Summary: Echizen's a bit out of touch with her female friends and can't understand why they're all so happy about their individual boyfriend. So… Echizen is determined to find out. By getting a boyfriend of her own. Fem!Ryoma
Ryoka's in her second year of middle school. (13-14 years old) This has NOTHING to do with Road to Queen. But I'm sure you all already knew that.
Chapter 1: What was his name again?
Ryoka never had a lot of female friends; mostly due to the fact that she never had the chance to hang out with them. She never wished for more girlfriends, she was quite satisfied with hanging out with her teammates (even though they always looked at her weird whenever she paused to look at a cute shirt), and she even had Ryuuzaki and Osakada (… were they considered friends?).
And girl-chat sometimes gave her headaches. While she liked shoes just as much as the next girl, she couldn't keep up with celebrity-talk or even the frantic gushes about the cute boy in the next class (he really wasn't all that cute, honestly).
But what she hated more than any sort of gossip…
"I went out on a date yesterday to that newly opened amusement park! It was so much fun! I love my boyfriend so much!"
… was this kind of talk.
Tomoka had found a new boyfriend and would not feel satisfied until Ryoka and Sakuno's ears threatened to fall off with her inane love-babble.
Sakuno didn't mind it much, if only because she was also steadily beginning to open up to the boy she liked, and it was painfully obvious to anyone who saw the two that they were head-over-heels in love with one another.
Ryoka could not take it however. She couldn't relate to Tomoka's enthusiasm and happiness whenever she showed off and it irritated her to no end.
She wanted to know what was so great about having a boyfriend!
"Aren't you really friendly with Momo-senpai? You should totally date him," Tomoka told her matter-of-factly when Ryoka approached her with this problem. The other girl made a face at the suggestion and turned it down quickly, "No way. Momo-senpai's a friend. You don't date friends."
Tomoka scoffed, pigtails flying as she tossed her head in exasperation. "Why not? Besides, boys and girls can't be just friends. My mama said so."
"But…" Ryoka looked down at her hands with a troubled expression. "But… in manga, the girl never ends up with her childhood friend or things like that. She usually ends up with the guy she doesn't like at first."
"Where did you get shoujo manga from! I thought you didn't read things like that!"
Ryoka pointed at Sakuno who turned bright red. "Ryoka-chan!" she cried out and pushed the finger away. "I let you borrow it secretly!"
"Hehe, you have such bad taste, Sakuno," Tomoka teased and watched in glee as the shy girl blushed even harder and turned away with a small 'hmph'. "Anyway," Tomoka continued with ease, turning back to Ryoka with a scheming grin, "if you want to go about it that way, just go after a guy you don't like and see how it turns out."
"Oh," Ryoka intoned, nodding her head in realization. "I see. That does make sense, but I do like everyone from Seigaku… for the most part, I guess. What should I do?"
"Hmm," Tomoka hummed, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "Well, how about people outside of Seigaku? I know you don't like a whole bunch of people from other schools. ("Y'know, when you say it like that, I sound like a total bitch.") The three of us can go to—say, a coffee shop—and hunt for boys. You're bound to find someone who makes you angry!"
Ryoka thought about it. "Captain Momoshiro" (Ryoka and Kaidoh always exchanged little knowing looks whenever they said this—before Kaidoh turned away with an embarrassed scowl) wanted to spend the day working with the non-regulars (while regulars can help out on the side) so she could afford to fake some womanly illness and ditch practice just for one day and do as Tomoka suggested (because helping out wimpy freshmen was not high up on Ryoka's "to-do list").
So Ryoka went over to Momo who looked at her curiously as she approached. Then she told him bland-faced and matter-of-factly, "I'm having menstrual cramps. I need to take the day off."
It was amazing how many different colors Momo could turn into. He seemed to realize that he was starting to look like a mood ring too as he quickly covered his face with his hands and let off a huge sigh before saying, "Yeah… okay. I… I hope you feel better, Echizen."
Easy as pie.
The difficult part was deciding what to do from here. The three came to a general consensus to go to the public tennis courts (as there was no way Ryoka was dating someone who didn't play tennis), but it was what to do once they got there.
"Hey there, ladies. Do you pretty girls want to try a three-on-three with us?"
The girls looked up at the group of high school boys that were trying to breach in on their little circle with furrowed brows. They had just stepped into the courts and already they were male-fodder for the hormone struck. Typical.
And as usual, Ryoka was quick to step up to the challenge, donning her usual smirk and resting her racket on her shoulder. "How about a one-on-three?" she said smoothly, shocking the boys into speechlessness.
Ignoring the wide-eyed stares she got from her outburst, Tomoka stepped up to Ryoka and very righteously stuck her finger in her nose and told her, "We are NOT here to play tennis!"
"… they started it," Ryoka defended herself lamely, looking like a kicked puppy dog for a moment.
But ever-strong-and-stubborn Tomoka was undeterred. "Well I'm finishing it!"
It seemed like the volume of her voice attracted some attention, however, as two familiar boys approached them curiously until the one with the dark hair and stoic expression piqued at the sight of Ryoka. "Echizen-san," Ibu Shinji called out, his before-cautious steps now gaining confidence and length, "are you here to play tennis?"
Tomoka whirled around to face the incoming male with a burning expression, "No. She is NOT."
"Sup," Ryoka greeted casually, ignoring the proper protocol in dealing with older peers. Shinji and Kamio (now third-years in Fudomine) seemed unfazed by her nonchalant attitude, already being quite used to her rudeness.
"You aren't here to play tennis?" Kamio asked and received nods from the three girls. "Then what are you here for?"
This question annoyed both Sakuno and Tomoka, although the latter girl was the one who expressed her displeasure outwardly by putting her hands on her hips and asking stiffly, "Are you saying that Ryoka is no good for anything other than tennis?"
"What? No! (Yes.)" Kamio sputtered, flustered at the accusation. He tried to defend himself but his words came out in a mess. Shinji stood to the side and just watched him, unwilling to allow himself to be involved.
Ryoka was the one who saved him however as she told him matter-of-factly her purpose for coming to the courts, "Boy-hunting."
This shut up Kamio and Shinji's stiff expression went slack. They both stared at her wide-eyed for a long while, making an uncomfortable silence rest amongst them before—
"AHAHAHAHA! HAHAHA! OH MY GOD!"
Kamio burst into peals of hysterical laughter. Shinji fell to the ground, trying to regain his self-control, but his shoulders were shaking and his face was buried hands. Kamio wrapped a friendly arm around Ryoka and messed up her hair roughly. "Ahaha! Good luck, Echizen! Ahahaha! Boy-hunting!"
This set off another round of tummy-aching laughter and Shinji was pounding his fist into the clay ground.
Ryoka, Tomoka, and Sakuno all exchanged looks and left the courts. Ryoka, with a dark aura hanging over her head, spat on the ground and said with a scowl, "How can I date someone who pisses me off?"
But even with this bad experience, Ryoka was still interested in having a boyfriend (and learning why other girls were so obsessed with having one). So on a Sunday after she had her ass-kicked in tennis by her dad, she put on some loose black shorts, a simple box t-shirt, her usual cap and she headed off to a bookstore (one that was close by, but not close enough for her to run into people from Seigaku). After finding the manga section, she picked a title that looked somewhat pink-colored and flowery and sat down next to the wall.
Her shoujo manga research was on.
She finished two volumes of the title before she felt a bit sick in her stomach and head. She put the book away and rested the palm of her head lightly on her temple. "This is so stupid," she muttered. "I could be playing tennis right now."
Sporting her headache, Ryoka didn't realize that the bookstore storehand was approaching her until he gently patted her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, miss. Are you okay?"
Ryoka pushed the bill of her cap up and saw a strangely familiar face. The storehand's expression changed from worry to surprise before a friendly grin lit up his face. It seemed he recognized her (even though Ryoka was still trying to place his face) "Hey, Echizen! Surprise to see you here."
Ryoka sat in silence for a bit, her face expressionless. She stared at the other guy for a long while before her memory clicked and by rote she said, "Ah. Fuji-senpai's younger brother."
"… Don't call me that, seriously."
Ryoka just shrugged and looked down at hand. She was holding the third volume of that manga title she had been reading for a last hour.
"Do you need any help?" Yuuta asked to be polite. Even if he knew Ryoka, she was still here as a customer. But Ryoka shook her head, not even looking up from the book in her hand. Curiously, Yuuta dropped down to Ryoka's level and leaned over to see the cover of the book. "What are you reading so intently?"
"Really? You like that stuff?"
Confused, Yuuta frowned. "Then… why are you reading it."
Without even hesitating, Ryoka answered him honestly, "Trying to get a boyfriend."
Ryoka glared at Yuuta, expecting him to laugh and rub her head like the Fudomine boys (jerks) did, but he just smiled awkwardly and shrugged. "Well, okay. Best of luck to you, I guess."
Blinking in surprise, Ryoka could only imagine how red her cheeks turned right then and she felt a bit silly. She turned back to her manga and opened it up the first page. "… thanks," she mumbled. Yuuta smiled, although Ryoka didn't see it, and he walked off with a "bye then", going back to work.
Once he was far out of sight, Ryoka looked up from her book, sending a frustrated frown in the direction he left. She wouldn't be able to finish the book today. She would have to come back next week.
So with that thought in mind, she picked herself up and left the bookstore with a backwards look at Yuuta who was helping out another person with his usual bright grin.
"… what was his name again?"
It's Fuji Yuuta.