Study Assistance

A Prince of Tennis Fanfic

By Jaelle

Rating: G
Pairings: Tezuka/Ryoma-ish at the ending
Warnings: Nope
Disclaimer: Not mine

Ryoma has his study assistance sorted into an efficient system. He goes to Oishi with history problems, Fuji for math, Inui when he can’t find Fuji and is completely desperate, Kaidou for Japanese literature, and Momo, Eiji or Kawamura when he wants a break and/or food. This pretty much ensures that everything is covered.

He never asks Tezuka for help.

It’s not that Ryoma is BAD at schoolwork. In fact his grades are very high in everything, especially English. But the subjects taught in Japan are considerably different from those he studied in America, and at his very first Japanese literature class he realised that he had a long way to go if he wanted to do well. And he did. It’s not just about maintaining a high enough grade to stay on the tennis team, it’s also because he happens to KNOW that his stupid father had never been particularly academically successful, and he wants to outdo him. In everything.

Initially his high grades were achieved by a lot of (secret) work in the evenings, but with all the extra training (and hanging out with his sempai) that he’s doing these days, he just can’t put in the same amount of effort that he used to. And, well, his sempai always claim they’re there to help, right? He might as well make use of them. Especially in his two weakest subjects, math and Japanese literature. The level of math taught here was considerably higher than that of his previous school, and he’d NEVER studied any Japanese literature at all before. So he compromises.

It all works out pretty well. Oishi is absolutely ecstatic at the opportunity to lend his assistance with history, while Momo and Eiji love to go out and have fun when it’s time for a break. Sometimes Ryoma keeps some problems aside for them too, but makes sure they’re ones he already knows the answers to. Occasionally he asks Kawamura too, but knows he doesn’t have to worry about HIS answers.

Ryoma cons Kaidou into helping him with Japanese Literature through the simple method of asking extremely politely. The older boy grumbles and growls, but ultimately his sense of obligation forces him to help, albeit grudgingly.

This leaves math as Ryoma’s only other weak point. Fortunately he has Seigaku’s own dataman on hand, although the price of his assistance is usually to try his latest concoctions. For this reason Ryoma prefers to ask Fuji, who is happy to provide his help in return for some future, unspecified favour. Ryoma knows he’ll probably regret it when Fuji calls in his marker, but that day is very vague and far off, as opposed to the test coming up on Friday.

It’s not all one way. Ryoma helps out through other, more subtle, methods. For example, he uses his knack for observation to accurately divine when he should turn down Kikumaru’s offer of food because there’s an essay the other boy is procrastinating about, and he picks up as much slack on the tennis courts as he can, pitching in with all the chores. And he plays tennis as best as he can, of course, but he'd do that anyway.

The Nationals come and go, and the school year begins to come to an end, with all of the associated examination pressure. One day after school, Ryoma heads for the clay courts he first played Tezuka on. He's not entirely sure why, aside from the irritating nagging feeling he gets in his head when he hasn't played a decent game of tennis for a while, but when he arrives he finds his Captain waiting for him, already changed.

Their unplanned game is intense and consuming, and it's dark by the time they finish (7-5, Tezuka's win). Afterwards the sweat dries quickly, and the two boys shiver as they rapidly change back into their uniforms. They don't converse, but simply fall into step, heading for Echizen's house. Tezuka is the first to breach the silence. "How is your studying for end of year exams going?"

Echizen slants him a curious look, "Fine. How's yours?" Tezuka is, after all, the one who really needs to do well in order to secure a place in High School. Not that this should be too much trouble for him, judging by comments Ryoma has heard about his recent placing in the third years academic ranking.

"Well, thank you."

They continue on and Echizen is beginning to dismiss the rare bit of conversation as a fluke when Tezuka clears his throat awkwardly. "Fuji was telling me how he helped you with a math problem the other day."


"Oishi commented that your history test score was very good."


"Inui and Kawamura also referred to your schoolwork recently. And Kikumaru mentioned the study session he had with you and Momoshirou last week."

Ryoma rolls his eyes. 'Study session' had been a euphemism for certain sempai desperately needing help with their English and picking their kouhai's brains for it shamelessly. Oh well, at least they'd fed him. "Hmm."

"And I saw Kaidou directing you to some study sources the other day."

"Ah." Ryoma is beginning to wonder where Tezuka is going with this line of inquiry.

Finally Tezuka speaks again.

"You never ask me for assistance."

Ryoma doesn't respond and they walk on in silence until they reach Ryoma's house. Ryoma stops at the gate and shakes his head when Tezuka seems intent on walking him to the door. "My father's probably in. If he sees you he'll want a game and you'll never get home."

Tezuka nods and, apparently unaffected by Ryoma's non-response to his earlier comment, turns to leave. A small tug on his jacket makes him turn to regard the shorter boy.

"Buchou," Ryoma hesitates, and then finally sighs. "I don't ask you for help, because I figure you already give me enough."

There is a short pause, and then a quiet, "Ah."

Ryoma lets go of Tezuka's jacket, feeling heat rising in his cheeks and turns away. He takes a step towards the gate and then Tezuka's hand lands on his shoulder, halting him in his tracks.

"Work hard, Echizen. You've still a long way to go."

Ryoma ducks his head. "You too, Buchou. Don't go getting careless."

The hand leaves his shoulder and there is the faintest pressure on the top of his head, as though someone had patted it gently... or kissed it. Ryoma waits for the blush to leave his face as Tezuka pads silently away into the night and wishes once again that he was taller, older, stronger. He'll get there eventually he knows, but sometimes it's hard to have to wait.

I've still got a long way to go.

But I'm getting closer.


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