AN: At the end of middle school, because I think that's enough time for Ryoma to still be so… awkward. (Then again, he'll always be awkward.)
Idea inspired by prompt no 3, Ends, from fanfic100 on livejournal. :)
Edit: Changed title to something a bit less common than "Endings and Beginnings". :)
It all started with four words, spoken during Ryuzaki Sakuno's third year of middle school after another day of tennis practice.
"Ryuzaki, let's end this."
"End what, Ryoma-kun?"
"Our friendship." It took her a while to process what he had said, and she quickly lifted her eyes to see his, which were serious. The next thing she knew, a tear rolled down her face while the boy in front of her looked slightly discomfited, but with a determined look on his own.
She tried her best to keep her voice steady. "Doushite, Ryoma-kun?" While she felt she still blushed too much around the boy and slipped up around him too much, she thought that the three years of their knowing each other had made them more comfortable with each other, enough that he actually tended to talk to her sometimes about things other than tennis and how he'd thank her when she'd go over with him the lessons that he had missed while going on his numerous tennis related events. Ryoma-kun wasn't very demonstrative but he didn't complain about helping her with tennis sometimes, even when he had become the buchou of the tennis team.
"I don't want friendship from you, Ryuzaki." Bluntly said, each word seemed to stab her heart painfully, causing more tears to fall.
"Oi, Ryuzaki. "
She turned away from him while roughly brushing away her tears, ignoring how more came to take their place. "Ryoma-kun is always Ryoma-kun, then." She laughed to herself bitterly at how stupid she was to think that Ryoma-kun really was her friend, because friends generally didn't suddenly declare that they wanted to end their friendship with you out of the blue. "I shouldn't have expected more, even though you have been so kind lately to me." At least he actually acknowledged that they had a friendship, she thought wryly, if he wanted to end it.
"Wait, listen to me, Ryuzaki." He sounded frustrated to her, which caused her to feel her own anger at the cocky Tennis Prince. After all, he was the one who made her cry with his hurtful words and wanted to end a friendship directly. Ignoring her and focusing on tennis as he was wont to do in the earlier part of their friendship would have been kinder.
"No, Ryoma-kun. I won't listen." She covered her ears defiantly.
She felt the boy step closer to her, prying her hands off her ears, and she knew he was likely to say something hurtful again and this time, wanting to spare her heart some pain, she shook off his hands and ran off, ignoring the boy's surprised face.
She didn't see the Tennis Prince pull down his hat and stare after her as she disappeared, muttering about how she didn't let him finish what he wanted to say.
She had been sad before that Ryoma-kun, no, Echizen-san, she corrected herself as she had sworn not to call him by his first name anymore, wasn't in her section this year, though their not being classmates had not stopped them from their somewhat quiet friendship. Now, though, after that horrible afternoon, she thought it a blessing since it was easier to avoid him.
She had thought that the Tennis Prince had actually learned how to become friendly, but she was wrong. She remembered all the teasing she had gotten from her classmates about being the only girl the famous Tennis Prince actually talked to on a regular basis, even more than his girl classmates and sighed bitterly; if only they knew what had happened, they could take him however they wanted to.
If only the senpai-tachi could see them now, she thought wryly. They had been hoping for the two to get together, especially Kikumaru-senpai, Momo-senpai, and Inui-senpai, but she had always said that Ryoma-kun would probably never think of anything except tennis, Ponta, his team, and his cat. They had always grinned at her, though, telling her she just needed to wait for the Tennis Prince to grow up, because it was obvious that she was the only girl he generally tolerated and thus, would be the one he'd go to when he actually got some romantic notion in him.
"He's so young, Ryuzaki-chan," Momo-senpai had said just the week before, "but he won't stay so oblivious forever, especially with the father he has."
She rolled her eyes; if Nanjirou-san hadn't influenced Ryoma-kun in that aspect in the 14 years he'd lived with the man, it wasn't going to start any time soon.
Inui-senpai had chimed in, "Given that he surprised us with his becoming such a supportive teammate at the end of our year together even with his infinite cockiness, there is 98% chance that he will eventually think of romance if he is exposed to a girl for a prolonged amount of time." He shifted his glasses upward, "Probably. Eventually. 100% before he turns thirty."
She had decided to hide this time in the library at lunch time, begging off to Tomo-chan that she had to start her English homework so that she wouldn't feel guilty about going to tennis practice later; after all, she was a third year now and had to be able to help her kouhai in the club without worrying about how much homework she'd still have to do when she got home. She had finished ten problems and was looking through an English-Japanese dictionary when a shadow covered her notebook.
"Found you, Ryuzaki." Her eyes widened at the familiar voice, cocky and self-assured, that she had wanted to blot out of her mind since that infamous afternoon.
She had apparently forgotten that Ryoma-kun was a library helper, though as she knew he usually helped out after school remembering wouldn't have helped either.
"I've been looking for you since yesterday."
She stubbornly held the dictionary close to her, not wanting to look at the boy who had broken her heart.
"Oi, don't crease the book" he said, attempting to pull it down. She stubbornly resisted.
"I have to finish my English homework, Ry-" she stopped herself in time, remembering her resolution not to call him by that affectionate suffix, "Echizen-san." She determinedly bowed her head back to her homework, ignoring the frown that had appeared on his face upon hearing her call him by his last name.
"Is it that hard?" He had brought his head close to her, assessing the problems. "They're not too hard, you can do it later." He was staring at the problem that she thought she had probably answered horribly wrong with a smirk surfacing on his face, and something in her snapped.
"Not too hard for you, but not all of us were brought up in America and had to speak it so well for twelve years before coming here!" She whispered loudly, slamming the dictionary closed and gathering up her things. She hoped that was enough sass, sass which she didn't know she possessed, to throw off the boy, but he coolly placed his hands in his pockets and stared at her intensely with one eyebrow raised.
It was only the saving grace that was Horio-kun appearing suddenly and asking the Tennis Prince to help him find a book that had allowed her to escape Ry-Echizen-san. He had tried to put off the unibrowed classmate, but in that split second she had somehow tapped into her almost nonexistent non-clumsy reserve and ran off as quickly as possible, deciding to hide herself in the girls' bathroom until it was almost time for class again.
It was unlucky that she had been told to run extra laps by her Buchou because she had been somewhat preoccupied with thoughts that would not do her any good during tennis practice; her lack of focus had ended up keeping her at school past the normal time for tennis practice of the girls' team.
This put her at school right at the time that the current Buchou of the Boys' Tennis Team would have finished up his administrative planning and would be free to do whatever he wanted before he chose to go home.
This unfortunate coincidence caused the situation she was now in: after she had packed up her stuff and left the girls' tennis team's clubroom, she was suddenly shoved against its wall by a then unknown person with a blue tennis bag suddenly tossed by the side, her things soon following. Her squeak of pain was muffled by a hand placed across her mouth, and she lifted her eyes to see the hazel pair of eyes she had been avoiding unsuccessfully.
"We have to talk."
She couldn't get a word out with his hand still clamped over her mouth, so she attempted to remove the hand with one of hers.
"Stop that," he said gruffly, and in the blink of an eye, he had used his hands to trap her arms above her head; he then covered her mouth again with one hand and effectively held her wrists above her head with the other before she realized what he had done. "Ryuzaki, you misunderstood."
She defiantly shook her head, causing the boy to sigh.
"Look, I said that for a reason." He uncovered her mouth.
"Because you didn't want to be friends with me anymore, right?"
"Well, yes" he said but immediately clamped his hand over her mouth again before she could say anything else. "But that's not all I meant."
She felt her cheeks get wet and she realized she had started crying again. He sighed again.
"Mada mada-" he stopped himself, "Wait, you might misunderstand again." She looked up at him in surprise, and he smirked at her. "Ryuzaki, close your eyes."
She shook her head, confused at the order.
"I'll uncover your mouth if you close your eyes, Ryuzaki." He continued smirking at her. "Otherwise, no way you'll get away from that position."
She sighed, he was right about that. The boy had grown after two years of Inui-senpai's milk regimen and all that tennis had only made his arm and leg muscles stronger. Besides, her arms had started to hurt from their awkward placement above her head.
She closed her eyes.
The next thing she knew, the world went mad.
Or at least, it probably had, because Echizen Ryoma had taken off his hand from her mouth and replaced it with his lips.
He had drawn back eventually, his lips turned up in his trademark smirk as he surveyed the breathless girl while pulling her arms back down.
"Ryuzaki, I'm ending our friendship."
"Ehh?" Dazedly, that was all she could say, though it was more of a delayed response to the thing he had just done and not to the statement hanging in the air.
"Apparently, friends don't kiss." He said flatly. "But I want to kiss you, Ryuzaki."
And that was how the friendship of Echizen Ryoma and Ryuzaki Sakuno ended in their third year of middle school; it was replaced with a romantic relationship, or rather a relationship as romantic as one could get with one of the participants as blunt and emotionally with poor taste in words as Echizen Ryoma.
AN2: And I wonder how this Ryoma would eventually propose to Sakuno. Hahaha. This story could have been less... angsty? had Ryoma just said something like "I like you" or something like "I want more than friendship, haha. Ill-picked words, haha.
I'd love to hear what you think about this little story :) (100 prompts, oh my. I wonder how many I'll finish. Maybe I'll finish my multi-chappie first.)
heartluv: Thanks for reading The Aftermath of Wearing Someone Else's Uniform :) I'm glad you liked it :) (Haha, I thought a lot of people would be able to guess it, but Sakuno would likely not really dare to do it even if she guessed it. ^^)
Winterwing3000: Thank you for your review on The Aftermath of Wearing Someone Else's Uniform :) I'm glad you like it :) Somehow I think Ryoma will always have a bratty side even when he grows older, if Nanjirou is like that at his age... Ah, I also love clueless Sakuno :) I'm glad you liked it, thank you also for the Author Alert!
JC-zala: Thank you for your review on The Aftermath of Wearing Someone Else's Uniform :) I love the age of this couple, there are so many things one can do with them at this age that isn't so possible if they were younger or older. ^^ Thank you for writing what you liked, I was flailing while I read your review :) You're very welcome about the reviews, you deserve them all! (And I still haven't finished reviewing your fic yet! Sorry, was kind of busy. :( But now I'm a little less busy, hurrah. ^^)
AnimeObsessedGirl: Thank you for your review on Mutual Appreciation and for favoriting it :) I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm envious of your fountain of inspiration (seemingly) for your series, you have so many ideas :)
Guest: Thank you for reviewing Prompted Reflections, your review made me laugh :) I always found it odd that Japanese people just went up on roofs and wanted to put it in a fic, and I could so see it happening with Sakuno :) (I'm sure Ryoma will protect her. ^^)
RikuDai: Thank you for reviewing The Aftermath of Wearing Someone Else's Uniform! I'm glad you liked it :) (Ah, if only this borrowing of uniforms could happen in my country, haha)
J Luc Pitard: Thank you for reviewing The Aftermath of Wearing Someone Else's Uniform :) Haha, I've always wondered what laws/theorems of physics could explain some of the tennis moves in TeniPuri :) A lot of Fuji's moves defy physics, haha. Oh, you're the first to mention the rumors flying thing, I'm glad :) (I think he really wouldn't care, though, haha, not to mention Nanjirou's face if he heard about it! Huh, maybe I'll write that as an omake to this someday.) Thank you :)
Thank you to michelle88222, animefaves, youare-who-youare, Serenity-Noire-Sirius, sasusaku x auslly for favoriting The Aftermath of Wearing Someone Else's Uniform!
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Thank you to jeez-chan-gomez (sorry, DocManager eats the periods in your name) for favoriting and alerting Mutual Appreciation :)
Thank you to Jhana-Ostol11 for favoriting The Aftermath of Wearing Someone Else's Uniform, Mutual Appreciation, Making Him Happy Again and Prompted Reflections :) (Flailing of happiness commences)
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I hope I didn't forget anyone :) Thank you all for reading :) (And now I try my best at outlining and writing my planned multi-chapter fic and working on some more prompts!) And Kyaaa, new OAV of ShinPuri! My heart. (Though there is still no Sakuno in sight.)