Title: The Agony of Disbelief

Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis or its characters.

Pairings: Mainly MomoRyo with some InuiKai and Golden Pair. Blink and you may miss the TezuFuji.

Summary: Ryoma doesn't believe it when Momo suddenly declares his love. Momo's only thought as he tries to correct this: Why am I in love with this idiot again?

AN: I know I should probably be working on my other Prince of Tennis fic, but I've hit writer's block with that one so I figured I'd write something to maybe help me out of it. This is it.

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Chapter #1: The First Confession

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The air was filled with the sounds of young boys shouting back and forth, the noise accompanied by the sound of tennis balls bouncing off rackets, walls, and ground, with the loud commands and encouragements of the coach occasionally heard over the din whenever there was a particularly nice or ugly shot. It was an ordinary day for Seigaku High.

That is it was an ordinary day for all those but a single member of the Seigaku Regulars. For Momo this was not just an ordinary day. No, this was a day that would live on in Momo's memory for years to come. Or at least, it would if he could ever work up the nerve to actually go through with his plan. Otherwise the day would only live on as the memory of the time he had chickened out.

"So are you gonna do it?" Eiji asked intently, cornering Momo on the sidelines of the courts that day during practice as they watched their fellow teammates play a practice match. When Momo had first approached Eiji about this particular concern, the younger boy wanting reassurance that he was normal and maybe some clue as to what he should do, Eiji hadn't been at all surprised. He'd suspected the pair ever since he'd first realized that homosexuality could be an option for the two boys. And now it was up to him to get Momo to actually do something about it. It was a big responsibility, but Fuji made Momo nervous so it was up to him.

Momo sighed. "I don't know, Eiji-senpai. I just don't think I should." He actually really didn't think he should. The thought of confessing his love to Ryoma quite frankly terrified him. The younger boy may have been his best friend, but that didn't mean Momo was blind to the fact that Ryoma was easily the most asexual person he knew. Ryoma had never even had a crush before never mind having an actual love interest. At this point in his life, Momo wasn't sure Ryoma was even physically capable of that kind of emotion. There was just no way that Ryoma could actually return his feelings.

"Why not? It's perfect!" Eiji exclaimed, gesturing widely. "You tell him you love him, he says the same, and you both live happily ever after with lots of great sex."

Momo blushed slightly at the mention of the sex, but continued the conversation nevertheless "Yeah, but I'm just not so sure about that middle part."

Letting his arms drop back down to his sides, Eiji frowned. "Why? What's wrong with it?"

"Well he has to actually love me for him to say he does, doesn't he?"

Eiji didn't see a problem with this. "Yeah. And?"

Looking embarrassed, Momo stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet, keeping his eyes on the ground. "Well, I'm just not sure if he does."

Oh. That problem. Eiji sighed and got serious. "Look, Momo, you've loved Ochibi for how long now?"

Momo looked even more embarrassed by this, not liking that Eiji was bringing this up despite its relevance to the conversation. "Um. A year?"

"Right" Eiji said with a serious nod, "And don't you think that that's a little bit of a long time to have kept this a secret?"

"Um. No?" Momo tried, looking up and knowing full well that Eiji wanted him to answer otherwise.

Eiji just looked at him tolerantly. "You mean, yes."

"No, I mean no," Momo tried to assert even as he wrung his hands nervously. "I mean, I don't really have to tell him, y'know. He doesn't really have to know. I can just keep going on like normal and nothing really has to change."

"Don't you think he deserves to know?" Eiji asked, trying to make Momo see the issue from a different angle.

But the attempt just made Momo look almost frightened. "Not if he decides he wants nothing to do with me afterwards."

"Ochibi isn't gonna just abandon you," Eiji said, trying to sound absolutely positive.

Momo snorted. "Then you don't know Echizen very well. That's exactly what he'll do."

Not wanting to admit that Momo may be right, Eiji decided to try a different tactic. "But you don't want to just lie all the time and fake that you're happy for the rest of your life, do you?"

"If it gets me time to spend around him then I'll take it." Momo then looked vaguely discomforted by what he had just admitted. Had that just come out of his mouth?

Starting to get frustrated, Eiji tried one more time. "Well it's not like faking will do you any good, anyways. He's going to find out sooner or later and you know it. Wouldn't you rather he find out from you and not from some dirty rumor that he hears in the hallway?"

"Echizen knows better than to listen to rumors," Momo said, but then didn't look completely sure of this. Clearly he was remembering that one time when Ryoma had heard that Fuji wanted to do some interestingly sexual things to him in the locker room and had then avoided both Fuji and the locker room like the plague for the better part of two weeks before it had been discovered that Fuji had only been discussing a porno he had forced Tezuka to watch with him with Eiji and things had gotten confused. (Upon hearing of this misunderstanding, Fuji had laughed for weeks afterwards, getting his amusement out of pretending to want to molest Ryoma every time the younger boy came within hearing range. By the end of that month, Ryoma had been the only one not laughing. Momo hoped that this experience had taught Ryoma not to listen to rumors, but he wasn't completely sure it had.)

Eiji smirked and continued. "You know any rumor he hears will only twist your feelings into something dirty. Or do you want him thinking you're some dirty pervert that only wants to butt-rape him."

Momo looked clearly disturbed by this and Eiji could feel his victory coming. "You don't think he'd really believe that, do you?" Momo asked, looking to Eiji for some reassurance. He liked to think Ryoma knew him better than that, but then again . . . Ryoma could be rather dense at times.

Eiji shrugged and purposely didn't give him what he wanted. "Who knows? Maybe."

Not looking comforted by this, Momo looked down at the ground with a disturbed expression.

"So are you gonna do it?" Eiji asked again, this time expecting a positive answer.

Looking up and across the courts at Ryoma, who was still heavily involved in his practice match against Oishi, Momo was quiet for a moment as he thought this through. Finally, he sighed and, looking defeated, said, "Yeah. Yeah, I'll do it."

Eiji was careful to not jump right into a victory dance right there. Instead he smiled brightly and clapped Momo on the back. "Good choice!"

Because it really was a good choice. Especially because this meant that Eiji would be the one winning the betting pool on when Momo would finally confess his love. That was a full 6000 yen now in his pocket. It was good to be him.

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Momo could hear Ryoma following behind him as Momo led the younger boy deeper and deeper into the park. He'd had the idea that he would want privacy for this confession and what better place for privacy than the deepest, most secluded, area of the park?

He could also practically feel Ryoma's curiosity. He'd needed to get Ryoma out here somehow, so he'd purposely put on his most serious face and had told Ryoma in his gravest voice that he needed to speak with him after practice. Ryoma had fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. Every once and a while, that is every blue moon or so, Momo knew just how to play his best friend. Ryoma was still a complete mystery to him almost 24-7, but it helped that he had a few tricks up his sleeve to better deal with him.

"Momo-senpai," Ryoma spoke up for not the first time, irritation beginning to color his voice as he stepped over some tree debris "Where are we going?"

Momo looked around him and tried to remember just where it was he was supposed to be headed. Was it to the left through those bushes? Or was it to the right down that trail? "Just a little more," he said absently, busy trying to pull up his mental map of the place. He pulled to a stop on the path as he examined both directions, left and right. The trail seemed the obvious choice, but he clearly remembered having to push past a number of bushes on his way to the particular area he wanted. But was it these bushes?

Ryoma sighed as he pulled to a stop at Momo's side and then accused, "You're lost, aren't you?"

"No," Momo immediately denied vehemently, "I know exactly where we are. We're . . ." he trailed off uncertainly, looking down the trail to his right and then at the bushes again. "We're . . ." he tried again as if the right direction would at any moment spring from his mouth, using his voice without him ever actually knowing the words.

"Lost," Ryoma finished for him flatly.

"We're not lost," Momo said, turning his head to give Ryoma a short glare before turning back to the trail vs. bush debate and choosing a direction at random. "We go this way." And he set off resolutely through the bushes. Ryoma shook his head at Momo's perceived idiocy but still followed.

"And why do we need to go all the way out here again?" Momo heard Ryoma ask as the two of them came out one side of the bushes and then dove straight into yet another line of foliage. "Why can't you just tell me what's so important somewhere else?" Stepping over a tree root and into another round of bushes, Ryoma muttered, "Maybe somewhere not so full of bushes," as his clothes apparently caught on the branches yet again. He tugged at them absently but had no luck and so then had to focus the rest of his attention on gaining freedom.

"I just wanted some privacy," Momo mumbled under his breath as he waited for his friend, hoping Ryoma wouldn't be able to hear.

"What?" Ryoma asked, looking up curiously from his attempts to free himself. Good. He hadn't heard.

"Nothing," Momo said, giving Ryoma his most innocent smile.

Ryoma gave him a suspicious look, clearly not trusting him, but still went back to his struggle for freedom without asking any more questions. Finally he was free and the two could proceed. It was another five minutes of walking before they reached their destination and Momo smiled, looking around him at the perfect scenery for a love confession. It was green, surrounded by bushes and overlapping trees, and leaves crunched under his feet as he circled the area, making sure they were alone. Ryoma stood with his arms crossed over his chest in the middle of the clearing, watching impatiently as Momo poked at the foliage.

Pulling back a group of branches, Momo peered into the dark area behind the bushes lining the far boundary suspiciously and Ryoma apparently couldn't wait anymore. "Momo-senpai," he began impatiently. "What—

"Alright!" Momo said brightly before he could finish, bouncing back over to Ryoma's side with his inspection done. "Let's get this show on the road."

"Finally," Ryoma said, uncrossing his arms and looking up at Momo. "What's so important that you had to drag me out here?" he asked, opening his arms wide to indicate the clearing irritably.

"Echizen . . ." Momo said quietly, expression turning serious as he stood before his younger friend. All of his nerves came rushing back at once and he frowned, looking down at the ground. Not now. He'd been doing so well.

"What?" Ryma asked, his annoyance more than clear.

Maybe he should wait, Momo immediately thought as Ryoma asked this. Wait for a time when Ryoma wasn't quite so irritable.

But when would that be? Momo questioned himself. Momo would be taking time out of Ryoma's busy schedule of tennis and burgers and video games and more tennis no matter when he did his confession. Might as well get it over with now that he had dragged the brat this far out here or otherwise Ryoma would be really mad.

That decided, Momo took a deep breath and began, pushing his nerves back to the very back of his mind. "Echizen, look," he said, "You and me, we've been friends for a while, yeah?" he asked, looking up to see how Ryoma would take this.

Ryoma looked suspicious of where this was going but still answered slowly, "Yeah . . . ?"

"And, you know, things," Momo continued, looking down and running a hand rapidly through his hair, trying his best not to show how nervous he really was, "things, they can change between two people in that time, right?" He looked up again to watch Ryoma's expression.

Ryoma still looked suspicious, but now he looked a little confused as well. "I guess so . . . But what does that have to do with anything?"

Momo decided to just take the plunge, saying, "Echizen I . . ." but stopped before he could finish, his throat closing up on him. "I . . ." he tried again, but with no luck. He tried to clear his throat and began again. "I . . ."

"You what?"

"I . . ." Momo tried yet again, but he just couldn't get it out. He guessed he was more nervous than he'd thought. He'd thought the getting Ryoma out here part would be the part where he'd be the most nervous, because that was the part leading up to the main event, the part where he was still trying to hide his feelings. The plan from there had been to just spit it out and get things over with. Momo wasn't the most romantic of guys and hadn't really planned on doing anything more so it should've been easy. Just spit it out. But it seemed his mouth had different ideas.

"Come on, Momo-senpai. I don't have all day," Ryoma said, crossing his arms over his chest again impatiently.

"I'm trying," Momo said, frustration clear in his voice. "It just won't come out."

"Then try harder."

"I . . ." Momo tried, starting to get just a little bit freaked out. "I . . ." Oh come on. Seriously. He needed to say this. Ryoma needed to know. What Eiji had said was a true concern. Somebody might tell Ryoma before Momo could and then things would be over.

Ryoma huffed irritably and looked off into the bushes to the side, clearly getting sick of this.

"I . . ." Momo tried yet again, mouth opening and throat closing.

"Fine," Ryoma finally said, momentarily turning back to glare at him. "If you just wanted to fool around, we could've done this back on the street. I'm leaving." And Ryoma turned around to do just that.

And that was what it took for Momo's voice to break free. "I love you!" The words rung out strong and fast and Ryoma paused before turning back around.

"What?" he asked as though he didn't believe he had heard that quite right.

"I love you," Momo said clearly and at a less desperate level.

Ryoma just stared at him for a while, the seconds ticking by at a painfully slow rate for Momo. Then Ryoma shook his head and sighed, muttering under his breath, "And here I thought you were actually going to say something serious."

Hearing that, Momo looked indignant. "I am serious."

"Yeah. Right. You love me?" Ryoma repeated scornfully, looking back up at Momo. "Nice try, Momo-senpai, but I'm not buying it this time."

"But – but-" Momo stuttered, staring with wide eyes, almost unable to believe this was actually happening. Rejection, he had prepared himself for. Scorn even. But he hadn't prepared himself to not be believed. "But I'm actually serious!"

"Yeah, you're actually serious," Ryoma said scornfully again. "Just like all those other times you were "actually serious"."

Momo looked a little bit confused by this and then a little bit frightened, knowing somehow that Ryoma was going to start listing things and that some of his past was going to be coming back to slap him in the face. "What do you mean? What other times?"

Ryoma looked at him. "What about that time you were actually serious that your parents had been killed in a gang shooting and you were moving to America to live with your crazy Aunt Yoriko?"

Momo remembered that. "Well . . ."

"Or what about that time you were actually serious that you were allergic to peanut butter? I caught you eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich the next day."

Momo remembered that too and started to cringe. "Well . . ."

"Or what about that time you were actually serious when you told Fujimura-sensei that Kaidoh-senpai was your gay lover?"

"Hey that was funny!" Momo tried to say in his defense.

Ryoma ignored him. "Or what about that time you were actually serious that you had found proof of Inui-senpai being an alien and then showed me some crappy home video of Inui-senpai and Kaidoh-senpai making out by the river?"

"I thought that was proof!"

"Or what about that time you were actually serious that—

"Alright! Alright!" Momo interrupted before he could list anymore of Momo's past jokes, waving his arms to stop Ryoma from saying anything else. "So maybe I lie every now and then. That doesn't mean I'm lying now, does it?"

Ryoma raised a brow, his expression saying clearly that yes it did.

"Oh come on, Echizen," Momo said, trying to get Ryoma to see sense. "You know me better than that, don't you? Why would I joke about something like this?"

"Because you, for some strange reason, think it's funny?" Ryoma suggested, with that brow still raised and a hint of duh to his tone.

"No I don't!" Momo tried to deny, but Ryoma wasn't listening anymore. "I really do love you!"

"You know if you're just gonna keep repeating that trying to convince me of your stupid joke then I'm gonna leave."

"What?" Momo asked incredulously. "No! I mean—No! Echizen! I'm serious!"

"Good-bye Momo-senpai," Ryoma said, turning to leave. He waved a hand as he left his friend behind, saying, "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"But Echizen!" Momo tried, following behind. "I'm telling the truth here!"

"I said good-bye, Momo-senpai," Ryoma said firmly, obviously trying to stay patient. He pushed a bit of brush out of his way and stepped over some debris as he continued to try to leave Momo behind.

"But Echizen!" Momo tried again, pushing that same bit of brush aside and following along closely at Ryoma's side, not intending to leave until Ryoma was forced to believe him.

"Go away."

"But Echizen!"

"I said go away Momo-senpai! I'm not listening to you anymore!"

"Echizen!"

And it just continued like that all the way back to Ryoma's haouse.

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TBC?