Tezuka looked around the mansion he’d been ushered into, a sinking feeling
in his stomach indicating that this was a horribly bad idea and he should
just go home. He wondered where his better judgment had gone, and decided
that it had probably left in disgust the moment he spoke with an angel. He
noted the rather prominent chair at the other end of the room, which was
made all the more notable for the fact that the tea table a few feet away
from it had a motif of peach and cherry blossoms.
“Nakuru calls it the Throne of Evil,” an amused voice informed him
from the shadows. “I would move it out of the room, but everyone’s
terribly fond of it, especially little Nadeshiko.” There was a pause. “I
had no idea I had another cute relative in Tokyo.”
Tezuka’s expression didn’t change. “I was under the impression
that you kept track of the Li family and where they went.”
A man emerged from the shadows. Tezuka quirked an eyebrow at the man’s apron,
which had a pink heart on it, and his blue head kerchief. The man smiled brightly
at Tezuka. “Well, I kept track of Ayana until I was sure she was happily
married, but I couldn’t possibly track all of the children that married
out of the Li family through the years, now can I?”
“I suppose not,” said Tezuka stiffly. “I apologize for my rudeness.
I’m Tezuka Kunimitsu. It’s an honor to meet you, ancestor.”
“Pfft. You make me feel old. I’m Hiiragizawa Eriol, though you’re
free to call me ‘uncle’ if you like.” Something about Eriol’s
purely friendly smile made Tezuka uneasy. He wasn’t sure precisely why he
wanted to have a wall at his back at the moment, but he forced himself to ignore
the urge and go on.
“…Uncle,” Tezuka began. He was mystified when Eriol snickered,
but Eriol waved at him to go on. “I don’t want to take up much of
“Oh, but you must stay for tea,” Eriol said firmly. “Indulge
a poor old man like myself and sit,” Eriol said, waving to the table. “I
already made enough for both of us, and if Nakuru and Spinel stop being so eerily
quiet, I’m sure they’ll enjoy the tea too.”
As if on cue, there was a crash from upstairs, accompanied by a series of thuds.
Eriol walked over to poke his head out the door. “Is everyone alright?”
“I DIDN’T DO IT SUPPI DID!”
Eriol sighed faintly. “I suppose I’ll find out later,” he said,
waving at Tezuka to sit down, again.
Tezuka hesitantly moved to take a seat and Eriol poured the tea. Upon trying one
of the scones, he remarked, “This is very good. Where did you get it?”
“Oh, I like to cook,” Eriol said offhandedly. He shrugged at Tezuka’s
mystified look. “If I couldn’t make proper scones myself, I’d
have to give back my English heritage, and that would be very difficult at this
point. But you said you have a problem,” he added, just as Tezuka took another
bite of the scone.
Tezuka attempted not to give Eriol a dark look, and succeeded only from a life
of training. It took Tezuka a few minutes to finish the piece of scone, and he
said, “I’ve been visited by members of the heavenly host. And people
from hell. Currently, the archangel Raphael has healed my shoulder…”
“I noticed that you’d been touched by an angel,” Eriol remarked
into his teacup. Tezuka decided that he never, ever wanted Eriol to meet Fuji.
He knew that inflection, and given that Fuji might have already spoken with that
demon, Tezuka did not need any more headaches.
“…Yes. Michael offered, but I refused. Lucifer and the Mad Hatter
have also visited.” Tezuka looked down at his teacup. “I’m concerned
for the well-being of my team…”
“You’re looking at the Nationals, aren’t you?” At Tezuka’s
glance, Eriol added, “I’m psychic. Also, your mother sends me regular
letters.” Tezuka scowled at Eriol, whose smile only brightened. “Got
to keep up on the children who are close by, wot?”
Tezuka knew better than to point out that Eriol had said the opposite earlier
and forged on. “I just wanted your assurance that, in the interests of looking
after your family, you would be willing to help me if any of mine trapped themselves
in a mistake.”
Eriol nodded. “Of course. I’m always willing to help out family. I’ll
have to meet your team, now, to make sure there isn’t undue influence already…”
Tezuka twitched, and nearly did so again when he realized that Eriol’s smile
didn’t have to change to look cheerfully evil. “I’m sure that
Eriol took a sip of tea. “Yes, yes, he’s very good at what he does,
but I should see my nephew’s friends, and besides, the last time I saw a
good game of tennis was at Wimbledon.”
“Thank you,” Tezuka managed. “…though,” he added,
suddenly thoughtful, “I might need your help in making a fair balance.”
Eriol set down his cup as his smile shifted to one of polite interest. “Oh?
Keeping the balance in what way?”
“It would require too much participation, really,” Tezuka added. He
shook his head. “I’d hate to impose on you, since I know that they
have a minor angel taking care of them already…” Tezuka kept his gaze
firmly on his teacup.
“Do tell,” Eriol urged, sitting back and steepling his fingers. “You’ve
“Hyoutei seems to be the only school in serious contention in the Nationals
without special backing,” Tezuka explained. “They have an angel, but
not one on the level of the others, and I’d be disappointed if they were
put at a disadvantage by no fault of their own.”
Eriol looked thoughtful. “I have been looking for something to do with my
free time.” When the smile returned, Tezuka found himself wondering if he
felt sorrier for Hyoutei or for the other teams. “I’ll help you out.
Now, let’s finish our tea, and then I’ll go meet your lovely boys.”
It was at that point that Tezuka began to wonder who had manipulated whom. He
pushed the thought aside, deciding that in this case, he really didn’t
want to know.