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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: Ho, that list of links to previous chapters is getting kind of long.  Hmm, might need to think of a better way to organise that.  Suggestions?
The Dispossession of Echizen Ryoma
Chapter 17
It had been awkward for several days after the ‘incident’, but by about the middle of week Tezuka had stopped blushing every time he so much as glanced in the freshmen’s direction, and Echizen was at last somewhat able to talk with him normally once more, though they didn’t even wander near the subject again. Tezuka admitted that his curiosity in regards to the altercation he’d obviously witnessed the tail-end of in the business district was not quite up to the mammoth task of overcoming his embarrassment and horror at being propositioned. 
Of course, in the new social drama that was his life, things never stayed calm for a long. As far as the senior was concerned, having the sole responsibility for a person’s wellbeing was a rather consuming affair. It wasn’t stealing his attention during class anymore, but a good portion of his time outside of it was spent monitoring the freshman and speculating on any number of physical or emotional problems that the youth might be hiding from him. Having just discovered how close his charge had come to turning himself into a prostitute, Tezuka thought this concern justified.
It was with this thought in mind that he watched in mild consternation as Echizen turned down another offer for burgers from Momoshiro, then similarly dismissed the freshmen trio. As he approached, the youth put his racket away and shouldered his bag. “Oh, you’re ready to go already?”
“You don’t have to wait for me,” Tezuka pointed out.
Echizen just shrugged. “Don’t mind.” 
"You should hang out with the other freshmen more," the senior suggested.
Echizen stiffened, before gruffly replying, "Doesn't matter."
".....It doesn't?"
He watched as the first-year fiddled with a piece of grass between his fingers, and concluded that he wasn’t going to get an answer to that question. 
The social situation with Echizen was an odd one. The freshmen practically hung off him, but they didn’t seem to really qualify as the boy’s friends – indeed, Echizen rarely fraternised outside of school with them, instead seeming to prefer the company of the other regulars. While Tezuka certainly encouraged team bonding, he’d quietly started inviting the freshmen along to regular-only club activities under various pretences, in hopes that their rookie would have people his own age to socialise with. He’d been doing this even before the current crisis, but now these efforts seemed phenomenally more important. After all, if one didn’t have family, they next had to rely on friends.
Unfortunately, it seemed that plan hadn’t worked. It didn’t take a genius to deduce that Horio's rather loud personality clashed horribly with Echizen's natural introversion, and Kachirou and Katsuo had wound up befriending Horio first, leaving the other first year to fend mostly for himself amongst the juniors and seniors. In retrospect, had he not given Echizen the opportunity to play in the intra-school ranking matches, he imagined that the first-year would have been suffering an even more tortured existence than his own freshman year. Still, thinking about it like that didn’t solve the current problem.
"Don't you ever get lonely?" Tezuka asked eventually. It wasn't the sort of personal question he liked asking, but given the circumstances…
Echizen shuffled his feet a little at that, before sourly admitting, "Maybe a little. I don’t… well, that is until.... you know... After I got kicked out, I guess it’s been a bit different." His voice became so soft that Tezuka had to strain his ears to hear it.   "That first night when I was sleeping in the park... it was like being the only person in the world. I hated leaving school after practice... I'd even listen to Inui-senpai prattle on about his data sooner than leave."
It made more sense now why Echizen scarcely left his side these days, even right after that embarrassing affair. He hadn't particularly minded, as the freshman was never an intrusive presence that demanded attention, but he'd thought it odd for a person who'd always been so standoffish and independent to suddenly follow him like a shadow. But with independence suddenly thrust upon him... that month spent living in the park and clubhouse had left a deeper mark than what he'd originally supposed. That was too much time spent alone with depressing thoughts. Ryoma was still a kid, after all.
However... "Isn't that all the more reason to get to know the other freshmen?" After all, Horio, Kachirou and Katsuo were no longer the only other first-years in the club. Their numbers usually picked up throughout the year as people decided what clubs to join, and their ranks had swelled both after their success in the Regionals and then phenomenally more so after the Nationals.
Echizen just stuck his hands in his pockets and didn’t comment. Clearly the matter was not up for discussion. 
It had been a long shot, anyway. Still, it might be worth organising another team event of sorts.
Ryoma, for his part, turned the latest conversation over in his head several times, before forcefully pushing it to the back of his brain to think about later. He supposed he couldn’t blame the captain – he’d obviously horribly embarrassed the senior with his attempts at compensation a few days prior; he’d be doing his best to offload him on to someone else too.  Ryoma grimaced at the memory. He knew that he’d mess it up somehow. Though a part of him was a tiny bit relieved. He hadn’t lied – he found the thought bearable so long as it was Tezuka, but honestly, it had been uncharted territory. The school library had not been at all useful in researching something like that
Hunching his shoulders, he didn’t speak to the senior for the journey ‘home’ – he’d started to think of Tezuka’s house like that, but mentally chastised himself for the slip every time. Homework was similarly done in silence, and they started preparing dinner in the same manner.
Then the quiet routine was shattered by the ringing phone.
Ryoma hadn’t paid it any mind, instead taking over serving out the rice as Tezuka left the kitchen and hurried to answer. He figured that it was probably either Inui, or a telemarketer, or the senior’s parents checking up on him. After all, it wasn’t like the phone hadn’t rung before. When his captain returned to the room looking slightly disturbed, though, he paused and turned his full attention to his senpai. “Is something wrong?”
“No, it’s just… my parents are coming home.”
A spoon clattered noisily to the floor. Embarrassed, Ryoma picked it back up, repeating lamely, "Your parents are coming home."
“Your grandfather too?”
Tezuka visibly hesitated. “…No, they said he’s going to stay a little longer.”
Ryoma paused, digesting that information. Hesitantly, he started to ask, "Should I-"
"Don't worry about it," Tezuka interrupted, quietly resuming preparing dinner. "I already spoke with them about your situation, and they didn’t mind.”
“You told?”
“Of course not. I was vague. They understand your need for privacy.”
“But even so, maybe they-”
“They really are okay with your presence here. And even if they weren’t, what would you do? As I understand it, you have nowhere else to go."
It had been said matter-of-factly, but to Ryoma it felt like a punch to the stomach.
“Right,” he murmured. “…When will they be arriving?”
“They should be here when we get home tomorrow afternoon.” Ryoma nodded mutely to show he understood, and turned his attention to his food.
He barely made it through even half of dinner that night, and only that much due to the captain’s stern glare. It was impossible to eat with the butterflies dancing in his stomach. 
Tezuka’s parents. It had always been a thought lingering uncomfortably at the back of his mind as one of the many factors capable of upsetting his current safety net. A mere hour earlier he’d been worried that the whole awkward affair with his senpai a few days ago would eventually wind up in his expulsion back on to the streets, but that was completely overshadowed by this new development. What were the senior’s parents like? He vaguely recalled meeting Tezuka’s mother at the door that one time he’d come to visit, but couldn’t remember anything about her. They were probably extremely strict and proper, if their son was anything to go by. 
There wasn’t much sleep to be had that night. Ryoma spent most of it fretting about what might happen, and quietly turning over contingency plans in his head.
The next day wasn’t much better. He nearly messed up drills in the morning, and one of the juniors almost managed to get a point against him in the afternoon. The stares of the other regulars prickled at the back of his neck, but he brushed it off as best he could. Ironically, the only person not to notice for once was the ever-vigilant captain. For all his nonchalance over the issue, apparently the news had rattled him some too.
Ryoma found his feet dragging when they left club that afternoon to head back to the captain’s house. Not knowing what to expect bothered him immensely. He was sure he was going to make a bad impression and make life difficult for Tezuka. His parents might have said that they didn’t mind over the phone, but after they met him…
He was mildly shocked when he realised that they had arrived back at the house. Tezuka opened the door cautiously, calling out a tentative and formal, “I’m home.”
“Kunimitsu!” A voice exclaimed. A woman, looking to be somewhere in her mid-forties and wearing an apron appeared in the hallway looking slightly harried, but immediately broke into a wide smile. “How have you been? Oh, you must be Echizen Ryoma. Tezuka Ayana. My husband Kuniharu is upstairs – honey, come down and say hello!” she called out. 
“Um, pleased to meet you,” Ryoma muttered, managing a quick, stiff bow. Tezuka’s mother was a lot more outgoing than he’d imagined. She had a sweet voice and rather… warm demeanour. There was something homey about her. Privately, given the captain’s formal speech patterns and impeccable manners, he’d been expecting some quiet, stern, old-fashioned matron dressed in an elaborate kimono instead.
A man who had to have been Tezuka’s father descended the stairs, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Ryoma couldn’t help but stare. He looked like a much older, more weathered version of Tezuka, but the freshman couldn’t ever imagine their rigid tennis captain wearing such casual clothes. The slump of his shoulders made him look tired, but he managed a tense smile at the sight of the two students. “Welcome home, father,” the senior stated formally. “How was your trip?”
“We can talk about that later,” he dismissed, turning soft brown eyes on the shorter boy. “Echizen Ryoma, is it? Tezuka Kuniharu.” He wavered for a minute, then at his wife’s sharp elbow in his side sheepishly proffered his hand. A little bewildered, Ryoma took it and shook it, ducking his head as he did so.
“We heard you grew up in America,” Ayana explained. “We thought a western introduction might be more appropriate.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you,” Ryoma managed, though he couldn’t really bring himself to raise his voice much above a whisper. 
“Listen to you, I haven’t heard such manners from anyone other than my own son. Have you been rubbing off on him?” she tutted at the senior, though was wearing a pleased smile.
“Kunimitsu takes more after my father, always being so formal and polite,” Kuniharu commented idly. Privately, Ryoma was too busy reeling from hearing people call the captain by his first name to really register that information.
“How is grandfather?” Tezuka asked.
There was an awkward silence, and Ryoma could practically feel two pairs of eyes dart over him. He’d known it wouldn’t be long before he’d find himself intruding on a family moment, and tried to think of some way to politely excuse himself. “He sends his regards, and his congratulations on your latest test results.”
“But how did-”
“Let’s not stand here discussing things in the foyer,” Ayana announced firmly, almost visibly taking command of her household. “I’ve prepared some afternoon tea in the living room, we can talk in there. You too, Echizen. It’ll be lovely.”
With an efficient hand, the woman somehow had all three males seated around a coffee table holding cups of tea in a matter of moments. Ryoma found himself sitting back ramrod straight, regularly checking his senpai for cues on how to act in this odd situation. Tezuka Ayana was already efficiently grilling her son on a number of mundane matters – what shopping needed to be done, how he’d been eating, school, tennis, student council… all the standard things one would expect a parent to ask. Ryoma found himself practically chugging his tea, simply so he’d have something to look busy with to avoid getting dragged into the interrogation. 
Tezuka apparently had other plans.
“You took such wonderful care of the house,” the woman all but bubbled, glancing about appreciatively. “I think it might even be cleaner than when we left.”
“Of course it is; did you really think that Kunimitsu would be throwing wild parties?” her husband remarked dryly. Ryoma briefly broke into a smirk before he managed to school his features back into a carefully neutral expression. He’d been seen, however; the man sent him a sly wink. 
“Echizen helped also. He cleaned the bathroom and did the vacuuming on the weekend,” Tezuka informed his mother, while Ryoma started wishing that he could disappear into his chair.
The woman’s eyes turned steely. “Did you now?”
Not sure if this was the right answer, the freshman nodded slowly.
“Kunimitsu! How could let you a guest do the cleaning?!”
“Most parents would be delighted over any teenage boy doing any cleaning at all,” Kuniharu remarked as he nabbed a biscuit from the plate at the centre of the coffee table. Ryoma didn’t correct him on his not-quite-yet-a-teenager status, and decided that he sort of liked Tezuka’s father. He had all of the captain’s common sense, without any of the stiff formality.
“Well, you needn’t bother with that anymore, Echizen. But thank you for being an excellent houseguest. And I must say that I’m also very grateful to you for keeping our son company while we were away. We were quite anxious about leaving him on his own for the past couple of weeks.”
Ryoma slouched a little, growing nervous at the sudden attention, golden eyes darting to the senior for some sort of help. “Really, I should be the one thanking Buchou.”
“I see. Kunimitsu mentioned that you’d been having problems at home…”
It was then that Ryoma realised that Tezuka’s mother had been waiting for him to leave open an opportunity for that line of questioning. This was a cunning woman. It would be stupid to underestimate her just because she played the part of a loving housewife.
“Ayana,” Kuniharu said warningly.
She frowned. “I just want to make certain that there isn’t anything that needs to go through proper channels.”
Ryoma remained silent. How else was he to respond?
“You don’t trust our son’s judgement in this matter?”
“Of course I trust Kunimitsu! But…”
“If it’s trouble for you, I can find somewhere else to stay,” Ryoma offered quietly, even though his stomach clenched at the thought. But it would be worse if he caused the captain trouble with his family, after everything the senior had done for him. They seemed like such nice people – having them argue over him really wasn’t worth it.
“Don’t even consider such a thing,” Tezuka abruptly ordered, half-standing and surprising both of his parents into silence. Seeming to realise that he’d spoken out of turn, the senior settled back into his seat, regaining his composure, and instead stared evenly at him. Grand. This probably meant another lecture later.
Tezuka Ayana was looking genuinely concerned now. “Echizen-”
Kuniharu held up a hand with an easy-going smile. “You’re welcome as long as you’d like to stay, Echizen. If Kunimitsu thinks that’s the best way, then I trust his reasoning.”
Ryoma’s mouth felt dry. He swallowed and murmured, “Thank you.” It was amazing, really, to see how trusted the senior was by his parents; but then, his senpai did practically ooze responsibility. 
Talk after that was carefully steered back towards safer topics. Fortunately, there was little call for Ryoma to participate, though he was always careful to be polite and speak clearly and concisely whenever a question was directed his way. Watching the subtle family dynamic made him feel a little odd, though. It was so different to what he remembered of his own household – naturally, as Tezuka Kuniharu appeared to be a normal adult unlike his own perverted immature crazy father. And Tezuka Ayana was apparently a full-time housewife too, unlike Echizen Rinko who was rarely home. Different personalities would inevitably create a different atmosphere. But even though they weren’t the most demonstrative family he’d ever seen, there was real warmth there, and they all seemed to genuinely like and care for one another. Ryoma felt a bit nauseous after watching for a while, and was relieved when afternoon tea was apparently over and they were ordered off to do homework. 
They hadn’t thrown him out, or made things too difficult for his senpai so far, fortunately. But strangely, Ryoma almost would have felt better if they had.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 30th, 2008 03:41 am (UTC)
You could either use a table, or have a separate directory post that you link to everytime? Less link fussage that way. :D

AND. sdjhgakdjfakdfhadh I adore how you write them so so much. (; I can't decide who I like better. Ayana for being so scandalized with how wonderful Ryoma is, or Kuniharu who's so sdjhgjksfdhadfh. He had all of the captain’s common sense, without any of the stiff formality. I BET ONCE THEY KNOW EACH OTHER MORE, THEY WILL TEAM UP AGAINST TEZUKA AND KNOCK DOWN HIS FORMALITY. He will be so scandalized, and Ayana will just laugh at them fondly. dsjkshjgdafkhdfh

Ryoma needs to stop being stupidly self-conscious and SEE THE LOOOVE. :| ♥
Mar. 30th, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)

(I say just delete the link and use the tag. >> the "doer" isn't there for nothing. -shot-)
Mar. 30th, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
Hmm, good ideas! Thanks.

Your undying love for Tezuka's family never ceases to amuse me. They are awesome, though, even if they are so darn hard to write. YES, BETWEEN HIS FATHER AND RYOMA TEZUKA DOESN'T STAND A CHANCE. He will be all :|:|:|. And Ayana will try to ruffle his hair, but he's too tall because he's always standing up so straight. :|
Mar. 30th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
Oh Ryouma. School library. You should've tried the internet.

And eee, meet the parents! -dies-

*_________* much.
Mar. 30th, 2008 05:00 am (UTC)
Ryoma-chan. Libraries are.... well. *cough* They are censored.

Need how-to-do manuals? Go to AFF. And read away. ^______^
Mar. 30th, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC)
Except the library at my old school. It had a section exclusively for that kind of stuff. Very informative.

I only learned that when I had already left school, though. D:
Mar. 31st, 2008 01:33 am (UTC)
:o:o:o Uso! ROFL I remember the librarian at my high school was so in good terms with our class that he allowed us to read whatever we wanted to read. I wasn't much taken with this kind of stuff as I was with science and criminology (for a while I contemplated on becoming a policewoman until I realized that hey, if I'm a policewoman, I don't get to slice stuff with a scalpel as much as I would as a surgeon!). And I already *cough* knew. I SWEAR I DIDN'T MEAN TO TARNISH MY *COUGH* INNOCENCE! I JUST--IT WAS FANFICTION AND SASUKE AND ITACHI AND ED AND ROY! *ducks and covers head*
Mar. 30th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC)
This was great, the parents return and it's all well ^_^!!!!!! Now here comes the next bout of drama right......**drum rolls** the rest of the regulars **and the crowd goes wild** XD!!!!!!!!!!!
I loved, and as for the link thing, I say you just add a note the says something along the lines of clicking on the tag doer which pretty much takes everyone to the page where all the rest of the chapters are up ^_^!!!!!!
Mar. 30th, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)

The little bird was wrong, though. This was very enjoyable, but it didn't top the previous chapter. All that Echizen skin... :D__
Mar. 31st, 2008 07:55 am (UTC)
I agree, but I think the little birdie has some bizarre fascination with them.
Mar. 30th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
:D Tezuka's family!!<3333
Mar. 30th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
I guess you could just link the parts/acts instead of all chapters?


Mar. 31st, 2008 07:56 am (UTC)
I wound up using the tag! Which is what it's there for *facepalm*

Why thank you. :D They're hard to write, but oh so fun at the same time.
Apr. 1st, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
-pets- It's okayyyy.

(I must admit, I was confused by the doer tag at first. Then I clicked on it and all I saw was a certain fic. And then, well. Dispossession. Of. Echizen. Ryouma. I am such an idiot.)
Apr. 7th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)

If it were my parents, I don't think they would be that accepting even if they do have faith in me. LOL! But poor Ryoma... It is quite awkward when you are a guest and with his situation, it's even harder especially with his pride. I wonder how they are going to live all together. Through I do wonder what Ayana and Kuniharu are thinking. I mean come on, their son (stoic and way too mature for his age) is taking his kouhai home? There is something bizare here. I almost want to write a dabble on some pillow talk between them, but what could they say?

My goal today: read all the chapters left... I wonder if it's possible ^^

- Mimikitty
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )