Like A Family


'Installment One'


-Nanjiroh and Ryoma-


"Che, that son of mine still not awake?" Nanjiroh yawned, stretching his arms over his head before scratching his butt. His gaze landed sleepily on the staircase, almost as if he was willing for his 12-year old brat to magically appear on the steps.

He took a bite out of his cold toast, before yelling through a mouthful, "Ryoma! C'mon, kid, you're gunna be late!"

Personally, he didn't find himself fit for the job of waking up his son. Naturally, he wouldn't have even bothered or noticed that his boy wasn't awake. Normally, he would have been at the temple tapping the bell and snoozing his ass off. But since Ryoma's last report card with 20 late marks had come to Rinko's attention, she had decided that if Ryoma couldn't wake himself up, it would become Nanjiroh's job to do so for him.

"Arghhh, that stupid boy. Can't he hear me hollerin' like this?" Nanjiroh crammed the rest of the toast in his mouth, took a long gulp of milk, before storming up the stairs, muttering nonsense about 'being too old to do these kinds of things'.

"I swear, one day I'll just set up an alarm clock that hits his face with a tennis ball every morning." Nanjiroh uttered to himself as he slipped down the corridor. "That'll wake him up, natural instincts and all."

He stomped through the half-open door of Ryoma's room, striding past his tennis uniform lying in a heap on the ground, the extra racket floored aimlessly at the door for someone to trip, and Karupin who was curled by his bed.

"Ne, Ryoma? If you want to play a match with your old' man today, you better wake up." Nanjiroh threatened, throwing the blankets off of the bed. The moment his gaze settled on Ryoma, he stopped mid-seething and involuntarily smiled. Still such a kid, he thought.

Ryoma was dressed in his loose light blue pajamas, his arms curled around his pillow, clutched tightly to his face. Under his breath, he muttered, "Mada Mada Dane…" as he shifted position.

Nanjiroh smirked, admiring his son's aptly young, cute, yet handsome features. They weren't sharp, due to his age, but it was enough to get the girl's going. Being a tennis regular as a freshman was just an added bonus. "Heh, whatta kid." His upturned lips quickly became a scowl. "However, if this kid doesn't get up soon, he's gunna be late."

Taking a stray pillow, he threw it hard at Ryoma's face.

That got the boy up. His eyes fluttered open, revealing two large golden orbs. He jerked upright to a sitting position, snapping out of his daze in a flash, and glaring viciously at his father. "Oyajii!" he complained, but Nanjiroh was already walking out the door, chuckling to himself. His humming floated out the door as he disappeared down the stairwell, leaving a very annoyed and sleepy Ryoma shouting curses in his head.

Hn. Annoying Oyajii.

He paused, glancing out the window.

He didn't feel too good.


Nanjiroh was just about to leave the house in search of a good spot to lie down, relax, and read his new magazine edition, when his son came down the stairwell. He snickered, rolling the magazine up so his innocent-minded boy wouldn't get corrupted, and decided to indulge in some teasing before he left.

"Ryoma, better move it. School's got a policy of being late too many times." Nanjiroh said smoothly. "Apparently you get kicked out of club activities."

And that's a total lie, Ryoma thought to himself as he grasped onto the railing. God, he was tired today. Probably from the extra hard training menu Inui had set up for the regulars, determined to help them get in better shape. It was leaving his body sore all over.

"Ryoma, don't ignore your father!" Nanjiroh grinned. "It's disrespectful."

He saw Ryoma twitch. He really did enjoy getting on the boy's nerves.

"Mada Mada Dane." The preteen muttered as he strode past his father and towards the kitchen. He stumbled slightly, before catching his footing and continuing to the table. Nanjiroh caught the slight sway in his step and frowned.

"Ryoma, hold on." Nanjiroh laughed, running towards his son. He grabbed his shoulders and turned him around for inspections. "Somethin's off."

Ryoma opened his mouth to say that he was fine, but Nanjiroh was observing him so keenly he swallowed and looked at the floor. His father stared at him for a good few seconds before bursting into a fit of laughter.

"Bwuahahahaha!" he clutched at his stomach. "You- my son…hahahaha, I can't believe you're blushing."

Ryoma stared at his father for a long moment, wondering if he had gone crazy. Or insane. With his lips pressed in a thin line, he wiped his brow. Geez, it's cold in here. Can Oyajii not even afford heating anymore? He shivered in his school uniform, wondering why he was sweating when it was freaking freezing in the house.

"I'm not blushing," Ryoma said in his defense.

His father continued to cackle like a maniac, leaving Ryoma rubbing his temples. Ugh, all this nonsense is giving me a headache. Determined to prove his father wrong, Ryoma went to the full-body mirror adjusted in front of the closet.

His eyebrows rose in surprise.

His father was right.

He was blushing.

Well, technically, he wasn't blushing. His face was simply flushed pink.

After Nanjiroh had finally caught his breath, he wiped a stray hysterical tear from his eye and chuckled. "So, kid, you finally in love or something?" With that, he started to laugh hard all over again.

Ryoma stared at his father, before shivering again because he was so damn cold. He ignored Nanjiroh's 'love' comment and asked, "Ne, can you put the heating on or something? It's cold in here."

Nanjiroh's laughing slowed down to a trickle. "It's not cold."

"Yes it is."

"No. You're sweating."

Ryoma shot his father a frustrated look. "Well, I don't care. I'm cold."

Nanjiroh was still smiling but his eyebrows furrowed as realization started to dawn on him. No way, he thought. He hasn't been sick since he was like 5-years old… A sly grin formed on his face and he gave Ryoma a look that said 'I know something you don't' which irritated Ryoma beyond belief. "C'mere." Nanjiroh declared.

"Nanda?"

"Just c'mere for a sec."

Ryoma crossed his arms, mainly to ward off the cold, before stiffly walked towards his father. He wasn't sure exactly what was up and why his dad was grinning like an idiot, but he was cold, tired, and had a headache, and was in no mood to be his father's teasing toy. Nanjiroh, to Ryoma's complete and utter surprise, laid a hand on his forehead.

Ryoma scowled. "What are you-"

"Aha!" Nanjiroh cut in, a smug grin plastered on his face. "You have a fever!"

With that declaration, Nanjiroh removed his hand and observed his son's reaction. Ryoma stared at him with wide, blinking eyes. He wasn't sure if he'd heard his father right. A fever? He didn't…he didn't get fevers. He always suspected it was something about his wonderful health and immune system that he lacked ever getting sick – whatever it was, he appreciated it.

Being sick meant… - Ryoma inwardly shuddered - …not playing tennis.

He knew his father was right, though. It kind of made sense why he was shivering like crazy yet sweating buckets. And felt dead tired. But the words flew out of his mouth before he could stop them.

"I'm not sick."

Nanjiroh raised an eyebrow. "Now, I'm not stupid son. I know a fever when I see one."

"Well, whatever." Ryoma decided. "Just let me eat so I'm not late for school."

He tried to brush past his father towards the table chair but his father clapped a hand on his shoulder and stopped him. "Woah kid, Whaddya mean 'school?'. You're sick, which means ya stay home."

Ryoma stared at him in disbelief. "No…" he said bluntly. "No way."

"Why?" Nanjiroh seemed surprised. His lips quirked upwards. "Hn. School that fun?"

"The inter-school ranking tournament's today."

"Oh? What's so important about that?"

Ryoma glared at his father.

And the last thing I want to do is get booted off the regulars team for not showing up.

"I have to go." Ryoma stated clearly, before wiping his brow and swallowing thickly. It really was cold in here – cold and hot. He felt kind of queasy too; probably for talking to his father for so long. "Um, what's for breakfast?"

"Stubborn, stubborn." Nanjiroh rolled his eyes. "Fine, go to school. Che, don't tell me when you faint in the middle of a match."

Ryoma resisted scowling again. "What's for breakfast?" he repeated.

Nanjiroh ignored him and started walking towards the fridge, humming loudly.

Stupid Oyajii…


Waffles.

Ryoma's stomach lurched.

Syrup.

Oh man, I don't feel good.

Ryoma stared at his food with a weary expression, pressing his fork into the golden, sugary waffles laid out on his plate. His father, being a lazy ass, had made the easiest thing he could. Pop waffles in the toaster and pour a crap load of syrup on top.

He felt dizzy and weak and the food looked so disgusting that he was ready drink Inui Juice instead. Or actually, maybe not. The thought of the horrifying liquid made the colour drain from his face and he pushed his plate away.

Nanjiroh was shoving old sushi in his mouth. When he saw his son push his plate away, he frowned. "Eat, kid. You'll need the energy to play tennis today."

Ryoma summoned a glower towards his father, before sighing. Biting his lip, he poked his fork into a piece of waffle and popped it in his mouth.

He chewed.

It tasted like cardboard.

He chewed some more.

And suddenly, Ryoma's stomach couldn't take it anymore. Leaping out of his chair, he ran to the bathroom, kneeling in front of the toilet. He threw up a little bit – not much because he hadn't eaten anything to really throw up – and heaved.

Breathing hard, he closed his eyes and cleared the toilet. His fingers clutched the fabric of his own shirt as he tried to regain his composure.

I really shouldn't go to school today…

But the inter-school ranking tournament…

Nanjiroh popped his head into the washroom door. He tried to hide his concern but it showed in his voice anyway. "Hey, what…didjya throw up or somethin'?"

"Yes." Ryoma said stiffly. He stood up and tried to look balanced, but he really did feel like he was going to fall over any minute.

Nanjiroh frowned, and this time, when he spoke, his voice sounded unusually strict. "I don't care if the ranking tournament is today. You're staying home."

"Demo-"

"You don't have another choice. Rinko would kill me if I let you go to school like this." Nanjiroh didn't mention that he was worried about Ryoma – their relationship just didn't work like that.

But he knew his eyes gave it away anyway.

To be continued…


So, this is a series of family one-shots, involving Rinko, Nanjiroh. Ryoga, and yours truly, Ryoma! This one-shot turned out longer than I intended to so I decided to split it into two parts.

The second part will be the next chapter…so like, Fever Part Two…but most of them will be one-shots, or two part one-shots.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed and feel free to leave a comment!