Disclaimer: Tennis no Oujisama/Tenisu no Oujisama/Prince of Tennis has been created by Konomi Takeshi-sensei. I make no money via this piece of fanfiction and no infringement is intended.


On Graduation Day


Summary: Momoshiro's high school graduation day holds far more precious memories than that of the traditional ceremony. Momoshiro x Ryoma Yaoi warning


Chapter 1

Apprehension


"Please applaud for the valedictorian, Class 3 A's Tateyama Hiromi!"

Ryoma could hear the teacher's voice, albeit only faintly, from where he sat on a bench near one of the tennis-courts in the school. He had come out here as soon as Momo-sempai had received his high school graduation certificate. Momo-sempai would surely not have noticed him, though – simply because he would not have been expecting him to attend the graduation ceremony. After he had completed his middle school, Ryoma had moved back to the US for further tennis training. He had not returned to Japan since then. However, he had kept in touch with Momo-sempai. In his last email, Momo-sempai had written that he had passed the entrance exam of the university of his choice. Soon, he would move into a 1DK he had rented near the university.

Other than the fact that he had gained quite a few inches in his height, Momo-sempai seemed almost the same. Ryoma, too, hadn't changed much over these two years.

'I'm still much shorter than Momo-sempai,' he mused. Even though he felt as if it had been very long, nothing seemed to have changed.

Or had it?

Momo-sempai had continued playing tennis in high school. With his personality, he had made many friends – friends which Ryoma had seen only through the pictures he had received. He did not know whether there had been any girlfriends because Momo-sempai had never written or spoken anything about that matter. All the while during the plane journey from the JFK to Narita, he had wondered about it. It hadn't exactly been the first time he had thought hard about the matter. Only now that he was finally going to meet Momo-sempai, he felt the strangeness of his situation far more strongly than ever before.

After all, why had he come all the way to Tokyo?

He stood up as the noise from the auditorium grew louder. The ceremony was over. Old friends were parting… laughter, tears and lots of words they wouldn't dream of saying if it had not been the graduation day.

His sharp eyes easily spotted Momo-sempai. Even if he hadn't had the natural keenness of sight, the girly squeals and sobs of "Momo-chan!" would have easily helped him locate his friend.

He frowned as they crowded around him. What in the world was going on? They were actually pulling at his… uniform? No, he realized, it was the buttons on the uniform. He had forgotten about that tradition. When he had first heard that a girl at high school graduation would ask for a button from the uniform of the boy she loved, he had imagined it to be some private exchange. He hadn't pictured it as a near-violent attack on the popular guy. By that theory, though, Momo-sempai appeared to be extremely popular.

Momo-sempai came into sight again, laughing and talking. He certainly didn't look as if he had been 'violently attacked' – at least he didn't look as if he was anything less than awfully pleased about it. He was clearly enjoying the attention.

Ryoma pulled down his cap and dug his hands into the pockets of his jacket. He was aware of his fame and that he wouldn't go unnoticed if he removed his black glasses and cap. He was usually not bothered by the fact. But right now, he was rather inclined to preserve his privacy. To an interested observer, it would seem to be a pretty commonplace disguise. Nevertheless, he guessed correctly that the families and friends would be too busy to pay any heed to him.

He was still a few yards away from Momo-sempai. It would be too flamboyant to dig his way through the crowd towards him. He grinned. He didn't need to do something like that. Momo-sempai would notice him – no, Momo-sempai had already noticed him.

Momoshiro's expression froze for just a breath of a moment before he turned back to his friends.

"Yeah, I'll keep in touch…," Ryoma could make out the words on his lips as he tried to get away from them.

His hands clenched into fists. What was this sudden strange feeling in the pit of his stomach? It wasn't quite the sort that led to the enthrallment of defeating a near-invincible opponent. He turned and began to walk towards the tennis courts again. This area was far more comfortable – and not only because he felt most at his ease on a tennis court. Despite of being pretty close to the main campus, he could expect to talk to Momo-sempai without interruption as it was shielded by thick growth of shrubs and trees.

The leaves crunched beneath the fast steps that were surely not his own.

"Yo, Echizen!"

Before Ryoma could turn, strong arms enveloped him in a firm embrace. He felt the warmth from his back rise up all the way to his cheeks.

"Been long, hasn't it?" asked Momo-sempai without relinquishing his hold on him. In fact, he seemed to hug him just a bit tighter as he said those words.

"Yeah."

As Momo released him, Ryoma stepped back and faced the person who had so consistently dominated his thoughts.

"Making international news now, aren't you? Man, but you still seem like the impertinent little brat challenging his seniors and being disagreeable all around!"

"I wasn't disagreeable at all," said Ryoma as he pocketed his shades, "You were the annoying sempai."

"Still the brat!!" Momo laughed and ruffled his hair. "Say, do you want to come down to my new apartment? I can even cook something!"

Ryoma picked up his cap and put it back on. "You can cook, too?"

Momo grinned and held up his fingers in the 'V for victory' sign. "Call me The Great Chef Momo-chan!"

Ryoma blinked. "Are you sure take-out won't be better?"

"Don't doubt my skills, ignorant one! Get a taxi, won't you? I'll tell my family to go home ahead without me."

"Eh? Is it okay? Were you going to dine with them today for…?"

"Nah, nothing of the sort," Momo cut him off, shaking his head. "You're here right now, aren't you? We've got to celebrate that before everything else!"

It definitely made Ryoma wonder if he was reading too much into it. Momo-sempai could have easily invited him to dine along with his family. However, he wanted to celebrate with him alone. Moreover, he hadn't shown any surprise except for the fraction of a second when he first noticed him. Characteristically, he had begun by showing his joy and asked nothing. Would they eat and drink, talk nonsense and play tennis? Ryoma definitely had one more selfish task to add to the schedule.

Folding his hands behind his head, he looked up.

He hadn't realized it before but he was standing beneath a sakura tree in full bloom. He caught a few petals as the wind gently blew them towards his face. His own family had gone on a trip to Kyoto. Apparently, his mother had insisted on celebrating hanami in Maruyama Park. In fact, that was partly the reason why he had come down to Tokyo earlier than he had planned. He needed some time in Tokyo strictly for himself.

It was imperative to sort out these… feelings… before they evolved into full-fledged distraction.

Ryoma was a genius – he was born to be a tennis player. He had never regarded the racquet or the ball with apprehension. He had never known the uncertainty of being on a tennis court for the 'first' time. All of it had always been some distant fairy-tale to him. Even so, as he walked towards the road, he admitted to himself that what he was feeling right then might be somewhat similar to it.