Thank you for waiting! Here's chapter 2! Hope you like it guys. Btw, I put my reply to yiur reviews after the chapter.
Enjoy reading! 😊
Ryuzaki was staring at her English notebook so intently that she hadn't realized someone was currently watching her while her brow furrowed and she chewed on her bottom lip mercilessly.
Echizen Ryoma, who was sitting not too far from the girl, looked to the side to conceal the smirk that creeped out of his lips as he tried his best to restrain the laughter that was bubbling in his chest. She looked at her notebook as if it was the devil incarnate. He didn't know that she could be this entertaining, it was quite surprising since she was always in the background, timid and quiet, yet there was more to her.
Ryoma picked a slice of salmon from the lunch that Ryuzaki Sakuno gave him earlier and mindlessly chewed on the juicy meat. She may be a klutz but she really knew how to cook. It was a good thing that she readily offered to make his lunch as a thank you for his help with her grocery shopping dilemma last week. It meant that he could have his favorite Japanese food every day. That was a win-win for him.
Ryoma couldn't really get the girl, though. It was he who was indebted to her. That was why he had volunteered to accompany her in the grocery store and walked her home, yet she still went to the trouble of offering her service to him. He really couldn't figure out how her brain works.
Frowning, his eyes drifted back to scan the girl in front of him. The two of them were currently on the rooftop and supposed to be eating their lunch in silence–Ryoma hated mingling with their fellow classmates, especially with that idiot Horio and Ryuzaki's loudmouthed friend–but the girl was too busy worrying over their incoming English test than to fill her stomach.
'Why does she need to waste good food? She could just give it to me if she didn't want to eat it.'
Ryoma sighed before he took a bite from his last rice ball and immediately snatched the notebook from the girl's hands who squeaked in surprise at the sudden disappearance of the object of her attention and looked up at him who was now chewing a mouthful of rice ball.
"Ryoma-kun, c-can you please give m-my notebook back?"
"Hm," Ryoma lazily gazed at her as she looked back expectantly and her eyes flickered at the notebook that he placed beside him.
"No, I don't want to," he nonchalantly replied, finally finishing the contents of his lunch box.
"Eat your lunch first, Ryuzaki," he deadpanned at her.
Ryoma stared her down, daring her to oppose him. Alas, the girl knew better than to argue with him, she sighed in resignation and proceeded to eat her lunch.
"You're so demanding, Ryoma-kun," she mumbled under her breath, probably thinking that he hadn't heard her, but his keen ears were sharper than she thought.
"You'll starve yourself to death, but if you really don't want to eat your lunch, give it here and I'll eat it for you," he said with a raised eyebrow.
Ryuzaki ducked her head, probably pouting, "I'm already eating it now."
Ryoma smirked as he opened a can of Ponta and sipped, "Why are you stressing over our English test so early? You still have a week to prepare for it," he couldn't help but point out.
English was a piece of cake for Ryoma since he practically grew up in America. 'English is just a language, anyway,' he always reasoned out whenever his classmates pointed out his efficiency with the subject but apparently, not everyone thought the same.
"Mou, it's because you're good at English. That's why you're not stressing about it Ryoma-kun. I, on the other hand…" she trailed off before she hung her head, looking depressed.
Ryoma silently eyed her for a few seconds as she quietly ate her lunch, pouting all the while before he sighed.
"Don't worry about it," he said, chugging the last drops of Ponta from the can in his hand, "I'll help you out."
Ryuzaki jerked her head up and stared at him with widened eyes. "W-what do you m-mean that y-you'll help me Ryoma-kun?"
Ryoma didn't know whether to be amused or just roll his eyes at her reaction. 'Her face is bright red again, and her ever-present stuttering is rearing its ugly head. I wonder why she always does that in front of me? She seems fine when talking to other people,' he couldn't help but muse to himself.
Instead of voicing his observation though, he decided to answer her obvious question, "I'll tutor you in English." he paused, side-eyeing her before continuing, "Meet me at the gate after practice."
Ryuzaki's face seemed to light up like a Christmas tree and in seconds, she was already a few inches away from his face and was already holding his hands in hers, looking at him with sparkling amber eyes and a big grin on her lips.
"REALLY! Thank you so much, Ryoma-kun!"
Heat suddenly started to creep up on his neck and something funny was stirring in his stomach because of their sudden close proximity. Something also seemed wrong with his heart because it felt like it just skipped a beat and was now running a marathon on its own.
"Ah, y-yeah." He cleared his throat and frowned at his sudden stuttering. 'Is Ryuzaki's stuttering problem contagious? Should I distance myself a bit before I catch it all completely?' Ryoma contemplated as Ryuzaki finally realized her abrupt action. She squeaked and immediately let go of his hand, bowing in apology.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I got carried away!"
Ryoma instinctively lifted a hand and was about to pull the apparently nonexistent fila hat down to cover his reaction but realized that he was wearing his school uniform right now thus the absence of his ever-trusty hat, so he opted to shifting his face to the side and discreetly putting some distance between him and Ryuzaki.
"It's nothing, don't worry about it," he nonchalantly said, schooling his features into its usual indifferent one.
To Ryoma's relief, the fast beating of his heart had finally started to calm down. He softly exhaled before he frowned again. 'Am I having some serious heart disease now? Should I set an appointment with the doctor?' he worriedly thought to himself.
"Ryoma-kun?" he was pulled out of his musing by her soft worried voice and he immediately brushed off her concern.
"Hn. Lunch is about to be finished, let's go back to class," he said as he grabbed his empty lunch box and handed it to her.
"You're right, umm… let me just finish my lunch," she replied as she proceeded to rewrap his now empty lunch box then resumed eating her own.
As Ryoma waited for her to be finished, he couldn't help but remember the reason why he ended up with Ryuzaki Sakuno on the roof instead of joining his senpais at the burger joint.
It had been a week since the incident with Karupin happened, but Ryoma could still remember how worried he was when he woke up a little bit early for a Sunday morning only to find out that Karupin was missing.
He searched around the temple for his cat but he couldn't find him anywhere. Karupin wasn't the kind of cat who would wander far away from home and if he ever wanted to walk out of the house for a bit, he wouldn't take long outside. That was why he figured that something had happened to Karupin.
After an hour of waiting for the cat to return, Ryoma had hauled himself outside the house to look for his pet. Imagine his horror when he found him in Ryuzaki Sakuno's arms injured.
Ryoma had a few things he valued and much fewer people he cared about: his family, tennis, KARUPIN, Ponta, and a few of his carefully picked friends. Karupin had always been with him and he knew that Karupin was probably the only thing that he showed affection to. His pervert of a father even joked that Karupin was his mistress while tennis was his wife. 'Stupid old man.'
The point was, even though he wouldn't verbally say it, Karupin was precious to him, and seeing him injured and finding out that he was treated so cruelly almost made him dash to look for those kids and hit them with a hundred twist serves all over their bodies. Maybe then they would learn not to touch what was his. Ryuzaki's presence there was the only one stopping him from hunting down those pests.
Ryoma knew that he couldn't leave the girl alone considering how awful her navigation skill was. Karupin could probably navigate his way around the city more than the girl could. Aside from that, he was thankful. He knew that if it was someone else who found Karupin and not Ryuzaki, his cat might have never come back to him.
Aside from saving Karupin, she even paid for his treatment. No one would just sacrifice their money for grocery shopping to treat an unknown cat's injury. Nevermind being scolded by her grandmother, she didn't even think about what she would do next as long as the cat was treated. She didn't even ask anything from him. If it was any other girl, she would have taken advantage of the situation to get closer to Ryoma and to demand things from him.
Ryuzaki though didn't even let him know that the money she used wasn't even hers, to begin with. AND still, she was the one who thanked him for accompanying her and paying for the groceries when in fact, it was just right for him to pay for it since it was his cat whom she had used her original money for. She even offered to make his bento every day as an apology for the trouble she caused him.
He couldn't even believe his ears from what he was hearing from her. Ryoma was honestly flabbergasted at what the girl did. Right then and there, Ryuzaki Sakuno's image suddenly changed in his eyes. She wasn't just the clumsy, stuttering, directionally-challenged Ryuzaki Sakuno but an impossibly dumb simpleton and the most selfless, kindhearted girl he had ever met.
It may be just a simple incident in other people's opinions. but for Ryoma, it told him a lot about the girl's character. Such a simple act of kindness to an animal made him realize that there was more to Ryuzaki than meets the eye.
He was abruptly snapped out of his musings when the object of his thoughts called out to him. Making sure that his mask of indifference was in place, he nonchalantly looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"What is it?" he asked. Ryoma watched as the girl fidgeted and started stuttering again.
"U-umm, I've been calling y-you thrice now, R-Ryoma-kun," he blinked at the information. 'I was too deep in thought. I hadn't heard her calling out at all.'
"Hn," he grunted as he discreetly shifted his face to the side to hide any hint of embarrassment at being caught in a daze.
"U-umm, Ryoma-kun, we should get back to class. W-we will be l-late soon," she whispered, looking at the already wrapped lunch boxes in her hands.
"Ah, right." He nodded once before walking out of the rooftop to the stairs and to the hallways.
He could feel her following behind him and he couldn't help but wonder why she was always walking behind–and a few feet faraway from him too–instead of trying to walk side by side with him.
As soon as he wondered that, though he heard the squealing girls around and he sighed. 'I guess keeping her distance from me is ideal if she wanted to spend the next couple of years in high school in peace.'
He knew how wild his fangirls were, and he also knew for a fact that they would do anything to get his attention. They were one of the most irritating things that were constant in his life and he knew that he wouldn't be able to get rid of them anytime soon.
Ryoma saw the door to their classroom and as soon as he entered, his poor ears were bombarded by high-pitched squeals of: "Kyaaaaah, Ryoma-sama!"
He instantly snapped his hands on his ears to save his eardrums from bleeding and tried his best to dodge each of the crazy girls' approaches. 'Argh! Why me?'
Once he successfully entered their room, he immediately went towards his seat and sat heavily after dodging a few attacks from his fangirls and observed at the corner of his eyes as Ryuzaki timidly walked past him to her desk which was just in front of him.
After being surrounded by too many loud girls, Ryuzaki Sakuno was like a breath of fresh air for Ryoma. That was why he didn't mind her company at all. With her, he could relax all he wanted without worrying about suddenly being jumped. The girl was so quiet that he could dismiss her presence and let his guard down. He even preferred her over Horio on any day.
Ryoma propped an arm on his desk and rested the side of his cheek on his palm as he observed the back of the girl's head. She was reading her English notes and probably was deaf to the world again.
He glanced up when their math teacher entered their class and Ryoma grumbled a greeting together with his classmates but then he noticed that Ryuzaki was still unaware of her surroundings.
He glanced at their math teacher, who was currently busy flipping through a book, then back to the oblivious girl. 'She'll get in trouble if she doesn't pay attention soon.'
Slowly, a mischievous smirk appeared on his lips as he stretched his left hand to grab one of the girl's braids and abruptly yanked it.
As expected, Ryuzaki let out a startled yelp as she held on to her braid and briskly whirled around with an open mouth to probably yell at him but he cut her off before any words could come out of her mouth.
"Tadashi-sensei is here, you'll get in trouble if you don't pay attention," he nonchalantly said as if he hadn't just yanked her hair.
Ryuzaki's eyes lit up in understanding and her cheeks turned pink as she ducked her head and shifted her body back in front.
"Y-you don't need to pull my hair to let me know t-that, Ryoma-kun," Ryoma heard her murmur.
His smirk turned into a grin that he immediately suppressed. "Che." Ryoma shifted his attention outside and zoned out the boring lesson of the teacher.
'Ah, I'd rather play tennis now,' he thought before he pulled out his math notebook and started copying the formula written on the board.
Lessons may bore him, but Ryoma wasn't a bad student. He always made sure that he had a straight-A on his card, 'Otherwise, mom would kill me and probably shave Karupin's fur.' Ryoma shivered at that thought. His mom could be sweet and scary at the same time. No wonder she could stand his perverted father. Only Echizen Rinko could put on a leash on the legendary Samurai.
The written formulas and examples on the board multiplied and finally, their teacher addressed the class.
"So, who can solve the problem no. 1?"
Ryoma sighed quietly, his eyes dropping as he tried to focus his attention on the problem on the board.
'This will be a loooong day.'
He shot a powerful twist serve into Momo-senpai's direction and finally, after four failed attempts, his senpai managed to return it.
"HORAHORAHOORAAAAH! I finally returned your twist serve, Echizen! Duunn!" Momo-senpai gloated, rolling his right shoulder and pointing his index finger at him. Ryoma pretended that he didn't hear his senpai gloat as he ran towards the ball.
"Mada mada dane, Momo-senpai," he said with a cheeky grin as his racket connected with the ball, and with a mighty swing from his left arm, Ryoma cleanly returned it.
"Wha-You cheeky brat!" Momoshiro hurriedly went after the ball but Ryoma knew that the ball was far from his senpai's reach.
Momo-senpai leaped on the ball and Ryoma watched as it impacted on the opposite side of the court with Momo-senpai flat on the ground. Ryoma heard his senpai groan as he lifted himself and pouted.
"Game and match, Echizen! 6 games to 1," Kikumaru-senpai declared.
Ryoma put his racket on his left shoulder and grinned triumphantly at his senpai. "You were saying, Momo-senpai?" he smugly said as Momoshiro fumed.
"You little brat! I'll get you for that!" Momoshiro yelled as he stood up and dusted himself off.
"Hoi, hoi! You almost got it Momo-chan!" Kikumaru-senpai tried to cheer him up but Momo only pouted.
"Saa, at least you got a single game from him this time, Momo," Fuji-senpai said with his creepy smile plastered on his face, tapping Momo-senpai's shoulder twice in an attempt to comfort him.
"Fusshhh, sore loser," Ryoma heard Kaido-senpai say at the corner. He watched in amusement as Momo-senpai's ears twitched and he angrily rounded at the man wearing his usual green bandana.
"Shut up Mamushi! I didn't see you winning a single match from Echizen either!" Momo-senpai angrily hissed.
"What did you say? I can win a match from him on any day!" Kaido-senpai rebuked as he leaped from his crouched position on the ground.
Ryoma suppressed the urge to snort at Kaido-senpai's denial, but he let his senpai have his dignity for now. Although he couldn't promise that a little retribution wouldn't happen once they paired up against each other on the next practice match.
As another argument broke out. Kikumaru and Oishi-senpai tried to break the fight as Inui-senpai continued to write on his handy-dandy notebook. Ryoma turned his back at them, not wanting to get involved in their childish squabbles. Seriously, his senpais may be one or two years older than him but when it comes to maturity, his senpais were years below him.
"Mada mada dane, senpais," he said with a smirk which Momo-senpai still managed to hear.
"Oi, Echizen, where are you going? I want a rematch!" Momo-senpai called out. Ryoma stopped to look at him.
"Sorry Momo-senpai, I have other things to do. Practice is over today anyway. Ja!" Ryoma said with a small smirk and lifted a hand as he left them with a wave.
"You done, Echizen?"
Ryoma looked up and stared at their coach, Yamamoto Jun. He still wasn't used to seeing their new coach, although it had been three months since he started high school. He didn't want to say it out loud but he somehow missed his old coach, Ryuzaki Sumire. Ryuzaki-sensei was maybe a bit of a sadist but she had been his coach for two years and it wasn't that easy for him to adjust.
"Yes, sensei. I'm done with the drill," Ryoma answered. The man nodded and patted his shoulder.
"Good work, don't be late for the morning practice tomorrow," Yamamoto-sensei reminded.
"Yes sensei. I'm going now." Ryoma then turned to their captain after bowing his head a little at their coach. Tezuka Kunimitsu, who was watching the others with his signature stoic expression and crossed arms, looked at him as he approached him.
"Ja, Buchou," Ryoma said with a raised hand.
"Hn. Don't let your guard down on your way home, Echizen," Tezuka-buchou stoically said. Ryoma only nodded and proceeded to their locker to change his clothes.
Ryoma heard from his senpais that Tezuka-buchou only returned to Japan last year to continue his studies in High School here. Like him, though, Tezuka Kunimitsu had succeeded in his goal in Germany and became a pro. Tezuka-buchou went out of the country from time to time like Ryoma to enter international tournaments too but both made sure that they were present during important matches in Japan.
He was in the middle of zipping his bag when his senpais entered the locker room with Momo-senpai and Kaido-senpai still in the middle of an argument. Ryoma immediately hoisted his bag on his shoulder and nonchalantly started walking towards the exit. He didn't want them to notice that he was hastily making his exit to avoid them. 'It will be hard to escape if I went out together with them. If they found out that I'm walking with Ryuzaki, they would never let it go.'
His hand was twisting the doorknob when Momo-senpai called out to him and he froze in his tracks.
"Oi, Echizen, do you wanna come with us to the burger joint? Kikumaru-senpai said that it would be his treat."
"I didn't say that, nya!" Kikumaru-senpai's protest fell on deaf ears as his other senpais' attention was focused on him.
Ryoma looked down for a bit, trusting his bangs to cover his eyes with his hand tightening on the knob. "Sorry Momo-senpai, my mother sent me on an errand after school so I can't come with you now. Maybe next time, Ja ne!" He finally opened the locker's door and stepped out. He closed the door and let out a quiet sigh before he was running away from the tennis club and into the school gate faster than his twist serve.
He couldn't risk his senpai following him. The last time he did Ryuzaki a favor, his nosy senpais stalked them for the rest of the day thinking that the two of them were on a date when in fact, he just accompanied Ryuzaki to the racket stringer to restring her racket, and he was asked by Ryuzaki-sensei at that time! It was not that he volunteered. The same thing happened when his idiot father forced him to teach the girl tennis even though Ryuzaki-sensei had originally asked the old man to do it. He had also previously walked the girl home a couple of times during their middle school days after being harassed by his nosy senpais.
Come to think of it, this was probably the first time that Ryoma offered his help to Ryuzaki without being prompted by others. It would cause chaos if his senpais found out. 'I would never have a day of peace. They would tease me 'till the end of high school.' Ryoma suppressed the urge to shudder at the thought. His senpais were crazy.
He couldn't understand why his senpai was making a big deal of him and Ryuzaki whenever they were together. It was not that they were close. Well, he had to admit that he preferred her over his other classmates and junior teammates any day and that he actually considered her as his friend, but still. Why did the senpais make a big deal out of it? He just couldn't understand what they wanted to happen or what they were aiming for. 'Hmp, stupid senpais.'
As he was nearing the gate, he caught a glimpse of a girl with two braided pigtails standing on the side of the gate, looking at her wristwatch. Ryoma craned his head to his back to make sure that his senpai didn't follow him before he fastened his pace and grabbed Ryuzaki's hand as he passed by her.
"Ah! R-Ryoma-kun!" she yelped in surprise.
"Run Ryuzaki!" he instructed without looking at her.
Ryoma didn't bother answering and just continued to drag her. When they were far away enough, he stopped to make sure that no one was following them.
"R-Ryoma-kun, w-what was...t-that?" Ryuzaki questioned, trying to catch her breath as she leaned forward, hands on her knees for support.
"I don't want our nosy senpais following us around," he answered as he unconsciously stared at her hunched figure, watching her gasp for breath.
Then, as if time had temporarily slowed down on its own, Ryuzaki looked up at him and their eyes clashed with each other. Her dark amber eyes had never been so wide as it shone brightly, with the sunset visible on her back, making her look enthralling. Ryoma could clearly see his serious expression reflecting on her eyes.
"Ryoma–kun?" her hesitant voice snapped him out of the unknown trance and he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"Your stamina sucks," his tongue went.
Ryuzaki hung her head dejectedly. "Mou, I know that, and I'm working on it, Ryoma-kun."
With his ever-dependable hat currently nonexistent because he was back in his school uniform, he turned his back on her to avoid whatever weird expression he had on his face. He really didn't know what was going on with him but somehow, he felt like he frantically needed to get his act together or he would be doomed forever.
Momoshiro Takeshi knew that something was going on with their kouhai. Echizen Ryoma rejecting the prospect of free food was close to impossible, yet all of them heard him state his nonchalant rejection. It was as if you had dangled a box of Ponta on his face and he just walked past you without sparing the box of Ponta a second glance.
That was why he immediately grabbed Kikumaru, Fuji, Oishi, and Inui-senpai to follow his suspicious kouhai. Mamushi just tagged along, and look at what they just found! His kouhai with their former coach's granddaughter.
"Are they secretly dating? They're holding each other's hands!" Kikumaru-senpai asked as he gasped in surprise.
He, on the other hand, laughed, "Way the go, Echizen!"
"Hm, good data. I always predicted that there's an 85% chance of Echizen dating Ryuzaki Sakuno, 5% on Tachibana An from Foudomine, and 3% chance on Osakada Tomoka."
Momoshiro couldn't help the frown that appeared on his face when he heard Tachibana's sister being mentioned.
"Why is Tachibana's sister an option for Echizen's love interest?" he briskly asked before he could stop himself.
Inui-senpai looked at him with his glasses glinting in the sunlight.
"I'm sorry Momoshiro, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Don't worry, there's a 90% chance that you're going to end up with Tachibana An. A huge difference in number compared to Echizen's statistic," Inui-senpai calmly replied as he pushed his glasses up on his nose. He didn't sound sorry at all.
Momoshiro felt the heat creep up his neck and up to his cheeks. "WHA-WHAT'S THAT GOT TO DO WITH ME?!"
"Oi bastard, we're going to lose Echizen if we continue to stand here, fusshh," Mamushi hissed.
"Saa, let's go and follow them," Fuji-senpai said with his signature creepy smile.
"I still don't think that this is a good idea," Oishi-mama hesitantly stated.
"Hoi, hoi, don't be a mother-hen now Oishi. Let's go and follow O'chibi!" Kikumaru-senpai happily exclaimed as he pushed Oishi's hesitant body forward.
The rest of them followed the golden pair, running after their kouhai, and abruptly hid in the bushes as their Kouhai stopped. Echizen also let go of Ryuzaki-chan's hand, Momoshiro noticed.
They did their best not to make any noises as they listened intently to the two's conversation and almost spilled a few loud giggles when they heard that their kouhai didn't want to be followed by them.
"Nya, too late O'chibi," Kikumaru-senpai whispered, muffling his giggles with his hands.
Momoshiro quietly snickered evilly. "You're still Mada mada dane, Echizen."
Oishi sweatdropped as Mamushi hissed, Inui-senpai quietly muttered as he furiously scribbled on his notebook and Fuji-senpai's creepy grin widened, Momoshiro almost felt sorry for their kouhai. The keyword was 'almost'.
Anyways, back to the object of their attention. Something interesting was happening here and Momoshiro couldn't suppress the huge grin that appeared on his lips, threatening to split his face in half with how large of a grin it was.
Echizen Ryoma was currently staring at Ryuzaki Sakuno in a trance. Their kouhai was probably unaware of it but his neck had turned red and a slight tinge of pink was visible on his cheeks.
"I can't believe it, Echizen….is blushing?" Oishi said with a voice reflecting his utter disbelief.
"Oh boy, Echizen Ryoma isn't asexual," he murmured in excitement.
"O'chibi is staring at Sakuno-chan," Kikumaru-senpai happily whispered.
"Hm, hm… this data is a great addition on Echizen's profile," Inui senpai muttered as his fingers wrote furiously.
Fuji-senpai's intense blue eyes were wide open which was much creepier than his usual creepy smile. Momoshiro felt thankful that that creepy look wasn't directed at him. 'Poor Echizen, poor Ryuzaki-chan.'
Everything that was happening was almost unbelievable if it wasn't for a fact that they were witnessing it with their own eyes. Momoshiro was having a proud big brother expression when the inevitable happened.
The brat opened his damn blunt mouth.
His teammates immediately grabbed him when he almost leaped out of the bushes in an attempt to straggle the brat and shake him until he came to his senses that there was no way that it was alright to say that to a girl! Kikumaru and Fuji-senpai put a hand on his mouth to muffle his screams and forced him to quietly watch the two.
His struggling stopped when he heard the brat's next words.
"Hn. Where are we going?" Echizen asked as he rearranged the strap of his tennis bag on his shoulder and shoved a hand in his pocket.
"Hm, grandma won't be home anytime soon so we can go to my house, but if you want, it's okay if we do it at your house too."
All of their eyes became wide as dinner plates at what innocent Ryuzaki-chan had said.
"A-a-are t-they t-talking about w-what I think they shouldn't be talking at this age?" Oishi-mama stuttered, looking extremely scandalized.
"I can't believe Sakuno-chan is this forward, nya!" Kikumaru-senpai stated in disbelief.
"It's always the quiet ones, it seems," Inui-senpai calmly remarked, writing furiously in his notebook.
"Let's do it at your house then. That old man will never stop pestering us if we choose mine," Echizen nonchalantly said.
"I can't believe Echizen is so bold," Momoshiro heard Mamushi quietly whisper.
"Man, Echizen is going to get it before any of us. I don't know if I should be proud or feel devastated," he muttered.
"Saa, you should ask Tachibana An on a date, then Momoshiro." Momoshiro scooted away from Fuji-senpai as he sweatdropped.
"Fujiko's right Momo-chan!" Kikumaru-senpai readily agreed as he wrapped his arms around his neck. Momoshiro choked.
"Aaack! Kikumaru-senpai, Echizen, and Ryuzaki-chan are walking away!" he managed to gasp.
"Oops, let's go, nya!"
'Ah, my life was saved.' he thought as he rubbed his abused neck before they proceeded to follow their kouhai again.
He and the others all stopped in front of their old coach's house and a few sighs of relief were heard as Ryuzaki Sumire opened the door for the two teenagers.
"Sakuno." Sumire smiled before her eyebrows shot up at the sight of Echizen Ryoma nonchalantly standing beside her granddaughter.
"Grandma, you're home early!" Ryuzaki-chan gasped in surprise.
"Ohohohoho, busted," Momoshiro and Kikumaru-senpai started giggling at the sudden turn of events while Fuji sighed in disappointment.
"Better luck next time, Echizen," Fuji-senpai said with a creepy smile on his lips.
He and Kikumaru-senpai cringed when they saw this and scooted away from the Tensai.
"Hm… Yes, is that a problem?" they all snapped their attention back to the object of their entertainment when they heard their former coach asked. Momoshiro could hear the suspicion in Ryuzaki-sensei's voice as she arched her eyebrow higher.
"N-no! Ryoma-kun kindly offered to t-tutor me in English s-since the exam is near," Ryuzaki-chan immediately defended Echizen as she fidgeted in place.
The six of them slowly stared at each other as realization dawned on them at the same time.
"Ahh, I knew that our kouhai is too innocent for that. We should've trusted Echizen more," Momoshiro immediately rebuked his earlier statements with one comment.
"Hoi hoi, O'chibi's too innocent for that!" Kikumaru-senpai readily agreed.
"I-I knew it from the start! Ryuzaki-chan is too shy for t-that!" Oishi stated, smiling awkwardly but looking relieved.
"Saa, I should've considered Echizen's character before jumping to a conclusion," Fuji-senpai conceded with a hand on his chin.
"Ah, wrong analysis, have to correct this," Inui-senpai muttered.
"If you two are here to study, then what are the others doing here?" Ryuzaki Sumire asked and the six of them blanched.
"Busted," Kikumaru-senpai murmured.
"Others?" Momoshiro heard Echizen and Ryuzaki-chan muttered at the same time.
One by one, the six of them went out from their hiding spot and sheepishly laughed it off–in his, Oishi's, and Kikumaru-senpai's case.
"Senpai." Echizen's glare was quite deadly as he tried to kill them one by one with his laser-like eyes.
"Ahahaha, we just wanna make sure that you're alright, Echizen. You were acting suspiciously." Momoshiro tried to laugh it off but it looked like Echizen wouldn't be placated anytime soon.
"Ah, I think we have to prepare ourselves for the next practice match. O'chibi looked ready to hit us with a couple of his twist serves, nya!" Kikumaru-senpai said, sweat dropping.
"E-Echizen! We didn't mean any harm!" Oishi tried to defend, waving his hands in front of him with an awkward smile on his lips.
"You better start running away now senpais, or else–" Echizen pulled out his racket from his tennis bag and was now rummaging for a tennis ball.
Momoshiro didn't want to be present when Echizen shot that ball at them. Since he had high self-preservation, he hastily threw an excuse. It went along the lines of: "Oh, look at the time, mom asked me to feed the dogs and I'm late, Ja ne!" and he hightailed out of the scene faster than Fuji-senpai's Tsubame Gaeshi. At least he was entertained for a bit there.
"Darn that Echizen, always such a brat!"
Sakuno let out a sigh as they closed their front door.
"Why did they need to follow us?" she quietly exhaled as she removed her shoes.
"Che, stupid senpais," Ryoma muttered with a scowl.
Sakuno looked up as her grandmother started laughing.
"Those brats never changed. The two of you hurry up and eat some snacks before studying," her grandma said with her arms crossed.
"Thanks, sensei. Sorry for intruding," Ryoma said as he put on the house sleepers.
Sakuno walked inside the house towards the kitchen with Ryoma following behind her. It made her a bit uncomfortable because this was the first time that Ryoma was walking behind her. It was...different.
"Do you prefer tea or hot chocolate?" Sakuno asked Ryoma.
"Mm, hot chocolate. Don't make it too sweet," he answered as he sat opposite of her grandma at the dining table.
Sakuno smiled, "Okay."
She made two hot chocolates for her and Ryoma and one tea for her grandmother. She made sure that the hot chocolate was not too sweet for Ryoma's taste buds. She knew that Ryoma wasn't really a fan of sweets although he drinks a lot of Ponta.
She had been giving him chocolates every Valentine's Day since middle school and for some reason, her chocolate was the only chocolate that Ryoma accepted during Valentine's. He declined his fangirls' offers and didn't even bother picking up the boxes that were shoved in his shoe locker. It made her feel special and hopeful that maybe, Ryoma felt the same.
After all these years though, Sakuno figured that the reason why Ryoma accepted her chocolate was that she gave every Seigaku Regular their own shares. Even Horio and the other two freshmen. She guessed that Ryoma conceded because it wasn't from his obsessive fangirls. 'But I'm also your fangirl Ryoma-kun, just a silent supporter, though.'
Sakuno gave her grandmother her tea and slid a cup of hot chocolate towards Ryoma.
"Thanks," he murmured as he grasped the cup.
"You're welcome," she automatically answered with a smile before she turned around and grabbed her baked cookies. It was a good thing that she baked a lot yesterday. 'At least I can give another one of my cookies to Ryoma-kun.'
She heated the cookies before she served them to Ryoma and her grandmother.
"I'll carry the rest to my room," she said and Ryoma nodded. Sakuno sat down beside her grandmother and sipped her own chocolate.
"So how's everyone, Ryoma?" her grandmother asked.
She heard Ryoma scoff, "Still the same."
Sakuno and Sumire chuckled at Ryoma's scowling face.
"As expected," Sumire said with a small smile on her lips. "Made me feel a bit nostalgic."
"Why, you missed us, sensei?" Sakuno could practically hear the cocky smirk on his lips and she let out a smile.
"I don't miss the headaches you brought me," her grandmother replied with a grin.
A soft sound from the oven signaled that the next batch of cookies was already heated. Sakuno stood up, leaving Ryoma and her grandmother to their conversation as she busied herself. After she put the cookies on a plate and tidied her mess on the kitchen counter she called out for Ryoma.
"Ryoma-kun, the cookies are read. Let's go up?" she softly asked.
Ryoma glanced at her and excused himself from her grandmother.
"I'll leave my granddaughter to your care Ryoma, I hope she improves her grades."
Sakuno blushed to the roots of her hair because of that statement. "Grandma!"
Sumire laughed and Ryoma smirked.
"Okay, run along now, kids."
As she and Ryoma were walking up the stairs to her room, it was then that realization dawned on her. 'R-Ryoma-kun will be coming inside my room! He'll be in my room! A boy will be in my room for the first time and it's Ryoma-kun! Ohmygod, is my room clean? Did I properly hide my underwear?' Her thoughts became more and more frantic and she abruptly twisted to face Ryoma who managed not to bump into her but still looked a bit startled at her sudden action.
"R-Ryoma-kun! Let me check my room first before you come in, wait for me a minute outside the door!" Sakuno hastily instructed before she bolted up and towards her room without even looking at Ryoma's reaction.
She closed the door to her room and exhaled, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart. She slapped her face once before she proceeded to scan her room. After a thorough expression, she sighed in relief. Grateful to herself for always cleaning her room. 'Okay, Sakuno, let's face the music now.' She took a few deep calming breaths and mentally prepared herself for the inevitable.
'Come on Sakuno, it's not as if you're doing something bad with R-Ryoma-kun. He's just going to tutor you. No big deal.'
'Yeah right, THE Echizen Ryoma is going to tutor you and it's not a big deal. Who're you kidding, Sakuno?' She mentally blanched at what the little voice in her head said. She slapped her face one more time to snap her out of her incoming panic. She put a hand on the doorknob and twisted it open. She slowly peaks out her head to look for Ryoma and is greeted by his nonchalant figure leaning on the wall in front of the wall with his hands in his pockets. He stared blankly at her and she offered him a hesitant smile.
"Sorry for making you wait. I just made sure that my room is um, clean," she awkwardly laughed as silence answered her.
Ryoma sighed, "You don't have to be too nervous, Ryuzaki," he nonchalantly said as he cooly walked towards her making her automatically open the door and stand to the side to let him enter as she quietly watched him.
Ryoma stood in the middle of her room and silently roamed his eyes around, inspecting her pink room filled with staff toys. Her face burned in embarrassment as Ryoma continued to survey her room without saying anything. His eyes stopped on the number of photos decorated in front of her study table. Their middle school photos with their senpai.
Ryoma walked closer to the wall and eyed the numerous pictures she shared with all the Seigaku Regulars in their middle school days. Sakuno watched him nervously, waiting for him to say something as she fiddled with her fingers. Then she noticed that his eyes were lingering too long on one specific picture.
The accidental photo that Shiba-san, the reporter, captured on the day Ryoma injured his eye on one of their important matches. That day, Shiba-san wanted to have a photo with Ryoma and asked the Prince of Tennis for one which he nonchalantly agreed, but when the photo was about to be captured, Momo-senpai 'accidentally' bumped into her due to the unexpected chaos. Poor innocent Sakuno was pushed towards Ryoma and suddenly replaced Shiba-san in the photo.
The photo ended up with her disgruntled looking face who tightly closed her eyes while leaning unto the curious-looking Ryoma. They looked so innocent in the picture amidst the chaos and it was Sakuno's most favorite picture. That was why it was placed in the middle of all the chaotic pictures on the wall of her bedroom.
Sakuno started hyperventilating as she saw Ryoma curiously staring at it.
"A-ah, t-that photo was accidentally captured b-by Shiba-san, and she gave a copy to me…" she stuttered pathetically.
"You're very sentimental, Ryuzaki," Ryoma said as he craned his neck to look at her.
Sakuno felt as if something was shot straight to her heart as she saw a small smile on Ryoma's lips. A very, very rare smile that Echizen Ryoma wouldn't just give to anyone, probably aside from Karupin. Sakuno's beating heart had escalated to a whole different level as she felt her whole face practically combust.
"I-I-I treasure the memories I share with everyone," she stumbled over her words as she tried her best to look anywhere but at Ryoma. Her heart couldn't take another glimpse of that smile.
"Heh, maybe I should get a copy of one of these group photos," he said, gesturing his hand to the numerous photos on the wall.
"I-I could ask Shiba-san for another copy. I'm sure she still has it," she bashfully offered.
Ryoma looked at her with a small smirk on his lips. 'Ohmygod someone help me! I'm being suffocated here!'
"Ryuzaki?" she snapped out of her inner panic as she heard him called out to her.
"Y-yes!" she squeaked.
A noise came out of Ryoma, like a snort of some sort but it seemed like he just–'OHMYGOD did he just chuckle?!'
"Absent-minded again, Ryuzaki?" he said, his lips twitching as if suppressing a grin. Sakuno wanted to rub her eyes. 'Is Ryoma-kun...amused? With me?!'
"U-um… S-sorry. I-I was, what were you saying again, Ryoma-kun?"
Ryoma raised an eyebrow at her and he was definitely smirking at her now. "I said, give me a copy of this one too," he said, gesturing vaguely at a specific picture.
Sakuno blinked, 'Huh?' before her eyes traced the photo that he was gesturing and nearly choked on her own saliva. 'That?' she faintly thought as she stared at their 'accidental' photo. 'W-why does he want to have a photo of us?!'
She almost hyperventilated again but she tried to reason with herself. 'Don't think too much of it. The others in the background being chaotic looked memorable too. It's not as if you're special. Stop daydreaming, Ryuzaki Sakuno!' she scolded herself before she nodded at Ryoma.
"O-okay, Ryoma-kun," she muttered as she tried to rein in her blushes.
"Thanks," Ryoma replied before his attention drifted off the wall and into the other parts of her bedroom again.
"Let's start, then."
Sakuno nodded before she proceeded to put the small table in the middle of her room and pulled out two pillow cushions for them to sit on.
Sakuno brought out her English notebook with her pens and put it on the table as Ryoma did the same. He grabbed her notebook and flipped on the pages as she nervously fiddled with her fingers on her lap.
Sakuno quietly watched Ryoma as he started writing on her notebook, looking as unconcerned as ever. After a few minutes, he stopped and slid the notebook towards her.
"Answer these so I'll have an idea where to start."
Sakuno nodded at him and quietly read what he had written. As her eyes scanned the sentences, she couldn't help but notice how neat Ryoma's hand-writing was, unlike some boys in her class. She suddenly felt a powerful urge to run her finger over the written letters but refrained from doing so. Ryoma was watching her and he would undoubtedly feel disturbed if she did so in front of him. 'I'll do it later.'
Suppressing a delighted sigh, Sakuno started answering the twenty questions that Ryoma had written. Her forehead creased in concentration as she tried to answer it to the best of her ability. 'I don't want to disappoint him.' She knew for herself though, that she could only try because she really sucked in English.
As the minute went by, Sakuno almost forgot Ryoma's presence as she focused on the difficult sentences and questions. It took her awhile before she managed to answer them all and when she looked up to give it to Ryoma, she was greeted by a very rare sight.
Ryoma was sleeping on the table with his arms as his pillow. 'He looked so...so adorable!'
"Cute," she unconsciously blurted out as she looked at Ryoma's relaxed face. He looked so much younger in his sleep.
Sakuno slowly leaned forward to look at his face closely and couldn't help but smile as he softly breathed in his sleep.
"Thank you for helping me, Ryoma-kun," she softly whispered before she placed an arm on the table and rested her head on it while staring at Ryoma's peaceful face.
To Be Continued...
new38220: I'm so glad you like it. Thank you for leaving a review. I hope you lile the second chapter too
crimsonwolf94: Thank you so much! 😊 I hope you'll enjoy this chapter too.
neko-alme: You! You really SURPRISED ME! I can't believe that you noticed my story. I reread and reread you comment and even checked your profile to make sure that you're the same author that I read almost all of the Ryosaku stories! You're a wonderful writer! I'm a fan! 😍 I'm so happy and honored that you're reading ny story. I'm still new to writing so I hope you'll also like this new chapter.
I want to give credits to my awsome beta readers. Thank you so much! I'm so grateful to you two for beta-ing even though Prince of Tennis is not your fandom.
o0CrimsonsDragon0o, Stacy Donnely