From the Beginning

Warning: There is a huge amount of OOC for all the characters from grades 1-3 (for Ryoma) Additionally, I intend on writing from grades from 1-12, followed by an epilogue. All grades are counted from Ryoma's POV.

Disclaimer: If I owned Prince of Tennis, they wouldn't be on my Christmas Wish list right now. And there would be a whole lot more fluff in the story!

Rating Warning: It will grow, as the story gets longer. I'm almost positive it'll hit M before chapter 4/5. If you would prefer for it to stay T, or have the M parts marked up, just tell me.

Time Factor: I'm going to speed through some of the earlier years and stress high school and middle school, mkay? If you think I should just dedicate a chapter to each grade instead, I can try but you need to tell me which one you'd prefer.

First Grade (Third Person)

A five-year-old Echizen Ryoma sat staring at the older males. The males who had just beaten his older brother in his game of choice, which just so happened to be tennis.

He knew his brother was good, even though he'd never willingly admit it to his aniki, but these guys were just amazing.

A rather tall and stoic male had been the first to beat Ryoga in years. The score had been 6-0. The other males all seemed to be almost as good, some even better. With the mind of an innocent five-year-old who was hooked on tennis, he ran up to the older boys.

The boys seemed about 7. Ryoga was already 8.

"Onii-kun! Please teach me how to play!" An innocent glint sparkled in Ryoma's large cat eyes.

He was only half the height of the other boys, with the exception of a more feminine male with cerulean eyes. Still, his eager determination convinced the boys to teach him a bit.

All except the silver/lilac haired male who said he had to go study, because he wasn't naturally top 3. He momentarily glared at the other two boys, but ruffled my hair before saying he'd show me how to beat the other three guys next time he saw me.

The stoic male and the shorter, but just as stoic male both stared at him.

The feminine male smiled sweetly at him, before saying, "But Keigo-kun, you can't even beat us yourself yet!" The silver/lilac haired man, who Ryoma guessed to be "Keigo" stormed off, obviously upset at the very least.

The other boys all smiled at the retreating figure. Apparently, they were rather used to this kind of behavior from the silver/lilac haired boy.

A smile spread across the feminine male. "He's still got a bit to learn, doesn't he, Mitsu-chan?" Both the stoic male and the shorter, just as stoic male nodded in agreement, as though the statement made by the sweetly smiling feminine male was extremely obvious.

Ryoma smiled, knowing that he would have quite a story to tell mommy when he got home. She would be proud of him, except she might be upset about Ryoga.

But it wasn't like these guys had physically beat Ryoga up.

They just beat Ryoga at a game of tennis. Ryoma wasn't sure whether his dad would kill them, praise them, or demand a match.

Second Grade (Ryoma POV)

"So what grade are you in now?" Syuusuke smiled at me. I smiled back; giving him the most genuine smile I could muster. I always smiled genuinely around them. I mean, how could you smile around such nice guys.

" I'm in second grade now!" I proudly stated. Syuusuke chuckled, before calling me kawaii for the third time that day.

I had known Syuu-chan, Mitsu-chan, Gen-chan and Kei-kun for a year now, a full year of being accepted by the coolest guys on the universe. I bounced up and down, extremely energetic for a six year old.

It was funny how relaxed I was around my Onii-kun. Somehow, I figured that if I fell, they would know exactly what to do. Somehow, I figured that if the world ended now, they would still know how to fix it.

They were special, and they didn't stare at me and say stuff about my dad all the time. It was more than enough for me. I smiled, thinking just how special, how different they could be. They could beat up a grown-up one minute and play an innocent game of tennis the next. But then again, to us tennis was never just a game.

"Ne, Mitsu nii-san? Will you play a match with me?" I had finally started being able to return the tallest boy's balls.

And they actually went over the net! Mitsu smiled at me, and merely picked up his racket while walking towards the courts.

"Go easy on him," Genichirou whispered to him. Although they seemed stoic the first time I saw them, I now realized it was just because Ryoga was being mean to the other kids.

They were all really nice, especially Syuusuke and Mitsu-chan. I bounced up to the net, happy to be able to play an actual game with Mitsu-chan.

I won the match, 6-4 but I know he let me win because he lost 3 games in a row and he never does that. Not even when Kei-kun or Syuu-chan played him. But he didn't say any of that to me.

He just smiled and said, "Looks like we need to watch out for you, don't we? You ferocious little monster!" Mitsu nii-san ruffled my hair before hugging me tightly.

"You've grown! It's harder to hug you now!" Syuu-chan said. Then he glared at Mitsu-chan. "Or maybe it's because someone…cough, cough keeps hogging you!"

Everyone laughed, from Kei-kun to Gen-chan to Mitsu-chan. And Syuu-chan was giggling like crazy.

When I finally had to leave, Gen-chan offered to walk me home.

I shook my head, "I can walk home myself without getting lost, and I'll just hit bad guys and annoying birds with my racket!" I proudly demonstrated my newly found control of the ball. Even though it had no strength, it still went wherever I wanted it to go.

As I headed home, I could have sworn I heard Kei-kun following me. I turned around, half expecting Keigo to be standing there pretending to be going the same direction. The other half of me expected everyone to be there, all of them blaming Keigo for not being quiet enough when he was walking.

I found no one behind me. I smiled; maybe they did trust me to get home by myself. But I momentarily wondered why anyone would be in the bushes right now. Maybe they were just playing hide-and-seek.

I counted the feet mentally; four people (8 sneakers) were in the bushes right now. Their mommies would probably be mad at them later for coming home late.

Syuusuke POV

I grabbed everyone and pulled them into a bush.

Atobe complained. Loudly.

"Be quiet!" I said, putting my hand over his mouth. "We have to make sure Ryoma gets home safely without him noticing!"

"Why can't we just follow him normally? It's not like we're kidnapping him, Syuu-chan!" I sighed; for a friend of now 6 years, Keigo sure didn't know too much about being a friend. Beside me, Mitsu-chan stared at him before beginning to speak.

"I thought your eyes were trained to notice things."

"They are!" Keigo argued pointlessly.

"Then maybe you're just deaf, because you saw that Ryo-kun didn't want us to walk him home. He wants to do it alone. He wants to be a big kid, alright?" Gen-kun and Mitsu-chan replied in unison. I joined in after the first sentence, a little slow but still later is better than never.

After Ryoma finally moved on, we got out of the bushes again. Mitsu-chan motioned for us to split up so that we wouldn't have to cram into one tiny hiding spot again. Personally, I saw a lot of sense in his decision.

Apparently, Genichirou did not.

While Keigo was glad to move closer to Ryoma, Genichirou pulled him back, deathly worried. "You will give us away! Ryoma can hear your extremely loud voice from here you know…" He literally dragged Keigo back and stuck him in the bush again.

Ahead, Ryoma had run into some older boys. And these guys didn't seem as nice as "Mitsu nii-san" did, even when he didn't know him at all. These guys looked dangerous, and looking at the weapons some of them had begun to pull out, I guessed that they probably were.

Tapping Mitsu-kun, Gen-kun, and Kei-kun, I pointed towards the boys. Within moments we had snuck around to the back of the males. Even though there were only four of them, they wee still older and appeared stronger than we were.

And we still couldn't let Ryoma see us.

All of us ran out, using the element of surprise to our advantage, and knocked out an enemy using either our rackets or fists. I may look feminine, but my punch can match Mitsu's or Gen's. Keigo and Mitsu had also used their fists, but Gen used this opportunity to practice his swordplay.

Wielding his racket like a sword, he slashed at the knees of one of the enemies. Then, using the collapse of the other man as a diversion we ran back to the opposite side. But I should have known that Ryoma would use that amazing eyesight of his. But then again, I was rather proud of him for noticing.

"Kei-kun? Gen-chan? Mitsu-chan? Syuu-chan?" An innocent, awed voice called out to us. We turned around, slightly scared and slightly anxious of how this might affect the way Ryoma felt about us.

"You were awesome! Gen-chan, was that you? Did you cut the guy with your racket? Or was that Mitsu-chan? And you looked like a superhero Syuu-chan!"

Keigo pouted, clearly upset. "What about me?"

Ryoma smiled. "You were the king in shining armor!"

King, eh? That would definitely go towards Keigo's ego. But then again that wasn't exactly a good thing. Still, I'm sure I could speak for everyone when I say we were glad Ryoma wasn't hurt.

By now, Ryoma was like a little brother to us. I think I would die if something happened to him. Or worse, if he had to move away. I looked up at Mitsu, comforted by the agreement in his eyes. As creepy as it was, sometimes it's handy to have a friend who can read your mind.

I looked down at Ryoma, who was still talking about how cool we had looked. "I totally wish I could have taken a picture of that! It looked like one of those James Bond movies!" As I watched the adorable boy bounce around hugging all of us, I smiled and banished thoughts of any of us leaving.

I mean, what's the worst thing that can happen?

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