Ryoma's very first kiss comes from Fuji, which doesn't surprise him when he thinks about it later. It surprises him at the time, though, because Fuji does it in front of the whole team while they're getting ready for practice. Momo and Eiji are teasing Ryoma, asking him whether he's ever been kissed and whether he'd ever like to be kissed, and by who.
"No," says Ryoma flatly, more refusing to answer the question than replying to it. He's already bored.
"Ha, Echizen doesn't even care!" Momo says, and Eijji laughs. Momo nudges Ryoma in the ribs with his elbow.
Ryoma scoots away, annoyed. "No, I don't." So? he wants to ask, but that would play right into their hands. He keeps quiet.
"You'll care eventually," says Fuji, who seems to have appeared out of nowhere. He looks suddenly amused, which makes Ryoma want to run. He's boxed in by Momo and Eiji on either side and Fuji in front, though, so all he can do is glare and hope that Fuji will go away.
Fuji doesn't, probably because Ryoma wants him to. He slides a hand beneath Ryoma's chin and tilts Ryoma's head up. Ryoma snaps his head back down, which doesn't deter Fuji in the slightest. Fuji kneels in front of Ryoma instead and kisses him. His tongue slides through Ryoma's lips when Ryoma opens his mouth to protest, which is cheating as far as Ryoma is concerned. Fuji always cheats, or he plays by rules that no one else can understand, which is still cheating.
The first thing Ryoma does when Fuji pulls away is to look for Tezuka.
Everyone is staring, shocked. It looks like Horio's fainted and Kaidoh is about to have a nervous breakdown, both of which are stupid in Ryoma's opinion. Fuji's done weirder things. Tezuka meets Ryoma's eyes, and he's looking at Ryoma when he says, "Fuji. Fifty laps," which will make Fuji miss almost all of practice. Tezuka doesn't look as though he cares.
"Of course," says Fuji amiably, getting to his feet. He smiles at Ryoma. "It was worth it."
Fuji must either really like kissing or really like running laps. Ryoma's not sure which, and doesn't think he wants to know.
Ryoma's second kiss comes from Momo-senpai. He guesses he should have expected it, after Fuji had given everyone the idea. At least Momo doesn't do it when everyone else is in the locker room with them. In some ways Momo's smarter than Fuji, but not mostly.
"Hey, Echizen," Momo says awkwardly. This surprises Ryoma more than the kiss itself and he knows that something's up. Momo doesn't sound awkward unless he's talking about girls or something. "Uh, you know how, the other day, when Fuji-senpai, uh-"
"Kissed me," Ryoma says.
"Yeah. That," says Momo. "Was that really your first kiss?"
"I guess so," says Ryoma. He doesn't think that Fuji meant it, though, which might mean that it doesn't count.
"Okay, well." Then Momo presses their mouths together in a short, sloppy kiss that should taste like a meal of hamburgers and Ponta, but actually just tastes like breath and spit.
"You stupid bastard!"
Ryoma's glad Kaidoh waits to punch Momo until they're done kissing. It would have hurt if their faces had been knocked together that hard. Kaidoh slams Momo against the row of lockers. Momo jerks away, clutching his eye. "Shit!" They get into an enormous fight. Ryoma leaves because he doesn't feel like fighting or kissing, and they can probably work it out by themselves.
The next day Momo's eye is bruised, Kaidoh's lip has a cut on it, and they don't talk to each other or to Ryoma. Inui seems happy, though, for reasons Ryoma doesn't want to try to understand. He offers to make Ryoma some special juice and a new training menu. Ryoma refuses on principle.
Kaidoh-senpai must either really like Ryoma or really like Momo-senpai. Ryoma doesn't care which one enough to think about it for long.
Ryoma's third kiss might have come from the girl with the long braids or from the loud girl who hangs out with her, but it doesn't. He knows their names, he just doesn't usually care enough to use them. They don't play tennis very well.
"Ryoma-sama!" The loud girl chases after him as he's walking out of class. Her friend follows after her, blushing furiously. The only time Ryoma has seen someone that red is when he's caught Kaidoh playing with Karupin. "Ryoma-sama, Sakuno wants to tell you something!"
"No, no I don't," the girl with the long braids protests, raising a hand as if to shield herself. "Please, Tomo-chan..."
"Come on! You said you wanted to!" The loud girl raises a fist in the air. "We can't let those boys be the only ones to kiss our Ryoma-sama!" She marches behind the girl with long braids and pushes her towards Ryoma, sending her stumbling forward. Ryoma doesn't even have to step back. The girl with the long braids stammers something, turns even redder, and manages to fall against the wall instead. She hurries away down the hall without glancing back.
"Sakuno! Sorry, Ryoma-sama!" The loud girl runs after the girl with the long braids, calling her name.
The loud girl must either really like the idea of the girl with the braids being with Ryoma, or she must really like the girl with the long braids herself. Ryoma sort of hopes it's the second one, when he bothers to consider it.
No one kisses Ryoma for awhile after that. Ryoma would be relieved, except now that he knows what kissing is like he can't help thinking about it. Thinking about it annoys him and also makes him shiver, which only annoys him more. He thinks about a kiss that's as good as the one Fuji-senpai gave him, and means more like the one Momo-senpai gave him. He can only think of one person he would like to kiss him that way. He dreams of kissing and of tennis matches, which both have to be done right for him to like them.
On the day when he gets his real third kiss, both things happen, a good match and a good kiss, which makes it perfect.
"Play a match with me," says Tezuka, and it's not a creepy kind of game, the way it would be with Fuji, and it's not a casual kind of game, the way it would be with Momo, and it's not a fake game, the way it would be with either of those girls.
They sit on a bench together afterwards. Ryoma drinks his Ponta and Tezuka drinks his water. Nothing is weird or shocking about it, which is nice. "Kiss me," says Ryoma. He figures that Tezuka was the one who'd asked for the game, so he can be the one to ask for this. Ryoma conveniently forgets to let Tezuka reply. As soon as Tezuka turns to him, Ryoma gets on his knees on the bench and kisses him, careful not to spill his can of Ponta.
No one stares, and no one punches either one of them, and no one blushes and runs away. They just kiss for a long time, slowly because neither one of them has practiced a lot. Ryoma has no doubt that they'll improve every time. It happens with tennis, and it can happen with kissing, too. Ryoma decides that this counts as his first kiss, because it's the first kiss he's given, and that has to count for more.
Buchou really likes Ryoma and really likes tennis, which is just the way it should be.