Horio should never know. Neither of them wanted to be party to any stories of Horio's "experience," particularly since they were both fairly certain that Horio couldn't find an erogenous zone if he had a map and the area was outlined in pink highlighter.
"I think he's dating Tomoka," was Katsuo's final decision on the matter. He hadn't given it too much thought, but he caught a few glimpses of Horio trying to look up the skirt of Ryoma's 'Number One Fan.'
Kachiro stopped his sweeping and looked out over the leaf laden tennis court. "Maybe. I think he's just doing it because he saw it on TV." He resumed his after practice chores with a sigh. "It's not fair that Ryoma-kun got to skip out on cleanup today." He toed at a skid mark left from a failed Drive B.
"Regulars' Privilege." Katsuo shrugged and went to help his friend clean up. Secretly, Katsuo thought the Drive B was stupid, and he was waiting for the day Echizen's shorts split because rubbing against the ground compromised the fabric. He couldn't say that out loud, though, because Kachiro thought Echizen was a tennis demigod, even with a move that was little more than an ass slide. If Kachiro really wanted an idol, he could choose someone a little taller, like Kaidoh-senpai. Kaidoh-senpai practiced hard to achieve his goals and could probably bench press more than anyone but Kawamura-senpai. If Kachiro worked really hard, he might have legs like Kaidoh-senpai's, sleek and toned and –
Kachiro coughed to get his attention. "What're you thinking about?"
"Just tennis." Katsuo rarely thought about tennis, even though he and Kachiro talked about it all the time. There really wasn't much for a guy like him to think about; he wasn't a tennis prodigy like Echizen. He probably wouldn't even be considered for an alternate position until third year. He stayed on the team, though, because his mom wanted him to have a hobby and Kachiro would probably cry if left alone with Horio. "Did you get the permission slip turned in for the Senbatsu trip?"
"I turned it in this morning. Is it true that they're inviting players from all of the schools? Do you think Rikkaidai will be there? Hyoutei?" When Kachiro was a toddler, he used to get so excited he would wet himself. Katsuo promised never to reveal the secret to anyone but, these days, he was afraid Kachiro's awe of the top players might cause an unfortunate accident. Still, Kachiro's enthusiasm was one of his better traits.
"Ryuzaki-sensei says all the top players are going to be there, even Atobe and Sanada." Really, if you wanted a goal, then Sanada was it. He was tall, his voice was imposing, and he was absolutely ripped. Nobody was going to stick gum in Sanada's hair so he had to shave it all off. Nobody was going to dunk Sanada's head in the toilet and call him a sissy boy.
"I hope we get to room together," Kachiro whispered, his hand brushing against Katsuo's. Usually he wasn't so forward when the other first years were around, but sometimes he got so excited that he couldn't help but let it out. "Maybe we'll even get a room far away from Horio-kun's."
Maybe Horio would get diphtheria and wouldn't be there at all. Oh, Katsuo could hope. "That would be nice," he said in lieu of voicing his anti-Horio fantasy. Even though they often talked about getting away from him, Horio was still one of Kachiro's favorite people on the team. Katsuo didn't mind Satoshi most of the time, just when he opened his mouth. "If we're lucky, we can sit on the bus together. I got a really good book from a guy in my class and I think you'll like it. It's got space stations and stuff in it."
"Cool." Kachiro looked around the tennis courts. "Guess we're done here. I should get home and do my homework."
In a perfect world, 'do my homework' would mean something perverse and wonderful. In the real world, in which Kachiro didn't think overly perverted thoughts during school hours, Katsuo resigned himself to a lame celibacy with occasional risqué hand holding. His one consolation was that he was likely getting more physical attention than any other first year at the school - no matter what Horio claimed.
The Seigaku bus smelled like the lockeroom did during summer training with all the windows closed and Momoshiro's sweaty uniform warm-ups piling up in a corner. Kachiro and Katsuo shared a seat at the front of the bus while Horio, Sakuno, and Tomoka sat in the back. The regulars were coming the next day, but the first years needed to get everything prepared: put out the bed linens, wash the dishes, put out towels, scrub toilets…
Katsuo was going to be miserable, he was certain.
"We're sharing a room," Kachiro whispered. He bounced his leg up an down, a nervous habit that drove Katsuo up the wall but, despite his many attempts to calm the appendage, Kachiro's leg would not be stilled. It just pistoned up and down, shaking the seat more than the faulty shocks on the bus.
"Where's Horio staying?" If Horio wasn't beyond three rooms on either side of them, it was almost guaranteed that they'd hear him snoring or talking in his sleep, killing any mood that might arise. The last thing Katsuo wanted was to have Kachiro nuzzling his side while Horio's nasal voice proclaimed "Don't leave me, Tomoka!" to anyone and everyone.
Even though Ryuzaki-sensei was on the seat directly across from them, Kachiro still wrapped his arm around Katsuo's and leaned his head onto the taller boy's shoulder. "He's sharing a room with Taichi-kun from Yamabuki. They're going to be at the other end, near the kitchen. Ryuzaki-sensei showed me the blueprint with the rooming assignments." Kachiro's spastic knee bumped into Katsuo's. "So tonight we won't have any neighbors. It'll be nice and quiet."
If Katsuo told anyone that Kachiro had the libido of a rutting rhino, nobody would believe him. Likewise nobody would believe that, confronted by said rutting rhino, Katsuo still hadn't mustered up the courage to fulfill his duty as a man and-
"Hey! Are we there yet?" Horio shoved his way between them, draping his arms over their shoulders. "It's tough entertaining the girls all by myself. Not that I can't do it, but it takes a lot out of a guy." He followed up the statement with a snicker and a thump to Katsuo's back. "Ah, it's tough being popular."
Why did Ryuzaki-sensei even invite Horio to help at Senbatsu? He wasn't going to do any work; all he was going to do was piss people off.
Maybe Ryuzaki-sensei was hoping one of the kids from Fudomine would kill him and he'd be out of her hair. That sounded like something the crazy old lady would do.
"Horio-kun, you're crushing me." Kachiro tried to pry his hip out of the space between the seat and the side of the bus.
Katsuo stood. "I'll go sit somewhere else." Horio didn't seem to understand how frail Kachiro's body was. Last year, Kachiro fell during the graduation ceremony and hit his hip on one of the folding chairs. He still had the scar from it. Who knew what kind of bone-denting horror could come of being pressed into the side of this metal nightmare on wheels?
"Katsuo-kun! Come sit with us!"
He winced at the shriek of Tomoka, the She-Horio. If there was anything worse than Horio, it was Horio as a girl. Tomoka's voice could crack the windows at its worst and burst eardrums at its best. Bringing her to a camp full of boys was stupid and irresponsible, not necessarily for her safety, but for the safety of the boys she was likely to be stalking during the camp.
It was perhaps the only reason Katsuo ever felt pity for Echizen Ryoma.
"I'm fine. I'm just going to take a nap until-"
"We're here!" Ryuzaki-sensei laughed as if she hadn't just been witness to the glory of Horio and the call of the banshee Tomoka. "Everyone get your bags and hustle off the bus!"
Katsuo grabbed his and Kachiro's bags off the luggage shelf and quickly moved off the bus. The sooner they were at work and away from the others, the better.
Taichi Dan was weird. Not the garden variety weird, but a whole breed of weird all unto himself. One moment he was incompetent, the next he was giving Horio orders to scrub the dining hall floors and oh, be careful Horio-kun because Akutsu-senpai said he might show up and if he thinks he's eating in a dirty room, he'll be very angry desu.
It was when Horio started frantically scrubbing that Katsuo realized he had just seen a master at work.
"I bet Horio-kun can finish this up," Taichi said, glancing first at Katsuo, then to the door. "You two can leave if you're done counting the plates. You worked hard today." He followed up with a wide-eyed grin and a wave.
Kachiro moved first, grabbing Katsuo's hand and dragging him out of the dining hall. "We'll check the rooms one more time to make sure everything's okay!" They walked calmly down the hall, Kachiro holding Katsuo's hand firmly in his own as he led them to room 153 which was, Katsuo noted, not the room in which they'd place their belongings earlier. "It's going to be Echizen and Momo-chan-senpai's room," Kachiro whispered while locking the door.
Katsuo was expecting some explanations but all he got was an arm full of shaking, smiling Kachiro and a fierce bump to the nose as the other boy dove in for a kiss. And, as much as he would have liked to have played it cool and insisted that they take it to their room, Katsuo was finding the prospect of secretly messing Echizen's bed to be a temptation. The next time Ryoma mada mada da ne'd them, Katsuo could counter with, "But wait, Ryoma-kun! Do you know what we did to your comforter at Senbatsu?" It would be a small victory but oh so sweet.
"I wanted to make sure Horio didn't sabotage Ryoma-kun's bed," Kachiro said, pulling away and busying himself with fluffing Echizen's pillow.
"Yeah," Katsuo sighed, "wouldn't want that."
The first thing Katsuo learned upon joining the tennis team was that tennis shorts did nothing to hide erections. Standard courtesy dictated that you ignored your senpai's anatomy and moved on with practice. Maybe, because he was crotch-height to Momoshiro, Kachiro's brain just ignored everything now. Maybe he didn't see that Katsuo was clearly suffering from frustration that could be easily relieved if Kachiro would be so kind as to bend forward a little further while he tucked in the sheets.
"Hey guys!" Horio burst into the room and his eyes fell immediately on Katsuo's crotch. "The girls made dinner. Time to, ah, eat."
"Thanks, Horio-kun. We'll be right there." Kachiro waved and continued his fluffing.
"Uh, don't hurry or anything. If you need some time to-"
"I'll come with you," Katsuo said, turning his back to a beautiful opportunity. "Ryuzaki-chan makes the best salads, doesn't she?" If Katsuo talked about girls, Horio's small brain would forget anything it might have been suspecting. Horio suspecting them would destroy any and all hope of getting anywhere that weekend. "Did Tomoka-chan make anything?"
Horio launched into a speech on the glories of Tomoka's beef sandwiches and how, if you asked her really, really nicely, she'd put extra mayonnaise on it for you.
Katsuo hated mayonnaise.
That night, Katsuo slept in his bed, alone, while Kachiro was in Echizen's room, fussing with pillows and leaving little good luck charms in Echizen's underwear drawer like a freak. If Kachiro weren't cute, Katsuo would give up on him and become a monk or something. At least then there would be a reason for him to be celibate.
The next day, when the Regulars arrived, Katsuo was in a bad mood. He'd been up all night, dreaming of ways Kachiro would 'accidentally' find himself in Katsuo's bed or how they might sneak a kiss or a grope in the shower before they had to meet the school buses and show their senpai to their rooms. The whole night, Kachiro didn't so much as moan Katsuo's name in ecstasy, he just wiggled around a bit in his bed and mumbled out match scores.
Normally, Katsuo would be excited to help carry Inui-senpai's bags. Normally, he would engage his senpai in conversation in the hopes of learning that extra bit more that would make him cool like Inui. Instead, he stomped down the hall, tossed the bag inside, and stalked out to the car park to get more bags. He was in charge of Seigaku while the others were carrying bags for the other teams. Ryuzaki-sensei said she didn't want Horio anywhere near her team's bags but that it wouldn't hurt should, say, Hyoutei's bags get the accidental rough treatment.
Ryuzaki-sensei was a scary, scary women.
"You're going to break something," Echizen grumbled, trying to take his duffel out of Katsuo's not so delicate care.
Katsuo wanted to tell Ryoma to Twist Serve a ball where the sun didn't shine, but that would bump Echizen ahead of Katsuo in the "foreplay" department, and that simply couldn't be done. "Sorry Ryoma-kun. I'll be more careful." He shifted the bag so his knee wasn't jamming into it with every step. "Tomoka and Sakuno made dinner. I'm sure you'll like it."
While good at tennis, Echizen was an idiot. Really, what kind of guy forgot the names of the only two girls in his fanclub? And Echizen's mom was supposed to be some sort of hotshot lawyer. Clearly the brains skipped a generation. If Katsuo had that much tennis skill, he'd be using it to better effect. If he had that much skill, he wouldn't be a virgin with a semi-boyfriend who was likely still waiting for his testicles to drop and to feel the first wonderful rush of testosterone through his bloodstream.
Of course, Kachiro's innocence was his cute point. So were his lower back and the insides of his thighs.
"Is this my room?" Ryoma pointed to the door with his and Momo-chan-senpai's names on the doorplate. "I can take my bag now."
Katsuo handed over the bag, smiled, and made his way back to his room. The other Regulars had already been attended to and were now settling in, leaving him a good hour before he had to be at the team selection meeting. Once the actual business of the Senbatsu camp was underway, he wouldn't see Kachiro except for a few minutes between training stations – they were each being assigned a team to fetch balls for – and during mealtime preparations.
Snarling a bit to himself, Katsuo entered his room and threw himself on his bed.
He looked to Kachiro's bed and sniffed again, moving closer. He knew a variant of the scent so well that he couldn't help but let out a semi-delirious laugh.
Tonight would be the night.
It was hard to plan seduction when you more or less felt like crap. After watching the Senbatsu participants parade their muscles and talent around the dining hall and showers, Katsuo felt…less than adequate. Still, Katsuo was 87% sure he felt Kachiro brush his thigh under the table during dinner, which meant that Kachiro was either nervous and fidgeting in Katsuo's lap for no reason, or the other boy was tired of sneakily masturbating when he thought no one would notice.
Either way, Katsuo's mind was made up and he was going for it…just as soon as Kachiro came back from putting the towels from that evening's showers in the dryer.
After half an hour, Katsuo's resolve had plenty of time to flutter into his stomach and make a mess of his brain, located approximately a foot below. He realized he knew absolutely nothing about sex and would likely screw it up if he tried. Still, there were plenty of thing he could do instead of…it. They could do almost-it or nearly-it or halfway-to-it without needing any kind of lubricants or internet research.
"I'm tired." Kachiro entered the room and flopped onto the bed. "Inui-senpai stole two of our towels and it took me half an hour to figure out why our count was off." He scratched at his stomach, lifting his shirt to reveal pale skin over a slightly pooched stomach. "Did you get the dining hall cleaned up? Did you like your team?"
"They were okay." Katsuo smoothly moved himself to sit on the side of Kachiro's bed. Carefully, he extended his hand and ran his fingers lightly over Kachiro's exposed skin, tracing the red lines left by Kachiro's nails. "Yours?"
Kachiro scooted closer. "Okay," he said. "I didn't get to talk to anyone, though." Kachiro's arm slithered out and his hand found its way to Katsuo's knee. "Taichi-kun is blackmailing Ryoma-kun into having sex with him."
With Kachiro's hand massaging toward his inner thigh all Katsuo could think to say in reply was, "Oh, really?" It was certainly something the creepy Yamabuki kid would do and, if given the opportunity, Katsuo would blackmail Ryoma, too. Not into sex, though. Sex with Echizen would probably be a lot like sex with a can of Jell-o, except the Jell-o would complain a lot less and have a spark more personality.
"I…talked to Dan-kun about it." Kachiro removed his hand and fished in his pocket. "He gave me this."
Katsuo stared at the condom and the trial sized bottle of lubricant.
Kachiro cleared his throat. "He said we should have some, just in case. I thought we could…" He trailed off and returned his hand to Katsuo's knee.
Now was the time to be man. Opportunities like this didn't come every day. "I…we could…"
Kachiro's hand rubbed a little higher. "We could."
Katsuo stared at the items on the bed, trying to remember what little he knew from his research. "Should we turn the lights out? Or…" Kachiro yawned so wide his jaw made a pop. Despite himself, Katsuo yawned back. "Or we could go to bed," he offered, giving Kachiro's hand a pat.
"Tomorrow?" Thin arms pulled Katsuo down onto the tiny bed.
Spooning himself against Kachiro's back, Katsuo hummed his agreement into the fine hairs on Kachiro's nape. "Don't tell Horio, though."