TezuRyo. Sappy, AU-ish, and hopefully not cheesy. First time writing these characters. That's all you need to know.

Disclaimer: Me don't own Tenisu No Oujisama, k?



Echizen Ryoma spent five years in America, participating in numerous tournaments and gaining renown with every victory. He gained the title of being the best in a short time. Then just as quickly as he rose, he disappeared without a trace. There was uproar in the tennis community as they pondered the whereabouts of this young prodigy. Ryoma informed no one of his disappearance—not even his American coach. All they found was a letter in his hotel room telling all his fans and the rest of the world that he was appreciative of the time he had in America and that it was finally time for an end.

His name is still mentioned in the record books. No one would ever lay eyes on another tennis player like him. He had far surpassed his father and any other player there ever lived. Echizen Ryoma was named a legend, and everyone respected his decision in retiring. It was a sad goodbye for the tennis world, but Ryoma had made his imprint everlasting. No one would forget what he accomplished at only the age of twenty-one.

"So, Echizen is back in Japan?"

"That's a safe enough assumption."

"Man, I can't believe he did that. Just up and left! That's so typical of him."

"I wonder why, though. It's rather unexpected."

"Hm…there are many speculations we can make. Perhaps Echizen simply grew bored."

"Inui, this is Ochibi we're talking about! He doesn't get bored of tennis! That'd be insane!"

The conversation went on ceaselessly and while sitting silently in a corner, Tezuka began stirring his coffee. Beside him, Fuji smiled. "Is this boring you, Tezuka?" he inquired casually.

The taller man took a sip from his coffee calmly. Fuji chuckled lightly.

Ryoma's retirement was something that mystified everyone—including Fuji himself. No one knew why he had chosen such an early date to leave the tennis scene and the contemplation was more than anyone could bear. So they had all met up for a group discussion. Tezuka had only joined because Kawamura insisted, and the former wasn't so cruel as to reject the kind man's offer. They had been discussing the topic for over an hour now—sometimes digressing to past events but always returning eventually to the main topic. Tezuka had endured it all with an impassive expression as he read his book peacefully. Everyone knew not to disturb him.

It wasn't to say that he was not the slightest bit interested, though. Tezuka had originally thought Ryoma's decision had been sudden as well. But he wasn't going to discuss his opinions as fervently as his companions. It didn't feel right to gossip about a friend. So he kept to himself and absentmindedly listened to the exchanged words as he read his book. It was only when a dead silence greeted Tezuka's ears did he finally look up.

Everyone's attention was drawn to the figure that had just stepped into the parlor. Tezuka stared at him for a minute, trying to figure out why he looked so familiar before finally realizing whom it was. Echizen Ryoma had matured in the past few years. He had grown exponentially and now rivaled Tezuka's own height. His frame was lean but his face remained the same as ever. Those intense amber eyes of his remained forever alluring to strangers and a faint smirk painted his face as he walked towards Tezuka's table.

"It's impolite to talk about someone when they're not here," he greeted.

Instantaneous pandemonium ensued.

"Echizen! How did you know we were here!" cried out Momoshiro in shock.

"Ochibi!" shouted Kikumaru as he promptly pulled the younger man into a bone-crushing hug. Then he withdrew and eyed Ryoma from top to bottom. "Well, not really 'Ochibi' anymore, but it doesn't matter!"

Ryoma smiled slightly as the rest of his former teammates rushed up to greet him joyfully. Tezuka remained seated but caught the other's eye and nodded faintly. Ryoma smirked lightly as he pulled away from Momoshiro and Kikumaru's embrace.

"What was that you asked, Inui?" he inquired, looking curiously at the older man.

Inui crossed his arms. "Yes, well, we were all debating the issue on your retirement. So who else is better to ask than the person himself? Why did you suddenly disappear?" he repeated slowly.

Ryoma thought to himself for a moment. A slow smile crossed his pale face before he shrugged nonchalantly. Everyone listened raptly as he spoke. "I had a different goal in mind—and tennis wasn't related to it," he answered, eyeing everyone carefully.

The effect was immediate.

"A new goal? What is it? What is it? Oh please tell us, Ochibi!" begged Kikumaru as he clamped down on the younger man's arm.

Fuji smiled thoughtfully to himself at the prospect of a new mystery. He looked at Ryoma again and frowned slightly. It was unlike the latter to be so mysterious, though—nor so outspoken. Those years in America must have influenced him greatly. He had only been sixteen when he left. That was quite a bit of time they had to catch up with. Fuji folded his arms and grinned. It was nice to have everyone together again. It brought on a pleasant sense of nostalgia.

"Does this mean you've given up on tennis?" cried out Momoshiro suddenly.

Ryoma looked at him. "No," he replied evenly, "I just have something else in mind right now."

"The chances of this happening are very slim. I would never have predicted it," murmured Inui as he scribbled away in his notebook.

"So what is it?" repeated Kikumaru enthusiastically.

Ryoma gave no response and instead walked up to where Tezuka was situated. The latter had been reading his book up until the point Ryoma's shadow was cast over him. He glanced upwards and saw the younger man staring at him wryly.

"Are you busy, Buchou?" he inquired offhandedly.

For a moment Tezuka felt the urge to correct Ryoma, but decided against it. The latter refused to call him otherwise no matter how many times he had insisted. "Why?" he replied, arching an eyebrow slightly.

Ryoma gave an impish grin as he leaned down on the table. "I have a question for you," he stated formally. Tezuka gazed back at him patiently as he waited for Ryoma to continue. The amber-eyed man placed a chin in his hand as he spoke, a mixed expression of amusement and wonder on his face. "How about we go on a date?"

For a second time that day the entire café parlor went silent.


The parts do get longer, trust me. Prologues are usually very short for me. xD