Sitting in the dark with his thighs cramping and his precious time wasting, Ryoma regretted being a part of the prank for the umpteenth time that day. His forehead was slick with sweat and his legs ached painfully from crouching for so long.

"Gaah – why won't he just give up?" Momoshiro hissed, pressed up against Ryoma's small figure, squeezing him against the wall. There wasn't nearly enough room for the three of them, and Ryoma found he seemed to be the one sandwiched on the verge of having his bones crushed.

Kikumaru whispered into the darkness, "We stole his glasses, duh. He'll kill us with laps if he finds out, nya."

"How'd he know it was us anyway?" Momoshiro grumbled under his breath. He shifted, launching his elbow into Ryoma's stomach.

"Ow!" the boy yelped.

"Shhh." Both Kikumaru and Momoshiro snapped through their teeth. Ryoma muttered something incoherent, before speaking, "It was Horio who told. I'm pretty sure he overhead you guys talking about it at lunch."

"Ugh, that Horio. Does he always have to be such a loud-mouth?" Momoshiro complained. "And how come we're hiding in cabinets? Couldn't we have chosen a more comfortable spot?"

"You suggested it." Ryoma uttered.

"Yeah," Kikumaru agreed. "You said that he'd never look in the science lab. Well, he's in here now, and if we-"

"If we keep talking, he'll find us." Ryoma finished with a scowl towards both his senpai. The bouncy acrobat shut up and silence consumed them, their breathing the only sound in the air. Ryoma winced as Momoshiro's much larger body shoved against his shoulder. Ow. He really, really regretted helping Momoshiro and Kikumaru in their prank. The two of them had thought it would have been a splendid idea to steal the captain's glasses and hide them. Apparently, quoted from Momoshiro, it was a good way to 'see how the captain responded in different situations,' for 'future necessities'.

They had asked Ryoma for help. At first, he had vehemently refused. He enjoyed afternoon practice without a million laps, thank you very much. But they had taunted him and bribed him with free weeks of hamburgers and juice. The temptation had been too strong and Ryoma had relented. He had cautiously agreed, knowing all he had to do was spy to find out where Tezuka kept his glasses when he wasn't using them.

When Tezuka had found out (thanks to Horio), he had been absolutely livid – although, being a stone, his anger was only shown though the tight purse of the lips and flaming in his eyes.

After Tezuka's eyes landed upon the three of them, they had ran – well, Ryoma had been dragged by Momoshiro – for their lives and Momoshiro had deducted that the science lab was the best place to hide. But Momoshiro could be stupid at times, and Tezuka had come into the science lab, so there they were, stuffed in the lab cabinets with little to no breathing space.

"It's so dusty in here." Kikumaru mumbled, curling his toes in his shoes. He bounced his knee slightly, anxious to get out. From a sideway glance, he saw Ochibi being crushed by Momoshiro against the side of the interior of the cabinets.

"Ochibi, are you alright?"

Ryoma hugged his knees to his chest, a petulant scowl formed with his lips. "I shouldn't even be here. All I did was help you guys, not do the actual stealing."

"Guilty, guilty." Momoshiro shot back. "You knew and assisted with the prank but you didn't tell captain about it, which practically makes you our accomplice."

"Yeah, you deserve this just as much as we do, nya."

Ryoma furrowed his brow, resting his chin on his knees and wrapping his arms around his legs. He was in the most uncomfortable position possible, and every muscle in his body felt numb from staying in the same, compacted position for so long. A sigh escaped his lips before he could stop it. "This is so stupid."

"Stop it Ochibi! You're making us feel guilty for dragging you into this!" Kikumaru's voice floated into the darkness.

"Well, you should feel guilty."

"Yadda! You agreed to help us out so-"

Momoshiro slapped Kikumaru's arms. "Shhh! He's coming near us!"

The trio of friends fell silent; warm, sweaty bodies hunched against each other as the clatter of footsteps approached them. There was a nearby banging sound that repeatedly rung in the air.

With growing horror, they realized that that was the sound of the cabinets near them slamming open and shut. Ryoma went absolutely still, and he could feel Momoshiro stiffen beside him. He was pretty sure Kikumaru was holding his breath or something.

Please don't check this cabinet… they all thought simultaneously. Just skip us…

Their prayers melted to oblivion as the sound of their cabinet creaking ever-so present filled the air. Momoshiro grabbed Ryoma's wrist in case they needed to make a runaway, squeezing it so tight Ryoma almost decided to forget this and just give up.

"If you're in there…" Tezuka's threatening voice made the three boys huddle closer together, thighs pressing together.

They braced themselves.

Tezuka flung open the cabinet. His eyes met theirs. "There you are." He said sternly.

Kikumaru and Momoshiro jumped out, shouting "GOMENSAI!" in the process. Before Tezuka could even blink, move, or assign laps, they raced out of the science lab in search for a new hiding place. Tezuka watched them go, his fist curling. He took a deep breath and adjusted his glasses. "Oh, well." He cleared his throat, narrowing his eyes at the single boy left.

Ryoma pressed his knees tighter to his chest, trying to look innocent as possible, while reciting traitors in the back of his mind.

Tezuka's lips thinned. "Echizen, did you steal my glasses?"

Ryoma shifted, wiping a bead of sweat from the side of forehead. "Um," he said. "I helped them a little…"

Tezuka stared at him mercilessly and Ryoma looked away. God, the captain was unnerving.

"Well, I guess I'll just have to assign…"

Ryoma bit his lip.

Tezuka sighed. "No laps."

The older boy watched Ryoma's face contort from fear, to surprise, to confusion, before finally lighting up with joy. He smiled warmly. "Thank you." He said, before hopping out of the cabinet and running away before Tezuka could change his mind.

Tezuka watched his small frame disappear out of the room and his lips gently quirked upwards.

He always did have a soft spot for Ryoma.

Thanks for reading! ^.^