This story is for the lovely Viva.

Many thanks to Avise, who helped immensely.


CARNIVAL

~ kittykittyhunter ~

Chapter I

Serve


It was unseasonably hot. He'd opened all the windows in the hotel room and switched on the fan. It hummed as it oscillated, blowing artificial air onto every wall. Echizen Ryoma lay on a scratchy rug in the middle of the floor, a phone pressed to his ear. He did not like what he was hearing.

"Two years of humiliation." A little snort. "Considering the role models and stars they had in the past, it must be demoralising."

Ryoma's hazel eyes slanted. "You were one of those stars, old man. Why should I do it?"

"Because you're wasting your life."

He dragged himself up and ran his gaze across the furniture. The tall, thin cupboard was made of wood. There was a lamp in one corner. His belongings were sparse. A single tennis bag leant against the bed, stuffed with three racquets and a few creased shirts.

He rolled onto his feet and approached the window. Los Angeles was a beautiful city and at the moment, it was home. He had no desire to go.

But he thought of the heavy cherry blossom trees.

"Alright. Only for Ryuzaki-sensei."

Ridiculous. His legs were shaking.

The airport had changed a little since the Ryoma's last visit. That had been… what? Two years ago? He remembered being twenty years old and standing in this exact spot. On that day he'd noticed a coffee shop across the way and, on a whim, bought an overpriced macchiato. It was disgustingly bitter. What a waste.

Ryoma did not want to remember the unwelcome flavour – this was Tokyo and everyone who went by reminded him of that: he watched tourists wring each other's hands and gab relentlessly; men and women in pressed suits rushed past, checking their watches; entire families were sobbing or arguing. And, occasionally, he saw loved ones fling themselves into one another's arms. He turned away, a small grin tickling his face. He was going to find out if Seigaku was as busy as the airport.

A list of regulars was pinned to the corkboard. He leant closer, peering at the column… strange. The current Seigaku barely met the requirements for a team: only seven names were scribbled on the sheet, a mix of juniors and seniors. He drank the titles, searching for anything intriguing or familiar.

"Uesugi Chiharu…" Ryoma blinked. Why in the world was there a girl on the team?

The study door creaked opened and he swivelled.

Horio Satoshi stood tall, almost at six foot; his shoulders were broad and his limbs were muscular. He still bore a light monobrow. His brown locks were short and there were long sideburns on either side of his face. A thin moustache sat below his nose. When he spoke, it was with such a deep voice that Ryoma nearly jumped.

"Welcome back, Echizen."

"Yo." Ryoma nodded. He had not changed all that much – taller, yes, at five foot ten. He'd shed some of the baby fat that once softened his face. But his irises were still surrounded by too much white and his green hair was a nest of flyaway strands.

Horio stepped forward, closing the study door behind him with a click.

"I didn't know what to think when Ryuzaki-sensei said that you were coming. We haven't seen you in ten years."

There was a faint note of admonishment to Horio's voice. Ryoma scratched the nape of his neck. "Ten years, huh? Well, it sounds like all that's happened since then is that Seigaku's gotten itself into bad shape. I'm here to be the coach."

Horio cleared his throat.

"I came here to do the same thing."

Ryoma blinked and Horio hastily lifted his palms.

"I started in April. All we've done so far is put the team together and scrape through the Districts. I've taken the step of reintroducing Seigaku's monthly ranking tournaments. There's so much to be done and –"

"Look," Ryoma cut in, "if you're the coach, there's really no need for me to be here. Good luck."

He advanced towards the door. Horio sidestepped and blocked Ryoma's path. The lunch bell tolled and within seconds, Seigaku erupted. Students would be taking to the corridors and the halls. The hubbub scratched on both their ears.

"You came all this way," swallowed Horio, his mouth twisting.

"That doesn't matter. You're the coach. They're your responsibility."

"You could be my assistant?"

Ryoma gave a disdainful scowl and Horio recoiled, clapping his palms together.

They stood in silence. Ryoma ran one sneakered toe along the study floor. The room was almost a perfect square. It was tastefully decorated; Venetian blinds hung at the window and a small vase of flowers adorned the solid desk. A yellow clock announced that lunch was ticking by.

He was the opposite of Horio: while the coach wore a brown suit and smart shoes, Ryoma had turned up in jeans combined with a plain shirt. He could never take on the role of a coach like this…

Horio ventured, "What happened to you, Echizen? We were so proud when you won the Junior US Open. It's like you fell off the face of this earth. Where have you been?"

Ryoma turned to the ceiling. It was covered in rectangular tiles.

"Don't get me wrong," he said. "I've been playing tennis. Just… not like them."

Horio wiped his hands on his blazer. He reached into one pocket and drew out a pale handkerchief. He dabbed at his face.

"Be the coach, Echizen. Maybe this is what you need."

Ryoma smiled and bowed, thanking the indulgence of his old friend.

"I want to focus on Seigaku. It's not a big deal that I'm here. Okay?"

Man. The reporter had boldly declared that there wasn't going to be any rain that day, so of course, it had been an afternoon of grey clouds and harsh winds. She liked it best when the sun was shining and the asphalt was hot. It spurred her into being faster, making sure that her toes made limited contact with the ground.

She lay sprawled across an armchair, twirling a finger around her long, brown ponytail and blowing a large bubble. She was flicking through a book of poetry, a phone nestled against her jawline. When the apple snapped, there was finally an answer.

"What is it?"

Miyuki's nose twitched.

"If you're going to take that tone, I won't tell you."

A pause. They were friends, sure – but not so close that she called to complain when her converses had a hole in them, or when she was charged too much at the post office.

She said, "Apparently… he's back."

Another pause – and a small chuckle. "Thanks for the great news."

He served and up went a wooden racquet, catching the ball with ease. It slid down the gut and pattered across the floor.

It was such a familiar scene that the breath snapped between Ryoma's ribs. There was the old man, nearing fifty, lying across the swept porch. Propped on one elbow, he was feigning sleep. He was dressed in dark robes – the temple which he'd been attending to as a favour for a friend had eventually become his responsibility. And so, while the wayward boy had entered a string of small tournaments and made enough money to lurk in New York and L.A., Nanjiroh and his wife had remained in Tokyo; him, a pseudo-monk; her, a successful attorney.

"Well, if it isn't my useless son."

"I can't believe you're still alive."

Nanjiroh straightened, rubbed his bristly jaw and gave an exaggerated yawn. When he opened his eyes, he sniffed. "Boy, you're still as ugly as ever. I remember when you were such a cute thing…" he sighed and slid his hands into the sleeves of his robes. "Wait. I'm imagining things. You were never cute."

"And you were never useful." Ryoma tossed a cylinder of fruit soda. Nanjiroh caught it and studied the beverage with a raised eyebrow. He cracked open the can and began to gulp its contents. Ryoma marched over, dropping himself beside his father.

"Turns out that Segikau's no different. There's a bigger Science department and it was painted recently. Apart from that, all the uniforms are the same. I almost crashed into my old History teacher. He didn't recognise me."

"Most people won't."

Did reality sting? Ryoma couldn't decide. He opened his own can; it hissed. The juice was some cheap brand – the first sip brought a mouthful of pineapple and sugar. At least it didn't have a lousy aftertaste. Ryoma read the name. Jora.

"That's fine," he said. He stared out at the garden, pretty in an ensemble of green. His mother had improved its aesthetics: tall, blue flowers swayed in the breeze. He missed the weight in his lap. He missed Karupin.

"You're not there yet, Ryoma. Let's rally."

Father and son played tennis long into the evening. Ryoma bit his lip, unwilling to marvel at Nanjiroh's dexterity and flexible wrists. He could not match that ridiculous speed or counter that unerring footwork.

Both used their right hands. Nanjiroh, because he was bored. Ryoma, because he did not wish to trigger that terrible pain.

It was a nice apartment – if a bit small. It'd been tempting to stay at the family home. Rinko had cooked his favourite foods and smiled affectionately. But Nanjiroh had seized his son by the collar and thrown him into the street, crying loudly, "You can live here when you've got something to brag about!"

Ryoma opened the white fridge and frowned. It was completely empty, without even a mouldy egg to suggest that any food had been stored there. The tour guide announced that it was a clean place – the counter was fine, the couch was comfortable. The bathroom didn't have a tub. At least the bed was okay.

"Oh, I'll brag alright," Ryoma muttered as he threw himself onto the mattress. "I'll take them to Nationals."

He promptly fell asleep. He had to be at the temple in the morning. Somehow, he'd been prodded in the centre of his chest and ended up with cleaning duty.

Cereal for breakfast. He cringed and chomped his way through honeyed loops before shrugging into shorts and a t-shirt. He made sure to lock the door carefully before making his way to the temple. There, a broom would be leaning against one wall.

When he arrived, it was to find a child standing with his feet pressed together and his head bowed. His black hair was cropped short; there was a scar on his right cheek and from what Ryoma could see of his arms, they were peppered with bruises and scrapes. A plaster was stuck across the bridge of his nose. He was whispering fervently.

Ryoma ventured closer, noiselessly.

"And, if it's not too much trouble, please let me be taller."

Ryoma sniggered. At once, the boy whirled; clear, brown eyes met hazel ones. He was maybe half a foot shorter. A reasonable height, Ryoma thought, depending on what he wanted to do in life.

"'Scuse me," said the kid severely, "I don't really like people appearing out of nowhere and eavesdropping."

Ryoma said, "Who said I was eavesdropping? I'm here to work."

"Dressed like that?"

"You're not too different."

He glanced down at his sleeveless shirt, sandals and shorts. For a moment, his cheeks became flushed – he hastily straightened and rubbed his nose with his palm. "That's different," he declared. "That's because I play tennis, see? Can't exactly go around playing tennis in robes."

"You'd be surprised…" Ryoma looked left and right. There was the broom, resting, as expected, against the wall. "Well, I hope your prayers are answered."

"I've never seen you here before. What are you here to do?"

Ryoma waved an arm, saying, "It's dusty."

"Uh… I'll help."

They swept the grounds together, brooms swaying at the same pace. Ryoma turned away, trying to hide a smile. No, this wasn't Synchro – but it had been a while since he'd worked with someone else.

"From the way you talk, seems like you come here a lot. What's your name?"

"They call me Uesugi."

Huh. Why did that sound familiar?

Some report had said that it was important for adults to drink milk, so Ryoma slipped a few bottles into the cart. He forced himself to walk by aisle of cakes and pies – they were too expensive, way too expensive – continuing on until in before a range of instant noodles. His brother-in-law was a fan of these. Ryoma tipped multiple flavours into the cart and considered its contents.

He needed more fruit and veg, that was for sure. Too bad that those things took so much time and effort to prepare. And he still needed to buy rice. For a moment, he wondered how he'd coped for so many years. This wasn't difficult. It was…

He spied more cans of Jora, these ones on a discount.

He was tempted to stop by a sports' store and purchase a white baseball cap. With some difficulty, Ryoma had twisted away from the desire. Now he stood before the team in what he already had at home: dark warm-up pants and a white shirt. Horio stood by his side, dressed in another clean suit. He'd made appearing professional into a habit.

The team… they were interesting. Six regulars had gathered before Ryoma, a respectable mixture of tall and short, bulky and lithe. Alternate body types would open the court to numerous styles of play. Behind the regulars were rows and rows of other students. Ryoma spied few freshmen in the group; the current Seigaku was mostly made up of juniors. The whole lot were troubled, squinting at one another – and at him.

"So from now, this will be your coach," finished Horio. "I expect you all to work hard together."

One of the regulars raised a hand. His hair was sleek and dark brown. His brows were thick; he had shining, violet eyes and sharp cheekbones. This one was slender. He began,

"Not that I really care, but how come we're switching coaches? You only got here recently, Horio-sensei."

There was muttered agreement behind him. Horio's face coloured – Ryoma shot his teammate a quick glance and returned to the boy.

"Who're you?"

"Haijima Nobuo."

Right – one of the second years. "For the past two years, Seigaku haven't made it past the Prefectural Tournament," began Ryoma. "While you guys have been sitting here, twiddling your thumbs and wondering how to win, your rival schools have been claiming trophy after trophy. That's embarrassing.

"I'm here to squeeze the best out of you. And when you think you have nothing left to give, I'm going to wring you again and get even more.

"Understood?"

The regulars bobbed, acquiescing. Then, someone – a bald someone – muttered, "We've been losing forever, even though Tezuka-san's motivated us all."

It hurt.

This was not the occasion to flee from his captain's reputation. Ryoma stepped away from the figure in his mind: Tezuka Kunimitsu, the hero who had won Wimbledon twice and clinched a third Grand Slam at Melbourne, an undisputed tennis genius and the greatest rival of the other Japanese player who tormented the circuits, Yukimura Seiichi. Yukimura had claimed two victories at Roland Garros, both against Tezuka. They were tennis luminaries, though while Yukimura made annual visits to Rikkaidai, citing the school as one of his greatest inspirations, Tezuka stayed away, a star that was climbing higher and higher until part of another galaxy.

And there he was, Echizen Ryoma, tied to the ground, such an obscure nonentity that he went unrecognised by this generation, even though he was part of the team photo which sat in a glass cabinet in the school's main hallway.

A decade was a long time.

His left elbow pulsed.

"This isn't about Tezuka Kunimitsu. This is about you." He surveyed the regulars again and asked, "Who's missing?"

Nobuo snorted. "Little Chi-chan, of course. Something about a dentist's appointment."

For that first practice, Ryoma saw the team perform basic drills. He warned the captain about warming up correctly: Morisaki Taiji nodded, his cranium catching the light. He wore the regulars' jersey with pride; Ryoma examined the blue collar with its line of red, glad that the design hadn't changed.

Later, the captain and coach shook hands. "I'm anticipating working well with you," said Ryoma. "Let's do our best."

Vacuuming was a pain.

Why did he have to worry about cleaning the top of the cupboard? Nothing sat on top of the cupboard – no one was ever going to run their finger along it and say, "Echizen-kun, I can't believe that you live in this dump." It wasn't as though he had to prepare the apartment for visiting royalty.

Then again, he had been the Prince, once upon a time. If anyone was visiting royalty, it was him.

The vacuum's noise was mingling with a weird buzz. Ryoma switched off the machine – and he noticed that his phone was twisting on top of the table. He checked the number. It was probably an advert or something; he didn't recognise the digits. He answered anyway.

"Hey."

"Ryoma-sama! It's lovely to hear your voice!"

He blinked, suddenly remembering a girl with brown pigtails and a tear mole; wait – Osakada Tomoko was no longer a bubbly first year girl. From the delight in her voice, she'd grown into a bubbly young lady. He greeted her warmly, saying, "It's been a while."

"I'll say. Satoshi told me that you're Seigaku's new coach – congratulations!"

Satoshi? Ryoma smirked. Well, they were both enthusiastic, opinionated and loyal; he mentally wished them a happy future, wondering what to purchase as a wedding present. Racquets, maybe. Or something nice for the mantelpiece?

"What about you, Osakada? What are you doing these days?"

"Ah you'll never guess! I'm a junior reporter for Monthly Pro Tennis. It's a lot of fun."

"I guess that means you've been covering the unstoppable Rikkaidai."

Osakada paused. Her nails drummed against the phone. She went on, "Well, it's true that they got two Nationals in a row. We stopped their last three-peat. We can do it again."

Ryoma shook his head, forgetting that he couldn't be seen. "I'm not on the team. Hey… how much do you know about the current Seigaku?"

Apparently, a lot. They lacked an eighth regular because the last boy who had filled the spot had suddenly moved and Horio – Satoshi – refused to close the void by picking any old kid to stand in. The team had a steadfast doubles pair in Kashiwagi Tomio and Kanda Hiromi, a couple of juniors. The first was a serve and volley player, the second, an all-rounder. Haijima liked to eat apples and Yokoto Daigoro's family owned a spa. Ryoma's stomach simmered at the thought of bath salts; he resolved to visit the place, at some point.

He scribbled the information onto post-it notes. He stuck the yellow squares onto his fridge, veins bustling with adrenaline.

He'd had an exhilarating run. Too bad that he was replacing the clean air in his lungs with Tokyo's fumes.

He stretched strong arms and stopped at a street vendor, buying a box of noodles. They tasted good, really good. Miyuki had been (shockingly) helpful: she'd pinpointed that guy's exact whereabouts and then gone on to arrange some careful manoeuvres. She was a good friend.

He chomped through the noodles absent-mindedly, peering at his surrounds. Right. Since he was here, he needed a job.

On his way to afternoon practice, Ryoma bumped into Uesugi.

He blinked and pointed. "You!"

Ryoma nodded. "Me."

Uesugi's face twisted. "There's no need to make fun of me." The plaster was still stuck across his nose. At least Seigaku's dark, long sleeves hid most of the cuts and scrapes – Uesugi seemed the type who regularly fell out of trees. "What are you doing here, anyway?"

"Working."

"What… you're a janitor?"

A reasonable conclusion, all things considered. Still, he didn't have the luxury of dawdling with Uesugi – another minute and he'd be late. Horio was going to be absent from this session; he was drowning in marking. Of all the things in the world, he'd qualified to become an English teacher.

"I have to get going, so see you around."

Uesugi was still at Ryoma's heels. Following? No. They were going the same way. He halted and Uesugi came to a stop.

"Hey…" Ryoma frowned. "Do you have a sister?"

Uesugi flushed. "I'm an only child!"

"So. You're Chiharu?"

"That's right," said Chiharu hotly, "and I'm not a girl!" He spat to one side. "And don't you dare go calling me 'Chi-chan' – it's an unfortunate circumstance, is all! My dad promised my mom that they were gonna call their first kid Chiharu because that was my grandma's name. Turns out that the doctors read their stupid scans wrong and they didn't have a daughter, they had a son. My dad keeps his word, so if you pick a fight with my name, you're pickin' a fight with him!"

He was as bristly as a hedgehog. Ryoma said, "I didn't ask for your life story. I was just gonna tell you that I'm your coach."

Uesugi blanched.

"I'm sorry, sensei," he mumbled. "I, um – what about Horio-sensei?"

"Heh." Ryoma shrugged. "Let's say that I'm a stand in. Anyway, thanks to all of your babbling, we're both late. You'd better run ten laps."

Uesugi raced on, leaving Ryoma to stride to the courts.

Good. The non-regulars were practising their swings. Ryoma wove in and out of the rows of pupils, correcting the occasional grip. One freshman had terrible posture, leaning too greatly to the right. Ryoma corrected his feet. Then, he focused on the regulars.

More basic drills. They continued with push-ups and sit-ups. Uesugi wasn't the smallest in the group – he was of equal height to a boy with pale skin and long, fair curls. Ochre irises. This one was slim, slightly porcelain. When Ryoma asked for his name, he sniffed and said that he was Kashiwagi Tomio.

Ryoma thought back to the yellow post-it notes. A doubles player.

Enoki Yuuichi was the tallest of the lot. He was tanned and thickly built, an advantage for the aggressive baseliner. His face was rather flat. His irises were slate grey. His hair was bleached a fine yellow and cut short.

A team with potential, thought Ryoma. A team that could knock Rikkaidai off their pedestal, eventually.

"Alright. Regulars, run twenty laps. After that, we'll call it a day."

At the end of his next English class, Morisaki Taiji hovered by the teacher's desk, fighting the urge to clear his throat. He had a serious face: hooked brows sat above dark, grey eyes. He rarely smiled. Horio regarded him, blinked and asked, "Can I help you, Morisaki?"

"I gave the coach my support the other day." Morisaki adjusted the strap of his bag – he was being insolent and he hated it. "Yet… I wondered why Sensei stepped down from the post. It's really not my business, although…"

Horio's mouth curled, apologetic. "You're the captain. It's natural to worry about these things." He rose and shuffled sheets of paper and a dictionary into his briefcase. "Echizen and I were best friends back when we were in middle school. He needs this."

The guy on the poster was familiar. Ryoma peered at the image, trying to work out where he'd seen that model before. Maybe he was being too wistful, expecting to recognise everyone just because he was back in Japan. The model's hair was very clean and a soft red and he was staring into the distance haughtily. His elbows stuck out at an exaggerated angle. As for the clothes he wore… well, Ryoma had no need for another jacket.

He stepped back from the shop window. He required socks, for goodness' sake. The last time he'd done the laundry, he'd lost the whole lot.

"What's with that footing?" Nanjiroh hopped onto his toes and returned Ryoma's volley from the baseline; the younger man cursed and the elder continued, "You're slipping and sliding all over the place!"

"I'm not slipping," Ryoma snapped. He dashed – his father had the infuriating ability of controlling every corner of the court. Next to Echizen Nanjiroh, there was no way that Ryoma could dare to call himself a prodigy. "It's the only way to get to you!"

"Try again!"

The ball crashed past Ryoma – he swivelled to reach it. Too late. It was Nanjiroh's point.

Again.

"Boy, you'll never beat me with your right hand."

"For now, it's all that I have."

Nanjiroh snorted. "I'm going home for dinner. And no, you can't join us."

Ryoma ignored the command and tagged along.

It was so soothing to sit around the low table with his parents. More lines had appeared in his mother's face and her dark hair was streaked with white. That didn't matter. She still had a way of smiling that made Ryoma feel relaxed. The pasta was delicious.

Afterwards, he sat outside on the porch, drinking a tall glass of fresh lemonade. Insects were singing from beneath blades of grass and somewhere in the distance, a dog barked. Rinko joined him, crossing her legs.

"How was work?"

"It's not a hassle. They've got a lot of potential, though they don't have that much faith in themselves. I'm going to have to dig deep to get it out of them…" he tipped his skull backwards, fixing his gaze on the stars, grains of salt on a tablecloth of sky. Above them, the moon was a clipped fingernail. Ryoma mused, "Maybe I'm too hard on them. This is the beginning, after all."

"Hmm. It sounds to me that you're putting them through what you would have done with yourself."

He ran a finger around the rim of the glass. Some people made a living out of drawing music from simple things.

"You've been lonely," said Rinko quietly. "We last saw you when your nephew was born. You know your father – he kidnaps Youji at any opportunity, no matter what Nanako says. You don't need to worry about impressing Nanjiroh. You don't even need to worry about them."

Ryoma leant his temple on his mother's shoulder. He felt small. "I can't think of what I'd do if I couldn't play tennis," he murmured. "I can't take that chance."

"All injuries heal."

"Urgh." Tomio sighed and rolled up the magazine. He whacked it across Kanda Hiromi's shoulder – the taller junior was working his way through his third sandwich. "I wish you'd stop eating and actually talk, Hiromi-kun. I've got a serious problem."

Hiromi put down the sandwich – then opened a bag of chips. Tomio sighed. With his glossy black tresses styled into tufts and dark, green eyes, Hiromi could easily land some kind of contract. Well. Possibly. But who would hire a thug? Tomio tilted his head to one side, wondering if it was true that Kanda Hiromi had won a brawl against a college guy while a mere pipsqueak with scuffed shoes and an elementary school satchel.

"Shiita-san's updated his style again," complained Tomio. "It's more summery. I should dye my hair. What do you think? Should I do it?"

Waving a hand, Hiromi returned to his sandwich.

The coach was standing in the middle of the courtyard, right hand upturned, face uplifted. For a moment, Chiharu wondered if he was meditating. A petal landed in Echizen's hand. Long fingers closed around the white blossom.

He was a taskmaster. It had been four days since the arrival of that guy, and as of yet, the team had done little beyond running laps and basic drills. Captain Morisaki told the group that the new coach was preoccupied with testing out their capabilities, observing the basics before analysing their real tennis. Yokoto had scoffed.

He had to pass the coach to get to the library. It would be rude not to say hello, even if the other was ensconced in a dream world.

"Hey, Echizen-sensei," called Chiharu tentatively. "You alright?"

Echizen looked down. His irises were glowing. "I was enjoying this scene. Seigaku's blossoms are the best in spring, especially in April."

"You say that as though you've been here before…"

Echizen blinked. "Oh, right. I used to be a student here, way back when." He unfurled his fingers – the breeze snatched back the unharmed blossom. "I love this school."

Chiharu nodded, finding it impossible to doubt the coach's words.

He received a call from Katsuo. His former teammate was doing well, working in an office not too far away. When Katsuo suggested that the group meet up and enjoy a meal together some time, Ryoma agreed but said that it would have to wait a little bit. He stared at the collection of post-it notes. The field of yellow was now sprinkled with green. Data was pretty hard to compile.

Upstairs, one of the neighbours was singing. The guy wasn't particularly good or even in tune and it was getting late. If he was in the mood for karaoke, he should have gone out with some friends. Ryoma stayed up for a while, scratching notes into a book, looking at various snapshots of the seven Seigaku regulars.

The singing did not stop.

Why? And was he the only one in the whole freaking building who could hear it? Maybe the others had done the smart thing and worn earmuffs and gone to sleep. It was grating on Ryoma's patience – he left his apartment and ascended the stairs, skipping every other step. What should have been a polite rap turned into Ryoma pounding his fist on the wood.

The door swung open.

A tall man with exuberant eyes and a wild, red mane. Ryoma stepped back, mouth unhinging. Tooyama Kintarou felt no such horror – he seized Ryoma's hands, pumped them up and down and grinning widely said, "Hey, Koshimae."