A 30_kisses fic, because I forgot to post it earlier than this...it's on crack. Seriously.
Title: Fairy Tale
Pairing: Inui Sadaharu/Kaidoh Kaoru
Fandom: Prince of Tennis
Theme: #6, ‘the space between dream and reality’
Summary: An InuKai fairy tale...or is it?
Once upon a time there was a handsome young prince named Kaoru who lived in a castle that was made entirely of gold. He was the heir to the grand kingdom of Seishun, a very prosperous land.
Prince Kaoru was exceptionally athletic. He was known to have the greatest stamina in all the land. He won all the endurance races in which he was invited to participate. He was an exceptional archer and a brilliant rider. He especially loved to play a new game that had been introduced to his kingdom by Eastern traders, a game called “tennis” which was played with paddles and a fishing net strung between two poles.
The prince was not only good looking, he was also very kind, and loved animals very much. He had great respect for his elders. Every night, the prince left out some of his own dinner for the palace cats. He never even thought of picking on anyone smaller than he was, although some of his peers tormented the younger servants mercilessly.
Unfortunately, the good prince was under the power of a terrible curse. It had been placed on him by an evil fairy when he was very young. She had seen what a good person Prince Kaoru was, and decided that no one else should be able to see it.
The curse was one of the most terrible ever invented. The prince could not show how sweet he really was to any others. He was forced to hide his true self under a mask of glares and could only hiss ferociously when he wanted to say something nice. All the other young nobles thought that Prince Kaoru was always angry with them, which was definitely not the truth.
Only four people, counting the prince, knew of the curse. It was considered unwise to spread such information around. The people of Seishun were very superstitious and might think the curse was a type of ill omen. King Kunimitsu and Queen Syuusuke knew, of course, and so did a particular visitor from the south, a young man named Sadaharu.
The king and queen had invited him from the land to the south, to see if he could cure their son. Sadaharu was an expert on many different subjects. He knew math, physics, and also something of magic. As soon as this genius arrived he began researching the prince’s condition.
Prince Kaoru was wary of Sadaharu at first. He expected the visitor to react as everyone else did to him. But Sadaharu did not go out of his way to avoid Kaoru and his glares. Instead, he invited Kaoru to help him with his studies in the royal library.
Prince Kaoru reluctantly agreed, although he was afraid that he would chase this visitor away as he had repelled everyone else. Sadaharu, though, did not seem to mind his constant angry looks and seemed completely oblivious to the hissing.
As he realized this, the prince began to talk to Sadaharu more openly. He was delighted to find that Sadaharu knew all about his favorite game, tennis, although of course he couldn’t show his happiness outright. Soon they were playing tennis together every day. Sadaharu helped the prince to figure out which kind of exercises were best for particular muscles. He also taught him how to perfect his favorite move, the cobra strike.
Prince Kaoru and Sadaharu also read many ancient scrolls and parchments each day, trying to find a cure for the curse. Sadaharu became completely absorbed with this task for more than purely scientific reasons. He saw that the curse hurt the prince every day, and he could see what a wonderful person Kaoru was beneath the facade he was forced to maintain.
The king and queen, for their part, were thrilled that their son had finally made a friend. Queen Syuusuke, who was particularly perceptive, smiled whenever she saw them together. She noticed how Kaoru blushed when Sadaharu paid him a compliment and how Sadaharu looked at Kaoru when he thought the prince wasn’t watching. Perhaps it was more than just a friend that her son had made.
One day, Sadaharu was researching by himself in the library while the prince was at a royal garden party. Sadaharu was translating an obscure piece of parchment that had been written at least five hundred years earlier. It seemed to be a fairy tale, which most people would have dismissed as irrelevant, but Sadaharu knew it was unwise to overlook anything.
The story appeared to be about a princess who had also been cursed when she was a child. Her curse was slightly different than Kaoru’s, of course. She was doomed to fall asleep on her sixteenth birthday, not to wake for one hundred years.
Sadaharu’s eyes widened behind the glasses he wore as he read the ending of the story. Could the solution to Kaoru’s problem be that simple? Somehow the cure suggested to him in the parchment appealed greatly.
Suddenly he heard a commotion coming from outside on the lawn. Hearing Kaoru’s familiar hissing he hurried to the window, carrying the parchment along. Prince Kaoru was standing with some of the other young nobles off to one side of the party. He and another young man, Lord Takeshi, looked to be exchanging heated words. They were often at odds with one another, Sadaharu knew.
He glanced toward the adult members of court, who appeared to be oblivious to the situation. Sadaharu came to an abrupt decision and rushed out of the library tower with the roll of parchment.
It only took him about five minutes to reach the side door that led to the outside of the castle. He stepped through and immediately saw that the trouble had escalated. Prince Kaoru and Lord Takeshi were shouting at each other now.
“You cheated ” Kaoru hissed, still holding the paddle he used for tennis.
“Stupid snake ” Lord Takeshi taunted. “You can’t do anything but hiss. What do you know about cheating?”
Kaoru flinched, obviously hurt. The insult had hit home. Sadaharu was upset because he knew Kaoru wouldn’t stoop to biting personal attacks like the one Takeshi had made. He strode into the circle of young nobles who were avidly watching the fight, no doubt waiting for the two to trade blows.
“Come with me, Prince Kaoru,” he said, taking the prince gently by the arm and leading him toward the castle door. “There is something I must show you.”
Kaoru looked up at him and Sadaharu could tell that he was grateful for the assistance. Lord Takeshi called after them, “That’s right, run away, you cowardly viper ”
Kaoru hissed, genuinely angry this time, and tried to break Sadaharu’s grip on his arm. But Sadaharu just squeezed reassuringly and turned back to say calmly, “Well, Lord Takeshi, it seems you have volunteered to help me test my newest potion. It’s an old recipe that hasn’t been tested for a long time, but I’m sure it won’t really turn you into a rabbit.”
Lord Takeshi paled and subsided right away. Like most of the kingdom’s inhabitants, he was very superstitious and was terrified of any sort of wizardry.
As soon as they were inside the castle, Sadaharu released Kaoru’s arm. The prince hissed and said, “He is constantly trying to cheat when we play. He made the boundaries of his side of the court half the size of mine ”
“I know,” Sadaharu agreed. “But I really do have something to show you that might make you feel better.”
“I doubt it,” Kaoru muttered. “Unless you really can turn that idiot into a rabbit.”
“No, that’s not it,” Sadaharu said with a laugh, then he sobered and looked Kaoru directly in the eye. “I think I may have found a cure for your curse. I still need to test my hypothesis, but I have a good feeling about this.”
The prince stared at him, wide-eyed. “H-how?” he stammered, blushing under Sadaharu’s intense gaze. “What is the cure? We must test it right away ”
“I was hoping you would feel that way,” Sadaharu murmured and leaning down, he kissed Prince Kaoru. He’d intended it to be a brief kiss, but the prince had other ideas. He wrapped his arms around Sadaharu’s neck and pulled him back down when the other young man tried to move away.
They finally broke apart, panting slightly. Sadaharu, despite being rather distracted, remembered that this was an experiment and kept a close eye on Kaoru. Slowly, still looking straight into Sadaharu’s eyes, the prince smiled. It was a completely genuine smile and did not even resemble a glare.
Sadaharu smiled back, feeling triumphant. Prince Kaoru’s curse had finally been broken “Let’s go tell their Royal Majesties, shall we?” he said, slipping a hand into Kaoru’s.
They walked outside, hand-in-hand, both still grinning widely. When they told the king and queen the news Queen Syuusuke smiled mysteriously, causing Sadaharu to wonder if perhaps she knew more than she let on.
A few days later, Kaoru and Sadaharu announced their engagement in front of the whole court. Lord Takeshi was so moved that he proposed to young Lord Ryoma on the spot. Lord Takeshi was immediately brained with a silver platter.
Everyone was absolutely thrilled for the young heir when they heard of the curse and how it had been broken. The young nobles were very sorry that they had avoided Prince Kaoru when they found out how very sweet and kind he really was.
And Sadaharu and Prince Kaoru lived happily ever after.
“What are you writing, senpai?” Kaidoh was sitting down next to Inui on the bench in the locker room. From the expression on the eight-grader’s face, it appeared that he had been there for some time watching Inui write. He wasn’t leaning over to see, Inui noted, undoubtedly because he didn’t wish to seem rude by prying into his senpai’s affairs.
Inui closed his notebook and Kaidoh accidentally caught a glimpse of the words “happily ever after.” Inui smiled at Kaidoh, making the younger boy blush. “Ah, Kaidoh. Just some data that I was gathering.”
“Are we still going running today, senpai?” Kaidoh asked, wondering what kind of data Inui could possibly have been collecting.
Just then Fuji walked by and commented cheerfully, “Oh, are you both still here? I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything.” Kaidoh immediately blushed forty percent more fiercely than Inui would have guessed possible.
“F-Fuji-senpai,” Kaidoh stammered, “what would we have...I mean...” He hissed instead of finishing. Inui suspected that he was at a loss for words that were respectful enough for a senpai.
Inui blithely ignored Fuji and answered Kaidoh instead. “Yes, I have been looking forward to our run. I’ll meet you outside in five minutes.”
“Oi ” Before Kaidoh could leave a loud, strident voice made them all look up. Momoshiro poked his head in the door. “Hey, Echizen, you in here?”
“No, he isn’t,” Inui replied calmly.
Momo rolled his eyes in obvious irritation. “What a brat. He promised to buy me dinner.” Then Momo’s eyes fell on Kaidoh, who was still red as a beet. Momo grinned widely, saying “Hey, mamushi, how come you’re blushing? What’ve you been doing in here with Fuji-senpai and Inui-senpai, anyway?”
Kaidoh hissed at him and Fuji chuckled, the tensai undoubtedly about to say something that would aggravate the situation. Fortunately, Inui was faster and answered, “I was just trying to find someone willing to test my newest liquid supplement. Would you like to volunteer?”
Momo’s grin faded and he backed out hurriedly, stammering negations and excuses. The door closed and Fuji laughed quietly to himself.
Kaidoh gathered up his things, still muttering denials under his breath, and walked out the door. Fuji started to follow him but hesitated in the doorway, smiling back at Inui. “I hope you two enjoy yourselves.” Then the tensai departed as well, probably about to tease Kaidoh some more.
Inui opened his notebook and glanced at what he’d written again. He grinned to himself. Perhaps dream and reality were not so far apart after all.