Fandom: Prince of Tennis
Characters: Gakuto & Jiroh
Summary: "You wanna come over? My brother's driving me nuts." - Gakuto to Jiroh.
Notes: Written for ashkahchan for tenifriends. Couldn't have done it without Mel and Sera, my own Gakuto and Jiroh.
There were a lot of things Gakuto didn't need.
"Tohru!" he belted, staring into his bedroom as he shook in horror. "Stop trying to juggle my shuttlecocks!"
One thing he would never need was his little brother pawing around with his things.
His needs, however, did not reflect what he got.
"Awww, but nii-chan," pouted Tohru, a shuttlecock in each hand and a third in the air. The airborne one bounced off the floor a moment later. Gakuto winced; Tohru was putting on that puppy beggar face that Gakuto hated so much. Its effect was defusing: Gakuto's face would darken, scrunched up, his lips would pucker, he'd turn around with a huff, muttering rants under his breath.
Usually. But not today. Today it only encouraged Gakuto to stomp over to his brother before the remaining shuttlecocks became sullied, grabbing his wrist just in time. Little brothers were notorious for sticky, unclean hands. Tohru was no exception.
"Don't 'aww, but nii-chan' me." Gakuto plucked back his shuttlecocks, turning to the double shelves that ran the length of his bedroom wall. How many more pieces from his collection did Tohru touch? he wondered, examining them one by one. A few were out of place, he saw. These he quickly corrected, adjusting his collection with a frightening calm.
Behind him Tohru wiped his nose with his free hand. "They don't match."
"Well duh, they don't," Gakuto fumed over his shoulder. He held one up by the rubber butt, flitting it between his fingers. Its feathered skirt tickled lightly against his chin. "Why would I have duplicates?"
Tohru was too young to recognize rhetorical questions, as evidenced by his gloating "In case you lose or break one?"
Gakuto's face darkened, eyes narrowed into slits. Wrong answer.
"Yeah?" Jiroh picked up on the fourth ring. On the fourth call.
"Jiroh." Gakuto wanted, badly, to suggest a more annoying ring tone.
"You wanna come over? My brother's driving me nuts."
Jiroh was no stranger to the Mukahi household. His friendship with Gakuto went back several years, to a fateful day of P.E. class. They had known each other for longer, but before then had only been acquainted.
Jiroh was that boy whose art looked the least scribbly, and who dozed away more hours at his school desk than in his bed.
Gakuto was that boy who went around pulling other kids' hair and showing off with his acrobatics.
Then their instructor dragged out the trampolines.
Gakuto and Jiroh were like kids in a candy store. Gakuto swore it was the first time he'd ever seen Jiroh so bursting with excitement. This change didn't even fully register until the both of them were bonding over Gakuto's impressive execution of twisting somersaults.
By then, the deal was sealed. Friends for life.
In being no stranger to the Mukahi household it should be mentioned that Jiroh was accustomed to making himself at home. With his sleeping habits, that meant that if Gakuto left him unattended long enough, only goodness knew where he might stumble across his dozing friend hours later.
It wasn't so much that Gakuto minded. Sometimes searching for him throughout the grounds could be a real adventure. Jiroh wasn't too picky about where he slept; he could be anywhere.
But that's precisely it. Anywhere meant literally anywhere.
He'd found him atop a bookcase once. Jiroh had said sleepily, upon being woken, that he'd been in a catlike mood, wondered about cats' eye views, and the wood had been so comfortable against his back. It was a wonder he didn't get a crick in his neck (or roll off). Jiroh seemed unusually immune to those. Most people would be jealous.
This particular evening, Gakuto's designer trampoline counted as 'anywhere'.
Gakuto fumed silently before swinging his leg up over the edge of the trampoline, pulling himself up onto the springy material. He nudged Jiroh's shoulder with a socked foot.
Nothing. Gakuto pressed his toes in and gave another nudge. He listened, waited, then groused, "Get up. You're so not asleep."
Jiroh murmured sleepily in reply, something about bunnies, but did not budge.
Gakuto bent his knees and pressed down so that he bounced in place slightly, the metal springs creaking under the lopsided weight. Jiroh, curled up like a cat, wobbled with the motion of the trampoline but otherwise gave no sign of movement. "I know you're not asleep, Jiroh. I wanna use the trampoline." With a childish stomp he planted his foot down hard, magnified by the springy nature of the trampoline. "I can't use it if you're on it," Gakuto said, petulant.
"It's very comfortable," said the jostled but supposedly sleeping Jiroh. His voice seemed to curl at the corners like a grin.
"It won't stay comfortable once I start jumping on it. You'll bounce everywhere."
Jiroh's eyes fluttered open at this, and his gaze flew to Gakuto's. Jiroh yawned a smile at him. Gakuto gave him a halfhearted glare. Well. At least Jiroh was no longer faking sleep. Gakuto outstretched his hand. "Come on, get up," he said, pulling him into a sitting position.
Gakuto knew from past experience how to tell whether his best friend was really asleep. He only wished it had to do with the oddness of Jiroh's body position, the location he would choose, funny little habits, and so on. Those sounded cool and complicated. By comparison, the real answer was boring and, to a certain degree, borderline creepy.
It was also simple. Slap in the face obvious, really. His breathing.
The boys stood in their socks on the trampoline. Gakuto rocked and bounced in place, toes never leaving their spot, while Jiroh rubbed the sleep from his eyes, growing more energetic by the second. The trampoline springs groaned with protest, mild at first, then progressively stronger once Gakuto began rocketing upward and tumbling through the air. Energized, Jiroh joined him.
"This is awesome!" Jiroh said, happy as a clam.
Gakuto performed a double somersault and landed on his feet, catapulting upward again with his knees pulled to his chest. All his annoyance from earlier was gone. Now he looked nothing short of pleased at being airborne.
Cavorting around on the trampoline with his best friend was the perfect way to relieve stress, thought Gakuto, hair falling into place.
"So!" said Gakuto offhandedly. "Jiroh!"
"Yeah?" asked Jiroh with surprising enthusiasm.
"I got a new trick for the courts!"
"Yeah? Let's see!"
There were a lot of things Gakuto didn't need. Jiroh wasn't one of those things.