A sudden storm had come up during practice, complete with plenty of lightning and booming thunder. And, of course, way too much rain to be legal, though the storm itself isn't really that big of a surprise. As usual, Momoshiro doesn't bother to keep his opinion of the circumstances a secret.

"There've been too many storms lately!" he complains as he dries off his hair. Eiji nods vehemently in agreement.

"It's surprising that there haven't been many floods yet," Fuji comments.

"It is strange. I wonder why," Oishi says as he finishes drying off.

"What do you think, Echizen?" Momoshiro asks, just to see what would happen. When there's no answer at all, he turns to look at the freshman, and blinks. "Echizen?"

The boy in question is standing at the window, staring out at the storm. An unused towel is grasped loosely in one hand, and Ryoma doesn't seem to care that he's still soaked. Oishi looks over, and his mother instinct immediately kicks in.

"Ryoma, you should dry off," he says. Ryoma doesn't so much as bat an eyelash; the storm has captured his attention completely. It isn't until Eiji jumps on him that he takes his eyes away from the window.

"Kikumaru-sempai," he mutters, glancing over his shoulder. In the process, he notices some of his teammates watching, and blinks before tugging his cap down to hide his eyes. Eiji hops off, then wraps an arm around the shorter boy's shoulders.

"Scared of the storm, Ochibi?" he asks, grinning. At the mention of the storm, Ryoma lifts his head and blinks again, this time as if he's just remembered something important. His large, cat-like eyes go straight back to the window and stay there.

"No. I'm not scared," he whispers. There's something strange about his voice, and now everyone's looking at him. Inui is frowning thoughtfully, one hand resting on his notebook, but he doesn't move to pick it up.

"I'm going outside," Ryoma announces suddenly, after several minutes of heavy silence. Eiji and Momoshiro jump slightly, startled, and by the time they and everyone else have gotten over their surprise, Ryoma is opening the door. A gust of wind blows his hat off and sweeps rain into the room.

"O-oi, Echizen!" Momoshiro moves forward, but two steps later Ryoma is outside and out of reach. Momoshiro and Eiji are the next to reach the door, and the others quickly follow. Ignoring their shouts, Ryoma keeps walking until he can't hear them anymore, though he doesn't have to go much farther than twenty feet. Once he reaches this point, he closes his eyes and turns his face up to the clouds. The rain pounds against him, collects between his closed lips, beats at his eyelids. Thunder crashes, so loudly it almost drowns out the sound of the rain, which is quite an accomplishment. Lightning streaks through the air; he can see it through his eyelids. And to be completely honest, standing there in the storm is one of the most comfortable - for lack of a better word - things he's ever expirienced. In fact, he feels like he belongs here.

Two of his teammates are now running towards him; he can feel their every footstep, hear their every breath, see the muscles of their legs at work even with his eyes closed, taste their skin as the rain hit it, as disturbing as that seems. It's strange to have his senses know these things when they shouldn't be able to. Maybe it's just because he's around them so often, maybe he's merely imagining it. And he knows they're running towards him because that's what they would do. But, how can he explain the way he can tell which ones they were?

Kaidoh-sempai, the rain, he, says, lips hardly moving. The rainwater that had collected there drips down his chin, dislodged by the movement. Momo-sempai. And it makes sense that it's just those two, because it's a very Kaidoh-and-Momo thing to do, now that he thinks about it.

And then strong hands and arms are pulling him back, and he hears Momoshiro's voice, and Kaidoh's, proving him right. No, he protests firmly at being dragged, but only in his mind, because his voice doesn't seem to be working. He can't glare at them, either, because his eyes are still closed.

Something in the air shifts slightly, and Ryoma sees lightning strike the place he'd been standing just a moment before. It's beautiful and deadly at the same time, he thinks, sort of like Fuji-sempai. Momo and Kaidoh have stopped moving, surprised, and Ryoma's eyes are still closed.

The cat-like eyes open in time to see lightning flash again, but it doesn't strike anything. He's relieved, because somehow he knows that if his eyes had remained closed, the lightning would have struck him and Momo and Kaidoh, and it would've been all his fault. But at the same time, he feels disappointed, for some inexplicable reason, as if he's missing out on something wonderful. He wonders vaguely if this means he's a masochist, and doesn't notice that he's being dragged again.

Abruptly, he finds himself sitting down. In the distance, he can hear the sound of a door closing, and someone fussing over him. It takes him a moment to realise he isn't outside anymore, and he feels a pang of regret, or, if it isn't that, it's something he can't define. He realises he feels numb from the force of the rain, and he realises that, for a moment, he'd lost all common sense and actually gone out into that storm from Hell. He also realises that he's shivering violently, and he frowns and curls up slightly to try and get warm.

Oishi wraps a towel around the boy, who looks very small and pitiful sitting there on the floor. Ryoma gratefully tightens the towel around himself, but the shivering doesn't cease.

"What in the world possessed you to go out into that?" Oishi asks, sighing. Ryoma doesn't respond, but Oishi doesn't really expect him to.

"You scared us to death. If it weren't for Momo and Kaidoh, you'd have been hit by that lightning," Eiji says, shivering at the thought. Ryoma mumbles something incoherent, and curls up as much as possible.

"It doesn't look like the rain will let up soon. We might have to spend the night here," Momoshiro remarks. Ryoma closes his eyes and yawns, resting his head on his knees. Momoshiro scoops him up and sets him on one of the benches, then makes a valiant attempt at getting him to wake up. "Echizen, you should dry off before you sleep."

Ryoma sleepily swats at the older boy's hand. "Go 'way, Momo-sempai," he mumbles. If everyone's going to bug him about drying off and not let him get any sleep, he doesn't wan't to stay the night here. He wrinkles his nose, and wills the rain to just stop already.

Momoshiro is trying to think of a good threat and has nearly come up with something when he realises it's suddenly become very quiet, and he looks out the window. "Oh, the storm stopped," he says, blinking in surprise, and looks back at Ryoma and finds that the boy is already fast asleep.