Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis, the characters are all borrowed from its magnificent writer.
Summary: Ryoma comes back from America with a dark and mysterious past that continuously haunts him. Just when he's about to forget, the person that caused all his misery reappeared in his life to claim Ryoma wholly. Will his sempai be able to save Ryoma, or will he forever be locked in a past he only knows?
Fuji saw everything in slow motion.
He unconsciously sucked in a deep breathe as he saw Ryoma's fragile body falling and became air born when everyone else's eyes were still on the yellow ball on the other side of the court. Even before Ryoma met the hard pavement, Fuji was already running towards the young tennis prodigy.
He heard nothing, not the concerned shouts or wails from the crowd. All that mattered is reaching Ryoma and to wrap his arms around the young boy, to feel his warm body against him and to see that fierce golden eyes burning in him. But fate seems to be utterly cruel to Fuji at that moment.
Before he was able to reach Ryoma's fallen body, a familiar blonde was already crouched beside Ryoma. His arms wound around the petite figure where Fuji's arm should be. Those much desired golden orbs were not burning but hazy as it took in the person holding him. The next thing that happened was what really made Fuji's world stop.
Despite the cloudy look in Ryoma's eyes, his lips curve lightly and gave a breathe taking genuine smile on the blonde, making his eyes light up in delight before finally closing. By now the other regulars were able to catch up on Fuji and were also shocked still as they saw the peculiar scene. Not in years that they've known Ryoma did they see that kind of bliss expression in his usually stoic façade.
"Oi, Ryoma! Ryoma! Don't pass out on me Ryo!" the blonde shook Ryoma lightly in an attempt to rouse him.
He must have heard the regular's approaching footsteps because he suddenly turned sharply at their direction and they were finally rewarded a glance of the face of the new comer.
"K-Kevin?!" Momoshiro mused loudly with a dubious face. This is the second time that they saw someone who's supposedly in America.
"Nya, aren't you Kevin Smith? What are you doing here?" Kikumaru demanded.
"You're Ryoma's teammates aren't you? Seigaku?" Kevin's electric blue eyes scanned them critically, his hold on Ryoma never wavering which did not escape Fuji's notice. "I'm sorry but I don't have time to play with you guys now."
Kevin fished out an expensive looking 3G phone and quickly dialed a number.
"What do you think are you doing?! Let go of Ochibi right now! He needs to be treated immediately!" Kikumaru stormed towards Kevin and tried to reach for Ryoma but Kevin wouldn't have any of it. He shifted to his side with Ryoma in tow making Kikumaru lose his balance.
"What do you think I'm doing?" Kevin glared heatedly at the pouting red haired, putting the phone on his ear and cradling Ryoma delicately as the boy's breathe came in ragged huffs. "I'm trying to—
His speech was cut off as a voice answered on the other line.
"Na-chan, its Kevin… yeah I just arrived…..Ryoma collapsed and I need….
Kevin's conversation was droned off as Fuji could only clenched his fist in helplessness as Ryoma lay sick in another's arms. He stole a glance at the other regulars and could see Ryuuzaki-sensei trying to disperse the crowd. The worry in her face was visible which is the same as that of the others.
Suddenly, Kevin snapped his phone shut and heaved Ryoma up, his arm under the unconscious boy's neck and knees. Ryoma's emerald tinted crown was nestled on the crook of Kevin's collar and Fuji tried to contain the jealousy furring in him in vain.
"Oi where are you bringing the gaki?!" Momoshiro clamped his hand on Kevin's shoulder.
"Home" Kevin shrugged off the offending hand and strode towards the school gates.
"Matte!!!" The regulars jogged after the blonde.
"You know where Echizen lives?" Momo asked incredulously.
"Of course" the blonde scoffed deridingly "Don't you? And you're supposed to know him longer"
Everyone quieted down after hearing that. As much as they hate to admit it, it doesn't change the fact that what he said was true. Still, hearing it from another just added to the pain they felt upon discovering that they virtually knew nothing about Ryoma.
Upon reaching the still scarcely crowded gates, Tezuka finally broke the silence.
"How do you plan on taking him home?" Tezuka inquired looking questioningly at their predicament.
Inui quickly whipped out his trusted green notebook, his glasses gleaming before a frown settled on his face. "It seems like I still have disappointingly inadequate data to form a concrete hypothesis regarding Kevin-kun."
Kevin just looked amused at them, as if chiding them of not knowing the answer right away.
"You didn't expect me to go on foot did you?" he mused. "When I could go on these"
Right at that time, a black limousine halted behind the erect form of Kevin and a chauffer automatically held the door open for them. The regulars along with the other students who are on their way home gawked shamelessly… well maybe except for Tezuka and Fuji. Seishun High School is not a school for the rich so it's rare if not never do limousines find their way in front of the school.
"I never knew you were this rich Kevin-kun" Taka marveled.
Kevin looked at him weirdly. "I'm not"
"But the limo—
"Is of course Ryoma's" Kevin revealed haughtily.
Kevin just shrugged and turned towards the limousine when another hand held him back. Unlike Momoshiro's it was not hard and calloused. The hold was surprisingly cold and firm but it had the feeling of as if the owner of the hand was trying to hold back in crushing his bone.
"Yes?" Blue eyes met. Kevin didn't like the intense look in Fuji's eyes and opted to tighten his hold on Ryoma which consequently, made the grip on his shoulder tighten as well.
"You didn't think that we'll let you take Ryoma home without us did you?" Fuji dropped his hand and smiled eerily, his eyes still open. "He's our Kohai after all."
Fuji wanted to snatch Ryoma in his arms and hiss mine at anyone who would try to get him but he restrained himself. Now is not a good time.
Kevin was about to argue but opted to done a mask of indifference before answering.
"Whatever, but he's mine"
There was a sizzling atmosphere inside the limousine courtesy of Fuji and Kevin. Since they took their seats, which is in front of each other, they never broke the glare they're sending on each other, hoping that the other would jut drop dead.
Aside from Kevin's claim that Ryoma was his, Fuji seethed at the thought, another thing that fueled his already flaming anger was Kevin's constant contact with Ryoma, who's currently still unconscious, and his head nestled on Kevin's lap. Fuji knew that Kevin without a doubt was having the time of his life. But when Kevin started to run his fingers in Ryoma's silky tresses, he had enough.
"Do you really need contaminate Ryoma further with your grubby paw?" Fuji commented with a smile that greatly resembles a sneer.
Kevin didn't cease his ministration and even mocked Fuji by smirking knowingly at him. He knew when somebody's jealous and he always had a fun time playing with them.
"You mean this? I doubt Ryoma would mind… he always loves it when I do this"
To prove Kevin's statement, Ryoma moaned appreciatively at the hand soothing his scalp. The sound he produced made everyone blush, though others tried to hide it with a cough. Though most of them think of Ryoma as just a good friend, they never denied the fact that he's an eye candy and his voice made them think of inappropriate thoughts.
"See?" Kevin chuckled lightly, his face softening upon looking at his friend's face. But when he touched Ryoma's heated skin, it quickly turned into a worried frown. "He's burning up"
"Are we still far from Ochibi's house, nyaa?" Kikumaru bounced in his seat. The extravagant interior of the limousine spiked the energy of the acrobat.
Kevin leaned and peered into the window and turned to answer them all. "We're almost there; you can actually see the house from here."
The regulars minus Tezuka and Fuji scrambled to the windows almost pressing their faces on the glass to get the first glimpse of the real house of their kohai. At first, all they could see were quaint above averaged houses that made them awe. The neighborhood was completely different from theirs whose homes mix the modern and Japanese style and is constructed with only two floors. The houses here were all western and most of their lawns were equipped with pools and splendid gardens.
It was obviously the neighborhood for the well off but when they slowed down in front of a Victorian style mansion, they couldn't help but let their jaw drop in disbelief. They knew their Ochibi was rich, what with the limousine and all…. But not this filthy loaded!
"Fsshhuuu… are you sure this is Echizen's house?" Kaidoh asked in wonder.
"House? House?! Is that what you call…..this?!" Momoshiro exclaimed, flailing his arms around him. "It's a freaking mansion!"
"I know that baka!"
"What did you cal me Mamushi?!"
"Come on you two, stop it!"
While Oishi tried to placate the two sophomores, others took their time to let their eyes wonder as the giant iron gate opened automatically, letting the limousine enter. They drove into a cemented driveway that could easily fit another car and at their side, the luxurious garden rolled pass them with full bloomed roses trimming their way like a miniature labyrinth. The hedges were low enough for them to see the intricate white marbled fountain sitting at the center.
At top of the three layered fountain sat a magnificent angel, one of its wings was spread wide whilst the other one was folded near its chest while holding a jar where the water continuously flows down. Up ahead, they could see the mansion looming which could have accommodated hundreds of people. The house gave a modern feel with its white colored pillars and spacious windows. Thirty percent of the structure was almost made up of glass which made it glitter in rainbow colors as the setting sunlight hit it.
The limousine stopped in front of the entrance door and the regulars quickly scrambled out, still thinking that they're dreaming. Who would have thought that Echizen Ryoma dabbed as the prince of tennis is actually living a prince-like life?
"Nyaa… I can't believe that ochibi's living here all this time."
"Un, un" Momo nodded.
Suddenly the giant double doors banged open and a hysterical Nanako glided down the steps with the butler and a maid trailing closely behind her.
Nanako stopped and quickly put her hand on Ryoma's forehead to feel his temperature.
"He's burning! Kevin- kun, what happened?" Nanako looked up worriedly at Kevin when he noticed the Seigaku regulars behind him.
"Eh? What are Ryoma-san's friends doing here?" Nanako asked curiously. She knew that her cousin didn't tell them about his real house and wanted to use the Meino's house near Seigaku as a decoy.
"I'm sorry for our intrusion Meino-san" Tezuka stepped forward "Echizen collapsed during afternoon practice and we can't help but to see to it that he makes it home ourselves."
"Of course… thank you for taking care of him and please just call me Nanako" she smiled and bowed slightly before turning towards Kevin again.
"Kevin-kun, can you please bring him to his room while I call the doctor?" Nanako turned towards the regulars. "And please make yourselves at home"
Nanako disappeared once again to make the call and the regulars followed silently behind Kevin who seems to know his way around. Once they opened the door, the silence was broken by gasps of awe as they were greeted by the Italian Renaissance themed receiving room. There was a sparkly and winding chandelier hanging above a high ceiling and a two grand staircase on either side of the gigantic hall.
Kevin didn't pause and quickly climbed the stairs without waiting for any of them. After passing numerous doors and hallways, they finally stopped in front of a white French double door. Kevin was shifting his hold on Ryoma to open the door when suddenly a hand turned the knob and held the door open for him.
"Why thank you Fuji-san" Kevin drawled without looking at him and continued to walk towards the bed and carefully tuck his load.
Ryoma was now breathing deeply and a blush made their way on his cheeks as the fever continued to rage on. Kevin turned around and was surprise to feel a warm hand clasp his wrist.
"D-don't go… Kev…" hazy golden eyes peeked uncertainly under thick lushes. Upon hearing his voice, the others quickly crowded his bed side.
The regulars smiled and nodded in confirmation and Ryoma couldn't help the customary smirk that curled in his lips even if he's already having a hard time in staying awake.
"Mada… mada… dane…"
Golden cat- like eyes gradually opened and he stretched his hand in front of him. So bright….. The moon was full and the beam of light entered the room through the slit between the satin curtains, illuminating everything in an ethereal glow.
He sat up and found himself on a bed covered with onyx black silk sheets, and tried to remember why the voice seems familiar.
Ryoma's eyes grew wide and panic course through his veins. He can't remember what happened or why he's in that particular place but what he knows is the feeling of a trapped animal that needs to flee. They're in danger and must get out…..
They must escape….
Ryoma can now recognize the silhouette of his father coming closer and he quickly scrambled forward, his heart pounding heavily in his chest.
Ryoma stretched his hand forward when something caught his attention.
Blood. Blood. Blood.
Sobs racked his body as tears spilled in rivulets on his cheeks. He gaze horrified at his blood soaked hands… his hair… his body… the sheets! There was blood everywhere…
'Ryoma! Where are you?!'
Ryoma whimpered and scooted at the very back, trembling in fright. He remembered now….. The blood… it was his father's….. Ryoma can't let his father see him…. He should get away. He tried to swing his legs over the edge of the bed and try to make a run of it when cold hands wrapped themselves around his torso, trapping him.
'Where are you going Ryoma? Uncle Jiro's here'
Ryoma whimpered and tried to get away but the arms stayed firm.
'No… let me go….'
'Why?' a tongue lap at his tears and Ryoma restrained the shivers that run in his spine. 'See… he's already coming this way…'
'Ryoma? Is that you?'
A gust of wind suddenly fluttered the curtains wider and the once glistening white moon turned in a bloody crimson color lighting the whole room in eerie red. There, on the floor, Ryoma saw his father lying in a pool of blood, his eyes open in betrayal… accusing… condemning…
'It's your fault Ryoma….' The figure behind him whispered.
Hands gripped him and tried to push him down further on the bed. Molten lava orbs snapped open in fear and he lashed out menacingly at the hands that tired to suppress him. He couldn't see the person looming over him since his eyes were still blurred with tears but it didn't stop his flailing, the dream still fresh in his mind.
'Please Echizen-sama, calm down—
"No! Let go!" Ryoma was hyperventilating by now when a new voice registered in his mind, soothing his panic drive nerves.
'Ryo… come on, it's me Kev."
Slowly, Ryoma's struggles ceased and he could feel warm hands on both of his cheeks. Ryoma leaned in to the touch. It felt good and it chased away the memories of the cold hands in his dreams. He blinked away the tears in his eyes and tried to adjust his eyesight as he made out the blurry figures in his vision.
Kevin quickly pulled Ryoma in his chest and enveloped him in a hug.
"You!" Kevin pointed at the doctor still standing at the edge of the bed. "Get out!"
"I said get out! Now!" Kevin bellowed with narrowed eyes that usually made his opponent in tennis freeze in fear.
The doctor just sigh before picking his medical bag on the table, bowed and got out of the room. Kevin returned his attention to the cat like boy snuggling in him and started to draw circles on his back as he felt the tears continue to pour and wet his shirt.
"You dreamt about it again didn't you?" Kevin murmured, his chin resting on emerald tinted hair.
Ryoma just nodded before pulling away and looking up at his friend with watery innocent golden orbs.
"I'm sorry Kev….."
Kevin was lost in those mesmerizing eyes to form a coherent thought much less an answer. Ryoma looked absolutely delectable as he laid there in his arms with a blush adorning his cheeks from his fever. He was now in his pajamas but the buttons were opened from the doctor's examination a while ago and it now exposed a creamy smooth expanse of Ryoma's torso and chest.
Kevin unconsciously licked his slowly drying lips. Ryoma looked so vulnerable now with his hair tussled and his voice still trembling with a melodic quality from the horror he felt in his dream. He would like to trace those tear stains with his tongue and capture those pink lips and make his eyes widen adorably in surprise.
Kevin started to lean down….
"STOP IT RIGHT THERE!"
A while ago…
"Let's stay here first while Dr. Aizawa checks up on Ryoma" Nanako lead them on the room next to Ryoma's and opened the door for them.
The place was a sitting room with two long couches parallel on each other and another love seat at the far side. Like the other rooms, it was decorated with a Renaissance theme with intricate carvings on the wooden panels and cabinets. High on the ceiling hangs another chandelier, this one less gaudy than the one in the first floor but still magnificent with small pieced prisms glittering beautifully in the light.
They all took their places on the couches while Nanako took the love seat.
"I knew I shouldn't have let Ryoma-san go to school…" Nanako said, wiping the tears that started to form in her eyes. "He was not feeling well since this morning…"
"Na-Nanako-chan, it's not your fault, don't cry" Momoshiro tried to soothe her but was having a hard time since he's never been good in dealing with girls, much more with the crying ones.
"Momo-chan's right, nyaa! Anyway, Ochibi wouldn't let anything hinder him once he sets his mind on it so you wouldn't have been able to stop him even if you chain him on his bed!" Kikumaru added with a comforting grin.
"Arigatou mina" Nanako replied with a smile.
"Ne Nanako-san, may I ask where Kevin-kun is?" Fuji suddenly asked, his finger tapping lightly on the couch's arm rest.
"Kevin-kun?" she tilted her head in confirmation. "He's probably loitering around, specifically outside Ryoma's room. He's always been the one to fret and watch over Ryoma-san whenever he gets ill."
"I would have never though them to be so close" Fuji commented off handedly "I mean as far as I know the first time they met was three years ago back in Junior High."
"Yes, I also find that a bit queer" Inui said, writing rapidly in his notebook "it's a little surprising to note that Kevin-san seems to know the layout of this mansion so well that he knew where to take Echizen without having to think. I can only conclude that he's been here before.
Nanako smiled wistfully at them and heaved a big sigh before answering.
"Well I don't know where to start explaining but I guess the beginning is always a good start." Nanako leaned on the back rest. "It's true that Ryoma-san and Kevin- kun just met when they were twelve, here in Japan. But what you didn't know is that when Ryoma-san went to attend the U.S Open in America, they met and Kevin became the self- appointed trainer of Ryoma-san."
"Since then, for three years, up to now, they were almost inseparable. From tennis, to eating, and even sleeping, they always do things together. I guess being away from you guys made Ryoma-san lonely, though he would never admit it, and found the friend in Kevin-san amidst the stressing life in the pro world. He was always there even after a… tragedy… it was Kevin-san who picked up the pieces."
Nanako smiled sadly as if remembering something that she would rather not think but not forget. The regulars were still trying to process the small bit of information about Ryoma on those previous three years that he was away.
"And about Inui-san's question, The Echizen's house in America was actually specifically constructed to be a twin model of this house. Every room, hall, step and furniture is a carbon copy of this house to that of the other one in America so you could guess that Kevin-kun would know this house like the back of his hand."
Their exclamation was suddenly interrupted by the banging of the door open which almost made the walls shake under the pressure.
"Atobe-san?!" Nanako hurriedly went to Atobe's side. "What are you doing here?"
"Where's Ryoma?" Atobe questioned sharply, his breathing ragged.
"He's in his room—
Atobe turned to leave but was abruptly held back when Nanako stood firmly in front of the door, preventing his escape.
"Nanako-san, I need to see Ryoma, he's sick—
"And he's already with the Echizen's own family doctor." Nanako finished.
"I know that already but—
"Then you know, Atobe-san that Ryoma's in trusted hands and your presence could just disturb his treatment." Nanako added firmly, not leaving any room for argument.
The regulars do not know if they should look amuse by the scolding the great ore-sama got or to feel once again confuse by this another confusing turn of events. For a moment, Atobe seemed appalled for not getting what he wants at a snap of a finger but after thinking about it, just huffed indignantly.
"Fine but I expect to see him as soon as that doctor steps out of Ryoma's room."
"Of course Atobe-san, anything you want." Nanako chirped, obviously happy for getting her way even with the great Atobe Keigo.
He just sighed in resignation and turned towards the seats, seeing the regulars for the first time since he entered the room. The only indication of his surprise was the slight raise of his eyebrow.
"I didn't know this is a reunion of Seigaku's regulars" Atobe smirked while walking towards them. Tezuka and the others were already scooting over to give Atobe a seat and were surprise when the Hyotei king bypassed them and chose to sink elegantly on the Persian carpet and crossed his legs in a meditative manner.
"What are you doing here Atobe?" Tezuka questioned having gotten out of his shock first than the others upon witnessing Atobe sitting on the floor without complaining about imaginary dirt first.
"To see Ryoma of course" Atobe flipped his hair.
"I never had the impression that you were close enough with Ryoma to visit him at his house" Fuji narrowed his eyes "You never even greeted each other properly during tournaments."
Atobe's smirk only widened. "Ryoma and I know are more than close enough without having to give you plebeians the impression that we even know each other. We simply didn't greet one another then because we know we always have the time to catch up with each other."
"How did the gaki and you even get along without killing each other?" Momo scoffed.
"Who said he didn't try? When I was seven, the gaki pushed me off a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean, I almost drowned! And to think the gaki's only five then."
Momo and the others tried to stifle their laughter. They were imagining a chibi Ryoma and Atobe and couldn't help but to find the picture hilarious.
"Wait—" Kikumaru coughed after laughing so much, tears springing in his eyes. "You mean you knew each other since you were kids?"
"Of course! All the prominent families in Japan are all part of the same circle; same goes for their children since we'll be the successors. It's only natural that we'll form ties at a young age" Atobe lectured.
"Sugoi… I guess having a retired tennis pro champion as a father can make you so rich!" Kikumaru mulled over, his eyes sparkling at the prospect of earning such money himself.
Atobe eyes him uncannily, his face pulled with incredulity. "Rich? The Echizens contribute one third of the world's tax having owned a dozen hotel chains, producing and at the same time exporting technological parts and devices. They are a major stock holder of the Fitz-Italia Telecommunications and have established a tourism firm in Europe and America! Rich?! They're more than that. Do you really think a retired pro could build all of that?"
"Even I would admit that the Echizen Chains of Corporation is on par or if not yet a slot higher than the Atobe Empire in the ranking of the world's wealthiest business." Atobe drawled, resting his hand behind him to support his weight.
"A-and you're saying that Ochibi will inherit all that when the time comes?" Kikumaru's eyes bulged and his mouth gaping upon hearing just how powerful their Ochibi is. No doubt he was so cocky!
A blood curling scream resonated throughout the room from next door, making everyone's heart drop at hearing such a sound. It was full of anguish and fear and they couldn't help but feel the pain as well as it tore through their soul.
"Ryoma!" Atobe shot up from his sitting position followed by Nanako and the regulars.
"Ryoma-san!" Nanako hurried beside Atobe as they all clambered for the door.
"If that doctor did anything—
"Kevin-kun must be with him now" Nanako cut Atobe as they exited the sitting room and hurriedly approach Ryoma's door.
"Kevin?! What's he doing—" Atobe opened the double doors and gawked at what he saw.
A devil taking advantage of an angel. That's the only description they could come up with as they gaped at the scene in front of them. The devil had his arms around the gullible angel as the devil leaned down to capture the forbidden fruit.
"STOP IT RIGHT THERE!"
This is the longest chapter I've ever written! (cheers) please review! Comments and suggestions are welcomed and it would really help me!