IT'S… ALIIIIIIIIIIIIVE! *Ahem* Almost a year what? Yes, hello all my lovelies who somehow know this story still exists, I am indeed back. I know a lot of you thought this was discontinued, but I refuse to be that guy. No matter how slow, I will always slog on back to wrap this story up.
XD Eeee~veryone wants to know what Atobe did. Use your no doubt impressive imaginations; that's what makes the thing funny.
Here We Go Again
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Doctor's Orders
"I honestly can't explain this. Frankly, it's impossible."
"Clearly it isn't," piped up a hoarse voice from the corner.
Dr. Murasaki had had an extremely long day. He was definitely not in the mood for this. "Young man, you will stay silent. Just because you can speak now does not mean you should. We don't know the state of your vocal chords yet, and you could well be making it worse."
Fuji laughed quietly, giving the huffy boy a sideways glance before turning back to his book.
"Echizen-san, the damage in your throat was very serious, and regardless of how you're feeling at the moment, it could still worsen." The man rubbed his temples as he spoke, giving a long-suffering sigh. When he had last seen Ryoma, the boy had been slightly in shock, mute, and subdued. Now that the young star had regained his voice and his confidence, Dr. Murasaki was finding that all the rumors as to his personality were true.
"You should listen to him, Ryoma. He knows what's best for you and you've been pushing it too much lately." Looking over his book once more, Fuji smiled blithely at his boyfriend's withering glare.
Ryoma gave a disgusted scoff, crossing his arms but staying silent all the same.
"Ah, thank you, Fuji-san. Now, Echizen-san, please come with me. We need to examine your throat more thoroughly." The doctor began to walk away, gesturing down a long hallway lined with doors.
With an exaggerated grimace, the boy followed. Fuji watched his retreating back with a smile, suspecting that regardless of the doctor's verdict, Ryoma would be verbally abusing him as quickly as humanly possible. He had several weeks of silence to make up for, after all.
Once more, Fuji turned his attention to his book. He had noticed some interesting symbols on one of his cactus pots and was researching them now in a book about the American southwest. He wasn't finding anything promising, but at the very least it was a way to pass the time. So he settled down for the wait, immersing himself in old stories and folktales. He didn't notice the minutes going by until he felt a hand whack him over the head.
"-ji? Fuji! Wake the hell up!"
The brunet fluttered his eyes as if waking up from a trance, which he was, in a way. As he looked up, he was met with the sight of a face almost identical to Ryoma's staring at him irately. "Ah, Ryoga-san, you're back."
"Yeah," the older man drawled. "Got all the boring paperwork and stuff done. Now when Chibisuke gets the all-clear, we just have to sign him out and we'll be good."
Fuji nodded thoughtfully. "Thanks for telling me... I was surprised, though. How long do you think he's been hiding that?"
Ryoga snorted. "I was just thinking about that. Knowing Chibisuke, he could've been saving that surprise for ages, just so he could pull it out when he could make a huge scene. It can't have been too long, though. Despite all the evidence that there's some weird superhuman genes in him, the kid's only human."
"That's true," replied Fuji with a fond smile. "Ah. Speak of the devil and he will appear."
Ryoga turned, seeing the teenager's gaze shift to a point behind his shoulder. "Yo! Chibisuke, you're back! Not dying or anything, right?"
The newly arrived freshman gave his brother a blank stare, with a little disgust thrown in for good measure. Then he moved on to Fuji. Drawing back and putting in as much of his considerable arm strength as he could, Ryoma punched the brunet soundly on the shoulder.
Hiding his wince with a mildly sarcastic smile, Fuji put a hand to his chest. "You wound me, Ryo-chan," he said theatrically.
"You sold me out," the boy retorted venomously.
"I hardly consider speaking my opinion selling you out." He tilted his head, grinning childishly.
Before the caustic remark forming on Ryoma's lips could make its way into existence, Dr. Murasaki stepped in.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'm going to have to ask you not to provoke Echizen-san anymore. And that goes for you too, young man," he said, sending a sharp glance over his shoulder at the short teen. "You're a little too willing to start arguments. I've already told you that it isn't good for your voice to speak so much."
That drew Fuji's interest. "Does that mean he isn't completely recovered, then?"
The doctor sighed. "There's room for improvement, definitely, but we're not sure how much better he'll get. The way things are looking, he might not make a full recovery, but he'll get very close. So," he continued, turning once again to Ryoma, "unless you want your voice to fail you on and off for the rest of your life, you need to actually do what I say for once."
The boy huffed and crossed his arms, but didn't protest. Apparently even he could appreciate the consequences if he didn't listen.
"Thank you. Now, I'm giving you this prescription," Dr. Murasaki handed Ryoma a slip of paper, which the boy absentmindedly handed off to his brother. "You need to take one pill after dinner every night for two weeks, which is when your checkup with me will be. Also, try to speak as little as you can until then."
A pained grimace crossed Ryoma's features. "But I-"
"Am not fine and am going to listen to you, so thank you very much, sir," interjected Ryoga, swinging an arm around his little brother's neck. "Don't worry doc, I'll keep him in line!" He slapped Dr. Murasaki on the shoulder with a massive smile on his face, much to the older man's chagrin.
"Thank you very much, Sensei," said Fuji with a slight bow. "We'll see you in two weeks."
The three tennis players departed, leaving a mildly shell-shocked doctor in their wake. The poor receptionist wasn't much better off once she noticed exactly who was signing out, but Ryoga made sure they were gone before she could say "Isn't that-!"
As soon as they were in the car, the tirade began. Ryoma had a lot to rant about, and he immediately began his onslaught covering everything he hadn't been able to say for the past several weeks. He was on week three, when Fuji had dragged him to the roof by the collar at lunch in full view of most of the student body, when he was cut off.
Fuji leaned over and kissed him quickly to stop the flow of insults. "Surely you didn't mind it that much? Half of the situations you could've gotten out of if you had really wanted to." While Ryoma's eye was still twitching in irritation, the brunet swept in again and kissed him, deeper this time.
"Fuji-hands-off-or-so-help-me-I-will-pull-this-car -over-and-make-you-walk!" yelled Ryoga in one breath.
"Hai, sensei," replied the teen innocently, sitting back again.
Ryoma seemed to burn out for the time being, and simply shook his head at Fuji with a disgusted yet resigned sigh. He stared out the window at the passing buildings and stretches of river that made up the familiar way to Kawamura's. He saw the bright sign of one of his favorite equipment stores flash by, and idly wondered about a new racquet he'd wanted to demo.
"It all feels somehow back to normal, doesn't it?"
Ryoma turned to see Fuji, smiling blankly out the windshield with his eyes open and bright. There were tiny hints – the vacant pleasure in his eyes, the slight loss of tension around the tips of his smile – that gave away his genuine relief.
A smile reluctantly formed on Ryoma's lips as well. "You're saying weird things again, Fuji-senpai," he teased lightly.
"Is that so?" The brunet's smile widened as he turned his eyes to the boy next to him.
"Yes, yes, yes, we're all very much in love! Now please for the love of god shut up."
"Someone's not in the best mood today, huh Ryoga-san?" said Fuji with a Cheshire cat grin.
"The walking offer still stands you know."
Ryoma and Fuji snickered, and even Ryoga smirked to himself. The rest of the short car ride was silent, but in an easy, comfortable way.
When they finally arrived at Kawamura's, it was clear that the celebration was already in full swing. Voices, shouting and laughing without care, could be heard easily from the street. A "burning" from Kawamura and at least one "nya" from Kikumaru stood out in particular.
Ryoma smirked at the sound of Kevin yelling obnoxiously at someone and stepped through the doorway. A hand rested lightly on his arm as he stepped through, and he turned to see Ryoga and Fuji hanging back.
"I want to talk to Fuji for a second, so go on ahead Chibisuke," said Ryoga as he retracted his arm.
A skeptical eyebrow was raised.
Fuji smiled and nodded encouragingly. "It's fine, Ryoma. We'll be right in."
Shrugging at the strange behavior, Ryoma turned back around to join his less secretive friends.
Fuji kept his smile up until Ryoma was out of view. He then faced the elder Echizen with open eyes and a serious, contemplative face. "Walk and talk?" he asked.
Nodding in agreement, Ryoga started moving in the direction of the river.
"So? Am I finally getting the 'you-break-his-heart-I-break-your-face' talk?"
There was a short pause before Ryoga responded. "Nah, not really. Okay yeah well kind of, but I think you're smart enough to already know that. It's just… I don't know. Before… you know, all that crap that happened, it didn't really hit me how serious you guys are, and I didn't really realize how much of a kid Ryoma is…"
The man seemed to be having trouble putting his thoughts together, especially with his usual devil-may-care tendencies leaving him oblivious to all things emotional. That and the seriousness of the conversation made Fuji believe that perhaps this wasn't the best time to make a joke about how he didn't think he'd ever heard Ryoga use his brother's actual name before.
"You shouldn't have such little faith in Ryoma just because of what happened," the brunet said quietly, staring at the pavement moving beneath his feet.
Ryoga sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Guess so. I know the kid isn't stupid. And he can definitely take care of himself on the rare occasions when he's not insulting anyone and everyone around him."
"I wasn't aware that kind of occasion existed."
Throwing back his head and laughing, Ryoga let his shoulders finally relax into their usual lazy slouch. "They're rare. Very, very rare."
And that was that. Tension diffused, crisis averted. Fuji's eyes slid closed again. "So would I be right to assume that you're just worried?"
Ryoga snorted. "Don't know if you've noticed, but Chibisuke's not the type that likes to be worried over. But yeah, I guess so. I want to… protect him. And I get to break your face if you tell anyone that. I'm also just going to go ahead and reserve my overprotective big brother rights for the future."
Fuji laughed softly. "I'm sure Ryoma will be thrilled."
"Oh yeah. Ecstatic."
"Anything else I should be looking out for?" Fuji teased.
"Uh… yeah. I might flip shit if you don't take care of him. And don't expect me to get off your case any time soon. I think that's it though."
Fuji honestly didn't know if Ryoga was serious or not at this point. "You don't have to worry." Without another word, Fuji smiled and turned back the way they came. Ryoga chose to translate that as Fuji-speak for a clap on the shoulder and a gruff "good talk."
Ryoga laughed as he looked at Fuji's back and followed. "Well, you sure can pick 'em, huh Chibisuke?" They walked back like that, Ryoga trailing silently behind Fuji, until Kawamura's was in their sight again. The yells coming from inside had gotten louder, and the pair stopped for a moment to stare. "… You know, I'm almost afraid to go in. I feel like there'll be nothing left."
"Hm… True, but that's how it feels every time, ne?"
Ryoga let out a bark of laughter, nodded, and walked in. Luckily, the interior of the shop was still standing, despite the team probably putting in its best effort to destroy their surroundings. He spotted his brother sitting next to Kevin in the corner and headed over, dodging a plate of sushi that Kawamura had thrown like a Frisbee to Kikumaru.
He plopped down next to Ryoma, reaching over to take a piece of sushi off the boy's plate. Ryoma smacked his hand without looking up. "So since when could Kawamura do that throwing thing with the plates?" he asked, taking some of his brother's food anyways.
"Why you asking us? Of all the people here, we've been around the least," replied Kevin around a mouth of rice.
"Point. But I figured-" he cut off at the sound of a large crash disturbingly near his head.
"Oi! Watch it!" Ryoma yelled across the room, earning him a swift rap on the head from Ryoga.
"Voice. And Momo, if I see you throw another plate you'll be out of the next match, even if it is against Rikkai."
"Eh? But the bastard viper started it, coach!" Momo yelled back, looking completely unrepentant. "And you need me!"
"I don't care who started it, even though it was probably just as much you as him; we just got Chibisuke here back in working order and you just almost took him out with a wasabi to the face. We have Kevin. You are expendable."
Though he was trying to keep his face dead serious, there was a gleam of mischief in Ryoga's eyes that made his threats clearly empty.
Ignoring Momo's cries of dismay and Kaidoh's resulting jeers, Ryoma turned to his friend. "Now that he mentions it, how come you aren't on the team?"
"Hm? Oh yeah, that. I don't know it was kind of just a whim. I was still settling in and everything and I just didn't feel like it. I don't know if you know this, but all you guys have this weird dynamic going on, and that's hard to break into." Kevin shrugged. "Not like I quit, though. I've been playing street tennis and I might join a club team later."
Ryoma snorted. "That's stupid. Just join the school team already, you'd be a regular in no time."
"Playing in what spot? You've got all the people you need."
"We had an extra player in middle school."
"Are you trying to get me to steal your place in the lineup?"
"Are you saying you don't want to?"
Kevin burst into laughter and slapped his friend on the back. "Ha! Okay you're on. I'm coming for your spot, man."
"Like you could ever top me."
"Lord knows he makes topping him difficult," interjected Fuji mildly.
While Kevin jolted, not knowing that his upperclassman had even been listening, Fuji began counting the shades of red Ryoma's face was turning.
"Fuji-senpai," growled the boy through gritted teeth, "there are some places that you just don't go."
"Ara? I don't know what you mean. Where is your mind going, Ryo-chan?"
"Playing dumb does. Not. Suit. You."
"Hey, kid," interrupted Ryoga. "I just finished tearing our lovable second-year duo over there a new one, and I don't want to spend the whole night yelling at people." The man bonked Ryoma on the top of his head again. "Stop talking so much."
"Hey Inui, I want you to get Ryoma a shot of Penal-T for every time he starts talking unnecessarily."
"With pleasure, Coach." Inui appeared at Ryoma's shoulder, tapping his notebook with a pencil and smiling with sadistic glee. The boy choked and flinched away.
Fuji was pretty content right now. The match had gone well, Kawamura had given him three new types of wasabi sushi to sample, and after several hours at the restaurant, Ryoma had fallen asleep by his side. Never one to miss an opportunity, Fuji had drawn him to his side and was idly playing with the dark green hair that his boyfriend almost never let him touch. On top of everything else, they were finally going to discuss some pressing matters.
"So," said Momo loudly, "I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to kick some ass."
Oishi raised his hands, trying to calm the trickster down. "Maa, maa, calm down. This could lead to some serious trouble for all of us."
"So we just don't get caught, right?" drawled Kevin from the corner. "I mean come on, even you have to admit that was some majorly screwed up shit they tried to pull, Oishi-senpai."
"I'm not saying you're wrong, but maybe they never meant to go that far. And none of you are looking at the consequences! Wecould get expelled! Or even kicked off the team!"
"I'm sorry, but which exactly do you think is worse?" interjected Ryoga. "Because I'm not sure you have your priorities straight."
Most of the team shot him disparaging looks.
"Right. Give me tennis or give me death. Shutting up now. Oh, and I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear this entire conversation. Good school employees don't condone violence." With that, their coach leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes, feigning sleep.
"Didn't he punch someone too when we found Echizen…?" mumbled Momo to no one in particular.
"Well, either way…" Fuji looked up with his sweetest smile. "I've contacted some people that would give us some help should we ask for it."
Kikumaru leaned over to Momo, whispering conspiratorially in his ear. "Betcha Fujiko's secretly a spy. He's got a network of contacts all over the country - guarantee it."
"When did we decide we were going to do something in the first place?" protested Oishi in a weak voice, already sounding defeated.
"Tezuka?" asked Fuji.
In response, the captain looked at all his teammates, including the dozing freshman. After a moment of deliberation, he nodded slowly.
"I think that means we just decided." Fuji stood with a cheery, idyllic smile. "Operation: Vengeance is underway."
Anyone else see the most recent chapters of the ShinTeni manga? Just… I don't even… I can't handle this. Three on one doubles matches, Kin-chan set the net on fire, Ryoga's Naruto, I just… Oh my god. This is worse than any fanfic could come up with. I suddenly feel so justified in all that I've written, even chapter fourteen. It will never be more absurd than the canon.
Now, (YAYYY shameless self-promotion!) I posted a PoT one-shot a while back that will eventually be converted into a story. It's fantasy, and has thieves. Go forth and read.