Sanada Genichirou paced down the sidewalk beside his captain, listening with half an ear to Seiichi’s amiable comments on exams and how nice it would be to watch the third years finally graduate and leave the high school to them. Genichirou made listening noises, but his attention was elsewhere. Part of him was still howling in futile disbelief that he had actually done what he had done this morning. Most of him was searching for things to focus on besides his nerves.
A very small voice in the back of his mind was praying fervently to any kami that might listen and feel merciful that Niou never, ever found out about this.
Ostensibly, he was going home with Seiichi today so that they would each have some moral support while they sorted through this year’s Valentine’s chocolate and wrote thank you notes. It was a yearly tradition for them. For the first time, though, Genichirou found himself with a personal interest in one of those boxes; it was the one he had placed in Seiichi’s locker, atop several others even by that early hour, after making very, very sure no one was around to watch.
He had never been so nervous in his entire life. Not for exams. Not when he was called to demonstrate for his grandfather’s advanced classes. Certainly not for any match he had ever played! His respect for the courage of the girls who delivered their gifts in person had increased rather abruptly today.
Seiichi’s mother was dotingly amused by their little tradition, and waved them both up to his room with the briefest formalities. Genichirou was grateful, since he didn’t know how much longer even his self control would allow him to make casual small talk without starting to fidget. Why had he done this to himself?
Well-trained memory recited that Valentine’s Day was the proper and traditional day for confessing affection to its object, and that chocolate was the proper and traditional, and appealingly nonverbal, way to go about it. The holiday had been instituted in order to give people who normally didn’t have such an opportunity the chance to actually express their love. Genichirou was simply taking advantage of it. High school was the proper time for this. All told, this was about as much buttressing from tradition and propriety as Genichirou could give the desire that had managed to weave itself into the friendship and admiration he’d always felt for his captain. The increasingly strident voice of cynicism, which Genichirou normally and properly muffled and ignored, noted that Genichirou sounded more and more like he was trying to convince himself. What was he going to do next, in this traditional progression, wait to be asked on a date?
Seiichi paused by his desk, as Genichirou tripped over thin air, and looked at him with some concern. “Are you all right? I hadn’t thought today’s practice would have tired you that much.”
Genichirou collected himself and sat on one end of Seiichi’s bed. “I’m fine. Just a little distracted.” Anxiety, he decided, must be making him lightheaded. He tried to breathe more slowly. This was ridiculous.
It shouldn’t last much longer, though, one way or another. Seiichi settled on the other end of the bed and they both spilled out their piles of small boxes and bags over the thick, blue blanket. Genichirou managed to sort through his as briskly as ever, only slightly impeded by having one eye always fixed on Seiichi’s pile for the appearance of one particular box. Thankfully Genichirou hadn’t received any homemade this year, and only three items were extravagant enough to require a note in return. He set them aside, sweeping the rest back into his bag and wondering how many he could pawn off on his brother and father.
And then he had to shove his heart back down out of his throat and fold his hands together, hard, because Seiichi had picked up a small, dark red box without any logo. Here it was. Either Seiichi was about to charitably suppress laughter, or… or something else.
“Only one homemade this year,” Seiichi remarked. “It seems the girls are finally learning.”
Genichirou throttled down a flinch.
His captain’s long fingers flicked open the attached fold of paper, and Genichirou’s nerve broke. He couldn’t watch. He fixed his eyes on the blanket instead.
“Genichirou?” Seiichi’s voice was quiet.
It was a very nice blanket. The last one had been worn to a rather dull shade of green before Seiichi consented to replace it. How long ago had that been?
Seiichi’s hand reached out to touch Genichirou’s chin and lifted his head again with uncompromising pressure. Genichirou swallowed. He had really thought he was used to how penetrating Seiichi’s gaze was; perhaps not. He could feel his face heating.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen you blush before, Genichirou,” Seiichi observed. “It really was you who gave me this, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” Genichirou managed, just a bit stifled. He did not, however, look away.
Seiichi’s eyes focused on him as if they were playing a match. “I’m honored.”
Genichirou relaxed slightly; at least kindly restrained amusement didn’t seem to be forthcoming, and this was a significant relief. A traditional offer had been made, and accepted in a traditional fashion. This was also reassuring. He stiffened again, though, when Seiichi’s thumb brushed the very corner of his mouth and Seiichi smiled.
The last time Genichirou saw that speculative smile it had been directed at Echizen. The time before that, at Kirihara. This was not especially reassuring. It got even less so when Seiichi came up onto his knees, leaning over Genichirou, lifting his chin further still. Was he really going to…
Genichirou’s eyes fell shut as Seiichi’s mouth covered his. It was a compelling kiss, warm and vibrant, much like Seiichi himself. It wasn’t until Seiichi’s tongue stroked out, coaxing Genichirou’s lips to part, that an uncertain sound found its way up his throat.
Seiichi drew back, not very far, running his fingers through Genichirou’s hair. His eyes were considering as he looked down. “Was that your first kiss?” he asked, softly.
Genichirou sternly ordered the flush rising back to his face to go away and nodded.
Seiichi’s lips gained an extra curl, sharp and pleased. “Good.”
His second kiss was hard enough to press Genichirou down to the bed, hot enough to steal his breath and leave him gasping under the weight of the hands on his shoulders. “Seiichi…”
Seiichi drew back again, rather reluctantly, but he smiled more gently this time. “Too much?”
Genichirou glanced aside. This kind of intimacy was not a casual thing, to him, and while he was reasonably sure it wasn’t casual with Seiichi either, he would prefer just a little longer to be more sure. He did not, however, protest when Seiichi kissed him again, light and easy. This was, after all, exactly what he had offered; his captain knew him, knew that. And, really, it wasn’t as though he was unused to just how forceful Seiichi could be, after standing across the net from him all these years.
A shiver coiled down Genichirou’s spine at the thought of Seiichi kissing him as fiercely as he played when they were serious.
Seiichi slid a searching hand down Genichirou’s chest, laughing low in his throat. “I have to say, this is by far the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had,” he murmured.
All things considered, even with the unaccustomed nerves and the problems of making chocolates in dead secret from his mother, Genichirou had to agree.
Seiichi’s eyes glinted. “And now I have a real excuse to give all those girls.”
A kiss swallowed both Genichirou’s growl and Seiichi’s laugh.