“Do you think Taka-san likes chocolate?” Fuji asked.
Tezuka blinked and frowned. Why, out of all the people on the team, was Fuji asking him. Tezuka knew a lot about the tennis and academic capabilities of his team mates, but was lost when it came to personal things (such as how much they liked or disliked chocolate), that was Oishi’s job.
“I don’t know.”
Why did Fuji look so serious? What was going on? Why couldn’t he ask Oishi or Inui? They’d be far better options than himself.
“What about you?” Fuji asked, “What are you getting Echizen?”
“What am I getting him for what?”
Fuji rolled his eyes. “For Valentine’s Day,” he replied as if Tezuka was being very slow. “It’s only a week away.”
“I didn’t realise I was romantically involved with Echizen,” Tezuka said. He was also unaware Fuji knew about his crush on Echizen.
“And Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to tell him,” Fuji said, not bothering to even confirm that Tezuka liked Echizen. “So we’re both in the same boat.”
Tezuka could feel himself being pulled into one of Fuji’s schemes, like he was standing on the edge of a precipice and the ground was beginning to crumble beneath his feet.
“You like Kawamura?” he tried to divert the conversation away from himself.
To his utter surprise and slight horror, Fuji blushed.
“Yes,” he said, daring Tezuka to say something about it. Tezuka wasn’t going to say anything. Kawamura was a nice guy and could probably curb some of Fuji’s eccentricity before it got dangerous.
Echizen on the other hand… Fuji liking Kawamura just highlighted the deficiency in his choice of crush. Kawamura was nice and polite and even in burning mode, Tezuka could see why Fuji was attracted to him. Echizen was bratty and difficult and rude, but all of that paled into insignificance when he was with Echizen. Tezuka hadn’t been able to stop himself falling for him.
“So, chocolate,” Fuji prompted, “do you think Taka-san likes it?”
“I still don’t know,” Tezuka replied, feeling a headache coming along. “Ask Inui.” That came out huffier than he meant.
“What about Echizen? Does he like chocolate?” Fuji asked, smirking. The huffy tone had definitely been the wrong accidental choice of tone.
“I assume so,” Tezuka replied. It was fairly rare to dislike chocolate and Echizen seemed to eat anything if it were free.
“Good, then we’ll buy some chocolate tomorrow. There’s a shop on Main Street with a huge Valentine’s display.”
Tezuka nodded, knowing no amount of resistance would stop Fuji once he’d got his mind set on something. Especially something that would involve embarrassing Tezuka.
Tezuka wasn’t surprised when he arrived to find Fuji in a dress. He’d grown very used to this, ever since second year when he’d visited Fuji’s house and had been given the whole crossdressing 101- Fuji had even painted his nails.
Tezuka had put it down to ‘Fuji being Fuji’ and accepted it. It didn’t matter to him what his friend wore.
“Do you like it?” Fuji asked, smoothing out the powder blue dress.
“It’s very nice,” Tezuka replied, looking past Fuji to the crowd around what must be the chocolate shop. “Is that where we’re going?”
“Yes,” Fuji said, grabbing Tezuka’s arm. “You should have dressed up too.”
“I don’t look good in dresses,” Tezuka said and Fuji laughed.
“True. You can be my fake boyfriend.”
Tezuka sighed. “You’re supposed to surprise me with chocolate, not take me to buy it. And we’re not dating,” he added.
“You need to pick something out for Echizen,” Fuji reminded him. Tezuka had hoped he’d forgotten about that.
“Have you asked Inui for advice?” Tezuka asked warily -who knew what information Inui had on all of them.
“It’s more fun to guess.”
The inside of the shop was crammed with girls, all dithering over which chocolate to buy.
There were no tennis chocolates. There were other sports represented -football, baseball, even motorbikes, but no tennis. Tezuka supposed he was supposed to make his own, but he had little skill in that department and not enough time to learn. He had a feeling that Echizen didn’t care about the difference in sentiment between handmade and store bought chocolates.
Next to him, Fuji was happily perusing the shelves, his disguise working perfectly. Tezuka had over heard a couple of girls whispering about how cute he looked.
“What about this one?” Fuji asked, holding out a box holding six chocolates shaped like bears.
“I’m not sure,” Tezuka replied vaguely. He really didn’t think bears were Kawamura’s thing, although he highly doubted this shop would stock sushi shaped chocolates.
Fuji shrugged, put it back and continued looking. Tezuka decided to try and find the most generic chocolates possible. Fuji would not be letting him leave without buying something and giving it to Echizen, so he had to find something that would not be utterly embarrassing to give to him in this sea of pink and hearts.
“He’s really hot,” he heard a girl whisper to her friend, who giggled.
“He’s with that really pretty girl,” her friend replied, pointing at Fuji and Tezuka bit back the urge to insist that he and Fuji were not dating.
“Excuse me,” he muttered, pushing past them to the cheap chocolate bars in the corner. He was just about to pick out a bar of plain milk chocolate when a hand grabbed him.
“You can’t just buy a bar of chocolate,” Fuji said sweetly, a highly amused smile on his lips. “Come on.” He pulled Tezuka back across the shop, Tezuka avoiding eye contact with all the girls who were staring at them.
“How about these?” Fuji offered him a pink box filled with hearts made of swirled milk and white chocolate.
“Do they have to be shaped like hearts?” Tezuka asked. If buying these meant he could leave then he would happily do it.
“Yes. How else will Echizen you know you love him?”
“Something more tennis related would be more appropriate,” Tezuka muttered, hoping no one could overhear their conversation.
“You’re hopeless,” Fuji sighed. “Utterly hopeless.”
Tezuka didn’t see what was so hopeless. He liked Echizen and both himself and Echizen liked tennis, it made sense to buy him something related to the sport that had bought them together.
“I like tennis,” he said lamely.
“Yes, you do,” Fuji laughed. “But you should buy those. Trust me and my love advice.”
If this backfired on him, Tezuka was going to give Fuji infinite laps. He took the box from Fuji’s hands and immediately had another one added.
“To pay me back for the advice,” Fuji said.
Fuji latched onto Tezuka’s arm as they walked over to the cashier, smiling sweetly at all the girls who sent him jealous looks. Tezuka ignored them all, staring only at the man behind the till as he paid for his and what would no doubt be Kawamura’s chocolates.
“Oh look,” Fuji said as Tezuka put his change back in his wallet, “it’s Echizen!”
Indeed it was, standing outside the shop, staring in at both of them, eyes wide, was Echizen. Fuji waved and Echizen glared and stalked off.
“I wonder if he thinks we’re dating,” Fuji mused as horror grasped at Tezuka’s insides.
He had to go after him. He couldn’t not explain what was happening. He couldn’t lose his chance to be with Echizen.
“I’ll see you later,” he said, grabbing the chocolate and hurrying out the shop, leaving a smirking Fuji in his wake.
He couldn’t see Echizen on the street, he must have run off once he was out of sight of the shop, so he quickly set off in the direction he’d disappeared in.
Surely Echizen must have gone to the tennis courts. He couldn’t imagine him going anywhere else. It was a surprise therefore to find him leaning on a wall down a back ally, glaring the the floor.
Echizen’s head snapped up and he glared daggers at Tezuka. “Shouldn’t you be with Fuji,” he snapped venomously.
“I’m not with Fuji,” Tezuka replied numbly. “I bought this for you,” He handed over the two boxes of chocolates. Realising belatedly he’d grabbed Fuji’s chocolate too, but he’d bought it after all.
“Two?” Echizen asked taking the chocolate and, to Tezuka’s relief, smirking.
He couldn’t come up with a reason for why he had two boxes beyond ‘you’re so cute I couldn’t only give you one’, which he was never going to say aloud. So, he just nodded.
“So, you like me?” Echizen asked.
“I was meant to give you them on Valentine’s Day,” Tezuka explained. No doubt with Fuji filming them, he thought. He could see Echizen putting all the pieces together in his head and hoped he wouldn’t have to explain any further.
“Fuji put on a dress to take you chocolate shopping so that you could confess to me with two boxes of chocolate for some reason?” Echizen guessed and then laughed. “What does Fuji get out of it?”
“I have no idea,” Tezuka lied, not wanting to reveal that one of the boxes of chocolates had been originally intended for Kawamura.
“And you like me?”
“I do,” Tezuka said, finding it a lot easier than he thought. Maybe it was the fact they were in an alley rather than behind the clubhouse or gym, no doubt with Fuji and Inui lurking somewhere.
“Good,” Echizen said, shoving the chocolate into his tennis bag and smiling, this time not a smirk, a genuine smile. “Let’s go play tennis. Beat me in a match and I’ll tell you how I feel.”
It was such an Echizen thing to say and Tezuka couldn’t help feel his heart swell.
Later, Echizen followed through with his promise. It wasn’t as romantic as Tezuka had always pictured, sat at the edge of the street courts, eating the chocolates together and Echizen casually telling him he liked him. But it was as romantic as it was going to get with Echizen and Tezuka found he didn’t care.
“Taka-san,” Fuji called, beckoning his friend over at the end of school.
“Hi Fuji,” Taka-san smiled, making Fuji’s heart do some weird fluttering thing he would quite like it not to do again.
“Can I talk to you?”
They fell into step as they walked to practice.
“Did you get a lot of chocolate?” Taka-san asked.
“A bit,” Fuji shrugged.
“More than me I bet,” Taka-san said, laughing nervously.
“How much did you get?” Fuji asked his eyes narrowing.
“Urm, three boxes,” Taka-san said, blushing and smiling happily. “I wasn’t expecting any since I didn’t get any last year but… are you okay?” he asked as Fuji’s expression grew darker and darker.
“Come with me,” Fuji said, his voice low and dark. He grabbed Taka-san’s hand a pulled him into a classroom.
How dare some girl give Taka-san chocolate! Taka-san was his!
“Fuji!” Taka-san cried out as Fuji pushed him up against the wall. “What are you doing?”
Fuji’s blood was still boiling, settling a little when he saw the fear in Taka-san’s eyes. What on earth was he doing? Why was he doing this? But he couldn’t stop himself.
“This is the only chocolate you need,” He said, forcing the box he’d bought after Tezuka had run off into Taka-san’s hands.
“O-Okay,” Taka-san stuttered, utterly confused by what was happening.
“Good boy,” Fuji cooed, patting him on the cheek then standing on tip toes and pressing their lips together.
Taka-san froze for a moment and then, to Fuji’s utter delight, kissed him back, his hands sliding onto Fuji’s waist and clinging to his shirt.
The fury and jealousy had almost entirely gone now, replaced with embarrassment and guilt. But he’d won. None of the girls who’d given Taka-san chocolate had got to kiss him.
“What’s going on?” Taka-san asked as they pulled apart. Fuji replied by nipping his bottom lip then kissing him again.