Maki-chan was off, somehow. Toudou could tell. It was a gut feeling. By now, he knew the other climber's moods pretty well. Maki-chan wanted to talk, but he just couldn't, as his personality was such.
Toudou voiced his suspicions half to himself, half to Arakita and Manami while everyone was changing after the practice and a quick shower.
"Maki-chan is sad! I can feel it, I just know he is feeling down about something!"
Arakita scoffed immediately.
"Just go hug 'im to make it all better, why don't ya?"
Manami looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Toudou-san, I think you might have to take the initiative in this case, you know."
Toudou was proudly always taking the initiative anyway. He thought that was obvious by now, to everyone.
"Manami, of course I will have to do something!"
Tapping his chin deep in thought, Toudou suddenly exclaimed, "I know! How about a party? Sohoku and Hakogaku together! A party is definitely the way to cheer someone up and remind him of all his friends who love him! Hahaha, I am a genius, am I not!"
Arakita had dropped his bag at the words "love him" and had turned to stare at Toudou with a scowl, ready to argue.
"Oi, princess, I am not particularly fond of Sohoku's weird climber! Go and cuddle Christmas Tree senseless if you want, but keep me out of it!"
Toudou pouted, "Of course we all value Maki-chan, Arakita, as my precious rival! You don't need to be all shy about it!"
Arakita sputtered and looked ready to argue, but Toudou smoothly cut in, raising his voice.
"Okaaay, everyone, it's been decided! Party at my place next weekend, pending parents' approval (they will approve, naturally, since their awesome son is asking)! In honor of The.Best.Rival.Ever!!"
Shinkai cheered, Manami clapped his hands, and Fukutomi looked pleased. Izumida looked interested enough, and Arakita... well, Toudou would deal with Arakita later on.
Telling Maki-chan required some planning and plotting, as Maki-chan was definitely not allowed to turn the party down, no matter what. Eventually, after driving Arakita insane for a couple of days with anxiety and fidgeting and mumbling in his sleep, Toudou got his wish granted. Arakita stole his phone, called Makishima immediately after Sohoku's practice, asked to talk to Kinjou, and just arranged matters with the team captain. Makishima was coming, his own team was dragging him to Hakone if necessary.
Toudou had healthy snacks prepared, and the hot spring bath was going to be made available for the boys, and they could ride together in the vicinities, have a picnic on a hill top, or just stay in and play table tennis in case of bad weather. The rooms were ready, the futons fluffed up, and Toudou had used his super lucky and special brush to write in beautiful characters in his best calligraphy effort "BEST RIVALS PARTY".
Arakita did casually mention to Shinkai he will have to bring the booze, as Princess Toudou had his head in the clouds these days, and would likely veto the idea anyway. Shinkai winked at him, and asked if they could help, and if this wasn't better planned together with Sohoku. They had Fukutomi call Kinjou and after some bargaining with the captains, a certain amount of alcohol was officially approved. Needless to say, Arakita and Shinkai were secretly doubling the amount, and if Shinkai was any judge of character at least two of the sprinters from Sohoku might have a few surprises in their overnight bags as well.
Arakita belatedly remembered that Toudou had a sister who might turn out to be rather attractive, and thought briefly aloud about what-ifs, but Shinkai tsk-ed and correctly pointed out Toudou would freak out and make Arakita's dorm life unbearable if anything untoward were to happen. Raging teenage hormones aside, Arakita was not that desperate, so the fleeting image of a female and older version of Toudou Jinpachi was promptly forgotten.
There were better things to occupy Arakita's mind anyway. Shinkai found the actual party concept that had them roar with laughter together. Seriously, a cuddle party? That was just too hilarious to ignore! Arakita was designated as Cuddle Assistant, and Shinkai self-proclaimed himself as the future Cuddle Party Facilitator. Arakita did throw a fit upon hearing his title, but was OK when he was told he was allowed to threaten people into embarrassing themselves.
Together, the two set about writing down a draft of the rules, in a poor imitation of Toudou's calligraphy script.
"CUDDL PARTI RULZ!
1. Everyone has to hug the host's main guest each time they see him. No fighting back allowed! Taking pictures is encouraged, but send the facilitator a copy for later blackmailing purposes, and to possibly earn some money off Toudou in his moments of weakness.
2. Climbers have to do it twice. Unless they are asleep. That's you, Manami.
3.The host has to stay with his main guest at all times. You can go to the bathroom separately, but only if Toudou insists. If he doesn't, you are out of luck, Makishima!
4. Everyone plays spin-the-bottle except the host and Christmas Tree who should be making out by now. Alcohol is provided, so we can all make lots of embarrassing memories together! The dare requests have to do with hugging/cuddling, you get the idea.
The Facilitator and Assistant are exempt from any of this BS, and DON'T YOU ARGUE WITH ME, GUYS, I GOT A BASEBALL BAT SPECIAL FOR THSI OCCASION AND I AM DYING TO USE IT (AGAIN).
Signed, thug!Yasutomo and smug!Shinkai"