AN: Hello everyone! This is my first Sakuno/Ryoma fic. Not many people, that I've seen here, believe in this couple, but my friend and I have been talking about this pair FOREVER! I decided to do a fic on our favorite 7th graders, only a little older. So, please read and enjoy!

Summary: RyoSaku. Short story. With Ryoma always obsessing about beating his father, Sakuno can't seem to scratch the boy's hard surface. Even after two years of being his 'friend' and secret admirer, Sakuno can't get Ryoma to look her way as a friend. If she can't do that, then how will she get him to open up at all? So, slowly but surely, Sakuno steps out of the start tennis player's life, and Ryoma learns a little about the one girl whose been with him since day one...

Warnings: OOC-ness. Not much, but definitely OOC. Ryoma's a little... nicer... ((shivers))

Disclaimer: All rights reserved.

Part One

Staring at the tennis courts, the pig-tailed teenager watched someone from a distance. Her bright brown eyes shone with a natural glaze of naiveté, but also a hint of sadness. Her jade green uniform fit snugly around her fifteen-year-old body, which had developed over the years. Her form had become like a vase and was built mostly of muscle, due to many years of tennis and running across the courts. And, thanks to her training, her tennis had improved. Not to the point where she could be the captain of the team, but definitely one of their best. Her obaa-chan had trained her hard, and she was thankful.

Along with her change in skill, her appearance had morphed as well. Her skin was no longer pale, like it had been a few years ago, because of all of the outdoor training; Sakuno was no longer a child. But her trademark hairstyle was still on her head, and her affectionate attitude toward the Prince of Tennis hadn't changed. She was still the innocent child that had run into Ryoma when they were in seventh grade.

'Am I doing the right thing?' Sakuno asked, watching from behind a tall tree, only a few yards away.

The object of her love was the most popular boy in school, captain of the tennis team and one of the best-looking young men in the area. That's right. Ryoma Echizen, the Prince of Tennis and the one person who would never give Sakuno a second glance.

But, why would he? He was beautiful, all of the other girls raved. They loved to watch his matches, just so they could see him sweat and let his clothes stick to his well-built upper body. His legs were muscular and ran fast across the court with agility like a feline. His ebony eyes expressed very little, but, at the same time, spoke more than words ever could. His silent demeanor added a mysterious charm to the teen's already attractive features.

The only turn-off was the cold façade that haunted the fifteen-year-old boy's personality. He easily brushed off girls and had only a few friends, which most had graduated and waited his turn to high school. He was an ice king, wishing only to be left alone. He wanted nothing to do with the world, unless it was tennis. His ultimate desire was to beat his father, which was the only reason he continued to compete. But, thanks to a wake up call from the former captain of the Seigaku tennis team, Ryoma grew up and had started a real desire for tennis.

Tennis was, at the moment, his only desire in the world.

So he wouldn't notice, or care, if anyone had left him alone to perfect his art.

'He wouldn't even notice me leaving anyway...' Sakuno thought sadly, as she leaned against the tree she stood by and closed her eyes in both contemplation and sadness.

The young girl was considering on whether or not she should pull out of the Prince's life. After many years of knowing each other, Sakuno had next to zero information about Ryoma. She knew he played tennis and loved his cat, Karupin. His friends on the tennis team, from last year and the year before, were now in high school, and he was waiting to join them one day soon.

But, after a few days of introspective, Sakuno realized that Ryoma didn't care if she was alive. He never acknowledged her, unless her grandmother asked him to. Even the occasional hello in the hall was never answered, unless it was a brief nod. He had every other girl in school on his tail, so he had no reason to notice her. Ryoma just didn't care. Even Tomo-chan was beginning to lose patience, but Sakuno knew that her best friend's crush never really wavered.

Ryoma was someone who wouldn't let you under his skin.

He just didn't care for people. But, Sakuno thought, after years of knowing each other, she might have gotten the chance to get to understand him and he would open up. But he hadn't. Echizen Ryoma was as unfeeling as the rock that sat on your front lawn. What could you do if he didn't want to change?

Weighing the pros and cons, it was obvious that the cons won. There were too many negative things about her unrequited feelings, which meant that she should give up. Turn her back on the Prince of the Courts, and wait to fall in love again. But she would be scarred by the love that never had the chance to relish in the sunlight. A relationship that would never reach beyond the stars because Ryoma would never love her, no matter how hard she tried.

As the thoughts polluted her mind, Sakuno closed her eyes even more tightly, holding back a wave of grief and a fresh batch of tears. Biting on her bottom lip, Sakuno held her head high and allowed the salty liquid to fall back into her eyes. She held them back because they weren't needed. Ryoma-kun... no, Echizen-san didn't deserve her tears.

'He wouldn't care if you cried until the sun stopped shining...' she reminded herself, and drooped her head once the tears had finally stopped. Lifting her head, she shook herself out of her melancholy stupor. Turning towards the courts to look at Ryoma, Sakuno let herself have one last smile. He was her first love, and the one that would never know.

As she turned her back to the tennis courts, she also closed a chapter on her life. Her life, her being, her universe, no longer belonged to Ryoma. Sakuno had her own dreams, and she was going to live them. Ryoma wasn't hers, never was and never will be.

She had to say goodbye.

Goodbye to his "friendship".

Goodbye to his impudent attitude.

Goodbye to his unholy smirk.

And, of course...

"Goodbye Ryoma."


So the days turned into weeks, and Sakuno was learning to back out of Ryoma-ku...I mean, Echizen-san's life. She didn't go to his practices and watch him from afar like she used to. She wasn't one of his cheerleaders like Tomo-chan still was. Little by little, Sakuno was gaining control over her life again. She no longer had to please the one person who remained unappeasable.

In fact, ever since she had given up on Echizen, Sakuno felt better about herself. Of course there were the moments of self-doubt that climbed and clung to her, but she either brushed them aside, or ignored them. Her dependent personality no longer existed fully on Ryoma. Sure, she still thought he was amazing, but she loved tennis. She watched him for his tennis, not him. And she felt like she could live like that for the rest of her life.

Also, there was the weird fact that she felt many people watch her walk down the halls, all boys from one class or another. They would always say a good morning, and when she replied, they quickly blushed and turned away. And, being the ever-so clueless Ryuzaki that she was, Sakuno always wondered why. Sometimes she was beyond help, and this was one of those times.

So, it was another one of those normal mornings. She had said hello to a few friends and admirers when screaming was heard behind her. Her mind told her to move away from the middle of the hall, but she couldn't. Curiosity got her and she couldn't help herself.

Turning around, Sakuno's jaw dropped. There she was, Tomo-chan, her best friend, and she was running even faster than Shinji of Fudomine in a match. Her speed left people jumping away from her, with many yelps and curses in her trail from people who she nearly killed.

"SAKUNO!" Tomo-chan screamed, and immediately clamped onto her friends shoulders, causing Sakuno to sway when she grabbed on. Thankfully, though, Sakuno had almost completely grown out of her clumsy stage. Using her newfound reflexes, Sakuno turned, her friend still clamped onto the girl. She was able to gain enough momentum to stop them from falling to the ground and landing in a heap.

"Umm... A-and a good morning to you too, Tomo-chan..." Sakuno stuttered, feeling the weight of the impact shaking through her body. Unfortunately, her best friend refused to leave her back. She laughed without a care in the world.

"Wow, Sakuno," Tomo-chan praised, "You've gotten much better at staying on your feet. Remember in seventh grade, where you tripped over anything in your way?"

Not wishing to be reminded, Sakuno nodded with a hot blush on her face. She couldn't help it. Those weren't times she was exactly proud of. I mean most people hated embarrassing things like that. And somehow, Sakuno had been tripping over herself for quite some time before she learned that there was an actual way to stop.

"Yeah... Thanks Tomo-chan," Sakuno sighed, and pried the girl's arms off her. Gently, but firmly, she made the scrawny arms of her friend leave her as she picked up her book bag, which she had dropped during this whole thing.

"Guess what!" Tomo-chan asked excitedly, walking alongside Sakuno, who was heading toward class.

"What?" she replied, obviously not in the mood for gossip so early in the morning, and especially not after the heart-stopping beginning of the day.

"There's going to be another tournament!" she squealed, and Sakuno smiled politely at her friend's enthusiasm. So that's it? Another chance to see Ryoma and the other regulars crush more teams? Sighing, Sakuno listened to her friend's rambling.

"And not only that, but Ryoma might actually play too. He doesn't play too often. Everyone says he's saving himself for the nationals, but whatever. There are also going to be a ton of reporters and we're going to have to be there. Me, because I am the president of his fan club. And you have to go to take pictures for me. You know I can't compete with you when it comes to seeing tennis matches. You're eyes were built for the fast-pace game, not mine. Oh, and I also heard some interesting rumors..."

And that was all that pretty much made its way to Sakuno's head. Everything else was mindless gook said by other Prince of Tennis fans. But she vaguely heard the words about the former regulars coming to check on their 'Ochibi.' The name brought a small smile to a face because the name no loner suited him. He wasn't so small anymore.

And the fact was reinforced when she opened the door, and hit someone else on the other side of it. And, since her agility was already used too early in the morning, she found herself falling to the ground. However, she stopped in midair, when an arm had wound around her waist, and she looked up, now staring at her savior.

A handsome face looked down at her, and it was still as cold and unfeeling as ever. There was a flash of recognition that shone through his perfect eyes though. Those golden, cat-like eyes that melted every girl they happened to peer at. Every girl, except this one. His dark hair with green highlights fell into his eyes. And how the light caught his beautiful mane was breathtaking.

"Ryuzaki-san," he said, his voice deep and sensuous. If this had happened to her two weeks ago, Sakuno would have died in his arms, quite happily as well. But, he no longer held such a feeling over her, and she smiled up at him, embarrassed as usual.

"Aa, Echizen-san," she said, and noticed the raise of his brow when he sat her on his feet. She hadn't spoken to him for quite a while, so he hadn't understood her sudden change in using his last name, instead of his first. He watched as she dusted her uniform, and smiled brightly up at him.

"Gomen ne," she said with a bow, "I didn't mean to bump into you. Honest."

She gave him one last smile, before making her way to her seat near the back window. She left a stunned group of girls, including Tomoka, in her wake. How had the once spineless girl, fall into the Tennis Prince's arms and not do so much as bat an eyelash? The old Sakuno would have blushed and stuttered until there was a new shade of red on her face. But no one knew of her promise to keep her distance from the popular captain, which left everyone in a daze at her calmness.

Even Ryoma had to wonder what happened just then. The Ryuzaki he knew would have muttered some words he couldn't hear and start apologizing profusely, as was her way. Now, however, Sakuno was polite and civil, a young girl who was totally together. Her eyes no longer shone the adoration he had noticed a few times by her, and many times by other not-so-secret admirers. It left him in confusion, and Ryoma hated confusion.

AN: Okay! First part done! The second part is almost finished. So, that'll be up soon. I hope you all enjoyed the first half. This is the first fic I've written in a while, so excuse me if I'm rusty! And, of course, REVIEW!

Well, till next time!

Much love,