Conversations with a Mother Bear

Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis. 'though sometimes I wish I did.

Another Giftfic for Stormy1x2. Set during Life Goes On after Kirihara and Kamio become a couple.

She knew something was amiss the moment she walked through her front door. The housekeeper sat on a chair in the hallway and stared through the open door of her office, a look of shock on her normally happy face. Muttered curses floated out of the room along with the sounds of pages being flipped and the muffled thump of a book being slammed closed. What on earth was going on?

"Sayako-san?" She inquired as she hung up her jacket and set her briefcase on the hall table.

The elderly housekeeper jumped. Then she whirled on her employer, wringing her hands in worry. "Oh! Kirihara-san! He came home so angry today. I don't know what to do! He's been in there ever since, throwing your books around and growling at me every time I try to come in and clean the mess up! Thank goodness you're home early, ma'am, there must be something you can do!" Sayako-san's eyes were bright with tears and a sorrowful frown seemed permanently placed upon her mouth.

Kirihara-san sighed. She pulled the ties out of her dark hair and shook it out, watching the shadows move about in her office. She knew Akaya had problems with his temper sometimes, but he'd always been careful to cool off before coming home. He loved the old housekeeper dearly, and hated frightening her. For him to be in this state, where Sayako-san could see it ... it was important. She patted the woman's back. "Go get me a small snack would you, Sayako-san? I have a feeling I'm going to be having a long discussion with my son." She gave the older woman a light push toward the kitchen and then strode over to the doorway and leaned on the jamb. For a few long moments she watched as Akaya frowned down at one of her law books, the expression close to mutinous at what the book was telling him. She smiled a bit at the sight. His left hand was buried in his hair, which was even messier than usual, and a pencil tapped out a fast rhythm on the desk. Then his right eyelid twitched and he growled and slammed the book closed. He tossed the pencil aside and lifted his hand to his head, tugging on the wild black strands sharply.

She chuckled. "Akaya, I don't mind you using my books, but this is a bit much," she said to him, earning herself a start of surprise. He looked up at her, his green eyes wide.

Finally, he seemed to look around and had the grace to look a bit ashamed. "Uh... sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to make such a mess,' he said leaping up to begin picking up the mess. She waved him off.

"Do you want to tell me what prompted this sudden interest in law?" she asked, striding forward to tap the cover of the top book in the stack leaning perilously close to tipping over the edge of the desk. "I rather doubt you've suddenly decided to give up tennis. So there must be some other reason." She smiled down at him and reached out to ruffle his hair. "Come on, my wyrmling, spill."

He scowled at hearing that dreaded nickname she'd saddled him with. He wasn't a little kid anymore! Then he deflated. He wasn't mad at his mom.

Just then, Sayako-san came in and he smiled tentatively at her. He bit his lip when he remembered his attitude toward her when he'd first gotten home. He'd scared her. "I'm sorry. About earlier, I mean. I didn't mean to scare you," he mumbled at her as she set a tray of snacks on the only clear part of the desk.

She smiled back at him. "Don't you worry about it, Akaya. You worried me with all that crashing around in here," she chirped at him, obviously greatly relieved to see the extinguishing of his temper tantrum. "Now you be a good boy and tell your mother why you're so upset." Turning about, she walked out, and shut the door behind her.

Nudging him to the side, his mother pulled out the desk chair and settled herself into it then fixed her son with a calm stare. "Well?"

Shit. He wasn't really sure where to start. Hell, he wasn't even sure if he wanted to tell his mother about his true relationship with the person with the problem in the first place. The shift was still so new, it sometimes felt as fragile as a butterfly's wing. He sighed and sat on the edge of the desk. "Aw, crap," he muttered, and looked to the side, trying to put his thoughts in some semblance of order. Finally he sighed and began fiddling with the pencil he'd tossed aside. "I've got ... a friend."

He felt, more than saw, her smirk. "A friend?"

"Yeah, a friend." And, Lord, how it hurt to deny Akira was anything more. "He's got this problem. I though I might be able to find some answers to it for him." He brightened suddenly. "Hey, you still do pro bono work, don't you?"

"Hmm. I do." She looked around at the national disaster that had been her office. "Though, this is a little bit much for someone who's just a friend."

She nearly laughed at the way Akaya froze.

He grumbled to himself for a few long moments. Then he seemed to shake himself and looked up to meet her eyes squarely. "He's my boyfriend," he admitted, his tone defiant.

Her dark eyes softened. "Are you happy?

He started and nodded silently. "Good."

"Good?" He sounded suspicious of her easy acceptance of his proclamation.

She nodded and chuckled a little bit. "Much though I might wish for grandkids from you someday, I really don't care what personal life choices you make, so long as you are happy." She reached up to pull him into a hug.

"Don't give up on those grandkids just yet," he muttered into her shoulder. "He's got the girls." He drew out the word to make it sound more like a threat than a promise.

She laughed outright at that and let him go. "Now, the whole story, please."

Akaya sighed again and nodded. He reached out and snagged the can of soda that had been put on the snack tray for him, opened it and took a long swallow. "It's like this ... " he began.

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Poor kid, she mused, not long after Akaya had left to take a shower and go to bed. She'd spent a couple of hours pulling the full details of the situation out of her son. He's much too young for so much responsibility. Although Akaya says Kamio-kun doesn't mind in the least. She took a moment to kick off her high-heels and leaned back in her chair. She grinned at the thought of adding two little girls to her family. Red-heads at that. She loved her son and daughter, but was rather glad she'd decided not have another. She was much too busy these days for more children, and that was one of the reasons she was glad Akaya was so self-sufficient. She blew out a breath. It seemed her little boy was beginning to grow up into a fine young man, temper problems notwithstanding. From what he'd told her, it seemed he'd become quite an integral part of that little family. She gave herself a shake. Right. Well, maybe Akaya and Kamio couldn't do anything about this, but she could. That ... woman would never know what hit her.

She got up and walked out to her briefcase to retrieve her planner. She would need to rearrange her schedule some to fit in a visit to the executor of the estate tomorrow. She spared a brief moment to feel sorry for her assistants. They would be juggling things for days to fit all this extra work in.

She reached out to the back of the chair where she'd hung her suit jacket to pluck her cell phone out of a pocket. She had some calls to make.