Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis and its characters are not my property, and I am not profiting in any way from this story.
Warnings: Implied shonen-ai, if that's not your thing, please don't read, and don't complain about something you were warned about.
Author's Note: A prompt fill for roseofthine. The prompt was TezRyo: Fairies. I went for a children's storybook kind of writing style with this one, hopefully it came out okay.
Tezuka had stayed at the courts late, practicing against the serving machine until dark. It was a common enough occurrence, but that evening turned out to be anything but ordinary.
He'd been cutting through the park on his way home, as normal, when a glint of light caught his eye. After a moment's hesitation, his curiosity got the better of him, and he left the brightly lit path to head into the bushes. The light had looked strange, not at all like a torch or car - it had the same sort of quality as moonlight, despite the fact that it was the night of a new moon.
When Tezuka found the source of the faint glow, he couldn't believe his eyes. He took off his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt, but it made no difference when he placed them back on his nose.
Struggling in-between two bushes was a tiny person. It looked male, wore loose white pants, had green hair, delicate features and bright golden eyes, but the most striking thing of all was the gossamer wings on its back. They were shaped like a dragonfly's, and shimmered with an ethereal light.
It was caught in a spider web. Tezuka was still half-convinced it was a hallucination, but that didn't stop him from reaching out and tugging on the strands.
The tiny fairy ceased its struggles, apparently only just noticing him. Tezuka broke the web and caught the small form in his hand, then very slowly and carefully untangled the delicate wings. They fluttered briefly once free.
"Are you alright?" Tezuka asked, raising his hand up to his face for a better look. The fairy fit comfortably in his palm, and didn't seem to weigh a thing.
"Che, I was fine," the tiny being said grumpily, crossing its arms. "...But thanks anyway."
Tezuka never imagined that fairies were big on pride - it wasn't something that ever came up in any childhood story he could remember - but acknowledged the begrudging gratitude gracefully. "It was no trouble." Then... "You're a fairy, aren't you?"
The fairy gave him a look that very much implied 'Are you stupid?'.
"I've never seen one before," Tezuka explained.
"Not many people do. You're a weird one. Normally only cats and little kids can see me. You're, what, thirty?"
"I'm still in middle school," Tezuka was offended. "I go to Seigaku." Not that he expected the fairy to know where that was, but the look it gave him had him feeling the need to defend his words.
It fluttered up from his hand and hovered in front of his face. Golden eyes examined him critically. Tezuka felt like he was being inspected. "Hey, what's your name?"
It was rude to ask for a name without giving your own first, but maybe fairies didn't have names. "Tezuka Kunimitsu."
"Heh. So, Tezuka - do you have a wish?"
Tezuka was briefly confused by the sudden turn in the conversation. "A wish?"
"Yeah. You helped me out, and you seem kinda nice - so I'll give you a wish. Just one."
"You don't need to repay me. All I did was a break a spider web."
The fairy rolled its eyes. "That's for me to decide. Besides, who turns down a wish?"
"I'm content with my life. There's nothing in particular that I want," Tezuka replied patiently.
It flitted to his shoulder and perched there. "I don't believe you."
"You can't lie to fairies. We can see straight through you."
"I think that is the lie," Tezuka said.
The fairy crossed its arms and huffed. Its wings flared out in the gesture and tickled the side of Tezuka's neck.
"Hey. Don't you have anything you really want?" it wheedled.
"Nothing that you can grant me."
The fairy leapt into the air and buzzed in front of his face. "So there is something."
Maybe it was the wonder and magic of finding a mythical creature that had Tezuka divulging more than he would normally. "I have a goal," he confessed. "I made a promise, two years ago."
Tezuka raised his cupped hands to his face, and the fairy made itself comfortable in them. "I play tennis. Have you ever heard of it?"
It scoffed. "Of course I have. I know lots about human pastimes."
That made it easier. "I've been playing since I was a child, and this year I was made captain of my school's tennis team. We haven't made it past the Kantou tournament for several years."
He glanced up briefly, gazing into the star-speckled night sky. "I was injured in my first year, you see. I haven't been able to play properly for a long time. But my elbow is almost healed, and soon I'll be able to play as much tennis as I want again."
"You really like tennis, don't you?" the fairy asked quietly.
Tezuka nodded. "That's why I made the promise. This year, I want to take my team to the Nationals."
"Then your wish will be granted."
Tezuka blinked. "Excuse me?"
The fairy fluttered out of his hands, and pressed a kiss against his cheek. It felt like the brush of a small feather. "I'll be your fairy of victory," it said with a mysterious smile, flying back into the shrubbery. With no further words, the fairy faded from sight.
It was though a spell had been broken. It was dark again all of a sudden, and Tezuka had to fumble his way back to the main path.
Cars rumbled past in the distance, and the streetlights buzzed and flickered. Everything felt hyper-real, as though he'd just awoken from a daydream. Tezuka raised his hand to his cheek, fingers hovering uncertainly over the skin there. If he closed his eyes and concentrated, he could almost still feel the magical touch of a tiny kiss.
Then the senior checked his watch, and nearly dropped his bag. If he didn't hurry home, he'd miss curfew.
When he awoke the next day, Tezuka was convinced it had all been his imagination, or part of a very surreal dream. He'd been overtired on his way home. Fairies didn't really exist, after all.
That conviction held until five days later when a golden-eyed, green-haired transfer student turned up on Seigaku's tennis courts and introduced himself as Echizen Ryoma.
His fairy of victory had arrived.