Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 9

Ryoma was so deeply immersed in his drawing that he didn't sense another's presence in the room till a warm voice commented lightly: „That's Karupin, right? I didn't know you could draw so well, Ryoma. With talent like that you could become a real artist."

Guilt coursed through Ryoma's veins. He knew he shouldn't draw; drawing was a waste of precious time. Quickly he let the pencil fall from his fingers and pushed the sketch pad away.

"I'm sorry." he said loudly, wishing with all his heart that the tensai would forgive him.

Warm hands took a hold of Ryoma's chin and forced him to look up into concerned blue eyes. "Whatever are you sorry for, little one? You did nothing wrong."

Ryoma felt like his chest would explode any second, the world was spinning around him and he concentrated desperately on the warmth he could see in the older boy's eyes, hear in his voice and feel in his touch.

"I…did nothing wrong?" he whispered. The quiet ocean he had immersed himself in became a violent maelstrom, pieces of glass gathering in the middle, melting together to something smooth and whole and…

"I…am allowed to do… something else? I am not wasting…time?" Ryoma's voice grew louder and surer with each uttered question, his gaze never wavering from warm blue eyes.

"How could it be a waste of time if you enjoy doing it, little one?"

This one sentence, this permission to do as he liked seemed to be what Ryoma had been waiting for. The storm in his heart finally broke, pushing him upwards towards the surface, safely encased by a bubble of smooth, warm glass.

Fuji was greatly surprised when the younger boy suddenly threw himself at him and hugged him tightly. Ryoma wasn't a very tactile person and had never initiated contact with anyone safe Karupin before.

Yet here he was, practically burrowing himself into Fuji's chest, trembling like a leaf, gripping Fuji's shirt like a life-line; the cause of which was a single drawing.

With a sigh he hugged the younger boy back, one hand quickly finding its way to the mop of unruly green hair, stroking it softly.

Slowly the trembling lessened and the younger boy lay still in Fuji's arms, breathing deeply and slowly.

"Better now, little one?"

A small nod was the answer.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Silence than a shaky: "Maybe?"

"Do you like drawing, Ryoma?"


"You're very good at it. Do you draw often?"

"No. Not…not anymore." The words came more haltingly this time, but the voice was still steady and calm.

"That's a shame. If you enjoy something you should do it as often as possible." Fuji was surprised how well the conversion went so far. Ryoma was freely sharing his feelings, snuggling into Fuji, trusting him…Trusting him!

Wide blue eyes stared at Ryoma in wonder. Could it really be…? But how could a conversation about drawing of all things cause…?

Following his instincts, Fuji commented: "Did someone tell you not to draw anymore?"

He held his breath and waited for Ryoma's reaction.

"My dad said it was a waste of time. If I had enough time to draw useless pictures I should train to become a better tennis player."

Fuji saw red. Rage swept through him in a great tide and if it weren't for the little warm weight snuggled in his arms he would have started to destroy his room.

"As I said, little one, if you enjoy doing something it isn't worthless."

Someone would pay and pay greatly indeed. It looked like he and Echizen-san would have a serious talk in the near future.

"Echizen is staying at our house?" Yuuta asked incredulous.

"Yes, the poor dear is all alone for the next week, so Syusuke offered to take him in." his sister's voice explained happily over the phone.

"Is Echizen alright? He seemed to be a little down the last time I met him." Not to speak of the terror his brother usually induced in other people.

"Well he was a little shy and reticent during dinner, but I caught them cuddling in Fuji's room afterwards without them noticing me, so I'd say he is alright now."

Yuuta looked at the receiver and wondered if he suffered from auditory hallucinations. Echizen and his brother, cuddling? Shaking his head a little, he asked faintly: "You caught them doing what?"

"Oh, no need to be jealous, Yuuta. Just because Syu-kun has picked up another little brother doesn't mean he doesn't like you anymore. Anyway, don't forget to come to dinner tomorrow. Mom misses you. I have to go now, bye!"

Yuuta grabbed the next person walking by and ignoring the terrified look in the freshman's eyes growled: "Hit me!"

The other boy shook his head desperately, afraid of the crazed look in steel grey eyes.

"Either you hit me or I…" Yuuta didn't get to finish his threat as the other boy hit him in a desperate bid for freedom.

"Huh, so I am awake. Thanks." He let the boy go and walked back to the gym. Suddenly he broke into a grin and shouted: "I'm free! I'm free! Echizen, I love you!"

It took less than ten minutes for the rumour mill to spread the word that Fuji Yuuta had finally snapped and less than a day for word of his love declaration for Seigaku's super rookie to reach the street courts and from there other schools.

It took Yuuta only one look at his team-mates' faces to figure out what they were thinking.

"I didn't mean it like that!"


-"Good evening, Tezuka."-

"Atobe? Why are you calling me?"

-"Do you think Fuji would kill anyone his little brother is interested in?"-

"Atobe, please tell me you didn't call to gossip."

-"Ore-sama would never condescend to gossip. Ore-sama is merely concerned for your little problem child."-

"Fuji has taken Echizen under his wing. I doubt anyone would be crazy enough to try and hurt him, now."

-"Did you know that Fuji Yuuta publicly declared his love for Echizen?"-

"I'm going to hang up now, Atobe. I don't care much for prank calls."

"Yo! Momoshirou! Wait up!"

The tall second year stopped and turned around, grinning when he recognized Fudomine's Kamio and Ann.

"What are you so excited about, shouting in the streets? You don't shout so loudly in public, you just don't."

Ann smiled up at him and said: "We just wanted to know if it's true."

"If what is true?" Momoshirou asked warily, thoughts of Echizen swimming through his mind.

"That Fuji's little brother is going out with Echizen, of course." Kamio explained impatiently.

Ignoring Momoshirou's suddenly pale face Ann gushed: "It's just so romantic. Do you think they fell in love after their match? Oh, do you think it was at that time when I dragged you two to the public courts and we met Yuuta-kun there? They make the cutest couple, now that I think about it. It's just so obvious."

"Fuji's brother and…Echizen?"

"Yeah, we just heard it at the public courts. Something about Fuji's brother making a public love declaration at his school." Kamio told the spluttering Seigaku regular.

"Fuji Yuuta…and Echizen?!"

"Really, Momoshirou you could have told at least me. I could have helped you set them up or something like that." Ann complained teasingly.

"Are you out of your mind?!" Momoshirou finally exploded.


AN: I really don't know why this chapter turned out like it did. It looks like my muse thought there hadn't been enough PoT typical trouble...