AN: Wrote this for Ryuuza (happy birthday, girl!). Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Don't own it.
"Ryoma, would you please pass the peas?"
The addressed boy glared, long and hard, at the ever-smiling tensai sitting across from him. After a few moments of dead-lock staring, Nanako reached over and pushed the bowl towards their guest, saying, "Please help yourself, Fuji-san."
"Ah, thank you. Today's meal is quite delicious, Nanako-san."
"Why thank you, you're too kind."
"Nonsense, I merely speak the truth. Thank you for preparing this exquisite food for us everyday. I am eternally grateful for such a wonderful hostess."
"Fuji-san, that really is enough. This home is your home for the next little while, so you needn't be so formal. Help yourself to whatever it is you may need."
"Saa, if you don't mind." He turned away from Nanako and glanced over at Ryoma, who was busy mashing his carrots together with his potatoes.
Fuji's smile widened.
"Ryoma, let's take a bath together."
Ryoma almost choked on the piece of orange that was on its way down his throat.
"Fuji-sempai, what --"
"Please, call me 'Syuusuke'. I call you 'Ryoma', don't I? It's only fair to you if you get to call me by my given name as well."
"No, you call me 'Ryoma' because if you said 'Echizen', the rest of my family would look up, too."
"Fuji-sempai, get out of my room."
"Ryoma, you're not being very hospitable."
"Ryoma -- Ah, Karupin. How's my favourite feline?"
"Mreow!" The cat purred happily as Fuji bent down and scratched behind his ears.
Ryoma decided, as he sunk chin deep into the hot water, that he was never more grateful to have come from America. He stretched out his legs in the bath designed for one and let out a breath of relief. Fuji was adamant about immersing themselves while in each other's company, but because of 12 years away from Japan, his old man had the bathroom remodeled to allow more privacy.
That meant no room for him if they wanted a comfortable soak, and he was only too happy to point it out to his house guest. Ryoma swore he saw Fuji's shoulders drop a bit after his declaration.
In any case, baths were a good place to relax and contemplate. Maybe these next few weeks wouldn't be too bad. Maybe he'd come out alive and sane. Maybe Fuji's parents would come back earlier from their trip and take their precious son home. He could dream.
"At least we can play tennis together," Ryoma muttered before dunking his head under water.
"40-love." Ryoma scowled. "You're not even trying to win, are you?"
"Of course I am. You worked very hard to get that triple break-point, Ryoma."
And it was 'Syuusuke' now, after a week of near-constant badgering on the other's part. Ryoma's only solace was that they would return to the impersonal 'Echizen' and 'Fuji-sempai' once school started again. Hopefully.
"Saa, it's quite hot out. Let's take a break, shall we?"
"Only if you can win this game. Come on."
"As you wish."
With that, Fuji unleashed all three of his triple-counters and came back, only to lose after seven deuces. Ryoma toweled off his sweat and took a gulp from his can of grape Ponta, the contents warm and sticky after sitting out in the sun for the past hour. He grimaced.
"Let's go back inside."
"Ne, Syuusuke. Okaa-san wants you to clean your room."
"But my room's not that messy."
Ryoma looked around and snorted. "Your bed's practically cluttered with your camera junk."
"That's okay, then I'll just sleep with you."
"Why not? I think it's a good idea."
"...Get this cleaned up before Karupin comes in and chokes on the bubble wrap. I'm going to play tennis."
"I'll see you tonight then."
Ryoma opened his mouth to protest, but decided to save his breath. He shut the door behind him when he left.
Once Ryoma figured out how to deal with his upperclassman, the rest of Fuji's stay went smoothly enough, except for one breakfast incident where Nanjiroh decided to steal from Fuji's plate ("MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!").
It was pretty simple, actually; Fuji was almost like the brother he thought he'd left behind. It was as though the older boy enjoyed seeing him riled up, so he learned to keep his head and not rise to the bait, although sometimes Fuji would say something downright weird and make him slip up.
For example, the other day, his dad was teasing him again about the strange girls at school. He escaped to his room before Nanjiroh could start retelling his teenage days, and on the way, he'd run into Fuji.
"Another lively father-son bonding session?"
"Only you would call it that."
"But it sounds so enjoyable."
"You try it and see."
"But we're not father and son -- Ah, are you proposing that we get married, Ryoma?"
In light of Fuji's relationship with his own brother, Ryoma had to consider himself lucky. It really was no wonder that Yuuta ran away to live in the St. Rudolph dorms.
Ryoma stood in the doorway to Fuji's room, watching as the other packed. Fuji's parents were coming back tonight to retrieve their son and as much as Ryoma hated to admit it, he would miss him just a little. Meals with Fuji were quieter than usual; Ryoma's mom made Nanjiroh behave in front of their guest. The food was always better, too, since Nanako was only too happy to please.
It was strange though. Ryoma had been expecting Fuji to do something melodramatic as a flourishing exit, but half the day was already gone and the other boy had spent most of keeping to himself.
Ryoma was snapped out of his musings by a clap on his shoulder.
"Lazy boy, you'd better be finished if you have time to be standing here like an idiot!"
"Packing! Don't expect your mother to do it for you!"
"Didn't I tell you? Your mother and I have decided to go on our second honey moon for the rest of your vacation!"
"No, and why would I have to pack? I'm sure I'm not supposed to be there."
"Nonsense! Of course you're not coming! But Nanako-chan is going to visit a friend in the north."
"Okay, then I'll be fine on my own."
"That's what I said, but your mother wouldn't hear of it. Luckily for us, we've found a good place for you to stay while we're gone."
"With who --" Ryoma stopped mid-sentence and slowly turned back to face Fuji, who was sporting a smile that made his blood run cold.
"Saa, Ryoma, we'll have lots of fun together. I promise."
After giving a few nods of thanks and goodbye -- he was never used to the whole idea of bowing -- Ryoma was led by Fuji towards his temporary room. He carried Karupin in one hand and a duffle bag in his other, with his tennis bag slung over his shoulder. Fuji carried his own suitcase.
Ryoma glared daggers at his host's back as they walked through the small corridor. Their parents' voices drifted through the open front door.
"Thank you for agreeing to look after our son and his cat."
"It's only reasonable since you took such good care of our Syuusuke."
Fuji stopped and pushed a door open, then stood next to it and motioned for Ryoma to enter first. "After you."
Ryoma did as he was told and carefully walked in, holding his pet closer against his chest. He frowned when he saw the décor of the room: cacti lining the windowsill and various frames containing photos of the Seigaku tennis club regulars and Fuji's family, in particular, Yuuta.
"Why are we stopping in your room, Syuusuke?"
"Unfortunately, our home isn't as large as yours, so we'll be sharing my room while you're here. That's not a problem, is it?"
"...No, not at all," Ryoma managed to force out. He heard his parents drive off and Karupin meowed loudly from being gripped so tight. It was going to be a long week.
"And after we finish unpacking, how about that bath?"
Ryoma really couldn't wait for school to start again.