Hey, it's me! I know you guys were probably spazzing from missing me so much. And maybe not... But here's another chapter! Yeah sorry for no updates on any of my stories. I just started high school. GO FRESHMAN! But I have all the new chapters nearly finish and I hope to get them up no later than Sunday. Hmm... I have nothin' else to really say SO READ ON!

~taz8D


Chapter 3: The Clone

"Maria?..."

"Eiji! Don't do that. He doesn't know you!" Another boy peeled this 'Eiji' off of me. There went my dream of Maria.

"Mada mada dane," I said. I am NOT a boy. I put a hand on my hip to emphasize my thoughts. They didn't get it. Maybe if I wore a tighter shirt….

"Saa, this one looks different," a honey haired boy said. His eyes were closed, or maybe squinted, so I had no idea where he was looking.

"But look at them Fujiko!" Eiji said and for the first time I think everyone really studied us.

"You're right," The boy that was restraining Eiji was looking at my pink stud earrings, like that was our only difference.

"Umm… Are you a…girl?" It was a boy with brown hair styled into a buzz cut who finally caught on. He was pretty shy for such a toned guy.

"Good boy. You deserve a treat." I know. I sounded like a jerk, but I said I was past making friends.

Ok. So Ryoma and I really did look similar. Like both of my male siblings I had the feline-like, golden eyes and the blackish-green hair and I was the same height as my twin for the time being. But I did not look male! I had the beginning of curves and I was not flat, but neither was I well endowed. The only reason they could ever think I was a boy was because of my hair, which was almost as short as my brothers. The longest strand only went down to the bottom of my neck, not even dreaming of touching my thin shoulders. My bangs covered my whole forehead and were swept to my left. covering that eyebrow and barely revealing the other. But I held them back at the moment, for tennis purposes, with a pink clip that matched my new horrendous school uniform. Pink and green. Really? But my hair framed my hair more than either Ryoma's or Ryoga's ever would. Just give us a year or two and we would look completely different.

"Ah! It is a girl!" Eiji must be taking lessons from Captain Obvious. He took my face into both of his hands and turned it from side to side. "Ochibi, why would you make your clone a girl? She can't play on the team!"

"Eiji!" Once again this boy was pulled away from me. I couldn't bring myself to glare at him though. He reminded me too much of Maria, both in mannerism and the look in his eyes. Heck, if his hair and eyes were a couple shades lighter then I could never be persuaded to think that they weren't related. "I'm sorry." The boy bowed to me. Something tells me he does this a lot because of Eiji.

If Maria were alive would I have to apologize like this all the time too?

I don't want to think about it. I turned away from Eiji.

"Obviously Echizen did not clone himself. That is highly improbable, seeing as cloning has not yet been perfected. There is an 87% chance that this is Echizen's sister, though. There is also an 81% chance that they are twins." A very, very tall boy with rectangular rimmed glasses said this while looking at both of us. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as the lenses gleamed from the sun. While he had said all this, he had taken out a notebook and began to write in it, rather quickly in fact.

"Inui! Don't be a creeper!" I heard Eiji call from behind me.

But people still looked at us for the truth. Ryoma gave a "che". That meant yes and I was somewhat surprised to see that these people understood that it was not just a scoff.

"Nani? What? Do you have a brother too?" The boy named Momo laughed. Well, I wasn't going to be the one to tell him.

I smell introductions.

"Hey! I'm Momoshiro Takeshi, but call me Momo," He said this like I hadn't heard Ryoma call him 'Momo-senpai' before.

The others came after. The boy who was the first to question my gender was Kawamura Takashi. 'Saa' boy was Fuji Syuusuke and the silent boy next to him was the captain, Tezuka Kunimistu. The 'creeper' was Inui Sadaharu and the boy with bandana next to him was Kaido Kaoru. The boy who apologized was Oishi Shuichiro. I would probably forget all these names in a couple of hours. They were a lot, but one would stick with me.

Kikumaru Eiji.

They couldn't be related. This boy was clearly Japanese, but… but they were so similar. The look in his eyes, his bouncy nature, but that smile did it. That playful smile that I would never forget.

Again I turned away from him. The reminder was too painful.

The captain- Tanuki wasn't it?- started practice, but I still got stares every once in awhile. Finally some freshmen who were adamant in their staring came up to me.

"You're Echizen's sister?" The boy was dressed in some pretty flamboyant colors. "Well I'm Horio Satoshi and I have two years of tennis experience! So if you ever need help or anything- you know with your swing and stuff- you can come to me. I'll probably make the regulars very soon seeing as I do have two years of tennis experience. Echizen has a tough time with me and…" BS. No way could this uni-browed, flamboyant monkey boy even be close to Ryoma's skill. I would break his face if he dared to insult my brother like that again.

"How about I teach you a little something." I narrowed my eyes at him. I was not going to give him a sweet, sinister smile. That might give away how much embarrassment he was about go through.

"I don't know if you can Echizen-chan. I mean I am a boy with two years of tennis experience…" Again, I stopped listening to this stupid kid. Not only was he moronic but also sexist? It was a good thing he wasn't in my class… Was he?...

I just turned and started walking to an empty court, picking up Ryoma's practice racquet on the way. The boys were doing laps around the courts so they wouldn't miss one if I used it. That kid followed after me, still bragging away about his tennis experience. Not really paying attention, I finally looked at the two who followed behind him. One had a bowl cut and the other reminded me of the boy who had restrained Eiji.

Eiji. He looked a little bit tired while running those laps. More tired than the others who had introduced themselves to me. Was his stamina short-lived… like Maria's life?

I needed to stop doing that. He wasn't in anyway connected to her, but I couldn't help but to finger the necklace that I had never taken off after all these years.

"Are you ready to receive lessons from the great Horio?" Mono-brow asked. I decided to call him that because 'mono' was closer to the word 'monkey' than 'uni' was. I would have to tell Ryoma later.

"You should be the one getting ready," I whispered this more to myself. It was kids like these that made my job easy. There was no pull for me to want to be their friend. "Let's have a light rally."

I knew full well that a light rally for me was definitely not a light rally for him. I gave him one of my normal serves. Normal being not a Twist Serve and this boy still couldn't return it. And he said Ryoma had a problem with him? Karupin could beat this kid. He watched my family and me play tennis enough times.

"Heh. I didn't warm up yet." Wasn't the only thing first years do was warm up?

"Whatever." I sent another serve his way. Oh. I mean I sent another ace his way.

"Whoa," Bowl cut was pointing at the spot where my ball had bounced: the very corner of the service box, "Su-sugoi!"

By now some of the boys were stopping their laps to watch our little 'rally'. If you could call it that.

"I wasn't ready that time," he said. Man, this kid was made out of BS. Or maybe he ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because that's the only thing that came out of him. "Now I'm ready."

He better be. I served another time and he tried reacting, but it was out of his reach, just like I thought it would be.

"40-love," I said, my voice egging him on to give another excuse. I could see him gulp.

"Ah. Haha… And that's a way not to return a ball, but I can show you how to with this next serve."

I decide to place my next serve right in front of him. If he missed this I might just roll on the floor laughing. Darn. He actually hit the ball and I think he was even a little surprised himself.

"That's how you return a ball Echizen-chan. Of course I would know with my two years of tennis experience."

I just returned the ball to the other side of the court, making him run so he could earn his third year of tennis experience.

"I see you learn quickly!" He said this proudly, as if he were the one who taught me. Hey. Was he trying to hit on me from the start? Wasn't there some kind of boy code saying you don't hit on a guy's sister? "I knew I could help you."

He returned the ball for me to only send it to the opposite corner, making him run again. I could hear the beginnings of panting. This was sad. He returned the ball again, and this time I sent it straight to the corner, making him trip over his own feet trying to get to it.

I know it was mean, but I had no idea he had such horrible balance. I thought that all the hot air in his head would at least keep him afloat. I could hear some chuckles from the fence. I turned to see some of the boys laughing. Bowl cut and mini Oishi ran in to help up Mono-brow and I could hear words of reprimand like, "What made you think she couldn't play tennis?" or "Have those two years killed your brain?"

I hopped the net that separated us and walked casually up to the group.

"Sorry. I didn't think he would fall," I was really too soft for my own good. This is how I got hurt.

"It's no problem. He always getting into trouble," Bowl cut answered. "By the way I'm Katou Kachiro."

"And I'm Mizuno Katsuo." I guess I have to stop calling him mini Oishi.

I turned and walked off the court, stopping at the fence where my brother stood.

"You done yet?"

"Yada," He replied.

"Then I'll wait for you." I headed towards a bench outside of the fence.

L&K~ L&K~ L&K

After practice was over and everyone had changed back into there school uniforms, we seemed to play a game of twenty questions.

"Where were you the first few weeks?"

"What's your name?"

"Are you as good as your brother?"

"Are you sure you're not a clone?"

Really, I didn't feel obliged to answer any of their questions. Why do they need to know about my personal life? We weren't close or anything of the like.

"She's Echizen Ryona! She's transferred into my class today." Horio. Wasn't that kid supposed to be dying of a nosebleed somewhere?

"Ah! Ryona-chan! That's so cute!" Eiji jumped on me once again. My eyes saw nothing but the white of his jersey, as he crushed me into his chest. His actions! He reminded me so much of her. At least he didn't smell like her.

How could I describe it? He smelled like sweat… and mint. Mint? It smelled more like a tooth paste kind of mint. Now that's just weird.

I'm weird. Here I am sniffing a boy, who is squeezing me to death. A boy that reminded me so much of my best friend.

I could feel the ring on my necklace grind into my skin and a wetness come to my eyes.

Dammit. Why did I have to be the emotional twin. If I were like Ryoma, things would be much easier.

"Eiji! You're hurting Echizen-san!" Oishi pulled Eiji off of me once again. "Sorry, he does this to everyone. Even your brother."

I looked to Ryoma. He gave an almost imperceptible nod. Ryoma let this boy hug him like this? Did he fight back? Did he squirm. Was he reminded of Maria, or was it just me?

L&K~ L&K~ L&K

"WELCOME HOME, RYONA!" In front of my new home, stood the rest of my family. Oyaji had a big, goofy grin and Kaa-san looked happier than I'd seen her in awhile and Nanako-nee… Wait. Nanako?

"Nanako-nee!" I ran and hugged her. "I haven't seen you in forever!"

She only laughed and hugged me back. We pulled away and that gave me a chance to really look at my family.

Looking around, I felt secure. All of the smiles and the thought that all these people loved me and wouldn't dream of hurting me were so ensuring. It was nice to be sure of a mutual feeling of trust and love. And, really, I think only a family could ever make you feel like that, not friends. Because blood is thicker than water.

L&K~ L&K~ L&K

I let the warm water slide down the length of my body, cleansing me.

There was a knock at the door.

"Who is it?" There was no answer. That meant it was Ryoma. "Come in."

I heard the click of the door, as he opened and closed it. There was a light thunk as he sat down on the lid of the toilet.

I knew that if I asked why he was here he would just say something like Oyaji was being annoying. So instead I decided to joke around.

"I know we use to bathe together and everything, but that was when we were little! This is just ridiculous!" I said this, while standing behind the curtain. We may have shared the same womb for nine months, but we still had our modesty.

"Che."

I laughed. I only did with my family.

"Hey, I figured something out about that Horio-kid today." There was a silence, but I knew he was listening, "Did you know that he has no butt hole?"

"You know this how?" I peeked from behind the curtain. He had an eyebrow cocked.

"Because all the crap comes out of his mouth." He smirked at this. Obviously, he thought the same. I let the curtain fall as I continued my shower, every now and then starting a light conversation with my brother.

"He's not that bad."

I paused in my lathering, confused. "What?"

"Horio. He's not that bad." I looked out from behind the curtain again to see if he was messing with me. He sat on the lid of the toilet, lying back with his arms behind his head and his eyes closed. The cover boy for nonchalance. When he was like this I knew he was dead serious, but Ryoma wasn't a people person. We were alike in that aspect except that he made acquaintances, but he never talked enough to make friends.

"And why do you say that?"

He shrugged and opened one piercing, golden eye to stare at me, "Just thought you should know."

Well, it seems that there are a lot of things that I should know, like why he even felt I should know or what happened to change my older brother.

I let the curtain drop, making a barrier between me and him while I sorted out my thoughts.

Was my brother…changing? Was he becoming more sociable, when outside of our family he's only been a loner, a wolf without a pack? What could possibly bring about this change, even though it was so small? Could it be Seigaku, Japan,… a girl? I could feel a siren go off in the back of my head

"Sorry, he does this to everyone. Even your brother."

Eiji? Or could it be the team as a whole? I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, hoping to wash away the chemicals and confusion.

My brother wasn't a people person. He was so quiet that he could make a mime burn bright with envy underneath all of that creepy make-up. And now he's telling me that someone like Horio was 'not that bad'?

If Japan could change my brother, then what in the world could it do to me?

End of chapter! Isn't Ryona just a bucket of sunshine? No? Well, I guess you have a point... But you know what does have a point? A review (lol I feel like Ray William Johnson)! Please review and I'll be able to get out chapters faster from inspiration and motivation! (Yeah, I'm a lazy bum -_-) Tell me what you thought, what you liked, what you hated, what makes you hungry, where you live, your number... JK cuz that would be uber creepy. But really! Drop a review, like Santa drops a present. I don't know. Just review to get me to shut up.

~taz8D