PT: Inspired by the final episode of Prince of Tennis, Dear Prince. ^_^

Disclaimer: Pshaw, I should just guffaw at you. Ahaha, I'm using old slang .-.


You cry, tears coming down in streams of liquid crystal. You've lost, but you were so close—

You were close, could almost even taste the victory you and your team have striven for. Then you saw your buchou—Yukimura, the Child of God—lose to the Prince of Tennis.

Perhaps you know now, Fudoumine feels.

We were beaten down countless times, and yet we moved forward, because we refused to let our hard work go to waste. And now look—we may have been beaten down at last by Shitenhouji, but we still made the semifinals. That counts for something—next year, we'll be back.

You're a second year, Kirihara-kun; I'll stick around to see you lay eyes upon the victory of Fudoumine. Next year...we'll make it. We're Fudoumine, and we will not lose. Even with my brother gone, he has left his mark—I trust Ibu-kun to pass that on. We're Fudoumine, we'll make it.

I walk up to you, wanting a word. It's after the finals, and you're still crying.

Stop crying, Kirihara-kun. It's so unlike you—and I don't want to see you sad. It's unnerving, you know? You shouldn't cry. Kirihara Akaya doesn't cry...a demon through and through.

You look up, eyes slightly bloodshot from your intense tears; and manage the relative of a glare, saying, "What?"

I don't flinch—it's typical, to keep up some sort of tough standard even though you're more than clearly moved. It's not a surprise, but I only keep a straight face, and pull a handkerchief—onii-chan gave it to me today earlier, for my bento—from my pocket. I've been twisting it during Echizen-kun's match, nervously awaiting the outcome. Some wrinkles have found their way into the folds, but it's still okay; I offer it to you, earning a surprised look.

You're cuter when you look surprised. So innocent. I guess. But Fuji-kun's still better at it than you. And he's actually kinder. Angelic, even, people say.

"Your face is wet," I say, bluntly—too impulsively, too brightly. "Wipe it off."

I didn't expect you to actually accept it—you're always pulling away; and as I hold the cloth out to you, you still look startled, but you push my hand away immediately. You try to morph your features to one of gruffness, but I can see you're struggling. You still like touched by the prior events.

"I don't need it," you say, bluntly, and turn away.

"Take it anyway," I say back, ready to reply. More than ready, actually.

I can see you shaking your head, hastily. "Leave it."

"I want you to have it."

You pause, slightly; "I don't need it. Go away now, Tachibana's imouto."

And I bite my lip, annoyed. I'm not "Tachibana's imouto," I have a name, you know! I take a step forward, and—with surprising force—grab the top of your head—covered in that weird...greenish...seaweed hair—and turn it around to face me. You look surprised, wet, startled, offended, and wet—all at once. I can tell you're going to say something, maybe even yell, but I'm not about to let this go undone. You can whine all about it afterwards; now, you're taking my offer!

"Well, I need you to have it, Kirihara!" I grab your right hand, hanging loosely by your side, pull it up and press the handkerchief into your palm. I close your fingers around it quickly—

Your hands feel huge, rough—from tennis?—and just...really nice to hold, I guess.

I hold it longer than I suspected I would—then give your fingers a last squeeze because you're a stubborn idiot—before letting go.

You don't let go, you're just standing there, eyes slightly wide, mouth agape at the fraction. Clearly, you probably didn't expect me to do this. Well, I'll force you—I've just realized that I hate seeing you cry.

"By the way," I add, before turning my back on you, "my name's An, not Tachibana's imouto. Why would you neglect such a cute name?" I think I pouted, as I begin walking away.

I don't know how you look right now, but I'm not looking back. It's done, so you'd better keep that handkerchief, and make good use of it.

I don't like seeing you cry, that's all. You know now, maybe?—what it's like to lose so suddenly, watch the powerful captain that you admire so much fall. I think it works well when I say, "There is no rose without thorns," a Mexican saying. It's an interesting quote, and I've taken a liking to it some time ago.

It's only at this present time when you seem to finally gather your senses, and I hear you call me—by my name—"Oi! An-chan!"

How strange.

This is the first time you've called me that; thank kami Kamio isn't around to hear this.

I turn, hastily, to see you coming at me, full speed. You come to a stop in front of me, holding out the handkerchief. You look ready to cry, though I can't tell why. Your eyes are shining again, gleaming with unshed tears; your mouth is set into a firm line.

"I told you," you say, nearly snapping, "I don't need it;" and you try to shove the cloth back into my hand. But I need to get rid of those tears. I really do. I can't stand it if you don't.

"No." I try to shove your hand back. "I want you to take it anyway."

"I don't need it." You shove it, insistent, but I grab your hand—feeling the sinew beneath your skin—and tighten my grip. I probably won't be able to hold you for long, but I do have a last tactic in mind...

"Damn it, An-chan!" Your address batters at my ears. "I don't need it! And I don't want it!" You pull your hand back; I let go.

"Fine. Then"—I grab your face; you're not all that taller than me, thankfully—"I'll still wipe it off."

You immediately look confused, but I'm not waiting for you to catch up. The idea in mind is insane—something that I probably would never do, and something shocking to do to Kirihara Akaya—but I do it.

I grab your face with my left hand, raise my right.

I think the people around us are starting to stare, but I need to finish. A warmth crawls up my face; I'm flushing, probably; and I wipe your tears away, stream by stream. I think, by now, I've paralyzed you with surprise—but like I've said earlier, you're actually kind of cute this way. With your wide eyes and childish innocence—

I brush the warm, salty liquid away from your skin before passing my fingers over your brilliant emerald eyes. And when I finally pull away, your mouth is parted again.

I can't stifle a giggle, as I part your slackened fingers and pull my handkerchief away. "Ja na, Kirihara-kun!" I say, brightly, before turning again. All of a sudden I'm feeling warm, happy—but in some way insanely happy. I guess I'm just pleased you're not teary anymore.

That's when I feel a hand on your shoulder, feel your suddenly familiar touch, the sinewy palm that the girls on my own tennis team seem to lack. Your voice, familiar, nasal—actually nice to hear, I admit—"Can I play tennis with you sometime?"


PT: I like to make an end hang the way I do .-. Review, thanks.