Written for Theme 5 "Ano saa..." for 30 Kisses. Ryoma's afraid of being understood.
By: Neko Mastermind
Sometimes, it was just nice to have someone to lean against. Someone you could trust to tell everything, someone who understood you better than anyone else. Ryoma had never had someone like that in his life, that is, until he came to Seigaku. At first, he had thought it was someone else; but as the days passed, and he learned more about him, he was shocked to find that it wasn't him.
No, instead it was a certain, spiky-haired senpai with a loud mouth and a love of burgers. Annoying Momo-senpai, who would drag him out of bed in the morning to get him to class, who would pretty much kidnap him on weekends to play street tennis, or just to go out for burgers (his treat, of course). Annoying Momo-senpai, who always put faith into him, who always cheered him on, even when no one else would.
At first, Ryoma didn't want to believe it. How could Momo-senpai know so much about him? How could it be that this boy knew so much about him, when he tried so hard to hide himself from everyone else? It confused him, almost scared him, that while everyone else couldn't read him for all they tried, Momo-senpai merely looked at him and /knew/.
The realization of this nearly caused a riff in their relationship. Ryoma was more than scared - he didn't want anyone to know him, at least, not as well as Momo did. So when Momo would come around on weekends to drag him out to play street tennis, he'd ask Nanako to make up an excuse. He'd force himself to wake up early and walk to school on his own so he wouldn't have to see Momo. He'd avoid him at lunch, during tennis practice, and leave without changing, just so he wouldn't have to walk home with his senpai. And when he did have to deal with Momo, he'd avoid eye contact and say nothing unless spoken to, and even then, he'd speak as less as he could.
Now, Momo wasn't a stupid person, despite popular opinion. The moment Ryoma had started avoiding him, the second year knew, just knew that something was seriously wrong. But he didn't do anything to change it at first; maybe Ryoma had a reason? And Momo didn't want to pry into private Echizen's life just yet.
But then a month passed, and Momo started to worry that maybe he did something to make Ryoma act towards him that way. He tried to think of any time he'd offended Echizen. Maybe he said something wrong? Maybe the freshman was upset with him?
Coming up with nothing, Momo knew what he had to do. One night, after everyone in his house had gone to sleep, Momo snuck out of his house and walked to Ryoma's, intent on getting his answer.
The lights were still on when he got there, and feeling decidedly odd knocking on someone's door at ten at night, he was relieved when it was Nanako-san who answered the door, and not Ryoma's parents.
"Momoshiro-san!" She said, surprised. He must've just caught her before she was heading to bed, because she was trying to tie close her robe.
"Sorry for the interruption, Nanako-san," Momo said with a sheepish smile. "But is Echizen still awake?"
Nanako suddenly looked wary, and immediately shook her head. Momo sighed softly and gave her a pleading look. "I really have to talk to him."
Ryoma's cousin pursed her lips, then nodded and stepped aside, allowing Momo in. He smiled his thanks and kicked off his sneakers, then turned to Nanako. "I appreciate it, Nanako-san."
"Ryoma-san hasn't been himself lately." She said with a small, worried frown. "I hope that if you talk to him, maybe he'll start acting like himself again."
Smiling reassuringly, Momo nodded. "I'll try my best." He said, before turning to walk up the stairs. He paused in front of Ryoma's door, raised his fist, then stopped. Taking a moment to think of just what he wanted to say, he raised his fist and knocked.
The door slowly opened, revealing the freshman. He blinked at Momo, then turned away, starting to close the door.
"Oi!" Momo exclaimed, reaching out to hold the door open. "I need to talk to you, Echizen."
"There's nothing to talk about." Ryoma replied, avoiding looking at Momo. The second year frowned and pushed his way into his kouhai's room, then shut the door behind him. "Of course there is! You've been avoiding me for a month! A /month/!"
Ryoma sighed and walked over to his bed, crawling up to lean against the headboard. "Nothing's wrong." He muttered, pulling his knees up to his chest and holding them.
"Don't lie to me." Momo frowned, moving to sit next to him. He could feel Ryoma tense as he did, and the frown grew. "Why do you hate me all of a sudden, Echizen? What did I do wrong?"
Golden eyes widened and met Momo's violet ones, shocked. "You think I hate you?"
"Well, yeah," The spiky-haired boy replied, confused. "You've been avoiding me for a month."
The freshman sighed and lowered his head, staring at his knees. "I don't hate you." He said softly. "I can't hate you."
"Then what's wrong?" Momo asked, just as softly, and reached out to lay a tentative hand on Ryoma's shoulder. "Why are you avoiding me?"
Ryoma tensed further, and Momo sighed and removed his hand, letting it fall to his lap. "Look, Ryoma," He said, earning a surprised look from the freshman for the use of his first name. "Whatever I did, whatever I said...I'm sorry." The second year got to his feet. "I'll just...leave you alone now."
"Momo-senpai..." Ryoma moved forward and grabbed his wrist before he could walk away. "You didn't do anything wrong."
Momo hesitated, then sat down again, wordlessly encouraging Ryoma to continue. After a moment's pause, he did; "I'm just..." He stopped, took a deep breath, then looked at Momo. "I was being stupid. I was worried over something, and...that's why I was avoiding you. But...I don't think I have to anymore..."
Momo wanted to ask what Ryoma was worried about, but before he could ask, Ryoma crawled forward and wrapped his arms around Momo, hugging him. "I'm sorry." He muttered against the second year's shoulder.
Surprised, all Momo could do was wrap his arms around Ryoma in return, not sure what to say. Ryoma was...hugging him. He idly wondered if he was blushing, like Ryoma was, then shook his head to forget about it. It didn't matter; everything was okay now.
A few moments passed, and through some wordless communication between the two, they shifted until Momo was seated against the headboard, and Ryoma settled comfortably in his arms.
"Ano saa..." Ryoma murmured, closing his eyes. Momo hummed softly in acknowledgement, glancing down at the boy in his arms.
"Thank you." And Momo couldn't remember a time when he saw a smile so bright and honest on Ryoma's face in all the time he'd known him. "For understanding me."
"Eh?" Momo blinked in surprised, tilting his hand. "What...do you mean?"
The freshman nestled closer into his senpai's embrace, shrugging a shoulder. "You understand me. You don't treat me like everyone else does." He paused, then added. "You believe in /me/, not in the prodigy."
Momo blinked again, then smiled softly and freeing one hand, he lifted Ryoma's chin until they were looking eye to eye. "That's because you're not a prodigy to me." He said earnestly, surprising Ryoma. "You're my best friend. Why wouldn't I believe in /you/?"
Another smile lighted Ryoma's face, and slowly, he leaned up and pressed his lips to Momo's. "Thank you, Momo." He whispered, and Momo felt something in his heart flutter at hearing the freshman use his name without the honorific.
"You're welcome, Ryoma." He whispered back.
The next day, after earning laps for being late to tennis practice, getting in trouble for falling asleep in class, and having what normally he'd call a terrible day, Momo dragged him out for a few sets of tennis and some burgers, and didn't ask about his day, because he just /knew/, and it was okay.
Because Momo understood him, and that was all that mattered.