WHEN FUJI BECAME AN ECHIZEN
Written by Playgirl Eugene and MoonExpressions
Author's Note : Hey, hey, hey! Here comes the new chapter for your early Christmas gift from us! Please drop some reviews as our gifts! (Gene : "Check out the revised version of the previous chapters!") By the way, any hints of Ryoga x Ryoma and Ryoga x Yumiko that you might have noticed or will notice are purely for the sake of fan service. But for Ryoga x Yumiko fans, we will drop hints here and there. We don't have anyone in mind to pair those two up and the chances of them ended up together are rather impractical and unrealistic. Gene does not think that it's a very good idea and it is a little illogical seeing that Shusuke and Ryoma are already involved.
Standard Disclaimer : The original Prince of Tennis and all of the characters, including the original plot, belong solely to Konomi Takeshi-sensei. The both of us own nothing of it and we do not earn any profit from this. This disclaimer stands firm for the whole of the story. Furthermore, if we use any material that needs to be disclaimed, there will be individual credit where due.
Warning(s) : In the future, depending on the readers' request, this fic might contain excessive, uncensored sexual themes; including sex between males, masturbation, foul languages, and similar traits.
Summary : What will happen when the Fuji family becomes a part of the crazy Echizen family? Especially when you throw in a one-night stand, attraction, and the promise to dominate the "new" sibling.
Setting and Timeline : Unrelated to the original setting and timeline since this is technically an AU story.
Character Setting : Nanjirou (43), Yoshiko (49), Ryoma (19), Fuji (21), Yuuta is (20), Yumiko and Nanako (30), and Ryoga (25)
Chapter Details : None in particular.
"Family Bonding, I Think Not"
Yukimura could feel his knees buckle as the model sucked on his tongue; the smooth, warm, wet appendage reaching every corner skilfully in his mouth and Yukimura noticed that Ryoma tasted of mature, sensual bitter sweetness that reminded him of melting dark chocolate and sex. He could hear the gasps and startled exclamations from around him, but they all sounded so far away – like voices that faded in the background and for a moment, this model before him made him feel like he was the only lover that mattered in the world. The comfortable light weight on the small of his back and the way Ryoma titled his head downward slightly were intimate.
"Whoa, that was hot!" Mitsuru raved as he finally set his camera down with a grin. "I honestly wasn't expecting the first shots to be so great but then again, you are the Snow!"
"Hnn, I guess coming back isn't such a bad idea after all." Ryoma released a disoriented Yukimura, not really caring the fact that the older man's knees were so weak that he wobbled on his feet, and licked his lips in a manner that kittens would after a bowl of milk and cream. Placing his right hand on his waist, he used his left to wipe the trail of saliva from the corner of his mouth.
With the exception of Mitsuru, every single human in the room was still paralyzed, staring with open-mouthed and jealous look from the beginning to the end of the kiss, rooted to their ground and flustered for a wide range of reasons. Kikumaru was gurgling something incomprehensible and Shusuke was stunned for once.
A faint pink blush coloured Yukimura's usually calm, pale face. "D-do I know you?" he stuttered after a couple breaths of harsh breathing and snapping himself out of his dumbstruck stupor Ryoma had put him in.
"More or less," Ryoma said bluntly with a lazy, slow smile and a careless shrug of his shoulders. "I'm Snow, ain't I?"
"I mean personally," Yukimura corrected as he shook his head, trying to compose himself.
"Not quite," the model replied as he combed his bangs back. "But I do see your Gen-kun pretty often. You can say that we shared a rather… amicable relationship."
Yukimura's attention snapped and he narrowed his eyes slightly. He was usually a very jealous lover; but the way Ryoma phrased it didn't sound like he was provoking him, merely enjoyed teasing him and testing his temper. How come he never heard about this from his boyfriend? Before he had the chance to ask it, Ryoma had already turned his attention to someone else – to one brown haired tensai standing and staring at them with a strange, unreadable look.
"Hn," Ryoma ran his eyes over Shusuke in the same manner he did Yukimura, his lips curling again in a small smile.
'So, this one is the other one, eh?' Ryoma had seen the picture, but the real thing left a softer, more docile impression. Fuji was someone Ryoma would've overlooked in the crowd on a different occasion. His new stepbrother was not unattractive, quite the opposite really. He should've stand out in the crowd like Sanada Genichirou's pretty faced boyfriend. But there was something about his body language and disarming smile, one that hinted he was intentionally blending into the crowd; he was a sideline observer – a dangerous kind of quiet.
"You're cuter in person."
An amused chuckle escaped Shusuke at the sudden, unexpected statement as he tried to register the fact that Snow was actually talking to – and flirting with – him without looking too surprised. Whatever he meant by that just now, Shusuke thought; catching the sight of his best friend standing behind the model with a suspicious face.
The usually calm Yukimura still looked uncharacteristically dazed and flustered, understandable and amusing all at once, and Shusuke didn't bother to deny the fact that he was jealous. Who wouldn't, at least no one in this room he knew for sure. He turned his eyes back to Ryoma, relaxing his posture even more by folding his hands on his back.
"I take that as a compliment, coming from you." Shusuke caught himself on time as he titled his head back slightly, and realized that the model was slightly shorter than him, standing only around Yukimura's height.
Ryoma raked his brain for a name as his oyaji's new wife had told him, but he couldn't really place it – as usual. "Hnn, your name is…" he mumbled, more to himself than anyone else. But Shusuke apparently caught it and had looked a little confused as to why the model would ask for his name.
"I'm Fu-Echizen Shusuke,"
Whatever he said had elicited a small, seductive bout of chuckle from Ryoma, who then cocked his head knowingly to a side. "Aa, that's it. I remember now, aniki." Ryoma returned with a deliberate, slow sensuality.
Blinking a couple of times as if unsure whether they really heard what they thought they heard, Yukimura and Shusuke stared at him with stunned eyes, and opened their mouth, only to be beaten by a shell shocked Kikumaru, who managed to sneak up on them and was now pointing an accusing finger at an annoyed Ryoma, effectively attracting the attention of the people who was watching the model, discreetly or otherwise.
"Naniiiiiiiii?! You're—!" Yukimura, with surprising and graceful movements, suddenly clamped his hand over Kikumaru's mouth, muffling the redhead's voice. Kikumaru struggled in his hold, shaking his head and was finally released when Yukimura noticed how his face started to turn blue from the lack of oxygen. Yukimura didn't exactly let the hyperactive redhead go, but just enough to stop him in case Kikumaru screamed something the model wouldn't appreciate.
Knowing better than to yell like he almost did before, Kikumaru lowered his voice but didn't bother to hide his surprise, "Aniki?!" was Kikumaru frenzied whispered, as he shook and flailed his hands about while looking at Ryoma and Shusuke alternatively. "What do you mean by that? Fu-I mean Ech—mou, Fujiko! You're his brother?"
Shusuke smiled quietly, albeit a little strained in his effort, and titled his head to the side; all the while glancing at Ryoma with unreadable expression before turning back to Kikumaru with a disarming grin.
"What?" Kikumaru pouted again, obviously confused and feeling left out.
"Well," Ryoma slowly started as he tugged his thumbs on the rim of his jeans, "I see no point in hiding it, since we're going to bump into each other a lot from now on."
Now that's a very appealing prospect, Shusuke inwardly thought.
"Shusuke," Yukimura interrupted with a rather tight smile at his brunet friend, effectively putting his daydream to an abrupt stop. "Last time we checked, you were recently named Echizen, not Takeuchi, right?"
"Ara, didn't you know?" Yukimura and Shusuke turned to see Mitsuru, who was adjusting the lens of his camera while approaching them with a secretive smile on his face. "Takeuchi Ryou is only his pseudonym. It's his late mother's maiden name,"
"One I used to avoid stalkers like you obviously." Ryoma deadpanned, looking resigned and slightly guarded of the cheerful, giddy, flirtatious Tezuka. "How did you even know that? It's supposed to be confidential,"
"Atobe-san wasn't exactly good at keeping secrets, or holding his liquor as much as he would've liked to believe." Mitsuru giggled and beamed brightly at Ryoma, "Especially around my cousin, Kuni-san. He couldn't stop bragging about you regardless of the situation, really."
Ryoma twitched and averted his face; a vein popping at the side of his forehead. He knew that the diva was a sucker for his crush, but he should've known better than to divulge something like that so freely. It was his personal life and the leak of his personal information might lead to the loss of that. After all, Atobe was always yapping away about professionalism and not mixing personal life with work. He supposed even the monkey would break some rules for some people.
"That damned idiot monkey. I thought he was supposed to be a professional," Ryoma muttered to himself with an annoyed pout as he thought about several malicious scenario to terrorize the diva for a month.
Kikumaru still had this adorable, confused frown on his face, while Yukimura's had morphed into an amused expression far too gleeful for even Shusuke's taste. Shusuke hadn't been particularly listening in to what they were talking about. His eyes were too busy raking the sight of the model, imagining what that lissome body would look like completely exposed, and his mind was still trying to process the fact that Snow was actually his new stepfather's son; no wonder the model shared the same name with Nanjirou's late wife.
"So, anyway, how do you want me?" Ryoma asked with a slight yawn, cocking his head to the side while casually placing his right hand on the curve of his waist and rubbing his neck around the tattooed area to ease some tension knots there. He wasn't exactly jet-lagged, no. His job demanded him to be accustomed to excessive, absurdly long travel; but fourteen-hour flight with the obnoxious, obscenely melodramatic, and sexually depraved Atobe had mentally exhausted him.
Really, he made every move seems so effortless. No wonder Atobe adores him. He's like a living art, Yukimura thought with an amused smile on his face, pressing his fingers against his slightly bruised lips. Although, when he kisses like that, it's hard not to adore him.
"Under me and bound to the bedpost if possible," Mitsuru offered without missing a beat as an innocent smile graced his face, as if he was making a running comment about the weather, immediately causing some people to stiffen – for various level of reasons. Their club's captain sense of humour could be so depraved sometimes, and the mental image he injected did not help at all.
Ryoma just stared at the man who was so different from the uptight, strict man who was supposed to be his cousin and Atobe's crush.
"Kinky. Are you sure you're a Tezuka?"
Mitsuru chuckled, his eyes glimmering with mirth and playfulness. Ryoma took in the wholeness of Tezuka Mitsuru; smooth baby-face features framed by spiked, messy brown hair, mischievous light brown eyes behind wire-framed glasses, and a dimpled smile. He had Tezuka's characteristics and authority, but that easy-going attitude and the air of free spirit about him were not something you would expect from a member of that straight-laced family.
"Well then, Snow-san, can you go over to the front so we can start the session?" Mitsuru gestured towards the empty space in the middle of the darkened room. The room was already organized; the lightings were set to a strategic brightness and overall, it was quite a professional setting despite the lack of ornate decoration.
Ryoma, wanting to end it as soon as possible, moved to the centre of the room. He reached his pants and was about to tug them down, causing more than a few to gasp loudly in anticipation and some to actually nosebleed and faint, when a girl burst into the room suddenly and effectively surprising all of them to look up to the doorway.
"Tezuka-kun!" She was blond and rather small in build, looking out of breath as if she had just run a marathon – maybe she did – and completely dishevelled .
"Maruyama, what is it?" Mitsuru frowned as he turned to the girl.
"Ca-campus heard," Maruyama breathed out in difficulties between her pants. "The whole campus heard! They know! Someone told them!"
"Heard what?" Mitsuru repeated with an uneasy expression on his face; like he knew what it could only be.
"S-Snow… he-here!" She squeaked and turned to see herself if he really was here. Her eyes widened as it met Ryoma's suddenly apprehensive stare and then, she screamed before fainting on the spot and surprising everyone in the room. Before anyone could do anything about it though, chants and screams of the student population was heard and Ryoma immediately felt himself stiffened in something that could only be associated with fear.
"This isn't what I had in mind…" Mitsuru mumbled as the rest of the photography club tried to prevent the overly excited and curious students from entering the photography club room. For one thing, the spastic crowd would damage their expensive and delicate equipments; another thing was that they had a world-class model inside that became their responsibility the moment he agreed to model for them.
"I'm sure it wasn't," Ryoma murmured as shoved his hand into his pants and fished out his phone. This was an unexpected emergency, but he figured Atobe had accumulated around a good ten minutes with his lover boy and that had to count for something.
While speed dialling Atobe's number, he faintly wondered how fast Atobe would fly here to protect his biggest asset, because he had to if Ryoma was to remain his biggest asset. That monkey and him had some serious issues that they both didn't understand; like they weren't meant to exist in the same room ever since they first set eyes on one another and they might be fighting like couple of old hens all the time and would always find reasons to start up some petty arguments, but the diva loved him. Or at least, in a sense.
An irritated, snobbish voice answered and Ryoma was almost relieved to hear the pompous tone. "Brat, this had better be a global world crisis for you to be done already—"
"Pick me up now!" Ryoma interrupted with mild panic, having no time and was too worried for his survival to humour Atobe's melodramatic tirade.
"Do you realize that ore-sama hasn't even taken off even one measly piece of—"
"Saru, I really don't give a damn about how far you get to stick your grubby hands into his pants right now! Do you want me back in one piece or not?" Ryoma shouted, words spilling out of him with rising hysteria, trying and failing completely to drown the undying screams of his fans as they attempted to get glimpse and perhaps a touch through the protective barricade the club members.
Apparently Atobe, insensitive as Ryoma accused him to be, caught his urgency. "What happened now, brat?"
"Someone told the whole fucking campus about me and now they're demanding organs and blood and limbs, so get me out of here now or I'll ruin your face and mine to get out if I have to! And I am not kidding, saru!" Ryoma ranted; he knew he was panicking and it was uncharacteristic of him, but he rationalized that it was a good time to panic as any.
Without waiting for any further confirmation, Ryoma hung up on the phone and turned to the sight of rabid fans fighting over his sleeveless shirt and jacket like a bunch of savage animals and felt himself breaking sweats of panic. Great; he liked those. What if they managed to get their hands on him? He did not even want to think about it.
Despite how calm he looked though as he buttoned his jeans – what a pity – Shusuke saw through his façade and noted how irritated he was. Shusuke noted how his brow twitched slightly as the screams renewed itself before it even died out to the smug smile that threatened to turn into a frown.
"Mou! Gomenne, Snow-san, I don't mean for it to turn out like this!" Mitsuru pouted from where he stood beside the model; his full lower lips pursed as he tried to pry of stray hands from touching the model. Atobe was not going to be happy about this; not at all.
"Hn, betsuni." Ryoma said distractedly as he took two steps back, watching his screaming fans warily while trying to remain calm and slowly felt more and more like abandoning his pride and just scream; his mind trying to come up with all possible escape plans.
"Can we possibly do the shoot some other time?" Mitsuru pleaded with wide, hopeful eyes.
"Perhaps," if saru-sama comes so I can make it out of here alive, that is.
Shusuke couldn't help but chuckle aloud when the five minutes of screaming wouldn't cease and the space that Ryoma had asked for no longer existed. It was certainly an amusing sight to see the calm and aloof Snow as he neared his breaking point. He didn't though, because at that minute, a group of professionally build men in black filed into the room and started to barricade a more solid path of escape for Ryoma.
Atobe, looking royally offended and spectacularly pissed, appeared on the doorway with a scowl on his handsome face and both hands inside the pocket of his expensive pants.
"About time," Ryoma bit out as he tried to evade some wandering hands that managed to sneak between the human barricades his bodyguards made for him.
"Brat, I swear that sometimes you're more trouble than you're worth," Atobe said as he grabbed at the luxurious looking lightweight cashmere silk jacket draped over his broad shoulder and instead used it to cover Ryoma's nude upper body and wrapped a protective arm around him before leading the way back through the crowd and away from everyone's view.
Slowly, the bodyguards backed away in calculated steps, forming a protective half-circle around them, effectively securing that their bosses got away safely with their fellow guards before they regrouped to make sure that no one slipped pass their line of defence and would only leave when the diva and his precious charge made it back to the car. When the last bodyguard finally left, the fans ran out, obviously not giving up in trying to catching up with the model.
Some of the photography club members followed them, while a few including a dejected looking Mitsuru had already started tidying the place up. Yukimura though, was leaning against the window panel at the end of the room, catching the sight of Atobe and Ryoma as they headed for a spendy looking car parked in the middle of the parking lot. When he realized that his tensai friend had joined him, Yukimura chuckled pleasantly.
"Simply amazing, ne?" Yukimura whispered to no one in particular, a wistful look playing on his fine, delicate features as he watched Atobe leading Ryoma away as his bodyguards tried to hold the horde of fans. Even from where he was, he could see that the two were bickering heatedly about something. The rumours about their rather… err, passionate relationship was not so far from the truth after all.
"Perhaps." Shusuke titled his head and smiled; accusatory venom dripping from his every word. He was feeling uncharacteristically unreasonable when he saw that Yukimura's lips were still red and swelling from the kiss. "After all, he kissed you."
Yukimura blinked, as if not believing that the one before him was indeed his best friend. Eyes gleaming amusedly, he smiled gently at Shusuke.
"Somewhat." Shusuke admitted carelessly, "So… how was it like kissing a god?"
"Exactly how you would imagine it to be," Yukimura said with a slow, deliberately seductive tone as he licked his own lips; his hooded eyes never leaving the form of the model. "Awfully good."
"Saa, I see." Shusuke murmured in his quiet voice, following Yukimura's line of sight and leaned down, crossing his arms and perching in on the window ledge; his blue eyes darkening almost predatorily as they continued to watch the fans running towards the front gate in hope to catch another glimpse of the model.
"But, you know… maybe I have seen him somewhere before. He surely hinted that I have. I just can't put my finger on where." Yukimura said digging into his jeans for his cell phone. "No way I could've forgotten a face like that, right?"
"Point." Shusuke answered and straightened up, "So what are you going to do about it?"
"Ask someone else about it. Someone who knows something about it," Yukimura rolled the contact list and stopped at a very familiar name; his boyfriend's which had been mentioned earlier on, Sanada Genichirou.
The drive to Ryoga's apartment was far from peaceful. Atobe couldn't stop sulking and pouting and ranting that he missed the chance to strike it with his adorable Tezuka-san and how he would be thirty before he managed to lay him. Apparently, he was blaming it on everything and everyone that came to mind, including Ryoma who merely rolled his eyes at the display of childishness. When they finally reached it, Ryoma couldn't be any more thankful for that.
"You still owe me that car, you know." Ryoma informed Atobe, as he pushed himself against the cool, first-class leather of Atobe's Bugatti; yawning as he did so. "I want the new Koenigsegg CXX."
"Brat, you didn't even finish the shoot!" Atobe snapped irritably as the younger male slid out of his car, before catching the deadpanned look Ryoma shoot him and knew he lost before he even tried it. "Che! Fine; Porsche Carrera GT."
"We agreed on me doing the shoot, not that I had to actually finish it." Ryoma raised his head and saw Ryoga who was leaning against the railing of the apartment's rather elaborate entrance, waving casually at him. Nodding, he turned back to Atobe with a smug smirk on his lips. "You, of all people, should know better than to promise something on spoken contracts, saru-sama. I was almost raped in a job that Yoshida was not aware of after all."
Atobe heard the threat in his words loud and clear. "Why you little brat—!"
"Right, monkey, either that, or you're buying me that Ferrari Enzo. Oh, and I'm telling Tezuka-san that you are bullying me." Ryoma paused and frowned. Okay, he might be going a little too far. When it concerned a certain brunet by the name of Tezuka, Atobe Keigo was as harmless as a kicked puppy. And Atobe was crappy at making puppy eyes, no matter how much he denied it; the fact that he didn't do puppy eyes or considering that he was Atobe Keigo, he wouldn't do anything crappy, even when doing puppy eyes. So he changed tactic.
"You really want me to look up for someone by the name of Ichijou Kaoruko on the phone book and inform her where to find you when you're banging Tezuka-san?" Ryoma asked and revelled with satisfaction when he saw colour drained from Atobe in a dramatic fashion, his face looking almost too comical for words. Smirking, the model continued, "Thought so. Although, it will be interesting to see you run with your little tail between your legs from the princess again, but I'm not that cruel."
"Ore-sama is not afraid of her, brat." Atobe groused, looking slightly tense and very much offended. "And there's nothing little between my legs, you know that."
"Of course, Your Highness. Oh, send the car to my apartment. Izumi-san would know what to do as usual," Ryoma ended, referring to his housekeeper back in America. The old woman was stern and of old school, but she was the most efficient, competent, and professional housekeeper Ryoma could hope on getting.
Atobe opened his mouth to rant again, but Ryoma slammed the door and effectively ceased his tirade. Judging by the glare Atobe threw his way, Ryoma knew he'd be getting it soon enough. Atobe drove away as he approached his older brother, who had an eyebrow raised at him. "Interesting conversation."
"Wasn't it?" Ryoma smirked as he followed his brother into the one of the three condo tower. He noted that the facilitations – the huge pools, the gym, the Jacuzzi, the sauna, the yoga studio, exercise and function rooms, landscape garden, playground, and the sport grounds – were satisfactory for his taste.
Passing the classing rotating glass door, he walked into a sparsely decorated lobby was high, ornate ceiling, glass panels, white pillars, and covered with plush red rug. It was an inch away from rivalling that of a five-star hotel; the classy taste it reflected was to be expected from his older brother. He watched with interest as Ryoga led him to the inner part of the lobby to ceiling-high wooden door and fished out a palm-sized card – dark, plum red in colour and emblazoned with cursive silver writing of Grandhill Apartment - Residential Exclusive Access – from his pocket and swiped it on the scanner before entering a four-digit code. The automatic door slid aside and revealed a spacious hall with a half-nude Romanian woman statue fountain in the middle of it, a twin marble winding staircases and three, blue tinted round residential glass elevators on each wing.
"Hee, you live in style, aniki." Ryoma commented absently as Ryoga headed for one of the staircase to the right and pressed the up-button.
"Che, it's nothing compared to what you live in, chibisuke, and you know it!" Ryoga said as one of the elevators opened. They entered it and Ryoma leaned against the railing, noting that he could view the whole Roppongi from where he stood, while Ryoga inserted his card into a slot of the button panel.
"Is that programmed for the residence?" Ryoma asked idly, taking off his glasses and blowing a speck of dust from it.
"What, this?" Ryoga echoed as he gestured at the card without fully turning around at his brother. "Well, it's for the residents living in the presidential suite so only the tenants can get to that level; for privacy's sake."
"Sure," the older man said with a shrug. As they reached the twentieth level, Ryoga walked towards the right of the only two doors of the floor. "Now, let's get you changed into something comfortable instead of eye-popping for the evening." Ryoga felt his phone vibrated and flipped the leather case to check the in-coming text message on his iPhone 3GS while opening the front door at the same time.
"And whaddya know? Mother dearest is requesting our presence for the premier Echizen family dinner in a couple hours, at a restaurant." he said in a sing-song, overly cheerful voice.
Ryoma's impassive face hinted at discomfort at the message. "Meaning?"
"Meaning the family wants to play 'bond' so get your rest up for that." Ryoga clarified while swinging his door open for Ryoma. "Get in, and oh, feel free to make yourself at home, chibisuke!"
"Seiichi, have you had your dinner? Do you want me to warm something up for you?" His blue haired mother asked as she greeted her third son who was in the middle of taking his shoes off at the genkan.
Yukimura smiled politely at the sweet, petite woman. "There's no need, okaa-san. I'll be retiring for the night; it's been a hectic day." Too hectic.
His mother nodded, noting that her son did look tired. "Alright then. I'll run the hot bath for you,"
"That'll be much appreciated, okaa-san. Arigatou."
Yukimura Sachi shook her head at her son's politeness; she had long given up trying to change that of her youngest boy. He was such a charming, lovely boy but sometimes he was too mature and soft-spoken for her liking.
Yukimura headed for his room; catching the sound of his second and youngest sister bickering over who got to use the phone in the living room. He entered his room, the one next to his oldest brother, Kouichi's, and closed the door quietly. He took out his phone from his bag and dialled the number of his boyfriend''s. On the second ring, a familiar and deep voice answered him.
"Gen-kun, I want to talk about what I messaged you earlier just now,"
"Ah, about Snow's visit to your campus?" There was a distinct sound of amusement and familiarity in the usually stern voice, "As expected of him. He must have stirred quite a commotion,"
"Indeed." Yukimura said blandly, "He mentioned you, by the way."
"Did he now? That is unexpected,"
"So I assumed that you know him quite well and so have I from how familiar he talks to me about you." Yukimura pouted, sounding almost accusing.
"I assure you, Seiichi, that we have nothing going on between us. I will never cheat on you and he's not exactly someone I would play around with unless I want a very crossed Atobe and Tezuka after my hide, and yes, I'm pretty sure that you've met him in person before."
"And when would that be, Gen-kun?" Yukimura asked as he raked his brain for a specific time and place when such a hot little thing could pass his line of sight and not be a memorable memory. The chances were astronomically close to zero and none at all.
"Before he left Japan for Milan; or rather, before he debuted officially."
"What?" Frowning even deeper now, Yukimura found himself still unable to place those sultry eyes and pale, delicate skin beside from television screen, the news media, and glossed paper. Now, where could he have seen the pretty little kitten before?
Sanada then suggested, "Why don't you try going through some albums from two years ago for starter, Seiichi?"
Ryoga had just stepped out of his hot bath, wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist and another draped over his broad shoulder. Rubbing the pristine terrycloth against his damp hair, he looked up to see Ryoma, who was wearing Ryoga's few sizes too big long-sleeved white shirt and a short boxer – he seemed to be comfortable walking around naked, but Ryoga wasn't so he shoved the make-do clothes to his little brother earlier – sprawled on the sofa.
Ryoma seemed to be in the middle of a heated conversation on the phone with 'Yoshida' while petting a contently sleeping Karupin that Ryoga had brought back to the apartment, knowing better than to forget the kitten when he knew just how deep Ryoma's love was for that moody cat.
He went to the sleek, modern kitchen adjacent to the living room to grab some drink. He and Ryoma never seemed to be able to break that particular habit they shared. He heard his brother ended the call with a curt 'whatever' and an annoyed sigh as he opened the canned cappuccino, brought it to his lips, and went to stand near the sofa. "So, how long is your break, chibisuke?"
"What break?" Ryoma snapped back as he stared at the long, ranting text he just received from Atobe about how his schedule was going to be very packed starting in two days and how Atobe was going to make sure it would remain that way for the following week. That guy was doing this on purpose; Ryoma was practiced enough to catch Atobe's rebellious, bratty streak symptoms from miles away. He could practically imagine that overgrown baby sticking his tongue out and pulling the patch of skin under his eyes like a petulant brat. "That damned monkey is blaming me because he couldn't get laid, again!"
"What's that got to do with your break—" Almost choking, a bewildered Ryoga was unceremoniously cut off when Ryoma's cell phone started ringing again.
Glancing at the anonymous number displayed on the screen, Ryoma's eyebrow lifted slightly when he noted the number was from overseas. He looked contemplative for a few seconds and finally decided to answer it on the fifth ring. "Snow's speaking and make it snappy," Ryoma sounded as if he was only answering out of whim.
"Ah, Snow!" Ryoga could hear the excitement of the other end of the line from where he stood, "This is Richardson. Do you remember me? I was there at your—"
"Is this supposed to mean something?" Ryoma snapped a bit bluntly; an annoyed look settling on his face again. He was wondering where did the guy managed to get his grubby hands on his number and why was he acting so friendly with him.
Obviously discouraged by his tone, Richardson cleared his throat and continued with much less enthusiasm and more apprehension. The model was indeed as volatile and difficult as they said he was. "R-right… I work for producer Mr. Robert Johnson, and he has expressed his interest in inviting you to play for a new movie. Umm, y-you've heard about Scarlet Mercier, the uprising new actress, right? We were hoping that you would be willing to help promoting—"
"Hnn," Ryoma hummed with amusement, a smirk playing on his lips. He patted on Karupin's head once before the graceful feline jumped from his master's lap and head for the random direction of the kitchen."In other words, you're all hoping that I'll jumpstart her career with a little scandal, eh?"
"N-no! Why would you say th—"
"Go talk to Yoshida, or better yet, go talk to Atobe Keigo. And don't call this number again," Ryoma said with finality in his tone before abruptly ending the call. He had to change the number, again.
"Sheesh, chibisuke." Ryoga said with a grin at his brother; obviously he had heard everything. Ryoga felt a pang of sorry for the poor guy. No one deserved being the receiving end of his brother's mood. "You're a hard ass on job offers. Robert Johnson is that big shot producer for that film that won six Grammy Awards and three Oscar nomination, right? And, dude, Scarlet Mercier is hot."
Ryoma shrugged. He could never understand why people always tried to make it big through scandals and decided that it would be a good idea to start acting all chummy with him, before they tried to use him to make it to the front page overnight. Atobe and Yoshida were like double layers of steel fortress fully equipped with the necessary arms and ammo and more when it concerned him, thus they had since then started to come directly to him and tried to make several tempting offers, dangling it before him and hoping that he would take the bait. They were either simple-minded idiots, or thought that Ryoma was one.
Ryoga decided to drop the subject as it appeared that Ryoma wouldn't be elaborating it any further. If there was something that Ryoma never bothered to talk about since he started the whole modelling jazz, it would be about his job. "Anyway, chibisuke, it's fifteen to six. I think you better wash up and get ready. They're expecting us at seven,"
Ryoma frowned, "Do we have to do this?"
All he got in return was a raised eyebrow.
"And, why eat out exactly?" Ryoma was honestly never one for the crowd, especially ever since Snow was popularized as the modern fashion culture's icon. He hadn't been able to get a breather from public and tended to avoid going outside unnecessarily.
"Chibisuke, do you honestly think she'll be comfortable prancing around the house like okaa-san used to when you've just met her as oyaji's legal wife for the grand total of, say, three hours?" Ryoga said incredulously, "Before the old man dragged us to Florida, okaa-san did live in that house, you know. And besides, I don't think anyone in this dysfunctional family is comfortable of being alone in a room."
"But from what I saw, you're quite comfortable with them already." Ryoma shot back as he made a move to stand and stretch languidly.
"I like to think I'm neutral," Ryoga waved his hand dismissively. "I wouldn't call it cosy or anything though, but the brats are cute."
"Hee, wasn't it because their mother was hot?" the younger Echizen said as he titled his head slightly to the side.
The faintest of blush sprang on Ryoga's still damp skin. He half-heartedly threw the towel he had been using to dry his hair at Ryoma and glared at him. "Go and get change, chibisuke."
-:- -:- -:- -:- -:-
Ryoga had finished dressing in ten minutes and spent the next twenty waiting for his little brother with crossed arms and a scowling face. Looking alternatively between his watch and Ryoma's room, he decided to give in to his curiosity and went to check on Ryoma. When younger, his little brother had this habit of falling asleep in the bathtub and there was no telling whether he still had it or not.
"Oi, chibisuke! What are you doing?" Ryoga said with a hint of annoyance as he entered the room Ryoma was using without so much as a knock. His brother might be a world-class model, but it didn't mean that he should take so long to throw some clothes on. He was not a woman, for heaven's sake. "Hurry it up, will you—"
Ryoga stopped short when Ryoma's chosen outfit finally sunk into his mind. The younger Echizen was standing beside his bed, wearing a pair of expensive looking Armani short jeans that barely covered half of his smooth, shapely thigh and a loose burgundy coloured kimono top that was crossed in the front and tied around his body at the back like a bodice, with detachable, slightly flaring sleeves that reached the tips of his long, elegant fingers; a pair of black gender-neutral strapped heels completed his ensemble.
"Chibisuke, I said comfortable, not rape-able." Ryoga deadpanned, eyeing Ryoma's rather scandalous outfit. "That's worse than earlier. And besides, you look like a chick."
"But it is comfortable." Ryoma returned evenly, "And besides, I'm incognito. Like this, I'm a just chick with flat chest and a pair of awfully nice legs and butt, but not Snow."
Ryoga raised an eyebrow, thinking that Ryoma had started to sound very much like his young boss and it was worrying him. "And you can't be something else, why?"
"Why not?" Ryoma shrugged, "You're not exactly being modest either, aniki."
Shamelessly, Ryoma ran his eyes at the length of his brother's very appealing build with a hint of appreciation and mild jealousy. He had long ago given up the thought of having that kind of build; he simply didn't have that kind of raw masculinity in his bones and his overall physique. Ryoga was wearing a tight quarter-length sleeved, collared t-shirt that exposed his collarbone and clung to his body like second skin, showing just how toned the older Echizen really was – with broad shoulders that narrowed down to powerful hips that swagger with confidence, his chest perfectly muscled and his abs defined. To match the navy blue top, he was wearing a pair of tight white jeans that emphasized on his long, powerful legs encased in mid-calf high, strapped black boots with short heels.
"Hee, not bad. Not bad at all, aniki."
Definitely been hanging around that Atobe brat for too long, Ryoga mentally decided. No wonder those two survived each other so long despite their seemingly rocky relationship. He faint wondered if they had slept together. Most unlikely, but still.
Bad thoughts, Ryoga. Get out of there.
Ryoma apparently noticed the trail of his brother's thought and a salacious smirk touched his lips. He startled Ryoga by throwing his arms around the older Echizen's neck, who was taller than him by almost a head. "Why? Are you getting all hot and bothered over me, onii-sama?"
Ryoga raised an eyebrow, "Aren't you being a little too conceited?"
"Nay, I've been told I am kind of hot." Ryoma smirked, "With velvet tongue to boots."
Ryoga had to laugh at that. "Well, sorry to disappoint, otouto. But as depraved as I am, I'm not about to jump bones at my own brother. That's just so wrong on so many levels, and the thought of having the Snow sucking me off is too much. And you have my face, for God's sake." True, for supposed cousins, their features resembled the other so much it was disturbing sometimes. It was all too easy to mistake them as real brothers.
"But we're not blood brothers." Ryoma countered, playfully caressing Ryoga's nape. Ryoga had to admit that those long, lean fingers sent shivers down his spine. "And besides, isn't it exciting to see a face like your own blowing you? The forbidden is always the best after all. Come now aniki, aren't you curious?"
Ryoga sighed, not in the least disturbed by Ryoma's flirting, all too used in handling his little brother's volatile moods and unpredictability. All hot blooded Echizen seemed to have that running in their veins, arteries, and capillaries; himself and their old man included. "I know, but no. I'm not so stupid to be involved with you, of all people."
Ryoma stared at his brother's face for a moment and finally rolled his eyes before releasing him. "Che, you're no fun." He was hoping that that he could tease his brother about getting erect over his little brother. Seriously, Ryoga could be such a surprising man with equally surprising moral. His novel length, impressive record with women and concupiscent endavours hadn't exactly been saintly either and while Ryoma was no woman and not exactly Atobe vain, he was definitely better looking than some of them.
Ryoga shook his head at Ryoma's antics. What happened to his adorable little brother who came running to him every time someone called him 'girly' and every time some woman came up and pinched his cheek? He missed those times.
After Ryoma's near drowning experience, Ryoga had developed an overprotective streak ten miles wide to a point where he developed a serious case of brother-complex, or so according to Atobe Shingo, his best friend for almost twenty years since their elementary days.
Since early of age, Ryoma had so utterly adorable that people couldn't help but wanting to bully him. Boys always teased him, because he was cuter than the girls his age, and older women would 'molest' him. Each time Ryoma burst into near tears while clutching his cheeks to prevent any stray kisses and pinches in defiance, there were always people who were ready to adopt and/or kidnap his younger brother.
Things changed since Ryoma entered puberty. His pretty face and gender-ambiguous body attracted perverted, older men and male upperclassmen trying to feel him up at every given chance and enact their depraved fantasies on him. It was worse since Ryoma attended an all-boys school back then. Girls, older or otherwise, started to develop stalker tendencies like sending their nude pictures, hair, notes written in blood, desperate love letters, and bizarre presents. They even had to unplug the phone because it never stopped ringing, there were always people watching around the house and it stressed Ryoma like nothing else could. He even stopped playing tennis and instead locked himself in his room and curdled in a desolate corner.
Two times over, Ryoma was almost raped by older men on his way home and a woman once drugged him and attempted to kidnap him. In one incident during his last year of secondary school, some girls tried to cut his hair and one boy that was the closest thing Ryoma had as a friend, was injured and sent to the hospital. Ryoma decided he had enough and started to distance himself from everything and everyone, growing his hair to cover his face, moving to a school that took two-hour trip from home, and he started to wear glasses and clothes two sizes too big. There was a time where Ryoma thought about moving to the dorms, but even then his roommate tried to climb on his bed in the middle of the night after seeing him bathing.
Ryoga guessed that it was when they started to lose the boy. Nanjirou was not helping with the way he slowly isolated himself and Ryoga could not understand his brother anymore. But now, seeing Ryoma at complete ease with himself, maybe the whole modelling business did some good for him after all. Now, he seemed to enjoy exercising the full potential and perks of having that face and body instead of wanting to disfigure it like he had in the past. Still.
"Can't you change into something else?" Ryoga persisted, looking at him unsurely once more.
Ryoma gave him a deadpanned look, "This is the only decent thing I have on me right now. My stuff are still at saru's place, remember? Be thankful that it covered as much as it does,"
"Yes, for that we have to be a bit thankful," Ryoga rolled his eyes again before turning around and grabbed his car key, twirling it playfully between his fingers. "All right, chibi! It's time to go play the adoring uncles and accepting sons!"
"I'll leave that to you," Ryoma deadpanned dryly, slipping his tinted shades over his hair again. "You seem to be pretty good at it already,"
"Chibisuke, you seriously need to loosen up a bit sometimes."
Despite his grin and casual exuberance, the fact was Ryoga wasn't looking forward to a night with the family remained. It was bound to be awkward, uncomfortable, and everything along the line. God knew Ryoma had the subtlety of a bulldozer regarding such delicate matters; Ryoga simply hoped that nothing eventful would happen during this first 'get together' with their stepfamily. He doubted it though.
Atobe intently watched those long, elegant fingers as Tezuka swirled the chasen from his position across Atobe, sitting with his legs folded neatly and his back ramrod straight. He sat like a rogue king; masculine, yet casual – never one for formalities and stiffness. With his left knee bent and the other leg crossed, Atobe pinned his left elbow on his knee, delicately cradling his chin as he stared at the brunet appreciatively.
Tezuka really suited that yukata. It emphasized on the smooth, chiseled chest and the defined collarbone. Tezuka Kunimitsu was always so calm, so immaculate. Initially, Atobe had been offended by his cool standoffishness but he was also curious. He had never met someone like Tezuka Kunimitsu before. To him then, Tezuka was dull and boring; a man of absolutely no life.
It was only when he saw the brunet inside the tennis court that he saw the free-spirited, passionate man underneath the composed exterior. Ever since then, Atobe had this inexplicable obsession to ruffle and tousle that man, preferably on his silk covered, super king sized bed and nude. It had taken him three years to get where he was in that man's eyes and he would stop at nothing before he owned the brunet.
He wanted to pin him down and trace his finger and tongue across his jaw, his neck, to his chest, and lower still, and see if that man could still remain so unperturbed. It was always the quiet ones, after all. Take the brat for example.
"I thank you for allowing my cousin to photograph the model, Snow-san." Tezuka said formally as he served the very warm tea before Atobe, "I am aware that he has a very busy schedule, but he still reserves time for Mitsuru."
Atobe smirked slowly in satisfaction. Oh, he was so scoring the brunet tonight. While he had always been irrevocably jealous of Tezuka's unusual doting when it concerned Mitsuru, but it might have been a good thing after all.
He shrugged, taking the chawan Tezuka served and bringing it to his lips. "The brat was a bit handful but then, there's nothing that ore-sama can't do when he set his mind to it." At this, he eyed Tezuka with open suggestiveness; lowering his eyes just enough. His full lips curling into a salacious smirk, he made sure that the brunet could no longer avoid the topic, could no longer run. He made his message loud and clear – I want you and there's nothing you can do about it but accept.
The faintest of pink dusted Tezuka's cheeks, but the man simply closed his eyes and averted his face politely. He knew that the Atobe's heir was interested in him, for reasons he could not understand. He had managed to stay on his ground from this ambitious, persuasive, demanding man for so long and fend against his amorous advances. He simply didn't know for how much longer Atobe was willing to remain patient in this game of cat and mouse they were playing.
Atobe-san looked disturbingly… happy right now. Tezuka then shuddered; he had a baaaaad feeling about tonight.
"Ryoga-jiichan's back!" Yusuke called out, racing to the door and practically tackled Ryoga. Ryoma watched with unreadable eyes as Ryoga's grinned and ruffled Yusuke's hair, causing the boy to frown and tried to flatten his wild brown locks against his forehead again.
"Aww, you're messing up my hair again!" Yusuke complained as he pouted at Ryoga, trying to catch Ryoga's teasing hand from making a mess of his hair again.
"Muchkin," Ryoga asked as tugged his boots off in smooth movements and slid into one of the spare slippers lined on the small shelf on the genkan. He entered the hallway, with Ryoma following closely behind. "Where's Aki-chan?"
"Right here, Ryoga-jiichan!" Akiko shouted out, rounding the corner in full speed only to be caught in Ryoga's arms and swung into the air. Akiko let out a small shriek of giggles and gave Ryoga a big hug and affectionate nose nuzzle as he caught her in his arms with a grin.
"Aren't you the perfect uncle?" Ryoma commented from where he was inclined against the wall. He was leaning carelessly; his shoulder pressed against the wall and his arms, as well as his legs, were crossed in a show of elegant casualness. It might have fooled anyone else, but Ryoga was his brother and he knew that Ryoma was not as calm as he portrayed himself to be.
"Shut it, chibisuke. They just remind of you when you were still cuddly and cute." Ryoga grinned smugly as he caught the scowl crossing his brother's otherwise impassive visage. Suddenly, he had this urge to tease and bully him like he always did when Ryoma was still a cute elementary student who hid behind his legs each time they had guests. "Don't tell me you're jealous?"
"Go die." Ryoma spat, closing his eyes and averting his face as he sat on the sofa. He wasn't jealous, he was way pass that – well, maybe just a little bit, but as if he would admit that to Ryoga. The older man's head was inflated enough as it was. Anymore, and he would burst.
From behind the kitchen's doorway where she was standing while mustering her courage to face the inevitable music that night, Yoshiko glimpsed the arrival of the two brothers and watched their interaction with gentle, amused eyes. The two Echizen siblings were beautiful, there was no denying it. It wasn't strange that Nanjirou couldn't help but adore his boys. Pity that he couldn't express it like he should; they were both precious, good children. They even tried not to say anything about the whole marriage thing when Yoshiko knew that they weren't comfortable with her around.
Yoshiko's face flushed slightly when she saw Yusuke climbing on Ryoma's laps and causing the kimono top to ride a little higher, baring pale flesh to watching eyes. She had seen Nanjirou's wife, Rinko's, picture on their… room – God, it was still embarrassingly awkward saying that. Nanjirou, out of politeness, had offered to keep it in the cupboard if it made Yoshiko uncomfortable, but his eyes held such pain and dilemma at the thought of removing the picture and Yoshiko didn't want to replace Rinko's place in this household. Rinko was still Nanjirou's rightful wife. It was never her intention to and Nanjirou didn't marry her for that purpose, so she told Nanjirou to leave it be. She was right; because the man looked relieved and grateful for that.
Echizen Ryoma, the youngest Echizen, was indeed his mother's son. Their delicate and exotic features were like carbon copies, and even though Ryoma inherited his father's intense eyes, that glassy and straightforward, knowing gaze was definitely his mother's.
"Okaa-san," She heard Yuuta's voice from the direction of the stairs and caught the sight her son who was wearing a printed t-shirt and khaki baggy pants walking down the stairs, "I was wondering—"
Yuuta stopped short when he realized that his stepsiblings had already arrived and were sitting in the living room; effectively forgetting that he was looking for his mother. Yuuta felt blood rush to his face as he accidentally made eye contact with the model that he had just seen a few hours prior in one of the most embarrassing, awkward moments of his life.
"Love struck again, Yuuta?" Ryoga teased from where he stood in the living room with Akiko in his arms. "I was kind of expecting you would have another nosebleed again!"
"Nn-no! I-I was just surprised!" Yuuta was blushing furiously to the tip of his ears. "And I didn't have a nosebleed! Err, I mean I don't! Th-that time too!"
Ryoga snickered and even Akiko was giggling behind her palms, much to Yuuta's further embarrassment. God, when was he so last so embarrassed before? Oh, yeah. When his dear aniki thought it was a good idea to hide under his desk during his freshman year in middle school to give him a little 'surprise' for his birthday.
"Aww, don't be shy. It's not that embarrassing to have the hots for my otouto, you know? He kind of has that sort of effect on people." Ryoga's lips widened into a grin as he eyed Yuuta; he enjoyed teasing the younger male very much. Yuuta always did give the most amusing reactions, completely the polar opposite from his unnerving brother.
"I wasn't in the first place! I have a boyfriend and—" Yuuta vehemently denied and raised his defiant eyes, only to blush another degree of ripe red and looked down again when he caught Ryoma was staring at him with calm, intrigued eyes. Ryoma had not forgotten how Yuuta literally froze when he first saw him after all.
"I think Yuu-chan likes you too," Yusuke summed from Ryoma's laps, squirming excitedly and bouncing in his hold while pointing at himself. "Yusuke likes too, because Ryoma-niichan is very pwetty and cool!"
"Oh," Ryoma, not bothering to correct Yusuke's improper grammar, merely said as he purposely smiled at Yuuta to further agitate the older brunet. This one is kind of cute, Ryoma thought. It reminded him of a jumpy hamster, Ryoma mused as he pressed his forehead against Yusuke's; seeing the boy's expressive hazel eyes filled with wonder as he grinned back at Ryoma while taking the time to remove Ryoma's expensive glasses and place it on his own dark head.
"Now do I look cool like you too?" Yusuke asked, grinning toothily at Ryoma.
"Mada mada dane," Ryoma corrected with a slight smile, ruffling Yusuke's hair gently. For some reasons, he was at ease with the children, probably because they were oblivious to the complexity of their family affairs.
The kids, as Ryoga had said, were cute. Ryoma had never liked children, nor he was particularly good with them, but he supposed that he could make an exception this time. Yusuke had been the one who latched immediately on him, while Akiko seemed to be hanging off Ryoga's arm most of the time, like what she was doing now.
"Ryoga-jiichan," Akiko said in a small voice as she tugged on Ryoga's jeans, looking up to the man with suddenly cheerless face, a drastic change to her earlier exuberance.
"What is it, princess?" Ryoga caught the crestfallen look on the girl, who was still poking and prodding Ryoga's leg distractedly.
"Do you think mama will be okay?" Akiko mumbled, lowering her eyes. "Papa called and mama hasn't been happy since,"
Ryoga narrowed his eyes and frowned at the mention of Yumiko's former husband. He had heard about it from Yoshiko; the man had dumped Yumiko for the daughter of his company's president, constantly mistreating his own wife and even going as far as raising his hand to strike her in front of the kids. He didn't understand why anyone would do that to a woman like Yumiko; she was a good and strong woman, not to mention beautiful.
"Well, tell you what." Ryoga lowered himself to her level to make eye contact with her big, dark eyes. "If your daddy makes your mom cry, I'll make him cry too."
"Really?" Akiko now stared at Ryoga with a whole new degree of respect, fascination, and awe. It wasn't really a good moral to be taught to children, especially at the twins' age when they would absorb everything without filters of any kind; but then again Yusuke and Akiko had experience trauma of watching their father abusing their mother at such young age and Ryoga found his method to be crude, but effective and pardonable.
Children were so easy to please; Ryoma thought as he stared at Ryoga's assuring face. He supposed he was like Akiko at a point, looking up and holding Ryoga at such reverence, much as he refused to admit it. Ryoga always had that reliable air about him that made people wanted to lean against him.
"Yup, because us real men don't make cute girls cry." Ryoga grinned, knocking her forehead gently against his own, causing Akiko to instinctively shut her eyes and pursed her lips. "Now brighten up, princess. You look cuter smiling, and tell your mom to smile too. Okay?"
Akiko titled her head in a picture of childish innocence, "Does mama look cuter smiling too?"
Ryoga nodded, "She does."
"Okie-dokie then!" Akiko promised with a wide smile.
Ryoma watched the interaction with a slightly wary look, allowing Yusuke to wriggle around on his lap while holding him securely. "Aniki, I know that you have no qualm whatsoever with breaking morals, but tell me you don't have any hidden attention of banging the new nee—"
"Oi, oi chibisuke!" Ryoga interrupted as he instinctively clapped his hands against Akiko's the ear shells, who merely titled her head in curiosity. Apparently, Ryoga's 'older brother' habits were still dominant despite everything else. "There are minors in here! Since when are you so crude?"
Raised in a house with only foul-mouthed men and then living alone, Ryoma had never been one to care so much about his appropriate language. He shot his brother an annoyed glare, "Since when are you such a prude?"
"It's called norm, chibi. At least hold it around the kids," Ryoga remembered the time when he floundered around; trying to make sure his precious little brother's ears were safe from any kinds of verbal infection. Well, considering how Ryoma swore vocabulary was like a sailor – or a veteran porn star's bedroom talking – he had failed spectacularly in that aspect.
Yusuke smiled innocently, looking between his new uncles with childish curiosity. "Ne, ne! What's banging?"
Ryoga had this look that said 'see what I mean' pinned on Ryoma, who merely shrugged his shoulders. "Wait until you're older." Ryoga answered while avoiding Yusuke's bright eyes.
Yusuke sulked; obviously he was in that phase where he would feel the most offended when someone commented on his age and his height. "But I'm five."
Exactly, Ryoga thought, imagine what your mother will do if she finds out.
"Yeah, well, real men don't use words like that." Ryoga tried in a slightly manipulative attempt of changing the subject, hoping that it would falter Yusuke's curiosity.
"But… isn't Ryoma-niisan a man?" the boy instead frowned. Ryoga fought the urge to smack his own forehead; right, he forgot that Yusuke was a just brat with alarming curiosity.
Ryoma looked thoughtful for a while before he smirked; mischief playing in his bright eyes. "Well, I am bi, gender-ambiguous, and a certified riba so it doesn't really apply to me."
Yusuke, obviously not understanding a single word coming from his uncle's mouth, titled his head and scrunched his face in confusion. But Ryoga, who understood every single word of it, simple glared at his utterly satisfied looking. "What kind of sick logic is that? And the hell you mean with riba—"
"Meaning, aniki, I have physical flexibility beyond your imagination."
"Now that's too much information, chibisuke." Ryoga grimaced, suddenly wishing the angelic, adorable, and clingy 'little ducky' Ryoma return to him. He knew that Ryoma preferred men over women, but he didn't need to know that.
"I was only lightening up like you told me to," Ryoma brushed off as he leaned his forehead against the little boy's he was holding.
"Again, I said lighten up, not corrupt the brats." Ryoga retorted back at his wayward brother, "Don't go around twisting my words, chibisuke."
Their so-called conversation was abruptly interrupted – thank God, in Ryoga's opinion – when an exhausted looking Yumiko entered the living room. She saw the two brothers and, not wanting to look like she had been crying even though it was quite obvious from her slightly swollen eyes, plastered a slightly forced smile on her face.
"Welcome back you two," She noticed that each of the twin was already latched on each of their favourite new uncles and chuckled quiet despite herself. "I see the children are bothering you two again—Yusuke! Give Ryoma-niisan back those glasses!" Yumiko nearly screamed as she realized that Yusuke was playing with Ryoma's glasses again.
"But mama!" Yusuke protested with a pout.
"Now, young man!" Yumiko said and Yusuke sulkily returned it with a quiet 'Sowy, Ryoma-niichan' to the older Echizen. Yumiko then shot Ryoma a sheepish, apologetic stare. "I'm sorry about that."
"It's okay. I can always buy a new one," Ryoma leaned back on his seat with a nonchalant shrug, carelessly combing his hair back and using his glasses to hold his longish bangs from falling over to his face. Yusuke – happy that his Ryoma-niichan wasn't angry – decided to bury him face into Ryoma's kimono again and nuzzled his chest. "This one's getting old anyway."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but that was just released a few months ago." Ryoga interrupted as he lowered Akiko to the floor and fixed her now tangled pigtails.
"That's what I said. It's old," Ryoma raised an eyebrow at Ryoga, letting Yusuke amuse himself with his braided charms on his wrist instead, completely missing the point.
Ryoga rolled his eyes and gave up trying to talk reasons; his bratty baby brother had been thoroughly corrupted by that rich little Atobe boy. He was going to have a good talk with Shingo after this – seeing that Atobe Keigo would only listen to his arrogant, pokerfaced bastard of a friend.
From the bottom of the staircase, a pair of amused blue eyes was watching them with amusement and almost serene contemplation. His focus of attention though, was the young and delicate looking teenager sitting on the sofa while holding his nephew in his lap. His stupor was broken when a calm, quiet voice spoke.
"Like what you see?" Ryoma said casually, not even looking up to Shusuke. He had felt the older brunet's strangely intimidating presence for a while; not as long as he would've liked, but just enough.
"Immensely," Shusuke replied with a slow smile. He wasn't used of being caught while observing. He had always been quiet and stealthy and was quite proud of it, but then, he supposed his youngest step-sibling was not exactly normal either. Leading a life under constant scrutiny, public or otherwise, like he had, it made sense that he was sharper than most. This boy and his implacable composure and charisma unnerved people. There was his looks and strange charisma that would make anyone turn their heads, but he reminded Shusuke of porcelain mannequin behind the display glass; untouchable. He was a delicate balance of fire and ice all at once. No wonder Yuuta was constantly flushing and acting flustered around him. Even his ever calm sister seemed to be affected.
"So we do meet again,"
Ryoma turned his head and noted that a smiling man decked in soft blue and black had entered the room when their attention had been on Yuuta. It was, of course, the same man who he had seen in the picture and at the photo shoot earlier.
"Of course. We're family, aren't we?" Ryoma stated blandly, bordering almost sarcastic.
"But we didn't get to chat informally," Shusuke stated with a although he was studying Ryoma intently. The famous Snow at this proximity was ten times better than any picture he had seen so far. He was a confusing symmetry of a wild, androgynous beauty and delicate sensuality; which was one of his most famous and in-demand characteristics.
"Is there something we need to talk about?" Ryoma asked, raising an eyebrow at the brunet who was now approaching him.
"Nothing in particular yet," Shusuke said with a renewed smile. His gaze shifted appreciatively through the length of Ryoma's body, lingering especially long on his seemingly endless, shapely legs. His youngest sibling was definitely a through bishounen. Ryoga-san was devastatingly handsome, but Snow was elusive, subtle, and exotic. While he lacked on certain masculinity, there was . He suddenly had this urge to run his hand on his new sibling's skin and to verify whether the flesh was as soft and smooth as it looked. "So, can we properly be… acquainted now?"
Ryoma shrugged, not really noticing or caring where Shusuke's eyes strayed at. If he caught the innuendo implied in Shusuke's words, he decided to ignore it, for now. Ryoga knew Ryoma caught it though, because Shusuke wasn't exactly being subtle. Apparently, he was now trapped between siblings who had no qualms of sleeping with one another.
"I'm Echizen Shusuke." Shusuke said as he deposited himself casually on the armchair right next to Ryoma, and placed a deceptively innocent hand at the model's shoulder and lingered there, squeezing lightly. "Pleasure to meet you,"
Ryoma's lips curled into a seductive smile, noting for the first time that his stepbrother was really not half bad at all. He had awfully nice collarbone view by what Ryoma glimpsed by his unbuttoned collar; Ryoma liked delicious collarbones just as much as the next guy. "Ryoma; I take it that you know my last name,"
Ryoga eyed the two warily. Oh, he knew the eyes, the subtle touches, and the softly spoken words. Those two were blatantly flirting. He knew that Shusuke was always the bold, adventurous one of the former Fuji siblings, and Ryoma was surprisingly at ease with flirting – which shouldn't be because he was Snow after all. The two were emitting a rather high sexual tension and he was sure that someone who was sharp enough, Yumiko for example, noticed it.
Yumiko, who had already taken a seat next to Ryoga, pushed her wavy, brown hair away from her shoulder and whispered, "Are they…?" she said hesitantly, unsure of what to think about the delicate, suggestive interaction between the two.
"Uh-huh." was all that Ryoga could say and Yumiko nodded in understanding.
The sexual tension between Ryoma and Shusuke was shattered when Yusuke suddenly jumped off Ryoma's lap and waved his still short arms exuberantly to gather his attention. "Ryoma-niichan, mitte, mitte! I learned something from you,"
The family watched with intrigued expression as Yusuke suddenly ran over to the walk to pose seductively – lying on his right elbow, while parting his legs and bending his right knee in the air while trying to put on an intense expression on his face – in an attempt to imitate one of Ryoma's photo but failed miserably. His childish features and undeveloped body made him look more like a performing puppy than a nude model. Shusuke wondered when his nephew went through the nude photo collection that his club captain had just lent to him a few hours prior. Yumiko was staring at her son with dawning realization and paled.
"No! This one's better!" Akiko said not wasting time running up to Yusuke and strike a different pose in attempt to outdo her brother, only to end up with the same result.
"Oh, yeah?" Yusuke said with a frown, before shifting into a crouched position like a baby tiger. Ryoma remembered that he did that particularly sexual pose with another nude model, Julian, because the photographer's idea of him 'attacking' the taller model and wondered from where the boy saw that photo.
"You're doing it wrong!" Akiko exclaimed as she did the same crouching pose, all the while wearing a childish grin on her face that had Ryoga start laughing at how much sexual innuendo the kids didn't realize they were trying to recreate.
Yumiko decided that it was enough show for the night. "Children, I want you to behave right now! Stop doing those poses!" Yumiko scolded; seeing Ryoma doing those poses had an infinitely different impact from her pre-school children. Better yet, what if they offended the model? It was the last thing that this already high-strung family needed.
"But mama!" Akiko protested; puffing her cheeks and pouted like the child she was. Unlike Yusuke, she had acted the poses that she glimpsed the magazine that Yuuta bought the other day at the kitchen where Yoshiko and Yumiko left it after going through it. "You said it was a very nice pose to grandma earlier!"
Ryoga's laughter filled the air at the same time Shusuke chuckled and Yumiko reddened in mortified embarrassment. Ryoma didn't say anything; he merely raised an eyebrow. He looked at the twins for a minute, before a lazy smirk spread thinly on his lips – a telling sign of danger to Ryoga and went down on one knee in front of the kids.
"Now, you're doing it wrong." Ryoma said as he made a move to stand up, titling his head to the side. The children watched him curiously, when Ryoma simply lowered himself to a sitting position on the floor, folded his left leg and bent his right so he could place both hands on his knee and rested his chin on top of it. He cocked his head to the side, letting his longish hair flutter and gave a teasing view of the tattoo on his neck.
He lowered his face and closed his eyes, knowing and at complete ease with the knowledge that everyone in the room was watching him. Their curious eyes were nothing compared to the looks he had to endure during work. He slowly opened his eyes; deliberately peering at them with a heavily hooded gaze through his ridiculously long, thick lashes without raising his chin.
They were simple, almost unnoticeable movements. It was a very casual pose, nothing indecent or suggestive, but it commanded immediate attention – even from the children who were staring at him with wide, fascinated eyes though not really understanding why it was so different from theirs.
Like a slap to the face, Shusuke was hit with the realization that this was Takeuchi Ryou, the one and only Snow. His hands itched for his camera, yet he was unable unable to take his eyes off. The model was only playing with the children, amusing them, but really – he was practically every living photographer's wet dream right now and here he was getting cosy at their living room, sitting on the floor without looking out of place, and pulling off the so-called 'casual' poses that worth millions of dollar under different circumstances, that people like his family could only admire through television screens and magazine covers not one month ago. The scene was so bizarre; Shusuke had to wonder whether it was real.
Suddenly, the atmosphere changed as Nanjirou entered the room – and then, the temperature dropped several degree and the former Fuji, with the exception of Shusuke, inhaled sharply and unconsciously held their breath as Ryoga and Ryoma simultaneously looked up to their nervous looking father.
"Oh, God… it can't be!"
Yukimura nearly dropped the album he had been going through and suddenly felt so disoriented that he had to sit on his bed. "I know where I met him!" He gasped and rummaged his bed for his phone and dialled his boyfriend. While anxiously waiting for Sanada to pick up, he glanced at the album and a single picture had confirmed his suspicions. Sanada barely had the time to greet him when Yukimura already launched straight into the matter.
Sanada sounded almost amused at his boyfriend's uncharacteristic outburst, "Excuse me?"
"It was two years ago at Atobe's Christmas party, the one you brought me and Shusuke to, wasn't it?" Yukimura clarified, "I met him there, he was at that party!"
"Yes," came Sanada's calm reply. Yukimura could imagine the half-hearted, almost indulgent smile on Sanada's full, sarcastic lips. "He's always been Atobe's favourite. Not that he'd admit it, but Atobe adores the boy like no other. That boy is never out of Atobe's sight, not even now."
Yukimura bit on his lower lips and slowly pressed his face against his palm. "God, Genichirou! I think we have a problem,"
Noticing his boyfriend's distress, Sanada sounded a little more worried when he spoke next. "What's wrong, Seiichi?"
"I-I think I had a drop too much back then, so I didn't really remember his face and he was wearing glasses and his hair was so unkempt, but now I'm sure."
"Well, yes. I remember that he was a little different from the Snow we know now. But he hasn't really changed that much,"
Yukimura smiled weakly and let himself fall back on the bed with a soft thud. "Do you remember when Mitsuru-kun showed up with Tezuka-san back then? Atobe left with Tezuka-san and left him with us, right?"
"I remember. Why?" Sanada's voice sounded a little suspicious and apprehensive.
"Gen, I think I ditched him with Shusuke back then,"
Silence met his words, before the voice returned with restrained surprise.
"… You what?"
"I left him with Shusuke." Yukimura spoke quickly as he ran a restless hand through his wavy hair, feeling uncharacteristically flustered. Pressing the heel of his hand against his eyes, he continued, "Shusuke – he… he was enamoured by the boy, and I think they left together at a point. Gen, I think they slept together."
If that's true, then that drunken one-night stand that Shusuke had been pining all along would be—
"Damn it." Sanada's voice sounded more annoyed than anything else when he finally found his voice back. "Atobe is going to bite my head off if he finds out!"
End's Note : There, how do you like that? (Gene : "For those who is wondering what is riba, it's actually a 'reversible', meaning someone who could be the 'seme' (attacker) and 'uke' (receiver) in a homosexual relationship.")
o0Shira0o -- Well, then you've seen Eugene's and my pervy clouded minds when we think of the brothers! XD This is the result of daydreaming from both our parts. We love talking with our reviewers! It means a lot for us to read everyone's reaction. We are also very, very sorry that we haven't updated in ages. Both of us have been dealing with life, our own stories and so forth so this chapter just kept getting pushed farther back. XP
Sweet3 – We are happy to see your support is still with us!
who-8-mai-rice -- As much as we love ego-stroking us to be in depth with our perviness we have to refrain from too much as well or else it'll bore everyone and make our characters slide into Gary-Stu mode.
ThrillPair -- Well we had to cut it off somewhere. (Moon : "It was just me being evil and leaving cliffhangers as I do on my own stories!" XD)
ElementalFoxGoddess -- Well, like we mentioned before, nothing is certain yet.
Lapis Rane -- Glad that it helps recall your memories because we have to debate lots on how long each chapter is going to be to what's going to happen and one chapter between us can get sent three to four times to each other to make sure it's good to go.
megamilan -- And this is where we apologize to no end that we didn't.
bunnykim89 -- Thank you for the review!
alaine -- All has partially been explained in this chapter.
thy pantaloons -- Be sure to review for this chapter too!
Eleanor Rigby -- Thank you for sticking with us!
ErzaScarlet14 -- Glad that you enjoyed it! Stay tune for more!
henriette -- We haven't actually decided if we're even going to incorporate tennis in since this story is cantered around family, modelling, and school life. Thank you for your critic and we do know Ryoma is borderline Gary-Stu right now but his flaws are yet to come and his anti's are yet to appear in future chapters so stick around for that. Do mention when characters become a bit OOC so we can re-evaluate the way we presented them.
Primaaryet -- They will eventually start once we get everyone up and running in Japan.
Deadly Regret -- Encouraging us to be perverted can be damaging to all reviewers when we spazz about Ryoma and any other male that happens to walk into the picture.
-- Haha, we're flattered. Well, since it is an AU, they're bound to be some OOC-ness, but where do you mean in particular. If it's about Ryoma, his flaw will be slowly revealed because right now, everything about him was just superficial and he had less 'action time' compared to the others.
MysticBlood -- I'm sure Yuuta's scene was one of the most memorable scenes in the last chapter. That one day… may come sooner than you think. XD
SamanthaLienne -- Please keep on supporting us! (Gene : "You're always one of my favourite reader!")
Sadari -- Always a pleasure to know we have someone loving this fic!
Ryoko Yuki -- That scene you may call your authoresses trying to humour everyone in the middle of story. XD
Takayelie -- Even we enjoyed writing the siblings scenes! We'll be explaining why he kissed Yukimura in the next chapter.
tsub4ki -- We just love putting on the drama and problems that'd take forever to figure out. There's actually more to family reunion than that short segment and we'll try to wrap up the main get-together this chapter.
ryoka-chan -- We love a review no matter if you're fluent in English or not. You were not the only one to enjoy Yuuta's scene since it came up a lot when people reviewed. Do try to review as we go along because we are really counting on all the reviewers to leave their opinions and scene they loved so we can keep in mind what people want to see between the main problems of everyone. (Moon : "Thank you for reading our individuals stories and commenting as well!")
Mizuki-sempai -- Thank you for the review!
Sarah -- Your review is encouraging to the both of us!
MRX -- Please keep on reading and reviewing!
Sephony -- Thank you for the review!
Dontudaremesswithme -- Ryoma does keep up with his studies to a point. How much, we'll explain as we write on.
Nemesis Crow -- Your review revives our muse! We hope you enjoyed what we enjoyed writing too!
Meh Namee iish Rae -- Thanks again for the comment!
MARYLOVER -- Children are useful. They're cute, easy to characterize, and fit in just about anywhere. (Moon : "I use them a lot in my stories!" XD) (Gene : "I don't even want to think about writing this story without the children! Imagine the awkwardness!")
nicki-gurl -- Sorry that you all have always wait diligently for each chapter; but we really do try. The potential is always there but Ryoga and Ryoma are very reserved towards their father as you've realized. Even Ryoga keeps the 'new' family at a certain distance no matter how accepting he was about the whole thing.
dawn chase -- Please keep on reading and reviewing!
X -- That means so much to us! We hope not to disappoint you. Please keep on R&R!