Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis.
Title: A tale of two brothers
Summary: If Ryoma and Kunimitsu were brothers, would their relationship be shadowed by jealousy as Yuuta and Syusuke's was? How will Ryoma's first few days in Seigaku be?
AN: Finally got the inspiration I needed to continue this story. I am adding a set of new warnings. This will most likely turn out to be yaoi so I apologize to people who were expecting Ryoma with Ryuuzaki. Never gonna happen. Pairings wouldn't happen for many chapters mostly because Ryoma is too young to be involved in any sort of romantic relationship. This will be AU and since I don't find humor easy, I will be adding a little bit of drama in this.
Possible pairings for Ryoma will either be Fuji or Yukimura… possibly Atobe but I prefer him with Tezuka.
Kunimitsu sighed in exasperation as slid the door to Ryoma's room open and walked over to the sleeping prodigy. As usual, he gently pulled his little brother into a sitting position and ruffled his hair, causing those large golden-brown eyes to blink open and peer groggily at him.
"Ohayou nii-san." Ryoma muttered before leaning forward and curling into Kunimitsu's arms, enjoying the protective warmth with a yawn, his eyes falling shut again.
The older brother arched his brow in surprise. This was something new. Ryoma never went back to sleep when Kunimitsu woke him up. "Otouto?" he asked softly, combing his fingers through Ryoma's greenish-black hair. "Are you feeling alright?" When he got no answer, he narrowed his eyes in concern, "Ryoma?"
Ryoma groaned before pulling away and stretching, "Yeah." He mumbled before silently gesturing towards a thick book on the bedside table.
Kunimitsu shook his head before pushing Ryoma out of the bed, "Then it is your fault. I have told you countless times that you should not stay up late reading." Instead of walking out of the room as he did everyday, Kunimitsu stayed on the bed. Ryoma had the tendency to return to bed as soon as he was out of the room when he slept late.
It took a while but Ryoma soon emerged from the bathroom, looking awake, toweling his hair roughly. "Ne, nii-san. The ranking matches will be soon, right?"
"Yes." The older brother responded, reading the summary of the book Ryoma was interested in thoughtfully, "They happen every month."
Ryoma turned to look at him as he put on his shirt, "Will I be in?"
Kunimitsu looked up from the book, looking at his brother with narrowed eyes. "Yes."
He paused, "But nii-san… won't people accuse you of being partial?" he asked with a concerned frown.
"Hardly." The captain said softly, "One cannot fake talent. When you'll play the matches, it'll be apparent to everyone that you're skilled enough to be on the regular team." Light brown eyes were focused intently on the younger boy, "You don't need to worry about me. Play your best and it'll shut everyone right up."
Ryoma looked at him with wide eyes, snickering suddenly, "I can't believe you just said that!" Kunimitsu smirked faintly before handing Ryoma his coat. The younger brother put it on and returned his brother's smirk. "I'll win all my matches, nii-san, just you watch." He raised his fisted hand towards the older boy, "I'll fulfill all your expectations, I guarantee it."
Kunimitsu met Ryoma's fist with his and nodded, "Good." He narrowed his eyes seriously, "Now, don't let your guard down. The potential of all the players on the team is very high and they aren't someone you can have an easy victory over."
Ryoma nodded, "You don't need to remind me. I'll be cautious."
The older brother stood as soon as Ryoma finished getting ready before placing his hand on the younger boy's shoulder and gently pushing him out of the room. "I do believe that we'll be late if we linger any longer."
Ryoma simply rolled his eyes but didn't protest.
As soon as they entered the school, Ryoma slipped away from his brother, letting the captain deal with his duties. He looked about, searching for someone with a small smirk on his lips.
A familiar pair of cunning blue eyes met his and the smirk transformed in a devious grin that only Fuji Syuusuke could match. Ryoma leisurely walked towards the older prodigy, looking about nonchalantly. "Ne, Syuu-nii, can we have a little chat?"
"Of course." Syuusuke replied graciously, smiling softly in amusement. He knew that if Kunimitsu spotted them talking to each other without being under a sane person's supervision, he would start to have heart palpitations. "What is it that you wanted to talk about?" he asked, tilting his head to the side.
Ryoma simply smirked in response.
Kunimitsu, who was on his way to meet the coach, paused in mid-stride as a shiver raced down his spine. He recognized the reaction all too well and there were only two reasons for it.
He would feel it when he was facing a dangerous opponent like Sanada or Yukimura or when Ryoma was up to no good and was planning to cause mayhem. The older Tezuka narrowed his eyes and resisted the urge to walk back and put a leash on his little brat.
"Tezuka-kun." He looked up and nodded at Coach Ryuuzaki and she smiled at him in amusement, "Something bothering you?"
The Captain shook his head, "I wished to speak to you about placing Ryoma in the Ranking matches."
Ryuuzaki raised a brow at him, "From what I know of you, I can say that you aren't someone who would use your position to benefit your brother. So there has to be a concrete reason for putting Ryoma in the Ranking matches." She observed him for a while before realization dawned, "You think that he'll win." She whispered, sitting down and looking out at Oishi who was looking at Tezuka questioningly.
"Ryoma has been personally trained Echizen Nanjirou since he was very young." Tezuka stated bluntly and Ryuuzaki's eyes widened. "I believe that he has the potential to surpass both Uncle Nanjirou and me. He has won three times out of ten against me and I've used everything in my arsenal excluding Pinnacle of Hard work against him. Moreover, I've never won against him in straight sets."
Oishi looked startled, surprise clearly written on his face while Ryuuzaki looked mildly impressed, "Three of ten matches, huh? That's quite a record against someone like you. You believe that he can stand up against the regulars?"
Tezuka looked very serious and stared at his coach straight in the eye, "Don't take my word for it. Let him participate and you'll see how skilled he is." He narrowed his eyes, "I know that I could be accused of biasness since we've never permitted First years to participate." He paused, seeming earnest, "However, I plan to reach the Nationals this year and we'll need Ryoma to do that."
"Are you serious?" Oishi asked in shock.
The Captain nodded. Ryuuzaki chuckled, "Very well. You're the Captain of the team; you decide who plays in the Ranking matches." Tezuka simply nodded, looking out of the window.
Instantly, he narrowed his eyes when he saw a match happening on the court.
Arai and Ryoma?
What had his otouto gotten himself into now?
Arai and his friends stood by the courts, glaring at their captain's little brother as he interacted with the regulars. It seemed as though he was a part of them already, mingling with them as though he had the right to walk the same ground as they did.
Just because he was their captain's little brother.
Arai scowled, crossing his arms as envy burned in his veins. Usually, the Regulars kept their distance from other members of the tennis club. Their practice sessions were very intense and they were on a level that was above the ordinary members of the club. Everyone who joined the tennis club wanted to be a part of the select, elite group and there he was, a midget first year, interacting with them as though he had earned the right to be amongst them.
Arai narrowed his eyes; he was going to make the brat pay. He would make Ryoma the laughing stock of the club.
He smirked slightly when the brat headed towards the clubroom, knowing that finally, his plan was about to unravel.
Ryoma narrowed his eyes as he walked into the clubroom. He noticed the absence of the tennis bag that contained his three precious Bridgestone Grandea rackets. Those rackets were priceless to him and cost an awful lot.
He scanned the room once again. Indeed, his tennis bag was nowhere to be found. With an eyebrow raised, he calmly turned around and walked back towards the courts. Without a racket, he wouldn't be able to play but he could always borrow one from others. However, he knew that he needed his rackets back before the ranking matches. He didn't want to risk using an unknown racket during an important match.
"Oi, where's your racket?" Horio asked loudly as he approached the court. Ryoma simply shrugged, looking about. He just needed to see how everything played out.
Besides, if his brother found out about this, there was no doubt in his mind that someone was going down. With a faint, well-concealed smirk, he watched as Arai approached him, his friend holding an old, dusty looking racket.
'So that's how it is, huh?'
"Oi, brat! Where's your racket? Are you so arrogant that you'd attend practice without it?" Arai was smirking arrogantly as Ryoma raised a brow at him. "Since you don't have a racket of your own, I'll be generous and give you one." He threw the dusty old racket at him and Ryoma inwardly frowned at the rattling sound the racket made. "So, how about a match, Mr. 'Oh-I'm-the-best-player'?"
Horio and the two freshmen that always seemed to accompany Ryoma frowned in worry while Ryoma calmly assessed the racket in his hand. He could feel the amused gaze of Fuji and the troubled eyes of other regular players on him. He knew that Fuji would stop them from interfering.
"For a first year, that racket is just right for you." Arai said with a smirk and Ryoma looked up at him, expertly concealing his amusement. Were all his senpai so juvenile? "If you get what I'm saying? Stop acting so cocky."
'Look who's talking.' Ryoma thought to himself. This was getting interesting.
"Who knows, if you comply, those three precious rackets will come out." Ryoma's gaze landed on him piercingly. 'So careless.' He thought to himself, 'Mitsu-nii will slaughter him when he finds out.'
He hummed in amusement before turning and walking towards the court. "Oi! Ryoma, where're you going?" Horio asked nervously and Ryoma snorted delicately.
"They're only weaklings who can only think up dirty methods to play." He stated in boredom.
"W…what! Are you accusing me of hiding your rackets?" Arai asked loudly and that was confession enough for everyone. They looked at Arai in astonishment while Fuji smiled.
"Well," Ryoma murmured, adjusting his cap before gazing piercingly at Arai, "Let's do this."
Arai flinched, unnerved by the intensity of Ryoma's challenging gaze.
Fuji chuckled. "Don't worry." He murmured to Eiji who actually stepped forward to help. "He can handle it." The red-haired regular looked at him skeptically and Fuji just smiled charmingly in return.
A few minutes into the match got everyone concerned because Ryoma couldn't score a single point with the old racket. It was obvious to everyone that he was going to lose and Arai was smirking to himself, pleased with how everything was working out.
Ryoma paused, calmly assessing the racket once again. "So that's how it is…" he murmured to himself thoughtfully. Arai stilled, becoming nervous. 'The brat's bluffing' he thought to himself uneasily.
Ryoma narrowed his eyes and turned his body, hitting the ball precisely and scoring a point. He observed the racket once again, mildly disappointed by the slow pace of the ball. The racket really did not deserve to be in the selves of their club.
"Man, that was so fast." Horio hollered and Ryoma raised a brow, scoffing.
"Don't get cocky just because you got lucky once, brat." Arai yelled as he served and Ryoma hummed thoughtfully, returning all his shots and scoring every time he hit.
"See, Eiji," Fuji murmured, smug amusement coloring his voice, "He told himself, 'A great painter would never use his brush daintily.'" He said and Eiji frowned in confusion.
The rest of the game went on smoothly. Ryoma didn't concede a single point after he got control of the racket. With almost insulting ease, he finished the game with a 6-1 score. The younger boy scoffed, looking at Arai with a raised brow, "Now, my rackets?"
"Rackets?" A low voice asked and everyone stiffened. Ryoma concealed a smirk as he turned to look at his older brother who was observing the scene with a small frown. The older Tezuka took note of the score and then looked at the racket in Ryoma's hand. Narrowing his eyes, Kunimitsu understood the situation. Arai wouldn't have been able to score a game against Ryoma even if Ryoma didn't play seriously. That meant that the non-regular had used unfair means and if the racket in Ryoma's hand was any indication…
"Arai." He voice was low and dangerous as he scowled at the non-regular, "Where are Ryoma's rackets?" he asked softly.
Arai swallowed nervously, everyone was looking at him and he knew he was in trouble. "C…captain…" he shuttered nervously, Kunimitsu glanced sharply at Ryoma who simply shrugged and walked away. He turned towards Arai once again, "You'll get those rackets and give them back to Ryoma before you run thirty laps around the court."
"What!" Arai yelled, "But buchou! It's his fault!" he gestured at Ryoma, "Why aren't you punishing him! He is always disrespectful and behaves in such an arrogant manner! He made a fool out of everyone yesterday and he wasn't punished for that!"
Tezuka narrowed his eyes, "I clearly remember assigning him laps as punishment for yesterday's stunt." He said calmly. "As far as being disrespectful is concerned," he raised a brow, "You expect him to sit down and take whatever you say to him without complaint? You expect him to lose on purpose?"
Arai stepped back a bit, "Just because he is your brother…"
"Hey! Watch what you say to buchou!" Momoshiro yelled, scowling at him, "Now who is being disrespectful?"
Kunimitsu scowled, "It has nothing to do with him being my brother." The captain stated calmly, "I don't punish those who don't deserve it."
Arai flinched while Ryoma walked back into the courts, Arai's friends having returned his rackets. He simply glanced at the interaction between his brother and Arai. "Leave him be, nii-san." Ryoma stated in a bored tone, "You knew this would happen."
"That doesn't excuse his actions, otouto." Kunimitsu frowned at Ryoma. "Since you have your rackets with you now, I suggest you go back to your game." He turned towards Arai, "And you, thirty laps," he narrowed his eyes, "Now!"
Arai flinched before running off to complete his punishment. Tezuka turned and scowled at everyone, "Go back to your practice matches. We have no time to waste on such childishness." He scowled at everyone sternly and everyone scrambled to obey that order.
Ryoma smirked and he adjusted his cap, looking at his next opponent. The guy flinched and Ryoma served.
Tezuka observed the situation with a frown, swallowing the intense anger he felt at the thought of someone bullying his brother. Yes, he somehow expected such a thing to happen. However, he didn't want the past to repeat itself.
Absently, he rubbed his arm; he kept his eyes trained on Arai and his friends. Ryoma's attitude was somewhat provocative. His eyes were always challenging and because his brother was so nonchalant, his demeanor seemed to anger many. Ryoma was, perhaps, the least temperamental person that Kunimitsu had ever encountered, he tended to ignore those who bullied others but he had little idea of how dangerous they could get.
"You worry too much." Fuji murmured softly.
"I don't think so." He replied, crossing his arms, "Ryoma has a lot of potential Fuji and the will and determination to succeed at all costs… a serious injury could ruin that brilliance." He stated softly, turning his gaze away from Arai to his brother.
"You think that someone will get jealous and hurt, Ryo-chan?" Fuji asked, tilting his head to the side, "You think what happened to you in your first year would happen to him as well?"
Kunimitsu narrowed his eyes, "Isn't that a possibility?" he asked, glancing at Fuji, "This seems to be just the beginning. They're jealous because they think that we're favoring him because he is my brother." He sighed, "But what happens when they see his skills? Fuji… you know Ryoma. You know how he's and the way he behaves… even though he doesn't intend to do it, his demeanor irritates many people."
"I do believe that Ryoma can take care of himself."
"Yes." Kunimitsu murmured, "Just as I was able to take care of myself." He scowled, "I can't let that happen to Ryoma." He stated, "I will not."
Fuji sighed, "Although I understand how you feel, I'll give you this one advice." Tezuka raised a brow at him in question and Fuji opened his eyes, staring thoughtfully at Ryoma, "Ryoma is a very understanding child, Tezuka and when it comes to you, he's very perceptive. It surprises me, sometimes…" Fuji murmured, smiling softly, "Let him grow and experience some of this on his own."
"I know that." Tezuka said.
Fuji looked at him piercingly for a moment before nodding in agreement. Suddenly, a cunning smirk crossed his face and the captain frowned uncertainly. "You know…" Fuji started, his eyes gleaming, "Ryoma made a bet with some of the regulars this morning."
Kunimitsu resisted the urge to groan, "What has he done now?"
Fuji stifled a laugh behind his hand, "I believe he said that he would win all his matches during the ranking tournament. Inui, being the cunning guy he is, latched onto it. He said that if Ryoma lost even a single match, he would have to submit to being Inui's test subject for a month." Kunimitsu frowned and Fuji smirked, "Momoshiro, Kikumaru and surprisingly, Kaidou followed Inui's example and made the bet with Ryoma."
The captain sighed, "What would happen if Ryoma won?"
Fuji grinned, "They would have to follow Ryoma's each and every command for a month."
Kunimitsu raised his hand to cover his twitching lips and looked at his little brother with exasperated amusement. "They've no idea what they have gotten themselves into, do they?" he asked with a sigh and Fuji chuckled. "Very well. This would be a good reminder for them not to underestimate anyone."
Fuji chuckled and looked at Kunimitsu slyly, "You just feel very smug when your little brother defeats everyone who underestimates him." The captain only regarded him nonchalantly, "You take great pride in him."
"And it is not like this with you and Yuuta?" Kunimitsu asked with a raised brow. Fuji's smile looked rather fixed at that particular question and Tezuka tilted his head a little in silent apology.
"Tezuka, everyone started practice." Oishi informed him as he walked towards them. "Momoshiro seems to have taken a liking to your brother, they're practicing together."
Tezuka nodded and narrowed his eyes, "Keep an eye on Arai and his friends."
Oishi frowned and nodded solemnly while Fuji smiled in amusement. They were making such a big issue out of a simple quarrel. Fuji knew that he would have probably reacted in a similar manner if it had been Yuuta in Ryoma's place, still, that didn't stop him from gaining amusement from the situation.
The rest of the day passed by quite smoothly. Tezuka kept his eye on everyone. It took a little time and some stern glares but the people in the club slowly started to accept that Ryoma was there to stay. Many were convinced that he would end up in the Regular team. Not only because he defeated Arai and Momoshiro, but because he was Tezuka Kunimitsu's younger brother.
It was hard for them to disregard that connection. They accepted with some resignation that it was inevitable that Captain Tezuka would be partial towards his brother. From what they had observed, he was quite protective of Ryoma.
"Alright. First years, clean up, the rest, I expect you to ready and sharp for tomorrow's ranking matches. Dismissed." Tezuka announced shortly before
The exhausted members of the club moved lazily to follow the orders. Most seemed thankful that it was the end of the day. Tezuka kept his eyes on the first years, checking to make sure that they were doing their job properly.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Ryoma dutifully picking up the tennis balls while his classmates chattered about around him. They seemed to be talking to him but as far as he could see, Ryoma wasn't too keen on the conversation.
He wasn't ignoring them but he wasn't participating in the conversation. When they asked him something, he would answer but other than that, he kept his opinions to himself.
"Otouto." He called out and was surprised to see that not only Ryoma but also everyone from the club turned to look at him. Kunimitsu frowned. What was so interesting about two brothers interacting with each other?
"I've a few things to take care of." He informed when Ryoma was close to him, "It should take about half-an-hour to forty-five minutes." Ryoma frowned but nodded, "You can wait by the gates or spend some time in the library if you like." He noticed a smudge of dirt on Ryoma's nose and his lips twitched in fond exasperation. "Go on," he whispered, handing Ryoma a towel, he gestured toward his nose, "clean up."
Ryoma scowled and wiped the dirt of his nose, his eyes narrowed at the amusement that was obvious in Kunimitsu's eyes. "My perfect little brother looks less than perfect when he's sweaty and dirty." The older Tezuka resisted the urge to remove Ryoma's cap and ruffle his hair, as he would've done if they were alone.
Ryoma snorted, "See you later."
"By the gates?"
Ryoma nodded, "By the gates."
Tezuka nodded before walking away. As he left the courts, he could see Fuji talking to Ryoma and frowned in dismay. Nothing good ever came from the two of them working together. Both of them dearly loved to torture him.
Kunimitsu decided that he'd get his duties done as fast as possible. He knew that the amount of torture Ryoma was likely to inflict on him and their teammates was directly proportional to the amount of time he spent with Fuji. The more time he spent with Fuji, the more they'd suffer.
They got along like two peas in a pod and that had always bothered Tezuka. He had often wondered if Mrs. Fuji and his mother exchanged their babies in the past because Ryoma was so much like Fuji and Yuuta seemed a little like him.
Shaking that ridiculous thought away, he headed for the Student Council room hastily.
He was getting paranoid.
"So, Ryo-chan, how do you like Seigaku's tennis club?" Fuji asked as he leaned against the wall that guarded the Seigaku campus. "Do you like our fellow club members?"
Ryoma glanced at him, his eyes sly and cunning. "I've yet to see their skills."
Fuji expertly concealed his amused smile. It was so like Ryoma to judge people by their skills in tennis. Very few people he paid attention to didn't play tennis. His father and grandfather didn't but Ryoma respected them almost as much as he respect Kunimitsu.
"Your brother will be sorely disappointed in that answer."
Ryoma sent Fuji a dry look. "Nii-san is the same, as you very well know." There was a sudden mischievous smirk on his lips, "Everyone he associates with plays tennis. Including his biggest crush." He stated slyly.
As anticipated, Fuji leaned forward, his eyes open and intrigued. "Crush?"
Ryoma's smiled dangerously, "Crush." He affirmed, "But then again… you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? Syuu-nii? Nii-san is the only person that you can't read as well as you would like to."
Fuji checked himself before he could give away his response but Ryoma's keen eyes spotted it. His lips curled into a lazy, infuriating smirk and he waved his hand, "Just kidding. My, you were almost drooling at the prospect of blackmail." Fuji narrowed his eyes dangerously but Ryoma simply hummed in response, "You'd do anything to have dirt on nii-san, wouldn't you? He's the only person you've tried and yet failed to rattle."
Fuji observed him for a long moment before smiling, "Not the only person." He stated pointedly, "But I'm patient so we may yet see how resilient both of you are."
Ryoma snorted and was about to retort when suddenly a car halted in front of them. The younger of the two recognized it and bowed his head a little, shielding his eyes and hiding his dismayed expression.
Bright golden-brown eyes glared at the man, "Ero-ji-san."
Nanjirou simply grinned and stepped out of the vehicle. "How's my favorite nephew doing?" he asked as he removed Ryoma's cap and roughly ruffled his hair. "It's so satisfying to see my hard labor pay off. You're finally following in my footsteps by joining Seigaku." Nanjirou seemed to forget that Kunimitsu was in Seigaku as well.
Ryoma's expression soured for a moment, telling both his companion just how much the thought of following in Nanjirou footsteps disgusted Ryoma. He sent his uncle a dry look. "What are you doing here, old man?" he asked bluntly while Fuji concealed an amused smile behind his hand.
Nanjirou looked entirely too innocent. Ryoma almost took a step back.
His uncle was creepy sometimes.
"Weellll, it's been a long time since we had a match… After all, how'll you be my legacy if I don't pay attention to you and make sure you're not slacking off?" he latched onto Ryoma's arm and proceeded to drag him towards his car.
"I don't want to be your legacy." Ryoma stated as he dug his heals into the ground, "Nii-san is expecting me to wait for him, let me go, ero-ji-san."
Nanjirou snorted, "Sure you want to be my legacy! I've been training you for it ever since your tiny little hands could hold the tennis racket." He grinned and quickly tossed Ryoma onto the passenger seat, securing the seat belt before Ryoma could jump out of the car. "And forget about your old-man of a brother for a moment, will you?"
Ryoma glared, his blazing eyes alight with irritation as he watched Fuji wave at him cheerfully. "This is kidnapping. Nii-san will have you arrested."
The older man chuckled, "Your mother knows where you are and my darling Rinko misses you." Ryoma's face softened a little at the mention of his aunt. "Besides, your old-man of a brother is over-protective! He's shielding you from the realities of life!" Nanjirou declared passionately.
Ryoma sent him a dark look, "Stop calling nii-san that. And he isn't shielding me from realities of life, he's shielding me from your perverted nature and I thoroughly approve of him doing so."
Nanjirou looked at him with feigned hurt written all over his face. "I'm not a pervert! I'm simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the female form. Great artists have done for thousands of years and I don't see you calling them perverts!"
Ryoma snorted, "Yeah right. You are shameless. I saw how you leered at the Venus De Milo during our recent trip to Paris. Had the Ancient Greeks been alive, they would have had you hanged for disrespecting their Goddess."
"I wasn't leering, I was admiring the skill of the artist who made her!" Nanjiro protested, "And besides, I think Ancient Greeks and I would have been like-minded people." A dreamy expression crossed his features, "I imagine cities filled with statues and paintings like the Venus De Milo… made out of marble, shining in the Sun and those beautiful Greek women in their thin, flowing chitons…"
Ryoma narrowed his eyes; Nanjirou was effectively disrespecting the ancient culture with his perverted fantasies. "Keep your eyes on the road, pervert." The child stated bluntly, "If we get into an accident and get hurt, I'll kill you before nii-san gets the chance to."
Nanjirou snorted, "What's with you mentioning your brother in every other sentence? You've a brother-complex. Kunimitsu is the same." He frowned in mock seriousness, "I wonder if I should discuss this with your mother. It can't be healthy… maybe we should get some psychologist to look into that."
Ryoma almost bristled at that. "Maybe Rinko-ba-san should do that to you! What sane man spends most of his day lazing about and staring at pictures of half-naked women?"
Nanjirou smirked, "A person who cannot appreciate the beauty of a half-naked woman is neither sane nor a man." He patted Ryoma's head condescendingly, "You'll understand that when you grow up."
Ryoma grit his teeth and narrowed his eyes, "If staring at women causes the brain to shrivel up and die like yours did, I'd rather look the other way."
Nanjirou choked and almost crashed into a pole at his nephew's declaration and Ryoma smirked and silently patted himself on his back.
'Ryoma: 1, Nanjirou: 0.'
Fuji hid his amusement as Tezuka stared at him, his face blank and his lips pressed into a thin line.
"Let me understand this." Kunimitsu stated after a while, "You saw a man, one you have never met before, unwillingly drag my little brother into his car and drive away, and you didn't bother to say even a word in protest?" the captain asked, his brow twitching.
Fuji smiled innocently, "Come now, Tezuka, I know he was Echizen Nanjirou, your mother's older brother and therefore your uncle. I also know that he has been training Ryoma for a long time now."
Tezuka appeared to have disregarded Fuji's words as he narrowed his eyes. "You mean to tell me that you let my brother, who doesn't even look at girls unless they offer him Ponta, be dragged away by a pervert, without anyone sane providing supervision?"
Fuji chuckled as he followed Tezuka when the taller boy started to walk away. "Now, now, Tezuka. Ryoma can take care of himself. Surely you're overreacting."
Kunimitsu scowled, "Last time I left otouto alone with Uncle Nanjirou, Ryoma was so exhausted that he fell sleep in the middle of dinner and I had to carry him to his room. Next day, when he woke up, his body was so stiff that even walking caused him pain. Uncle Nanjirou is careful when he plays against Ryoma but otouto just doesn't know when to stop and he just won't listen to our uncle. Sometimes, uncle gets carried away too." He glared at Fuji, "That's why supervision is necessary."
"Oh." Fuji whispered, a little bit of guilt entering his voice.
Tezuka didn't speak until they parted ways, single-mindedly heading towards his uncle's house.
His aunt wasn't surprised to see him when he rang the bell. "Kunimitsu-kun." She greeted him with a fond smile, leaning up to caress his cheek in a tender gesture, "It has been a long time since I saw you, forgetting your poor aunt, are you?" she asked teasingly as she ushered him into the house.
"I apologize." He answered, his voice as respectful as always. "I have been busy."
Rinko nodded, "A captain and a student council president." She stated with a smile, "You've done us very proud, Kunimitsu." She gestured toward the direction of the tennis court, "You know where Ryo-chan is."
Tezuka bowed slightly before heading towards the court. He heard the two of them before he saw them. Nanjirou was his usual self, taunting and goading Ryoma and his little brother, as always, responded to his uncle immature antics with his characteristic bluntness.
He narrowed his eyes as he analyzed them silently from the shadows. Ryoma was a little breathless and he was sweating but didn't seem to be straining himself.
Just by looking at them, Kunimitsu could see that Ryoma was losing. He wasn't surprised. Their uncle was the only person in his acquaintance that could defeat Ryoma in straight sets. Not even Kunimitsu had been able to defeat Nanjirou though he hadn't lost to his uncle as badly as Ryoma's did in a long while.
Quietly, he settled down on the bench beside the court, knowing that both of them knew of his presence but they were too focused on the game to acknowledge him.
He sighed softly and relaxed, picking up a stray ball to fiddle with while Ryoma concentrated completely on Nanjirou. His keen eyes observed his little brother was flaws, watching with silent pride that every time Ryoma committed a mistake, he would correct it and never repeat it.
That was what made Nanjirou such an excellent teacher. He forced Ryoma to make mistakes and correct them on his own. He pushed Ryoma to the limits and yet increased Ryoma's endurance. Ryoma's ability to learn from observation and experience made him a better tennis player.
That was precisely the reason why Nanjirou disliked training him but loved to coach his little brother. Tezuka was an analytical genius. Although tennis came naturally to him, he had the tendency to think and play.
Ryoma, on the other hand, was born for tennis. His sharp eyesight, the flexibility of his wrist, his capability to play well with both hands, the almost instinctive ability to perform split-steps, it was as though he was engineered to play tennis.
Shifting a little, he glanced down when his hand landed on a book. His brow twitched and he directed a glare at his uncle. What was he thinking? Leaving his perverted books in plain sight, especially in Ryoma's presence?
Scowling, he subtly pushed the book off the bench before using his foot to kick it into the bushes. With narrowed eyes, he glanced about, trying to see if there were any other magazines of dubious nature in sight. It wouldn't do for Ryoma's innocent eyes to see such filth.
Turning his attention back to the match, he frowned. Ryoma was looking a little flushed, his lips were twitching slightly and he was holding his racket as though it was heavy.
It was time.
"Alright, that's enough, Ryoma." Kunimitsu ordered, his voice soft but stern.
Ryoma stilled and turned to glare at him but the older brother simply arched a brow, daring him to object. He tapped his finger against the watch, "It's late. We need to go home. Both of us have homework to do." He extended his hand, "Come otouto."
"You could always stay here for the night. I'm sure imouto wouldn't mind." Nanjirou chirped, knowing that Kunimitsu would deny it instantly.
Sure enough, his oldest nephew narrowed his eyes at him but Ryoma did what Kunimitsu had told him to. Placing his racket on his older brother's hand, he went into the house to freshen up, leaving the two who never got along, alone.
"Soo…" Nanjirou grinned, "Up for a match, Mr. Captain of Seigaku?"
Kunimitsu gave him a cool look, "I am leaving. Ryoma is coming with me. Next time you pick otouto from school, inform me or I'll convince Kaa-san that you are teaching him unsavory things and Ryoma should never be in your presence alone." Nanjirou's eyes widened. That wasn't an empty threat. Ayana knew Kunimitsu's serious nature so well that she'd accept anything he said without even a hint of suspicion. "If you ever let Ryoma's see your books, I'll convince Rinko-ba-chan to burn them right in front of your eyes and send you to a monastery for a month where you'd have no access to them. You like to pretend that you are a monk, why not learn something?"
Again, it wasn't an empty threat.
The older man raised his arms in surrender even if his eyes gleamed in amusement. "Fine, just don't take my toy away."
His nephew scowled at him and Nanjirou chuckled, reaching forward to ruffle Kunimitsu's hair fondly. "Always so tense, Mitsu-chan. Come on." He gently pushed Kunimitsu towards the house, "Let's go inside, shall we? Entertain your Rinko-ba-chan for a while. She really misses the two of you."
Rinko somehow managed to convince her two stoic nephews to stay for dinner. Neither Ryoma or Kunimitsu could ignore her sweet smiles and affectionate eyes.
Nanjirou enjoyed the presence of his nephews even if they had the tendency of pointing out his various flaws in a dry, unimpressed, voice. He knew that it was their way of teasing him.
They were kind to his Rinko though. Both Kunimitsu and Ryoma showered Rinko with well-deserved affection. She was their favorite, Nanjirou knew that.
He almost pouted. He had two tennis prodigies in front of him and yet one was too brainy to teach, and the other was too bratty to tolerate.
And both of them hated him.
Really, no one appreciated him anymore.