This will probably be my last story about the Echizen family, because my to-write list is crazy.

The details come from an excellent Yahoo resource.


~ kittykittyhunter ~

It was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that her husband's actions made Rinko bury her face in her hands. "But why," she said against her skin, "do you insist on being so difficult?"

Nanjiroh and Ryoma exchanged a look. The nine year old shrugged. No, he could not understand his mother when her voice was being muffled by her palms.

"Ah, Rinko-san… would you mind repeating that?"

The woman shifted up so quickly that Nanjiroh gulped – and Ryoma recoiled. The boy muttered something about having to do the dishes (quite a panicked response, thought Nanjiroh afterwards, since the brat never went near the kitchen sink) and scurried from the room.

That left the loving couple.

Rinko placed a hand on her hip. "It's a speeding ticket. It's not like we can't afford to pay. Nanjiroh, why won't you –"

He hopped from one foot to the other and waved a pair of jazz hands. Wonderful. Her layabout spouse was preparing for his Broadway debut. "I did nothing wrong!" he cried. "It's the principal, Rinko-san!"

She hissed, "You choose now to have principals?"

The man folded his arms. Father and son were equally stubborn. Occasionally, Rinko caught herself staring at her boy, hoping that he had more Takeuchi in his veins than Echizen.

"Well," she sighed, "have fun in court. You do know that you're going to court, yes?"

Nanjiroh nodded.

That should have been the end of the matter, but he had a strange glint in his eye.


Nanjiroh crossed the room and slung an arm around his wife's shoulders. "How could it not be fun," he sang, "when you'll be representing me?"

True to his plan, Nanjiroh stated that he was not guilty. When he delivered the news to Rinko, she groaned and reached for a box of chocolates. Ryoma's glance darted between his parents. He could not remember the last time he'd seen his mother so exhausted – and she hadn't started working on the case!

"So what happens next?"

"We'll be returning to court in a month's time," explained Nanjiroh. "The afternoon appointment. Then I'll plead 'Not guilty', and your perfect mother will save me."

Ryoma said, "Mom doesn't specialise in traffic stuff." Karupin bounded onto his lap; stroking his feline's head, the boy went on, "Hey… if they say you're in the wrong, will you go to jail?"

Nanjiroh sniffed. "You almost sound hopeful."

"For your sake," said Rinko around the chunk of toffee she was chewing, "that officer better have other things to do."

Ryoma swung open the kitchen cupboard. Oh, great. They had a lifetime's supply of bread, but nothing in the snack department. The boy headed towards the fruit bowl, grabbed a clementine, ate it in a few bites and ambled upstairs.

His mother was in the study. Even though it was a late afternoon and there was enough light to see by, her desk lamp was switched on. She was surrounded by documents and books.

The boy leant against the frame of the door. Then, on a whim, he went back to the kitchen – and returned with a cup of tea.

"Mom," he announced, placing the saucer on the desk. When Rinko lifted her chin, Ryoma was surprised by the shadows above her cheeks. Feeling uncomfortable, he continued, "I made you tea…"

"Thank you, sweetheart." She took a sip and smiled. "It's lovely. How was school today?"

"Uh." Ryoma massaged the nape of his neck. "I kind of… nodded off."

His mother blinked. "That hasn't happened in a while. I remember Mr Hatchings made a big deal of it last year, but…" suddenly, she frowned. "Ryoma," she said, "what time did you go to sleep last night?"

"My bedtime's at ten, Mom."

"That's not what I asked."

Sheesh! Apparently, bringing someone a cup of tea opened the floodgates for an interview. "Something like half eleven," grumbled Ryoma. "I kept dying on this one dumb level."

The woman pursed her lips, clearly unimpressed.

"Make sure you're asleep by nine thirty tonight."

"'Kay…" As Rinko took another sip, Ryoma glanced at the assortment of paper. "Hey – Mom? What is all of this?"

Rinko set the teacup on the saucer. "I'm submitting a subpoena. Since we need to know what your father's going up against, I'm requesting a copy of the citation. Front and back. We also need to know the name of the officer, and see his file. And we'll require details regarding the radar: make, model, how it's being maintained – that sort of thing."

"Mom," said Ryoma, "you're awesome."

He felt sorry for the judge.

She was disappointed when the officer didn't turn up. Once they'd left the building, Nanjiroh whooped, slapped his palm against Rinko's and whirled her around.

"I didn't do anything," she said. She felt sad, ineffectual.

Nanjiroh placed Rinko's feet on the ground.

"You stood by me from start to finish. Even on a different kind of court, you're the one I trust the most."