Disclaimer: Since I can't draw to save my life it is pretty obvious that PoT does not belong to me.

Chapter 9

Ryoma sighed as he rolled from one side of the bed to the other, his mind too busy trying to decipher Fuji's actions tonight to let him rest. Why did he kiss me? A kiss is different than just being friendly to someone, isn't it? Still, it was only a kiss on the forehead and Fuji-senpai seems to be a very tactile person. Perhaps it is just his way of showing his friendship. Yuuta did tell me that his brother is always embarrassing him with his displays of brotherly affection.

Frowning he decided to ignore the tensai's weird behaviour. He didn't want to make a fool of himself by misinterpreting Fuji's displays of friendly affection and loose a friend in the process. Because that was what the older boy had become despite Ryoma's reluctance, a friend. An annoying, determined, weird, menacing friend with a brother-complex the size of Japan, but a friend nonetheless.

He wished Karupin were here. He had never had trouble to get to sleep with a purring Karupin next to or on top of him. Sighing again, Ryoma turned onto his stomach, burying his head in his pillow. Thinking about Karupin made him think about home, his parents and how he had spent more time in the hospital rooms than he ever did in his own room.

He didn't like to admit, even to himself, that he was starting to feel a little homesick and he would rather cut off his own hand than to admit that he missed playing against his dad. Without a worthy opponent to compete with, he was growing restless.

Though it wasn't as bad as it had been during the first weeks in Japan. He hadn't really felt homesick since a certain blue-eyed menace had forced himself into Ryoma's life. He could live with Fuji's weird displays of friendly affection if it kept the crushing loneliness of the first weeks at bay.

After having come to this decision, the greenhead swiftly fell asleep.

The next morning, everything was back to normal. Fuji woke Ryoma up by ringing his doorbell at an ungodly hour, escorted him safely to school and smiled happily during team practice.

However it didn't escape the regulars' notice that the amount of glares Fuji threw at anyone approaching the rookie had practically skyrocketed over night. So there they stood, hoping that Tezuka would keep the smiling tensai in line and fearing that even their buchou would not be able to do so this time.

"Interesting. According to my data Fuji's number of glares at non-regulars approaching an area of approximately five meters in diameter around our newest club-member, an area that I have termed the 'Fuji-territory', has dramatically increased, as has their severity." Inui mumbled to himself, happily scribbling into his notebook.

"The 'Fuji-territory'?" Momoshirou asked aghast.

Inui nodded, glasses glinting. "I have observed a similar behaviour pattern before. Every time Fuji meets his brother he glares at anyone who approaches Yuuta. I used to call that area the 'Yuuta-bubble', but since approaching Echizen has the same effect I thought it would be more accurate to rename it 'Fuji-territory' since he is warning strangers off of what he considers to be his personal territory."

Momoshirou didn't know what was creepier, Fuji-senpai considering other people his personal territory or the fact that Inui-senpai actually knew the diameter of that no man's land. There was something else bugging him though. "It tripled over night? How is that possible? Did someone manage to bully Echizen in the few seconds Fuji-senpai looked away?"

Kikumaru nodded his head. "Momo has a point, Fuji doesn't do something like that without reason, nyah."

"Yes, I am 99 percent sure something has to have happened to make Fuji feel more territorial. I was however unable to find out the cause of it." Inui frowned unhappily. "It would be most interesting to find out how Fuji will react to a friend approaching 'Fuji-territory'. Maybe the diameter of the 'Fuji-territory' changes in direct correlation to the amount of friendship and trust Fuji has for the approaching person..."

Recognizing that particular tone in his senpai's voice, Momoshirou hastily backed away, both hands raised, shaking his head vigorously. "No way! I'm not going to die by way of smiling tensai just to satisfy your curiosity, Inui-senpai."

"Momo is right. We have a tournament tomorrow and Tezuka wouldn't be pleased if we had to tell him that one of the regulars can't play because he intruded on Fuji's territory just to give Inui more data, nyah." Kikumaru interjected seriously. "You will have to wait till after."

"Traitor!" growled the tall second year, violet eyes widening when Inui nodded in acquiescence.

"You are right, that would be more acceptable."

As Kikumaru had been called to the teachers' lounge to discuss a project, Ryoma was walking to the courtyard alone, enjoying that he wasn't dragged by a lively redhead's hand through the hallways for a change.

When two first year girls stepped into his way, Ryoma raised an eyebrow in surprise. One of them looked boldly into his eyes, while the other was looking at the floor, her hands twitching and her face coloured a deep red.

"Hello, I am Hikari and that's my friend Sakuno." The bold one said, her short black hair standing up on her head in wild spikes, her voice determined.

Ryoma nodded curtly and took a step to go around the two girls, bewildered as to why two unfamiliar girls who attended a different grade would introduce themselves to him out of the blue in the middle of a hallway.

"Hey, wait. Sakuno wants to ask you something, the least you could do is to stay and listen to her!" Hikari demanded huffily, throwing an arm out to block Ryoma's way.

"I don't want to." He replied indifferently, again taking a step to walk around the obstacle, his eyes narrowing in frustration, since the other girl, Sakuno, didn't look like she would ask him anything in the next couple of hours, judging by the way she kept her eyes on the floor, hands fidgeting nervously.

"And he has somewhere to be." A silky voice sounded from somewhere behind Ryoma.

Fuji had decided to fetch his little kitten for lunch himself instead of relying on Eiji to drag Ryoma to him. After all, one could never know what could happen on the way. For instance, someone could accost his kitten, like the two female first years were doing right now in front of his eyes.

Cerulean eyes opening dangerously, Fuji hastened his steps and heard Ryoma say: "I don't want to." Deciding to make his claim clear and steer his kitten to the safety of their lunch spot, Fuji commented silkily: "And he has somewhere to be."

Walking up to Ryoma, he pulled the boy to him, chest to back, arms sneaking around the younger boy's waist, chin coming to rest on his kouhai's shoulder. He was pleasantly surprised that Ryoma didn't make a single move to escape his hold. In fact, the greenhead merely sighed resignedly and stood still, seemingly content to let Fuji take care of the strange girls.

His eyes were wide open and piercing coldly into the younger girl's brown eyes, but she didn't back down.

"I don't know what your problem is, but we were talking to Ryoma-kun, not you, senpai." She retorted. "We would appreciate it, if you could butt out of our business and take care of your own."

Fuji's eyes flashed dangerously and an icy smile stretched his lips. She was a first year, so he had been inclined to show some mercy, but now all bets were off.

"Saa...I don't know about that. Since Ryoma-chan belongs to me, his business is my business and I don't appreciate it that you are butting in where you are not welcome at all."

The hallway had become deathly quiet, students of all grades watching the altercation with bated breath. They had heard rumours from those attending the tennis club that it was better not to approach Echizen Ryoma if one didn't want to die by way of Fuji and had therefore cautiously avoided the teen. This was the first time someone was brave or stupid enough to test the truth of those rumours and it was obvious that it wouldn't end well.

Fuji could feel an icy fury settle in his veins. Tightening his hold on his clueless kitten, he decided to make an example out of the cocky girl. He smiled disparagingly and told her in a falsely kind voice: "Since it seems like you have a learning deficiency I'll take care to explain it to you slowly and in short words. He is not interested in you or your friend. Neither does he wish to talk or otherwise spend time with you. He is mine and I do not share. Did you get it now or shall I use visual aids as well?"

His words rang clear and loud through the hallway.

It was Ryoma's rumbling stomach that ended the laded silence. The smaller boy lightly tugged at Fuji's uniform jacket and said: "I'm hungry Fuji-senpai, let's go."


AN: I'm sorry for the long wait and want to thank you for encouraging me with your reviews to not give up on this fandom.