Kobayashi Nami stepped inside the old house with several contractors and looked around the refinished entrance hall. She turned to explain what she wanted done today before the carpenters, plumbers, and electricians went to work. She wanted this place kept as original as possible despite the modern updates that had been and were being done to it. Before she moved to leave though her cell phone went off and she didn't dare step away from the spot she was on for fear of losing the signal. This property was notoriously bad for having very poor cell phone signals but Nami was not a superstitious person. She answered the phone to find one of her bosses on the other end.
"Ah Kumamoto-san. Yes everything should be ready for whenever Echizen Ryoma is ready to inherit the property… No sir, we haven't been able to get that one room open yet but I have the carpenters working on that first and a locksmith company will be arriving this afternoon if they haven't gotten it open by then… Yes sir… I'm picking him up on Saturday after his team practice… but sir… why would you send… no sir. Yes sir I understand. He'll be at Seigaku high school…"
The spirit of a 16 year old boy stopped listening at that point and began to gather energy. After all he would have to go to this school and stop Echizen Ryoma from ever setting foot in this house.
It took a moment for Ryoma to register the voice and the arms which were now wrapped around his neck, even though they'd done this hundreds of times over the last four years.
"Kikumaru-sempai, hanase." The kouhai demanded, the arms simply tightened.
"Ochibi! Are you coming with us for burgers today? Everybody is coming, even Tezuka!"
"There is a 78 chance that there will be a discussion on where to spend the next team recreation day and a 67 chance that Tezuka will assign laps around the restaurant within half and hour." Inui said as he came up to the two of them.
"So are you coming! Sempai's treat."
The two high school seniors stared at him for a minute in stunned silence before Eiji began to whine while Inui whipped out his note book.
"Why not? Why won't you come with us nya!" the red head yelled as he tightened his arms even more on the younger boy's neck.
"Sempai… Hanase… Can't… breath." Ryoma managed to cough out as he thumped on his teammates arms.
"Eiji! You need to let go. You're choking him."
"But… Oishi he said he won't come with us today and he won't tell me why!"
"Eiji he needs to breathe if you want him to tell us why." The hyperactive boy's doubles partner said soothingly.
The red head finally let go and apologized as Ryoma fell to his knees gasping for air. Inui was mumbling to himself by this point, unaware of the young boy's glare.
"Echizen turned an interesting shade of purple blue. This color might be obtained by adding Aozu to Penal Tea…"
"Ochibi spill. Why won't you come with us today?"
"Yeah Echizen you never pass up free food." Momoshiro said with a shocked look on his face as he and the others gathered in time to hear the tail end of the argument.
"Actually Momo-sempai it's you that doesn't pass up food, free or otherwise." Ryoma replied once he had recovered his breath.
"Fsssh." Kaidoh hissed with a smirk.
"Echizen what reason do you have exactly for not coming?" Inui asked as he swapped notebooks.
"I have an appointment. They're picking me up here in a few minutes."
"Who is?" Momo blurted out.
"Someone from my Mom's law firm."
"Law firm? What did you do, Echizen, hit someone important with a tennis ball?"
"Baka Momo-sempai. I'm inheriting something from a dead relative."
"Ooh, Echizen's gunna be rich! Maybe he should be paying for the burgers!"
"Fssh. Baka. Just because he's inheriting something doesn't mean its money." Kaidoh said glaring at the bottomless pit powerhouse.
"Don't start you two! Echizen did you know your relative well? I'm sorry for your loss." Oishi said with a sad expression.
"I didn't know him at all. He died about 150 years ago."
"150 years? Then how could he specify you?" Momo asked in confusion.
The sixteen year old prodigy shrugged. He'd grown rather close to these boys over the years and was more comfortable around them than anyone else, except his cat of course, but there were still times when it was a challenge to get his to say more than a few short sentences at one time.
"I don't know. They'll explain that when I get there I guess."
"Are you going alone? Your parents are back in America right now aren't they?" Fuji asked in slight concern.
"I sent a copy of everything to my mom and she said it was fine. She's having one of her coworkers sit in to make sure nothing changes." He said leaning against a wall.
Fuji's face showed a bit more concern at the answer the younger boy had given. He'd hoped Ryoma's parents would fly back for something like this, but apparently not. He shot a silent look at Tezuka who seemed to contemplate something for a moment before nodding. Fuji relaxed a little at that.
"If we are permitted we will go with you Echizen." Tezuka finally said out loud surprising everyone but Fuji.
"Nya! That's right. Ochibi shouldn't be alone." Eiji, the first to recover, said as he glomped the younger boy carefully this time.
The others took a few moments but each agreed to give up going for burgers to accompany their youngest teammate. Ryoma looked at his friends before shrugging and mumbling,"Betsuni,"which was as close as he would come to saying that he wanted them with him, unless he was extremely nervous which hadn't happened yet.
A few minutes later a limousine pulled up in front of the school and once it had stopped a woman stepped out of the back. She was an intimidating image of professionalism in her charcoal grey business suit. She scowled at the boys in front of her before stalking towards them. Once in front of them she gave them all a once over before turning to Tezuka. His posture, unlike his unreadable face, had become one of both confidence and defensive. She glowered as she stared into his eyes.
"I'm looking for Echizen Ryoma." She finally said in an impatient tone.
"And you are?" the tennis captain replied giving no indication that the boy was about three feet away.
The others had arranged themselves in a seemingly casual way that was actually effective in blocking Ryoma from her immediate sight. Fuji however stood near Tezuka, several feet in front of Ryoma, with his piercing blue eyes open in fierce mistrust.
"Tokushima Takako. I'm from Tottori and Kumamoto, the law office." She said with a sneer.
"Show us proof." Fuji commanded.
With an insulted huff she pulled out several pieces of identification. Both Tezuka and Fuji studied them carefully and finally the tennis captain nodded.
"I'm Ryoma." The young boy said as he walked up to stand between Fuji and Tezuka while the rest of the tennis regulars, all nine were considered such now that they were in high school because the coach had demanded at least two alternates, came to stand behind them.
She looked him up and down before sighing.
"Show me your I D." She demanded.
He pulled out his student pass and she glanced at it for all of two seconds before storming back towards the limo.
"Hurry it up already! I have better things to do than fetch snot nosed brats."
Ryoma hadn't moved and neither had the others.
"What are you waiting for?" she demanded when it became apparent that they weren't moving
"My teammates are coming with me." Ryoma half stated half demanded.
"Yes, yes. Your mother already informed us they might. Now get in the car already!"
The nine tennis players glared at her as they piled in and she slammed the door after them before getting in the front with the driver.
"Ryoma-kun was that your mothers coworker?" Fuji asked as he leaned forward from his seat.
"No. We're meeting Kobayashi Nami-san at the office." Ryoma replied from his seat across from the older boy.
"Do you know this rude woman?" Tezuka asked.
"No, she must be from the other law firm that is representing the will."
"Do you plan on saying more than two sentences at a time today?" Momo blurted out.
This question had been used to gauge Ryoma's mood for the last few as it was what had brought about the first long conversation they'd had with the young boy that wasn't about tennis.
This answer signaled that Ryoma was nervous and in a bad mood. Tezuka took that in and shifted almost imperceptibly closer to him. Ryoma simply sighed and looked out the window. He hadn't told the others what he was inheriting because it wasn't definite yet. Certain things had to be done or proven before he received anything. If everything went as it should then Ryoma would be set for life. His mom had walked him through the basics of it over the phone and he stood to inherit a large piece of property, approximately 20 acres, which included a place of residence, as well as several hundred million dollars. Frankly he wondered if they would treat him differently should he receive the inheritance, but came to the conclusion that at most Momo would start mooching money or make him pay for the burgers.
The limousine coming to a sudden stop successfully shook Ryoma from his thoughts as it nearly shook him from his seat. A door slammed a moment later and the one next to Ryoma was abruptly pulled open. Takako reached in and hauled Ryoma out just as a motherly looking woman in grey slacks and a white blouse came running over.
"Let him go at once!" the woman demanded.
"And who are you to tell me what to do?" Takako said with a sneer.
"Kobayashi Nami. I'm the Echizen lawyer in the absence of Echizen Rinko-san. Now I suggest you unhand my client."
"Fine. Better you than me."
She let Ryoma's arm go and stomped off with a glare, grumbling about babysitting and being send to fetch like a dog, or worse an intern.
The rest of the tennis team piled out of the vehicle as Nami patted Ryoma's shoulder and smiled at them.
"Are you alright Ryoma-kun? Did she hurt you?" the lawyer asked looking concerned.
"I'm fine Nami-san." Ryoma replied looking down.
"Good. Well you all must be the amazing tennis team I've heard so much about. Ryoma-kun and Rinko-san have barely stopped talking about you in the past four years."
She was met with blank faces until Oishi and Tezuka spoke up at the same time looking mildly embarrassed,"Yes. Thank you ma'am."
She smiled as she watched Ryoma blush.
"Well shall we go in before I embarrass Ryoma-kun anymore?" Nami said as she turned to lead the way.
Ryoma, who was standing by the back of the limo, and the others turned to follow when Ryoma suddenly felt himself get shoved backwards to the ground. As he was picking himself up a sudden loud honk ripped his attention to his right. He found himself frozen to the spot in the direct path of a car that was not slowing down.
"RYOMA!" a voice cried out as he felt someone grab him and pull him close.
When he dared to open his eyes again he found himself wrapped in Tezuka's arms back on the sidewalk.
"What happened? Are you alright?" the eighteen year old asked without letting Ryoma go.
"I don't know. It felt like someone pushed me but no one was there."
Half an hour later they were all sitting in a large office facing a man who was sitting behind a desk.
"Well everything seems to be in order Mr. Echizen. Your mother sent over all the notarized documents needed to prove your lineage. The only matter left to deal with is what week you will stay at the house to finish meeting the requirements of your great, great, great, great Grandfathers will." The man said with a kind smile.
"The will doesn't specify whether or not you can have someone with you, other than saying your parents cannot set foot on the property until the week is over, so feel free to bring friends or a cousin. Also you don't need to worry about the house needing repairs. Each generation, since Echizen Kiyoshi built it, has made sure it was in good repair whether or not anyone was living in it. Just a few weeks ago we hired a team to make sure everything was working and to check the floors, ceilings, roof and walls. You have electricity with back up generators, phones, indoor plumbing, showers and baths, the kitchen appliances are all new, and we even set up a couple of makeshift tennis courts." Nami said with a smile.
"Ah." Was all Ryoma said in reply.
The rest of the regulars conversed quietly for a moment before they pulled out their cell phones, sent text messages to their parents and received replies, and nodded to Tezuka who was sitting next to Ryoma. Tezuka leaned over and whispered to Ryoma who simply looked at him for a minute before replying quietly,"Onegai."
Tezuka nodded and the sixteen year old turned back towards the lawyer behind the desk.
"Since tomorrow is Sunday and the beginning of our week long reading break it would be ideal for us to move in then and leave next Sunday." Ryoma intoned in a bored voice.
"I'll pick you all up tomorrow to show you around and give you the keys. There are accounts set up at a few grocery stores and restaurants that you can use to stock the house with as much food as you want on the firm." Nami said with a smile knowing full well that her boss didn't realize how much it would cost to feed nine teenaged tennis players.