What color are Ryoma's eyes? I'm just going to go with hazel…

I wonder why the title sequence is always so jacked up? It looks fine before it's published. Microsoft lies! Jerks. D:

Anyways, faster update than last time haha…


.x. Love Like This .x.

…"more than just star-crossed"…

Love Like This © Angel Ballet

Prince of Tennis © Takeshi Konomi

Chapter Six: Because I'm Stupid

"Because I'm so stupid and such a fool, my eyes don't see nobody but you." – SS501


Previously…

"Alright," he said, her request was easy enough. "Will you please go to the Student Council banquet with me, Sasuki?"

She paused, debating an answer.

He paused, awaiting an answer.

Then, she carefully turned towards him, facing him completely.

She smiled sweetly; a beautiful, fleeting smile that made it seem like she was a child that won a giant stuffed giraffe.

"You know what my answer for you is, Echizen-kun?"

He blinked, confused.

"Rejected."


Hazel eyes scanned across a thick, well-bind book at an alarming rate.

A lazy, sunny Sunday had Ryoma standing in front of his bookshelf, arms crossed, searching for a certain book.

A book that should explain… things.

It had been a while since Ryoma last took out a dictionary from his overly-organized shelves. The green clothed cover was covered in dust.

After patting the dust off the cover page, Ryoma flipped it open to the direct middle. His index finger ran across the thin, smooth pages, searching for the word he desired.

Rejection.

His eye twitched, a scowl becoming more apparent on his face with each passing second.

It was a word he hadn't heard in so long that the true definition behind the word had become translucent to him.

…He could hear the devastating word replaying and echoing from the sadistic girl's mouth over and over.

And over.

Damn her, using such a fowl word to him.

To him!

Taking a deep breath, he concentrated on the word at the tip of his finger.

Reject; the person or thing that is rejected or set aside as inferior in quality.

Ryoma blinked.

What?

Inferior in quality.

Set aside. Rejected.

What a horrible vocabulary to be invented for such purposes. Who on earth invented this?

Slowly returning the book to its rightful place on the flawless shelf, Echizen squeezed his eyes shut.

What exactly wasn't likeable about him?

He was smart, foreign smart, but still smart, so that was definitely a bonus. He was incredibly good-looking, no need to state the obvious. And he could play tennis. Heck, he was the tennis prodigy!

What else was there? Something he missed…?

Honestly, Ryoma had no idea what it took to simply fascinate Sasuki Miharu.

She wasn't beautiful, just pretty. She had spontaneous outbursts whenever she saw him, like a fan girl, even if it was for different reasons.

Sasuki Miharu was just so painfully plain.

And yet, somehow, she managed to stand out, like a white splatter in black paint.

The more he got to know her, the more difficult it became.

For him, at least. Who knows what was going through her mind?

Ryoma sighed, weighing each of his options.

No one had ever said no to him. They had no reason to. There was no way they could.

What options could he even choose from?

Fine then, if he didn't have any options then he'd just have to limit her options.

Now that was much easier.

Smirking, he thought about all the people she talked to. Well, that he actually remembered.

Hmm, that one girl that was always with her, they were like magnets. What was her name? Shinani? Shikari? No, what was it?

Shiori! How did he forget? He had heard about her from most of the school gossip. That girl knew so much around school it was like she had mind-reading powers.

Now she was definitely someone Miharu would invite to the banquet. Without a doubt, Miharu was going to either ask her or already had, Shiori being her best friend at all… So he was assuming.

Another obstacle was Kaoru.

To be honest, Ryoma had never really talked with the snake-like tennis player about anything other tennis. Kaoru's hobbies, likes, dislikes… It was completely unknown to Echizen. Well, he got the gist of the basic details. Like, well, the way Kaoru usually acts.

It is totally obvious that he is not a social person.

Duh. Even a half blind old fool could tell from six miles away.

It actually surprised Ryoma to no end when the snake man had voted for Miharu during the election that he helped her win. (He was so going to keep rubbing that in as a reminder.)

Speaking of which, he helped her win her election! She was going to the banquet thanks to him in the first place!

Ryoma snorted. What an ungrateful girl.

It didn't matter though. The challenge had been set and he intended to see it through… Especially after being rejected for the one girl he didn't believe was worth it.

You're a fool, Miss Parking Lot.

Ryoma smirked, planning his next course of action.

Removing the obstacles, of course. No hesitation.


The first thing Echizen Ryoma did when he arrived at school was search the classrooms for Miharu's friend, Shiori.

Honestly, it didn't take long, all he had to do was use his sources.

"Excuse me, do you know what classroom Shiori is in?"

The random brown haired girl stared at him, a blush apparent in her cheeks. She was clearly surprised that Ryoma Echizen was the one verbally communicating with him."

"Shiori Saeki? Uhm, I think she's in the classroom right next door."

He smiled back, it was necessary to preserve his reputation. "Thank you."

The girl stared back dreamily as he left her to search for Shiori.

Honestly, Ryoma didn't plan this out perfectly, but hey, no one was perfect. Miharu's friend might not even be at school this early to hear him out.

Worse of all, what if she was just like Miharu? Heavens knows he didn't need another one of that stupid female! One of her was more than enough, he could not stand two rejecting him in less than a day.

Still, it was simple, he just wanted to make sure Miharu herself had no one to ask to the banquet.

Shiori and Kaoru were the most likely candidates. The rest? Well, just tell some guys to back off and some girls that he would appreciate it if they refuse her offer, if she asked.

So really, it was simple… Just not that well planned out.

"Whoa. Ryoma Echizen in front of our classroom? This is a nice change."

Ryoma blinked. In front of the doorway, a rather petite, black haired girl stood.

Ooh, she's quite the character, pretty too.

"And you are?"

The girl crossed her arms. "Shiori, Miharu's friend. And in case you don't remember, Miharu was your guard for your first few days in school. And… well, the Publicist for Student Council."

Well, this was convenient, he didn't even have to ask around to find Shiori. Instead, she appeared before him…

"I know who Sasuki-san is, no need to remind me. As a matter of fact, I'm here to ask a favor regarding her."

Shiori's eyebrow rose with interest. "Oh? What kind of favor?"

"I'm sure you're been informed of the Student Council banquet. You see-"

Suddenly, Shiori laughed, interrupting him. "You want to ask her but she said no. Therefore, you want me to say no to her when she asks me, correct?"

Ryoma blinked. "Uh, yeah. How did you know?"

The black haired girl shrugged. "Who knows? It seemed kind of obvious, to me at least… And don't worry about it, I've already been invited by a wonderful gentleman."

There was a short pause in their conversation. Ryoma didn't know how to take it.

So, I guess that settles it. One down, one to go?

"I suggest you talk to Kaoru if you want to ask her though. They've been friends for a while, she's likely to ask him to accompany her if she's left with no options."

Ryoma smiled lightly. "I figured that, I was going to the tennis courts right after I talked to you, Saeki-san."

"Call me Shiori," she said, smiling back. "No need for formalities among allies."

He blinked again. "Allies?"

"I guess you can say I approve of working with you for the same goal. You know, to get Miharu as your date to the banquet."

A pause.

"But honestly," Shiori continued. "I don't approve of you just yet. You're no way close to the kind of guy she likes. And just by your popularity with the ladies alone, you don't suit her. Still, it doesn't hurt to try it out for once, right?"

Ryoma laughed, not sure if it was a compliment or a grave insult.

He was pretty sure it was an insult, but whatever.

Shiori truly was the most interesting character he ever seen. She was precise in her accusations. They were blunt, maybe, but it was the complete truth.

"Shiori-san, I realize that I'm the last one she'd probably like when the world explodes into pieces, but I'd also like you to know…"

He left a pause, debating how he would state his true intentions.

"I am in no way attached to her or trying to 'catch her.' You say I'm not her type? Well, truth it, she's not my type either."

Ryoma didn't miss the way Shiori's eyes narrowed.

"Then why do you go through such measures to ensure a simple banquet date?"

He smirked. "She deems unworthy. She doesn't know what I'm capable of. I believe we call this… proving someone wrong?"

"You intend to have her play along in your stupid game?" Shiori let out a dry laugh. "I don't even need to interfere, she can break you by herself. If she can't, she'll just tell Kaoru to break your legs… So uh, be careful of that part."

Ryoma chuckled. "You seem to trust your friend."

"Is that sarcasm, Ryoma-san?"

"Not in any way."

Shiori giggled. "Yes, I'll trust her with my future husband if I have to. Her and only her because she's the only one that would return the favor. Not just to me, but to Kaoru as well. If she trusts you, you'll be one of the happiest people in the world."

He paused. Sasuki Miharu didn't seem that great. She was just so… normal.

"Anyways, I have to meet with Shin-kun. You should go see Kaoru, Ryoma-kun."

Ryoma nodded. Kaoru seems more of a problem, actually.

Waving a quick goodbye to Miharu's interesting friend, Ryoma headed for the tennis courts.

He still had a bit of time before school starts. He could get the job done.


Miharu arrived at school on a fresh, clean Monday in an utter state of bafflement.

…Because there he sat, in his desk reading a thick looking book, basked in all his fan girl glory.

Prince Echizen-sama had finally gotten to school before her! This calls for a celebration!

Oh, and even better, he wasn't even asleep!

Improvement. Maybe even Echizen can improve.

"Good morning, Sasuki. Why are you just standing there staring at me?"

She blinked.

She was so not staring at him!

"I wasn't staring at you."

He smirked. "Alright then, why were you visually facing my direction?"

Miharu rolled her eyes as she walked to her desk, which happened to be next to Echizen.

"I hope you know that didn't even make any sense, stupid. Visually facing? What does that even mean?"

Echizen turned back toward his book that after getting a good glance, Miharu noticed it was the Romeo and Juliet textbook all the students were assigned with at the beginning of the school year.

Honestly, what's with all the textbooks and assignments anyways? Teachers at Seishun really liked to emphasize the pointlessness. Seriously, does it even make sen-

"It doesn't make sense to you, Sasuki. A lot of things don't."

She barely had time to register the insult, and when she didn't respond, Echizen faced her in question.

Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet! She didn't memorize any of the lines at all!

"Let me guess," Echizen snickered. "You forgot to study."

Miharu inwardly slapped herself.

"Of course I studied!"

He smirked. "Oh, really?"

"Just shut up, Echizen."

There was a pause as Miharu seated herself at her desk and dug out her textbook from her backpack. Not that she intended to continue the conversation with the obnoxious jerk, anyways.

"You know," Echizen suggested. "I could help you-"

"No."

He blinked.

What an immediate reply…

"It would bring you great shame to be seen with someone as lonely as me, almighty Lord. No need to take pity," Miharu continued, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

Brutally honest too…

Fine. Two could play at this game. He was in a great mood after talking to Kaoru, after all.

"Sasuki-san, I hope you realize that with my influence over Akira-sensei, I could easily suggest that we need a major test on this book. Perhaps I could persuade her to throw a pop quiz today too."

Miharu's eye immediately widened in sheer horror.

"Y-You can't! There's no way you could-"

Echizen smiled sweetly. He had so won this battle.

"Oh, but I'm pretty sure Akira-sensei simply adores me. She says I'm just like the son she never had."

Scowling, Miharu turned away from Echizen. Son? Son, my ass. More like the little pretty boyfriends she wanted when she was a teenager.

Echizen leaned towards her, catching her attention.

"Let's make a deal."

He watched as she hesitated for once, not simply blurting out a rejection.

"Echizen. She'll say no to you, even if you limit your options, she'll still say no."

Hn. Kaoru thought he knew her that well? Fine, he'll just have to prove Kaoru wrong too.

Finally, Miharu answered. "What kind of deal?"

"I'll help you study, lend you my notes, and well, why not delay some quizzes assigned for this unit?"

He could tell she was clearly shocked judging by her wide eyes.

"And what do I have to go in return?"

He smirked in triumph.

"Don't play with her, Echizen."

He would do whatever damn he wanted to do.

A laugh. "What? You think that kind of person would fall for me? Where did all your trust in her go, Kaoru?"

He rolled his eyes at him. "You strike me as the kind of person that could hurt her unconsciously with your stupidity."

Kaoru was so dead for calling him stupid…

Anger. "At least I'm not a coward. I can make her fall for me harder than the years of friendship you have together."

Kaoru nearly burst into laughter. "You? Have fun with that and keep dreaming, kid."

And their conversation just ended. Like that, nothing else.

Kaoru simply agreed he wouldn't accept Miharu's offer, if she asked.

It was actually much simpler that Ryoma thought it would be.

Suddenly, Miharu interrupted his flashback. "Well? What do I need to do in return, Lord Dearest?"

He had almost forgotten what he was going to say.

"Oh, go to the banquet with me."

And then, there was an anticipated pause. A very irritating pause.

…Followed by wide eyes and a horrified expression.

Ryoma already foresaw she'd be hesitant, and well, slightly disgusted.

Instead, she asked a simple question. "Why?"

"Because, I can prove everything you think about me wrong."

Miharu made a disapproving face. "You're putting me and you through this hell just to prove me wrong? Did a tennis ball hit you in the wrong area, Echizen?""

He frowned, not actually expecting an insult. "I really don't see why you still refuse. You have no one to ask and the banquet is in less than a week. Besides, I'll even help you study."

"…You make it sound like I want to spend time with you."

A smirk. "Oh, so you don't want to?"

She rolled her eyes at him again in annoyance. "I can always ask Shiori."

As if I can ask Shiori! She's going with Shin…

"Shiori's already attending the banquet with someone," Ryoma countered, already anticipating she would say that.

She paused for a fraction of a second. "Fine. Kaoru, then."

Ryoma grinned.

It was about time she brought up the topic of Kaoru.

"He's not an option; he's busy that day with tennis preparations."

And that definitely did the trick because in a split second, she stared back at him in fury.

"You… How do you know that!"

"Well," Ryoma replied, calmly. "I asked him this morning. He said he was busy and that he wasn't interest anyways."

Hah. Yeah, right. Kaoru wasn't interested? More like he didn't even know about it.

"She has a banquet for Student Council? Why would you need a banquet for something so pointless?"

Eye roll. "School rules, and you are required to bring someone too."

A scoff. "What stupid rules we have sometimes."

Ryoma paused. He never realized it before, but Kaoru and Miharu's thought process were terribly similar.

"Well, I have training with Inui that day. I couldn't go anyways."

Grin. Here was his opportunity. All obstacles were either cleared, busy, or taken.

Perfect. The pieces were in place. He just needed to bribe Miharu a bit more…

"So, what do you say, Sasuki-san?"

Ryoma could tell she desperately wanted to refuse.

…Which made it all the more tempting to take her as his date.

"…Fine, Echizen. I'll go to the damn banquet with you."

He felt his heart tremble in sheer triumph at her acceptance, albeit unwilling.

"But! I'm barely seventeen, Echizen. Don't you dare try anything funny!"

There was a pause. Ryoma wrinkled his nose.

"Try anything funny? With you? I'm not that tempted too, Sasuki."

As expected, she glared at him heartily and proceeded in ignoring him.

So, he decided to ask some questions, just to bother her."So, where do you live? I'll come pick you up."

She didn't look at him as she replied. "If you really want to know, go look in the school directory. If you don't, just drive yourself there and I'll walk."

Ryoma paused, not being able to decipher her logic. "Sasuki, if I didn't want to know, why would I ask?"

She smirked. "Oh? I thought you asked out of politeness but then I remembered you don't possess anything like that."

His eyes narrowed. "You really like to push yourself across thin ice, don't you?"

"Oh, why not. Life's just so exciting when you have the school's most desirable male blackmailing you just to prove himself right."

A silence extended over them.

Does she really hate me this much?

Fine. Be that way. He wasn't even blackmailing her either.

Well, at least she admit he was the most desirable male of the school. Good, an improvement.

"That's exactly what I was thinking too," Ryoma added, moving with the flow. "It's much more entertaining to invite the girl who obstinately refuses to go rather than the girl who asks me herself, don't you think?"

She scowled. "Keep up that logic and you'll take the hard road down life."

"And yet, here I am. Providing you with the easy road while you reject it. Who should be talking now?"

He heard a light sigh escape her lips as she chose to end the conversation and ignore him.

Whatever. He got what he wanted anyways.

. . .

So why does it feel like he lost in every way possible?


Miharu's POV

I can't believe him. Honestly.

Now I actually had to go buy a dress to wear.

And truth is, that was my main concern.

What in the world am I supposed to wear, damnit!

I was planning to well, burrow a suit from Kaoru and ask my sister to fill in the role as my guest. With a female guest coming with me, I should be allowed to wear a dress right?

The whole world doesn't need to know how hideous I look with a dress on.

"You'll be fine, nee-chan," My sister, Mekari reassured me for the umpteenth time.

I rolled my eyes. She honestly didn't understand my situation.

"Look at this Mekari! I have fat in my arms – and my armpits!"

While I was freaking out, my sister sighed. "Nee-chan, I can't see, but I'm sure that everyone has armpit fat like that. It's typical unless you train yourself to grow it into muscle."

I blinked.

I can't believe I forgot she was blind.

"Oh. Well, fat is fat. Doesn't make a difference. A strapless is definitely out of limits."

A scoff. "Wow. Seriously? I hope you realize that chuck of human tissue is supposed to be there. It's not fat, nee-chan. Just wear a strapless, ask Shiori-san to take you shopping. Tomorrow. No later."

Wow, the younger sister is bullying the older one…

I chose to remain silent as she brooded in the kitchen, watching Mekari prepare dinner.

My mother was out, working night shift again.

Honestly, it didn't even bother us anymore. As long as no one comes to murder them overnight, we were completely fine.

"So nee-chan," Mekari asked, once again starting a conversation. "I've actually heard a few rumors about Ryoma-san before. What is he like?"

Again, I blinked. "You've heard about him? From where?"

"Well, he's quite popular in this area ever since he arrived from America, you know. One of my friends from middle school said that he was really good-looking."

Oh, dear, sweet Mekari…

'Good-looking' was such an understatement it should be considered an insult.

But that didn't stop her questions. "So, what is he like? I can't believe he asked you."

Heh… I wonder that myself. Why the hell did he ask me?

As for what he's like…?

My dear, he's an annoying, manipulating, narcissistic, disastrous bastard.

But no, instead I answered, "You wouldn't like him, Mekari."

To my surprise, Mekari frowned.

"I wouldn't like him? But he's so wonderful! I wish I could see what he looks like sometimes. All the girls in my school talk about how dreamy he is and how amazing he is at tennis."

I didn't reply.

…Partly because it was the truth.

Damn, is his tennis really that great?

I was so going to ask Echizen how the hell his reputation extended to the middle schools tomorrow. Even my sister thought he was just oh, so wonderful.

…And she was blind too. She was missing out his most attractive feature and she still thinks he's wonderful. Talk about frustrating.

"You're so lucky, nee-chan. He's like a prince from what I've heard."

No, that is a complete lie. All he cares about is proving me wrong.

"And he asked you! Of all the pretty girls at Seishun. You should be happy."

Oh, I'm simply overjoyed.

"Well, I'm happy. It's about time you hung out with someone other than Kaoru-kun. I know you like him as a friend and all of that, but geez, you're already seventeen, nee-chan!"

I pouted. "My age has nothing to do with my disinterest in romance."

"Whatever you say, nee-chan. You're just afraid you're being used and that he'll throw you away like dad."

My eyes narrowed immediately. She just had to dredge that up, didn't she?

"That has nothing to do with it," I answered calmly. "Echizen isn't the kind of person that would be serious in this kind of… thing."

It was so obvious he was playing me. Well, fine then, it's not like I was going to grow attached to him anyways.

I mean, look at that bastard! Telling Kaoru off when he was my last savior to turn to! He seriously had such an unlikeable personality. It didn't match his appearance at all.

"Well, why not just enjoy yourself for just this once if you're going to go? I mean, might as well, right? It's not every day you get asked to a banquet by Ryoma Echizen. If it's going to happen once and only once, have fun with it."

I smirked at the truth behind her words.

It's like she's telling me to be glad it's happened.

"I do appreciate his offer," I replied. And his offer to help me in school… "As a matter of fact, I think I'll just take advantage of the situation and have fun with it."

That was totally a lie, but whatever.

"You should, nee-chan. Just get it over with and your life will be back to normal."

I smiled. "Of course."

If Echizen was going to play me, then so be it.

I'll just have fun being played.

And after that, we'll be going our own ways. Hopefully.

Of course, I'll still see him around school, but no one could help that. And it wouldn't even be a big deal either. He's a popular guy, he'll get over it.

"I'm going to go study," I declared, distracting myself from all thoughts regarding Echizen.

Besides, I desperately needed to study. I don't know about you but I sure wouldn't want to humiliate myself in front of Echizen.

"Okay, nee-chan, dinner's not ready anyways. Just, uhm, remember what I said okay? Don't take this too seriously. If he isn't, you shouldn't either."

Smiling, I left her alone with her fabulous cooking.

Her words had an infinite amount of sense in them.

Well, if Echizen was going to have fun with this, I would too. And then when it's over, we can both say it was a mutually fun experience.

…Okay, whatever. It didn't matter because I really need to study.

If I failed Romeo and Juliet, my mom probably wouldn't even let me attend the banquet much less be Publicist.

Grabbing the book out of my backpack, I carelessly slammed it on my desk.

Romeo and Juliet would be a harder war to battle than Echizen any day.

Flipping it open to a random page, I began reading whatever I could actually read.

In about five minutes of decipher ancient English words, I realized that failing the major test was actually becoming a possibility now.

…Maybe asking Echizen would be a fantastic idea indeed. Especially since he had the God forsaken power to assign a pop quiz in place of a teacher.

What a terrifying man.

Sighing, I continued reading about some scene where one guy stabs another with a sword.

Wait, no. A rapier.

What noobs, everyone knows that light sabers are the new style.

Getting back on topic, I continued my struggle to read.

It didn't help that I considered just blowing the entire thing off and making Echizen teach me just to hold off his part of the deal.

If I failed after he taught me, I was so going to steal his tennis racket and blackmail him.

Come to this of it, I've never actually seen Echizen play tennis...

No, no, I'm supposed to be studying. No more thoughts on Echizen, he's such a brain-fryer.

I groaned, stretching my arms out in front of me.

Tonight was going to be one hell of a night.

…And, evidently, I was supposed to be dress shopping with Shiori tomorrow.

Oh yes, life was simply perfect in its own ironic way.


Somehow, I think I wrote Ryoma to be sort of OOC. I mean, I stopped reading the manga for a while now, so…

Oh well. This is fanfiction, I'll write him how I like him! :D

But seriously, is he OOC? D:

Reviews, my hunnies? :3

Oh, just a quick thing here.

For those of you that watch/read Vampire Knight (despite the cheesy plot) – Who do you like better, Zero or Kaname?

…Or do you just prefer them gay together? O.o