Beware the Juice

by Kuwabara no Miko

There are few natural habitats more fearsome than the lair of the teenage boy. Each one is individual, and in each the personality and the proclivity of their inhabitant has been allowed to run rampant, taking on something approaching a life of its own.

Even the neatest, most tidy, spartan bedroom may hold unseen terrors, lurking tranquil yet ever-ready beneath the surface, prepared to burst free in an instant's notice. Especially in the room of one Inui Sadaharu, third year student in Seigaku Junior High, and former member of the Tennis Club Regulars.

The collection of bottles and beakers on the top of Inui's desk would have done any mad scientist proud. There was even a bunsen burner, fired up and working away. Nearly every container was filled with unnamed substances, none of which looked very appealing.

The main focal point in all this organized clutter was a large glass jug, into which careful dollops and controlled drizzles were being mingled in perfectly measured proportions. The liquid swirling within was a dread green color one moment, then nearly red the next. Inui puttered about cheerfully, until his elbow bumped a bottle that was too close to the edge of the jug, spilling a generous amount of its contents.


Inui grabbed the errant bottle, righting it quickly, but not before the damage had been done. The liquid in the beaker was now a languid golden color, seeming almost to glow from within.

"Hmmm." The tall boy picked it up, tipping his head to one side. "That was unfortunate." He considered a moment. It seemed a shame to let all that hard work go to waste.... "Well, it couldn't have been toxic, because nothing here is. Perhaps it won't affect the mixture in a negative way."

Placing his latest creation carefully down on the desktop, Inui grasped the bottle that had spilled into it, reading his precise handwriting off of the label he had pasted on it.

The square surface of his glasses gleamed and a particularly frightening grin curved his mouth. "Hmmm. This should prove to be very interesting.... Yes. This might very well be the best of my drinks so far!"

Let it be said that the world shuddered in its revolution for a moment, before trundling on its way once more.

Something evil was definitely afoot.


The sky was a clear sapphire blue overhead, only a few puffy white clouds dotting its far horizon. The grass was brilliantly green, fragrant with the scent of growth and renewal. Birds were singing loudly in the trees and the day seemed drenched in the glow of the warm sun.

The Seigaku Regulars were pounding around the track as though they feared for their lives if they lagged. In a manner of speaking, they did.

"A cup of Inui's new juice for whoever comes in last... again!" Kikumaru Eiji bemoaned as he pumped his legs with all the speed he could muster. "That's so cruel!"

"You have to admit... it certain inspires us to get moving!" Oishi Syuichirou panted in reply, keeping perfect pace with his doubles partner. "I'd say he and Ryuzaki-sensei have hit upon the perfect training program!"

Kaidoh Kaoru muttered something that sounded like, "Sasuga, senpai," then his breath came out in an irritated hiss as Momoshiro Takeshi zoomed past him. Echizen Ryouma was right behind, even though he was one year and several centimeters behind his upperclassman.

"You're falling behind, baka mamushi!" Momo mocked gleefully, then he yelped and put on more speed as Kaidoh attempted to push his way past him. "No you don't!"

Kaidoh did not answer, only hissed again. The two second year students ran side by side, each trying to shoulder the other out of the way.

"Ah~! They're getting ahead of us, Oishi!" Eiji cried frantically.

Wordlessly, Ryouma swept up a racket that was carelessly propped against a wall. Jogging up alongside Kawamura Takashi, he held it toward him, handle-first. "Kawamura-senpai. Hai."

"Eh? Ah, sankyuu." Takashi obediently took the racket, a confused expression on his face. This was rapidly replaced by a fierce grimace, his puppy-brown eyes alight with the flames of determination, as his fingers closed around the handle of the racket.


Ryouma was close behind Takashi as the older Regular burst through the ranks, fueled by the flames burning within.

"Hey! Ryouma! That's cheating!" Momoshiro yowled, putting on an extra burst of speed. Kaidoh pounded next to him doggedly, unwilling to let his rival take the lead.

"Matte~!!" Eiji darted after the others, Oishi right beside him. They were flanked to either side by Tezuka Kunimitsu, the team captain, and Fuji Syuusuke, their tensai player.

"You will all be able to run faster if you stop talking," Tezuka reprimanded in his deep, silken voice. Then he suited actions to words, easily catching up to the others with his long legs.

"Oi, Fuji," Eiji gasped, sweat beading his brow. "You like that stuff -- you should come in last so you can drink it!"

Fuji smiled, eyes and mouth turning up in a mask of deceptive pleasantness. "Ah, but I told Oishi already before. I like Inui's drinks... but I like to see people suffer even more."

Eiji shuddered and gave a final burst of speed.

Rounding the corner, everyone rushed past Ryuzaki-sensei and Inui in a great clump. There was no one clearly in the lead, and no one had fallen behind.

"Pheuw!" Eiji leaned forward at the waist, his hands planted on his knees. Perspiration glistened on his heart-shaped face and his upturned auburn hair drooped a bit with humidity. "That was hard! But at least no one came in last, nya!"

"Ho?" There was something fearsome in the way the light gleamed off of Inui's glasses. "Just because you all arrived at the same time, it does not necessarily follow that you all came in first. One could just as accurately state that you all came in last."


Only Tezuka and Fuji restrained themselves from crying out in disbelief. Even Kaidoh, usually so obedient to any order from a senpai, could not hide his horror at this statement.

"Inui, that's not fair!" Oishi burst out, his eyes widening. "No one came in last!"

"It would be a shame to waste all of this," Inui said calmly, hefting a jug full of gleaming golden liquid. "It's my latest creation. The best Inui's juice ever."

"A new Penal-Tea!" Momoshiro cried in terror, cringing away. There was a brief scuffle as he and Ryouma each attempted to hide behind the other. They finally settled for ducking behind a disconcerted Kaidoh, pressing him forward as a human shield. Kaidoh hissed in annoyance.

"This is not Penal-Tea," Inui corrected, tilting the jug so that the sunlight filtered through it in amber and gold gleaming. It looked beautiful, but no one trusted it for a heartbeat. "I have not yet decided on a name for it."

"Just drink it," Ryuzaki-sensei barked, thrusting a paper cup full of the sloshing liquid toward both members of the Golden Pair.

"H-hai...." Oishi reached for it, dread darkening his handsome face, his hand ever so slightly trembling.

"Oishi!!" Eiji grasped the cup before his doubles partner could, dashing back the entire thing in one gulp.

Everyone stared in morbid fascination.

"Eiji!" Oishi grabbed the other boy's upper arms as an odd expression crossed his face. "Eiji! Are you all right?!"

Eiji stared down into his empty cup, pink tongue flickering out to touch his lips. "Strange...."


Everyone leaned forward, waiting breathlessly. Eiji hadn't passed out yet -- that was unusual, and possibly a... good sign?

Eiji's slanted blue eyes came up, fixing Inui with an almost accusing stare. "It's sweet!!"



"Eiji, are you all right?!"

"Hn." Fuji took a cup off the table. After downing its contents, a faintly disappointed expression crossed his face. "It is sweet."

"Really?" None of the three underclassmen quite trusted the lovely yet occasionally sadistic third-year student... but on the other hand, why would Eiji lie? Soon Momoshiro, Ryouma, and Kaidoh were all holding cups, although none of them wanted to be the first to try Inui's new juice.

"Aren't you going to drink any, Inui?" Takashi asked, slurping down his appointed dose without so much as a flinch.

"I tested it last night," Inui replied, adjusting his glasses with one hand, then folding his arms. If anyone thought that he looked a little uncomfortable, it was too late. All but Tezuka and Oishi had already emptied their cups.

"It's sweet!" Momoshiro exclaimed, as though Eiji had not already done so. "It tastes like honey -- and not like that horrid juice that you said you put honey in!"

Inconspicuously, Oishi handed his captain a cup, and the two senior members of the Seigaku Regulars drank their juice.

"All right, boys. Go and cool down," Ryuzaki-sensei ordered.

The practice dispersed, everyone still marveling over the non-lethal composition of Inui's new juice.

The true effects of the juice did not show up until a good half an hour later.


"Oishi~!" Eiji clasped his hands behind his head, his elbows windmilling as he did his best to telegraph his impatience with the entreating stare he had fixed on the other boy. It might have worked better if Oishi had been looking in his direction. "Come o~n!!"

"I have to set a good example for the underclassmen," Oishi explained patiently, picking up the last of the discarded equipment in the club house and placing it where it belonged. "I have a responsibility as the vice captain."

"But you promised me something to eat, and I'm sta~rving!" Eiji complained, lowering his arms and rubbing at his belly. Then a discontented expression crinkled his smooth features, and he tugged at the collar of his shirt. "Nya, Oishi... is it getting hot in here?"

Oishi blinked, opening his mouth to reply, then he left it open as a shirt that could only be Eiji's hit the floor near his feet with a soft 'shuff'.

"Eiji?" He would have turned, but he was suddenly held in place by a pair of slender, wiry arms which twined around his chest. There was a lean body pressing against his back, and heat flared between the two boys. "I thought..." it was difficult for Oishi to form full sentences with Eiji undulating against him in the most sensual way imaginable... "that you were hungry."

Hot-moist lips sealed to the side of Oishi's neck let him know just how hungry his doubles partner was... but for flesh rather than food now.

"Baka." Oishi peeled the slightly slimmer boy off of him, only to clasp him up in his arms. Eiji didn't even have time to register indignation at this manhandling before Oishi had claimed his lips with a skill and economy of movement born of long familiarity.

"Right here, Oishi?" Eiji breathed damply once his mouth was finally released. "We're still in the club house...."

"Why not?" Oishi demanded roughly, lowering them both to the hard surface of the bench.

"Ooh, Oishi!" Eiji cooed blissfully, throwing his arms around his partner's neck. He could rarely get Oishi to be so reckless and it excited him. The door probably wasn't even locked and Oishi didn't seem to care. "Oishi...!!"


"Tezuka... do you feel something?"

"Eh?" Tezuka glanced over at the fine-boned, porcelain-skinned tensai who was lounging on his floor. He frowned faintly, wondering what exactly Fuji was doing in his room, again. It seemed to happen quite often, but it still confounded him every time.

"I was wondering...." Fuji traced the plush lines of his parted lips with a delicate fingertip. His dark eyes were open and fixed on Tezuka through silken bangs. "If I was the only one who had noticed...."

Tezuka was noticing.... He was noticing the way the light glinted on the long thick lashes that ringed Fuji's steamy deep-teal eyes... the way his collarbones curved so gracefully under a stretch of thin, pale flesh... the relaxed sprawl of his slender body over the floor....

Tezuka's gaze fixated on the perfectly-manicured finger that slid along the swell of Fuji's mouth over and over, over and over....

While Fuji was indeed beautiful as no boy had a right to be, and quite desirable on his own, Tezuka could tell immediately that this heat rising in him was from an unnatural source.

"Damn Inui...."

Fuji chuckled in response to Tezuka's irritated growl, not in the least intimidated. "He would seem the most likely culprit," he husked in his soft, refined voice. Rolling onto his side, Fuji moved that caressing finger from his lips to one nipple, tracing around it through the thin material of his shirt. "But Inui is not here right now."

Tezuka clenched his jaw, doing his best to glower. He would not give in to the heat that was building in his loins... even if Fuji was an utterly appealing picture lying there in wanton disarray... inviting....

"There's too much air between us, Tezuka," Fuji complained mildly. He held out a languid hand, eyes smoldering under heavy lids. "Why don't you come over here and ravish me?"

There was only so much even the most stoic iron will could stand. Just because this desire was artificially induced did not mean that Tezuka could not give into it... right?

Restraint and resistance shattered, Tezuka moved to join Fuji as directed.

But he would make Inui pay for this later.


Fortunately for his sake, and for the sake of his sanity and self-respect, Takashi made it home, to his bedroom, before the full effects of Inui's new juice kicked in. He locked his door, and it remained locked well past dinner time, to the consternation of his father.


"Momo-senpai. You're not eating."


Momoshiro dragged his attention away from what he had been doing, and discovered that it had been to stare at Ryouma's mouth as he drew on his straw, his lips moist with soda and pursed with pressure.

"Gomen, gomen!" he exclaimed, glancing away in confusion. Sure, he'd thought from the first time he'd seen him that Echizen Ryouma was an adorably surly little first-year student with intense topaz eyes and one of the most compact little bodies Momoshiro had ever seen... but he had not before felt such a libidinous attraction to the boy he considered to be probably his closest friend.

Or... at least not during his waking hours....

"Aren't you hungry, Momo-senpai?" Ryouma asked, putting down his own burger and tipping his head to one side. His inky-dark hair fell silken about his face, and his mouth was pouty.

"I... don't think I am anymore," Momoshiro answered, pushing his tray away with a discontented scowl. Whatever these twisting feelings inside of him were, they weren't leaving any room for his hamburger, and Momoshiro hated wasting perfectly good food.

"Are you all right?" Ryouma was staring at him, wide-eyed, clearly unsettled by Momoshiro's admission.

"I feel hot..." Momoshiro murmured, shifting in his chair. "I think I should... go home...."

"Heh?" Ryouma rose to his feet as his upperclassman did, both their meals only half-eaten. Unconsciously, he fanned at his own face, which was growing more flushed by the moment. "Let's go to my house. Maybe you'll feel better if we practice a little."

"Maybe." Momoshiro had no argument against going with Ryouma. It would beat returning to his own home and having to deal with his younger siblings. Besides, there was something in him, a rising tide of barely realized desire, that was urging him not to lose sight of that delicious little boy body.

Bad thoughts! Bad thoughts, Momo-chan! He slapped his cheeks, trying to will away the carnal images that were rising in the back of his head, of Ryouma all naked, translucent flesh, prettily blushing, covered in glistening salty perspiration....

"Are you all right?" Ryouma asked again, angling an almost anxious glance up at the taller boy. His smooth cheeks were glowing ever more pink, a strange light gleaming in his slanted topaz eyes, and he seemed to be picking up his step, almost to the point of running.

"Of course!" Momoshiro replied, keeping pace easily.

By the time they reached the Echizen residence the heat burning within them had reached a level that was barely manageable, and neither could any longer ignore the fact that what was truly aflame was the hormones that had only recently begun awakening in their bodies.

Momoshiro had been dealing with these longer than Ryouma, naturally, being a year older, but he had been channeling most of them into his tennis playing. Now that his desires were clambering at him to actually *do* something, he was at a loss as to how to proceed.

"Aren't we going to practice?" he asked as they clattered into the house, toeing off their shoes in the fly. He didn't think he'd be capable of it, but that was his excuse for being here.

"Iie." Grabbing Momoshiro's wrist, Ryouma practically dragged his senpai up the stairs into his bedroom. Momoshiro wasn't reluctant about following, of course. He thought that maybe Ryouma's father said something to them as they zipped past -- and didn't the man look familiar? -- but he was nothing more than a blur, soon shut away behind a slamming door.

"Gah~!" Momoshiro lost his footing, tripping when he tried to avoid stepping on a long-haired cat that suddenly appeared before him, and hitting the floor hard. "Ita-ta-ta...."

When he rolled over onto his back and propped himself up on his elbows, Momoshiro found that there was a lean body slung across his belly.

"Ah... Ryouma...?"

"Quiet," Ryouma commanded, staring down at his upperclassman with a strange glint in his eyes. "Annoying."

Momoshiro could feel Ryouma's hands on his shoulders, heavy and warm, and the boy's gaze was fixated on his mouth, but now that they were at the moment of truth, Ryouma seemed frozen. If not with fear, then perhaps with uncertainty.

Well, as his upperclassman, it was up to Momoshiro, then!

It wasn't such a great distance between the two of them, but bridging it took nearly all the courage that Momoshiro possessed. Forcing himself to stop thinking about anything other than how absolutely cute Ryouma was, he grasped the boy's shoulders and pulled him down.

Their noses bumped painfully, but undeterred, they abruptly discovered that their lips fit together almost perfectly.

And after that, it seemed that hormones were enough to guide the way after all.



Kaidoh Kaoru transmuted the entirety of his being to the rhythmic impact of his feet hitting the pavement, the jarring sensation that traveled up his shins into his thighs, the swinging of his arms, and the air filling and leaving his lungs.

Anything to take his mind off of the bizarre feelings that had begun to squirm their way into his gut shortly after he had left the Seigaku Regulars' special practice. He had a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with the juice that Inui-senpai had forced on them... but he couldn't quite place the feeling that was plaguing him. He only knew it was severely unsettling, and so he took refuge in something that he knew well; exhausting himself with his extra training.

At least, that was how it was supposed to work. But he thought that maybe this time Inui-senpai had actually come quite close to creating a stamina drink. Because instead of growing more tired as he ran, he was actually gaining more and more energy in addition to the odd feeling building inside.

He had jogged twice around the park without even realizing it, and the strange tugging at the base of his belly was only getting worse. Pausing beside a tree a ways off the path, Kaidoh panted for breath, wiping at the drops of sweat that rolled down to his chin. His brows twisted together in an angry scowl, though he couldn't be sure what it was he was angry at. He didn't like not being in control of his body; that was why he had taken up this training regiment, that was three times that of the normal Regulars.

The bark of the tree was rough beneath his palm. Kaidoh clung to the sensation as something concrete, when he felt as though the rest of his world was spinning out of his control. There was a swelling in a certain portion of his anatomy that he was extremely uncomfortable with, and there wasn't anything he could do about it. At least, not without going home first. But how was he even going to get there now?!


"Oi, you all right?"

Kaidoh started, not having noticed anyone approaching. He raised his gaze abruptly, staring wild-eyed at the person who was standing in front of him.

It was a high school student, clearly; a young man with tawny-gold hair falling to frame a sharp face. Hooded violet eyes examined him from head to toe, seeing too much for Kaidoh's peace of mind. The older youth was wearing a dirt and grass stained soccer uniform, and looked as though he had just been practicing.

"I'm fine!" Kaidoh said abruptly, turning his back. He was in too much turmoil to be polite, and he didn't like the broad smirk that curved the older boy's wide mouth.

"Ho?" The high school student stepped up close behind him, too close, invading his personal space. Kaidoh could feel body heat breaking against his back, and he was overwhelmed by the scent of the youth; cedar and vanilla and something else, spicy but indefinable, along with the fresh salt of physical exertion. It sent his senses swimming worse than they already were, but it wasn't an unpleasant thing... quite.

"You don't look as though you're fine." The youth's voice was low and husky, his breath breaking warm and moist against the curves of Kaidoh's ear and sending a shiver the full length of his spine.

"Oi, kora--!" Kaidoh spun to confront his unexpected, unnamed tormentor, only to find himself crowded up against the tree he had been leaning against. There were bare centimeters between their bodies, and Kaidoh froze in a panic. He knew that he could break away, knew instinctively that this youth would not try to stop him if he did, and yet he could not bring himself to move.

"Heh." A gentle, slightly callused hand cupped the sweat-dewed side of Kaidoh's face, and without any further commentary, the older boy leaned down, and placed his mouth over Kaidoh's.

Kaidoh's eyes flew wide in shock, but all he could see was a blurring of gold and somehow amused violet. Then the high school student's eyes slid closed, and his lips changed from brushing lightly against Kaidoh to an open mouthed, demanding kiss. Kaidoh stiffened as a hot-wet tongue slithered against the line of his lower lip, pressing for a reaction. He could feel the older boy's hands on his hips, and knew vaguely that he was gripping the rock hard muscles of his upper arms, but he wasn't attempting to push him away....

Their lips parted with a moist sound, and Kaidoh stared up slightly into those lazy violet eyes.

"K-kissu...." His first kiss... his first kiss had been with another boy... and it hadn't disgusted him. It ought to have, but instead he found that he only ached for more.

He wasn't sure which was more disturbing -- that it had happened, or that he had enjoyed it.

"You're cute," the older boy said. Kaidoh wanted to take offense, but his veins were zinging with a new excitement, and the tone of voice had not been condescending.

"N-name..." he managed to choke out. He wanted to know who was assaulting him in this overly familiar manner. "Your name...?"

"Mine?" The high schooler's hips were pressed against Kaidoh's, making it far too clear to both of them that Kaidoh's body at least had no protests to this cavalier treatment. He was starting to think that his brain didn't object either. Only his deeply ingrained modesty was kicking up a fuss, and that was being burned away by the effects of Inui-senpai's juice.

Because that was what it was, he was sure of it. But somehow he couldn't bring himself to break away. He found he was captivated by the play of the fading sunlight and shadows over the smooth lines of his captor's face, the way the beams caught at the faintest of peach fuzz on his jaw, the glow of humor and intelligence that filled those violet eyes, and the warm curve of that wide mouth. It couldn't be the fault of the juice that he found these things to be attractive, could it? Even Inui-senpai didn't have that power!

"I'm Kiryuu Touma." The youth's face crinkled in a grin that was as much friendly as it was lascivious. "But maybe we should go back to my place to conduct any further... introductions."

Kaidoh gave it a moment's consideration. With his inhibitions being burned away by Inui-senpai's juice, he could admit that it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened... and he was curious... and this Touma was certainly attractive....

One more sensual kiss decided him.


He had never been able to deny the orders of an upperclassman, anyway.


The next day dawned as bright and clear as the day before. But somehow a dark cloud seemed to be hanging over Seigaku Junior High. The morning sun shone down upon the guilty and the oblivious alike.

As Fuji strolled into the Tennis Club's training area, he saw that Tezuka and Inui were already there. Inui was running laps under the team captain's stern eye. It looked as though he had been doing so for quite some time.

"Tezuka." Fuji came to stand beside the taller youth. "How many...?"

"One hundred," Tezuka said, implacably. "That's to start."

"Ha~?" Fuji smiled, slanting a glance at Tezuka out of the corner of his eyes. "Better be careful, captain. Some might think you are being vindictive."

"Hn." This advice was ignored, but Fuji did not mind.

Takashi showed up next, looking even more sheepish than usual, his face blooming a fiery red each time he accidentally made eye contact with Fuji. Grasping his racket, he began firing off practice volleys with far more force than usual.

Fuji hid a smile. He had a soft spot for his Taka-san -- the only person who could call him "Fujiko-chan" and get away with it -- and he didn't really have any desire to make the youth any more uncomfortable than he clearly already was.


Although he had not snuck up on Takashi, the boy nearly jumped out of his skin. "H-hai~?" His voice broke and he stared at Fuji with huge brown eyes that held something close to panic.

Fuji grinned at him, trying to make his expression as comforting as possible, placing a hand on Takashi's shoulder and kindly ignoring the violent start that shook his body at this casual touch. "Taka-san. It's all right."

Takashi blinked at Fuji as he walked away, his jaw slack with confusion. Then he shook his head briskly, his knuckles whitening as he gripped his racket more tightly. He returned to hitting the balls, though now with less wild, unrestrained force than previously.

"Did you tell him?" Tezuka asked as Fuji moved past him, heading for his own racket.

"Iya." Fuji smirked wickedly. He wasn't that much more fond of Takashi.

The Golden Pair arrived next, Eiji bouncing around Oishi like a ball on a short tether, and Oishi grinning affectionately at his doubles partner. Wondering what the two might have made of the results of Inui's special drink, Fuji approached them.

"Nya?" Eiji blinked at the spectacle of Inui running laps alone. "What's going on?"

Fuji tilted his head. "Inui is being punished."

"What for?" Oishi asked, his brow furrowing. "What has he done?"

Fuji's eyes opened wide, and he stared at the members of the Golden Pair. "Ara? Didn't you drink Inui's juice yesterday too?"

"Of course!" Eiji pumped his arm, his mouth split in a broad grin. "I think it gave me even more energy than usual!"

"But you didn't notice anything out of the ordinary?" Fuji pressed curiously.

Oishi shook his head from side to side, his expression shaded with confusion. "Nothing different. And Eiji and I were together all afternoon and evening.... Why? What did it do?" Now he sounded faintly alarmed.

Fuji nearly giggled aloud, filing that little tidbit of information away for future consideration. Not that he hadn't already strongly suspected that the Golden Pair had more than a close friendship growing between them, but this had all but confirmed it.

"Nothing to worry about," he said soothingly. "Don't fret, Oishi."

Oishi didn't look completely convinced, but Eiji shrugged it off and began warming up, and after a moment, Oishi followed suit.

Fuji watched in amusement as Echizen Ryouma and Momoshiro Takeshi wandered onto the court, never moving too far from one another, but almost seeming unable to meet one another's eyes. They had been stumbling slowly toward something, Fuji thought, and it appeared that Inui's juice had tipped the balance.... Fuji just wondered whether it had been for the better. Too much too soon could sometimes be worse than too little too late.

Not that it was any of his business, of course. But as Tezuka complained so often, Fuji liked to meddle. He always did it in ways that were hidden, that no one who did not have a clear eye for such things could see. The possible relationship between Momoshiro and Ryouma, however, was something he was going to leave alone.

"Echizen! Momoshiro! Go and warm up together!"

Tezuka broke the ice; purposely, Fuji thought. Their captain may not like meddling, but neither would he allow anything to disturb the unity of the Seigaku Regulars.

"Hai!" Ryouma and Momoshiro answered Tezuka, then they glanced at each other. After an instant of severe discomfort, they grinned widely, and headed to the court with their rackets.

Fuji spared a small smile, though he made certain that Tezuka did not see it. It seemed as though things were going to be all right between the two underclassmen after all.

Kaidoh Kaoru never made it to practice, or to school afterwards for that matter. When Ryuzaki-sensei called his home, his mother told her that Kaidoh had come home late the night before and had seemed to be suffering from exhaustion, so she had kept him in bed the next day.

Tactfully, none of the Seigaku Regulars in the know said anything.

After school, Tezuka made Inui run fifty more laps. By the time he had finished them, Inui had a name for his most recent juice.

"Inui's Super Stamina Love-Love Potion Deluxe."

Tezuka made him swear never again to use it on any members of the Seigaku Regulars.

*owari da*