Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis does not belong to me. This story was written purely for enjoyment.
Warning: Contains shonen ai and innuendo. If that's not your thing, please don't read, and also please don't complain about things you were warned about.
Author's Note: Regulars readers all know that I'm a staunch TezRyo fan above all other pairings, but there just isn't enough InuiRyo in the Tenipuri fandom. This pairing has been so neglected. And I think I know why. It's so damn hard to write. The characters don't fit quite as naturally together, and the limited interaction in the canon leaves their relationship poorly defined. Outside of the realm of smut, it is a fine line to tread between crack pairing and badfic.
Maybe I'm a masochist. I wanted to try it anyway.
So here's a longfic I've been working on for a while now. It's been scrapped and restarted half a dozen times, full of cliches, and while I'm fond of the end result, you can probably poke a hundred holes in it. (And by all means, go ahead). Shall be 12 chapters.
The Probability of Dating
It all started after the third girl had confessed to Inui. When the bespectacled data-obsessed high school senior had turned her down, not interested in the slightest, she asked with a dejected sort of curiosity what exactly it was he looked for in a girl. He was momentarily surprised to discover that it wasn't something he'd ever considered before. While he'd certainly enjoyed documenting his classmates' love lives as they made their perilous journey through puberty, it was only on the very rarest of occasions that he gave any thought to his own.
He expressed this concern to Oishi, who merely patted his arm and said, "You're just a late bloomer is all."
This did not satisfy Inui Sadaharu. He did not want to be a 'late bloomer'. And now that he looked around himself with more interest, it appeared that he had indeed fallen behind his teammates. Oishi and Kikumaru were already well under way with their clandestine - they thought - relationship. Kawamura, though not on the tennis team anymore, was dating a nice girl, and Fuji had courted many partners, both male and female. Then again, Fuji dumped them all almost immediately, apparently enjoying the chase more so than the actual relationship. Even the juniors, Momoshiro and Kaidoh, were making better progress than he.
In fact, out of Seishun High School's tennis regulars, the only ones who seemed to be in a similar position were Echizen and Tezuka. Tezuka because he was far too imposing and serious for any of his many admirers to even dare approach him, and Echizen... well, Echizen was still just a freshman after all, and apparently just as disinterested in the many girls throwing themselves at him now as what he had been back in middle school. There was also the small matter that in the tennis club, they were the only two members who were obsessed with the sport to the exclusion of almost everything else.
It was a hollow comfort. That was why the following weekend after practice finished, rather than stalk the street tennis courts in search of data, Inui headed straight home to work on a new project. One that would rectify what he perceived to be a gaping weakness in his personal development.
He was going to decide what he looked for in the perfect girl, so that no more would he be left speechless when asked.
Sitting down on his bed, Inui opened a fresh notebook and tapped pen to paper in thought, then started writing.
First of all, she had to be shorter than him. Slender, too, but not delicate. His class was filled with girls that looked like they would shatter if you bumped into them in the hallway. Younger also, he decided, pen scribbling across the white expanse. He was aware that some of his classmates had a preference for older women, but upon consideration concluded that he did not share that particular taste. He didn't have any particular preferences such as bust size or hair and eye colour; such distinctions were shallow and meaningless.
That was physical merits out of the way... next came personality and habits. This was a little easier. She had to like tennis - of that there was no question. She had to be smart, too, so that they could engage in intellectual conversation. He'd run himself through a number of popular romance and personality tests earlier that day, and determined that he would do well with someone more quiet and introverted. Preferably logical and level headed too; an emotional drama queen - like that girl who had cried and wailed and acted surprised all through chemistry after Fuji dumped her - was a bad idea for a first relationship.
It would be good if they shared similar tastes... on a second thought Inui scratched that one out. The only person the senior had come across yet that professed to like his juices was Fuji, which was hardly a good sign. And they needed to be single, as well. He hardly wanted to complicate any existing relationships.
That ought to be enough. It would be foolish to place too many stipulations on it, and the statistics suggested that relationships between people who were too similar had higher failure rates than those who were complete opposites.
Now he knew. The next time he was asked, he'd be able to answer what sort of girl he liked with honesty and precision.
Although… Upon further thought, why stop there? He might as well try and locate this perfect girl while he was at it. It did not escape his notice that his peers were quickly becoming more experienced in the field of dating than he. This imbalance needed to be rectified as soon as possible.
Inui turned on his computer and fetched a cup of juice while waiting for it to boot up. Once ready, he opened his database on Seigaku's enrolled students. The database he'd compiled contained information on the entirety of the high school's population - physical description, academic performance, what clubs they belonged to and any other particularly outstanding facts. Some of the data had admittedly been acquired by... questionable... means, 'questionable' meaning breaking into the school computer system every couple of months to update his records.
He calmly entered a range for height, set a threshold for grade point average, selected junior and freshman year only and entered 'tennis' in the interests column. That ought to be enough to narrow it down to only two dozen or so candidates, which he could then sort through by hand to match up with the remainder of his preferences. He clicked 'search', and only had to wait a few seconds before the results appeared on screen.
There were only six profiles returned, surprisingly. Inui wondered if perhaps he'd set the grade point average too high. He grew further discouraged when the first two profiles he opened were of girls who already had boyfriends. The next one was unfit and overweight - apparently the girl's tennis team had lower standards for fitness - and the junior after was an excitable cheerleader who'd alternated between pursuing Tezuka and Oishi ever since middle school.
His heart dropped further when he realised, upon opening the next profile, that he'd forgotten to include gender in the search parameters. The height limit apparently eliminated most males, but it had caught one of the non-regular juniors in the tennis club, who was incidentally the boyfriend of the first girl who popped up in his search.
With a growing sense of defeat, Inui opened the last profile. The name at the top of the screen was Echizen Ryoma.
That surprise was enough to stay his hand from clicking 'exit'. Echizen Ryoma. In mild disbelief, Inui glanced at the list of requirements in his left hand. Certainly Echizen, still the shortest of the regulars despite keeping to a strict two glasses of milk a day for a number of years, fell safely into the height and weight range he'd specified. Younger and single… He was in the top of half of all of his classes, quiet and reserved, and definitely levelheaded; being able to deflect Kikumaru's and Momoshiro's roller coaster emotional crises with a bored deadpan. And there was absolutely no doubt that he liked tennis.
Remarkably, Echizen fit every single one of his chosen criteria - other than gender, of course.
Inui stood up from the computer and moved to the bed. He needed to think about this.
When afternoon practice rolled around on Monday, Inui forwent his planned study of Momoshiro's practice match in order to watch the youngest regular play one of the juniors. Watching the short high-school freshman bounce the ball at the baseline brought on a strong sense of déjà vu.
In all honesty, the tennis club in high school had a remarkably similar feeling to their senior year in middle school. The only significant difference was the loss of Kawamura - he'd quit the club as promised to focus on his sushi training, but still often came to watch the tournament matches and every now and again would invite the old regulars over to try his sushi. By some unspoken agreement, they had all applied for the same school. Tezuka, Oishi and Fuji all could have easily gone to whatever school they wanted, and Echizen too, but that dream - to experience the Nationals again, to keep together a team that had somehow become like a second family - was too powerful to ignore, and so Seigaku drew them in again.
Inui shook himself from his reflection, watching with mild interest as Echizen let loose with a twist serve. The freshman was easily winning with his right hand these days, only ever switching to his left when confronted with Fuji or Tezuka. Of late, the three of them had proven to be a deadly trifecta where data became invalid. It was quite frustrating. They had some monsters in their club.
"Out! Game to Echizen, five games to love. Change court!"
Echizen Ryoma. Now that the idea had planted itself in his mind, Inui was strangely compelled to follow it up. What did it matter that he wasn't a girl? Inui had never considered the issue personally, having assumed that he fell into the statistical majority in terms of preferences, but it was worth exploring other options. And the more he thought about it, the more he observed, the more convinced he became that the choice was ideal. Echizen was certainly attractive, and more importantly, endlessly interesting once you paid attention. Furthermore, he'd be a challenge. Inui made an extra note in his notebook, observing that Fuji's enjoyment of the chase was perhaps not quite so illogical after all.
Not that he intended to pursue simply for the sake of pursuing. Unlike Fuji, Inui took these sorts of things seriously.
All the same, he certainly hadn't chosen himself an easy target. His pen stilled for match point.
A second later, Kachirou called, "Game, set and match, Echizen Ryoma, six games to love."
The freshman in question rested his racquet against his shoulder, not out of breath out all. "Mada mada dane."
Inui started writing again.
Currently, there was only a 0.02% chance that Echizen would be willing to date him.
Fortunately, that data could be changed.