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On Christmas Eve, the basketball team (and Sakuragi’s friends) have a year-end party at Akagi’s house, which wasn’t Akagi’s idea so much as him answering the doorbell to find fifteen people standing on his doorstep, some of whom (Sakuragi’s friends) were carrying large amounts of alcohol. Before he could slam the door in their faces, though, Haruko came down the stairs and caught sight of everyone, and that, unfortunately, was that.

Sakuragi gets drunk after two and a half beers, which is surprising considering his size. What isn’t at all surprising is that a drunk Sakuragi is loud.

“WHO WANTS A KISS FROM THE TENSAI?” he says, his face so flushed that it’s kind of hard to tell where his hair ends and his face starts. Before anyone can actually answer his question, he grabs the unlucky person sitting beside him and plants a wet sloppy kiss right on their mouth.

Miyagi shrieks, his arms flailing about and knocking empty bottles off the table. Everybody else in the room is already halfway drunk so they just laugh, except for Rukawa, who glowers morosely at the beer bottle in his hand and wishes he was sitting next to Sakuragi instead of Captain’s annoying sister.

“Sakuragi-kun is so funny,” Captain’s annoying sister giggles, her own face unattractively red from the few sips of alcohol she’s had while Akagi isn’t looking.

Rukawa hunches further against the wall, trying to put more space between them, and glowers morosely at the beer bottle in his hand.

“…so that’s why I could kiss your ass. I mean, lick your ass. No, kick your ass,” Mitsui slurs, waving his hands in a vague gesture which could mean any of the things he’s just said.

“Right,” Mito says, and slowly inches away from Mitsui. This puts him closer to Sakuragi, who throws a heavy arm over his shoulder and says, “DO YOU WANNA KISS YOUHEI?”

Mito just grins and says, “No thanks,” and Sakuragi shrugs while Miyagi shrieks about why he’s the only one who gets molested.

“Because your pheromones make you attractive to men,” Ayako explains in a perfectly logical way, while her eyes look not quite all there. Miyagi shrieks again, probably hoping to drown out the rest of her explanation about cute, slender boys and big, muscular men.

“Chug, chug, chug,” Noma and Ookusu chant on their side of the table while Takamiya drains his sixth beer, his chubby hand already clutching a seventh.

Kogure’s face is a bit green as he watches the alcohol disappear at an alarming rate, and the feeling that something is coming up instead of going down makes him lurch from his seat and into the kitchen, where he finds Akagi sitting all by himself.

“Hey,” Kogure says, stumbling over nothing. “You’re not drinking.”

Akagi sniffles.

“Um,” Kogure says, and immediately tries to change direction, but backing away seems to be more difficult than normal. “Maybe I’ll just go back--”

“Wassup?” Mitsui slurs from directly behind him, and Kogure trips over his own feet, landing solidly against Mitsui’s chest. For one sinking, horrible moment, Kogure feels both of them begin to fall backwards, but then Mitsui falls against something else and they regain their balance, making a Mitsui sandwich in the doorway.

“ARE WE PARTYING IN HERE NOW?” Sakuragi says, and suddenly Kogure is propelled back into the kitchen as everyone tumbles in after him.

“Oof,” Mitsui slurs, and kind of crawls over to the nearest empty chair.

“Ten beers! I am the king of beer,” Takamiya announces, sounding almost sober, and Noma and Ookusu cheer and throw confetti in the air while Mito looks amused.

“Nii-san, what’s wrong?” Haruko rushes forward when she notices Akagi hunched over the kitchen table. He sniffles and wipes at his eyes with his sleeve, but he refuses to look up.

“YEAH GORI, WHAT’S WRONG? WE’RE HAVING A PARTY HERE!” Sakuragi says, and throws his arm over the nearest person to pull them in for a hug.

Squashed up against Sakuragi’s side, his nose buried against Sakuragi’s hot neck, Rukawa stops glowering for the first time that night. In fact, he almost smiles, and Miyagi shrieks when he sees Rukawa’s face. Ayako just nods approvingly at the sight of the two boys hugging.

“I… I love you guys!” Akagi finally says, raising his head to show bloodshot eyes shining with tears. He, too, grabs the person nearest to him for a hug, which means squishing Kogure in his huge arms until he can’t breathe.

As everybody laughs, Kogure feels something coming up instead of going down, and he knows with a fuzzy certainty that this can only end in bruises and vomit.