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- Prince of Tennis - Metallic by Reubert - He doesn't remember when this happened, and it bothers him; when this dependency began, when Choutarou stopped being strong on his own and began to lean upon him, when the perfect synchronization of Doubles One changed. Have I harped enough on Reubert's pretty writing yet? Huh? Huh, huh, huh? ^_~ I like this because Shishido's POV really rang true for me--it's not a perfect sort of saccharinely sweet love/affection/attraction to Ohtori that he has, because Shishido's not really that type of character, I don't think. It's not really a happy story, either, despite the prettiness and that attraction/affection there, but I have to admit that the sublte way you got a sense of what was happening between the two characters was beautifully done here. (Ohtori/Shishido.)

- Prince of Tennis - Glory by Branch - I... keep feeling like I've rec'd this story already, but I can't find it anywhere on my list. So, taking another stab at it then. ^_~ Emily is writing these Rikkai stories that... I mean... if previous to "Challenge", you'd asked me to read a story about Yukimura and Kirihara interaction, I probably wouldn't have done it, simply because I've had such a hard time tearing myself away from the YagyuuNiou stuff. Yet... she's made this team interesting for me in a way that's just amazing... she's got such a strong knack for fleshing out these characters and making them interesting and telling a genuinely good story. She was a good FMA writer, she's a flat-out great Prince of Tennis writer--and the emotion between her characters (okay, okay, I'm using this story as a springboard for a more generalized post about her Rikkai writing, that doesn't mean you shouldn't read this one anyway *grin*) is just... she made them come alive. (No real pairings, maybe a little Yukimura/Kirihara hintage, but closer to UST than anything.)

- Prince of Tennis - Persuasion by Emily-chan - Perhaps if this had been written by another author, I would not have been so inclined to give it a shot, but with Emily-chan... it's nice that in this story, she just... enjoys the relationship dynamic she's writing about and so often, a simple, sweet feeling of enjoyment I get from the author will carry me over issues I have with a pairing. That said, I'm not saying it was badly written, because Emily-chan actually is a good writer and the prose and dialogue really kind of sparkle here--it's not off from how I see Fuji and Yuuta's relationship, myself. I think you could read it as gen if you liked or, if you like the pairing, you could read it as more. Either way, it was a nicely written story about a relationship dynamic that doesn't get written about too much--and I laughed at the ending. ♥ (It's labelled as light Fuji/Yuuta, but you could read it as gen, I think.)

- Prince of Tennis - Water Over Fire by Branch - [part 03 in the Challenge arc] - Branch does something that I don't think I've ever quite seen done before (and that I'll probably remark on again in later chapters), is that she builds this trio of characters that has a sort of... emotional threesome, that's just so present and right and equally balanced, but it's also still lovely and interesting. The way she writes Yukimura, Yanagi, and Sanada... there's no real favoritism played there, she balances all of it out in this triangle that's not just about physical attraction, but it's not girly emotional romance, either. There are no flowers and hearts here, it's just... elegant, reserved, brilliant, insightful, talented, fierce, and interesting characters that have a relationship that blends together, yet they each still stand on their own, individual selves. I should have hated that bath scene, but somehow, with these three... I don't, I end up enjoying it instead. (Some Yukimura/Yanagi/Sanada, but... it's not traditional romance, either.)

- Prince of Tennis - Resolution by Branch - [part 04 in the Challenge arc] - You know, once upon a time, I desperately wanted SanadaxKirihara fic, but then Rikkai become more fleshed out and I was bowled over (happily so, mind) with the SanaYuki vibes and while they're still my favorite with those characters... this fic managed to do something that I didn't think I would have liked--it made me like SanaKiri again. It was intense, it didn't ignore Yukimura or even Yanagi, really worked for Sanada and Kirihara's characters, especially that it would have been so, so easy for them to go for rough sex, to continue that cycle of anger and harshness between them, but instead went a much more interesting route. I just love that it... doesn't ignore the important other factors in their lives, but yet still builds something I can believe. (Sanada/Kirihara, graphic content.)

- Prince of Tennis - Temper by Branch - [part 05 in the Challenge arc] - My reactions to this fic are rather jumbled because I was squee'ing kind of hard over Yukimura's interaction with several other (non-Rikkai this time) cast members. The scene with Tachibana was absolute perfection, from the way Tachibana was just... such a good opponent, the way they understood each other, and the way Ann spazzed over Rikkai's captain being there. And then more perfection with Yukimura interacting with Seigaku and just... holy shit, the level of details is astounding (from Yukimura's gorgeous thoughts on Fuji to the way Tezuka and Fuji interact to the way Fuji reacted to Yukimura (OMG PRICELESS) and Yukimura reacted back to the way Inui was scribbling away in the corner to the way Ryoma reacts to Yukimura to the way Yukimura sees reflections and parallels all over the place, yet people are also so different, there aren't any carbon copies of people around, to the way Emily writes a particularily insightful turn of phrase, there's an ENDLESS amount of things I could go on about in this arc) and even beyond that... it's just interesting to watch things unfold. (No pairings in this particular story, but it's part of an arc.)

- Prince of Tennis - Contrary by Branch - [part 06 in the Challenge arc] - In the previous SanaKiri story, there was teasing of rougher sex later (which isn't as lacking in emotion as one would think before reading--but "Resolution" really ought to be read first to understand this) and this story delivered and I went *___* over it. Because it was one of Emily's best sex scenes yet (*purr*), but it was also insightful and not just an excuse to write sex, no matter what she says in the author's notes. ^_~ The thing that makes this so palatable for me is that she builds up the relationships with other people that are still important, doesn't ignore them or even dispatch them--they're still there, still important, but there's something else over here, too, and both go together just fine. Which still surprises me, because normally I HATE stories that have characters sleeping with more than one person, but this story is just so believably done that I buy it here. There are very, very few other stories (feelings are one thing, sex is another) that have made that jump for me. It also helps that I loved the way Kirihara got Sanada all worked up, so that I believed this could happen. *__* (I also don't hate her Kirihara, which is a minor miracle, I suspect, since the little snot is... ahhh... not my favorite. ^_~) (SanaKiri, graphic content.)

- Prince of Tennis - Earth Over Heaven by Branch - [part 07 in the Challenge arc] - I mentioned earlier that I would probably pick back up on the threesome thing that doesn't bother me here (I touched on the poly angle a little in the rec for "Resolution" and "Contrary", but I'm shifting focus from SanaKiri back to YukiYanaSana here) and, honestly... I have never been big on threesomes, because 99% of the time they're not balanced properly, because they're chaotic rather than stable (no matter how the author writes them, either they're a mess or I flat-out don't believe them... there are probably almost NO threesomes rec'd on my site anywhere, so I feel justified in commenting on this), but these stories don't make me want to claw my way up the walls, instead I find myself happy that these characters have this, that it's an interesting dynamic they have here. It's also wonderful the way Emily weaves flashes of imagery into the writing, the kind that just seemed natural to be there, rather than intrusive, yet still highlighting the dynamics between the characters. I just... when I'm done reading one of these stories, I love that I feel a sense of being both sated and that I've come away knowing a bit more about the characters, that they've come a little further with the storyling. Oh, yeah, and just an all-around good read. XD (Yukimura/Sanada/Yanagi, about an R-rating.)

- Prince of Tennis - Dislocated by Branch - [part 10 in the Challenge arc] - Wheeeeee! Yanagi/Inui fic! Fic that doesn't forget that either of them are data players, but that doesn't make them carbon copies of each other! Fic that doesn't forget their past or the way they aren't the same anymore! While I wish they could go back to the way they used to be, while I wish they weren't seperated by time and other people being important in their lives, in this storyarc, it just wouldn't have been feasible. And I adore how well they know each other, how they can follow each other's trains of thoughts without it being... well, you know how some authors try really hard and have good ideas, but they can't quite follow through on them without sounding forced or like there are steps missing? I don't get that here. Instead they're still the interesting, complex characters they are, but Inui and Yanagi still understand each other, despite how complex they are... these are the characters that make me go, "Holy shit, how do they KNOW all that???" like they should. Plus? Yanagi/Inui sex? Mmmm. There's intimacy, affection, and that important attraction between them that I love so much. XD (Yanagi/Inui, R-rated content.)

- Prince of Tennis - Spineless by Aki - Aki is one of those authors that I've been meaning to get around to her work for awhile, since so many people seem to like her, and I finally sat down with her Rikkai D1 fic and promptly had fangasms of delight over it, which meant, of course, reading as much of her fic as I could in one sitting. Oddly, I picked a ShishiTori fic to read next and just... oh, how this pairing so rarely clicks with me, but when it does, I just delight in it. I love, love, love her Shishido, because he's cranky and bitchy, but he's not unkind. And Ohtori is nice, but he's not a whimp or pure marshmellow fluff. I love the slow progression of their friendship/parternship, because it was gorgeously natural here. And the writing is beautiful--sharp, clever, and just SPOT ON. The writing itself is utterly fabulous as well--pretty, but without being overladen with flowery image so that it just sails smoothly along. That's the thing, really, the writing pulls me in and I don't have any trouble reading it. <3 (Shishido/Ohtori.)

- Prince of Tennis - Conservation of Momentum by Aki - *happy sigh* There are very, very few Shishido/Ohtori stories that grab me and I suspect it's simply because my take on them has never really quite matched the majority of the fandom's. That's all right, I'm not complaining about it, just noticing that when a story like this comes along, it makes me shimmer with fangirlish glee because it's all the rarer. The way Aki writes stories like this... it could have been cliche, it almost seems like it should have been cliche--Shishido and Ohtori each having feelings for the other, neither realizing it about the other? But there's little pining, there's more of the way that I believe these characters would handle it, and the writing just sparkles. The confession scene was quite riveting for me, I actually FELT the intensity of it, I love it when an author can do that. XD (Shishido/Ohtori.)

- Prince of Tennis - Letters to Tezuka by Aishuu - This was a fun little fic to read this morning, something that made me grin as I was waking up and just... sort of put me in a good mood in the morning, you know? The thing I liked best about it, though, was the format of the story, the way it was almost short and clipped, but still told the story it was trying to tell perfectly. A series of e-mails from Ryuuzaki-sensei to Tezuka that managed to get across what needed to be gotten across to build a picture of the background world, yet still retained Ryuuzaki-sensei's speech patterns, and yet were still funny. Just... a nice, easy, fun read. XD (Several shounen-ai pairings referenced, but nothing that really took over the fic.)

- Prince of Tennis - Tree in Spring by Aki - HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT AKI HAD WRITTEN BANE/DAVIDE FIC BEFORE? I pine for Bane/Davide fic and I can never seem to find it and then she wrote fic with BAD PUNS and a really sparkling Davide POV and got all these little details, like the playground or Oji's presence and I LOVE HER KENTAROU LIKE SO MUCH. Seriously. I wanted to hug him and giggle like mad every time he said anything, which makes me KNOW she got him right because that's the exact reaction I have to him every time I saw him on the screen. And major ♥ for the Bane/Davide partnership. (Some Bane/Davide.)

- Prince of Tennis - Seven Days by Aki - This is one of those stories that sort of... scratches an itch that I sort of thought I was going to have to live with. Good and subtle and clever/sharp Rokkaku fic. With gorgeous writing, bad puns, and says so much more than it flat-out states. Bane is away for a week and Davide gets sick and it's just... there's this subtle atmosphere of being off your game, of being out of the usual rhthym, and yet Aki never has to SAY that, not really, you just FEEL it. I have such love for stories where you can FEEL the atmosphere of the piece but it's never plainly stated. And if I thought the last one had lovely Rokkaku details, this one is even better--all the little touches in Davide's day to day life, the details of the Rokkaku team (OMG, Itsuki made me laugh SO MUCH. XD XD XD), they all just felt so... whatever you want to call the opposite of 'lacking'. Everything about this story felt like a ROKKAKU FIC and there were just so many lines I'd love to quote and I'm aware that this rec sucks, but I'm still basking in the glow of Rokkaku fic that was just what I wanted. Well, except for the lack of Bane/Davide smut, but I can't ask EVERYTHING of Aki. XD Oh! And? The scene at the end between Bane-chan and Davide? I have so much love for Aki. ♥ (Some light Bane/Davide.)

- Prince of Tennis - J'attends by wintry - Okay, see. I have this thing. For Tezuka/Eiji. I don't know where it comes from, I don't try to justify it, I just know that I kinda like it, no matter if I don't really think it would work, nine times out of ten. However? Then along comes this fic that just... it nails everything it needs to to get them heading in the right direction--Oishi's slow disappearance from Eiji's life, Eiji's personality coming across amazingly well--he's so... himself, especially with the hopping onto the bike rack and the way he falls, the way I can just see the particular twist to his lips and sparkle in his eyes that's kind of forced but told in such a subtle way... and that's what I loved about this fic. It was subtle and clever and sharp and I utterly bought it. It was the kind of writing that a pairing like this needs to be believable and not cliche/parody/cracktastic and, god, I sparkle over the characterization of both. Eiji is perfect. Tezuka is perfect. The writing puts stars in my eyes. The ending was just... I honest-to-god sighed happily. I'm such a dippy fangirl, but I'm a happy one, so you can all just shut up about it. ^_~ Loved, loved this fic. Gorgeous writing. (Some light Tezuka/Eiji.)

- Prince of Tennis - strange birds by Aki - Jackal and Marui aren't characters I would normally think I would enjoy a fic about, but because it's Aki, I gave it a shot and I found... not only did I not want to strangle Marui in this fic, but I actually rather liked him and the slow sense of Jackal's friendship blooming with him made sense and I could understand it. Not to mention, the way Aki weaves in bits and pieces of Jackal's culture, the way he misses it and the way it slowly bleeds away from him, the way it's slowly replaced by Marui's bright colors and noises, the way it's not exactly the same, but it's something like familiar, like the bright colors and noise and liveliness of his home is just beautifully done, because you GET IT, but she doesn't have to bash you over the head with it. I adored this. (Some very light Jackal/Marui if you want to look at it that way.)

- Prince of Tennis - Saeki/Yuuta kisses 1-3 by checkers - The writing is a little rough around the edges, but the sense of fun that attracts me to this pairing is very much present and got me to sparkle over the "kisses" used. The characters' voices were nicely done, especially Yuuta's frequently crabbiness and just... being a high school boy sometimes. It's such a part of what I adore about the character, so to see him turning it on Saeki here (especially in the middle of the second one, where he's writing letters to Saeki and trying to get a response out of him, his taunt is hilarious XD) is very fun and I definitely want to see more of this pairing. I've been fond of it ever since reading about their friendship in the manga, ever since there's been some ADORABLE J-fanart for it, and this feeds that interest nicely. <3 Now I just demand an ACTUAL kiss. ^_~ (Saeki/Yuuta.)

- Prince of Tennis - Look Over Here by psychobunny - I was wary of this fic, since I fear Rikkai D2 being done badly (or that Marui will annoy me >__>a or that Jackal will be done badly and I'll cry), but this was a sweet little story about Jackal watching the sunset while Marui tried to hurry him up so that they wouldn't be late for practice. I know, wtf, eh? Marui and sweet in the same fic shouldn't work, but I kinda liked it here. It was the way Jackal was so... calm in this moment and yet he still went together perfectly with Marui that won me over. Plus, the kiss was cute! <3 (A little bit Jackal/Marui.)

- Prince of Tennis - Photographs by Kentra Shinataku - [ prologue - part 01 - part 02 - part 03 - part 04 - part 05 - part 06 - part 07 - part 08 ] - I'm going to give this one a cautious rec... or perhaps it would be more accurate to say a rec with a few caveats that... *flaps hands vaguely* okay. The thing is, I have very set views of the characters. It's fine to disagree with them, doesn't make you wrong, doesn't make me wrong, blah, blah, blah. But this is a personal recs site and all that. My two biggest problems here are 1) the little details and 2) Tezuka. Little things like Fuji not being a good student, that he failed a math test, etc., don't jive with the character I recogonized. It's not that it's a rule that first years can't play, it's up to the captain to decide that or not (hence why Tezuka chooses to let Ryoma play, it was the captain's decision). Hyoutei doesn't have dorms. Saeki's friendship with Yuuta as well as Fuji. Etc. Second, the longer the fic went on, the more Tezuka's characterization faintly itched at me that something wasn't quite right, that I wasn't feeling the character. A lot of it was the obvious favoritism to Fuji's character, so that he won the quiet word match Every. Single. Time. Fuji was constantly catching Tezuka off-guard, saying something to make him dumbfounded, shocked, confused, surprised, etc. every single time they interacted. Never the reverse, it was completely uneven. After awhile, it eroded at my ability to believe the story and the characterizations because Tezuka is not that easy. (Also? Blushing? My brain cannot cough the image up, for the life of me.) Of course, I have a hair trigger with Tezuka's characterization, so take that as you will. (Also? I very much needed to get that out of my system because the rest of the fic is so lovely.)

Now. I don't mean to imply that this was a badly written story--quite the opposite, actually. The writing is lovely and Fuji's characterization fairly sparkles. The details are very nicely woven in, the prose is gorgeous, everything blends together seamlessly, from Fuji's role in the tennis club, to the way he was actually there when Tezuka's left arm was hit by his sempai (I was really impressed with the way that fit together with the series, I could buy this answer for why we didn't see it on the screen and it worked) to his love of photography to Yuuta's story in the background to lovely scenes with Yumiko. (Oh, my god, did I ever love the scenes with Yumiko.) Fuji's friendship with Saeki and the light influence of Rokkaku that pops up every now and again is wonderfully done. Fuji and Eiji's friendship is very well-done here, the kind that really worked and you could see why they were friends. If it weren't for the weak characterization of Tezuka to favor Fuji's character, I suspect this story would be among my absolute favorites in the fandom. I mean, the author really takes her time with the characters and the relationship, really builds an interesting background for Fuji that shows the progression of him learning to fit into Seigaku, finding a niche for himself, building relationships/friendships with people. The relationship with Tezuka wasn't rushed, the pacing of the story was very good. *sheepish grin* Which is why I think I went a little nuts with the story, actually. ;;;;;;; And if you don't have my particular biases, you'll probably enjoy this story all across the board, the author is very talented and I suspect I shall now proceed to devour everything of hers. (Tezuka/Fuji, Saeki/Fuji.)

- Prince of Tennis - Duet: Andante by Shi Lin - Ohtori is aware that a post-game rush of endorphins will make things seem simpler, clearer, better than they might actually be; Shi Lin has this absolutely lovely way of weaving a musical theme into her writing with these two characters that's not too obvious and yet still has meaning, still lets her build to something that I never quite see coming, but makes perfect sense. Which is me trying to say that I don't find her fics trite or predictable, instead her lovely, lovely writing sails along as she intends it, gentle and subtle, the way these characters should be written, her writing so smooth and clear that it nearly pains me to read it. Just... this is Shishido and Ohtori for me, she captures them so well. <3 Ooh, and the ending! So much love for that and what it SAID without saying anything. :D (Ohtori/Shishido.)

- Prince of Tennis - theme # 2 | news ; letter by Bunny - Some part of me feels like I shouldn't be enjoying Jackal/Marui so much and yet... this story hit me just right, it was somehow just that right blend between smirky Marui and still humanizing him a little bit and, holy crap, Jackal's part at the end of the fic? So. Perfect. I also love, love, love the idea of Marui being roped into to writing a love letter to Jackal for someone else and the way it plays out here, just... okay, I think I may be developing a thing for Rikkai's D2 pair. >__> (A little bit Jackal/Marui.)

- Prince of Tennis - Off the Court by trixie - Yes, yes, I know, shame on me for taking this long to get to so many of trixie's stories, despite how much I've loved her previous work and, yes, eventually I will likely get around to them all. _o_ I really liked this story because it's not something you see done all that often--TezuFuji through the eyes of Taka, which you'd think would be done more often. But it was such a marvelous story because it did justice to Taka's character, it treated his attraction to Fuji and his reaction to the TezuFuji relationship beautifully, in that it wasn't bitter or resentful, because that's just not Taka. That he's so sweet and nice is just... wibble-inducing, especially as he catches a glimpse of the intensity and passion of Tezuka and Fuji's relationship and how he reacts to that. In some ways, it made me ache for him *shoves him at Akutsu* and in others, it made me happy because... it was so sweet. *loves* (Tezuka/Fuji, one-sided Taka/Fuji.)

- Prince of Tennis - 5 am by trixie - Look! For once it's a fic rec that's not TezuFuji! Wonders never ceasing and all that. ^_~ I liked this one a lot, it's difficult to get a character like Shinji down in words, but trixie does an admirable job of it here, especially the way Tachibana is Tachibana to him, the way his thoughts ramble from one topic to the next in a way that really feels like it's rolling around, not like it's a hyperactive spazzing from one thing to the next. Plus, the way the relationship between the two of them is filtered in through Shinji's thoughts was really kinda nice, especially since I really kind of have a thing for Tachibana/Shinji. >__> (Tachibana/Shinji.)

- Prince of Tennis - untitled by kaitoucheckers - So, see, I have this thing for Sanada/Kirihara that never quite died, no matter how much I love SanaYuki, right? And this story came along at just the right time and had just the right tone to make me go, Holy shit, that was so good, why is there not more of them like this?? I loved this story because it's... how I hoped they would be, it's intense and teasing at the same time, it's got all these rough, sharp edges to it, the kind that's almost a physical sensation. The voices of the characters, both of them, are absolutely just nailed--her Kirihara is especially notable, that he's practically like this little livewire next to Sanada, who is quieter, but something like a gravity well, sucking your attention back towards him and... ...okay, I am terrible at zee metaffoorz, I am going to stop now. *hides face in hands* But anyone who kinda likes the idea should go read. (Sanada/Kirihara.)

- Prince of Tennis - The Games We Play by Jaelle - I... I... I... uhm. I. Uhm. I don't know what to say. But that's in the good way. Sort of. I mean. In the way the author intended. Just... oh, my god. Poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor Yuuta and his CRAZY BROTHER and I feel so sorry for him and, oh, my god. Somehow this story hit me just right and I was left on the floor afterwards, rolling around and... I dunno, twitching I guess. Twitching a lot. Because Fuji would. Fuji so would. And... oh, my god, the... end with the other nameless one and... oh, my god. That was sheer brilliance. But I'll be over in the corner twitching now. I think I loved this fic, but... yes. Corner now. (....uhm. Read at your own risk?)

- Prince of Tennis - Just Wrong by trixie - I... I... I sort of, kind of like the idea of Sakaki/Hanamura, so seeing a fic for them, I cautiously clicked on the link and began to read. It's just... they're perfect for each other and this fic does a lovely, cracked out job of showing that they would have this fabulous chemistry, they have this... it's part mad scientist, it's part evil coach, it's part elegant and mature adults, and it's part batshit fun, but I adored the way trixie wrote them here, especially Hanamura-sensei. It was the way she was written as both sexy and calculating, but without being a bitch, she was likable here. I just... had fun. There should be more Sakaki/Hanamura. ♥ (Sakaki/Hanamura.)

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