The Sweetest Dream

Notes: This is my first try at a Prince of Tennis fanfic. I wanted to use a character that I haven't seen in much fanfiction, Jiroh, since I'm so fond of him and I think there is a lot of room for stories about him. If I'm totally off with this story, please forgive me. I have only seen episodes 1-71 of the anime, and only a very tiny bit of the manga (at the time of me writing this). If more has been revealed about Jiroh, then I apologize if I've completely went against official info. I just hope anyone who likes Jiroh as I do can enjoy this little experiment of mine. ^_^

When he sleeps he has sweet dreams filled with flying tennis balls and trophies and large crowds cheering him on. Occasionally, he'll dream of being a world champion, a professional tennis player who has won award after award for his skills. Sometimes he dreams of past opponents, those who have crumbled under his prowess on the court, and even of those two that defeated him so easily. Of course, in his dreams, those two amazing players cannot even touch him.

And then there is that rare dream that finds its way into his mind from time to time. He stands alone on an abandoned tennis court, the world ugly and desolate around him. No opponent to face, no crowd to watch him play, and no reason to even be there to begin with. He wakes up in a cold sweat from that dream.

He sleeps during his classes, earning scowls from his teachers and giggles from his classmates. Everyone wonders how he keeps from failing. He sleeps during his club meeting, except when his team captain, Atobe, drags him onto the court and commands him to practice. Sometimes he feels as if he's asleep even then, swinging his racket in sheer reflex and winning every time. He sleeps on the bus as he travels home, walking into his house like a zombie and crashing into his bed.

But it is at night, when all others are asleep, that Akutagawa Jiroh finally awakens. He sits in his bed, staring at the television set as pictures move across it. He doesn't notice what's on. His mind is elsewhere. He thinks of tennis and his teammates and his opponents. He thinks of that dream, that haunting, frightening, recurring dream in which he is alone in the world. He thinks of school, and how tiresome it always seems. He thinks of Fuji Syuusuke of Seigaku, and how terrifyingly beautiful that player was.

He shook his head. He couldn't think of Fuji. Fuji was a powerful opponent and nothing more. But still, he'd give anything to play tennis with that boy again, to have those all-knowing blue eyes peering at him behind a friendly smile. Even if he would be destroyed, as he was before, he would gladly walk the path to that destruction. It would be worth it.

For a moment, he indulged himself, recreating Fuji's image in his mind. He traced all of Fuji's moves, playing them back to himself in slow-motion. He'd been doing that for weeks, initially in an attempt to figure out just how Fuji did such things. But over time, he had begun to appreciate the grace and beauty of Fuji's movements, and finally he found himself desiring nothing more than to see that boy again.

He rubbed his eyes. Morning was approaching and he was already feeling sleepy again. Now he could go back to dreaming and not thinking. Not thinking about Fuji, not thinking about school, not thinking about his life. He could sleep to forget it all, to fade out of reality and to a place where nothing is sad, except for that one dream. He could trick everyone. If he's never awake, they can never figure it out. If he only fully awakens when involved in an exciting match, something that shoots his adrenaline level sky-high, they'll only see that side of him. They'll only see the hyper, loud, fired-up Jiroh. They'll only see the side he wants them to see.

He went through the day the same way he always does, dozing and snoring his way from class to class. After school, his teammates didn't bother to question him. They were used to his behavior by now. In fact, they'd probably be alarmed if he came onto the court fully awake for once.

He overslept during the club meet and missed his bus. Forced to walk home, he felt more tired than ever. He stopped half way to lean against a tree and rest. He'd been feeling much more lazy since Hyoutei's elimination from the tournament, since he'd stopped being involved in exciting matches. Though this was probably for the best, truth be known. Those matches took energy from him that he really didn't have to spare.

Water dripped onto his forehead and streamed down his face. He opened his eyes. It was raining hard, and the tree provided little protection. He had to get out of the rain. He looked around, searching for an open store or a bus. There was nothing, as he realized he'd been resting in a residential area. His home was a fair distance away, and he was getting soaked already. He pulled off his jacket and flung it over his head. He'd be sick for sure now, and he knew how dangerous that was for him.

He kept his eyes peeled for a bus to come by, or maybe even a taxi. He'd even stop a car and ask for a ride if he could find one. But no one came by, and figured no one in their right mind would be out in rain like this.

He was so sleepy and tired. He just wanted to go home and go to bed. Finally he sat down on the curb and placed his head in his hands. Within seconds, he had fallen asleep, ignoring the rain and the cold. It all simply faded away. He dreamed of playing a fierce tennis match in the rain, his opponent Fuji. Atobe kept yelling for him to come inside, that he'd be sick and unable to play tennis for a week, but he ignored him. His eyes were on Fuji, trying to determine what move the boy would make next. In a flash of lightening, Fuji's eyes shimmered as he spun the ball in mid air and then sent it flying toward Jiroh. The ball danced about in the air, then disappeared, just as it had done in their real match. But this time, Fuji disappeared too. Jiroh called out to him, but he was gone. Atobe was gone too, and Jiroh was left alone.

Suddenly a hand grabbed Jiroh's shoulder and woke him. His eyes sprang open and he remembered that he was outside in the rain. He looked up, then blinked and rubbed his eyes. Was he still dreaming? Fuji Syusuke was standing over him, holding and umbrella.

"Are you all right?" Fuji asked him, his hand warm against Jiroh's cold shoulder.

Jiroh was speechless. All he could do was stare, and try to figure out if this was real. He'd been wanting to see Fuji again for so long, been dreaming of seeing him for so long, that he'd begun to doubt that it would ever happen in reality.

"Oh, you're Hyoutei's Akutagawa," Fuji realized, moving his hand from Jiroh's shoulder and holding it out to him, "What are you doing out here in the rain?"

Blankly, Jiroh took his hand and Fuji helped him up. "I missed the bus. I was walking home when it started raining."

"How much further is it to your house?"

Jiroh scratched his head sleepily. "About two miles or so, I believe."

"The rain will pass soon. Come in my house and wait it out," Fuji told him, turning and walking back toward his home.

"Wait, I…" Jiroh's voice fell silent among the downpour and he thought for a moment, trying to take it all in. He was so cold and tired, and Fuji was inviting him into his warm, dry home. He finally shrugged and followed after the other boy.

Fuji's home was just a few steps away, and it looked very nice to Jiroh. It was two-stories, and very well kept. He immediately assumed they were rich. Fuji was waiting in the door way, the umbrella folded down and the front door standing open. The whole scene looked very inviting.

Jiroh walked up the steps to the small porch and followed Fuji inside. He peeled off his dripping wet jacket and then his shoes. Fuji disappeared into the house and returned seconds later with a towel. Jiroh thanked him and began ruffling his hair with it, trying to be careful of getting water all over the nice, clean floor.

"Come on in, you need to change your clothes."

Jiroh looked at him strangely, but walked in behind him. Fuji lead him up the stairs and down a short hall. They ended up in what Jiroh presumed to be Fuji's bedroom. It was neat and cozy, with few decorations aside from a line of cactus plants near the window. Fuji opened his closet and rummaged around. "I think we're about the same size. You can borrow something of mine until your clothes dry."

Jiroh suddenly felt very uncomfortable. "That's all right, hopefully the rain will stop soon anyway."

Fuji just smiled and tossed him a pair of jogging pants and a t-shirt. He walked out of the room, looking over his shoulder and saying "Reach me your clothes when you're done. I'll put them in the dryer," before closing the door behind him.

Jiroh sat still for a full ten seconds before he stood up. This was certainly a strange turn of events. He never imagined he'd be inside Fuji's house, much less his bedroom and putting on his clothes. He lifted the t-shirt to his face and sniffed. It smelled of laundry detergent and softener sheets. Clean and fresh. And it was dry, so very dry. It only took a moment for him to strip off his soaking clothes and pull on Fuji's. They felt soft and warm against his skin, and he couldn't stop himself from thinking of the fact that the same fabric had been against Fuji's skin as well.

He opened the door and reached his wet clothing to Fuji, who was waiting right outside. Fuji smiled and carried them downstairs. Jiroh sat down on Fuji's bed, looking around in a kind of awe. He couldn't remember a time when his room had been half this neat.

His eyes fell upon two framed pictures sitting on a desk across from the bed. One was of Fuji and his younger brother Yuuta. Jiroh remembered him fairly well. The other was of Fuji and a strikingly beautiful young woman. She had an arm draped around Fuji's neck and they were both smiling brightly. He stood up and walked over to the desk. He bent down and examined the picture. Was that Fuji's girlfriend? Surely someone like him would have one, and a gorgeous one at that.

Fuji walked and Jiroh looked up at him. "Is this your girlfriend? She's beautiful."

"She's my sister," Fuji smiled.

"Oh," Jiroh replied, wondering why he felt so relieved. He was also curious about the fact that Fuji's eyes had scarcely opened the whole time he'd been there. During their match, Fuji's eyes glimmered at him dangerously, beautifully, and Jiroh had been waiting to see those eyes again.

Fuji sat down at the desk and Jiroh returned to his place on the bed. "So how are things fairing for your team?" Fuji asked.

"We're all doing fine. Disappointed, but fine. How's your captain doing?"

"He's taken a leave of absence to allow for his arm to heal, but we expect him back soon."

Jiroh nodded. "That's good. Atobe would be upset to hear Tezuka-san's arm was permanently damaged."

Fuji smiled again. "It was a great match. Ours was fun too."

"Maybe for you," Jiroh said with an exaggerated sigh, "but you weren't the one falling all over yourself."

"You talk as if you didn't do it on purpose. That was an interesting trick by the way."

Jiroh grinned. "Sometimes it helps to come across as the clumsy idiot. People underestimate me."

"I see, you wear a clever mask so that people won't take you seriously, right?"

Jiroh's grin faded when he realized what Fuji was saying, and that Fuji's eyes were open for once. In the few minutes they'd been together, Fuji had already figured him out.

"So tell me," Fuji began, eyes still open, "are you really always sleepy, or is that a mask too?"

Jiroh laughed uncomfortably. "That's more of a medical problem actually."

"Are you narcoleptic?" Fuji asked straight-out.

"No, not exactly. I have a problem keeping energy stored. Some kind of disorder I was born with. It's not a big deal though, as long as I get plenty of sleep and eat more than the average person."

Fuji nodded, and Jiroh felt a little guilty. It was a lie, of course. At least, the part about it not being a big deal was. He could barely function as a normal human being, and there was more to it than weakness. He was prone to sickness, and one good illness could possibly kill him. His body just didn't have the energy to fight off such things.

"Are you sleepy now?" Fuji asked.

"A little, yeah. But I'll be fine. It looks like it might be clearing up."

"You can lie back in my bed if you want. I can wake you up when it stops raining."

Jiroh shook his head. "Oh no, that's all right. I'm not that sleepy."

"All right then," Fuji replied.

There was a long silence between them, where both of them stared out the window and watched the rain. It was letting up a little, but still poured heavily enough to keep people indoors.

Finally Jiroh broke the silence. "I've been wanting to play tennis with you again."

"Oh?" Fuji asked, looking back at him.

"I was hoping I'd run into you at the street tennis courts. I see your brother there occasionally. You beat me so easily, I was pretty surprised. But I had fun. I'd like to try it again."

"We'll play again sometime. I'll probably be at the street courts more often pretty soon. The National Championship is coming up, and I'll need practice."

Jiroh's eyes got wide. "Someone like you needs more practice? You're amazing! It seems like a natural born gift with you!"

Fuji closed his eyes and smiled. "I'm flattered, but there are players better than me who still practice."

"That reminds me, you said your captain was better than you. To be honest, I think you were a lot more impressive than him. I think you could even beat Atobe."

Fuji laughed. "I'd like to try that someday."

"Then I'd have a hard time deciding who to root for," Jiroh said without thinking, then immediately felt embarrassed. He realized how strange that had sounded. Why would he root for anyone against his team captain?

Fuji opened his eyes and looked at him curiously. Jiroh felt his cheeks burning. "I mean… you're such a good player… and I guess it'd be nice to see Atobe loose for once… and…"

Jiroh stopped when Fuji stood up. "Akutagawa-kun," Fuji started, and Jiroh's heart skipped a beat at the sound of his name of Fuji's lips yet again, "I have to admit something to you. I played a little too seriously during our match. I think it was because you'd defeated Yuuta so easily, and had hurt his pride. I wanted to return the favor."

Jiroh felt nervous, and had the sudden urge to face the rain and walk on home. Fuji looked intimidating and even a little scary, standing over him with his eyes glimmering, just like in the match.

Fuji went on. "I should've understood that you were just playing to win, just like any other player in the tournament. I'm sorry."

Jiroh stared up at him with wide eyes. Fuji was apologizing for beating him? What sort of person was he? "You don't have to apologize," Jiroh said uneasily, "I was really excited… I had a lot of fun."

Fuji sighed and sat back down at the desk. "You're an interesting person. I wonder if I've ever met anyone so hard to upset."

Jiroh laughed. "Life's too short to be angry. I decided that a long time ago."

Fuji looked at him strangely, and Jiroh felt self-conscious beneath his gaze. It really felt as if Fuji knew everything. Could he have figured out that Jiroh's health was so fragile? Maybe Jiroh had said too much. Regardless, it was too late now. If he knew, he knew. So far, only Jiroh's parents and Atobe were aware of his problem. He was forever in debt to Atobe for keeping his secret, for if anyone found out, he would no doubt be thrown out of the tennis club. People like Jiroh were normally not accepted into sports teams, and Jiroh's natural talent for tennis would be wasted.

Finally Fuji spoke. "Is life too short to waste opportunities?"

Jiroh knew what Fuji was asking. He'd found a polite way to ask if Jiroh played tennis despite his disorder because he knew he wouldn't live too much longer. The answer would have been yes, but Jiroh was suddenly hit with another meaning to the question, one that Fuji probably hadn't intended. An opportunity had fallen right into his lap today, an opportunity to be close to Fuji, the person he'd thought of day and night since meeting him. Would he waste this opportunity by simply going home after the rain stopped and never seeing Fuji again? He wasn't even sure of what he felt for Fuji, but he knew he wanted more than to simply talk to him. Fuji had understood him so easily, so quickly. Fuji was so beautiful. He wanted to touch him.

Jiroh stood up and leaned over Fuji. "Life is way too short," he said, and placed a trembling hand on Fuji's cheek. He waited for the other boy's reaction.

Fuji looked at him curiously, though he didn't seem appalled and made no attempt to move Jiroh's hand. This gave Jiroh courage, and he leaned in closer. "Fuji-san, ever since our match… all I can think about is…"

Before he could finish, Fuji leaned up pressed his lips to Jiroh's. Jiroh flinched, but didn't pull away. Was this what he'd wanted all this time? Is this the way he wanted Fuji? He decided that he did as his lips parted and Fuji's tongue slipped inside. He'd never kissed anyone like this. He'd had a peck on the lips from a couple of different girls who apparently had crushes on him, but nothing serious, nothing passionate.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered if Fuji was doing this out of pity. Perhaps Fuji felt sorry for Jiroh, because of his condition. He didn't care. All he wanted was this, this moment. He could die happy now.

Fuji's arms reached up to Jiroh's shoulders and pulled him down. Jiroh ended up sitting in Fuji's lap, his legs spread and his feet on the floor on either side of the chair. The kiss became more rough and Jiroh felt like he'd loose it completely from the sensation of his crotch rubbing against Fuji's abdomen.

Finally they broke away and Jiroh stared at Fuji breathlessly. "What the hell are we doing? We barely know each other," Jiroh eventually said, looking down.

"We're taking advantage of an opportunity, aren't we? As you said, life is way too short."

Jiroh looked Fuji in the eyes. He seemed serious, sincere. Maybe Fuji had been thinking about him too. "I've never done something like this before."

Fuji smiled yet again. "It's not everyday that I kiss my opponents either."

Jiroh smiled back. He leaned in and kissed Fuji again. Hands were roaming and clothes were being discarded. Jiroh had never felt so good, so alive. He wasn't alone, he was with Fuji. Fuji was so warm and soft. He wanted to loose himself in him.

Suddenly Fuji's hand gripped Jiroh's shoulder sharply. Jiroh opened his eyes. He blinked. He was back outside, sitting on the curb. The rain was pouring down fiercely. He looked around, it was exactly where he'd been before Fuji found him outside. His head dropped. It had all been a dream, a cruel joke played on his heart.

"Hey, are you all right?" a voice asked.

Jiroh turned and looked up. Fuji Syusuke was standing over him, holding an umbrella.

The End.

Notes: First of all, I'm sorry about the trick ending. I know it was cruel to poor Jiroh, but I tried to leave open the possibility that it could happen. It all depends on him. Besides, it's somewhat unlikely that Fuji and Jiroh would have sex so easily and so quickly. Anyway, I wrote this story because 1.) I really love Jiroh and I think he needs more fics about him, 2.) I wanted to see an angsty Jiroh and to explore a possibility about why he's always sleeping, and 3.) I love the idea of FujixJiroh. If anyone knows of more FujixJiroh fanfics, or where to find FujixJiroh doujinshi, please contact me! Feel free to send comments/questions/suggestions/complaints to me.