"I don't want to kiss either of them!"

The words stuck in his head, even now. They echoed and replayed, making it impossible for him to sleep.

It was the loud one's fault, he'd decided. The entire problem started because she started a fight with another tennis player over who was better, him or Ryoma-sama. The one with pigtails, Ryuzaki, was about to have a stroke, trying to calm her loud friend down, and then Momo-sempai had to jump in. It was too big a deal over something so stupid, but he agreed to play the guy, anyway. It's not like it would take long, right?

But then that loud, irritating girl had to give the guy stakes. Nevermind that he had just been baiting her, saying nothing was in it for him.

"Why should I play that little twerp? There's nothing in it for me, is there?" Ryoma's memory replayed the exact turn of events that created the scenario that tormented his mind right now.

"Fine. Whoever wins, Sakuno will kiss." The girl said with her grating voice.

Ryuzaki jumped, and stared at her friend. "Tomo-chan!" She said in a tortured voice, while at the same time the jerk she'd been fighting with grinned and agreed.

The girl waved her off. "Don't worry, Sakuno-chan!" She said triumphantly. "No way that guy is gonna win, and then you can kiss Ryoma!"

So of course he'd jumped, the idea not having completely formulated in his head at the time the stakes were set. "Nani?" His voice was a bit more shocked than he would have preferred.

And then she'd said it, stomping her foot and glaring at her loud friend. "I don't want to kiss either of them!"

She left after that, but her words had shocked him to the point that he almost lost the game. Kissing of any kind had never really crossed his mind, and he certainly didn't want to be forced into a kiss because some loud mouthed fangirl said he had to, but it had never even occurred to him that the girl wouldn't want to kiss him.

After the game, the loud one tried to force herself on him, which got her a sharp tap in the head from his racquet. "What are you doing?" He asked.

"Well, Sakuno-chan ran off, so she can't kiss you. So now I will." She pounced toward him, and he instinctively brought his racquet up between his face and hers. She pressed so hard against it that most of her face pushed through the openings between the strings, and Ryoma decided he could never use that racquet again. When she bounced back, he frowned at her.

"You said Ryuzaki. She can kiss me later." He said simply, mostly to get her away from him, but again his head hadn't processed the idea. Before he could even think about what he'd said, Momo was on him, gushing about the beauty of youth.

But now he lay in bed, his mind reverberating with words that affected him far more than he preferred or would admit. Why wouldn't she want to kiss him? Didn't she like him, or something?

But then, whenever an opportunity arose for her to be close to him, she avoided it. The loud one basked in his presence, and sometime succeeded in bullying Ryuzaki into doing the same, but from what he noticed, or could remember, she avoided getting within three feet of him, and ran away when anyone even mention the idea of them being a couple. How much sense does that make?

He was aware that if she's simply kept her mouth shut, and tried to kiss him, he'd have told her no, and that would be the end of it. But that's not what happened. No only did she avoid him, she said, nearly screamed, that she didn't want to.

"That wasn't very nice of her…" He muttered under his breath. Next to him Karupin meowed gently.

He rolled to his side and pressed the pillow against his face, refusing to think about it. Even then, it took a long time for him to drift off.


The next day at school, she avoided him completely, which didn't help the whirlwinds of confusion bouncing around in his brain already. If he saw her at all it was from the corner of his eye as she ducked around the corner or into a room. By the time school was over and he was heading toward the tennis courts for practice he was ready to scream. Were all girls this confusing, or just the ones threatened with the thought of kissing him?

It went on like this for a week. His mind was preoccupied an alarming amount with her and whatever she thought of him, or what she thought he thought of her, and so on into even more confusing grounds. It got to the point in which he lost dazzlingly to Momo-senpai in a love match. Something he was only faintly aware that he would never be allowed to live down.

When he got home he went immediately to his room and sulked. His father decided he'd lost an important match, and his mother was cooking. It was his cousin who came to see what was wrong.

He wouldn't have let her in, but he didn't want to get up, and she had a key for his lock. Instead he ignored her, staring pointedly at the ceiling. It was a girl who got him into this mess; he refused to associate with any anymore.

She sat on the edge of his bed. "Did you lose an important match?"

He ignored her.

She tilted her head to the side. "Something one of your friends said?"

He scratched his hand and ignored her.

"Is it about a girl?"

His hand jerked, and she was smiling before he could think of an excuse. "What did she do?"

He looked to the side. "None of your business."

She was holding her hand up to cover a smile, which only made him want to hit her more. "Is it a girl you like?"

He looked back at her and glared.

She sighed. "That attitude is fine, if you want to sit in your room and sulk for the rest of her life." His arms crossed over his chest and he ducked his head. "But maybe if you tell me what happened, I can help?"

He ducked his head further. "What'll you tell me? Girls are confusing and irritating. I already know that."

She shook her head and set her hand against her temple. "That's a very mature way of looking at things. What happened? Did you ask someone out and she turned you down?"

His eyes were nearly squinted in a glare. "I didn't say anything. I don't even like her. She's… squeaky."

She sighed again, (how many times had she done that?) and turned towards the door. "If she seems so 'squeaky' to you, maybe it's just that you intimidate her?" Before jumping into the hall to avoid the pillow he'd thrown at her.

What could she know? She was the enemy, wasn't she?

Ryoma rolled over and buried his face in his (other) pillow. "Stupid girls with their stupid emotions and their stupid braids and their stupid talking…" He trailed off, falling asleep.


Ryoma had gone from distracted, to wanting very much to vent his frustration overnight. He whooped his sempais' tails so bad that they almost forgot how badly he'd lost the day before. He grumbled, and slung his bag over his shoulder. He headed toward the opposite side of the building, mostly to avoid more taunting, but also to 'practice' against a wall.

He almost felt like screaming when he was presented with the sound of tennis ball hitting a solid surface. Who on earth was taking up is practice space?

He turned the corner to see, closer than he'd seen her in a week, Ryuzaki. Apparently she'd needed to vent, or ahem 'Practice' too. He had to admit, she'd gotten a bit better. Like, a tiny bit. Enough that he didn't wince watching her. Most of the time.

She didn't see him, so he slid farther out of her view and behind her. If she did see him, she might mutter an excuse and bolt, or she might just bolt.

He had started with a plan to sneak up on her and demand an explanation, but he paused, and in that pause he forgot what he was doing and simply watched her. The movement of her arm and hand, her clothing, her legs. She wasn't bending her knees far enough. He looked down at her foot work, and then back up at her legs. 'Knees...' he told himself, 'Knees…knees…knees, knees, kneeskneesknees…' but he wasn't watching he knees, and he knew it.

Her foot slid too far, and she hit the ball funny. It flew above her head and straight toward his face. He sidestepped and caught it, as she caught her breath and then turned to retrieve it. He found himself face to face with her (well…facing her, she was about three feet away…) for the first time that week, clutching her tennis ball and watching he eyes widen.

"R-ryoma-kun!" She choked out.

"You need to bend your knees more." He said, almost mechanically, before handing her back her tennis ball.

She gulped and nodded, and backed up toward her bag. He took a deep breath. She was gonna bolt. He knew it.

She had her bag on her shoulder and was turning towards the path when he stopped her. He cleared his throat, which he was sure gave away his uneasiness.

"Why don't you want to kiss me?" He said to her, in the gentlest, most un-intimidating (damn stupid girls with their stupid talking…) way he knew how. He was surprised to find he sounded almost hurt.

She cringed, and turned with the saddest look on her face. Shyuh, he'd sounded hurt.

"Ryoma-kun…i-it's not that I don't w-want you to k-kiss me…" She took a deep breath. "I j-just didn't want to be some prize."

He frowned, then shrugged and looked away. "Fine. You're not."

He glanced up to see her looking at her feet, her hands clutched in front of her. She looked close to tears.

He stepped a little closer. "So…now do you want to kiss me?"

Her head shot up. Her eyes were huge, and her face was becoming rapidly redder. He fought back a smirk.

"N-nani?" She squeaked. Squeaky…

He didn't bother to answer her. He stepped closer, bent his head down, and caught her lips gently with his. Were all girls' lips this soft? His heart started thundering in his ears.

He pulled away, sure he was blushing. Sakuno's blush, however, had died down to a light pink tinge. Here eyes were half closed and looked a great deal darker, and her lips had turned a very nice shade of red. She looked almost…alluring…

"Don't avoid me like that. It makes me…jittery." He frowned and walked around her. She stopped him with a gentle hand on his arm. When he turned to look at her, he was relieved to see she looked almost back to normal.

"Ryoma-kun," Oh, she didn't sound back to normal. "If that was supposed to be a punishment, it wasn't a very good one…"


A/N: Everything from when the cousin leaves, to here is new for this one. I was stuck, every ending I thought up sucked. (including this one, probably…) Also, a neat little tidbit, everything that I've posted, this fic, 'Hate To Love' and the first chapter of Momo-san is a freaking nutcase (not the real title, but I don't remember it, and I don't want to go look) Is actually very, very old. I wrote it near the beginning of 2005, never really finished it or liked it, and then never posted it. I'm trying to get my writing back in practice. It usually turns out better when I pace myself, actually think the story through. Unfortunately, I'm not all that patient. But, like I said, I'm trying to hone my writing, so very kindly worded, surrounded by lots of praise and cooing criticism is appreciated. Not really immediately, but when my writing gets better, I'll appreciate it. Probably…

(PS: I am just in a posting frenzy this week, huh? I mean, dang, right?)