Disclaimer: I don't own Prince of Tennis.

-

Fuji just doesn't get it.

He just doesn't get how necessary this rematch is. Kirihara almost snarls as he points toward the Seigaku prodigy and makes his demands. Tomorrow. You, me, some rackets and some balls. The camp courts after-hours. Tell no one. Kirihara cocks his head and grins wildly. It's time to reverse the results from Kantou.

Fuji shrugs as he accepts the challenge, and Kirihara thinks he's too laidback and carefree. How can he seem so placid? It's not just a rematch. So much more is on the line. Kirihara can still feel the gravel pressing into his shins.

Fuji shifts his weight from one foot to the other, giving Kirihara a blank smile as he nods. That's all, nothing more. Kirihara turns with a huff -heading back to Ryuzaki-sensei's group, who are muscle training in the gym in half an hour- and it's now, once the distance grows, that Fuji watches him from the back. Kirihara doesn't have eyes in the back of his head, but he can feel it. Without looking, he knows.

Fuji just doesn't get it.

-

Kirihara makes a side trip on the way there. He's picking up insurance. Fuji will find out later.

-

Fuji heard from Sanada about the match the day before. He hears about it now from Echizen as well, when they share a random encounter by the vending machines in the recreation room during free time. Echizen's account is the more detailed of the two.

"Fuji-senpai, would you ever play him again?" Echizen pulls his cap down a little, but his eyes can still be seen. He's smirking. How Echizen of him, thinks Fuji.

Fuji smiles. "Under what circumstances do you imply?"

A shrug. "I dunno. He doesn't target anymore like he used to."

So it would seem, says the voice in Fuji's head, images flashing by, conjured up at the mention of targets. Those black curls and red-tinged eyes. That smile, smooth and curved, as the Rikkai ace leans back for a Knuckle Serve. Fuji doesn't flinch, merely waits for them to pass. Fuji's not interested in who won the match, but the rest of the details he absorbs like water by a sponge.

"I wouldn't be opposed to another match," he says after a while, their first one still fresh in his mind. It's the most he's hinted to anyone about the arrangement they'd made earlier.

"Che'." Echizen takes a sip of Ponta, then pauses to shake the can. No sign of liquid sloshing around inside. Squinting, he looks at it funny. "Empty." There's a hint of disappointment in his tone, hidden amongst the ambivalence. The sight is almost cute.

Fuji laughs politely, though his mind is elsewhere. "Let me buy you another one." Echizen lets him. They talk a bit longer, then part ways. When Fuji goes outside he looks up toward the sky, almost expecting to see a storm brewing. The skies are clear.

-

Yuuta's panting and sweating when he falls to his knees, to the rough, hard surface of the court. He tips his head back, shuts his eyes for a moment in a catch of breath. His fingers twitch as they lose their grip on his racket, which slips and hits the ground with a clatter. The overhead lights cast a long shadow behind him. Across the illuminated court from him, with the lights behind him and an even longer shadow that reaches somewhere past the net, stands Kirihara.

Yuuta groans and looks up, cursing under his breath. He won't give him the satisfaction. It's bad enough he's lost. Echizen's twist serve has more kick than Kirihara's, and his own twist spin shot is more devastating -forbidden as it is now that he knows its dangers- yet even Yuuta has crumbled in defeat.

Kirihara's grinning wildly. He laughs. Yuuta holds himself up, hands out front as he makes to stand and push himself off the ground. Kirihara comes forward, the shadow almost reaching Yuuta now. "Oi, Fuji Yuuta--" His racket bounces on his shoulder, Kirihara's speech a little slurred. "--you'll tell him, won't you?"

Twitch. "Shut up." It's hard to ignore the taunting, as Yuuta's always been rather explosive-- impulsive-- but somehow he manages it, standing tall and proud. He hates feeling like a tool, a means to an end-- like the only worth in this match was for him to play 'messenger boy'. Yuuta tightens his hand on the grip of his racket, gaze steely and penetrating. Kirihara doesn't flinch in the slightest. "...s'long as I get a rematch," Yuuta mutters. Losing 6-2 is humiliating, but patience and persistence pay off.

"Yeah yeah, whatever." Kirihara waves him off, a gleam in his eyes. "I'll still win."

Yuuta, infuriated, leaves the court before he does something drastic, like pin him down and smear the court with his ass. He doesn't trust himself right now. Yuuta saw the match between him and Aniki. Yuuta saw what happened. Yuuta's going to walk away; his match is over. He came, he played, he was conquered (for now).

Secretly, Yuuta's just glad his knees are intact.

-

When he passes by that wall with the cracks -fresh from the other day- on his way back from the darkened courts, Kirihara flinches. It looks like a cannonball hit it. In the recesses of his mind is a figure in a horned mask, surrounded by laughter and poisonous taunts. Kirihara pretends he isn't listening.

-

It's harder to pretend when, instead of treading the nighttime sidewalks, he's lying awake in his room. There's no occasional rustle and sway of branches in the wind, no scrape of tennis shoes along the ground, or other such distractions. Just the sleepy breathing of Kajimoto in the next bed, the tick of the clock.

Kirihara stays awake as long as he can, until his eyelids start to droop. He fights off sleep to the bitter end.

-

The downside to dreaming is you can't even feel yourself run out of breath when you're being chased. You simply fall and run. Your body feels dead and heavy, not even there. It doesn't work like it's supposed to.

Kirihara's running, looking over his shoulder and seeing only what's before him. He's running from the voices when the ground falls away. He slips and tumbles, landing at the bottom of the morning sky with a sickening crack - since when is the sky ever a hardened surface? Since when is the world tipped upside down--

...there are winged tennis rackets flying overhead; Kirihara can't help but stare. It helps that his eyes are already wide open from the impact earlier. Wide open in shock. It's a dream so he's numb but he's still splayed out on his back on cool hard -...glass?- something smooth. "What the hell...?" he groans, throat mysteriously burning like he's just drunk acid.

The laughter returns, echoing around him in a spiral. Where the source is, he can't figure out. He shuts his eyes tightly, and when he opens them again, it hasn't stopped, only now there are three figures.

Kirihara blinks once, twice... "Ah shit. Not this one again." It doesn't hurt when he bangs the back of his head against whatever's beneath him. Nor when he moves his hands to tear at his hair, grunting from the frustration. He does it more then. Both. He knows this all by heart. He's only been dreaming it since he made regulars. The only variation he's seen is in the words they say, and the level of suffocation he feels.

Ah, it looks like Yukimura-buchou's the one to start this time. His lips are moving but Kirihara can't hear the words just yet. He sighs, swallowing with resignation.

The downside to dreaming is you can't plug your ears and expect it to block out what you want to ignore. Kirihara knows this far too well.

-

Kirihara just doesn't get it.

That thought is running through Fuji's head as Yuuta leans against the wall and 'passes on the message'. Blue eyes meet grey. "He said that, did he?" Fuji's lips are pressed into a thin line. There's a sort of pondering look on his face Yuuta's never seen before.

Yuuta straightens some. "Yeah, why would I tell you if that wasn't what he said, Aniki?" His tone is a little defensive, but things are getting better and talking to his brother has become easier.

"You didn't use that shot, did you?"

"Of course not!"

"Even if he used it on you?"

Yuuta takes a long, guarded pause before replying. "...no. Mine's better anyway," he huffs.

Fuji raises his brow. Is he to read that as Yuuta refusing to admit he did, or Yuuta being wary he won't believe him even if he didn't? Either way, he's pressed the issue enough. Yuuta knows the dangers, and Yuuta is a smart boy. Kirihara's the one not using his head here. If Kirihara wants a rematch, there's no need to go the extra mile. Fuji was already looking forward to it.

After a moment Fuji smiles, laughing softly. Yuuta looks a little surprised, but he's used to it. "At any rate, the message has been passed. Go to bed. Your roommate might worry."

Kirihara just doesn't get it. And wasn't Kirihara the one who said 'Tell no one'? Oh, the irony.

-

Neither Fuji nor Kirihara see each other all day long. It's probably due to having been assigned to different groups. It's also probably a good thing.

-

Fuji's body hasn't forgotten the match from Kantou. Nor has his mind, but it's his body that felt the greatest burden then. The twinge in his knee, the scrape upon his wrist, that tennis ball straight to his gut. Everything.

Kirihara's mind hasn't forgotten the match from Kantou. Nor has his body, but it's his mind that felt the greatest burden then. The feeling of being victimised, being preyed upon, being hunted. Eye for an eye, quite literally. That ring of red around that unearthly blue, brought out to match the red stain upon white. Everything.

-

It's night when they both walk to opposite courts. Fuji's expression is that blank facade; Kirihara's is the same from the challenge: wild in anticipation. And yet, Kirihara lets his racket drag along the ground, making small bumps. Fuji carries his over his shoulder.

"Smooth or rough?" Fuji calls, his voice smooth but his eyes like stone. His fingers are ready to spin.

"Rough," Kirihara slurs, inserting a cackle afterwards.

Fuji spins, and the racket topples over. Two pairs of eyes zero in. Fuji's gaze hardens.

This will be a rough night.

-

Once upon a tennis court, a large crowd watched an angel play against a devil. The angel was very patient and persistent even after the devil started targeting him, taking hit after hit in the hopes that he would stop. The devil didn't, so the angel transformed and fought back with everything he had. He flew through the air, graceful as an injured angel can be, and showed the devil what it felt like to be on the receiving end of things. In the end the angel won, whereas the devil went upon his knees and saw the error of his ways. Whether the devil would do anything about those errors was yet to be seen. However, his eyes were wide open much like those of the angel's.

Devils are merely fallen angels. Whether the angel meant to pass on that message or the devil came to it on his own, the fact remains that the devil recognised this. He yearned for recognition, and when adversity had come upon him in the form of three superiors, he had been lucky enough not to completely crumble from defeat after humiliating defeat. It was then he chose the left-hand path. Somewhere there was a place for him, and the normal road was blocked. As always, there are multiple ways of climbing up the mountain. Some routes are simply riskier than others.

This devil had wings, from back when he was an angel. They got scraped up and blackened during his fall down the mountain. When he hit bottom, he shook his head and tore at his hair, snarling and glaring at any who dared laugh at his descent. Not that it stopped their actions. The devil swore he'd reach the top, though, and as soon as those wings could carry weight again, he began flying and climbing up the other side. It was long and torturous to scale, but he soon made it most of the way to the summit. The rest was no longer scaleable from this side. And here is where he stayed for a long while, only flying from side to side when an opening appeared, such as the disappearance of one of his superiors. It gave him something, but not enough, for as soon as that superior is meant to return, it will mean he's shoved off to the side again. Taking his place isn't true recognition.

The devil knows the only way up the mountain is through one's own efforts. Now that he's tasted it and fallen once more, he knows what he must do. But for that, his wings must first grow back.

And that is where the angel comes in.

-

The match starts out much like the one before, except that both boys know what to expect of the other, or so they think. Some smudges still exist where the slate was wiped clean.

Fuji's form is as graceful as ever, Fuji taking the lead within a single game by breaking Kirihara's serve and then furthering it in keeping his own. Fuji is serious; it shows on his face. Kirihara had nothing to worry about.

On the lookout for relapse, Fuji keeps a tight hold on his game. Any holes that appear are intentional so as to act as bait. Fuji has a stern look in his eyes as he returns a knuckle serve with ease. There was that match with Echizen, but then the one with Yuuta... who is to be believed?

There's a wilderness to Kirihara's gaze when he hits it right back, a sharp, callous laugh almost a silent signal for the rally that follows. The night is quiet, almost too quiet. The silence is broken only by the connection of the ball with court or racket, the scrape of shoes upon the ground, the occasional verbal sound of exertion.

The games rack up on both sides. Fuji starts to wonder, what will Kirihara gain from this, that this match is so important that he felt the need to supply his opponent with additional 'inspiration' to spur him on? Aren't Kirihara's new sight and gameplay tactics enough? Isn't he only bringing himself back to square one? But Fuji doesn't voice these, speaking with his racket only. Four to two. Four to three. Five to three, and not a single bite though Kirihara's looking at him hungrily, tongue slithering out to run over his lip in that Kirihara way.

Kirihara bounces the ball on the ground with his racket, ready to serve, halfway through his game when the ball makes a pathetic bounce and then rolls away. He stares at it, as does Fuji. Kirihara cocks his head, glaring at the ball with narrowed eyes. If the ball's lost its bounce, time for a new one. His left hand pats the pockets of his pants, absently at first, then almost frantically. No more balls. He looks over at Fuji. "You got any more balls?"

"Not the kind meant for tennis, no. We used them all up." Fuji's tone is guarded. "Shall we call it a draw and continue it another time?" he asks, approaching the net.

Kirihara meets him there. "No draw. We end this here and now."

"That'll be hard to do with no more balls to slap around," Fuji retorts, his face unreadable.

"Then we should get some." Kirihara looks pissed. They are not stopping here, not when he's down two games.

It's then that Fuji smiles. "Oh, there's no need. I'm quite satisfied with the way this game has gone." Here's to hoping Yuuta was being merely wary and didn't lie to him earlier. Fuji turns and heads toward the sidelines, bouncing the frame of his racket on his shoulder.

Kirihara watches him walk away, holding back a growl, and then follows to catch him at the end of the net. "Yeah? Well I'm not." He has him on the ground in an instant.

This angel won't be getting away this time. Not without a fight.

-

Fuji twists and writhes beneath him, beautiful as an angel in the heat of passion. Kirihara's not sure how the shift went from... whatever to this, but he isn't one to complain. When Fuji's eyes are open, they're staring up at him penetratingly. No deer in headlights here, no. Fuji's legs are wrapped around Kirihara, trapping him from getting up to leave. This angel bites back. Fuji proves this as his teeth dig into Kirihara's neck where the skin meets his shoulder. Kirihara grits his teeth, eyes squeezed shut. It's hardly enough to leave a mark, it doesn't even hurt- but the scraping of teeth against skin drives him insane.

Fuji's not the only one writhing here.

Holding little control over himself, Kirihara grabs Fuji by the shoulders and together they roll several times, the motion less than smooth due to the shifting of weight and moving parts. Kirihara ends up the one on his back, which is a surprise, and before Fuji can do a thing, Kirihara reverses things in a matter of seconds, leaving Fuji beneath him again and holding on tight. Fuji's chest rises, he pants, and now he brings the nails in, dragging them down Kirihara's neck and back, the action sending a jolt through the other boy. Kirihara lets out a low, guttural sound, his eyes snapping open. Fuji's no longer biting him but he can still feel those teeth on him, on the skin there. He mourns the absence and returns the favor. Fuji tilts his head back, nails dragging up Kirihara's side until he releases his hold on Fuji's neck, still moving beneath him in a way that leaves the younger boy puzzled.

Is this how one traps an angel and keeps him captive? Kirihara was never given any instruction book. He's not that sort of boy. It's all instinct and impulse from here on out.

Is he supposed to struggle?

Is he supposed to dazzle his captor?

Is he supposed to enjoy it? Because Kirihara can feel something pressing into his groin and he can't remember when he grew hard himself, or why, Fuji's just the Seigaku prodigy, an enigma, just an angel in his way, and Kirihara wants his wings too. He wants them to work. Fuji is just a means to an end, because Fuji holds the answers somehow. Why he does, Kirihara doesn't know but he wants them nonetheless. Shoot first, ask questions later.

One hand still on Kirihara's back, Fuji moves to twist his fingers into the boy's hair, and pulls. He looks straight into Kirihara's eyes once more, chest rising slowly, methodically, in an attempt to keep his breathing from becoming too ragged. Then he smiles, a glimmer in his eyes.

Fuck it.

In a fit of lost control Kirihara goes for his neck again, using his teeth and waiting for that gorgeous sounding hiss to sound from Fuji's lips. Fuji doesn't disappoint, though the moment Kirihara bites down he's begun to writhe again, moving upward against him. It doesn't help, or rather, it does, that he's got Kirihara trapped between his legs with no intention of letting him free anytime soon. Fuji groans, tips his head back, breathing, breathing--

"Did you really think I wasn't interested enough?" The strangled words spill from his lips as he arches into him.

It takes Kirihara a moment for it to sink in that he's being addressed, and further to realise what Fuji's talking about. "You didn't look like you cared," he mutters, almost sneers against his throat, teeth not letting go just yet. His hands drag along Fuji's sides, an action which sends a shiver rushing through the boy's frame. Kirihara can feel him struggle to keep control, can hear the break in his breathing.

"Looks can... be deceiving!" Fuji laughs, giving a low, throaty sigh afterward. It surprises Kirihara enough to release his hold on Fuji's neck, the boy moaning at the loss. He pants slowly, and stares up at him with that eerie smile. With reflexes to be proud of, he has Kirihara on the ground in an instant. "Just leave my brother out of this and we're square."

Kirihara groans at the impact, at the act of being pinned. Then he growls. "I can play whoever the fuck I want!" And he pins him back, the two wrestling for control until Fuji finally finds himself flat on the ground and his wrists pinned at his sides.

"I never said you couldn't," Fuji taunts, a wild, serious look in his eyes that Kirihara remembers from Kantou. The only difference is that Fuji's face is marred by a smirk. Kirihara pretends it doesn't shake his resolve, doesn't disturb him. He's captured his angel and he won't give up till he gets what he came for.

"Shut up." Kirihara uses his mouth to make him. Fuji kisses him back, and doesn't complain.

It's Kirihara's first kiss, but he doesn't care. It isn't Fuji's. He doesn't care either. He doesn't mind teaching Kirihara a few more things.

-

The first thing Kirihara learns is to never, under any circumstances, underestimate Fuji even when he's squirming within your grasp.

The second is the right way to use tongue.

The third is how to fuck like angels on a mountainside.

-

When he gets back to his room, Kirihara ignores the looks Kajimoto gives him. It's harder to ignore when he asks where he's been these nights, always disappearing and so forth. "Just self-training," Kirihara answers curtly. Kajimoto is tolerable but he doesn't want him knowing what he's really been up to.

"My... what devotion you have," Kajimoto replies, though it's apparent he's not entirely impressed. Why, though, is less than clear to Kirihara. Don't they all want to make the invitational?

"They're gonna pick me," Kirihara swears.

Ignoring his roommate's self-confidence, Kajimoto gives him a good onceover. "Rikkai's training regime is certainly something else," he notes warily.

Confused, Kirihara looks down, pats himself. His clothes are rumpled, streaks of dirt all over his jersey and training pants, and his hair looks five times as messy as usual. He takes a step back and laughs it off. "Of course. We take everything seriously, especially training."

Kajimoto squints. "Is that a... hickey... or a bite mark?"

Kirihara is out of there faster than you can say 'mada mada dane'.

-

The players selected are named off one by one, and Kirihara can feel the laughter in his head die when his name is called. He doesn't react when Fuji's name is called. It's not until later, when the boys are gathering up their things, cleaning up their rooms, that Fuji drops by Kirihara's room.

Kirihara doesn't say anything at first; he just stares and waits for him to speak, eyes roving over the figure standing in the doorway of his room. What happened that night was...

"Congratulations." Fuji smiles, catching him off-guard.

"Wh-what?" Kirihara scowls. The hell...?

"See you on the team!" Then he turns and leaves, waving over his shoulder.

Kirihara watches after him, eventually letting a "Yeah, sure, right..." be heard.

Behind him Kajimoto comes up and places a hand on his shoulder. "What was that all about?" he asks, eyebrow raised.

"N-nothing!" Kirihara protests.

It's not only nothing, but it's most certainly not the sign of a truce between one angel and another, regardless of how far either has fallen. Kirihara's good at denial. Because nothing is still something.

It's been said that angels fucking is a beautiful sight.