I wrote this back in 2007, but only ever posted it on my livejournal... which I don't use, honestly. It was the only fic I ever wrote in this fandom.

Title: When Middle Schoolers Fight High School Battles

Author: Jendra

Rating: G

Warnings: Over use of commas, probably AU

Disclaimer: Not mine, sorry.

Pairings: Unrequited TezuRyo

Status: Oneshot

Feedback: Appreciated ^_^

Summary: Some fights only a middle schooler can solve

Notes: First story in this fandom, first time really using livejournal... so let's hope I figure this whole thing out, huh?

Tezuka stood in front of the bulletin board holding the ranking match blocks and tried to decide what he felt. Unhappiness was there, but not all or even most of what he was feeling. The same with disappointment. He was incensed, indignant and angry, but that still wasn't strong enough. No, he decided, if there was one word to describe how he currently felt, it was probably, furious.

To Tezuka, being a captain had always meant putting the team before everything else. Before friendships or rivalries, hopes and dreams. For his team, he had been selfless. He had risked his arm to push a team member beyond what he was, almost lost his arm trying to play a rival he knew no one else had a chance against. He had even kept from staring too long into beguiling cat gold eyes and kept his hands away from silken green black hair.

He had known, coming into high school, that things would be different. He had, he thought, been ready to deal with those people that would put him and his team down because they were good, who would see them as upstarts because they were coming from Nationals. He had not been expecting the tennis club, and tennis captain, they received.

Konbatsu Kenichi seemed to care nothing about tennis, or teams, or championships, but simply putting himself and his friends in the best position he could. This ranking matches proved it. Oh, it wasn't the fact that neither he nor his friends were on it. He'd almost expected that. He could even, almost, understand that. High school tennis was different than middle school tennis. Endurance was a lot more important as they went from one set matches, to three. Eiji especially, would have trouble with this, as he still sometimes had trouble lasting through an entire set.

No, it wasn't the lack of freshmen that infuriated him. It was block C. The block where *every* good player in the club that was not a friend of the captain was placed. Most of the players there could decimate the so called regulars, and yet only two would be going on to the team, while the current regulars were matched against the weakest players, where they at least had a chance to win.

"Don't worry, Tezuka," Fuji's voice surprised him out of his thoughts. He looked down at the smiling face and wide open eyes next to him and couldn't help but shiver imperceptibly. "I have a plan."

"No bloodshed," Tezuka warned, and wasn't quite sure if he was being serious or not.

Fuji smiled at him then walked away, pulling out his cellphone.

Practice was coming to an end and Tezuka was considering asking Fuji to the public courts since they had done nothing but swings and ball collection the entire time when a figure walking towards the courts caught his eye. The lithe stride combined with a small stature and a white cap pulled low shouted his identity to those who knew him well... and Tezuka knew him better than he should have.

This then, was part of Fuji's plan.

There was no other reason for Echizen Ryoma to be walking towards the high school courts dressed in civilian tennis attire instead of his Seigaku jersey and carrying a tennis racket.

Tezuka looked around quickly. Fuji was standing next to Eiji, with his hand on his arm, talking softly to him, obviously trying to keep him from running over and glomping the no-longer freshman. Oishi was staring at him, waiting to figure out what, if anything, he should do. Tezuka shook his head at him. Inui had a pen and notebook in his hand and his 'this will be good data' face on.

Echizen walked onto the courts as if he owned them. His entire body was shouting out 'arrogance' and Tezuka forced himself to fight off the grin that wanted to take over his face. No one could do cocky and arrogant quite as well as Echizen. And just as it had done many times before, it was pissing off those who thought they were better.

"What are you doing here, runt?" Konbatsu and the other regulars converged on Echizen as he walked through the gate.

That was the other reason he disliked the tennis club captain. Tezuka never had been one to like bullies.

Oishi was looking very worried. It was obvious he wanted to interfere before there was any chance of Echizen getting hurt. Tezuka shook his head at him again. He knew it was only his order that was keeping the mother-hen of Seigaku still. They would be ready if it turned physical off the courts, but in a verbal fight, as in a tennis match, Echizen could more than take care of himself.

"I'd heard there were some good tennis players here I could get a match from," Ryoma said in a bored tone. He looked the regulars up and down, then shrugged dismissively. "Che. Somebody lied." He turned to walk off.

"Oh, so the little shrimp thinks he can play tennis," one of the regulars, all of whom stood at least a foot taller than the sophomore, mocked.

"And now he's running away because he's so scared," another one teased.

Tezuka took a quick look around, happy to see Fuji had Eiji under control, even if it did require a hand over his mouth.

"You want a match, little boy?" Konbatsu said contemptuously. "I'll play you... if you really want to get creamed."

"Yeah, captain! Teach the pipsqueak not to mess with us!"

Echizen turned towards the captain, looked him up and down, then turned away again. "Mada mada dane."

Konbatsu growled in anger and grabbed his shoulder. "Don't you dare turn away from me, you little punk! You wanted a game, you're going to get one!"

Tezuka could feel a growl of his own rumbling deep in his chest, his eyes narrowing in rage. Nobody! Nobody touched his Echizen like that! He took a few steps forward before seeing Fuji moving forward and got himself under control.

"Perhaps there's a way to make this more interesting to the boy?" Fuji asked. "A wager maybe?"

"A wager, huh? Yeah, I've got a wager for the brat," he smirked down at the boy whose arm he was still holding. "When I win, you're going to clean every inch of these courts, on your knees and with your tongue!"

His friends all laughed uproariously at that.

"And if I win?" Echizen asked, looking up sharply from under the brim of his hat.

"That'll never happen, squirt!"

"It's not a wager if there's not something for both sides, whether one side has a chance or not," Fuji reminded them.

"Fine, fine, what do you want, brat?" Konbatsu conceded with bad grace.

"If I win, you step down as captain and give it to..." Echizen looked around as if trying to decide who looked worthy of the title. Tezuka waited until his golden honey eyes met his own, then gestured discretely towards a third year standing off to the side with a frown on his face. He was a decent player, not one of the captain's friends, and well liked by the rest of the club. Echizen showed no sign that he noticed the signal until he'd finished looking over everyone. Then he pointed to the person Tezuka had singled out. "That guy there. He, at least, looks like he might be able to play a decent game."

"You've got to be kidding," Konbatsu shouted.

"Scared?" Tezuka hadn't even realized he planned on speaking before the word came out of his mouth.

"Scared of losing to a middle school student?"

"I'm not going to lose! Fine! Get on the court, brat!"

"So you're going to take the wager?" Fuji asked silkily.

"Yes, yes, and I'm going to dump a pile of mud in the middle of the courts when I win too. And all of you will be running laps through it so it can get over the whole thing."

Echizen just walked to the middle of the court that had been pointed out. "Rough," he said as he waited.

"Oh, just serve brat, you need all the help you can get."

The look on Konbatsu's face as he fell to the ground while trying to scrabble away from Echizen's twist serve was one Tezuka and others would remember with fondness for the rest of their lives.