DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN PRINCE OF TENNIS AND ITS CHARACTERS. HOWEVER I DO PARTIALLY OWN THE THEME AND THE TITLE.
I would like to thank: mewmewlover23, MintLeafeon, Tiffy44, Matsukaze Tenma, PurpleScorpion, Vienne, KisunaFuji, KiTtEn18sMiLe, Karakuri Pierrot, koyuninjagirl, Sakoori Sakura Koori Kobayashi, Nemesia23, BadyGuz, pinaygurl28 , moonyandpadfoot07 and ryoka-chan for the support and reviews they have given this series. I truly enjoyed writing the whole time and I hope you all enjoyed the fruit of my late night labors. ^_^
Please take time to answer the poll I posted at my profile. It will be the basis for the next Ryoma fic I am already planning.
And now, for the final chapter of this series, enjoy. ^_^
When they woke up, they opened there windows and a gently cool morning air blew by. To them it was Ryoma's way of saying 'I'll always be up here… Keep watch…'. They smiled as they began the day with the happy thought that Ryoma had never really left them. He was and will forever be with them, in their hearts and minds.
Ryoma recalled the last eleven nights he had spent in the living world, visiting everyone in their dreams in order for him to bid them all goodbye. Ten-chan came with Jaymi and both smiled at each other. Before Ryoma could say anything, the angels had showed him blue shining orbs. "W-hat…" he didn't finish his question. Each orb showed him a memory with a particular person. Every orb had someone else's face in it aside from Ryoma.
Haruka, Rose, Tiffanie, and Chibi popped in from nowhere. "There called memory orbs, Ryoma-san." Chibi spoke, with a smile. "Memory orbs?" he repeated with a confused tone. "Each orb belongs to one particular person…" Tiffanie began. "These orbs in front of you are memories from people who know you." Rose inserted with a smirk. "And as you can see, all the orbs here are from the ones you have visited and are yet to visit…" Haruka added, hinting that Ryoma had yet to visit Seigaku.
"And speaking of visits, you have one night left to stay here. When the sun rises up, we shall take you back to Kami-sama" Jaymi reminded Ryoma. He sighed and knew that it was almost over. He just wondered how he would actually visit the last group in his mind. He didn't know if he could face them without shedding a tear or two himself. They were all silent then, waiting for Ryoma to speak.
"Ryoma-san, would you like us to come with you to visit your team?" Jaymi asked. It was as if Jaymi read Ryoma's thoughts. The boy simply nodded and everyone got ready to leave.
That time, the day was just starting. However, for the members of the Seigaku Tennis Club, it was another one of those days that had been repeating for the last two weeks. Tezuka was more strict, Kaidoh and Momoshiro would usually piss each other off by the smallest things. Oishi was having more trouble keeping everyone calmer since Eiji would cry every time someone would mention Ryoma or a move made by their super rookie. Just the other day, Eiji cried for hours when they saw a freshman by the hallway with a similar cap that Ryoma used to wear.
Inui was more silent than ever, writing everything that happens during practice. Kawamura's burning power had decreased even when he was holding a racquet. But what scared everyone most was Fuji. The mere mention or whisper of Ryoma, they would freeze to death with the cerulean ice glares that the sadistic senior would throw at them. Everyone was still sensitive with the news of Ryoma's death. They couldn't even look at the flag that was hung on the glass case outside the faculty's office. It hurt them too much to look at it and remember that the one who gave them the victory was no longer with them.
Ryoma and the angles arrived just in time. The morning practices were about to begin. Everyone was running laps around the courts. Even with Inui's juice waiting at the end, everyone seemed to run unconsciously. They were like mindless zombies who could run fast. Even Arai and his friends didn't notice that they were running with their seniors still. Coach Ryuuzaki sighed and knew what was making them act the way they are.
The laps ended but no one seemed to be panting. "Wow… none of them are actually out of breath. Usually by this time, it would only be the regulars left, running around the courts with Inui-sempai's scary juice waiting for the last runner to cross the line." Ryoma told his angels. Jaymi, Chibi, Rose, and Crystal laughed. "Oh… I remember that time as well. It was when you were about to face Genka Gakuen, right?" Jaymi recalled and Ryoma was surprised that they knew. "We were watching you then, Ryoma-san. Kami-sama told us to keep a close watch on you." Rose explained so that Ryoma would understand how they knew.
"Eh? Not fair… That was the time where Haruka, Tiffanie, and I were sent to guard someone else by Kami-sama." Ten-chan commented and pouted. Crystal flew next to Ryoma but didn't anticipate that Ryoma would move. "Watch out, Ryoma-san!" she yelled but was too late. Ryoma turned and they both collided. Not only did their bodies slammed on each other, Ryoma's lips were accidentally on Crystals. "Aaahhh!" Chibi, Ten-chan, Rose, and Tiffanie reacted. Haruka and Jaymi were speechless.
Without another second to waste, Crystal floated away with a bright scarlet blush on her face. "G-gomen! Ryoma-san!" she said bowing her head low. "She was just clumsy as Ten-chan," Ryoma thought to himself. He simply nodded once and went back to looking down at the courts.
Momo accidentally bumped into Kaidoh as they were changing courts. "Watch where you're going, baka Momoshiri!" Kaidoh instantly yelled. Momo's face hardened with anger, "What did you just call me, you stupid Mamushi?" he retaliated back. Both were inches away from each other when Oishi can and separated them. "Enough! You two have been in each other's throat for the last two weeks!" Oishi reprimanded them sternly. Momo and Kaidoh turned away from each other and moved as far as they could. Oishi sighed in frustration; things had been getting way out of hand since Ryoma's funeral.
Taka, Eiji, and Inui approached Oishi. "Those two are inches away from biting each other's head off." Eiji commented with a sad tone. Inui was silent but wrote something down on his notebook. Ryoma floated closer and was about to peak into the notebook when Inui snapped it close. Fuji and Tezuka had entered the courts and everyone greeted the stoic bucho. Fuji had his eyes close which made everyone breathe a little better. They all had to be extra careful when Fuji was around.
Momo had gone to the locker room to take a shower. Ryoma decided to follow him and the angels went with him. But before they could even enter the locker room, they could hear Momo's screams from the outside. Ryoma went through the wall and saw that his sempai was in the showers still with his clothes on, screaming at the top of his lungs. "Echizen!" he yelled and punched the wall. "ARGH! Why did you-" he stopped himself and punched the wall again. As if by queue, Fuji came with an angry look on his face.
"Momo!" Fuji had yelled. This shocked Ryoma. Fuji had never yelled before. Mom didn't even turn around but he punched the wall again. This time, his fist left blood stains. Momo didn't seem to feel pain as of the moment. "Echzien, Ryoma! Baka!" Momo yelled again. This time, Fuji ran and punched him on the face. Momo fell on the wet floor and Fuji was on top of him, holding his collar. "Didn't I warn you before not to mention his name when I'm around?" Fuji yelled at him. "Echizen!" Momo yelled again. Fuji was really losing his patience. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" Fuji screamed again and again. he was about to punch Momo but Tezuka caught his hand. Ryoma didn't even notice that the whole team was inside the locker room already. "Enough, Fuji." Tezuka sounded angry.
"Tell Momo to shut up then!" Fuji pulled back his hand and stood up, walking to his locker to grab a towel. Taka and Oishi helped Momo stand back up. Ryoma entered the steamy shower, hoping that at least one of them could see him. It was Kawamura who saw Ryoma's steamy image. His eyes got wide open and he took a step back. "I-i-i-it can't be… Y-y-you're…" he stuttered. Inui and the rest turned to Kawamura. "Taka-san? What's wrong?" asked Eiji with concern. "E-echizen was… H-he was…" he tried to explained but couldn't find the words to tell the rest.
Fuji glared at Kawamura as he heard Ryoma's name being mention once again. "Can you all just not mention his name! Is that so much to ask?" Fuji yelled at everyone in the locker room. Eiji's hands were curled into fists, he was on his last thread. "Why don't you want to talk about O-chibi, Fuji? Don't tell me your trying to forget him now because his gone!" Eiji sneered angrily. Fuji and everyone, including Ryoma and the angels turned to look at the angry red head. "Why is it that everyone avoids talking about O-chibi huh?" he asked.
"Eiji, you better stop now before—" Fuji began to warn but Momo stopped him. "Before what, Fuji-sempai? You'd hit Eiji-sempai like you did to because I kept yelling Echizen's name?" Momo sided with Eiji. "Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to have heard the news about his death straight from his dad? You all have no clue how freakin' painful the thought that I would never get to pick him up and go to school with him or go to the fast-food stand we hang out to after school! You have no idea, Fuji-sempai!" Momo yelled with tears streaming down his eyes.
Tezuka was about to speak but Fuji raised his hand, "Yeah, I have no idea what you feel Momoshiro. But you have no idea how I feel when the mere mention of Echizen's name crosses my ears…" he said with his head down. "Did you have any idea that I sort of fell in love with Echizen?" Fuji asked him. Ryoma was stunned. Fuji was in love with him? Fuji raised his head and his blue eyes were filled with tears. "I had fallen for him the day that we dueled in the rain… The fire in his eyes… The determination to not lose to me… You have no idea how I felt when you texted me that he was gone… That I was never going to see him or have a match with him again…" Fuji said as he punched the door of his locker.
Rose, Tiffanie, Crystal, and Chibi were crying. They felt Fuji's broken heart. Haruka, Jaymi, Ten-chan were trying their best to calm the whole area. Ryoma didn't notice that he was already crying. Haruka turned and saw it first. "R-ryoma-san…" Haruka called out and Ryoma slowly turned to them. He felt that his head had gotten too heavy for him to move.
Tezuka didn't know what to say. This has never happened to them before. Inui stopped writing and faced everyone. "We all have suffered in different ways. We all lost someone were truly cared for." He told them. No one could look at anyone in the eyes. "Ryoma's never going to come back, is he?" Momo looked like he wanted to kill himself right then and there. "No, Momoshiro. Echizen will never come back." Tezuka answered and turned around. He was about to leave the locker room. "This concludes today's practice. We all can't seem to focus with heavy hearts and minds." He said and grabbed his tennis bag.
Slowly, everyone began to leave. Inui and Kawamura left just after Tezuka had gone. Oishi grabbed his and Eiji's bag and pulled the now crying red head with him. Kaidoh grabbed Momo and bandaged his bleeding wrist in silence. Momo didn't even react that it was Kaidoh who was cleaning his hand. Fuji had left when the two juniors were busy. He had cried too much already. "Ne, Kaidoh…" Momo called softly. Kaidoh didn't answer. "In some ways, we all had fallen for Echizen." He said and Kaidoh froze. Momo was right about that. In some way, Kaidoh had admired Ryoma for beating him and making him realize that he had more to do before he could become really strong.
The angels had taken Ryoma back with them. He was crying the whole time they were waiting for night to come. It was just devastating to see their Ryoma-san to be in pieces. He missed his teammates. He missed his sempai's. He missed everyone.
Night had finally come and everyone woke up to see Ryoma sitting across them with tears in his eyes. "E-echizen…" Tezuka spoke shakily. "G-gomen, sempa-tachi… Gomen…" he said. He was crying in front of them. Fuji reached out and held him. He was surprised that he was able to hold Ryoma. The kid didn't care but he was glad that he was being held by his sempai. "Gomen, Fuji-sempai… I.." he was sobbing so hard that he couldn't even say anything. But Fuji didn't care. He was just glad that he had held Ryoma again.
Eiji quickly jumped and hugged Ryoma too. "O-chibi… O-chibi…" Eiji kept calling Ryoma's nickname. Jaymi and the rest didn't want to interrupt but they knew that had to remind Ryoma that his time was short. "Gomenasai, Ryoma-san..." Jaymi apologized. "You're time is running…" Tiffanie reminded him. "You better say what you have to while you still can…" added Chibi and Rose. Ryoma turned to them and nodded.
Ryoma pulled away and faced everyone, tears were still running down his face. "I came here tonight, in your dreams… To bid you all good bye…" he began. "My time was just extended so that I can tell you all how wonderful my life had become after meeting everyone…" he told them and smiled. "Kaidoh-sempai, thank you for making me strong… You thought me that being strong in my own way is something I can be proud of…" Kaidoh's tears fell from his eyes and Ryoma stood up to give him a hug. "Visit Karupin everyday and play with her for me, ne Kaidoh-sempai." Ryoma added. Kaidoh merely nodded and pulled away from the hug.
"Kawamura-sempai, thanks for all the sushi you have given me and the burning energy that you shared when you showed me that true power is when you never give up without a fight." Ryoma hugged him as well. "Thanks, Echizen. Because of you, I managed to keep fighting on." Kawamura told him. Next, Ryoma turned to Inui, "Though I hated your weird juices, thanks for making them , Inui-sempai. They were a great motivator to all of us." Ryoma joked. Inui merely smiled and pulled Ryom into a hug. "Wherever your going, keep safe, Echizen." Inui told him and passed him to Oishi and Eiji who hugged him at the same time.
"Oishi-sempai, Kikumaru-sempai, arigato ne. I was glad to have fun sempai's like you two. You showed me and the rest of the tennis world the power of your infinite doubles." He told them. Eiji cried while hugging Ryoma. "We're going to miss you, O-chibi." Eiji told him and Oishi nodded in agreement. "Strange as it may sound, I will miss you glomping me too, Kikumaru-sempai." Ryoma smiled at them. He stood in front of Tezuka and bowed. "Tezuka-bucho, arigato. For all the time that I have made mistakes and became stubborn, thank you for putting up with me and believing in me that I can achieve anything I put my best into." He said with tears and a smile. Tezuka smiled back which surprised everyone but didn't dwell on it.
"No need for that, Echizen. You have showed us that with hard work and determination, we can achieve anything and everything we can dream off when we work together. And for that, I thank you." Tezuka said and bowed at him before he hugged the boy for a short while. "Fuji-sempai… In some ways, I have loved you as well… Thank you for caring and worrying about me bad things happen to me." He said and hugged the blond sempai. Fuji refused to say anything and just hold him. "I shall truly miss you, Echizen." He finally said and kissed Ryoma's forehead.
Ryoma nodded and finally faced Momo. "Momo-sempai, I owe you a lot… I'm sorry for causing you grief and sorrow... I'm sorry for hurting you when I died... I'm sorry that I had to die without even warning you… I'm truly sorry…" Ryoma said and hugged his best friend. "You were the greatest friend I could have wished for. And for that, I will truly miss you, Momo-sempai." He added. Momo stood there, holding on to Ryoma. He was glad that Ryoma cared for him as well. "I'll miss picking you up every day, Echizen… But I know, some day, we'll meet again somewhere." Momo told him as he pulled away.
"So, until that time comes, I'll always remember you." He added as he smiled at his best friend. Ryoma slowly started to vanish. "My time is up, minna…" he said as he looked at them. "Keep fighting and never give up… I'll always be with you all. I'll be watching you from the sky…" he told them as he backed away. The angels came and bowed. "It's time now, Ryoma Echizen." The angels chorused.
Morning broke and everyone woke up in their beds. They quickly opened their windows and looked up at the bright blue sky. A cool morning breeze passed them by and the birds were singing. The wind seemed to whisper to them, saying "I'll be here with you all… Watching… Waiting… for the time that I'll see everyone again." They say the clouds turn to what seemed like a smile. Ryoma was smiling down at them. And they knew that Ryoma was in their hearts and minds forever and ever.
A/N: FINALLY! The series is finished! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. ^_^
Read and Review. Constructive criticisms are very much welcomed.
Please take time to answer the poll I posted at my profile. It will be the basis for the next Ryoma fic I am already planning.