24

Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis belongs to Konomi Takeshi, not me.

Dang it... midterm exams already, Ryoma thought cruelly to himself. How boring...

The math exams weren't tough though. In fact, exams weren't hard at all. Not for first years at least. And definitely not for Ryoma. He was an exceptional student. Hard to imagine since he sleeps soundly through almost every one of his classes.

So Ryoma whizzed right through the test. Whence he reached the last question, there was still more than 15 minutes left. Ryoma sighed out of boredom. Might as well finish this now and sleep the rest of the class. He began to read the problem:

Emily is walking to school from her house at a rate of 3 blocks every 14 minutes. When Jeff walks at the same rate as Emily, and takes the most direct route to school, he arrives in 42 minutes. How many blocks apart are Jeff's house and the school?

Ryoma blinked. Why were some of the letters standing out from the rest? Assuming he was hallucinating due to the immense amount of time he'd been sitting in a chair, he wiped his eyes and blinked twice again.

But the letters remained the way they were. As Ryoma continued to stare perplexedly at the letters, all the other letters began to disappear. Soon, all that remained of Question 24 was:

y o u b e k i d n a p e d

Ryoma, being the sensible and clever guy he was, began to write each letter down in one line to see if the random letters meant anything. And he was rewarded with this:

youbekidnaped

Ryoma showed no reaction to this on the outside. Yet if anyone listened close enough to the absolute silence of the room, they would hear the loud thumping of Ryoma's heart, pulsing twice as fast as the rhythm of the clock's ticks.

Because every idiot on the face of the Earth would've known the basic message in the cluster of letters. Basically, it meant:

"You will be kidnapped."

- - -

Curse Question 24... Ryoma thought angrily to himself. I bet, had it not been for that one question, I would've gotten a 100...

That's right. At the moment, all Ryoma was thinking about was how stupid he'd been to linger on one question for 15 minutes without even answering it! He wasn't even worrying about what he'd seen or what it had said.

Ryoma just wasn't one to worry about matters such as those.

He'd figured it'd just been some hallucination due to being stuck to a chair for 5 hours.

And so Ryoma went around the rest of the day in a foul mood. And it wasn't the smartest idea to approach Ryoma in a foul mood so those who knew him well stayed away.

When tennis practice ended, Momo had made up an excuse to not bike home with Ryoma. See, Momo's smart that way. Ryoma just agreed and decided to walk home alone. He was still thinking about Question 24, trying to recall and answer it in his head even though it didn't really matter now.

A car started to pull up next to Ryoma. Still focused on answering the stupid question, he didn't notice.

Until something hit him on the side of the head. Hard.

So hard he blacked out.

But he'd been smiling as his head hit the cold, hard concrete.

Because he'd finally figured out the answer!

- - -

Ryoma opened his eyes to find himself laying flat across the back seat of some expensive car. He immediately felt different but soon realized it was due to the fact that his hands were tied up behind his back and he wasn't wearing his hat.

He groaned and sat up straight, having an urge to rub his throbbing head. Then he remembered his tied-up hands.

He strained to see the face of the person in the driver's seat. Yet the person was wearing a paper bag over their head which disguised any familiar features. Ryoma sighed and just sat. Isn't he smart?

The anonymous driver was confused. Why doesn't he start shouting or yelling or questioning me or saying anything?? the person wonders. Obviously, this person doesn't know Ryoma well. The person wanted to tell Ryoma to say something but the person didn't want to give away his/her voice. So the driver remained silent. How smart is he/she?

So these two smart people just sat in silence because the outside noise was blocked off by the soundproof windows. Ryoma was comfortable anyways. The car was very expensive and elegant.

As Ryoma sat and gazed out the window, he began to wonder where they were going, what he was doing here, who the mysterious driver was, and who would feed Karupin. He's that caring of a cat-owner.

He also began to wonder why his head was throbbing. Then he remembered something hitting his head the moment he had figured out the answer to Question 24. It was 9.

Soon he realized that the premonition he'd received on Question 24 had come true. He was being kidnapped! Yes, he just figured that out now. He was that dense.

But he continued to stay silent. Because that's just the way he is.

He didn't worry about such matters much.

His silence was irritating the driver a lot, though. But the two remained as quiet as ever. So the 30-minute drive seemed like it lasted forever.

Finally, they arrived at... somewhere. At least as far as Ryoma could tell. He didn't recognize the scenery whatsoever. It seemed to him that they'd arrived in the middle of a city where a tall building with many stories towered before them. Ryoma looked at the building with apathy. All he wanted was to be home. He had to feed Karupin. He had to try and beat Oyaji.

The person, who wore a long, black leather jacket just to cover up his/her gender, was trying to scratch his/her head but proved unsuccessful with the paper bag covering it. Ryoma rolled his eyes.

"Mind to loosen these ropes?" he finally asked, lifting his hands which were tied behind him. The person, still unwilling to speak to keep their gender secret, just grabbed Ryoma's shoulder and pushed him towards the entrance of the building.

Ryoma just sighed and went along with his kidnapper.