for Missa.
thanks for everything, and happy birthday, love.

disclaimer: not mine.




All things considered, it didn't really go the way Sakuno had thought it would.

"What?!" Tomoka screeched, deafeningly loud. A group of nearby girls threw them dirty looks and Sakuno cringed.

"Not so loud, Tomo-chan," Sakuno begged, darting looks at Ryoma, who was standing only a few feet away, drinking Ponta and looking entirely unconcerned.

Tomoka lowered her voice a few notches, which meant that there was no noticeable difference whatsoever. "You're going to ask Ryoma-sama out on a date – ?"

Several heads whipped around, and Sakuno caught sight of a girl she vaguely recognized glaring balefully at her.

"Tomo-chan," Sakuno pleaded, glancing nervously at Ryoma, who either hadn't noticed or was pretending not have heard.

Tomoka, true to her nature, entirely ignored Sakuno's desperate attempt to get Tomoka to soften her voice, and instead latched firmly onto Sakuno's arm and began unceremoniously dragging Sakuno towards Ryoma.

It took a few seconds for Sakuno to figure out where Tomoka was hauling her, but once she did, she vehemently protested and tried to pull backwards. Predictably, Tomoka took no notice of this, and continued dragging her best friend in the direction of Ryoma.

Ryoma looked bewildered for a split second before lapsing back into his usual expression of total disdain and indifference.

"I didn't mean that I was going to ask him right now," Sakuno hissed, trying to shake Tomoka's hand off her wrist.

"Never mind that," Tomoka announced self-importantly, sounding eerily reminiscent of Horio. "Ryoma-sama!"

Ryoma tilted his head and blinked at her lazily, which Tomoka took as affirmation to continue.

"Sakuno wants you to ask her out for a date on Friday!" Tomoka shrieked gleefully, and then, as an afterthought: "She meant to ask you out, actually, but it's not romantic for the girl to ask the boy, so you should do it instead."

Sakuno made a vague noise of embarrassment and apology mostly directed at Ryoma.

There was a pause, and then Ryoma's eyes met Sakuno's for a brief moment. Sakuno stared downwards instantly, blushing fiercely, and the corner of Ryoma's mouth dipped downward slightly to form a frown.

"I can't," Ryoma said at last. Sakuno looked up and found Ryoma watching her with an indescribable look on his face, and willed herself not to allow her shoulders to slump.

She opened her mouth to jump in with a hasty apology for bothering him, and then Ryoma added offhandedly, "Maybe another time."

It was probably taking it too far to hope that Ryoma meant anything by those three words, but then again, Ryoma was kind of impossible to understand to begin with.


"Who's that?" Tomoka asked, squinting into the hamburger shop.

Sakuno caught a glimpse of golden eyes and dark hair, and immediately panicked. "No one," she yelped, trying to push Tomoka towards the bookstore next door. "I really need some new school books, though, I accidentally spilled something all over my old ones – "

She stopped in the middle of the lie, partially because she was a terrible liar and partially because she felt guilty lying, even if it was just Tomo-chan. It didn't matter, because Tomoka wasn't listening, now having correctly identified Ryoma.

"We should go in!" Tomoka proclaimed, and proceeded to drag Sakuno into the restaurant, much to Sakuno's dismay, and marched up to the table where Ryoma and Momoshiro were seated.

"Momo-chan-senpai," Tomoka greeted cheerfully, to which Momoshiro tried to respond and discovered that his mouth was too full, and instead settled for a quick nod. Sakuno waved timidly and noticed at that point that Ryoma was observing her intently.

"Ryoma-samaaa!" Tomoka squealed, with noticeably more enthusiasm than when she had addressed Momo. Ryoma seemed to realize that he was staring at Sakuno, and instead scowled down at his hamburger.

Momo finally stopped chewing long enough to ask a "What are you doing here?" as though they had shown up out of thin air (which, in a sense, Sakuno supposed they had).

"We were shopping," Sakuno explained hesitantly, while Tomoka took the seat next to Ryoma. Sighing, Sakuno slid into the chair next to Momoshiro, and observed nervously as Momo spewed bits of hamburger at everything within a half-meter-radius.

Ryoma, who had no qualms about offending a senpai, muttered "Close your mouth when you chew, what are you, five?"

Momo made an offended sound, but, to Sakuno's immense relief, he also stopped spewing food everywhere.

Rolling his eyes, Ryoma leaned back in his chair, while Tomoka declared that she was hungry and wandered off to the line to get some food. Sakuno awkwardly stared at her lap, until someone tapped her on the shoulder.

She squeaked, then realized that it was just Momoshiro.

"Can I borrow some money?" he asked sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. "I'm still kinda hungry – uh, I'll pay you back tomorrow – "

Sakuno, who knew full well that Momoshiro would never pay back her money, was about to hand him some extra change anyways (because he was a senpai), when Ryoma said sharply, "Don't take her money too, I already lent you money."

"I'm still hungry," Momo whined, and Ryoma made a 'ch' noise and chucked a few crumpled bills at Momo's forehead.

Tentatively, Sakuno offered Ryoma an small smile, while Ryoma pretended not to notice and pulled his cap further down over his eyes.


"You should bend your knees more."

Sakuno froze mid-swing, her tennis racket stopping in midair. The tennis ball hurtled towards Ryoma, who caught it and began bouncing it lightly on his own racket.

"W-what?" she faltered, cursing her stammer, and whirled around to look at Ryoma.

"Why do you play tennis?" Ryoma asked, and threw the ball at Sakuno, who made no move to retrieve it. "You're not very good at it."

Blunt, but more or less true.

"I know," she told him. "I mean, I know I'm not very good at it. But I like playing it. I'm not going to stop just because I can't play very well."

Ryoma gave her a long look, while she determinedly practiced swinging her racket with her knees bent.

"Here," he said finally, taking a tennis ball out of his own pocket and tossing it at her. "See if you can hit this."

She ended up missing it three times in a row, but somehow it felt more like she had Ryoma's acceptance anyways.


Sakuno would probably never get tired of watching Ryoma play tennis.

"So cool," Tomoka breathed from next to Sakuno, while Horio told everyone who would listen that he had two years of tennis experience and he would probably be learning how to do the Twist Serve soon. By now, everyone had learned to tune him out, so he found himself talking to a suddenly vacant space where Katsuo and Kachirou had been just moments before.

Ryoma executed another perfect Twist Serve, while his opponent stumbled across the court and missed.

"Six games to love," Oishi called from his referee's chair, while Eiji tackled Ryoma and Momoshiro hoisted an arm around both of them.

Ryoma tolerated Eiji's flailing with an air of long-suffering while simultaneously trying to get off the tennis courts so the next game could start, and, as if suddenly noticing her presence, Ryoma stopped and turned to see Sakuno standing by the fence.

"It was a good game," Sakuno told him timidly, smiling hesitantly.

Regarding her thoughtfully from under his cap, Ryoma paused. "Thanks," he said at last, and there was a long moment of silence.

Then Eiji came up out of nowhere, flinging his arms around Ryoma's neck and asking excitedly, "Nya, who's the pretty girl?" while Ryoma yelped in indignation and avoided Sakuno's eyes.


It was in homeroom when Ryoma came up to Sakuno and asked, almost uncertainly, "That time, with your friend – you said Friday, right?"

Bemused, Sakuno nodded.

"Here," Ryoma said, throwing something down on her desk, and Sakuno peered down at it to see what it was.

A movie ticket.

Still slightly bemused but more comprehending, Sakuno looked up at Ryoma to find him holding an identical movie ticket, and she beamed at him, unable to find the words to say.

"I – your hair is still too long," he informed her, in an almost frustrated way, and spun around, stalking back to his desk.

Somehow, Sakuno felt that it didn't matter that much anymore.


A/N: First Prince of Tennis fic I've ever written, and it's RyoSaku. Irony sort of kills me dead sometimes.

Let it be known that there are only three people in the world I would even begin to consider writing RyoSaku for, so don't expect much more.

And I love reviews. Just like everyone else. :D :D