“We’ve got this, partner,” Momo called as he dived, skidding heroically across the court on his hip. He caught the ball on the edge of his racquet, an easy lob over the net, but that was fine, Kaidoh would handle the return.
(It was his mom Momo was actually worried about; she was getting more and more irate about the dirt on his tennis uniform and this was definitely going to be one of those Problem Stains that she muttered about whenever he, her Problem Son, brought home his tennis bag. Also, that chocolate ice cream from yesterday.)
But when Momo leapt up from the ground (with the irrepressible spring of a young goat), he saw a red-faced Kaidoh whiff completely, then throw his racquet onto the ground.
“Come on, Viper,” Momo yelled. “You’re playing like a rabbit!”
“Shut up!” Kaidoh yelled back. And he sent Ibu’s serve right between the tramlines before Kamio could even get his rhythm started.
“That’s more like it!” Momo couldn’t manage the same on the next serve but he did force Ibu’s return into the perfect position for the Boomerang Snake. “All yours, partner!”
But Kaidoh tripped over his own feet and went down blushing. (His mom was going to be mad too, his shorts were torn on one side, although maybe she was of those nice understanding moms who just ruffled their son’s hair and fixed them snacks because stains were all a part of living your burning youth, not Basic Discourtesy Towards Parents.)
“Jeez, Viper, even rabbits don’t fall down when they’re playing tennis! Do I have to do all the work myself?”
Then Kaidoh said something that probably his mom wouldn’t consider an acceptable part of living his burning youth and took the next point with a Boomerang Snake that actually clipped the back of Kamio’s foot, which made him say something equally Not Mother Approved, and made Momo laugh a whole lot.
“All right, partner!” Momo slung an arm around Kaidoh’s shoulders. “Break point.”
And Kaidoh’s face went pink and he dropped his racquet.
Now, Momo might not be good at math. Or science. Or Japanese. Or English. Or any class, really, besides phys ed and home ec. But he was good at people. And Kaidoh was a person. A person Momo knew very well. A person who now seemed to get all flustered whenever Momo called him “partner”.
And as Momo thought about this, he realized he still had his arm around Kaidoh’s shoulders. And that was kind of nice, kind of burning youth, just in a different way than sliding on the tennis court and getting dirty. Kind of nice.
“Hey, get into position or you’ll forfeit,” Kamio yelled.
Momo blinked. “We’re planning our strategy,” he called back. He gave Kaidoh’s shoulders a (very nice) squeeze before he let go. “Here’s our strategy,” he said to Kaidoh. “Let’s beat them, partner!”
Kaidoh’s cheeks went from pink to red and he forgot his racquet on the ground as he moved into position.
No way were they going to break this game. Or any game this set. But there were more things to win besides tennis. And afterwards, maybe they could go for chocolate ice cream.
Your serve, beltenebra!