Author's Note: This is my first fic for this series, so forgive any misinterpretations of the characters. This fic takes place after the fight between the 'Golden
Pair,' and ignores anything that happens after that since I haven't seen those episodes. It was inspired by a music video I made (not a very good one, but
Category: Anime, Prince of Tennis (Tennis no Ohjisama), TWT, Yaoi
Warnings: shonen ai, will have angst, possible lemon/lime content
Pairings: Oishi/Eiji, slight Tezuka/Fuji
Author: Arigatomina


Part 1

There was something soothing about the window near Fuji's desk, an attractive pull that drew his gaze over and over. The class continued uninterrupted by
his distraction, the students paying careful or not so careful attention as the sensei reviewed the previous day's lesson. With a noting ear for the man's words,
Fuji let his eyes turn to answer the part of him that was tied to the view. There were no pretty and out of place felines, but the tree sufficed to hold his gaze, a
soft breeze waving the leaves until he could imagine the whispers as they brushed together. It would be a quiet sound, a peaceful haze of nature in its
brightest days. The thought made him turn, just a bit, just enough for sharp pale blue eyes to glint off the empty desk beside him. Silence, peace, and solitude
were fine for him, but it wasn't like his fellow player and student to miss classes. It wasn't like Kikumaru to miss anything that let him be near people, especially
friendly people who gave him innumerable occasions to flash his winsome smile. And the work itself was no deterrence as Fuji had learned from sitting next to
him in class. Despite the teen's seemingly carefree cheer, he was brighter than a good portion of his classmates. Even if an assignment could make Kikumaru
miss a class, the one they'd been given hadn't been at all difficult.

So why wasn't he there? Fuji wouldn't have thought much about it if Momoshiro hadn't finally come back to the team yesterday and efficiently, if interestingly,
managed to patch the rift in the 'Golden Pair.' He would have passed Kikumaru's absence off as an attempt to avoid his estranged tennis partner. But that
quick and shockingly harsh fight had ended the moment the former regular returned. The last he'd seen was a flashing grin and waving hand from the genki
Kikumaru, and an audible sigh of relief from Oishi as the other boy left for a quick talk with Tezuka before making his own way home. There hadn't been any
dosages of Inui's supposedly lethal concoctions which could explain a reaction deathly enough to leave Kikumaru incapacitated for the day. And he would
have noticed if the teen were in the early stages of a sudden illness. Unless he'd missed something. He rarely missed things that concerned his teammates,
rarely missed anything that went on around him. Not knowing made it a harder to smooth his expression into his usual smile as the class was dismissed.
Speaking with Tezuka was the most obvious solution. If Kikumaru had a good reason for being absent then Oishi would know about it, and he would have
reported it to the captain. Fuji knew there was little reason for the doubt that did its best to sharpen his eyes, but if it were persistent enough to distract him
from his watch out the window, he was certain it would stay with him until the matter was cleared.

He didn't get a chance to corner Tezuka until the break between classes and practice, but that left enough time for a talk. And that talk was already taking
place when he reached the doorway, slowing to take in the two students' expressions when they turned sharply to look at him. Tezuka was as closed off as
ever, only a hint of emotion clouding around his piercing eyes. Oishi was easier to read, the black-haired student's gaze riddled with remorse. The two stared
at him for a moment, then Oishi broke eye contact to shoot a look to the practice area visible from the window. Fuji merely shifted his gaze solely to Tezuka's
steady, almost casual scowl. "Have you heard from Kikumaru-san?"

Tezuka's gaze flicked to Oishi for a second before he moved toward Fuji and the door. "No," he answered, recognizing the curiosity in the pale brown-haired
teen's face. Fuji didn't like to be left in the dark any more than he did, especially when it concerned a teammate. "Oishi's going to check during practice."

There was definitely a lot being left unsaid, but Fuji nodded, his usual smile easing just a bit. "We can't afford to lose a player." Tezuka passed him silently,
and Fuji leaned against the door, his eyes shifting to the desk in the corner of the room. "Though it would be quicker to call..."

The casual statement made Tezuka halt, and his eyes narrowed, a silent sigh passing his lips as he folded his arms. It was just like him not to let it go so
quickly. "We did. His sister says he'll be out for a few days, but she wouldn't give the details of the problem."

"That's not like her," Fuji commented, turning to look at the captain's tense shoulders. "And you didn't speak to Kikumaru-san?"


Silence ran through the room, making Oishi turn to stare at the two teens. Tezuka was looking over his shoulder, and he could almost make out a silent
conversation that twisted his stomach. He didn't want to hear Tezuka repeat the discussion they'd just had, or even see a silent repeat, which was what
seemed to be passing from his captain's eyes into Fuji's solemn face. His first thought when he heard that Eiji hadn't come to school was that yesterday's
incident was to blame. He'd given Tezuka a brief synopsis of the fight before going home last night, but this time he'd gone into more detail. It was bad enough
that he'd taken his anger out on Eiji and put the team's future at stake by
breaking the doubles pair. His status on the team was one where he should have been setting an example for the underclassmen, and there was simply no
excuse for his behavior. The thought that Eiji might have missed classes and practice because of him brought a surge of guilt that hurt more than even
Momoshiro's continued absence had. Eiji's sister had given such a vague reference to the problem that he was convinced he was the cause, and he didn't
want to see Fuji turning the same passively sympathetic look on him that Tezuka had. The captain had given him permission and the order to go and see
exactly what was wrong with Eiji, and he reminded himself of that now. His movement toward the door interrupted the silent conversation, bringing two gazes to
him. But neither spoke when he nodded to them and left the room.

The trip to Eiji's house was strange. It seemed to take much less time than usual, as if to spite the hesitant knot in Oishi's gut that didn't really want to know if
he had managed to make his partner miserable enough to miss not only practice but school as well. At the same time it seemed to take forever for someone to
answer the door, in blatant disregard for the nervous impatience that twisted his stomach in what could be the beginnings of an ulcer. The conflicting
symptoms weren't really so new for him, though. He usually  reacted strongly to anything that affected his teammates. Being directly involved in the problem
just made things that much worse. It was that urge of his Momo liked to call his mothering instinct, and it was going into hyper overdrive by the time the
doorknob finally turned. He didn't know what greeting he'd expected from Eiji's sister, but he certainly hadn't expected a complete stranger to answer the door.
He spent a split second wondering if he'd managed to go to the wrong door. The young woman was older than him, nearly taller than him, and she sported a
suspicious gaze that sufficed to leave him prickling with apprehension.

"Can I help you?"

Oishi shook himself out of his mental lapse, actually shaking his head a bit. "I wanted to see Eiji, we called a little while ago-"

"Ah! His tennis captain."

The girl's expression cleared so quickly he blinked in surprise. Suddenly her severely bound hair didn't make her eyes look quite so sharp, and her somehow
threatening grip on the edge of the door eased until color seeped back into her knuckles. She still made him nervous, but not enough to forget his purpose.
"No, but Tezuka did send me." Reaching a hand out, he introduced himself as politely as he knew how. Her manner gave him an idea that she made
judgements based on first impressions, and he didn't want to be turned away because of something so simple. "My name is Oishi Syuichiroh-"

"Oh, yes," the girl said, smiling brightly as she invited him in. "I heard you might be coming. I'm Shizuru. Kikumaru-san asked me to watch the house until she
got back from a few errands."

He didn't know what to think, but Oishi nodded in thanks, watching as she shut and locked the door behind him. She'd heard he might be coming? Him
specifically? Tezuka had made the call earlier, speaking briefly with someone he'd assumed was Eiji's sister. Hearing Shizuru's voice made Oishi wonder if she
hadn't been the one to answer the telephone. It certainly would explain why she'd been so vague, and why she'd thought he was Tezuka. But she didn't look
old enough to be a friend of Eiji's mother. "You heard I might be coming?" he asked, doing his best not to look too surprised.

Shizuru nodded, leading him toward the stairs, "Oishi - the Golden Pair, ne?" She smiled when Oishi gave a small, somewhat pained nod. "I don't watch tennis,
but Kikumaru-san speaks of her son often. She said you would probably come to check on him and that I should let you in no matter what he says."

"Ah..." The young woman had stopped at the foot of the stairs, and Oishi did his best not to wince at her smile. That meant Eiji didn't want to see him. Did he
not want to see anyone? Or especially not him? "What's wrong with him?"

"I have no idea," Shizuru said, tilting her head with a small smile when the boy blinked wide hazel eyes at her. "Kikumaru-san only said to tell anyone who
called that he would be out of school for a few days. But I'm sure it's nothing too serious or she never would have left him alone. She just wanted someone
here in case he needed anything while she was gone. She really does spoil him."

That last statement was given with such a nice smile that Oishi knew it wasn't meant as criticism, but he didn't really feel like commenting. Eiji was spoiled a bit,
definitely favored by his family, but that was to be expected with his engaging personality. Shizuru reached her hand to him and he extended his own hand
without thinking. A small key fell into his palm and he nearly tipped over onto the floor. "You - he - he's locked in his room?!" Any plan to be polite went right
out of Oishi's mind as he stared at the strange woman with very wide eyes. Eiji was going to be in such a nasty mood if he were locked in his room. He'd never
heard of such a thing, not Eiji - the ever cheerful, happy to please so long as he enjoyed himself teenager. The woman had the grace to blush a bit, but she
smiled as she nodded.

"Kikumaru-san said it's only a precaution. I hear he can be quite stubborn when he sets his mind to it." The black-haired boy was still staring at her as if she'd
grown a third eye, but she waved him toward the stairs. There was no use explaining to another teenager. He was probably as foolish as the sick boy upstairs,
she'd certainly been when she was that age. Oishi didn't move, his hand flat with the key sitting benign in his palm. She let out a soft laugh and pushed on his
back. "Go ahead.  I'm sure a friendly face is just what he needs."

Climbing the stairs, Oishi felt as if he were swimming through thick slime in a tunnel. It was too strange. Eiji was locked in his room? He'd be out for days? His
mother had a guard on him to admit visitors? And Shizuru thought seeing him would cheer the boy up? Maybe the fight wasn't the problem after all, but that
didn't mean he wanted to go up there and see his friend literally held prisoner. His face paled, and he was fighting a reflexive wince by the time he reached the
bedroom.  Eiji was going to be in such a temper, he just knew it. The last thing he wanted was to set the boy off, especially if he really were sick enough to be
locked in his room for his own health. So much for thinking he was merely upset. Locked in his room. He could just imagine the tantrum the energetic teen
would throw for being restricted like that. Despite his wariness, Oishi couldn't help but smile a bit at the thought. He was about to tap on the door when he
heard a soft sound behind him. Turning, he blinked at the woman standing at the top of the stairs with a tray in her hands. She waved him over.

Shizuru kept her voice to a quiet whisper as she pressed the tray into Oishi's hands. "I don't know how long Kikumaru-san will be gone, and I'm sure he's
hungry, or thirsty. She's been away for hours now." The boy stared at her, and she smiled again. "She said he wouldn't want to see anyone, or I would have
brought it up myself."

The woman turned to quietly descend the stairs, and Oishi felt a return of that odd sensation, a feeling of having fallen into some strange world. He shook it off
as quickly as he could and returned to the door. Balancing the tray in one hand, he tapped lightly and waited. Whether he had key and permission or not, he
wasn't about to go barging in. He waited through a few seconds of silence before tapping again. "Eiji?" There was movement in the room, and be blinked in
surprise at what sounded like the lamp falling off the night stand. The response came moments later from the other side of the door.

"'s not a good time! Why don't you come back tomorrow. Yeah, that's a good idea."

Oishi's expression fell as he raised an eyebrow. That was definitely Eiji, but he didn't sound sick.  He sounded like he was hiding something. "I'm coming in," he
warned, balancing the tray better against his arm so he could unlock the door.

"Iya - iya! Don't do that! Really! There's no-"

"I'm opening the door now," Oishi said, his tone holding a hint of humor in it. "You might want to move back a little." He heard a familiar groan and shook his
head as he turned the knob. Eiji was too easy to read. Giving a few seconds for the boy to move away from the door, he pushed...and paused as he met
resistance. "Eiji..." There was no answer this time, but the force on the other side of the door didn't give at all. He pushed harder until the tray shifted
dangerously. "If you don't stop that I'm going to spill your food."


He could almost hear the hunger in that word, and he smirked. "Yes, food. But I can't give it to you if you don't let me in." A muffled sound he recognized as
indecision made it through the door, but the weight was still there when he pushed. "Come on."


And now he was pouting. With a long, audible sigh, Oishi stopped pushing on the door to lean on the frame beside it. "Why not? Would you rather have
Tezuka come all the way out here instead?  Because he will, if I go back and tell him you wouldn't let me in. I just want to see what's wrong.  We're worried, you
know?" He'd thought that surely the mention of Tezuka would do it, but silence answered him again. "Eiji."

"'ll get mad...and then you'll yell at me..."

The voice was so small he wasn't sure if Eiji were just playing or serious. Either way, that was a stupid thing to think. "I will not. Just-" The door was pulled open
and he bit off his words. Wide dark blue eyes looked at him from a guilty face, but it was the face that drew his gaze. The teen's normal bandage had been
replaced by a large one that nearly reached the edge of his mouth. And the white cloth was blotted with dark red. "Eiji! What happened?! What-"

"A~ahh! You're yelling at me!" Eiji's lower lip drew up as he pointed a finger at Oishi's angry face. "See?" His friend's eyes closed, his face tightening as he
obviously tried to get rid of the evidence, but he didn't do very well. He could see anger tensing the black-haired teen's shoulders.  "I knew you'd get mad.
'Kaasan was mad, Tezuka's going to be mad, everyone'll yell at me and - and - hai-hai, it's all my fault. I deserve it. I told Kaasan I was fine, but she wouldn't let
me go and now you're here and they're all going to yell at me. Ei~i!"

The redhead turned suddenly and shuffled to his bed, folding his legs and throwing his hands in the air for emphasis. Oishi managed not to sweat too much at
the dramatic display, his gaze following Eiji's hands and pausing on the bruises on the boy's arms. "What happened?" he asked again, his voice softer this
time. His question received a pouting scowl and he crossed the room to sit next to him. He caught Eiji's right hand and looked at the splotched bruises near his
elbow. That could easily be enough to keep him from playing for days. "Eiji..."

"Daijobu - daijobu!" Eiji said quickly, pulling his arm away. "It's fine. I can still play, see?"  Curling his right hand, he moved his arm back as if swinging a racket
only to pause halfway through the arc, his left palm crossing over his stomach. "Nn." He winced, sneaking a look at Oishi and wincing more when he saw the
boy's sharp eyes on his hand. "Okay!" Flopping onto his back, he tossed his right wrist over his eyes. "I got in a fight. I didn't mean to, I just wasn't thinking. I'm

"You're lying..." The boy's arm shifted down and Oishi knew he was right the moment those wide eyes turned on him. For someone who was so good at acting
happy all the time, Eiji couldn't hide anything when he was upset. His eyes betrayed him in an instant. Oishi shook his head, turning so he could look down at
the teen. "You're lying."

"Heh...why would you say that?" Eiji mumbled, his wrist half laying over his mouth. "I wouldn't mind not getting in trouble, but I did get in a fight. I went for a walk
after practice and got in a fight." His friend stared at him in obvious disbelief and he sniffed at him. "You think I'd make it up if I just fell or something? Not that
I'd fall. I'm not the type to fall, ne?"

"You aren't the type to get into fights, either," Oishi remarked, his eyes narrowing a bit. If Eiji were going to push the lie, then he'd likely make it more and more
convoluted as he went along. "Let's say you did get into a fight-"

"What do you mean, let's say?" Eiji retorted, dropping his arm to lie across his neck. "I did get in a fight! Why would I lie about it?"

"You tell me. I don't know why you're lying about it. But either way, how bad's the damage?"

"Why should I tell you if you don't even believe me?"

Oishi sighed, his gaze falling to the red spotted bandage on the teen's right cheek. He could see a light bruise peeking out from around the cloth, but not
nearly so much swelling as a blow would cause. And whether Eiji admitted it or not, the teen simply wasn't strong enough to hold his own in a fist fight. His story
was all full of holes. "Eiji-"

"I'm fine!" Eiji muttered, pushing himself up and tapping a finger on his temple. "Not dizzy, legs are fine, a little sore, but nothing to worry about. Kaasan just
went ballistic on me for fighting in the first place. I can't believe she locked me in my room. I mean, what did she think I was going to do? Run out and get in
trouble again? It's not right to lock me up - what if I died of hunger? I've been in here for hours without..." His gaze had fallen on the tray left near the door, and
his eyes lit up. "Ah!"

For someone supposedly suffering, the limber boy was crouched next to the tray in an instant. Oishi hurried to catch up with him only to jerk back at Eiji's loud
groan. "What is it?"

"Soup," Eiji sniffled, blinking wide midnight blue eyes up at his partner. "She locks me up and then punishes me with a liquid diet. I'm going to waste away! I'm
so hungry, I...I don't think I can move..."

The winsome redhead promptly rolled his eyes back and sagged onto the floor, his arms wrapped around his stomach. Oishi barely kept from smirking at the
boy's mournful expression, those big eyes blinking up at him soulfully. "I guess that's my cue?"

"Oishi...feed me? I'm so hungry! If I could just go outside and get some real food I know I'd be much better. And I can go back to school! If we hurry I just might
be able to get to practice without having to run too many laps...yeah?"

Oishi shook his head, forcing the smile off his face. "If your mother thinks you're bad enough to need a few days' rest then I'm not about to go against her.

"E~eh! You're no help at all," Eiji muttered, sitting up again and frowning up at the boy. "Why'd you come over here? To make me feel miserable? I bet you
had a great lunch at school while I was locked up here like a convict. That's it."

Any thought Oishi had of the boy hiding his injuries left his mind when Eiji made it to a quick crouch and, in one fluid motion, darted out the door. His reaction
was slower, and he reached the hall just in time to hear a startled feminine cry, a light thumping as the teen maneuvered the stairs, and the sound of the front
door being jerked open and closing just as quickly. Sweat beaded his temple as he hurried after him. Shizuru was sitting on the floor at the foot of the stairs
and he waved a guilty hand at her on his way by. "Sumimasen! I'll get him!"

"Ah - hai!"

Hazel eyes looked up and down the street as he pushed the door closed behind him, and he reeled when a hand clapped onto his shoulder. Bright eyes
glinted above a widely smug smile and he sighed. "You didn't get very far. Not much of an escape attempt."

"What do you mean?" Eiji grinned, catching a bit of his dark red hair and tugging on it. "I'm outside, aren't I? That's all I need."

"Good. Get a nice breath of fresh air because I'm taking you back inside now. Your mother will kill me if she comes home and finds you out here."

"Oh, no, I'm not going back in there." The dark-haired teen frowned at him, and Eiji folded his arms over his chest, giving him a challenging look. "You really
want to try dragging me back inside? You'll just make my condition worse, you know."

"What *is* your condition?" Oishi muttered, a bit bothered that the boy was right. He'd seen him holding his stomach earlier, and he imagined a tussle probably
would make the injury worse, whatever the injury was.

"Malnutrition," Eiji said, abruptly sniffing again with his best hungry puppy look. "And lack of funds. I forgot to get my money. I don't suppose you want to be a
dear a poor guy out...?"

There really was no getting around it. He could see the expectant glimmer in Eiji's eyes and knew the boy expected a positive answer to that little plea. "I tell
you what I'll do," Oishi said slowly, his expression sober. "I'll treat you if you tell me what happened to your face."

Eiji paled, all hints of humor falling from his face. "I'm not that hungry." His friend's eyes widened, but he pushed past him, not looking back as he walked away.
As expected, it didn't take a minute for the boy to catch up and fall into step beside him.


"I didn't dodge quick enough, okay?" His friend's hazel eyes were visibly worried, and he looked away. "That happens in a fight, you know."

"There aren't that many people quicker than you," Oishi said, watching the boy's face. "Who'd you get in a fight with?" The redhead shrugged and he barely
kept from grabbing and shaking him.  "Eiji."

"No one you know." Sneaking a look at his partner, Eiji licked his lips and smiled. "Tezuka's going to get you if anyone sees us walking around during practice.
If we run we might make it."

"I thought you were hungry."

"Not that hungry," Eiji smirked, his eyes flashing. "And if Inui has his way, anything I ate now would just come up anyway, right? Let's go!"

The redhead took off and Oishi hurried to catch up, keeping pace beside him. "Oi! Can you run?"

"What does it look like?" Eiji grinned, speeding up a bit so his dark-haired partner had to conserve his breath. He'd always been faster than Oishi. "I told you,
my legs are fine!"

"We're...still be late," Oishi called, some of his worry slipping away at how easily the boy ran. "And at this pace...we'll be too run penalty

"Hia-hai! Stamina's the key. Come on," Eiji said, tossing a smile over his shoulder. "Pick it up a notch!"

The lead increased until Oishi gritted his teeth. He didn't know what to think about Eiji's state, or whatever injuries he had besides his arms and face, but the
boy had obviously been honest when he said his legs were fine. He was being left behind. "Eiji! M-matte!"

* * *