"Out!" Momo's mom stuck her head into Momo's room and yelled, just while Momo was navigating the tricky part of Rock Star Bake Off, and Momo jumped and jogged the controller and knocked over his bag of chips.
"I'm too young to live on the streets," Momo said, scrambling up the chips. The game was a lost cause but he might be able to salvage his snack.
"Not you. Although..." She gave him her special glare which Momo's dad claimed was how she showed her love but which Momo knew was how she showed her pissed-off-ness. "All your trash. It had better be out by the weekend. Or else."
A shiver went down Momo's spine. She never said or else what but the few times Momo had let things get that far, he'd regretted it. Like the time she'd moved his whole bedroom out into the back yard and made him live there for three days.
But there were still four days until the weekend and cleaning was a job for Future Momo. Current Momo crammed the rest of the chips into his mouth, grabbed his racquet, checked his hair in the mirror, and bounded out of the house before he was the focus of any more of his mom's "love".
His brain was heading for the street courts, definitely, but his feet took him took him to Kaidoh's house. Which, his brain admitted, was okay. And, um, other parts of Momo sort of agreed. He and Kaidoh were kind of having this thing right now. For the last few weeks, anyhow.
A thing where they argued and scrapped a lot in front of everybody else and a little when they were alone but also spent some time grappling in the back of the club room or in this one storage closet. "Grappling" as in "kissing".
It did seem like Momo liked the kissing more than Kaidoh did, or at least wanted it more often. Probably because he was the more sophisticated of the two, while Kaidoh was the more immature.
Kaidoh's mom let Momo in. He'd been over there once before and he'd been impressed by how she didn't glare at all and instead made tasty non-store-bought snacks for them and said that Momo was a nice boy and she was so glad that he was friends with Kaidoh. Kaidoh was the one who glared at that and also went red in the face, which Momo remembered as being pretty cute so he was hoping to see that again.
And also maybe do some kissing.
Momo slid open the door to Kaidoh's room and Kaidoh did glare but without blushing, so it was just pretty normal, sadly.
"What are you doing here?" Kaidoh said. Instead of his normal bandana, he was wearing a kind of white kerchief over his head and holding a broom.
"Are you rehearsing for a play?" Momo closed the door behind him, just in case, for privacy. But he wasn't very sanguine about his chances. "Are you the grandma character?"
"I'm cleaning, dumbass." Kaidoh raised the broom threateningly, which was something Momo's mom was prone to doing and which kind of killed Momo's thoughts about kissing for the time being.
"Let's play tennis." Momo looked around. "I don't see any dirt to clean, anyhow."
Kaidoh scowled again but Momo could tell it was mostly for form's sake. "Okay, but get your feet off the floor until I'm done sweeping."
"Sure, grandma." Momo grabbed Kaidoh's tennis bag and headed back outside.
They jogged to the street courts together and played a three-set match, which Momo won with a truly spectacular Dunk Smash.
But he didn't get to do any kissing.
Momo's mom lectured him some more at breakfast, all about how a clean room would make Momo better at his school work and more organized generally and also how it would give her more spare time to read novels because she wouldn't have to spend so much of her day yelling at Momo.
Momo arrived at school feeling cranky but when he ran into Kaidoh at the gate, he gave Kaidoh a shove and put him into a headlock, which made Momo feel instead like a bird that soared through the air, swooping and skimming. Kaidoh struggled and got free, but he took his time about it and that cheered Momo up even more.
Later on, he saw Kaidoh in the boy's room between classes, cleaning his nails with a manicure kit, even though they already looked pretty clean to Momo. Then Kaidoh washed his face, right in the middle of the school day.
And that gave Momo an idea. Well, two ideas.
"Do you want to come over after school?" he asked Kaidoh. "We could play video games or whatever."
"Okay," Kaidoh said, drying his face.
"Cool," Momo said. Using logic, Momo had figured out Idea One: Kaidoh liked cleaning messes. Momo's room was a mess. Therefore, if Kaidoh was in Momo's room, he would clean it. And then there was Idea Two: "So, do you want to make out now?"
"No." Kaidoh zipped up his manicure set and left the bathroom.
"This is my room." Momo ushered Kaidoh inside. He also set down a plastic bucket containing garbage bags, rags, lemon-scented dusting spray, a whisk broom, and one of those grandma head cloths. "It's a bit messy. I hope that doesn't bother you."
"I..." Kaidoh's face went so red that Momo worried he was having a stroke. Which would definitely make it difficult to get any cleaning done. Kaidoh sort of gurgled in the back of his throat. He bit his lip. Then he leapt at Momo.
By the time Kaidoh left, Momo's room was no cleaner than before. Actually, it was messier, since the bucket had tipped over when Momo had rolled into it. The dusting spray had squirted into his hair and he was quite lemon-scented now.
But they had done a ton of kissing.
Momo didn't get it until tennis practice.
Before school, he waited near Kaidoh's street so they could walk together and maybe duck into the alley behind the book store. But Kaidoh just kept walking and Momo had to act like he'd just stopped to tie his shoe.
During lunch, he stole two of Kaidoh's dumplings and suggested they check out the view from the roof. But Kaidoh told Momo off for taking his food, even though Kaidoh was the one who needed to learn to share. And he wouldn't go up to the roof.
So at tennis practice, Momo ignored stupid Kaidoh and had a practice match with Echizen and wondered if Eiji-senpai was any good at kissing.
While he was wondering that, Echizen hit a dropshot. Momo dived for it and got his racquet under it just in time to save the point. It was pretty amazing but he got a big smear of chocolate across his shirt, from when Arai and Ikeda were eating ice cream on the court and Ikeda dropped his. Also, Momo lost the match.
He headed back to the club house to change his shirt. Kaidoh fell in step with him, pushed him through the door, and locked it behind them.
"Um, what are you doing?" Momo asked.
Kaidoh just ran his fingers over the chocolate ice cream stain. And a mayonnaise stain from Momo's mid-practice snack. Then he pushed Momo back against the cubbies and they made out until someone boosted Horio through the window to unlock the door.
Momo could work with this.
It was a really great couple of days. Momo invited Kaidoh over after school and they made out on top of the empty chip bags and dust bunnies and dirty laundry. (Except for Momo's dirty underwear; he didn't think he was as sophisticated as that.)
Really, really great. Until Momo's mom reminded him the weekend was almost there. Then she fired up an electric drill for no good reason that Momo could see.
A chill went over Momo and all his skin stood up in goosebumps. He was going to have to clean up finally. But then Kaidoh wouldn't kiss him, not unless he got dirty at tennis practice every day. And now that Oishi had written a new rule in the club rule book -- no making out in the club house for god's sake -- the copious punishment laps they'd have to run were a deterrent.
He was going to have to choose: making out with Kaidoh in his room, which would probably be in the street in front of his house this time, or living a life free of fear. It sounded like an easy choice but Momo really liked kissing Kaidoh. So he was torn.
"You'd better throw that old car magazine out," Momo's mom said to Momo's dad. "It's so ragged and smudged."
"Of course, dear," Momo's dad said. And then, after Momo's mom had left the room, he slid the magazine underneath the TV console.
Momo's mouth dropped open. His dad was a genius! Now Momo could live a life free from fear and full of kissing.
Momo ran down the block to the book store and got a cardboard box from them. At home, he decorated it with stickers, cartoon drawings, and a label that said "History Diorama Project Materials". And inside he tossed all the chip bags and dust bunnies and old school papers and some crackers that had gone stale.
He piled his laundry in the hamper and sprayed some lemon-scented dusting spray in the air. Done!
His mom wasn't exactly impressed but she grudgingly said it was good enough. So Momo was off that terrifying hook.
On Monday, he invited Kaidoh over after school. He raced into the room first and dumped the box of trash all over the floor. After their make-out session, he scraped it all back up again and put it in the box, along with the empty cookie bag from their snack.
It worked so well, he did it every day. Momo was happy, Kaidoh was happy (presumably), and Momo's mom was happy too. Or at least not mad at Momo.
Until the mice moved in.
Momo's room ended up in the alley.
Over to you, serratedpearls!