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By Sinnatious
 
Summary: When Ryoma finds himself in a tough situation, his pride might keep him swimming, but it’s Tezuka who keeps his head above water.
 
Rating: PG-13
 
Author’s Note: Oh, internet, how I have missed you. Updates shall resume as normal!
 
The Dispossession of Echizen Ryoma
 
Chapter 11
 
Ryoma was, quite simply, in a state of panic. When Tezuka had busted him for hanging out in the clubhouse after school had closed twice in a row, he was terrified that he was going to have to find somewhere else to stay, or worse, that his secret was going to be discovered. He’d frozen up, not able to believe how much more rotten his luck could possibly get. He was so careful to only go back onto the school grounds after the main gates were closed – what on earth had the senior been doing there that late?
 
Fortunately, in the end the captain had given him a convenient out. As much as it hurt his pride to say that he’d run away, it was still preferable to admitting that he’d been thrown out of his house.  But then Tezuka had dragged him back to his house and promised to escort him home after school the next day. How was he supposed to get out of that?
 
Tezuka hadn’t asked any prying questions when they were heading to school that morning, at least, but Ryoma knew that questions would be forthcoming when he refused to go home that afternoon. He needed a good excuse, some sort of out… anything that would prevent his captain from seeing him in such a pathetic state. But nothing came to mind – at least, nothing that his senpai wouldn’t see through in an instant. 
 
Needless to say, he wasn’t able to concentrate at all in classes that day. At least the captain wasn’t the gossiping type. He could trust Tezuka not to spread around the news that he’d apparently run away from home. 
 
The worst part, Ryoma realised dully during practice that afternoon, was that this now meant that the clubhouse was off-limits for good. Even if he managed to get the senior to forget about the issue and not ask anymore questions, he couldn’t go back again; Tezuka was bound to make a point of checking. Where was he supposed to go next?
 
As was always the case when worrying about something, the day went far too quickly, and before he knew it, Tezuka was calling practice to a close. Ryoma slowly got changed in the clubhouse, mind racing for some excuse… any excuse... that he could give the senior.
 
“Oi, Echizen, coming for burgers today?” Momoshiro asked, stuffing his clothes haphazardly into his bag. Ryoma watched out of the corner of his eye, trying to contain his anxiety that they’d wrinkle. It was a stupid thought to have – Momoshiro had a mother to iron them for him, it hardly mattered if his clothes wrinkled – but it was distracting all the same.
 
Realising that the power player was waiting for an answer, Ryoma replied, “Sorry, Momo-senpai, not today.” His stomach clenched a little at the thought of missing a free meal, but it couldn’t be helped. Then a thought… “Aren’t you supposed to be baby-sitting your sisters this week?”
 
“Ack! You’re right, I forgot! I’m already late! I’ve gotta run, bye!” the junior called, barrelling out the door and very nearly bowling over Kaidoh in the process.
 
“Fssshuuuu, watch where you’re going, idiot!”
 
“Out of the way! I don’t have time to fight with you today, Viper!”
 
“Echizen,” a deep voice commanded off to his right, and Ryoma turned away from the blossoming argument with a sinking stomach. Tezuka was waiting for him with his duffel bag in tow. 
 
It felt like walking towards your own execution. “Thanks Buchou,” he murmured automatically as they left the courts.
 
They walked in silence, each step feeling heavier and heavier as Ryoma mentally exhausted every possible avenue of escape or avoidance he could think of. His dread grew when they started to reach more familiar streets, and a mere five blocks away, settled into defeat. 
 
Tezuka, for his part, was somewhat at a loss for words. He had spent most of his day wondering about the situation with the freshman in the back of his mind, but held fast to his belief that with a bit of time to cool off, Echizen would be ready to return home. The reluctance to do so was understandable; he probably thought he was going to be in deep trouble for running off for two nights. Tezuka felt rather like he was playing the villain in this situation, but held firmly to the belief of showing respect and deference to one’s parents. It seemed to be one of the few areas in which he and Echizen had a conflict of opinion.
 
The area wasn’t that familiar to Tezuka, but he was relatively sure they were only a couple of blocks from their destination. His musings were interrupted, however, when he realised that the other boy had fallen out of step with him. Pausing, he turned and looked back, only to find the youth frozen in place on the pavement.
 
“…Echizen?”
 
No movement.
 
“I expect your family shall be cross, but they are more likely to be relieved that you are home and safe. It is best not to put off returning any longer.”
 
Echizen just shook his head mutely, staring fixedly at the ground.
 
Tezuka sighed. "Echizen, what's the problem? Why won't you go home?"
 
The silence that followed was more a battle of patience than wills.   Tezuka might not have been quite as patient as Oishi, but he had managed to wait two years before starting the path to the Nationals. He had patience in spades.
 
Echizen finally cracked. "....I can't."
 
Of all the answers Tezuka had been expecting, that certainly hadn't been one of them. "Why not?"
 
His kouhai shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. Tezuka was beginning to get the sinking feeling that this was not quite as simple as adolescent stubbornness.
 
".....I lied about running away, Buchou.”
 
What?
 
“….I was thrown out."
 
The words came like an unexpected blow to the head. Thrown out? The senior couldn't have possibly heard correctly. He'd never met Echizen Nanjiroh personally, but Coach Ryuuzaki had never said anything particularly bad about him – at least, certainly not anything to give the impression that he was the sort of man to throw a twelve-year old out onto the streets, no matter the situation. True enough, Echizen never seemed that fond of the man in any of the very few instances he mentioned him, but then, Echizen never seemed terribly fond of anybody.
 
"What happened?"
 
He was growing used to the pregnant pauses between each of his underclassman’s responses. In all truthfulness, his mind was too busy processing the information to even really notice.
 
"Do you remember Ryoga? From the cruise?" The youth’s expression was pained, and it was obvious that the words were practically being forced from his mouth.
 
"Of course."
 
"He came back. We played a match…. I lost."
 
"What?" It was startling news by itself, but he wasn't sure what exactly it had to do with Echizen being thrown out of his house.
 
Sighing, the freshman slumped against the brick wall lining the footpath. "You know about my father, right? He quit because he didn't think that there were any worthwhile opponents left to defeat on the professional circuit. Ever since, he's been trying to raise someone who could challenge him."
 
"You," Tezuka stated flatly.
 
Echizen didn't acknowledge his statement, instead continuing, "You know, Buchou, when I was six and Ryoga must have been about thirteen, we did play a match. I did okay, but Ryoga let me win, so I never counted it as a real match. Right after that he left. He came back a year later, and we played again. Had me down five games, then he threw the match again. He disappeared afterwards, and this time I didn't see him again until that cruise. It wasn’t until recently that I understood."
 
"Understood what?"
 
"That it wasn't just a friendly match. We were playing for our position as my father's son."
 
Tezuka wasn't even capable of saying anything anymore, just listening to tale unfold in numb horror. Some distant part of his mind noted that it was almost as though Echizen had forgotten he was there - he was talking more to himself than to his captain now.
 
"It was after that practice - you know, the one where everyone had to run 200 laps because Kikumaru-senpai threw Inui-senpai's juice in Momo-senpai's face?" Of course he did. He'd run the entire club ragged that day. Even Kaidoh, with his inexhaustible stamina, had been puffed by the end of it. "Ryoga was just there all of sudden. He said to me, 'Sorry, but you're old enough to take care of yourself now. It's my turn.' I didn't really know what he was talking about at the time. He challenged me to a match, and my old man even said that the winner would get to stay, but I still didn't catch on. I was tired and just wanted it over and done with.
 
"The match would have been hard even if I'd been completely fresh. So I lost. And this time, instead of Ryoga being thrown out, it was me." Echizen shrugged. “At least, I think that’s what it was. I don’t really know anything for sure.”
 
Tezuka was speechless. He'd often thought that the situation with Ryoma's brother had been rather strange, but he'd never imagined something like this. What kind of parent could do that to their child? Surely something like that would be illegal?
 
Then another detail of the story clicked into place. "Wait... that practice was a month ago! Where have you been staying since then?"
 
Now Echizen was really looking uncomfortable. Comprehension dawning, he glanced back towards the school. “You mean to say that you have been staying at the clubhouse?”
 
"I slept in a park the first week," he muttered. "But it started to get cold."
 
In a park?! One of his regulars - a freshman at that - had been sleeping in a park like a homeless person and no one had even noticed? He'd thought staying in the clubhouse was bad enough - that was completely unacceptable!
 
Stirred into action, Tezuka placed a hand on Echizen’s shoulder and gently steered him back in the direction they’d just come. “Buchou?”
 
“Let’s go,” was all he said in reply. 
 
It changed the situation completely. The easiest solution right then and there would be, of course, to march Echizen back home and talk with his parents; to gauge the situation for himself just to make sure it wasn’t adolescent melodramatics. But Tezuka didn’t really believe that they were melodramatics anymore. Obviously there was more to the situation if Echizen had gone so far as to suffer on his own for a month, rather than just run away as he’d first said. It might have been a different story if he’d been staying at Momoshiro’s house and in relative comfort, but no one would endure the hardships of living in a park if there were an acceptable alternative.
 
No… he couldn’t force Echizen to return home in that sort of situation. If he’d really been thrown out…
 
Tezuka’s thoughts were in turmoil as he silently led the way back to his house. Echizen followed him quietly with a confused expression on his face. They didn’t speak again until half an hour later, when they were standing in the foyer of his house once again.
 
“Bags,” Tezuka ordered, feeling a sudden spike of déjà vu as Echizen reluctantly handed them over. “I’ll put these upstairs. Take a seat in the kitchen. I’ll be there in a moment.”
 
He didn’t know what he was doing, really. All he knew was that he couldn’t let one of his team mates sleep on the street, especially not when that team mate was only a first-year.  
 
Echizen was slumped on the table, hands stuffed into his pockets, seemingly trying and shrink in on himself. Tezuka just quietly made them some tea – suddenly wishing they had some Ponta in the house for his guest, as that was sure to be more welcome – and sat down across from him, taking a deep sip of the hot liquid as though it might help. It didn’t. The second cup was left ignored and untouched.
 
Finally, he broke the silence, voice quiet as though not to disturb his edgy guest. "You didn't say anything.  Not even when you stayed over last week.  Did you just pretend to call your parents?"

Echizen turned his head away.  That was the only answer he needed.

At least now he knew why the youth had been so impressed with his less than stellar home cooking and old lumpy futon.  Even the floor of his house had to seem like luxury after sleeping on the cold clubhouse benches.  Tezuka felt almost physically ill at the thought. It was hard to wrap his head around the situation; it was so unbelievable. This sort of strange, cruel circumstance didn’t happen to people he knew. It was something that only ever happened to strangers.

"Why didn't you tell anybody?"

Echizen sat there for a long moment, and when it became apparent that Tezuka was willing to wait for an answer, he finally growled, "What was I supposed to tell them, Buchou?  Could you just go up to anybody and admit that you'd been thrown out of your own house because you lost a tennis match with your long lost half-brother?"

"Regardless, you should not be sleeping on the street."

Echizen fiddled for a moment, before confessing in a small voice, "It would just create a fuss, and it's not like telling anyone would make it better."

"But at least you would not be bearing the burden alone," Tezuka pointed out.

"But... if people became involved... I don't have any other family here.  I'd probably get sent away, back to America or out into the country.  I wouldn't be able to keep going to Seigaku anymore."

That was something that the senior hadn't considered, and his blood ran cold at the thought.  Echizen could be forced to leave Seigaku? 

"Please, Buchou," Echizen asked, eyes pleading.  "Please don't tell anyone."

Tezuka stared at his kouhai, unable to comprehend the fact that Echizen was practically begging him to keep his secret.  Echizen didn't beg.  The only time the freshman even came close to pleading with him was when he had asked to be on the Junior Invitational Team. 

He couldn't refuse his kouhai when he was under such obvious distress, even if the rational part of him insisted on taking care of the matter in a proper fashion.  "Very well, I'll keep your secret.  But if you won't tell anyone else, I insist that you are honest with at least me."  And in all truthfulness, he didn't want the freshman to leave Seigaku either.  Even if he himself only had another couple of months before graduation, Tezuka couldn't imagine the tennis club without Echizen anymore.
 
Echizen nodded mutely, then hesitantly asked, "What now?"
 
It was a good question.  "Tonight, you are going to eat a full meal, have a hot bath, and go to bed early. You can stay here on the spare futon for a while.  We can figure out a longer-term solution later. In fact, go run the bath now. I’ll start preparing dinner.”
 
Echizen quietly left the table, heading up the stairs. Tezuka stared after him for a long moment. It felt like some bizarre dream – this sort of drama just didn’t happen to people he knew, and now that it had the senior was left uncertain of how exactly to deal with it. The only thing he was really clear on was that he couldn’t possibly allow Echizen to continue to deal with it alone. How on earth had the first-year managed for a month? How had he pulled it off for that long without anyone finding out?
 
Those questions would have to come later, he decided, moving about the kitchen to prepare a big meal. The top priority was making sure that his charge had everything he needed. Echizen looked like he hadn’t been eating or sleeping properly, which was understandable given the situation. Once that was rectified, they could make some move towards sorting out the whole affair. 
 
 
 
 

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
roseofthine
Mar. 24th, 2008 03:52 am (UTC)
INTERNET MISSES YOU TOO. -goes back to reading-
roseofthine
Mar. 24th, 2008 03:57 am (UTC)
asdfjkl; tezuka.

thank you.
sinnatious
Mar. 24th, 2008 07:21 am (UTC)
You're welcome.
pat_ace87
Mar. 24th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
YOU'RE BACK oseufhgbvcbejb,scb.,zcjaerfnd';ABNSBNVS ..... Finally....it took him a while to realize though :"3......... Poor Echizen, but hey now he has someone who's gonna help him ^_^!!!!!!!! I think you've said this before, but I don't remember, will this be a TezuRyo (it doesn't matter if it isn't, you've still got me hoocked for good XD)>???!@@__@@....
sinnatious
Mar. 24th, 2008 07:21 am (UTC)
Yes, there are definitely strong TezRyo elements (of course there is, could I resist putting them in there? The answer is no, no I could not.) :) It's not the focus so much, but yeah, it's there. XP
pat_ace87
Mar. 24th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
YAY XDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!! Made my day...again XD!!!!!!!!!!!!
iluxia
Mar. 24th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
FINALLY.

BY GODS.

I WAS GETTING ANNOYED.

*SIGH*
argentum_luna
Mar. 24th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
Hi! I've been lurking around here for quite awhile now. I love all your fics, and cried while reading this! DX Thank you so much for writing.
su24
Mar. 24th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
yes!!! tezuka to the rescue...:)
sinnatious
Mar. 25th, 2008 09:54 am (UTC)
*waves* Hi! You're quite welcome. I'm glad that some people are getting some enjoyment out of it. (Though perhaps the term 'enjoyment' is not quite accurate! :D)
m3owchan
Mar. 24th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
Yay Tezuka! <3
m3owchan
Mar. 24th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
Yay Tezuka! <3
m3owchan
Mar. 24th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
Opps, double >.<;; My computer's been weird today..
sinnatious
Mar. 25th, 2008 09:56 am (UTC)
Quite alright. You can spam that completely adorable Karupin icon as many times as you want. *____* I THINK IT INCREASES ITS POWERS EVERY TIME YOU USE IT.
m3owchan
Mar. 30th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
XD Karupiiin~
pharrezychica
Mar. 25th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
It feels like such a huge weight has been lifted from my chest...YES TEZUKA *_*

But the drama ain't over, right?
I wish Tezuka would just keep Ryoma there, but with his parents coming back I doubt he'll be able to ;___;

*rush to next chapter*
sinnatious
Mar. 25th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC)
Of course not. THAT WOULD BE TOO EASY! Have you learnt nothing from the past eleven chapters? :P

^____^
jade_peace
Mar. 26th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
<333 TEZUKA. =D
mimineko_chan
Apr. 6th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
TEZUKA TO THE RESCUE!

Ah, that was just soooooooo good! Finally, some kind of action is here. Baka buchou, it's about time you take Ryoma to your room and molest him! But it was quite a shock when you wrote that Tezuka wasn't as nearly as patient as Oishi. I always thought that he was quite patient. No wait, he doesn't! He actually lose his patience quite a lot... and then bark laps. XD But that poker face of him hide quite a lot.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

"And cut! Good job everyone."

"Che, mada mada dane." A raised eyebrow was the answer to that.

"Puah, that make up is really uncomfortable." And then, he proceed to use his sleeve to clean his face.

"It is a necessary as you have to appear sick." His partner took his arm and led him to their changing room. And then took a tissue and helped him clean his face.

"Yeah, but it's still nasty. I look like a monster with all that green and black under my eyes."

"Hn." Was the answer as his partner changed his clothes.

"Ne, let's go home." Arms embraced his partner's naked waist. His partner could feel light kisses on his back.

"Ah." Turned around and aimed for the main actor's lips.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Tadaaaaa! Ok, lame... But I didn't have any ideas so I thought of if this fic was just a movie where Ryoma and Tezuka played. ^^

- Mimikitty ♥

PS: I took a nap after lunch, but my head still hurt! And I don't even take account my throat! God, it's been really awhile since I've been that sick. Stupid cold! But thank God for your fic = Good distraction!
sinnatious
Apr. 7th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
*laughs* Oh, wait a weird yet awesome idea. I like the bit with the makeup. *__*

Nice, couple onscreen AND offscreen.

Yes, I think Tezuka is largely very patient - he waited so long to take the team to the Nationals, after all - but doesn't suffer idiots in the same way that Oishi will. At least, that's my opinion, anyhow. You know, with Oishi being a saint and all. :P
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )