It has never really occurred to him, and to this date, it still somewhat doesn't. Maybe it's because Ryoma finds it natural, that he doesn't question it anymore—or perhaps he's simply blind at what his senpai does. There was once a time when it didn't feel natural, and Ryoma had wanted to do nothing more than to slink away unnoticed, or perhaps find something sharp and pointy and use it on the other boy. Gradually, slower than watching paint dry, Ryoma figures he can't do much about it, and simply stops resisting so much, as struggling means putting energy into withstanding the stronger boy, and Ryoma doesn't want to waste his energy on that. He's got tennis to think about.
Ryoma thinks back on when it all even started, but he can't really seem to put a certain date to it, as he seems to recall nothing but memories of Momoshiro hanging all over him. Perhaps, maybe even from the moment they met, Ryoma had turned into Momoshiro's personal armrest.
This should bother him to a state of constant annoyance; Ryoma doesn't like being touchy-feely, and he certainly doesn't like other people being touchy-feely towards him. Yet frankly, Ryoma has long since stopped caring about the excessive headlocks, the hair ruffles, the noogies, the punches to his arm, the nudges in his side, the pulling of his wrist, the demand to hold his shoulders on his bike, and the leaning against his shoulder.
Why struggle against it? He'll do whatever he wants to anyway, and Ryoma wasn't the one with the power-tennis, so he lets Momoshiro do whatever. Of course he'll make his snarky comments about letting him go, and how his armpit smells like mold, or that he's crushing his bones, but they're empty threats, since he knows it goes through one ear, and out the other; Momoshiro never listens. This doesn't stop him from trying though.
"Momo-senpai, are you enjoying this?" the greenhaired wonder asks from his senpai.
Momoshiro looks at him with that trademark cheeky grin of his. "You bet. It's the perfect height."
Ryoma doesn't like to be reminded that he's short (though he doesn't tell other people this, so he simply resorts to insults), and what with Momoshiro propping his elbow up on his shoulder as if he's acting like an armrest, it really feels like he's the shortest person on earth. He takes a step sideways, feeling the arm slide away from the nape of his neck, towards his shoulder, until he's free from that touchy-feely guy.
"You should consider buying an armrest that follows you around all day long," Ryoma says dully.
Momoshiro takes a step sideways too, and his arm is back on Ryoma's shoulder, perfectly placed, fitting exactly on his shoulder like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. "Why would I do that? I've already got you following me around every day."
Tsk, so damn arrogant—though Ryoma probably shouldn't be talking. "Momo-senpai, just because we go to the same club, doesn't mean I follow you."
Momoshiro pinches Ryoma's cheek, and he yelps painfully. "Cheeky brat, wanna go get some burgers after practice?"
He pulls his face away from those bony fingers and resists rubbing his red cheek. "You're buying," he smirks.
And then his hair is messed up before Momoshiro runs away laughing.
No matter what kind of protest Ryoma can conjure up, or what kind of witty retort he has for the day, Momoshiro is never discouraged. In fact, it seems that his brilliant insults (he thinks they're witty) serve to make Momoshiro drape his arm around him some more. The more he protests, the closer he gets. The more he whines about it, the more frequent the 'attacks' get.
It doesn't quite get through to him that maybe, just maybe—he makes these bratty remarks to get Momoshiro to prolong his touching.
One day, when Momoshiro invites him to go to the arcade to play games, since he's bored, and he's stuck with a pocket full of change, Ryoma notices something. The arm-resting-on-shoulder thing is obviously already there, as they wait for a couple of other boys to finish their game of air hockey so they can use the table. Ryoma takes one step to the side, and Momoshiro's arm slips off. But within less than a minute, Momoshiro is so smooth and subtle, that it's already back on his shoulder before he even realizes it. Ryoma is temporarily awed that his senpai managed to do this with such suave skills that he didn't even notice a thing, before he shakes his head, chews on his lips and takes one more step to the side.
Like a true magnet, Momoshiro is attached to him before thirty seconds are up. Ryoma watches the other boys play against each other with mild annoyance. If they would hurry up and finish their game, then Momoshiro won't keep using him as an armrest. Ryoma ducks and briskly walks around Momoshiro to stand on his other side. This time, an entire arm gets slung around his shoulder, Momoshiro's fingers now softly brushing against his jacket. Ryoma makes a pouty face, and glares at the boys in front of him; would you hurry up.
The boys finish their game, and Ryoma springs free of Momoshiro's grasp, but he's already noticed. The entire day, no matter how far Ryoma gets away from Momoshiro, he'll be there in a jiffy, smile plastered on his face, telling his stupid joke for the day, and he ruffles his hair and pulls him close to his chest to give him a noogie. Maybe he shouldn't have worn a jacket on this day; Ryoma starts to feel a little bit too warm.
Once Momoshiro drops him off at his home and flicks his forehead, then pedals away on his bike, Ryoma looks up on Google how magnets work.
He's intrigued now; Momoshiro seems to do these things naturally, subconsciously—he probably doesn't even know what he's doing until Ryoma complains. It's probably because he's such an idiot, and doesn't think before acting, and maybe Ryoma doesn't want Momoshiro to get smarter anymore.
As a fun little experiment (he's bored, and counting the amount of spitballs stuck to the ceiling in his class is hell), Ryoma decides to test how far away he can be from Momoshiro, to see how strong his magnetic force is. He had read that magnets lose power if they are far away from each other, and thinks Momoshiro will do the same.
First he stands next to his senpai on the tennis courts, there's only a meter of distance between them. As expected, within a few seconds, Momoshiro is already putting him in a headlock and calling him a cocky brat. That much was obvious. Next, he stands on the sideline of the court, watching him play his idiotic power tennis. When Momoshiro has to switch courts, he pats his hand on top of Ryoma's head as he passes him by. Ryoma hides a secret grin behind his baseball cap.
When they're changing back into their uniforms after practice is over, Ryoma is standing on the other side of the room, away from the loud-mouthed idiot, pulling off his shirt. But soon enough, hands slip around his naked waist, and Momoshiro is chuckling close to his ears, going off about looking like a dead white fish and that he needs to gain some more muscle. Ryoma fires off a retort how Momoshiro is fat, and that he shouldn't confuse fat with muscle, and silently refuses to address the fact that his skin is burning up.
"You're so slow, Echizen, I was almost gonna leave you behind," says Momoshiro as he catches up with the smaller boy, and he wraps an arm around his shoulder. Ryoma looks down at the ground as he lets himself get steered by Momoshiro towards his bike. It seems Momoshiro's magnetic field was as big as the size of the school's bike rack.
"Mada mada dane," he says flatly, and this earns him a tickle attack from Momoshiro.
As Ryoma lifts himself up on Momoshiro's bike, his hands grabbing the broad shoulders from his senpai, he wonders, quietly, how Momoshiro would react if instead of pulling away from his advances, he indulges them? Magnets are fun when you pull them away, but they're more interesting to play with when you force them together, aren't they? The wind flies in his hair, and Momoshiro is off ranting about the high prices of burgers, when Ryoma pushes his chest against Momoshiro's back, and he rests his chin on top of his shoulder, agreeing mindlessly to whatever the spiky haired boy has to say.
Ryoma doesn't fail to notice that Momoshiro's voice gets higher pitched, and he pedals slower.
At the burger joint, when Momoshiro takes a seat, Ryoma innocently flips his head to the side as he decides whether or not to continue this 'push and pull thing' for his own amusement. Seeing Momoshiro happily yap about a new deal he spots from a menu card, Ryoma puts on a gleeful smirk, and instead of seating himself on the opposite end of the table, he sits down right next to Momoshiro.
Momoshiro looks up from the menu card, his expression slightly confused. "Why are you sitting here?" he asks.
"Momo-senpai, despite popular belief, this seat does not have your name on it." Unless name meant 'ass print', Ryoma is positive that Momoshiro has sat in this spot long enough for to there to be a permanent print of his butt.
Momoshiro simply huffs and laughs, and orders seven hamburgers. Ryoma feels warmer again, but he blames it on the proximity of Momoshiro's body radiating heat.
Lately, or perhaps ever since he looked up on how magnets work, Ryoma has begun a dance with his senpai. Momoshiro doesn't know all the steps, nor does he know the rules—or it's simply because he's an idiot and has no idea what Ryoma is trying to do (it might have something to do with the fact that it's all in his head). Either way, Ryoma figures it's about time to get back at Momoshiro. He doesn't need a reason to do it, other than to save himself from boredom, and Momoshiro's reactions are always so ... different and amusing.
Ryoma starts small. When Momoshiro seats his elbow on top of his shoulder again, he doesn't move, nor protest. Momoshiro doesn't notice. For half an hour long, they stand in that position, and the dense boy still doesn't notice, not until he throws his fist up in the air to cheer for his teammates—before he drapes it back around his neck and shoulder this time. Hesitating only the slightest bit, Ryoma makes a tiny, subtle actually, movement towards Momoshiro, and he leans in, so that his arm is brushing up against Momoshiro's shirt.
Momoshiro starts to cheer louder.
The next hair ruffle he gets, instead of squirming away, or flinging the insult of the day at his senpai, Ryoma simply closes his eyes, and leans into the palm of Momoshiro's hand. The fingers stop brushing frantically through his hair, and he can feel Momoshiro's temporary confusion and hesitation. What are you going to do now? His eyes fly back open when Momoshiro's usual destruction of his hair, is turned into a tender and soft touch, his fingers gently wedging through the locks of his hair before he pulls away completely and walks away with a smile. Ryoma stares blankly at his senpai's back, and there's this warmth glowing inside of him.
That wasn't how it was supposed to go. Momoshiro was supposed to be the one with the funny reaction, not Ryoma.
The younger boy grits his teeth. He'll get him back.
When it's time for a headlock, and Ryoma is being shoved underneath Momoshiro's smelly armpit once more, he sighs inwardly, but then snakes his arm around the taller boy's waist, and attaches himself to his senpai. Momoshiro's knuckles stop short merely centimeters above Ryoma's head, and there's a smirk tugging at Ryoma's lips. Interesting, this is really interesting. It seems indulging Momoshiro's antics is a lot more fun than he would have anticipated.
And then Momoshiro's knuckles transform into a soft pat on the head, and he reels Ryoma in close to his body, in what appeared to be half a hug and half a noogie. Now it's Ryoma that's temporarily speechless, and the smirk falters from his face, as this feeling bubbles over inside of his stomach, and he wonders if the burgers he ate last time were expired. Momoshiro finally leaves him alone, and it's weird, because it's Ryoma that usually pulls away, and he stands there with an unreadable expression on his face, staring at Momoshiro's retreating back.
Forget about interesting, this is starting to get a little confusing.
He can't let Momoshiro get away with it. He can't let him win at this dance, because he is Echizen Ryoma, the wonderboy. Surely, he can beat Momoshiro—one of rather questionable intelligence—at this ... this ... thing. Surely he is North and Momoshiro is South, and there's no way he won't win at this.
During their trip to the burger joint, Ryoma wastes no time in resting his chin on Momoshiro's shoulder once more, head rolling over against his ear. Momoshiro's voice is loud and annoying when it's this close, but he doesn't really mind right now, not when he can see the immediate effects of his own magnetic power. Momoshiro's laugh sounds less natural, and he can't seem to keep riding in a straight line anymore, especially when he has to make a dramatic turn to avoid a rock. Hmm, what would he do if ... Ryoma's hands drop down from Momoshiro's shoulders, crawling over his side, and then he wraps his arms around the hard muscles of his abs, and lets himself fall completely on top of his senpai for support.
Momoshiro suddenly stops talking about how this morning his brother stole his socks. He's quiet.
Ryoma is grinning inside himself as he thinks he's won this round.
Until he hears Momoshiro hum a song, and instead of leaning over on his steering wheel, he sits up straight, and now Ryoma is slumped all over his back. Momoshiro continues to hum some stupid song as he tilts his head the tiniest bit so that he's resting his cheek against Ryoma's head. Suddenly, all the magnetic power in the world is amplified inside of his stomach, contracting all these urges, and Ryoma curses his senpai in ten different languages in his own mind.
But he doesn't let go.
Maybe Momoshiro isn't all that dense, sometimes Ryoma doesn't give him enough credit for the things he picks up on. Though mostly it's things that are so mundane and useless, like Ryoma could ask him how many dust bunnies are lying around in his house, and he'll be able to tell him straight away, like an Inui-clone. Anyways, Momoshiro can be observant sometimes. He has to be, otherwise he'd really suck at tennis, but Momoshiro doesn't suck at tennis, and that's probably the highest compliment Ryoma can give to him. In his own mind that is. Either way, perhaps Momoshiro is picking up on this magnetic dance Ryoma is playing on his own, and now Momoshiro wants to play too.
We'll see who wins, Momo-senpai.
What are the rules? He doesn't know. What is the objective? Not losing. How to achieve this? Magnets.
Ryoma doesn't give it much thought at all, sometimes he's a bit jealous of how much Momoshiro doesn't think and how much he acts on instinct. It does make for some really good tennis, but it's awful when it comes to not doing something stupid, and Momoshiro does a lot of stupid things. Such as yanking on his wrist, and pulling him down so that he's almost cradling in his lap, their heads almost knocking against each other.
"Momo-senpai, I can sit by myself," he says in a cool voice and straightens himself. He sits down properly next to Momoshiro, and plays with the WcDonald's menu card, seemingly bored.
"Thought you weren't going to sit, you had this weird expression on your face as if you couldn't decide whether to sit next to me, or sit in front of me."
See? Surprisingly observant, though Ryoma had been lost in thought, he wasn't really deciding whether or not to sit next to his senpai, that had already been decided to the moment he stepped foot inside of the fast food place.
"So you decided I should sit here?" he asks with a flippant look.
Momoshiro turns to him and smiles cheerfully. "Of course."
Ryoma boldly scoots closer until their arms and legs are pressed up against each other. Without even flinching, as if he's done it a thousand times, Momoshiro in turn drapes an arm across the younger boy, and he tugs him closer. Golden coloured eyes look up into violet ones, and he's wondering, thinking—is he thinking the same? Does he know the rules to this dance? Does he know what he's doing? For once, Momoshiro's warm hearted smile seems mystifying to him; he doesn't know what he's thinking anymore. And that sort of scares him; Momoshiro had always been simple to understand.
Ryoma tilts his head to the side until it's brushing up against Momoshiro's shoulder, and he stares blankly ahead. Momoshiro only orders four burgers, but it takes him much longer to finish those than the seven he usually gets. Ryoma doesn't even have an appetite, something is bothering his stomach.
They leave, and Ryoma attaches himself to Momoshiro's back. The sun is almost gone from the sky when Momoshiro drops him off with a lopsided grin.
Their dance becomes more complicated the longer it stretches on, and Ryoma feels as if he's falling behind on learning all the steps. All this push and pulling that he started is turning into something he doesn't seem to understand anymore. But he'll be damned if he'll admit that he's confused. He's not, he's only slightly handicapped. Yet, even if it seems quite impossible, Momoshiro is learning the dance by himself. He's showing off all of these cool moves, that Ryoma starts to feel like he's got two left feet, and if he doesn't catch up soon, he'll fall down, right on his face. And then he'll have made a fool out of himself, and that's not something he likes doing.
"Momo-senpai," he calls out to his dance partner. Momoshiro stops walking ahead, his tennis bag slung around his shoulder and he raises his eyebrows. "Let's skip practice for today."
He doesn't even question it. "Sure, it's too much of a nice day to waste it on practice."
Ryoma nods at him, and then he briefly wonders if this is the right move, and if he won't mess up—but his hand finds the cuff of Momoshiro's sleeve and he tugs at it. There's not much force behind it, but enough tension that Momoshiro looks down at it, and it takes him three whole seconds to look back up at him again. The older boy shrugs at him and flashes a toothy smile, one that has been making Ryoma lose his appetite for several days now.
"Lead the way then," he says.
"Let's drop our bags off at my home first," says Ryoma. His voice is steady and confident, and he pulls Momoshiro along by the cuff of his white shirt.
When they're halfway there, they stop at a traffic light, and Ryoma finally drops Momoshiro's sleeve; he's been holding it all this time. He stares into space, he doesn't really have a plan on what to do after they drop off their tennis equipment. He was winging it, and usually he's very good at that, but this time it's giving him creepy crawling feelings of doubt, and Ryoma doesn't want to trip over his two left feet and mess everything up. There have only been a few times in his life that he's been unsure of himself, and most of them involved tennis. But when it's about Momoshiro, Ryoma is really starting to feel like there's a permanent question mark on his head.
Ryoma's thoughts hit a wall when Momoshiro's hand clasps around his and it connects something inside of his brain. "Stop day dreaming, brat. The light is green."
Momoshiro doesn't let go of his hand as they walk over the crosswalk, and despite Ryoma feeling like his feet are made out of lead, he's still being pulled along. Like magic, like Momoshiro's back is covered in honey and he's a bee—like those damn magnets. Damn Momoshiro for taking the lead again. Ryoma can't be bested by him; he can be a really good dancer too. Which is why he intertwines his fingers with his senpai's. They're longer and thicker than his own, and quite rough, most likely from playing tennis so much, but it's probably the warmest thing Ryoma has ever felt in his life. Momoshiro doesn't drop his hand.
He's not dancing anymore because he's bored.
"Momo-senpai, please use your indoor voice," warns Ryoma as he stands in front of the entrance of his house.
"Don't I always?" jokes Momoshiro. He messes up Ryoma's hair before he can even do anything about it, but he does note that their hands are still intertwined, and this makes everything glow brighter inside of him.
That light inside of him dims down considerably when they have to separate to take off their shoes when they're inside. They leave their bags at the door, and walk towards the living room.
"So, aren't you going to offer me something to drink?" asks Momoshiro and he pulls Ryoma into another headlock.
"I've got nothing but Ponta," he murmurs. He tries not to pay attention to that swirling feeling in his stomach.
"Then let me go."
Ryoma dashes away to the kitchen, almost tripping over his feet, and he opens the fridge door covered in colourful magnets, and leans his face into the cool air. Ahh, that felt much better; any longer, and Ryoma is sure he might have suffered some kind of heatstroke if his face kept getting that hot. He takes out two cans of Ponta and returns to Momoshiro, cool and composed, his face back to its normal colour.
"Where are your parents?" he asks as he snatches one of the cans from his hands.
"Not here." That's all he needs to know.
Momoshiro pulls the tab, and Ryoma watches almost in trance as the fizzling soda pop comes spurting out, and his senpai throws his head back to take a drink of it.
"Ahh, tastes good on a warm day—it is rather hot, isn't it?"
"So, where's your room?"
Momoshiro looks at him pointedly.
Ryoma turns on his heel and he slowly makes his way upstairs. He's highly conscious of the fact that Momoshiro keeps looking at him from behind. Even when they're not really dancing, they still are? They're not even touching ... it doesn't count. It can't count. That's like, against the rules or something. He begrudgingly opens up the door to his room and steps aside to let Momoshiro in as well.
"Ah, so this is your room—oh hey, Karupin!" Karupin comes up and starts rubbing itself against Momoshiro's leg. Momoshiro bends down to stroke it affectionately, and Ryoma can't help but narrow his eyes at them. That's not his dance partner. Ryoma bends down to pick Karupin up and he places him down outside of his room, and closes the door. Momoshiro gives him this annoyed look, but he doesn't care.
Momoshiro plops down on his bed. "It's too hot in here," he complains. He drinks some more of his Ponta.
Ryoma sits down on his bed as well, and through the weight distribution, naturally shifts towards Momoshiro. Or maybe it's the magnets working again. He plays around with his unopened can of Ponta. "Momo-senpai, if you're just going to complain, I'm kicking you out."
"Brat," says Momoshiro. He gives him this fake look of hurt, and then playfully shoves his shoulder against Ryoma.
Ryoma hides his grin behind the metal can.
"So, why did you want to skip practice today? Got something on your mind?" Momoshiro asks after a silent minute.
"Hn." Ryoma throws his legs on top of his bed, turns around a bit, and leans his back against Momoshiro's. He stares up at the ceiling, and wonders if this should be his finishing move. Every dance has one, right? It ends in a spectacular position, and then they win. Then he wins.
"Momo-senpai, do you know how magnets work?" he asks in a deadpan voice.
"Magnets? Aren't they just pieces of metal, like north and south, and they're attracted to each other or something?"
"It's not metal, it's iron. I looked it up."
Momoshiro throws his head back against Ryoma. "Oh. Then why are you asking me if you already know?"
Ryoma shrugs. The Ponta is still unopened in his hand.
"I have this feeling you're insulting my intelligence behind that smirk on your face."
Ryoma promptly stops smirking and scowls instead. Stupid Momoshiro; their backs are turned to each other, how could he know what his face looked like?
"You think too lowly of me, Momo-senpai," he fires back instead.
Momoshiro stays quiet for a bit, until he hears him sigh. Then his hand magically finds Ryoma's, and he wedges his pinky underneath his own. "No, I don't," he says.
Ryoma drops the Ponta can from his other hand and he can feel his own fingers respond by shifting them closer to Momoshiro's hand, until they're tangled again. It feels as if he's playing a really important tennis match, and they're at a tie-break, with his breath stuck in his throat and his heart beating uncomfortably fast. It's a now or never moment—Ryoma has to make the move now. Or otherwise he won't win. This is his finishing move of their dance.
"Momo-senpai," he calls out.
"Do you know how to dance?"
Momoshiro pulls his head away from Ryoma's, and he turns it to face him. "Huh, why do you want to know? You into dancing or something?"
Ryoma turns to him as well, and now their faces are directly in front of each other, and he can feel Momoshiro's grip on his hand tighten. They might not be great doubles partners, but Ryoma has to admit that they make great dance partners. "Yeah," he simply responds. And then he closes the gap between their faces until their lips have touched—brushes against really, and Ryoma pulls back, golden eyes staring up at his senpai for his reaction.
The spiky haired boy simply blinks back at him several times, until he sees the colour explode in his face, dyed a deep red. And Ryoma can't help but smirk in satisfaction. He won.
"W-what was that?" asks Momoshiro in disbelief.
"The final part of the dance," says Ryoma, his voice is surprisingly calm.
"Is that some kind of English metaphor I'm not getting? Argh, you're confusing me."
"Doesn't matter. Why, you didn't like it?" Ryoma couldn't be wrong; he didn't get the steps wrong, did he? He's sure he danced it perfectly.
Momoshiro looks away from him, and down at his can of Ponta. "No ..." he says with a childish pout. "But I ..." He looks back up at Ryoma again. "Dancing, you say?"
"Fine. Call it dancing." Momoshiro puts the Ponta away, and he grabs hold of Ryoma's shoulders and brings him closer. And then it's Momoshiro that kisses him, and it's more than a brush of the lips, it's wet, it's hot—it's burning him up. But Ryoma is attracted to Momoshiro, just like a magnet, and he doesn't pull away, instead he sucks back in an inexperienced way, right as Momoshiro does. When Momoshiro breaks it off, Ryoma is panting for air, and his entire face is flushed with this warm liquid.
Alright, so maybe Momoshiro won this round. That doesn't mean they can't dance some more.