A/N: once more a big thank you to everyone who is following this story, you guys rock!

Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis.


All You Need is Love

Chapter Seven: Her

The words 'Die Fag' had been spray painted across my locker sometime between last nights practice and early this morning. The bright red paint had already dried making any attempt at removing it on my part completely useless, not that I didn't try, which leads me to believe that whatever asshole did this did it sometime last night. I can hear people laughing to themselves as they pass me by. For some reason they seem to find the prospect of my death hilarious.

What kind of sick person could find this funny?

Looking around I can notice with no small amount of surprise that everyone seems to find this funny, and those that don't just keep walking by completely indifferent to the fact that someone has essentially threatened my life. Someone wants me to die and no one seems to care.

Is it too cynical for me to say that I am seriously beginning to hate all people? None of them seem to have any feelings of empathy or remorse. It's like they think that another person's pain has nothing to do with them. Just as long as they are not the ones being wronged everything is just fine and dandy. It's just disgusting.

I mean sure Kikumaru-sempai and Fuji-sempai have both said that they have my back but still, they are just two people, two in a school of over two thousand! Is there seriously no one else that can see there is something very wrong with what is happening here?

Or am I just being biased because I'm the one that has a death threat spray painted on my locker.

It took me awhile to actually get up the courage to open my locker. Those two simple monosyllabic words shook me more than I like to admit. It doesn't even matter if they mean that they're going to kill me themselves or not, no what matters is that someone in this school feels so threatened by who I am that they want me dead.

It took a moment for me to straighten my thoughts out enough to remember my locker combination. The maliciously gleeful commentary in the background wasn't making things any easier either.

I finally managed to get the cold metal door open and for a moment all I could do was stare into the hollow cubic space of my locker. There was a pile of envelopes and haphazardly folded papers filling up its insides. They looked innocent enough on their own all crisp and white. Without looking at the words written upon them someone would almost assume that it was the scene on a Valentine's Day morning. Sweet and innocent love letters.

For a moment I entertained the fantasy that, that was what they were. But I knew better, the message that had been emblemized on the door was a dead giveaway. These were not love letters. This was hate mail.

I guess it must have been curiosity that prompted me to reach out and grab the letter on top of the pile. I don't even know why I bothered; I already knew what would be written on the paper inside that crisp and clean envelope. Maybe I didn't know the exact words that would be written but I knew that they would be just as harsh and as hate filled as the red spray paint.

As I had been walking toward my locker this morning I had seen a girl standing there. I don't know her, I don't recall ever even interacting with her once but she had been standing here right in front of my locker and she had reached up and pushed this envelope through the slot. That girl had been the one who wrote the letter that I now hold in my hands.

It may be masochistic but I want to know. I want to know what that girl who I've never met before could possibly have to say to me. I want to know; what is she thinking? What is she feeling? What makes her feel like she has the right to make any comments on my life and how I choose to live it?

With trembling fingers I break open the seal on the envelope and pull out the letter inside. I only vaguely hear the bell ringing as I look at the words that have been written out with painstaking neatness in a red pen.

There is only one line written in the dead center of the page, and in case you're interested this is what it said:

Dear Cocksucker, I am going to set you on fire.

The message is short and straight to the point and as I look at it I don't know whether I should laugh or scream. Because as melodramatically stated it is, the thing is…I don't know if she is serious or not.

For a few minutes all I can do is stare at this death threat as a cold terror slowly crept over me. All intentions that I had to go to class flew straight out of my mind. The note slipped out of my badly shaking hands and I stumbled backward away from it and away from the locker that contained more of them.

I read one letter and I feel like I'm going to throw up. There are at least another hundred left probably all saying the exact same thing. But right now I don't care about what they say or who wrote them or why. I just need to get away, far away from here where no one can find me. Somewhere that girl won't be able to set me aflame.

And so I run.

I leave my defiled locker open for anyone to see inside. The pile of hate mail that was filling it up was in open view of anyone who cares to look. And the one opened letter had fallen to the ground where anyone could pick it up and read it. Though I assume all they would do is laugh.

I run through fluorescent lit linoleum hallways. They were empty of students which was a small blessing for me. I dart around corners and trip up stairs. I run and I run and I run. Until I burst through a door way and on to the roof.

I collapse to my knees hard choked sobs welling up inside of me before they began bursting past my lips. Pretty soon I am wailing like a child, tears falling in small rivers down my cheeks and my nose dripping, I wrap my arms tightly around myself and begin to rock back and forth.

It's not fair.

This isn't fair.

Why is this happening to me? What did I ever do?

It's too much.

This is just too much.

I cry and cry and cry. I think I have cried more in the past two days then I have in my entire life. And I'm disgusted that these 'people' are able to make me feel so helpless, they shouldn't be allowed to do this. I shouldn't let them do this to me.

Taking a few deep calming breaths I manage to stem the flow of tears and regain some semblance of composure.

I decide that going to class would be an act of suicide right now and since I don't really have any desire to die right at this moment I believe that now would be a good chance to catch up on the sleep that I missed as I was worrying last night. Laying down on my back and tipping my cap to shade my eyes from the morning sunlight I do my best to make myself comfortable.

I know from experience that people don't usually come up to the roof until around lunch time and even then the chances of someone showing up are pretty iffy. Most people can't be bothered to climb the extra seven flights of stairs to get up onto the roof. And even then most days the door is locked, something that I have no problem getting around thanks to an older brother with questionable hobbies and a blond back stateside that had managed to convince me that breaking and entering was the most fun a boy could have.

Let's not even go there.

I wince at the thought of Kevin, he is after all part of the reason that I'm in this mess in the first place. If it hadn't been for him my parents wouldn't have been so frantic to get me out of the country. It just goes to show you; you can't trust anyone. Not really at least.

I spent the morning lazing about on the roof watching that clouds roll across a brilliant blue sky. It was the kind of blue that reminded me vividly of a certain sempai of mine. I won't lie and say that I'm not worried about him because I am. He had pretty much openly allied himself with the social pariah in front of everyone, and while I know that he is perfectly capable of taking care of himself, but I can't help the gnawing fear that he is going to get hurt because of what he did for me.

I think I might be developing a guilt complex.

Time passes softly when you stare into the sky. The clouds move slowly, contracting and expanding to create monolithic entities that vanish in an instant. And I slowly drift off into a dream like haze, letting the expansive sky take me away from myself and my problems. All of my pain and troubles can remain on earth as I float away to my happy place among the clouds.

The tennis courts have always been the place where I could let loose and have fun. In my mind when I am on the court I am king and no one else can touch me because I am so high above all of them. It sounds arrogant I know, but its how I feel. Until coming to Japan there really was no one, bar my old man, that could challenge me on the court. Now it feels like I'm barely scraping by, by the skin of my teeth.

Sure up until now everyone has been cheering for me, calling me the prince of tennis if you can believe it, but still there is always this nagging voice in the back of my mind saying "Hey, didn't you used to be better than this?" and I agree with it, because when I think of all my games since coming here I notice that something essential that I used to have when I played is gone and has been replaced by this hollowness. I can't remember what used to fit in that space either which makes it even worse. It's like a big piece of me has been stolen away.

I want it back. Maybe if I had it back what's happening now wouldn't hurt so much. Maybe it's the part of me that's missing that knows how to deal with all of this. Maybe it's the part that has all the right answers.

Maybe it's the part that wouldn't have lost his best friend.

Ouch

It still hurts

Let's change the subject now

I angrily brush away the tears that had gathered in my eyes at the thought of Momo-sempai. I wasn't going to think about him anymore, because when I do the empty space feels even bigger.

I know I haven't known Momo-sempai all that long about three months give or take. But he was my first real friend since coming to Japan…Who am I kidding he was the first real friend that I've had in a long, long time. So what if I haven't known him since pre-k? I've spent more time with him hanging out and having fun than I had with anyone else in my entire life!

He was my best friend and now…

He's not.

"There he is!" The roof door slams open jolting me out of my sorrow and self-pity. I just have enough time to prop myself up onto my elbows before I find myself completely surrounded by a group a pissed off looking third year girls. I recognize them as some of the girls that come and make goggle eyes at Fuji-sempai during practice. They must be his fan club, and if they've been looking for me that means…

Oh shit!

"Okay, listen up you little faggot because we're only going to be giving you one warning" a rather beautiful girl with long dark hair hisses at me her face twisted with disgust and rage.

"You're going to keep your disgusting homo hands off Fuji-kun or else."

What.

"We don't want him to get infected with your gay."

What?

"Poor Fuji-kun doesn't need to be worrying that you are going to be molesting him at school."

What!

Do they really think that-?

They can't really be that-

I mean I knew there was going to be ignorance but this is just-

Stupid. That's what this is, it's stupid. But I don't really want to argue that with them singe they are at a very obvious advantage as there are more of them and they all have rather dangerous looking manicures that I don't want to be on the receiving end of. I remember what Fuji-sempai told me about picking fights and nodded vigorously at them, even though I am lying because I'm not going to let some bitches stop me from talking to Fuji-sempai.

"Good, now scram fag we're eating lunch here."

I'm gone as soon as they give me enough room to move.

I soon realize that I had given absolutely no thought to what I was going to do at lunch time the entire student population out roaming about without adult supervision all seeing me as nothing more than a diseased mutt that's better off dead. Yes it was very stupid of me not to think of a proper escape plan for lunch time. If I had it would have saved me quite a few bruises.

No one did anything really overt to me as I made my way through the halls searching desperately for a quiet place with no people. They were all really sneaky about how they came after me. A lot of them accidentally ran into me as hard as they could. Some of them accidentally tripped me, and the really brave ones 'accidentally' slammed me into lockers.

The result of all of these accidents was me feeling like I had fallen down a few flights of stairs. I don't even want to think about how many bruises I'm going to have because of this. I can already hear my old man freaking out, and I just know that he's going to call mom, and it's not that I don't want her to know, but she's already been working on this one case for forever already and if I distract her I'll probably be in high school before I get to see her again! And I really want to see her again, she always know exactly what to do to make all my problems disappear.

I finally manage to escape the hallways all together and slip onto the school grounds. I feel like a weirdo when I jump into the bushes when I spot a group of particularly large boys walking toward me. I really don't want a repeat of this morning, one almost sexual assault is more than enough for one day, so right now I'm perfectly fine being a weirdo who hides out in the bushes.

Once I'm sure that they are gone I dust myself off and start heading toward my other secret hideout. A nice little spot that is hidden by some hedges, it even has this nice wall that I can practice hitting balls against. This is good because right now I desperately need to take my frustration out against something before I lose it and just start screaming.

It takes me about two minutes to get there because I needed to keep dodging my classmates that that may or may not have homicidal urges toward me. And since I really have no wish to test how deeply their hated toward me runs I decide that the best thing I could possibly do was not have anything to do with any of them.

The moment I reached my destination I grabbed my racket and one of the spare tennis balls that I always have on me and,

WAM!

I smack it against the wall as hard as I could.

WAM!

To be perfectly honest I don't usually let my emotions come into my game, I prefer to keep tennis and my life as separate as possible. But right now tennis is a perfect outlet for my real life.

WAM!
WAM!
WAM!

I don't know how long I stood there waking the ball against the wall like a mad man only that when I finally stopped a dent had begun to form in the wall. Maybe I should let myself get emotional during games after all; if nothing else it sure increases the power of my shots.

BANG!

I slam the ball one last time before dropping my racket onto the ground and letting the yellow ball roll off toward the hedge. I'm sweating and completely out of breath but I think I'm actually starting to feel a bit better.

"Ryoma-kun?"

The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I hear the annoyingly high pitched tone of my stalker. Ryuuzaki-sensei's pigtailed granddaughter who's name always escapes me, one of the people I absolutely did not want to run into today or ever for that matter. Now to be fair I'm sure that she is a perfectly sweet girl, it's just that I can't stand how she always seems to be following me around uninvited with that loud friend of hers. And her crush on me is one awkward issue that I never wanted to face. Seriously though I don't know how much more obvious I have to be that I don't like her in that way than completely ignoring her.

Though I'm sure she's got the message now though, like the rest of the school, I am not and never will be attracted to her.

"Hn." I briefly acknowledge her hoping that she'll loose her nerve like she always does and run away all flustered. I really don't have the patience to deal with her crush today. I turn my back to her and wait and listen for her footsteps to fade into the distance.

Unfortunately it seems that I have become the poster boy for bad luck over the course of two days. So instead of leaving like she was supposed to she comes and stands right next to me. I have to stop myself from gagging on the scent of perfume that she has drowned herself in today. Giving her a sidelong glance I notice that she has also applied gratuitous amounts of make-up making her look more like a clown than the beautiful woman she was no doubt aiming for.

She shyly links her arm through mine and it takes all my willpower to keep from shoving her off. No matter how uncomfortable she is making me right now I really don't want to upset her, because all that would accomplish would be getting Ryuuzaki-sensei pissed off at me.

Why did my life get so complicated?

"Ryoma-kun, what are you doing out her all by yourself?" She asks me.

"Practicing." I tell her simply because the eccentricities of my life are really none of her business and if she really is too dim to notice there is a figurative death warrant out on my head I'm not going to tell her.

"Oh…Ryoma-kun do you think that I look nice today?" She fixes me with this painfully hopeful look and for some reason it makes me feel incredibly guilty.

"Whatever." I say to avoid damaging her fragile teenaged girl feelings.

"I-I got dressed up just for you!" She chirps happily, "Tomoka-chan says that boy's always like it when their girlfriends get dressed up for them. So I thought that I would do it for you."

What.

WHAT!

Girlfriend! Please tell me that she doesn't think that! She can't possibly be under the delusion that she is my girlfriend. Please tell me that I just misheard her or something! Did she completely miss the blowout at last nights practice? I know that she was there; she and her loud friend always wait around until the very end so that they can ambush me. There is no feasible way that she could have misheard me when I told the world that I was gay.

"You were very brave last night. I can't believe that you told such an enormous lie just to get Momoshiro-sempai and the others to stop being so rude. But that's just like you Ryoma-kun, you're so cool." Her shaking fingers dig into one of the more tender bruises on my arms making me wince.

This can't go on. I need to put a stop to this right now.

"I wasn't lying." I say quietly, but I know that she heard me because her posture suddenly went ridged.

"I am gay."

"…"

"I'm not your boyfriend, and I never have and never will like you in that way. I'm sorry."

"…liar."

I'm completely caught off guard as she swings me around to face her, and before I even have a moment to collect myself she is pressing her lips harshly against mine.

The kiss is sloppy, and she is wearing way too much lipstick which makes it taste disgusting as well. It only takes a second for the shock to wear off enough for me to shove her away from me.

"What the HELL do you think you're doing!" I demand vigorously rubbing at my mouth with my sleeve. "Did you not just hear me say it? I. Don't. Like. You!"

"But you have to!" She screams at me her face flushed under layers of badly applied make up, dark tear tracks decorating her cheeks where her mascara has begun to run. "I love you so much Ryoma-kun and you have to love me back! You just have to!"

"No, I don't. You have to get it through your head that it's never going to happen."

"But why?"

"Because I like boys!" I shout back at her.

A tense silence descends upon us. I glare at her, at this girl who had the audacity to essentially force herself upon me, and she glares right back at me. I take back what I said before about her being a nice girl she's just delusional.

"Have you ever tried not to?" She finally asks me.

"Not to what?"

"Have you ever tried not being gay?"

"Have you ever tried not being a girl?"

"What?"

"It's not something that I have much of a choice in."

She finally looks away and struts purposefully toward the gap in the shrubbery that functioned as the entrance to the secret, well not so secret anymore, spot. She stops just short of leaving and turns back to face me.

"It's disgusting you know. It's gross and wrong." She tells me in a manner of fact way. Her voice is amazingly calm considering she was screaming like a banshee at me not even a minute ago.

"Say's you."

"Say's me and everyone else."

"I hope they hurt you.

"Your make-up makes you look ugly."

With that she was gone. And oddly enough I feel rather satisfied.

This is the first encounter that even remotely went my way today. So score one for me, even if it was only me facing off against a desperately and delusional girl, but hey a wins a win. I just hope Ryuuzaki-sensei will forgive me for destroying her sweet granddaughter's hopes and dreams.

My life is starting to feel distinctly like one of those daytime soap operas that my mom is so obsessive over.


To be continued...

A/N: Ryoma doesn't seem to have any luck around women in this chapter does he? Not that he's actually interested in women in the first place. But at least he managed to score one victory even if it was only against Sakuno. Poor girl, hopefully she'll stop stalking Ryoma from now on though.

Just a note for anyone that is interested the pairing poll is now closed and the results will be shown on my bio page. Thank you to everyone that voted.

Until next time!

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