This story is the first fan fiction I wrote for Prince of Tennis, and this was actually before I even properly read the manga. I wrote this story: “In order to win” and I really thought that would be it. But then since I got 2 immediate reviews I was really motivated and I then decided to actually expand the idea I had in my mind. Which led to “Sacrifice”, which I already put on my blog. At that time I decided that “Sacrifice” was kind of like a prequel of this story but then after I finished “sacrifice” I still have more ideas so I ended up writing them in random one shots and putting them all in chapters. So “Chapters” sort of become a collection of one shots. They are not always related to sacrifice as some are really just random what if scenarios… I think I ended up trying to explore a particular theme in each short story in “Chapters” although some are just random drabbles, or random one shot that I just wanted to write

Title: In order to win
Written at: June 23 2007
Summary: After his match with Fuji, Shiraishi begins to examine his attitude on the importance of winning as well as thinking about all he did for the sake of achieving this goal. He then starts to question himself…
Theme: Whether the result of winning is more important then the process of winning, as well as examining when you have gone too far in order to be the winner.
Word count: 1370

He won the game.
He played against the legendary Fuji from Seigaku and emerged as the victor. This was the first time that anyone has achieved this in an official game.
His team mates were cheering wildly, and even his coach was laughing instead of simply smiling.
But Shiraishi Kuranosuke did not appear as if he was the one who caused all this. Though he was the winner, he displayed no obvious emotions, he simply gave a brief nod to the rest before he sat down to observe the game with what seemed to be a dispassionate gaze.
“The process doesn’t matter, the important thing is the result- the win.” His coach reminded the captain with what he often lectured to his teams.
“I won by pure chance. Yes, I won the match but…”
“I got it.” His coach interrupted. “You are not happy because you are angry and even a bit jealous.”
“Jealous? I am not…” he began indignantly but had to sigh and admit the truth. “You are right, I am jealous. I worked so hard and sacrificed so much in order to win. But he,” he gestured to the direction of the Seigaku team. “Is able to win against everyone else without even really trying. What angers me the most is that I would have lost despite all my efforts if he had concentrated since the very beginning.”
His perfect tennis…nothing could bore him more then that now! Yet he still did it because he wanted to win every single match in order to let his school advance even higher.
But he was beginning to wonder about his own decision.
“How hard I try does not matter,” he continued, his voice unusually bitter, his head was even bent down, “Geniuses are always geniuses and therefore better.”
“But you beat the genius because you wanted to win so much.” His coach reminded him once more. “And all these people witness the result of this. You won, Shiraishi, and perhaps this well deserved victory is actually a reward. You tried so hard in order to win, while he didn’t, so the result is you beating him.
“Or are you simply disappointed because you think that the person who you most want to see your victory is not here?” the coach’s voice turned rather sly at this point. “If I have to criticize you for anything then it is for this, that your desire for our school to win interfered in your private life too much. I think Tanako Ashita will certainly agree with me.”
The name made Shiraishi look up and he automatically stretched his hands out to the girl that had appeared beside his coach.
She was wearing the sakura patterned yukata that she had wore on their first date with her hair tied by that lace-like ribbon which had been his first present to her. Unfortunately, she also dressed like that when he told her that he had to break up with her for the sake of tennis.
“Did you see the match?” he asked, quickly dropping his hands. Seeing that they ended up resting on the racquet, he quickly crossed them instead. The tennis racquet served as a reminder of how she had hit him with it as she was so angry.
“I think I saw it.” She said softly. “I thought that you won and both the reaction of Seigaku and our school supported this. But then I saw you and I begin to wonder.”
“I did win.”
“Then why aren’t you happy…Shiraishi? Isn’t all your actions this year, including breaking up with me, done for the sake of winning? So you can concentrate on tennis one hundred percent?” she asked cuttingly.
“I am starting to realize that winning shouldn’t be everything.” He finally said, trying hard to recover from his initial sadness at hearing her address him by his last name. “When I am on court I often get bored with my ‘perfect tennis’, and sometimes I even need to ask myself why I do this.
“And most of all…I feel empty after every match regardless of the result because you aren’t there.”
She would watch him play tennis whenever she could, just as he would always try to attend her karate competitions. They would always be filled with a sense of achievement if they did well, because they felt that the other were proud of them.
He twitched slightly when he suddenly felt her sitting down right beside him, the dry fabric of her sleeves almost brushing his slightly drenched bandages.
“I mean, I am glad that I won, I really am, but it is just that…” he continued, rather nervous due to how close she suddenly was.
“You feel a sense of ‘so what if I won?” she supplied for him. “Also, tennis is no longer fun so you don’t really want to do it sometimes. Then to make matter worse for today is that your opponent…”
“I really want to hit him with my racquet as you did that day. Oh, I don’t blame you, I did deserve it.” He added this very quickly to prevent her from speaking, he did not think that he should have an apology but to have none would probably make him feel even worse. “But I guess I own him some thanks for teaching me a valuable lesson: to make me wonder whether the result is the most important thing. Maybe is the process but I still don’t really know.”
“I think I can help you to understand. When I enter any karate match,” she began after a long pause, putting her hands on her knees instead of crossing them. “I get a sense of achievement if I had a good contest, not just because I won. What is there to be proud of if you won for the mere reason that your opponent absolutely sucked? I might as well just go and randomly pick fights with people on the street if I feel happy just due to winning.”
He allowed his hands to rest on his knees as well, almost touching hers, before he spoke. “You always were better then me in almost everything. Do you still remember our first proper meeting? There I was, wanting to be Prince Charming by defending you against these delinquents by wading them off with my tennis racquet? I ended up being saved by you as you used karate to beat them all up.”
“But, Kuranosuke, I liked you ever since that moment because you tried!” she said, because she finally turned to look at him, he saw that she was actually smiling.
“Ashita,” he began slowly, his hand reaching to take hers, encouraged by her use of his first name again, “I have been such an idiot and I really am so sorry for hurting you. But can we…”
“I still feel the same way about you.” She told him shyly as their hands clasped together. “I’m still angry about the reason of our break up but I think we can work though that somehow.”
“I will never do something so stupid like that again.” He promised her. “Now I truly realized that I was wrong in wanting to win so obsessively.”
Depending on the result of this match against Seigaku, he might still need to play his ‘perfect tennis’ again but it would be bearable as Ashita would be watching him. Mostly, he would only need to play it for a few more times. He had already decided that he would never be in a position where the result of his actions would affect a whole team again, instead of just himself.
His future seemed very optimistic now, he would continue playing tennis next year but he would not be in a team, he would play solo instead. Ashita would be beside him. He would naturally hope to win, but it would no longer be an obsession that drives him to do something that he did not really enjoy.
That way, he would be able to enjoy tennis as he once did. He would be able to have fun in each match again.
That was, he realized, the main point of any sport or art.
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