One Step
Written by: Kiasidira Ixari
Co-written by: Aventria

There was another note on this chapter that was written when I started writing it—approximately a month and a half ago. Again, I am apologizing for the hiatus. As promised, here is chapter 33, unfinished.

Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.

Warning(s): …none? (snicker) Though by now, I think you'd know better than to listen to my phony warnings.

NOTE:I will continue referring to Fuji as "Fuji" in narrative instead of "Yusuke". Just to maintain a solid flow and to avoid confusing readers. For now, that is. (grin)

Step Thirty-Three: Crescendo
(Unrevised and Unfinished Edition)

"Are you sure you're gonna be fine?"

Toushi looked up at Kevin and smiled weakly. "Yeah, I'll be fine. I just… need some time alone."

Kevin nodded in understanding, gently letting go of Toushi's hand and leaning forward to give him a chaste kiss. After a comforting squeeze on his boyfriend's shoulder, he walked out of their room and closed the door behind him. He let a silent but heavy breath go, head dipped low. The entire manor's mood was morose, as if someone had died. Of course, everyone already knew that Ryoma was fine. Fuji had been in a hurry to return to the hospital despite the private conversation they'd had earlier.

He understood the gravity of the situation Fuji and Toushi and Keigo were all in, but for goodness' sake, couldn't have they postponed this problem after Ryoma's hospitalization? He knew that this only doubled the pressure over Fuji; he didn't know about the others, but he was pretty sure he didn't want to see Fuji snap. Sighing deeply, he moved down the empty hallways. The other players were practicing outside; Team Japan's first match was approaching. He shook his head; Keigo really did choose a bad timing.

He stopped by the snack bar and picked up a drink, and then stepped out into the cooling summer afternoon. A whole day had passed after the ordeal; the discussion this morning had taken an entire morning before Fuji and Toushi settled down enough to function properly once more. Kevin realized that it was a dire mistake to leave Tezuka behind at the hospital; Fuji had desperately needed an anchor to hold him down as he tried to deal with the shattering of his world's foundations.

Robert and Ryuuka had explained everything. Fuji had a hard time believing and digesting everything that was being said, but he accepted it as gracefully as he could. Later on in the day, when all the questions seemed to have been answered, he excused himself and went straight to the hospital after picking up some clothes for him and Tezuka. It was as if he hadn't been disturbed by the news of his heritage at all when he finally set off towards the hospital to see Ryoma again.

Kevin shook his head ruefully as he settled down on one of the benches settled in a near clearing within the woods surrounding the manors. The clearing was on top of a cliff and overlooked a wonderful view of the bay and the sea. There was no other noise other than the distant squawking of the seagulls and the rustling of the trees. The waves lapped gently against the cliff, creating a comforting white noise.

This was his favorite spot within the entire mansion; this was his sacred ground, a place to think and settle down.

He had quite a lot to think about and consider: Toushi's situation, Ryoma's poisoning, the issue with Fuji, Keigo's tactlessness... and the list went on. His frown deepened as he remembered the earlier discussion with the other players and the maids of the manor.

They had to thank the other captains for taking over the manor and scouring the security videos for any sign of abnormal activity within the last two days. They'd watched every single recorded security video on the manor, and soon enough they stumbled on something that seemed suspicious.

One of the newer maids—a young woman with blue-streaked black hair, bright brown eyes, and a small tattoo of a heart on her wrist—had served Ryoma's Ponta in a glass instead of in the can, as per Ryoma's usual instructions. They didn't see anything unusual with how she prepared the drink, but they still had a standing suspicion. It was better not to leave trails uninvestigated, as Inui had so aptly phrased.

His mind was floating off towards the direction of settling his worry for his boyfriend when he heard nondescript voices nearby. He frowned. He was pretty sure that no one was within sight when he'd walked down the worn yet well-hidden cobbled path leading towards the clearing. The woods were pretty spacey; he would have seen it if someone was around.

He grumbled and stood, straining his ears for further noises. He walked as slowly and as noiselessly as possible towards the edge of the clearing where the voices were coming from. He knew the woods beyond the clearing towards that particular direction continued on for about two to three miles until it broke to make way for the main road leading towards the manor properties and other private lands beyond the manor. This was a secluded area of Miami, after all.

They seem to be arguing about something…

Kevin inched ever nearer, careful to hide his silhouette against the trees. Finding one tree that was thick enough to hide his frame successfully, he snuck up and pressed himself against it. He strained his ears and kept his breathing down, feeling kind of silly as he acted like how someone would act in a spy movie.

"…are you doing here in the first place?!" a man's voice exclaimed in a hushed whisper. The rustling leaves made it hard for Kevin to recognize the voice, but he knew it somehow sounded very familiar.

"It's none of your fucking business!!" a higher, lighter voice yelped without trying to hide her voice. There was the sound of furious rustling; Kevin knew that there was a struggle. "Let me go!!"

"Are you acting under his orders?! Goddammit, keep your voice down, bitch!" grunted the man as the girl yelped louder. Soon enough, the sounds of struggling stopped. The girl had to have been subdued by the man. "Did he tell you to do this?!Answer me!!"

"Yes, he did, dammit, now let me go!!" the girl struggled, her voice tight as if she was being restrained around the torso. "You're hurting me, Ryoga!!"

Kevin had to conceal the rattling gasp he drew. Eyes wide in shock, he stood rooted to his place.

"Goddammit, I already told him not to mess with my brother!!" This time, it was Ryoga who growled without discretion. It was as if he didn't care if anybody heard anymore. "Carol. I want you to get out of Miami. Get out of Miami and go back to your dad in Dakota. Don't you dare come back here, you hear me? I don't want to see you joining them!"

"I won't leave," Carol growled aggressively. There was another rustle, and then panting. "You can't tell me to leave. You're not my guardian anymore. You're not one of US anymore. You chose your pathetic little brother who's probably dead by now; like how you'll be when he's finished with you."

"Carol, please," Ryoga silently spoke. "I don't want you to become just another whore for them!"

"Well it's better than going back to fucking North Dakota and raising chickens and taking care of old crones!" shrieked the girl. "I won't go back there anymore! This is better; here is better! Here I have a real family—a family that doesn't include you any longer!"

There was silence, in which Kevin braved peeking around the tree. His eyes widened as he saw the familiar form of the black-haired and brown-eyed girl on the video as the maid who served Ryoma the tall glass of Ponta. She was facing towards Kevin's general direction, but not directly. Ryoga had his back against Kevin, which was probably good. He didn't want the elder Echizen to see him at all.

"I was never included in the family you're talking about, Carol,"Ryoga flatly said. "There was never any family over there for me, because my family was here. Here all the time, while I was being a stupid selfish brat slaving away to what I wanted and not paying any attention to what I already had."

There was another stretch of longer silence as Carol and Ryoga just stared at each other, one warily, and one pleadingly. Then the girl's face hardened.

"I'm going back to them," she said darkly. "I'm going back to the cartel, and you can't stop me."


The girl ran off into the woods, while Ryoga darted after her half-heartedly. He yelled her name, but she didn't come back.

However, she did look back.


And her eyes widened with Kevin's.

Brushing back the dark hair from the elegantly sloping eyebrows, Tezuka ran his eyes over Ryoma's sleeping face. He wouldn't dare show such openness with Ryoma in front of other people (unless under special circumstances, of course), but right now, there were only the two of them; no one else.

He leaned down and pressed a dear kiss on the sleeping teen's forehead. Reaching up and placing his hand against the motionless cheek, he was glad to find that at least, the color was back in Ryoma's skin. Seeing the ghastly pale white skin of his lover's face not a mere few hours ago was not really one thing he wanted to experience again. It was traumatizing enough the first time, and heavens be damned—he was not going to let it happen ever again.

He turned gently to look at the door behind him when he heard it creak open slowly. Fuji entered the room silently and sent him a smile. "I'm sorry I took long," Fuji silently said, as if afraid to wake Ryoma. His smile faltered as he said, "Atobe and the others kept me busy."

"It's okay," Tezuka replied gently as Fuji approached. He didn't breach the subject; he could feel that Fuji was not ready to tell him yet, and it would probably be better if Fuji told him and Ryoma at the same time so as not to leave their younger lover always the last in the loop. "Are you feeling okay?"

Fuji nodded absently, leaning over Ryoma and placing a soft loving kiss on the boy's forehead. "I'm fine. Did he wake up?"

"No," Tezuka replied silently. "No, he didn't wake up. Not yet."

"He will wake up, though, right?" Fuji muttered, resting his chin against Ryoma's palm as he sat down. His eyes slowly started drooping. "He will wake up."

Brilliant blue eyes slid close. Tezuka could see that Fuji was more than tired; there were bags under his eyes, and he looked so stressed out that it was hard to believe he could actually stand and make a coherent conversation.

It was minutes of silence later when Tezuka spoke once more, his eyes trained on Ryoma's peaceful face.

"Yes, he will."

"No, he won't!"

Kevin slammed the door into an annoyed Atobe Keigo's face.

"Kevin!" roared the heir from the other side of the door. There was a loud slam, and the door flew open once more. (Kevin forgot to lock it, funnily enough.) "How many times do I have to tell you that he'sneeded over there?!"

"Don't you know the meaning of a 'break', you monkey?!" Kevin screamed right back into the diva's face. He waved his arms around himself madly as he started ranting once more. "You'll more than likely do nothing else but wear him out with your questions! He hasn't even fully recovered yet! He hasn't had decent sleep yet! Whose fault is that, huh?!"

"Stop channeling Keigo and being such a drama queen, Kevin," drawled Yuushi from behind Keigo. His glasses flashed against the sunlight streaming in from the windows. "Toushi is grown up; he will be just fine. There are only a few things we need to work out. And don't exaggerate, for goodness' sake. It's been two days! I'm sure Toushi's gotten more than enough sleep. And considering their circumstances, Fuji has more reason to be worn out than Toushi does, but Fuji's already agreed to go with us, so I don't see why Toushi can't. Besides, I don't hear Toushi saying no."

"He's right, Kev, I can handle it," Toushi carefully reassured Kevin from the bed. For some reason, the blonde was inexplicably worked up about Toushi going to a meeting with some lawyers about a lawsuit they were planning to file against Richard Lent. Of course, virtually nobody knew about it just yet. Even the other players inside the manor knew nothing about what was brewing under the straps.

They still had to prove Fuji is Yusuke through extensive DNA testing, after all. The same was set for Toushi.


"Kevin," sighed Toushi heavily. "I'm not going to Iraq, or anything! It's not like I'm going to drop dead the moment I get out of your sight. And I promise I'll try and be back as early as I can, okay?" For some reason, the blonde had been unsettled for the past two days. It wasn't the normal strange behavior Kevin periodically went through every month; it was something different. The unsettlement this time around was heavy; it was real.

Kevin bit his lip.

"I don't understand why you're worried, Kevin," Keigo flatly stated. "Ryoma's very stable and his condition is looking up. He'll be able to play tennis again, and that's something to celebrate for. The matter about Yusuke—Fuji—is cleared up now. Just a few more steps and we're done. Training for the competition is proceeding smoothly; Team France won't stand a chance, especially against a very angry Fuji. Team USA's first game will be so easy; all you have to do is beat Team Brazil. Things are on the positive side; what are you so worried about? Is there something you're not telling us?"

The blonde merely averted his eyes to the ground.

Keigo sighed. "Fine, be that way," he sniffed. "I'll have Ryoma wring whatever it is out of you the moment he wakes up."

With that, Keigo turned his back on the blonde and walked out of the room with his nose held high. Yuushi sighed and shook his head in exasperation. He motioned for Toushi, who nodded, and gave Kevin one last affectionate hug. "I'll be back soon," he muttered, walking after Yuushi and closing the door behind him.

Kevin stood motionless for a whole minute.

"Argh!" he growled, flopping back onto the bed and throwing his arms over his eyes. His hands involuntarily clenched and unclenched themselves. It was a bad little habit he'd developed within the last two days filled with nothing but pure worry.

Whenever he closed his eyes, he could still see those brown eyes widening with his. Whenever he closed his eyes, he could still see the girl's fleeing form, melding into the darkness the shades provided. He could hear Ryoga's voice calling after her. After Carol.


Kevin groaned.

She saw me. She saw me when she ran off.

This was really bad. He remembered her mentioning something about cartels; cartels were bad. Any underground organization was very bad. He knew enough not to mess with them (hell, he didn't grow up in downtown New York for nothing), but this time, he might not even be given a choice.

She saw me, and she's going to remember my face. And I am going to be in very big trouble.

Thankfully, Ryoga hadn't seen him. He immediately ran back towards the manor, careful to keep quiet and hide his form within the trees. Ryoga hadn't seen him; he was too busy chasing after Carol (whoever she was). If Ryoga had seen him, then he would be in a real pinch. He would be pressured, torn between two sides.

Not that he wasn't already.

He hadn't told anyone of what he saw; he hadn't gotten an opportunity to. Yuushi and Keigo were always busy, what with the lawsuit and the competition coming up. The other players were caught up with the stir about Ryoma and the upcoming matches against Team France. Toushi—he couldn't bring himself to tell Toushi. He knew that people knew about his connection to the fair-haired teen, and that only served to put the both of them in even deeper trouble. He was just thankful that Ryoma was safely under Keigo's supervision and Tezuka's watchful eyes right now. That was one less person to worry about.

He sighed again, eyes wandering towards the open balcony windows.

He couldn't even push himself to go outside of the manor; pathetic. He was relying on the heavy security to keep himself safe. Had he forgotten New York? He couldn't have. New York, his hometown, was a city of peril. Drugs, mafia, gang wars, prostitution, serial killers, insane people with nothing to do—he'd managed to survive that.

Why was he so afraid of one girl and her memory?


He tossed and turned in unrest. He was in trouble, big trouble. He didn't know what to do. He was at a loss. Ryoga was involved—somehow—with Ryoma's poisoning. But what should he do about it? He knew that Ryoma wouldn't be able to handle double betrayal from the same person.

He kept agonizing, until his cell phone rang.

He jerked in surprise, scrambling towards the bedside table to pick it up. It was vibrating, generating an annoying buzzing noise as it hummed against the table. Grabbing it and flipping it open, he held it to his ear.

"Hello?" he grunted.

"…Kevin Smith?"


There was silence.

And the line went dead.

He cursed. "What the fuck?" he frowned at the phone.

And then his eyes caught the screensaver picture on the phone's screen.

could it be that I'm not afraid for myself?

He ran a thumb over a digital image of himself and Ryoma, grinning and laughing. It was fresh in his memory, just like yesterday.

Could it be that I'm afraid for Ryoma? That I'm afraid to accept the fact that he is the one in real danger? I don't understand—why would the cartel—Ryoma's got no connections to the cartel! Except maybe for Ryoga, but then, that's…

There was a big brown album his father always carried around wherever he went. He could remember his earliest memories of it; he had tried gnawing on one of the pictures he'd ripped from the rough handmade paper that served as the album's pages. He could remember flashes of old images, faded but authentic. There was a woman, pregnant. There was a man, and there was a child.

It was a family.

Toushi always knew it was their family.

"I wonder what she was like," muttered Fuji to himself, looking over Toushi's shoulder as the younger teen flipped through the worn pages slowly.

Toushi was silent. Among all of it, he had the most difficulty registering the fact that he now had an older half-brother—and that half-brother of his was none other than Fuji.

"She was the most beautiful woman on earth," Toushi quipped, the gentle breeze stirring his naturally pale hair; one of the features he had inherited from Sayo. Then Toushi grinned. "Or so my love-struck idiot of a father says."

Fuji chuckled blandly. "Better to have a love-struck and idiotic father than to have none, you know," he quipped, patting Toushi's head in an incredibly brotherly way; it was as if they had not been separated from each other for fifteen years at all. Or maybe it was just the fact that Fuji was more than used to having a little brother—he'd had Yuuta all his life after all.

"It's amazing how much you really look like a Fuji, though," remarked Toushi silently.

"Well, the brown hair pretty much pins the look down," Fuji shrugged casually, picking up a random album on the table. They'd been left to themselves in order to 'get to know each other' better—Ryuuka and the Atobes more than gladly provided them photos and videos of their deceased mother to sift through and occupy themselves with for the rest of the afternoon. "I guess it's just a huge coincidence that I look so much like Yumiko-nee-san. Ah. She must have known too—the fact that I was adopted. She would have already been old enough to understand."

Toushi glanced up at his 'new' older brother. "You don't look surprised."

Fuji smiled. "When you grow up with someone like Yumiko-nee-san, nothing surprises you anymore." Pausing for a moment, he contemplated in silence. Then he continued, "Can you believe she actually shoveddoujinshi up my nose when I was eight years old? And the shounen-ai kind too."

A trickle of sweat crawled down the side of Toushi's forehead.

"I guess I inherited most of my habits and traits from her. Maybe that's why people peg me feminine all the time."

"No, you really just look like a girl," Toushi interrupted blandly.

"Is that so?" Fuji hummed thoughtfully, turning to look at himself at an ornate framed mirror on the wall. He turned his head side to side. "Hmm… maybe I do."

A companionable stretch of silence blanketed over them as Fuji picked up one of Sayo's photos and held it up against the mirror, as if comparing his face to his own mother's. Toushi was busy sifting through old photos, some monochrome, like an eight year old inside a toy store.

Fuji noticed this, and curiously asked, "You've never seen these photos before?"

Toushi looked up. "Oh, no, I haven't. Dad kept them somewhere. I mean, he let me see some of Sayo's other pictures, but… not these ones," he remarked, tapping his finger against a particular one that caught his interest. It was a snap of a windswept Sayo holding her hair against the wind with a wide charming smile, frozen in mid-step and head turned back towards the camera. The seaside background was particularly breathtaking—a perfect dusk shot of flaming oranges and pastel yellows. "I guess these photos were just too special for him."

"Hmm," nodded Fuji. "Then again, some of these photos would make you want to ask some awkward questions." He gestured to a small photo of their mother—who was then still pregnant with Toushi—and a young Yusuke with a harassed little kitty.

"Yeah," mumbled Toushi, eyes glazing over. "Do you remember her?"

Fuji was silent for a moment.

"Bits and pieces of far-away memories," he longingly voiced. "Snippets. Hazy ones. Her voice, I remember. How warm she was. Her face, though—it's kind of fuzzy. Uncle Robert says I was just far too young to remember back then."

Another stretch of silence enveloped them, disturbed only by Toushi's idle flipping through the huge tomes teeming with frozen snippets of time. This was the closest they could get to their mother's memory; they both shared the feeling of wanting to cherish it as much as they could.

"Hey, Fuji?" started Toushi, fiddling slightly with the edge of the photo paper he was holding.

Fuji smiled. "You can call me by my name. Or if you prefer aniki, that's fine too."

"A-Aniki, then," the white-haired boy muttered awkwardly, as if testing the foreign endearment on his tongue. "I wanted to know… what you're going to do about… about Richard."

Fuji's eyes darkened a fraction. "Ah." He gently closed the album he was flipping through and placed it upon the table. The hostility was not lost on Toushi. Both of them harbored anger at the man for Sayo's mistreatment.

"Before I can do anything about him, I first need to establish myself as a legal heir of his shares under the Atobe Group of Companies—DNA tests, background checks, confirmation with the Fuji family—all of it will be a lot of work," Fuji started. "Atobe has already agreed to help me on it. Miyagi-san said he would try his best to keep it under wraps to prevent anybody from interfering in the process."

"And afterwards?" Toushi prompted.

"Afterwards, I reclaim everything." A hint of steel flashed in Fuji's eyes. "Everything that should have been ours. Stocks and shares, properties, assets, real estate—if I have to fight tooth and nail to reclaim, I will. I'll reclaim everything that's ours by right."

Toushi cast his eyes down, eyes not really seeing the photo he was supposed to be looking at. "It's yours, not mine. At least not legally. I was born out of wedlock—inheritance will not be granted to me."

"Says who?" Fuji sniffed indignantly. "Once I reclaim everything, I will set a partition for you and Ryuuka-san. We will share everything. I will make sure you are well taken care of. As your older brother, it's my duty. Surely Mother would have wanted me to do so."

Toushi smiled slightly. "I guess."

Reaching over, Fuji ruffled Toushi's hair, earning a sharp glare. "Besides, don't you think it would be fun to make an institute for photography?"

Toushi's eyes lit up. "An institute?!"

"I've been thinking of it for some time now," smiled Fuji. He sighed. "But all that will come after I finish the boring stuff. Oh, and I have to change my last name too."

"Your last name—'Fuji'? What will you change it to?"

"…I was thinking of adapting Mother's name," Fuji contemplated aloud. "Shimizu Syuusuke."

"Sounds good," shrugged Toushi. "You're not going to use 'Yusuke'?"

"Nah. I'm fine with my current name."

"Oh. Okay," shrugged Toushi.

Fuji reached over to the next photo album and flipped through casually. His eye caught a certain picture. "Ooooh. An excellent shot."

"Hm? Where?" the other boy nagged, scooting closer. "Which—" He twitched. "—one…"

Fuji snickered. "Oh how nice! My little brother's all grown up! I didn't even get to watch and see!" he cooed in amusement as Toushi flushed beet red and fumed at the only photo on the bare white page of the newest album on the stack.

It was a picture of him and Kevin kissing under moonlight in the middle of a hedgerow maze.


Whoever had said that Ryoma's social circle was as minute as a ring that would fit onto his pinky finger was a big fat liar. If anything, Ryoma knew that he knew people. He had a mountain of "friends" categorized into numerous separate groups: friends-for-the-heck-of-it (Horio), friends-for-show (Keigo), friends-because-they-are-beneficial (the owner of the Japanese Ponta manufacturing factories), friends-because-they-are-worthy-opponents (Yukimura and Sanada), friends-because-I-want-to-be-friends-with-them (his teammates and Kevin), friends-because-they-keep-me-company-and-spoil-me-to-bits (Kevin and Karupin and Keigo) – and the list went on.

However, out of the long list of acquaintances and "friends" he had, Tezuka was very unique.

Of course, there was the fact that they were more than friends, but that was not the point.

Tezuka was unique for some other reason than just being his boyfriend.

And right that moment, Ryoma was being reminded of it.

"It's raining."


Ryoma stared. The only noise within the room was the faint rustle of pages as Tezuka turned page by page, and the silent pitter-patter of raindrops against the windowpanes. They were sitting inside one of the Manor's smaller lounge rooms, with a small round table separating the two of them. There were two mugs of warm chocolate that used to be steaming hot. Tezuka was seated by a bookshelf, reading a lengthy novel about a young man's trials and tribulations. Ryoma, on the other hand, was seated by the window, watching Tezuka attentively.

And quite impatiently.

"Your chocolate's getting cold."


The elder of the two remained still and motionless—the only detectable motion was of his eyes sliding back and forth through the pages and across the words of the book he was reading. The two of them had been sitting idle for more or less two hours now, and Ryoma's legs, which were folded under him as he sat on the squishy brown couch, were starting to feel dead.

But despite his chagrin, Ryoma did not relent. Golden eyes bore through the back of the book the captain was reading, as if compelling the book itself to dissipate in a flash of fire and ashes.


Karupin slithered in front of Ryoma and sat expectantly in front of the couch, turning imploring eyes upon his master. Ryoma, complying, picked the cat up and placed it on his lap. A soft crooning noise was heard as Ryoma's hands instinctively slid into the well-kempt fur.

For how long Tezuka intended to sit motionless, Ryoma did not know. He was getting annoyed. Frustrated. No matter how long he sat and waited for the captain to stop reading and entertain him, nothing happened. It was as if Tezuka did not even realize that there were two people inside the room. Ryoma wondered if this was what Fuji had been talking about—the mesmerizing experience of being sucked into the whirlpool of words that would make the reader forget about everything else in existence.

Or maybe Fuji was just being the drama queen he normally was.

In any case, Ryoma was miffed.

He didn't take well to being ignored; he was used to being lavished with excess attention and affection—partially from Keigo and Kevin, and partially from his doting parents (though he was damned sure that even though the entire attitude was an Echizen spawn trademark, it was Keigo who had fueled it all to impossible proportions that even his own father could not keep up).

This was neither the treatment he wanted nor expected from people around him—he was used to being the center of distraction and attraction, and as selfish as that may seem, that was what he embodied. That was who he was.

"The rain's stopped."

Ryoma expectantly looked up to his captain for any sign of—


his eyebrow ticked.

That had been a solid twenty minutes of nothing but silence disrupted by rain and soft purrs. A total waste of time—time that could have been spent through far more beneficial methods, both on the court and in bed (but in his mind, court and bed were synonymous anyways).

Idly lifting his mug to his lips and sipping on the warm chocolate he had made earlier for the two of them, he contemplated on the pros and cons of bodily chucking Karupin at his captain.

Yes, he was just that much annoyed.

He was annoyed enough to actually consider using his one and only beloved cat as a weapon of mass destruction.

Because he did not like being ignored.

For all he knew, Tezuka could be inwardly laughing at him right that very moment. He would not deny that it was a fact that Tezuka had a sadistic streak as well. Fuji was highly contagious after all, and it would be no wonder if Tezuka picked something up, especially after such extremely high exposure to the blue-eyed sadist.

He grumbled to himself, racking his brains for some trick that would successfully divert Tezuka's attention away from the thrice damned book he was reading. He eyed the room for anything that would come in handy, but found nothing that could be put to good use. He sighed and pulled a random book from a nearby shelf—he did not even bother looking at the spine to read the title.

If he couldn't distract Tezuka, then maybe he could distract himself instead.


A small smirk spread over his features.

There's one tactic I haven't tried yet.

He gently closed the book he was holding and replaced it on the shelf nearby and stood from the plush seat. Tezuka's eyes didn't even flit away from his book. Ryoma sniffed inwardly. He gently swayed over to Tezuka, a hand reaching out for the thick tome within the captain's hands.

As soon as his finger nudged the book, Tezuka's eyes paused.

Ryoma smiled.

A second and a third finger wrapped themselves over the book's top and gently tugged it out of the captain's resisting grasp.


Finally, you pay attention.

"What are you doing?" Tezuka voiced.

But I'm not done yet, buchou.

Ryoma gently placed a bookmark between the book's pages and closed it.

"Ryoma, I was reading."

He then slid onto Tezuka's lap and promptly shut his captain up by covering those lips with his own.

He inwardly smirked.

And this is why you're unique, buchou; you have the uncannily annoying ability to ignore me.

He rolled his hips in that sensual manner he knew the elder player just so loved, and was pleased to receive a whole-hearted groan of pleasure in return.

But I'm Echizen Ryoma, and I hate being ignored.

A hand very slowly slid up his thigh; a moan echoed through the room as fingers hooked into his briefs.

And I will do anything to avoid being ignored.

(Unrevised and Unfinished Edition)

That is as far as the unfinished chapter goes. If you find any imperfection within it, then pardon; as I have said, this is both UNREVISED and UNFINISHED. Naturally, there would be slight spelling and grammatical errors.

I might rekindle the fire to write this story, so please do not lose hope. In the meantime, please do check out Concerto on our collaboration account, Teh Twinnesses Presents. I promise it will be worth your while.

Kiasidira Ixari / Aventria
Unfinished Draft: 12.17.07