A/N: Oh my God! I'm not doing something funny? Yes, it is a friendship fic. Somehow, I got this idea on a boring day at my dad's house and somehow it ended up being my longest one-shot yet. Hopefully these characters aren't out of character and I captured them in an in character mode.

Disclaimer: I don't own the Prince of Tennis. Takeshi Konomi does. If I did own the Prince of Tennis, I would have definatly had a flashback for Kirihara's past in there.

"Stupid fukubuchou, making me clean up for something Niou-sempai did," Kirihara mumbled on his way back from cleaning up a rather large mess his sempai created. Niou had decided he wanted to redecorate the club room flooring by throwing water balloons filled with paint onto the floor. Unsuspecting Kirihara had walked in while the Trickster walked out and was blamed for everything. Thus, he had to 'clean the floor until it sparkled', as fukubuchou put it.

At one point during Kirihara's "enjoyable" walk home, he had to pass by his neighborhood's playground. There he saw several larger children picking on a smaller boy. Now, the Kirihara that we all know and love would have just left the poor boy there, survival of the strongest here, but something the boy said caught his attention. The little kid had screamed for the older boys to give back his lunch box his mom had bought him for his birthday. It was an Astro Boy lunch box. Upon hearing this Kirihara's stopped in his tracks and, against his better judgment, went to help the boy.

"Oi!" Kirihara called out to get their attention. When the older ones saw an eighth grader was coming, they split before any damage could be done to them.

While the bullied boy cried into his jeans, Kirihara found the lunch box the two older boys had dropped before they made their escape. The lunch box was painted blue with Astro Boy on the front with his name printed in red and white. The second year picked the container up and brought it over to the crying boy.

"This is yours, right?" kneeing down so he was eye level with the poor kid, Kirihara held his arms out so the kid could easily take his lunch box back.

"Y-y-yeah. Th-thanks mi-mister," the boy dried his fresh tears on his sleeve.

"No problem. I'm Kirihara Akaya. What's your name kid?"

"Ren. I'm eight years old and I go to Rikkaidai Elementary School. My mommy was going to pick me up an hour ago but I guess she forgot. She does that a lot cause she-"little Ren tried to explain but Kirihara silenced him with a rude 'I didn't ask for your life story!' "Ah, but mister, why did you save me? You're not very nice person."

"Honestly?" Ren nodded. "You remind me of me when I was around your age." Ren stared in disbelief. "Fine, I'll tell you but don't complain. It's a long story."

"Don't worry mister, I-I have time. Mommy won't be here for a long time," and the two boys settled in for a long story.

"I can't believe my baby boy is already a third grader. I'm so proud of you!" a third grade Kirihara was smothered by his mother's hug. The pair were in front of Rikkaidai Elementary School, the school Kirihara Akaya

"Mom! I'm a third grader now! Third graders don't get hugs in front of the school anymore," little Kirihara squirmed out of his mother's grasp and faced her.

"Well, I'm sorry. I don't know the rules of a third grader but I hope they include having an Astro Boy Lunch Box," Mrs. Kirihara pulled a blue Astro Boy lunch box with red and white writing out of her, overly large, purse.

"Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!" Kirihara screamed in excitement. He had only wanted this lunch box for the past three months. Complaining that all of his friends had received one and he needed to have one too. Finally, his dream had come true. "Mom you're the best!"

"I know. Now, have a good day at school, honey. I'll see you later," with a final kiss goodbye, Mrs. Kirihara left her son to have a first day back.

And so, Kirihara's first day of third grade was relatively normal. He met his teacher and became acquainted with his classmates. He caught up with some of his old friends and made plans to go to their local park that weekend to play. Some might say he had the perfect day. Those people would be correct, until he was walking home.

It wasn't that he had a long walk home. Kirihara actually enjoyed his walk home. He passed the playground on his way home and often stopped their on his walks for a quick go on the swings before continuing on home. But on this day, several upper classmen were taking up the swings and the only one left was the rusted one that no one used.

Kirihara, not wanting to spoil his afternoon ritual, set his things down near the rusted swing and proceeded to swing until he felt satisfied with the days swing and jumped off. That's when things turned ugly for our young hero. The upper classmen left the swings and headed over to Kirihara's things while he dusted himself off after jumping and looked for any injuries that may have occurred from the jump to the landing. Seeing there was none, he turned to get his things and saw the older boys digging through them.

"What's this, an Astro Boy lunch box? My three year old brother watches that show," the supposed leader of the trio sneered. His two goons smashed the plastic container under their boots in several stomps.

"Hey! You jerks stop messing with my stuff!" Kirihara called to the three.

"What'd you say, punk?" the leader made his way over to the curly haired boy.

"I guess he doesn't know that a jerk is a junior educated rich kid," the dimmer crony said.

"You do know that was cool three years ago, right?" the other said pointing out the other's idiocy,

"Cool! Constipated over weighted out-of-style loser!" the dimmer giggled.

"Shut up! I'm the only one speaking here!" the boss commanded and the other two zipped their lips. "What's your name kid?"

"Kirihara Akaya."

"Kirihara Akaya, I'm gunna make your life a living hell."

And hell, they did make it. Kirihara's mother was furious that her son had destroyed his new lunch box is less than a day and he was grounded for a week which meant no playground time or playing with his friends. But it didn't matter after his second day of school. Not a single solitary one of his friends would talk to him. Apparently, the trio of upper classmen had spread a rumor about the poor third grader saying he still wet his bed, picked his nose, and slept with a blanket. Sure the rumor was elementary but we're talking about third and fourth graders here. This was the best they could come up with and yet, it was working. They were slowly tearing Kirihara apart.

When Kirihara turned nine on September twenty-fifth, he was almost ready to commit suicide. Masato (the leader), Takemoto (the dim one), and Yuuki (the other one) had made his life unbearable. Whether it was stealing his lunch money, embarrassing him beyond repair, or picking fights after school had ended, they had completely ruined this third graders life. He was almost ready to end it……Until Masato found someone new to pick on.

The new boy had just moved to Kanegawa from Hiroshima and had entered the fourth grade at Rikkaidai Elementary school. The boy had black hair that was long enough to cover both his eyes and nose, but he fashioned it so it only covered part of his right eye and the rest was pushed out of his face and by his ears. And what Kirihara found to be the best part of this new boy was that he hadn't given into the trio's bullying when they started to pick on him and say how retarded his hair looked. Need less to say, the new boy had courage to stand up to them.

And so, Kirihara followed the new kid up until they had reached the playground and the older boy had asked him what he wanted.

"Please help get rid of my bullies," Kirihara bowed down on his knees. 'No' was the boy's simple response and he went into detail after the younger one asked why.

"I don't need to spend my time protecting little boys who can't stand up for themselves. People like you make me sick," and Kirihara was left to himself, crying in defeat.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't our favorite kouhai," Masato and his little group made their way around their prey.

"Leave me alone!" Kirihara screamed punching the elder boy's leg and received a swift kick to his gut after that.

"No one punches me, you got that?" the two cronies each took one of Kirihara's arms and held him up but he didn't go up without a fight but when another kick came, he quickly stopped. "Looks like I'll have to teach you a lesson."

Kirihara shut his eyes and braced himself for a punch that never came. Instead, Masato was the one to cry in pain. When he opened his eyes he saw the new kid standing over a gasping Masato.

"I don't know who the fuck you are but you're going to stop messing around with my friend," the new guy held an evil glint in his eye while Masato gained his breath back.

"My mom says that word's a bad word," Masato attempted to growl at his attacker.

"But your mother isn't me!" the stronger of the two smirked and gave the trio a beating of a life time while Kirihara stood stunned that the boy was helping him.

When the three boys had finally left, Kirihara finally got a chance to talk to the boy.

"Why did you decide to help me?"

"You stood up for yourself. Besides, I realized you're not that bad of a guy."

Kirihara smiled. Someone didn't think he was all that bad." My name's Kirihara Akaya. Want to be friends?" Kirihara held out his hand.

"Sure," the other boy took it." Nice to meet your Kirihara Akaya. I'm Niou Masaharu."

"Jerk! I brought my brother and his friends to deal with your older friend!" the ring leader of Ren's bullies announced as Kirihara had finished up his story. There, behind the new bully, stood Masato, Takemoto, and Yuuki.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't little Kirihara," Masato made his way over to the two boys.

"And if it isn't the boy who ran away to his mommy," a silver haired trickster made his way up behind Masato. With an 'eek!', Masato ran away from the area with the other bullies following his lead. The group had obviously heard of how the leader had been beaten up when he was in the fourth grade.

"Hey, Kirihara, what happened to your friendship with Niou?" Ren asked as Kirihara stood up.

"Brattling! Come one, fukubuchou just called and we're going over Yukimura-buchou's house," the trickster said with an edge in his voice that told him to hurry up.

"They're best friends but most people don't know about their friendship. You could say they kept it a secret from their other friends," Kirihara explained quickly before running off to join his senpai.

"About time, brattling," the silver haired third year said as Kirihara caught up to him." I can't keep saving you all of the time."

"Whatever senpai," Kirihara rolled his eyes before hugging his senpai from behind," Thanks anyway...Niou-senpai. You're a true friend."

"Whatever. Now, will you let go! We're going to be late!"

'Yeah,' Niou thought as they ran their way to meet the rest of the team,' true friends from the beginning.'