oishi laughed. "Sorry, Eiji. But if I hadn't done that, we would still be waiting for something to happen."
"You could have done it differently. And by the way, what are you waiting for now? You're supposed to kiss me!"
That made Oishi blush. The most difficult part was done, but he still wasn't sure what to do now. He walked to Kikumaru, put his hands on the redhead's shoulders and leaned forward. Their lips brushed lightly, and then he began moving his lips against his partner's. Kikumaru put his arms around Oishi's waist and they kept doing that for a while.
"Oishi!" Kikumaru suddenly complained.
"What?" Oishi exclaimed, surprised, and Kikumaru took advantage of the moment to slide his tongue inside his boyfriend's mouth. Oishi was startled at first, but then he began to deepen the kiss too and thought that it felt even better like that.
"See, that's what a real kiss is," Kikumaru declared smugly after breaking their first one. "I think you need some practice." And he put his words into action at once.
The day after, it was time to resume training at Seigaku. The Nationals were coming soon, after all. Ryuzaki-sensei had asked Kawamura and Fuji to play against Oishi and Kikumaru. The latter were currently leading by 5 to 2.
"Wow! I think their game against Rikkaidai has really improved Oishi and Kikumaru's coordination!" Momoshiro exclaimed.
"According to my data, their coordination should have improved by 5%," Inui remarked. "That's strange, because from what I can see here, it has improved by 15%."
Fuji missed a ball and grinned. He knew his best friend very well and there were things that Inui's data couldn't account for.