Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis or any of its characters. I only own the DVDs of the anime and the OVA.
Warning: May contain spoilers for the latest manga chapters. Shonen-ai fic.
Pairings: Tezuka X Echizen, Momoshiro X Ann
(This chapter comes before chapter 25 of Life After Seigaku)
A/N: This will be the last chapter for the Echizen, Our Buchou/Life After Seigaku back-to-back fics. It has been a real pleasure writing them, and now that I have to end it, it does feel a little sad. Thank you for reading the two fics. With any luck, the sequel, Trials of Life, will be up……eventually.
forgotteen hyoshi, one more vote for him as vice-captain. The poor guy is trying hard not to blush behind me, but he's failing. (grins) . So sorry for the late update the last time. As I mentioned, exams. :p
Quill, it was very difficult to catch Kintarou's characteristics. He isn't a Kirihara Akaya type (he literally tries to kill his opponents, that one). Kintarou's just very childish…and wild. Hates losing and would do anything to win. Glad he turned out alright. As for Wolfram…not just the eyelashes. His lips, his eyes, even his cheeks have a faint blush on them. I don't think guys are supposed to be that uke. I suppose it is one of the advantages (or disadvantages) to being related to Cheri-sama. XD
Jenny, Hmm…about Akutsu, his line ("Do you know who I am? I'm Akutsu, Akutsu Jin") wasn't so much on him telling people his name. It was his way of a threat. From what I've seen, he tended to do that when he thought people are ordering him around. So it's one vote for Takahiro and one vote for Kachiro then. Tezuka as captain and Inui as vice-captain (shudders). The club is going to be scarred for life.
CECI, glad you liked the matches. Well, this would be the last chapter.
To the story then…
Echizen, Our Buchou
Chapter 22 (Final Chapter)
The Nationals was over. Everything was back to the normal high school life, and the excitement built up before the matches was gradually dissipating.
The end of the Nationals also meant that the school term was almost over. The third years would be leaving, and the others would be taking their places.
Ryoma strode down the corridors, reading through the club report compiled by both him and Momo-senpai. He would be handing this to Ryusaki-sensei as the club's year end report, informing her about the club's overall performance and progress. So far, it had been consecutive wins for Seigaku, and that should come out quite nicely in the reports. Ryoma daresay there would be more members interested in joining the club next year.
"Ohayou, Echizen-senpai." A first year he didn't recognize greeted him. He looked up from the reports. "Ohayou." He responded automatically before walking on.
"Ah. Echizen-kun." Now it was a bunch of giggling sophomore girls. Ryoma frowned, walking faster, but he noticed quite a number of girls eyeing him. A few brave ones tried to approach him, and he calmly greeted them before trying to make his escape.
He found out what was going on soon enough, for Tomoka was holding a huge banner and recruiting "Ryoma-sama fanclub" members, and the minute she spotted him, she gave a squeal and made a beeline towards him.
Ryoma ran for his life.
Not fast enough though, as he found himself surrounded, with no escape available. Why on earth were his fangirls this aggressive?
"Excuse me, coming through." Momoshiro's voice could be heard amidst all the shrill voices.
Ryoma never thought he'd be more relieved to see his best friend. Momoshiro's tall form made it easy for him to wade through the crowd, and he seized one of Ryoma's hands. "So sorry ladies. Club meeting." With that, he dragged the captain off and both of them ran for it.
"'Takku…why is Tomoka recruiting cheering squad at the end of the year." Ryoma grumbled.
Momoshiro laughed. "You really can't blame her that you have that many fans. I don't think you're even aware of your own popularity. Besides, thanks to your victory in the Nationals, it has become the best advertisement for her recruitment drive."
"What popularity?" Ryoma asked. He didn't keep tabs on anything that wasn't related to tennis.
He was greeted by the sounds of more squealing. "Kyaa! It's the Seigaku captain and vice-captain. Echizen-san is so cool!" They found themselves chased by yet another horde of fangirls.
Both of them managed to race inside Ryusaki-sensei's office. They slammed the door behind them and slumped against it in relief. "Safe!" Both of them declared at the same time.
"I dread the moment when we have to leave this office." Ryoma muttered. That harrowing experience was enough to put him off the female population for life.
Momoshiro snickered. "I could just imagine the look on a certain someone's face if he hears of this. Oh, he's going to be so jealous." He grinned.
Ryoma rewarded him with a glare for that. "Not a word of this to senpai-tachi. Not. A. Word."
They walked over to Ryusaki's place. She had been watching their conversation in amusement, not saying a thing until they stood before her.
"Had a busy day?" She asked, her eyes darted from Ryoma's tousled hair to his blazer. Ryoma followed her gaze and looked down. He gave a yelp when he realized that he had at least three buttons missing.
That caused both Momoshiro and Ryusaki-sensei to laugh. "In spite of them trying to snag the lucky button from your blazer, they missed it though." Ryusaki pointed to Ryoma's second button, which was still intact.
Ryoma frowned. Momoshiro decided to explain. Ryoma had been in America almost all his life. He probably didn't know the Japanese tradition here. "It is common in Japan for a guy to give the second button of his uniform to a girl to denote their relationship. This usually happens at graduation though."
Ryoma gave him an incredulous look. "I'm not the one graduating. They should be popping your buttons instead!"
Momoshiro burst into laughter at that. "I can't help it if I'm not as popular as you are, buchou-sama. Ah how nice, youth…"
Just when Ryoma muttered about Momoshiro being only a year older than him, Ryusaki cleared her throat.
"You should know better than to talk about age in front of someone like me." She warned, with an eyebrow twitching.
Both boys wisely dropped the subject. Ryoma presented her the club reports, and she briefly flipped through them before setting it on the table. She gave a sigh and stood up, turning to look out the window.
"Time sure flies. It's almost the end of the year now. Soon, it'll be graduation day, then the holidays, and once the term has begun, we'll be seeing a whole batch of new members in the club." She turned from the window, facing them. "It's almost the last day of club practice. Echizen, Momo. Have you prepared your speeches yet?"
Momoshiro gave a grin. "I've done mine a long time ago." He announced. Ryoma merely replied with a short, affirmative "usu."
Ryusaki nodded. "Very well. I wouldn't keep you waiting here then." There was a small, evil smile on her face as she noticed a shudder running through Ryoma. He probably wanted to camp out in her office just to avoid his admirers.
Momoshiro had an equally evil grin on his face. "Let's go then, Echizen. Wouldn't want to keep your fans waiting now, would you? I reckon they're looking forward to seizing that button of yours."
"Not if I can help it." Ryoma reached for the second button and, with a swift snap of his wrist, pulled it off. He kept that button safely in one pocket.
Momoshiro snorted. "Ceh. You're such a spoilsport."
With that, he opened the door and was once more thrown into the world of tag with a bunch of rabid admirers.
The last day of practice was just like any other, except that this round, everyone put all their effort into it, knowing that once today was over, the seniors would be leaving, and they wouldn't have anymore practice until next year.
Ryoma watched his club members. He threw a glance at the first years and was already picking out a few who could potentially be regulars next year. He knew that the club would feel the pinch once Momo, Kaidou, Tsun and Itsuki left, but he was confident that they'd manage, just like they had managed when Kunimitsu and the others left.
Momoshiro, at the moment, was engaging Kaidou in a round of tennis. It was rare for Momo to challenge Kaidou to a match on his own will, considering he hated to approach and speak to the snake shot player. Their matches were usually assigned by Ryoma.
The Seigaku captain smirked slightly. Momoshiro might dislike Kaidou to the end of his guts, but the vice-captain probably knew that this might be the last chance he'd get to face the mamushi. Next year, there was a chance both of them wouldn't end up in the same high school, and Ryoma knew that Momo was going to miss having such a tough rival like Kaidou.
In one of the other courts, Itsuki was having a match with Takahiro. Katsuo and Kachiro were playing doubles against Tsun and, strangely, Arai. The sophomore pair probably wanted to put their differences aside with their senior now that he was graduating.
Ryoma got up from the bench. There was only half an hour left. After that, practice was over and everyone would be going on their own way. He walked over to the courts.
"Momo-senpai, Kaidou-senpai, Tsun-senpai, Itsuki-senpai. Get into court A now." He ordered.
The four who were addressed halted their games. They obeyed, walking towards said court. Momoshiro was massaging his right shoulder. "So the four of us will be playing doubles?"
Echizen shook his head. "No. All four of you will be on one side of the court."
Ryoma picked up his racket and gripped it in his left hand. "You'll be facing me. This is going to be the last chance for me to kick all of your butts, and I'm not going to pass up that opportunity."
Veins popped in the heads of three seniors, while the fourth remained smiling, though the way he held his racket looked a little threatening.
"You're too arrogant, Echizen!"
All too soon to Ryoma's liking, practice was over. The club members assembled before the captain and vice captain. As usual, the regulars stood before the others in a single line.
Ryoma nodded to Momoshiro, indicating for him to speak. Momoshiro cleared his throat. "Well, minna. It's the end of the school year again. It's been a really great time, being in the club with all of you. Thank you all for your cooperation and efforts throughout the year. Seigaku won the Nationals this year. Now let's aim for the next. Seigaku!"
"Fight-o!" The club members were quick to respond.
Ryoma nodded to his club members. "Good work, everybody." He began.
Everyone looked like they had just received an unexpected present. Ryoma rarely praised anyone, preferring to do so with snarky comments even if he opened his mouth. The impact was so strong that all of them gaped at him.
Ryoma's smirk returned to his face. "Of course, under my leadership that's to be expected. You've all done well, and I'm a little…proud of all of you. Overall, your performance this year had been great. Thank you all for giving me your support. Well, compared to me all of you still have a long way to go, but from your overall performance, you're not so mada mada dane after all."
Everyone exchanged looks, not sure if they should hug the captain or throw their shoes at him. Ryoma was probably the only one who could make a compliment sound like an insult at the same time.
Ryoma straightened up. "It is now time to announce the next captain and vice-captain. Ryusaki-sensei, Momo-fukubuchou and I have discussed this, and I have decided to stay on as the captain of Seigaku."
Applause greeted this statement. Ryoma inclined his head slightly and turned to Momo, who was next to speak up.
"The third years will be graduating, and today I shall retire from my position as vice-captain. For the next vice-captain of Seigaku, I have chosen Takahiro Haruka to succeed me."
There was a short moment of silence, then applause broke out again. The Chessmaster remained rooted on the spot, his face blank. His eyes had widened slightly in surprise though.
Itsuki was patting him on the shoulder. "Sugoi, Haruka-chan! You're vice captain! Onii-chan is happy!"
"Oni-chan." Takahiro corrected out of habit.
The sophomore pair could sense the competitive atmosphere in the air as the captain and the future vice-captain were engaged in a staring match. They knew that these two loved to compete be it in exams or tennis. Takahiro was never able to come close to defeating Ryoma in tennis, but Ryoma was never able to defeat Takahiro's History score, and Takahiro provided a challenge when it came to Ryoma's favourite subject-Science.
"There's not going to be a dull moment next year." Kachiro whispered nervously to Katsuo, watching the silent competition already going on between the two.
Momoshiro spoke up again. "Alright. That's all for today's practice. Dismiss."
A few days later, Momo, Kaidou and the other third years graduated. Ryoma had lingered around, waiting for them to come out of the hall once the ceremony was done.
Momoshiro spotted Ryoma and threw one arm around the captain. "Echizen, have you been waiting?"
"I just happened to be around the area." Ryoma lied.
Momoshiro snorted. He wasn't Ryoma's best friend for nothing, having long learnt to see through Ryoma's poor attempts at bluffing. "Indeed. Well, well, Echizen. Don't cry when I'm gone." He teased.
"Betsuni. Doesn't really matter to me anyway." Ryoma retorted.
Momoshiro grinned. "You're not going to miss me after I'm gone?"
"Nope." Ryoma lied again.
Momoshiro chuckled, not taking offence as he could hear the truth from the tone of Ryoma's voice. "You're not honest at all."
"Momo-senpai!" Katsuo and Kachiro had promptly thrown their arms around the third year.
Those two were not reserved at all about showing emotion, and both of them were bordering on bawling as they clung on to the dunk smash player. "We're going to miss you, Momo-senpai."
Ryoma counted to three, knowing that Momo should be crying after that. That guy was a softie, and would get teary eyed pretty easily. He threw a side glance and surely enough, he noticed Momoshiro's eyes were a little moist.
"Ah. I'll miss the both of you too. Make sure you make it into the regulars again next year." Momo encouraged the two.
Katsuo and Kachiro both nodded fervently. "Hai, Momo-senpai. We will not forget your words."
Ryoma cleared his throat. "Momo-senpai…and Kaidou-senpai…" he had raised his voice slightly at Kaidou's name, catching the snake shot player in his path before he could slink past them.
The anti-social gave a soft hiss and walked over to join them. Ryoma gave them both a steady stare. "Ganbatte, senpai-tachi. Whichever high school the both of you will go to, make sure you don't lose."
Momoshiro couldn't control his emotions at that. He caught Ryoma in a hug and started getting teary-eyed again. "Echizen…I'm going to miss you. Make sure you don't ever forget your senpai."
Kaidou gave a soft 'ch'. "Baka Momoshiro. Getting emotional so easily." He turned to Ryoma. "Ganbatte, Echizen-buchou."
All of them parted ways there. Momoshiro went with Ryoma, walking alongside his best friend as they left school grounds.
"So. You've been mobbed just now?" Ryoma smirked, noticing that Momoshiro's second button was missing.
Momoshiro snorted. "As if. I'm just following your example." He fished out the button from his pocket. He dropped it back into his pocket and turned to Ryoma. "I wonder if it's such a good idea for you to give Tezuka-buchou that…" his voice trailed off at noticing the defiant gleam in Ryoma's eyes.
"Ah…fine, fine. Give it to him then." Momoshiro wondered if he should update Ryoma's knowledge of Japanese tradition. Then again, it should be interesting to picture Tezuka's expression if he received the button. That thought made him grin.
They reached a T-junction. Momoshiro bade his friend goodbye. "I'll be heading to Fudoumine now. Ann's graduation ceremony should have finished by now too. Ja ne, Echizen."
"See you again, Momo-senpai." Ryoma turned and made his way to Kunimitsu's house.
When he reached there, Tezuka's mother greeted him at the door. She shook her head. "Kunimitsu's not in at the moment. I believe he's with his grandfather at the dojo. It's just a short distance behind this house. You wouldn't miss it."
"Is that so? Arigatou, Tezuka-san." He made his way to the dojo.
One of the students there led Ryoma inside. He gave a bow to an elderly man, whom Ryoma guessed was Tezuka's grandfather, owner of the dojo. The man, who looked at least a hundred times more stoic than Kunimitsu, merely gave a nod in greeting to him.
"Kunimitsu's inside trying out his gi (martial arts attire). He should be done by now." The patriarch of the Tezuka household informed him.
"I'll go look for him then. Arigatou." Ryoma was careful to mind his manners, something which he rarely did. The old man gave off a rather intimidating presence, and Ryoma hated to admit it, but he was slightly afraid of him.
He walked into another room, where he found Kunimitsu, who had his back turned to him. Tezuka heard his footsteps and turned around. "Ryoma." He greeted, his gaze warm.
Ryoma was about to open his mouth to say a greeting too, but his eyes had wandered off, and he found himself mute for a moment. He took in Tezuka's appearance appreciatively. He knew that Tezuka took martial arts, but this was the first time Ryoma actually saw him in a white gi. The attire complemented the serious faced captain, giving him the air of a karate master. Ryoma's eyes were fixed on the front of the gi. Tezuka hadn't worn it properly, and a generous amount of his slightly muscled chest was revealed.
'Echizen Ryoma! What do you think you're doing, ogling at him like some kind of pervert? You're not supposed to be the pervert. Only that baka oyaji is!' Ryoma mentally scolded himself. His eyes weren't listening to his command though.
Tezuka caught him staring, and he looked down, noticing his attire. "Ah gomen. The belt is a little loose." He adjusted his clothes, much to Ryoma's disappointment.
Ryoma raised one eyebrow in question, and Tezuka caught on quickly. "I will be helping my grandfather out in the dojo during the holidays, so I'm trying out the clothes today to see if it still fits me. Does it?"
"Perfectly." Ryoma's reply was honest. His Kunimitsu should wear this more often.
Tezuka smiled slightly. "Wait for me a while. We'll return to my house together."
"Usu." Ryoma averted his eyes while Tezuka changed. He knew that once he started looking, he'd faint from a massive blood loss, and that wouldn't be nice.
Tezuka wore his regular clothes, and they returned to Tezuka's house, heading straight for his room. Ryoma made himself comfortable on the floor. He had something he had to speak to Tezuka about the holidays, but first, there was something else he would mention first.
"Kunimitsu. This is for you." Ryoma handed over the button.
Tezuka looked mildly confused. He took it from Ryoma and stared at it, the confusion not leaving his face.
"……a button…so why are you giving this to me?" He asked.
Ryoma's face flushed slightly. "Well…just…giving it to you for safekeeping. It's not like I'm reserving it for you on purpose or something." 'Just trying to make sure those girls wouldn't be able to get their hands on it.'
He realized he had said his thoughts out loud by accident. Tezuka's frown had turned down. "Girls trying to get their hands on it?" He asked, sounding slightly dangerous.
There was a short moment of pause. A look of realization came upon Tezuka's face as he stared down at the button again. "This is the second button of your blazer?" He asked.
"Usu." Why was Tezuka not looking pleased at all?
Tezuka's expression was neutral, not giving away his thoughts. After a while, he turned back to Ryoma and gave a nod. "I'll keep this then."
Ryoma breathed a sigh of relief. He sat up straighter. "One more thing, Kunimitsu. Go on a date with me this Saturday."
Tezuka raised an eyebrow at that. After a while, he smiled. "And what's the occasion?"
"Do we need one to go on a date?" Ryoma asked.
Tezuka ruffled his hair. "Definitely not. Say, Ryoma. If one of the girls had gotten that button, would you have taken her on that date instead?"
Ryoma snorted. "She can swallow the button for all I care. You're the only one I love."
By the time Ryoma realized he had spoken his thoughts again, it was already too late. He turned a deep shade of red, feeling completely embarrassed by his unintentional confession.
Tezuka stared at him for a while. After some time, a soft chuckle escaped Tezuka's lips. Ryoma's face flushed even more when he realized that Tezuka was laughing.
"What's so funny?" He retorted, the defiance coming back in his voice. Somehow, Tezuka's presence was enough to throw his usual, apathetic character out of the window.
Tezuka shook his head slightly. "I was just thinking. You're really too cute, Ryoma." He held Ryoma's chin gently and leaned forward.
Ryoma anticipated the kiss eagerly. Before their lips could meet, however, Ryoma could hear someone walking up the stairs. With a yelp, he shoved Tezuka away from him, just moments before the room's door opened.
"I have some drinks here, Echizen-kun." Tezuka's mother smiled at him. She set the tray down on Tezuka's desk.
"Arigatou." Ryoma took two glasses, one for him and one for Kunimitsu. He drained his glass and set it back down. "I'll be going now. Thanks for your hospitality, Tezuka-san." He remembered his manners.
"It was my pleasure." She responded.
Ryoma gave an apologetic smile to his boyfriend. "I'll see you on Saturday then."
"Aa." Tezuka walked him out. They paused at the doorway briefly. "Gomen, the mood was ruined." Tezuka apologized.
Ryoma shrugged. "We still have that date to look forward to anyway."
Ryoma had insisted that they spent the day together. He didn't tell Kunimitsu, but this round they'd be following the latter's pace. It would be the last date they'd be having in a while, and Ryoma wanted it to be memorable.
He waited at least fifteen minutes before the appointed time, something he rarely did in his entire lifetime. Tezuka arrived five minutes before the appointed time, and he raised an eyebrow at seeing Ryoma there before him.
"Have you been waiting long?" Tezuka asked.
Ryoma shook his head. He straightened up and walked closer to Tezuka. "Shall we leave?"
"Aa." Tezuka led the way to the amusement park. While Ryoma had asked Tezuka to bring him to all his favourite places, Tezuka still couldn't help thinking of Ryoma's favourite places instead. Both of them agreed that for once, they wouldn't let tennis dominate their date, and instead make that day a tennis-free day, spending time with each other instead. Tezuka knew that aside from the tennis courts, Ryoma was quite fond of this place too, after the video arcade, of course.
Ryoma hadn't really thought of Tezuka being a person to frequent this place. He was right, for Tezuka looked just as out of place here as he was in the video game centre. For Tezuka's sake, Ryoma hardly went on any of the rides, preferring to walk alongside Tezuka. Occasionally the cap-wearing boy would drag Tezuka over to the booths to have a game or two. So far, none of them had won anything yet.
Ryoma couldn't resist suggesting to Tezuka to try out one of the thrill rides. An evil part of him wanted to see what a terrified Tezuka might look like. For someone like Tezuka, who had not been to these places before, there was no way he'd have braced himself for the scares.
Tezuka agreed, of course, and Ryoma threw a sideglance at his boyfriend when the roller coaster made a plunge. To his disappointment, but not his surprise, his boyfriend remained as poker faced as ever, his expression unchanging even as everyone around them was screaming in fright.
Once they've exited, Ryoma stared up at his boyfriend. "You're pretty brave. Most first timers on that roller coaster would have been screaming their lungs out."
Tezuka merely gave him a blank look. "Was I supposed to? It was fun." Tezuka was looking around, frowning slightly. After a while, he noticed Ryoma's questioning gaze and shook his head. "It's nothing." He said.
Ryoma dragged him to the bumper cars next. That was one more game where Tezuka had a different reaction than other people. Everyone else was trying to bump into other cars. Tezuka was driving to avoid bumping at all costs, and every time someone did bump into him, he gave the offender his 'buchou-stare', and no one else had the guts to repeat that mistake again.
Ryoma did manage to target Tezuka a few times, but his success rate of bumping into his car was very low, for Tezuka was able to swerve his car away, avoiding a collision most of the time. Ryoma had to fight down a laugh. His boyfriend was so uptight, it was endearing.
Tezuka relaxed when they went on a tamer ride, the Ferris Wheel. Both of them sat facing each other. Ryoma took his boyfriend's hand. "You don't look like you enjoy this place. Maybe we should go elsewhere?"
Tezuka shook his head. "I am enjoying myself. This is time spent with you after all." He reassured, smiling slightly.
Ryoma adjusted his cap, hiding his face. "So cheesy, Kunimitsu." He teased.
"I was only being honest." Tezuka gave Ryoma's hand a squeeze.
They broke apart when their gondola came to a halt, and they were to leave it. Ryoma decided they had time for at least one more game at the booth before leaving for lunch.
"How about this one?" Ryoma asked, pointing to a game where they were to hit the cans down.
Tezuka nodded. "It's fine with me."
Ryoma picked up the bat. He tested his grip for a while before throwing the ball into the air. He swung the bat and hit the ball, which flew to the target dead on and hit one of the cans down. He repeated the action a few more times, and each time, the cans were knocked down.
When the man at the counter wanted to give him a prize, however, he shook his head. "It's alright. How about substituting the prize for a free game every time we win instead?"
Seemingly feeling that it was an interesting bargain, the man at the counter allowed them to do so, and the next game was taken by Tezuka, who, like Ryoma, didn't lose any of his points, knocking all the cans down. In fact, both of them started a silent competition against each other, and did not realize they were attracting a crowd to the booth.
Both of them eyed the last can. "Whoever is the one to knock it down is the winner." Ryoma smirked. Tezuka's glasses glinted, and both of them threw the balls into the air and served.
Tezuka's high speed serve proved useful, and his shot reached the can first, knocking it down. Ryoma gave a slight smile and lowered the bat. "Ceh. I was so close."
The both of them looked up when they heard applause, and only then did they notice the crowd. Ryoma adjusted his cap to hide his face, while Tezuka returned the bats to the owner of the booth.
The man insisted on giving Tezuka a plush toy as his gratitude for the two's (unintentional) free advertising. Ryoma made a face when Tezuka handed the monkey plush toy to him. However, he brightened up when he thought of Karupin enjoying the toy later, so he accepted the toy without much complaint.
Before both of them could leave the booth, a few girls spotted them and squealed. "Kyaa! It's Kanto High's Tezuka Kunimitsu and Seishun Gakuen's Echizen Ryoma! Sugoi!"
"What luck to spot them both here. Senior high tennis' number one and junior high's number one! I want their autographs!"
That seemed to ring a bell with a lot of people, especially since the Nationals was only a few weeks back. The two captains found themselves chased by a raging stampede of all genders, shapes and sizes.
"Fans…they're the same everywhere." Ryoma sighed.
Tezuka's expression didn't change. "Yudan sezu ni ikkou."
Some time later, the pair arrived, out of breath, at Kawamura Sushi. The sushi business heir glanced up when he saw them enter. "Welcome." He said, watching as they plopped themselves down into the seats before him.
"Had a bad day?" Kawamura couldn't help asking.
"Fans." Ryoma muttered, and Kawamura nodded in understanding.
"Anything I can get the both of you?" He asked.
"Set B/D" Tezuka and Ryoma said at the same time, ordering the set which was the other's favourite. Set B was a grilled fish set, while Set D was an Unacha set.
Kawamura smiled. These two had not changed at all. They ordered each other's favourite food first before ordering their own. "Hai. It'll be served in a while." He promised.
Just when he headed towards the kitchens, someone else walked out at the same time. To Ryoma's surprise, it was Ryusaki's granddaughter.
"Sakuno?" What was she doing in the kitchens?
She spotted him and flushed slightly. "Ah. Ryoma-kun. Tezuka-senpai."
Sensing both of their questioning gazes, she bowed her head slightly. "I've been asking Kawamura-senpai if I could help out in his father's shop during the holidays. There were many recipes which I wish to learn, and this is a good experience."
"Oh? Ganbatte." He noted that she wasn't stammering so badly in his presence now. This was interesting.
Kawamura emerged from the kitchens. "So sorry for the wait. Set B and Set D." He placed the dishes in front of the two. He pointed to the two extra cucumber rolls on each plate. "Ryusaki-chan made these."
"Is that so?" He picked up one of the cucumber rolls and popped it into his mouth. Sakuno had made him a lot of bentos before this, but he had never really tasted the food, since she always gave it to him when his mind was preoccupied. Now was one of the few times he actually tasted it.
"It's good." He said shortly. Tezuka gave an affirmative nod, agreeing to his statement.
Sakuno beamed. "Arigatou. It's all thanks to Kawamura-senpai's recipes."
"What are you talking about, Ryusaki-chan? You have talent at making sushi." Kawamura said modestly.
Sakuno blushed at that and shook her head. "N-no. Kawamura-senpai has far more experience at making sushi than me. Th-thank you for teaching me."
Ryoma's hand halted at the next cucumber roll. Sakuno was stuttering in Kawamura's presence. That was interesting indeed. He exchanged looks with Tezuka, wondering if his boyfriend had noticed.
He popped the next roll into his mouth and chewed leisurely. Moments later, he began to make choking sounds.
"Ryoma?" Tezuka was instantly alert, patting his back and handing him a cup of tea.
Ryoma's eyes were streaming. "Kawamura-senpai…that was a wasabi roll…" he managed to choke out, gratefully accepting the cup from Tezuka.
Sakuno turned crimson. "Ah. So sorry. I must have accidentally taken one from the wasabi sushi pile instead. Really sorry, Ryoma-kun."
Kawamura patted her on the shoulder. "It's alright, Ryusaki-chan. People make mistakes. Right, Echizen?"
"Usu…" Ryoma muttered weakly once he had stopped coughing. Tezuka had helped him finish the rest of the wasabi roll, his face unchanging. Ryoma couldn't help wondering if it was because Tezuka had so much practice with his favourite wasabi sushi punishment that he had some immunity towards the spicy delicacy. Either that or Ryoma was dating a monster.
The next part of the date was according to Tezuka's pace. They went hiking, since that was one of Tezuka's hobbies. Shortly after lunch, the two bade Kawamura farewell and headed to the same hill which Oishi had taken them to watch the sunrise last year.
Both of them boarded the tram, which took them to the halfway point before they hiked the rest of the hill by foot.
Along the way, Tezuka was pointing out names of plants, which Ryoma couldn't really keep track of since he was bad with names. Still, he allowed Tezuka to speak, liking the sound of his voice. Excitement shone in those light brown eyes. Ryoma mused that so simple an activity such as hiking could make Tezuka this happy. Maybe they should go hiking more often.
"We've almost reached the top. Come on, Ryoma." Tezuka, for once, sounded almost child-like as he jogged the rest of the way, with Ryoma following close behind. During one particular steep climb, Tezuka extended his hand and helped Ryoma up. Both of them had finally reached the top, and they stood side by side, looking out at the city below them.
"We've reached, Kunimitsu." Ryoma leaned against him. It was only the two of them on the hill, and he enjoyed the silence.
"Aa." Tezuka ran his hands through Ryoma's hair. He glanced down at the monkey plushie, which was still in Ryoma's hands.
"What are you going to do with that?" Tezuka asked curiously.
Ryoma had a slight smirk on his face as he lifted the plushie before his face. "That's easy. I'm going to name it Atobe, then I'm going to let Karupin tear it up."
There was a rustle from one of the bushes. Ryoma glanced at it, frowning. The bushes rustled again, and it was only then did Ryoma realize it was windy.
Tezuka had noticed it first, and he took off his jacket, wrapping it around Ryoma's shoulders. Ryoma gave a happy sigh as Tezuka wrapped his arms around him, feeling both warm and protected. He was going to sorely miss Tezuka.
Tezuka seemed to sense his disquiet, for the older captain turned him around and studied his face. "What's wrong, Ryoma?"
Ryoma shook his head. He'd wait until the end of the day to tell Tezuka. For now, nothing would ruin their date. "It's nothing." He smiled, trying to reassure his boyfriend.
Tezuka seemed to know that Ryoma would tell him when he felt like it, and planted a kiss on his forehead. "If you say so."
The two enjoyed a moment of companionable silence. Even though they weren't striking a conversation, Ryoma felt that he wouldn't trade their time alone for anything in the world. Not even tennis. It was just him and his boyfriend. No one else to ruin the moment.
Feeling suddenly affectionate, Ryoma glanced up at the older boy, noting that Tezuka was watching him. Gently, he pulled Tezuka's head down and moved forward, their faces only inches apart. Just a bit more…
"Yes! Go ochibi!"
Both of them froze. Nope. They weren't alone after all.
"Kikumaru, 100 laps!" Tezuka roared. Ryoma released his boyfriend and stepped away. His eyes narrowed when he spotted a whole group of intruders on his private date with Kunimitsu. He wasn't surprised to see Oishi there (since Kikumaru was there), less so to see Fuji, with his cursed camera in hand. Inui was there, scribbling madly, and strangely enough, the monkey king was there too.
As his angry boyfriend dealt with his teammates, Atobe had managed to slink off and was now facing Ryoma instead. "I demand that you do not use my name on so rugged a toy." He pointed to the monkey plushie.
Ryoma smirked. "Hmm? I guess I can call it monkey king instead then. My cat wouldn't be picky, whatever the name is."
Atobe eyes flashed. "Such bravery. Are you trying to challenge ore-sama?"
"I'd say the same, with you being such a busybody and stalking us like that." Ryoma countered.
Somehow, that started a glaring competition between the two of them which would have put the rivals Momo and Kaidou to shame, had they been here. Tezuka had to diffuse it before both of them started a round of rock, scissors, and paper.
"We're leaving." Tezuka said curtly. There was hidden warning in his tone, which all of them picked up, since not even Fuji or Inui trailed after them anymore.
Ryoma glanced up at his boyfriend. "I guess that's it for today?" He asked.
"Aa." Tezuka agreed.
It was evening by the time both of them headed back to their houses. Tezuka walked Ryoma home first. As they crossed one of the overhead bridges, Tezuka halted in his steps.
"Ryoma…actually, about the holidays. I wouldn't be able to go with you on a date so often. As I've mentioned earlier, I will be helping my grandfather out during the holidays."
Tezuka sighed. "My grandfather has already instructed me to deal with one of his classes once the holidays began. He had only retired from the police dojo a year back, and had opened this dojo so that he can continue on his passion for martial arts, while taking it easy. He had his hands full currently, and he will need all the help I can give him."
Tezuka had his eyes fixed on Ryoma's face, watching him closely for his reaction. Ryoma knew that his boyfriend was probably afraid of him being upset by the news, or looking disappointed.
Ryoma snorted. As if he'd blame his boyfriend for being filial. He took Tezuka's hand. "It's my turn to drop the bomb on you. I'm afraid this will be the last date we'll be having in a while, Kunimitsu."
Tezuka had tensed slightly at that. Ryoma could see slight fear in his boyfriend's eyes. He gave a soft laugh. "I'm not breaking up with you, silly. During the holidays, my family will be returning to America. We do that at the end of each year."
Tezuka was silent for a moment. "I see."
Ryoma wasn't too sure what to make of Tezuka's silence. He searched his boyfriend's face, hoping to guess what was on his mind. "We'll keep in contact via-email, just like last year. Try to refrain from making international calls. If I remember correctly, you were nearly slaughtered by your grandfather for it." Ryoma teased.
Tezuka nodded, indicating that he understood. For a while, both said nothing, lost in their own thoughts.
"Ne, Ryoma." Tezuka was the one who began speaking again.
Ryoma turned to glance up at him. Tezuka was smiling slightly, his gaze warm. "This was how it all began, wasn't it? Us."
Ryoma nodded. He remembered that Tezuka was the one to make the first move, and their relationship started from there. A year had flown by so quickly.
He recalled he wasn't the best boyfriend in the start of their relationship, and while they had a rocky start, their relationship had persevered.
"We sure have come a long way, Kunimitsu." Ryoma said softly.
"Aa." Tezuka agreed.
Ryoma pondered a while. "Ne, Kunimitsu. What do you think our relationship will be like in the future?"
There was a short pause. "I don't know." Tezuka finally said.
Ryoma couldn't help feeling disappointed. Did that mean there was no future for their relationship, or no relationship in the future?
Tezuka wrapped an arm around his shoulder, pulling him out of his thoughts. "Whatever the future is like for us, we'll walk together, one step at a time."
Ryoma was considerably cheered by that. There was a future for them after all. It was their promise.
"Usu." Their interlinked hands held fast, sealing the vow.
A/N: That's all for Echizen, Our Buchou. If you haven't done so, read Life After Seigaku. There is a surprise at the end of the Author's Note. (grins)
Ohohoho! It's the last chapter and I didn't let them kiss at all. I am evil. Ohohoho!
To clarify, I've mentioned above that Ryoma's fav subject is Science. If I'm not mistaken, he performs exceedingly well at English, but his fav subject is Science. If I'm wrong, please correct me.
Also, I found out about the button giving tradition from the show Ichigo 100 percent. Did I get it right?
Should I put up a sequel? Please state that in your reviews.
Last but not least, Please Read and Review. No Flames Please.